RunOut #27: Climbers Vs. The Man

08.06.2019 - By The RunOut Podcast

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Three major climbing areas are in the climbing news right now due to access issues. The common thread between these areas is how the proverbial Man is coming down on us, imposing his late-stage tyranny on our freewheeling spirits.

The BLM is making noises about moving forward with plans that would help cement popular vote loser Donald Trump’s illegal reduction of Bear’s Ears, which has the Access Fund sounding the alarm.

The park service that manages the Grampians in Australia has effectively shut down more than half of the climbing, justifying their actions with a nefarious propaganda war that has blamed climbers for things they did not do.

And a gang of 18 climbers chopped a bunch of routes in Ten Sleep to make a stupid point. These actions ultimately, and predictably, got new route development shut down in Ten Sleep for the foreseeable future.

This is Andrew Bisharat. In this episode, Chris Kalous and I talk about some of these issues and try to parse out what it means for climbing going forward.

Before unleashing this episode, I think it’s probably wise and prudent to state my opinion about chipping—which I believe that Chris also shares—before we get slandered for being chipping apologists.

To be totally clear, we do not support chipping at all, especially the kind of chipping that Louie Anderson appears to have been doing in Ten Sleep. The photos I’ve seen of his chipped holds are totally fucked. They’re unacceptable and out of line with any normal climbing ethic anywhere else in the world that I’ve seen.

Louie’s brand of chipping is the archetype most climbers imagine when they rail against chipped holds—ugly dripped jugs in otherwise blank rock to make routes easier than they would be otherwise. But this brand of chipping is also the exception. Many climbing areas have chipped holds, but very few have chipped holds like this.

In this episode, Chris and I speak about chipping with a bit nuance that we realized later might get lost on some of our audience. To be clear, the kind of chipping that we’re referencing is the kind that actually exists on a grey, nuanced ethical spectrum and is only acceptable insofar as most climbers will happily climb these chipped routes and rave about them without even realizing that they are indeed grabbing modified holds.

The case of Louie Anderson is clear cut. He is a terrible route developer making horrible routes, and his brand of chipping shouldn’t be tolerated anywhere.

But if you find yourself taking a hardline stance on chipping, you should also realize that it’s complicated. I can almost guarantee you many of the routes that you love have chipped holds, modified holds, holds that have been glued on, or holds that have been altered or removed, either to bring routes down the developer’s level, or more commonly to make routes harder than they would’ve been otherwise.

With that said, here’s our latest episode. Thanks for all the great feedback. And we appreciate you leaving reviews of the show on iTunes or wherever.

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