With user-friendly, DIY websites, anyone can run a climbing blog. But few update their blogs several times daily—and attract more than 2,500 unique visitors per day. Brian Runnells, aka the Climbing Narcissist, is one of those few. The Wisconsin native created Climbingnarc.com about four years ago, and he now spends 10 to 20 hours a week posting competition results, news of hard ascents around the world, videos, and debates over controversial topics, like the red-tagging of sport climbing projects. Living in Milwaukee with his wife, Amy, he somehow finds time for all of this around his full-time job as a programmer analyst. Despite living two hours away from the nearest crag, Devil’s Lake, Runnells began climbing about 11 years ago. “Bouldering has always been my favorite style of climbing,” he says. “The ability to focus on pushing my physical limits while moving unencumbered over rock is a hard feeling to beat.”
How did Climbingnarc.com get started? I was sitting at my desk one day, and I just kind of started it on a whim. When I looked at all the different climbing sites out there, I didn’t see one that did what I wanted. It seemed like there were a lot of people with sites, and it was hard to keep track of everything. I wanted it all in one place.
How did you come up with the name? I gave it that name the day I started the blog. My wife tells me I have narcissistic tendencies. I hope I don’t have a lot of those personality traits… but the name stuck, and people seem to like it.
What’s with “so obsessed with climbing it hurts”? The slogan just seemed obvious when I was starting the site. I get hurt a lot climbing, and I have a very obsessive personality, so it just made sense. I don’t recall being this injury-prone in other sports, but there’s something about climbing where I just can’t help myself until it’s too late.
Did you have much experience with the web?I’ve been playing around with websites since I was a kid. I have an aptitude for it, and I have fun playing around with all the technology of it.
What tends to generate the most traffic? Anything with Chris Sharma. It doesn’t matter what he’s doing; people like to read about it. Also, controversial topics where people can take a stand, like when Alex Johnson posted some comments [on her blog] about the outfits some female climbers were wearing. That got the most comments ever.
Do you ever jump in and comment? I usually try not to take a stance. I like to see what other people have to say about things. It’s nice that it’s not just a news blog. I can post random topics if I want.
You recently did some live blogging during the Nor’easter comp in Lincoln, New Hampshire. How’d that go? It went well. I had things to say, and I thought other people might, as well. There’s a lot of traffic around those kinds of posts. Every time there’s a big comp, there are more people coming to the site.
How do you find the time for blogging? It’s definitely a challenge, but it helps that my wife is as understanding as can be about my obsession with all things climbing and the Internet.
Would you have more time to climb if you weren’t blogging so much? Blogging is way down on the list of things that keep me from climbing more.