Wednesday, February 6, 2013


I've been doing a lot of reading for school as of late.  A lot of ethical issues and philosophy brought up in the text makes me wonder about issues pertaining to the ultimately frivolous pursuits of climbing on stone.  For instance:  chipping, cutting down trees, blow-torching holds, gluing, secret areas, red tags, real vs. fake.  The very idea that debate arises out topics like this means that, somehow, these are important to us.  Important to the way we carry ourselves in the community of climbers and on the rock.  But why are things like drying holds via blow torch and wire brushing holds important to us?  Is it because ethically we assume that they are good or bad?  Or is it that someone told us that these practices are detrimental to the experience, based on their own experiences?  Either way, we somehow conceive that there are rights and wrongs in the climbing world, no matter how petty and insignificant they seem in the grand scheme of things.

I once, in my youth, called out a fairly well known climber in Montana for gluing holds in a well known area.  Lack of vocabulary and well thought out rebuttals ended poorly on both sides but something from that stuck with me.  Here I was; a passionate, new to the sport idealist wanting to put ethics on the forefront of my climbing pursuits.  A dreamer of sorts.  I was young, however.  The young are impressionable, gullible and have soft skin.  I would know as I still like to think of myself in that category.  But why was I calling out a seasoned veteran and someone I looked up to for doing something that I wasn't familiar with? 

Essentially that question is rhetorical, as the answer is familiarity.  Once you get used to something; being comfortable with a set of ways or circumstances, one doesn't question routine.  When I found out gluing was an actual thing and was in practice at an area I frequented, I was troubled and confused. 

But here is the take home.  Because something is unfamiliar it doesn't mean one should necessarily demonize or shun it.  Nor should they accept or embrace it.  Culture, or "Mother Culture" if I can borrow a Dan Quinn quote, says follow what is familiar, what is acceptable and what is morally sound according to your higher calling.  Fuck gluing or fuck yeah, gluing.  But where did you find find out what was acceptable in life?  Who told you about morality?

What I'm hoping to get out of this post is that just because someone does something different doesn't mean they should be cast away.  Take a step back from how society (or your friend) tells you how to view circumstances and think through it on a personal level.  Does that tree really need to be there?  Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't.  Could that hold feel a little more comforatble?  Sure.  Do those assholes at the lolobouldering blog need to rain shit on Freestone and apparently on everyone else?  Absolutely.

Be an individual for fuck sake.

"And if they hate then let them hate and watch the money pile up"
50 Cent 3.16


  1. Well thought out post Dylan. Interesting; as I have always thought that climbing is a self centered pursuit. I never really gave much credence to folks that spewed ethics that were different from mine as I just wanted to climb and not be anything more than just me. I like to get scared on 5.8 at 13,000 feet. Does that make what drives me to do that, or the personal ethos that fuels that any different than someone who is just as passionate about sport climbing, pulling on plastic or climbing V double digits? The answer is obviously "no". It just makes us a group of individuals who like to climb, and are very passionate about what they do. Trying to define one self as "this" or "that" type of climber is a slippery slope. What is that person truly after in said definition? The answer lies within but the greater good of climbing has seen and heard and evolved from this very question many times over. In many ways it is what makes climbing great. Thanks for posting and I will see ya around

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  3. Thanks for sharing Fred! Always good to see some honest input from people of different disciplines and backgrounds. I hope life is good, the kids are crushing and may you enjoy many Pabst Blue Ribbons. Cheers.