I've been thinking, which is a rarity so I'm acting on my impulses here. I figure not too many of you really know the people that run the mags, write the articles, or shoot the photos for all this climbing media. They seem so inaccessible, but really they're nice people, and not, for the most part, people to be hatin' on. So I'm starting this new section Meet the (Climbing) Press, so everyone will finally know the people behind the computer, keyboard, or lens.
Matt Samet was kind enough to take time out of his busy day and tell me about being Climbing Magazine's Editor-In-Chief.
Matt Samet: Cool, then let me run to the john real quick and then I'll be back.
Back -- great Success!
Great, so what's your title officially at Climbing?
I was editor for a year and now am editor-in-chief...officially
Well then, that's a sparkly little badge. How long have you been writing for the climbing media?
Let's see, my very first piece was a comp report on the White Rock Meltdown in 1991 -- then in 1996 I moved to Italy and was feeding World Cup and Hot Flashes-type info to the mag all that year. My first substantial piece was prolly a Vantage Point, on getting served in Europe, ca. 1996/1997 or so. I guess it made the editors laugh, and they gave me a column after that. So, let's say 12 years....
Since, you've managed to make yourself one of the most prolific and recognized writers in the climbing media. Of all the shit you've ever written, what was your most favorite piece or rather the article you were most proud of?
Oh, my... You know, it might be one in the last issue of Climbing on the newsstands, a profile piece on Doug Phillips -- an amazing inventor. The piece pushed me to research cam-making and things I didn't know much about otherwise. It was a great experience. The same issue, I did a short thing - 10 Things you didn't know about Hollywood Climbing Movies. Again, tons of research, and days and days of calls and emails just to get 800 words, but I got to hear all these killer stories about the climbers who do stunt work in Hollywood...the best ones, I couldn't print!
Any pieces that weren't quite as rewarding to write?
I don't like some of the more snarky, negative columns I've written over the years. I wouldn't write those things again...
I know you put up a fair number of routes at Rifle. What's the best Rifle story you got? I mean weren't you the one that gave Dumpster BBQ its name? or am i wrong about that?
Yeah, me and Scott Leonard named that one -- he'd bolted it, and let me climb on it. I can't remember if it was him or I that came up with it. Maybe one of the funniest things that ever happened was, we were just this obnoxious crew, even more so on rest days, when we were bored as hell. So one day we took to driving up and down the canyon yelling "Whooooo!" like a bunch of frat boys. My friend Greeno was doing this through the campground out of Jim Surette's truck, and a cop happened to be up there. He wasn't psyched, and he pulled Jim over, and I don't think Jim had insurance -- he got railed.
But I had started it all, with the Whooing that morning, so I remember both of those guys were kind'a choked at me, but they also thought it was funny. So, that's the best story you could print...there are others, not fit for print!
We were so bored out there...it's so boring.
We did that last time I was there with the bag from a box of wine, we just ripped the bag out and started chugging away like it was a blood transfusion bag. We just added to the idea people already had about us Okies.
I hope it was Franzia.
I'm not entirely sure that I remember most of that day so I can't say for sure. So I know most editors (myself included) are terrible jackasses and tend to make jackasses of themselves in print. Any outstanding beefs still out in climbing community?
I don't have beef with anyone, no, but I'm sure there are people who don't like me -- that's life, though. I used to kind of push people's buttons, but I was young and stupid and easily influenced. Now I just want to be left alone, to climb with my fiancee, friends, play Xbox, nap...
What do you think about the ridiculous duffers devoting their time to multimillion post threads on Supertopo about little insignificant rocks?
I like lurking there and watching the arguments/discussions develop -- it can be pretty lively. People like arguing on the Internet -- it's the great equalizer. So rocks are probably as good a thing to argue about as any. I doubt the rocks much care what we're saying, one way or the other.
I suppose you're probably right, the last rock I talked to didn't much care for my wanderings.
Sounds about right -- rocks make good listeners, but they don't talk much. And when they do, it's cuz CHOSS is sliding off and you should GTFO!
I heard Vitamin H (or D?) whichever did that in Rifle some time ago. Told some people to fuck off?
Yeah, the whole right side of the Arsenal kinda gave us the old Amityville Horror "Get Out!" I'm sure the rest of it will fall down at some point. The first 20 feet of Pump-a-rama are hollow and terrifying -- it's the same plaque that cut already.
Here's a question for you -- why do climbers in the blogosphere hate on the mags so much? Not your site, per se, but I've seen it out there.
Because they've never worked in a magazine before and they're jealous of your writing and climbing skillz. They don't understand what work it is and how the system works.
I think there's this misconception of these mags as some monolithic media, but right now, Climbing's editorial staff is two editors working 70-hour weeks, an art director doing the same, a small ad crew busting ass, one webmaster, one half-time employee, two interns...we're really small.
I know right? We had to add a girl to our small crew just so we wouldn't seem like three horny dudes.
We're not Fox News or CNN, which really aren't media...we're just some scrappers trying to put together a mag every four to six weeks.
What top two pieces of advice would you give the climbers of today?
Check your systems and check your knot -- people die doing this sport. It's reality.
Well that's a good one I suppose. You used to do some pretty crazy stuff. I've seen Front Range Freaks what's the draw?
I guess for me, it's always been new routes in whatever style. Since you couldn't bolt up in the Flatirons then, I tried some headpointing and some ground-up scare leads. It was a cool experiment, but purely personal. I think the draw is seeing where your mental boundaries lie while working well within your physical comfort zone -- a unique game. Maybe too calculated, but it teaches you something...
If you weren't working for a climbing mag what would you be doing?
Probably copy-writing, freelance editing, night-stocker at a grocery store--nice and quiet, you get to wear headphones-- or living in a van down by the river.