Pro Climbers Travel For a Living. Can They Also be Climate Advocates?

Piolet d’Or-winning alpinist Graham Zimmerman shows how you don't need to be environmentally perfect to be a powerful advocate for the environment.

Photo: Oliver Rye

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Climbers travel to climb. We drive to the gym. We drive eight or ten or thirty hours so we can spend a week at some storied crag. Every once in a while, if we’re privileged or driven or both, we hop on a plane and spew exhaust across the continent or an ocean or an ocean and a continent.

But professional climbers? They travel a lot.

Travel is both a privilege and a cost of being a pro, says Graham Zimmerman, a Piolet d’Or-winning alpinist and Protect Our Winters advocate. It means: “a lot of plane flights, a lot of time sitting in the car, a lot of ropes, a lot of tents, a lot of jackets.”

As someone who lives such a high-carbon life, “who am I to be an advocate for climate change?” Zimmerman asks. Wouldn’t his efforts at activism just come across as a hypocritical?

“An Imperfect Advocate,” a new film released by Protect Our Winters (produced by Bedrock Film Works, hosted by Outside TV), dives into that morass and ultimately demonstrates how each of us, despite our day-to-day imperfections, can also become agents of change—and why we must.

Trending on Climbing

Film: How Matt Cornell Free Soloed One of America’s Classic Hard Mixed Routes

"The Nutcracker" explores the mental challenges of solo climbing and the tactics Cornell used to help him send the route.