Parade of Fools

In 2013 I wrote and photographed a story about Alabama’s Little River Canyon for Climbing Magazine, “The Evolution of Canyon Man.”

This was the first time I’d both written and shot a magazine story, and it took me about a year of interviews, research and procrastination to finish. The photography was the easy part.

Climbing Editor Shannon Davis (now at REI after a stint at Backpacker) whittled down my chaos and gave me gentle but pointed advice, like “Please, do what you can to follow a more logical order,” and “If you name them, you need to define them,” and “Lets use Native Americans instead.”

He also suggested a better title from my working title, “Parade of Fools.” I got this from a story from Atlanta climber Dave Wilson who is frequently quoted in the story. Here’s some stuff from my notes that didn’t make it into the logical order:

“Plenty of groups from the surrounding metro areas claimed the Canyon as their turf. Everyone was a local, and everyone else was an outsider. “It was all about who you were with,” says Wilson. “Like, if I went down there with Phil Fisher [who dated Erbesfield and later married Wilson’s sister] or Gruenberg or that crew, I had ‘cred with the Alabama contingency. The story goes that one time [local hardman] Maurice Reed was putting up a route and a bunch of Atlanta folks walked by. He just shook his head and said “Parade of Fools.” and that is the name of the route. Hell, for all I know it was probably me, leading everyone around, pointing out routes like a big dog!” he laughs, “But it really was a parade of fools.”

Later, Davis sent me a nice note via email about the piece:

Hey Andrew,
Your story is up online and is getting some good feedback. Here are a couple nice ones:

“Well done Andrew. This is probably the best write up of a climbing area that I’ve ever read. Really makes me want to head down there some fall day to experience the “weird vibe” and great climbing.”
 Ryan Hamilton

“This was refreshingly well written. Thanks for the experience in words!”
 Adam Davidson

You can check out the final story at Climbing Magazine’s website. Tell me what you think.

Published on Mar 14, 2019
Filed under: Climbing,Outdoors,Photography,Uncategorized,Writing
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