miércoles, 31 de marzo de 2010

First respect first minute!!

When I started climbing 16 years ago, red tagging was super common and way over done. People would bolt entire crags and not even be trying the routes and red tag them all simultaneously. Some would even just put the first bolt and then claim it as theirs. No doubt that this was a negative thing in climbing. The response to this when I was in my teens was the other extreme, (that the rock belongs to everyone and there are no closed projects). Especially when the equipper wasn't even seriously trying the route. Its clear that you cant stop the progression and project hoarding shouldn't be allowed. So in between these two extremes does there exist some middle gowned? I have to say that my first experiences sportclimbing when I was a kid lacked understanding as Id never bolted my own lines. Also I was pretty much exclusively bouldering. In bouldering the first ascent process although requires vision, the work to open the line is nothing compared to bolting making it much more difficult to say that "I opened this boulder" its much more up for grabs in this way. In Sportclimbing the person who has the vision and has put in all of the work perhaps should have some voice, or at least be consulted to whether or not they are fine with others trying it.

People like to say often "The first ascent is not important. I Just want to climb this amazing route." Honestly these kind of statements are pretty naive I think. From my perspective the process of discovering a line, all the work put into it to bolt it clean it etc, and finally climb it , is what climbing is all about. And the first ascent is very different. It only can happen once. Lets take for example, I have no experience climbing on El Cap. I don't think it would be very appropriate that all of the sudden I decide Im going to go and try to free Mescalito before Tommy (Im not saying in anyway that Id be able to, but just for an example). But it would be a little like: he did all the work to get it ready, has shared with the world his vision of the next level in trad, so now I come and want to snag it and the glory from him. I think he and others might be like "Dude go find your own project" And in my opinion rightly so. He has spent a lot of time, energy and emotion preparing himself for this route. I don't believe there is anyone more capable than Tommy, but even if there were, I think it would be kinda bad style. People love to do first ascents but don't want to do any of the leg work.

Catalunya has maybe the most limestone Ive ever seen in one place. It also has the highest concentration of hard routes in the world. There are over 10 routes of 9a+ and many many ,more of 9a. Its not like there are no other lines and Im hoarding the last great project. Around basically every corner there are new futuristic lines to be bolted. I spend just as much time bolting as I do climbing . Actually I have about 15 projects in Catalunya in the range of 9a to 9b+ or harder that are all open projects and all 5 stars. So for someone who has never been to the area, there is a lot to do. For me personally I don't want to hoard my projects , but if there is one in particular that that is more important to me, that Ive been single mindedly focusing on for a year and am super close to doing , then I think its understandable for people respect my efforts.

So until recently Id never met or spent anytime with Nalle Hukkataival. He's obviously a really amazing climber and I really respect the the style of boulder problems that he's been putting up (big impressive beautiful hard lines). I can understand his draw to a route like FRFM. I guess what was surprising was that he didn't ask my opinion or permission (not that he needs to, its not illegal or anything we're just talking about climbing etiquette). I found out his aim that he came to spain specifically try first round by reading his blog. Discussing it with Dani (we were like : "thats strange; he's never been to spain, where there are so many hard routes to try and he's planning to go directly to my project") . Catalunya has a lot of good climbers and in general the locals are pretty respectful about these things, at least to ask is a good policy. I feel that its better to express yourself if you feel like if you don't your going to be frustrated., So I told Nalle that Id appreciate if he gave me some more time to try to get it done before he started working on it. Obviously he didn't have to respect my wishes. Its not like I have any power to enforce any sort of climbing laws and not allow someone to try it, I just expressed my feelings. He could have disregarded that and tried it but it seemed that he respected that and gave me some more time and I was very appreciative of that. I pointed him in the direction of several other futuristic projects that I bolted that I thought he would like and it seemed like it was all good.

Maybe there is some confusion as to whether the route was originally an open project and then changed to a closed one. I spent some time working on it with my good friends Dani Andrada and Dave Graham. These are guys that Ive known for a very long time and we've shared many experiences climbing together so it was a natural thing that we would share some experiences on this route. Its very different from inviting all the best climbers in the world to come and climb it, turning it into a contest to see who does it first. For me I enjoy the process of equipping my own lines because it isn't a competition, its your own personal quest on your own terms, using your own personal vision and not following somebody else.

If Id not bolted First Round it would more than likely still be a random rock face unequipped, not existing in the way it is today. I believe this effort deserves the right to try for a while (within reason) to do the first ascent . There is no doubt that you cant have a project to yourself indefinitely and I may or may not have arrived at the point where first round needs to be opened. But three months ago when I was falling at the last move it still wasn't that time in my opinion. I was so close to do the route which for me is a really important line in my personal progression and I didn't want to add to the pressure that I was already feeling personally with even more external pressure.

Anyway life and climbing are learning processes. We make mistakes and learn from them. Thats how we improve our climbing and our personal character. Perhaps people at times have put me up on a pedestal thinking that Im perfect. Well Im actually just a very normal person, going through life and learning the hard way as normal people do. I have many flaws. I struggle with my projects in climbing and my projects in life. Im no enlightened being and like most of us still have to deal with ego. I guess in that way life is in the struggle and there is always something new to learn and another perspective to understand. So as with climbing we are all evolving, and our various experiences teach us valuable lessons everyday. I don't claim any authority on this subject we are discussing, Im just expressing my personal opinion, which may or may not be the best opinion. If Im in the wrong with this , I offer my sincere apologies.

I wish everyone all the best in their climbing and their other pursuits in life


19 comentarios:

  1. The theme is interesting and makes us reflect.
    Ethics in climbing should evolve with the ideas of those who make "the next level"!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
    Nelson Cunha (Portugal)

  2. ENTIRELY with you, man! It´s probably the most asthetic climb I have seen (in this particular style) and you deserve to get the FA.

    Best wishes for getting it done,


  3. Thank you for being so honest with this! I can't really tell what's it all bout - it's partly climbing etiquette, partly ego but the point is we all work hard for our projects (no matter what field)and of course we'd like that to be respected. This should especially be understood by climbers who have the same desire as everyone else to accomplish hard things.

    But anyway, having the first ascent may not be such a big deal. If those guys keep doing this - coming onto your projects and trying to "steal" the first ascent... I'd say "Let them be.". You do a greater work inspiring us all with your climbing in general! I am an advocate of climbing for fun!

    Cheers, Chris! I also salute Daila, Dave and Dani!

  4. As things gain popularity and become more commercial ethics and etiquette tend to go out the window...
    Luckily climbing seems to still be relatively safe; in a haven. but with growth (and if this Olympic thing happens) you can expect that to change soon. : (

    I like your words though. Good thoughts.

  5. Chris

    Your comments are right on the money. Good luck with FRFM.


  6. Hi Chris,

    I was wondering, if you ever have spare time or interest then maybe you could write an article about 'how to bolt steep routes'. Bolting routes is something for which there are no books around. And its something that should be done properly since it involves safety issues for future climbers. It would be super helpful :)

    All the best

  7. Is that a first april first fool joke?

  8. Red Tagging Promotes Progress:

    People think that red-tagging inhibits progress, but in reality it is very likely that it increases the number of routes put up. If someone puts in the effort to bolt a line and it's immediately a free for all, then there is little incentive for the equipper to dedicate much time to bolting several routes at the same time. They are more likely to bolt one route and work on that route exclusively until they send. Because of red tagging, the people who put in the effort to equip a route can bolt many lines and red tag a few, and then allow other people to explore new lines that weren't previously available. This seems to be the case in the Chris/Nalle issue, where Chris has bolted a many lines and he wants to get the first ascent of a route that he thinks is particularly special for him. There are likely other rad lines that Chris bolted that are open for anyone to climb, thanks to the hard work of Chris and others. So, the bottom line is that in sport climbing, red-tagging might actually promote development of new cutting edge climbs.

  9. @Nicolas
    No it is not an april fools joke. I have purchased a rotary hammer drill and learning to bolt routes. But it is not a trivial task.

  10. Are you kidding me? Why are there so many controversial reactions found all over the Internet except here? Are you filtering on this blog, or are people afraid to speak their mind when it comes to close to the source?

    With regards to the TC comment. He stated the following in the video:
    "even if i can't climb this, i wanted to plant the seed for somebody in the future to inspire us all." Tommy Caldwell on Mescalito. Spoken like a true climber...
    He'd be psyched to see anyone climb this line dude.

    I can understand you letting Dave try FRFM as he has a history of ignoring red-tags anyway so best to make him part of your small elite group. I'm sure he already told you that he thinks that red-tags are bad for the progression of climbing.
    Shit, this elitair behaviour does not make you very popular.

    Have you read some of the comments?


    Your argument about putting in all the hard work for bolting lost all of it's weight when I read about you red-tagging the Mt Clark project which was originally bolted by Randy Levitt.
    You are essentially eliminating some of the "sport" aspect in sportsclimbing by holding onto routes like that. Be more giving and accept that you will gain more respect by leaving projects open, then you will by becoming the first ascender when you have been the only ascender.

    Also if you want to keep projects to yourself, then don't let BigUp publish a video until you completed the project.

    Just my two cents on this. So despite not agreeing with your views on this I still wish you all the luck and strength in sending FRFM.

  11. People think that red-tagging inhibits progress, but in reality it is very likely that it increases the number of routes put up. If someone puts in the effort to bolt a line and it's immediately a free for all, then there is little incentive for the equipper to dedicate much time to bolting several routes at the same time. They are more likely to bolt one route and work on that route exclusively until they send. Because of red tagging, the people who put in the effort to equip a route can bolt many lines and red tag a few, and then allow other people to explore new lines that weren't previously available. This seems to be the case in the Chris/Nalle issue, where Chris has bolted a many lines and he wants to get the first ascent of a route that he thinks is particularly special for him. There are likely other rad lines that Chris bolted that are open for anyone to climb, thanks to the hard work of Chris and others. So, the bottom line is that in sport climbing, red-tagging might actually promote development of new cutting edge climbs.

    Like Chris said, people want FA's but they don't often take the time to bolt the project. And if the person who bolts the line doesn't mind his friends working on the route and potentially scooping them, then so be it. I can understand the feeling of wanting to get the FA on my project but being psyched if one of my good buddies beats me to it.

    Those of you recriminating Chris for this are like naive children who just realized that Santa Claus isn't real.

  12. @BanBam

    While your point is a bit harsh I must agree with you! The "sporty" aspect shouldn't be forgot!
    Let's just climb and have fun together! There are far more greater realizations in climbing than doing the first ascent. For instance helping out a beginner is more valuable than being the best - that's how I see it.
    Cheers all!

  13. I dunno you guys.

    When you pay for a car you want to be the first driver for a bit.

    When you buy a home you want to live in it on your own for a bit.

    When you start dating a girl you just want it to be the two of you for a bit.

    You guys can pass judgement on Chris but keep in mind he's making climbing cheaper for the rest of us. It's his bolts, his ours, his work. The people he draws to climbing lower the costs by selling more goods.

    This guy (Chris) is doing it right. He has a right to do this and his example on Tommy is spot on. I think Tommy would love to see a new face on the climbing scene come and try his project. I think that if Sharma showed up and flashed it Tommy would be a bit disappointed. Obviously only Tommy would comment on this and from what I've seen of Tommy he would praise Chris because that seems to be how Tommy is or is it?

    Did you see Tommy in Progression? Woke up first thing in the morning, got out on the boulder problem with his own beta and topped out before his two younger protege's woke up. Tommy wanted to prove he could still run with the new kids and I think that Chris has the right to do the same.

    The guy is to climbing what Michael Jordan was to basketball. Sure there's other players that are good but it will be a long time before we see someone like MJ again. In the same way it will be a long time before someone like Chris comes on the scene for climbing if ever. Yeah, I do believe he's that good.

    Am I shining on him? No. I'm ten years his senior, a hard working father and I think I can take him ... to go climbing with me for a week or two. :)

    Good luck Chris! I happen to agree with what you are saying and I don't at all begrudge you the mistakes you have made or will make. You have as much right to be human as the rest of us (except when it comes to climbing, you are inhuman). :)

  14. Hey mate, good luck on the send!

    The ethics of red-tagging, it seems, are necessarily nuanced. Unfortunatately, it's easier to take a stand and defend an absolute position.

    Taking the example of sport climbing. Cleaning and equipping a steep sport climb is a difficult, time-consuming, and expensive undertaking. It's understandable that, in a world where the FA'st is given far more recognition than the equipper, they will want the opportunity to have a fair go trying the line they envisioned.

    A common standard seems to be a 1 year red-tagging period to try the route, barring exceptional circumstances.

    I have in the past climbed red-tagged routes because they were incredibly aesthetic and desirable lines. In deference to the equipper, I
    a) pulled on the first draw, or
    b) grabbed/jumped from the chains

    Neither of these significantly impacted my experience of climbing of the route. I just couldn't tick it off on 8a.nu...

    It seems to me, then, that the "aesthetic line" excuse is baseless. Ego, plain and simple, is the reason.

    Your point (that everyone loves getting FAs, but hate bolting) is well taken. I like money, but I hate working--that's life. I don't steal money. I bolt my own projects.

    Finally, the argument that red-tagging stunts the growth of the sport is initially compelling. However, the snaking routes is clearly far more detrimental.

    Since bolting, unlike climbing, is expensive and an unpleasant way to spend your climbing time, it's in the interest of the equipper to bolt something that will challenge them for a long time. That way, they get the maximum value out of their investment of money and misery. The surest way to put them off bolting again is to snake their ascent. On the other hand, if they bolt easier lines, they will have a higher chance of getting the ascent, but the overall numbers of future tespieces being established for the climbing community will be fewer. The argument is meritless.

    Enjoy your steep, bouldery Spanish limestone, Chris--I'm happy with the kiwi stuff, myself!

  15. if i took the time to make a painting, i wouldn't want someone else to walk in and sign it.

  16. It should be obvious to anyone involved in our sport for at least a few years that Chris is well within line to ask Nalle not to climb on FRFM while he was actively working it. If Nalle felt slighted, he should have been a man about it and asked Chris if he could climb on the line with him, Dani, and Dave. The thing not to do would be act OK with Chris' request and once home state ambiguously on his blog that he "was not allowed" to climb on FRFM. Let's be real here people. Chris has had the respect to be.

  17. we're sorta missing the point here. sure, red-tagging is the debate (which i am entirely not qualified to weigh in on since i have never reg-tagged or been shut out by a red tag, nor do i have an appreciation for any of the emotions involved in either scenario), but the takeaway from this for me is that Chris is a climbing god, but an earthly human. He never claims any "right" to red-tag, only that it was his wish for the time being. Who here can say he doesn't deserve that request, even if born out of ego? Nalle respected it. Done. End of story. What we have here is an amazingly candid thought from the best climber of his generation, who is not even sure whether or not he is right in feeling this way, only that he does.

  18. I am a great admirer of Chris, but I’m very disappointed by his attitude in this case. First off, he is one of the greatest climbers in history. So, when you hold that under your belt, can you afford to become stressed by a much less prominent climber who never set foot into your project before, when you’ve been working on it for two seasons and you are so close to do it?!? Is this the attitude of an Ace? And IF the newcomer can send the route more faster than you and investing less effort than you, than you probably do not deserve to have the FA. The FA, especially in the case of such a high level route, has value IF you are the only one at that moment that could send it! If you get the FA by asking others not to challenge you, than that FA is completely devoided of value. And when Chris Sharma is aiming to be the so-called first ascensionist… it’s very sad!
    Chris defends himself saying that if you invested time and effort in bolting a new line, than you deserve something in return. Well, in me vision this is not climbing, this is business. “What’s in it for me?” is a Wall-Street way of thinking. It suits a broker, but not a true sportsman. The real beauty of sport in general, and climbing in particular, in to improve yourself, not to be in front of the others. Pushing your personal limits higher is the real value in sport, not beating the competition. Besides, talking about respect, when Chris sent “Biographie”, he didn’t have enough respect for Lafaille to maintain the name of the route gave by the author… it has to be “Realisation”; instead he demands priority in the case of FRFM! How fair-thinking is that?
    Chris, please, do not spoil what you have already accomplish, which is a lot, by wanting more at any price. Greed and pride are poisons for soul, and… “there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving”!

  19. It doesnt matter if Chris was a nobody asshole or the devil himself, he found the route, he invested the time/effort/money so that future climbers wont have to, and he put up lots of other open routes. Like he said, if it weren't for him, it would still just be a rock.

    There really is no argument to be made here. Its his.

    The only case I could see is if someone wanted to free solo it without a rope - if so by all means, but the bolts literally belong to Chris for the time being.

    And @Dudu, you compare it to business but in this case think of an artist - if its their work they should be attributed it.

    Someone who has defined our notion of climbing shouldn't have to explain himself on this one.