Friday, January 20, 2012

Spirituality in Climbing

Calling all climbers!

Happy Winter.  I am Mike Pond. I’ve been a guide for AAI for four years now, and am going to unabashedly use our blog to get the word out for a research study I am doing. I am a graduate student at Ohio University. Last year, I put the nomadic climbing-guiding life to the side to pursue a master’s degree at OU. This year I am completing my thesis (while climbing and guiding in the Southwest – currently in Ouray, CO enjoying the stellar ice. But I digress). The study is called “Investigating Climbing as a Spiritual Experience.” A graduate-level thesis is basically a shorter version of a Ph.D., and I am using my experience as a climber and guide to help out the research.

There are three basic components of this study: background, research, and write-up.  So far, I’ve looked through some of the popular climbing literature out there that has spiritual elements in it, as well as scholarly religious works that are relevant to the topic.  I finished this part last spring, and am now on step two – doing the research. Research in this field is quite “soft” compared to, say, biology or astrophysics. There’s no double-blind pill popping or lab coats involved, just a bunch of climbers (which seems to be the case in every part of my life these days).

Here’s where I need your help! I am looking for interview participants for my study. If climbing is somehow spiritual for you, I would love to interview you.

There are two criteria: you must be a climber (if you have gone on one of our courses or expeditions, you’ve got this covered), and climbing must be somehow spiritual for you. I have had a number of people ask what I mean by “spiritual.” I am going to play the standard psychologist trick and ask you, “what do you mean by spiritual?” If climbing is spiritual as it fits into your definition of spirituality, that will work. As a side note, one of the goals of this study is to find out what climbers’ definitions of spirituality are, and how climbing fits into that, so I want to influence responses as little as possible.

Some fine print: You must be 18 years of age or older. You will not be compensated for your time. There are no risks, and no benefits of participating (other than making my day). Your personal information (name, employer, location) will be kept confidential.

I’ll make sure to put something out in the AAI blog when I’m done (est. Fall, 2012). Thanks in advance for your help, and have a great winter season!

If you’re interested, or have any questions, please email me at mike.pond [at] or call/email AAI, they’ll surely send you my way. Thank you very much!

--Mike Pond, Instructor and Guide

1 comment:

Andrew Szalay said...

I think this is a great thesis! For me, spirituality anytime I sense God. Most wilderness experiences tend to enhance that for me. Either through the environment or through my bond with the people I'm with.