Using OpenAI to Create Climbing Content and Images Article

© OpenAI

OpenAI's artificial intelligence research products have been doing the rounds on social media, with its latest ChatGPT platform attracting over one million users in just five days. Predictably, we've experimented with climbing-related content across their AI models, from text creation for news reports and reviews to image generation. So, do they know their gritstone classics from their gear reviews?

An insight into climbing-related AI...and my (lack of) imagination.  © OpenAI
An insight into climbing-related AI...and my (lack of) imagination.
© OpenAI

Two years ago, one of the company's earlier models, GPT-3, generated an opinion piece for The Guardian. Its latest model, ChatGPT, has even greater capabilities, including some degree of self-censorship and an 'understanding' of right and wrong, and of its own limitations.

The chatbot, which is trained by feeding it existing Internet material, has stunned those testing its abilities over the past month since the launch of its open-access research platform. It can write eloquent essays, lines of complex programming code and even poetic answers to difficult tasks, such as explaining Einstein's Theory of Relativity in the style of John Keats.

Academics, journalists and programmers have expressed ethical concerns about the potential for misuse of such a powerful and convincing tool. In addition to its frightening intelligence levels, there are of course no typos or spelling mistakes, and its grammar's not bad either...

...But don't worry, UKC/UKH won't be getting rid of us editors just yet...we hope.

Here are some interesting, weird and wonderful climbing examples generated using the latest version of GPT-3, ChatGPT and image generator DALL-E.

Experiment with OpenAI


Write a news report about Adam Ondra climbing a 9c

OpenAI's GPT-3 tool writes a half-decent news report, and if we were to feed it the relevant facts and figures, it would be even stronger. Surely Adam Ondra wouldn't use such a glaring climbing cliché as 'full of ups and downs' though...7/10.

Write a Rockfax description of the route Mecca 8B+ at Raven Tor

Close but no cigar. There's no facing-out start to Mecca, or a striking arête. The future of Rockfax is in safe hands.

What's the best rock type in Britain? gritstone?!

Write a haiku about Janja Garnbret

Not bad.

Write a verse about climbing in the style of William Shakespeare

Climber-poets beware.

Write a article in the style of William Shakespeare

ChatGPT went a bit rogue here and decided that a fictional sonnet would be a good fit: 'To Climb or Not to Climb, That Is the Question'. What else?!

Route name generation

These names are quite suitable and interesting - and less vulgar than those generated by a neural network in 2018 (UKC Article).

Yet more names...

Write a humour piece in the style of Niall Grimes

The AI technology is apparently skilled at picking up on the style of climbing writers with distinctive voices (which is very scary!). We tried a few, but Niall Grimes' was one of the closest (and funniest) matches. Beware of those fluffy pink hand grenades...Click to enlarge.

Gear Review

This gear review with a very detailed prompt was sent in by a friend. Ethically dubious of course, but it shows that it can produce a fairly generic review while sticking to a long list of specifications.

"Write a 1500 word gear review of a new synthetic insulated jacket for the UKC website. Write in the style of Dan Bailey who tested the jacket during a weekend of ice climbing in the Cairngorms during which there were avalanches and various climbing mishaps. Invent commercial names for the jacket, the insulation material and the outer fabric. Include a title, an opening paragraph and paragraphs with headings; pockets, cut, sleeves, hood, fabric, filling, in use, and conclusion."

Title: Tested and Approved: The Cairngorm jacket with Super SoftFill insulation

Winter in the Cairngorms is no joke; the weather can change in an instant, bringing snow, wind and rain. It's a place where equipment needs to be up to the job, which is why I was delighted to put the new Cairngorm jacket through its paces during a recent weekend of ice climbing. The jacket was comfortable, warm and performed remarkably well in extreme weather conditions. Let me tell you how…

Pockets: With two large zipped handwarmer pockets, two internal pockets and two chest pockets tucked away behind flaps, this jacket has plenty of space for storing all your goodies on the go. The chest pockets are particularly handy. They're high enough on the chest that they don't get in the way when you're reaching up for ice screws or other gear. And they can fit a lot – I managed to squeeze my phone and wallet into one pocket without it feeling too full or bulky.

Cut: Cut to fit over mid-weight layers, such as a fleece or light down jacket, I found the fit of this jacket to be quite versatile as it worked just as well over a baselayer when temperatures dropped below freezing. The length was perfect for me, 5 foot 8, coming just above my belt buckle so it didn't get in my way during abseils or climbing moves. And it had plenty of room around the arms without feeling baggy or restrictive – always important when you're wearing multiple mid-layers or reaching up high.

Sleeves: The sleeves were long enough so that my wrists were covered no matter what position my arms were in and they stayed in place due to the adjustable cuffs with Velcro tabs. This was great as I didn't want anything slipping up or down while I was hanging off an icy wall!

Hood: Perhaps one of the most important aspects of any winter jacket, I found the hood on this coat to be excellent. It has a three-way adjuster so you can snug it down nice and tight over your head which is great for when you're looking up at routes and holding onto rocks in gale force winds! It also fits comfortably over a helmet with no extra fuss required - another big plus point.

Fabric: This jacket uses a new fabric called SolidShell which is made from 100% recycled polyester fabric with a DWR finish for enhanced water repellency – ideal if you get caught out by unexpected showers. Even when faced with driving snow and horizontal rain on our way back to base after our climb, this fabric really held its own and kept me dry throughout whilst remaining breathable enough for comfort.

Filling: Inside this performance-ready shell is Super SoftFill synthetic insulation. This lightweight filling provides warmth even when wet so it's great if you find yourself out in rain or snow longer than anticipated as it will still keep you warm even if wetted through! And because it's made from 100% recycled materials it has an excellent sustainability rating too - perfect for both outdoor adventurers looking to reduce their environmental impact whilst keeping warm outdoors!

In Use: During our weekend of climbing I found this jacket to perform extremely well - even under extreme conditions like wind chill temperatures approaching -15°C! It stayed true to its word and kept me comfortably warm throughout our ascents, even when we experienced sudden weather changes due to avalanches nearby. My only slight issue came when packing away - although Super SoftFill compresses small enough for storage, I wasn't able to stuff this jacket as small as some other synthetic filled jackets on the market which meant that I had less space in my pack overall - but given how much warmth it offers, this isn't too much of an issue!

Conclusion: All things considered, I think this is a great option if you're looking for an insulated winter coat that offers both performance and reliability even under extreme conditions such as those encountered in the Cairngorms. Comfort levels are high thanks to its roomy fit and stretchy fabric; pockets are plentiful making it easy to access all your essentials; and warmth is provided via Super SoftFill insulation without sacrificing packability (although not quite as much packability as some other synthetic jackets). To sum up – tested and approved!


The ChatGPT tool is a chatbot that enables users to ask questions in a conversational Q&A interface. Here are some short examples of Q&As/prompts.

Pretend to be Alex Honnold being interviewed by me

This didn't work too well. The AI knows its own limitations.

Tell me the beta for....famous boulder problems

Not quite, ChatGPT. It has a tendency to reverse-sandbag and overgraded almost every route we tried.

How do I build an equalized belay point?

It handled this instructional request well, but using AI tech to ask questions about ropework skills could be a potential safety concern.

As participation in climbing increases, how do we balance this with the protection of outdoor areas?

It can handle summaries of complex topics pretty well.

Why is bouldering better than trad?

ChatGPT is a diplomat.

Are rock climbers cool?

And often takes the moral high ground.


The image generator DALL-E created some interesting images with the following commands:

A somewhat post-apocalyptic scene at Stanage.

Stanage Plantation busy with climbers.  © DALL.E
Stanage Plantation busy with climbers.

3D renders of famous crags/mountains are fun to create.

Create a 3D render of El Capitan.  © DALL.E
Create a 3D render of El Capitan.

From an attempt to render reality to the downright silly...

Draw a llama in a pink dress climbing Everest.  © DALL.E
Draw a llama in a pink dress climbing Everest.

Mount Everest potatoscape (what else?)

Mount Everest constructed out of potatoes.  © DALL.E
Mount Everest constructed out of potatoes.

Mount Everest constructed out of potatoes.  © DALL.E
Mount Everest constructed out of potatoes.

A zebra on Ben Nevis becomes a donkey... 

A climber and a zebra climbing Ben Nevis (which turned out as a donkey).  © DALL.E
A climber and a zebra climbing Ben Nevis (which turned out as a donkey).

A climber and a zebra climbing Ben Nevis.  © DALL.E
A climber and a zebra climbing Ben Nevis.

Playing with art effects produces some convincing results.

A watercolour painting of a climber at Stanage Plantation.  © DALL.E
A watercolour painting of a climber at Stanage Plantation.

A climber in the style of Picasso

The styles of famous artists are easily replicated. This is pretty cool.

A climber in the style of Picasso.  © DALL.E
A climber in the style of Picasso.

Adam Ondra as The Scream in the Edvard Munch painting

It struggled with drawing most climbing 'celebrities', but it certainly picked up on Ondra's hair.

Adam Ondra as The Scream in the Edvard Munch painting.  © DALL.E
Adam Ondra as The Scream in the Edvard Munch painting.

Alex Honnold as the Mona Lisa

Not hugely convincing, but some of Honnold's features are there, and more importantly: El Capitan.

Alex Honnold as the Mona Lisa.  © DALL.E
Alex Honnold as the Mona Lisa.

Create a new logo for

I think we'll pass on these designs, unfortunately.

A new logo for  © DALL.E
A new logo for

Check out OpenAI

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27 Dec, 2022

The machines have become sentient.

But what has AI ever done on grit?

27 Dec, 2022

"I'm sorry, but I am an artificial intelligence and do not have personal experiences or participate in activities. However, I can provide information about grit, which refers to the perseverance and determination to achieve a long-term goal or objective. Grit involves sustained effort and dedication to achieve a goal, even in the face of setbacks and challenges. It is an important quality that can help individuals achieve success in various areas of life, such as education, work, and personal development. Research has shown that grit is a strong predictor of success and is often correlated with higher levels of achievement and well-being."

27 Dec, 2022

Rich Simpson must be kicking himself that he came a generation too early.

28 Dec, 2022

These responses are fascinating and eerily realistic all at once! Although Niall Grimes’ fluffy pink hand grenade has to be my favourite - it was doing well impersonating him 😂

28 Dec, 2022

As you can imagine, Natalie, this has been a topic of discussion at both the AAJ and ExplorersWeb. The latter did a piece on it, quoting me in there:

I somewhat agree with Andrew in his piece here ( when he says it can replace the boilerplate dross that took up so much space in magazines (and now online) but of course it lacks the ability to articulate original human experience, something so important in climbing. It was notable how for the image program it generated hypersexualised images of women when nothing of the sort was asked for. It's simply drawing on what we've all put out there - and made popular with our eyeballs and clicks. Garbage in, garbage out.

I tried chatGPT this morning with some more specific questions. Honestly, I was surprised how bad it was, having seen other examples in other articles.

I asked a question about mountaineering in a particular region of Antarctica and what it churned out was, as expected, mostly 'factual' in style - but out of 24 'facts' in its response, 13 were completely wrong, and two more debatable.

If you didn't know anything about a subject, how could you possibly trust it? In instances like this it's little more than a combination Google-searcher-scraper + word processor.

I know, I sound like the bloke who said telephones would never catch on, and the other bloke who said almost nobody would need a computer, and don't even mention the bloke who said The Beatles were rubbish, but it really does have some huge gaps in the basic stuff, despite being pretty amazing on the surface.

Of course it's in the criticality and judgement where it is worst. It can't critique or parse things. No doubt it will improve, and fast, but I don't think the amazing-ness we're seeing right now is all that, and the real power is still a way off.

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