NORTH FACE’S NEW ASCENTS: Walls have all sorts of undertones, given the politically charged immigration debate. With its “Walls Are Meant for Climbing” initiative, The North Face is trying to get people to look at walls in a new way.
With this program and free climbing classes on Aug. 18’s Global Climbing Day, the company is trying to get people to look at walls as a way to unite people rather than divide them. The North Face is continuing its partnership with The Trust for Public Land to support the installation of public climbing walls in underserved communities. Last month, The North Face opened its first free, public bouldering wall in the Montbello Open Space Park near Denver. Last year’s Global Climbing Day featured 20,000 participants and this year’s goal is 100,000, according to Tom Herbst, global vice president of marketing at The North Face. “We want this day to be a reminder of the type of community we all want to live, work and play in — one that is inclusive, inspiring and unifying.”
The North Face has also signed up to sponsor Psicobloc, the 2018 Deep Water Solo Climbing Series, which starts this weekend in Park City, and continues Aug. 24 to 26 in Montreal.
The “Walls Are Meant for Climbing” initiative includes animated shorts from such climbers as Alex Honnold, Ken Yager, Margo Hayes and Monserrat Matehuala. Last year, Honnold became the first person to climb El Capitan, a 3,000-foot granite wall in Yosemite National Park without any ropes or safety gear. In the video, he said he thought about soloing it in 2008 or 2009, when it was “just this abstract dream.” One of his biggest fears on El Cap has always been that he’s going to step on “one of these enormous mealy looking worms and blow my foot off,” he said. The occasional mouse may race by, too. “I’ve had a mouse run onto my hand and you’re just like, ‘Holy s–t there are mice running around in the mountain,” Honnold said. “Then it kind of makes sense because the crack systems that you’re climbing go superdeep into the wall. So there are just people living back there — little tiny mice people.”
He continued, “I think that dealing with your own mortality helps to put your own life in perspective. Nobody really wants to spend that much time pondering their own death, but I feel like they should because it makes their life that much better. I think that’s kind of the interesting thing about human achievement — anybody who focuses enough on their own little niche and dives in deep, is willing to commit themselves to some kind of process, can do things that seem totally crazy. That’s fine, that’s great, that’s how things happen for humanity.”
The North Face’s message of inclusivity is one that is a priority with parent company VF Corp. A few weeks ago, VF chairman and chief executive officer Steven Rendle addressed the responsibility of purpose-led companies to enhance inclusion and diversity during the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.