WHAT is Fringe’s Folly?

It took me a while to figure out what Fringe’s Folly was. At first, it was just a notion.

Fringe’s Folly (n): the inherent foolishness of writing to, and for, the outer edges of a community. The Fringe is, by definition, less populous, and as such, less marketable than the thickening mainstream center. See also: “career suicide”.

After years and years of writing, I had all these pieces that I actually liked quite a bit more than my published work, and which had been rejected (or no-replied) by the magazines. I thought, “hey – why not start a blog where I can share my work that people deem unsellable, or too edgy, or too controversial, etc?” I decided to do it with the assumption that it would never make any money in the first place. Hence the name. That notion was built into it from the start (even though I did solicit support in the About page).

Over time though, I realized my frustration with mainstream climbing media ran deeper than not publishing what I wanted to write. It was as much about rarely reading what I wanted to read. In the end, I don’t really care about grades, and I seem to lack the idolatry gene – so I don’t really care about pros either. Nix those, sponsored content, listicles, and how-to manuals, and just about 90% of the mainstream climbing media disappears. I was sick of trying to sift through the rough for the diamonds.

I still write for the mags, and I still read them, and I still support them. But they have jobs to do and ads to sell and budgets to meet, and that limits them. There’s a lot of stuff they can’t say, and a lot of stuff they really should say if they want to stay afloat.

With Fringe’s Folly, neither constraint exists. Nobody pays me, and I don’t pay anybody else, for the things you read here. That means Fringe’s Folly has no master, no rule book, no paradigm. It is sole sovereign, an open book, a paradigm waiting and hoping to be shattered.

Think of Fringe’s Folly as an experiment against capitalism. There’s no end-goal. There’s no telos. There’s no catch. It’s art for the sake of art, plain and simple. Stories for the sake of sharing.

What I care about in climbing are the average joes and janes that I might actually share a campfire with, and the stories they would tell around that fire. I care about epics, close calls, hard climbs, pushing limits – sure. But I also like long rants that amount to little more than hot air. I like underrepresented voices and points of view. I like controversial subjects that make you think, and feel.

People tell me all the time to give my work a silver lining, a happy ending, an uplifting hook. And I get that. But I also like stories that just say everything is fucked. Because sometimes, in some circumstances, that feels more honest. And above all, I’m a sucker for the truth.

The cool thing about climbing (and maybe everything) is that the fringe is what defines the center. The periphery of an object, the wild and edgy border, is what gives anything definition – be it amoeba or human or community of dirtfacedcrackedhandedstarryeyedclimbingbandits. The mainstream is given its shape by the fringe that contains it. The fringe, on the other hand, is the first thing to come into contact with the new world it moves through second by second, day by day. The fringe is the adventure. Everything else is a reduced rehashed reiteration of what has already been done.

All of this is just to say… what?

I don’t know. Maybe just this:

Fringe’s Folly is here for you. All I ask in return, is that you be here for it – whatever that means for you. Whether reading, sharing, clicking a like button, or contributing.


If you have comments, questions, praises, hatred, stories, photos, or anything else you would like to share, please do it here.


WHO is Fringe’s Folly?
Fringe’s Folly is a growing community of people who love the finer points of climbing: from alpine starts to starlight descents.  Fringe’s Folly is a haven for people who want to read and write stories the typical marketing executive thinks climbers don’t care about. In short, Fringe’s Folly is for the purists, dirtbags, and salty oldtimers who live climbing.  If you’ve found yourself here – you’re probably one of us…

Fringe’s Folly was started in 2014 by Chris Kalman, after many years of publishing (and attempting to publish) in the climbing industry.  To learn more about Chris, visit www.chriskalman.com. Currently, Fringe’s Folly is entirely unsupported – financially or otherwise.  I think I’m going to try and keep it that way. Somehow, it feels more honest and pure. No ads means no masters means no rules. If nobody pays the bills, nobody can say what to write, or what not to.

Call it a moneyless magazine.

If you believe in this project – help out!  Use the contact page to send us your stories, photos, and love/hate mail. Share what you read here with your friends, and keep coming back for more.

Thanks, and ENJOY!

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