New Zealand photographer Eddie Fowke had a dream two years back: to publish a magazine on international performance climbing. After a ton of blood, sweat and tears the second edition has arrived! Is there still a place for in depth print magazines in an era of rapid digital updates?
The Circuit focuses on the accomplishments of the best climbers in the world. Eddie spends much of the year following around the IFSC Circuit on its various stops around the world. He shoots the action and interviews the big names in the climbing world. In between competitions, he spends the time trekking to outdoor climbing areas.
The first thing that draws the eye after opening the second issue of The Circuit is the fresh design. This doesn’t come as a surprise entirely, since Eddie has enlisted the help of Irene Pieper. Irene is a former Dutch national champion of bouldering and designer, and now owns the Dutch climbing brand Nihil. By expanding his team Eddie seems to have been even better able to focus on his core skills: photography and writing. Browsing through the magazine quickly reveals it is chock full of unique photos and lengthy articles. The PDF version of this issue comes equipped with medialinks, such as click through references to relevant Youtube videos at several places. The total page count of the magazine comes in at a whopping number of 122.
Readers are first treated to an in depth review of the total 2014 bouldering circuit. Each World Cup is discussed in detail, allowing anyone who was not able to follow along in 2014 to catch up quickly. Eddie succeeds in describing the competitions vividly. Climbing appears to be well suited to in-depth after action review! It seems unfortunate that lead climbing competitions don’t get as much attention as their bouldering counterparts. This can be explained from Eddie’s preference to only review competitions he was actually attending. For subsequent editions, Eddie will attempt to attend more lead climbing competitions to attain a better balance between bouldering and lead in the magazine. We suspect his recent appointment as official IFSC photographer will serve him will here!
After this review of the competition action we stumble upon several thorough interviews with some of climbing’s biggest names. These interviews are arranged by the nationality of the climbers featured. Holland’s national heroes Jorg Verhoeven and Nicky de Leeuw are among these. Jorg enlightens us on his first steps as a climber, taking us through his development to becoming the seasoned veteran he is today. It’s a shame the interview was done during the competitions season, not allowing for the inclusion of Jorg send of The Nose on El Capitan. Fortunately we’ve got you covered there! Nicky proceeds to voice some criticism on the development of Holland’s next generation of climbers and poses the question of who will follow in Jorg’s and his own footsteps. Some other climbers featured are Austria’s king and queen of bouldering, Kilian Fischhuber and Anna Stohr, and North America’s all round prodigy Sean McColl, powerhouse and ABS Nationals champion Alex Puccio, and climber / model Sierra Blair-Coyle.
Outdoor climbing also gets some attention: Eddie went all the way to Norway to visit brother and sister Magnus and Hanna Midtbo and captured a photo report in the land of the Fjords. In Magic Wood, the unique phenomenon of shallow water soloing was documented, we advise readers not to try this at home.
Only one question remains: is there still a place for an annual magazine that is sold for 14 euro and documents the rapidly developing sport of climbing, all of this in a digital era of instant status updates on social media and super short turnaround on news? Surprisingly enough the answer appears to be yes. The Circuit offers a level of quality that can only result from long dedication and a huge investment of time. Eddie Fowke practically lived as a nomad for months on end, completely embedded with the IFSC traveling fellowship. This huge investment of time and energy pays itself back in the form of a thoroughness rarely found in online reporting on climbing.
The Circuit can be bought right here. The magazine can be read as either a PDF (sold at €4) or in print (sold at €14). The print version is out starting March 2015 and comes with the PDF.