Climbers Have No Respect – WTF?

Recently a friend and I were having a conversation about climbers and the general selfishness and lack of respect that seems to be so prevalent in the climbing community today. We got on the topic after reading an article in a recent issue of Climbing magazine about a wall at the Red River Gorge that was recently closed because climber’s couldn’t follow the rules. The landowners ran a bed and breakfast type operation, with guiding at the cliffs, and set a few simple rules to keep guest/climber interactions good for both parties: keep dogs on a leash, no swearing, please use the outhouse. So simple a five year old could follow them, but apparently, not a bunch of climbers. After repeated offenses, the owners had no choice but to close the cliff. The topic of dogs at the crags is a whole other problem, but how freakin complicated is it to keep the damn thing on a leash? And urinating in plain view of the trail? Come on!

Another place climbers have clashed with the landowner in a similar fashion is Indian Creek. After repeated incidents with dogs chasing cattle, rude climber/cowboy interactions and more, why the Dugout Ranch has continued to allow climbers on their land is beyond me. Maybe when Super Crack and Battle of the Bulge are off limits climbers will finally wake up…

Closer to home, I was reading the sign in log for a local crag, which was peppered with comments like “for a good time call…” and “i saw a lizard and killed it”. Is this what you want land managers to read? They probably wont find it quite as funny and next time they are considering access issues, you can bet something like this will stick in their minds.

Another local example is some recent development in a canyon to the west of here. The private property line was very clear, and yet climbers just had to bolt that one route right on (and apparently over) the private property line. They could have just focused on the abundance of rock to the left, but no, they had to sneak in that one route right at the limit. Everybody makes mistakes when land ownership is unclear, but something this blatant is just uncalled for.

Some are quick to blame the younger “gym” generation, saying they have no respect for outdoor ethics, but there are plenty of crusty old climbers out there too who don’t like being told what to do and rules be damned.

Put all these pieces together and you get a picture of a group of individuals that think they are better than others and that rules don’t apply to them. Climbing used to be counter culture, but give it up folks, it’s mainstream now and our actions are being scrutinized, and we are being judged. If we can’t get it together, we will continue to lose access to the places we hold so dear.

Maybe the Access Fund should work on changing climbers’ attitudes and then they wouldn’t be so busy cleaning up our messes.

9 Responses to Climbers Have No Respect – WTF?

  1. Nice post, this may be better spent on the home-page of Would really stir up some controversy.

    Hasn’t the unofficial motto of area-developing climbers been, “Bolt First, Ask Later”?


    roomate August 6, 2007 at 9:35 pm
  2. the days of bolt first, ask later are quickly coming to an end…

    BJ Sbarra August 6, 2007 at 9:42 pm
  3. I have to agree about these access issues. There seems to be a certain sense of entitlement by people to make up their own rules when they are not in any position to do so. I know the landowner at the RRG was more than accommodating for a long time and people really screwed it up. Of course people come in right after to bail them out by buying the land so people can come back and probably continue to abuse the land.

    Also, thanks for the comments. I really dig your content and layout…really cool!

    Brian August 6, 2007 at 10:46 pm
  4. BJ,
    You know how I feel about this so I won’t bore you too long with my abundant crust…I will say couple things about the access issues in Indian Creek. First of all, there it is mostly the “older” (not age, but lifetime climbing in IC) generation that is the problem. Many feel entitled because they were there “first”. But of course, that is complete crap unless you are Ed Webster or a few others. The Redds were there “first” (not counting the long dead Anasazi) and I am blown away by their generosity in the face of the noise, visual, and privacy abuses perpetrated by climbers. I would be busting up those f-ing drum circles that appear every holiday with a shotgun if I lived down there. Still, many have banded together to try and live under the horribly strict rules, I mean RULE, singular, of the BLM: don’t leave your shit lying around (didn’t I learn that in kindergarten?) and some common sense rules like shut the hell up and maybe its not the best idea to collect and burn every piece of dead wood in a desert. But still, I feel we are only one or two more dog incidences, or cowboy confrontations, or loud obnoxious parties away from losing the place for good. I’ll be bummed but I will also not be surprised because climbers as a whole are selfish egomaniacs who would rather thumb their collective noses at authority than show some maturity and save their favorite crags.

    Chris Kalous August 7, 2007 at 6:01 am
  5. What is even more disheartening is that even after the Torrent closure climbers still didn’t seem to learn their lesson. After continuing dog problems at Muir Valley, another privately owned RRG crag, the owners have announced that starting in 2008 dogs will no longer be allowed. I should also point out that the purchase of Torrent Falls by a new climbing frieldly owner did not “bail us out”. The crag remains closed and the new owner has made it clear that when it is reopened the number of people allowed to climb at any one time will be very limited.

    I don’t think we should put the entire onus of educating climbers onto the Access Fund. Educating people about responsible climbing ethics should be the mission of everyone involved in the sport from the magazines and sponsored athletes down to your weekend warriors. If you see someone doing something that might jeopardize access, politely let them know.

    Bill Strachan, Executive Director
    Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition


    I imagine that more than a few of you western CO climbers know Chris Goplerud? Next time you see him tell him that Captain Static said hello and that he ought to get back east someday and come climbing in the beautiful Red River Gorge!

    Captain Static August 7, 2007 at 9:24 pm
  6. “Educating people about responsible climbing ethics should be the mission of everyone involved…”

    The sad thing is this isn’t really about “climbing ethics”. This is simply about acting respectfully and decently. That is what chaps my ass about the whole thing. The problem is not the bolts, the chalk, the fixed gear or any of the other unavoidable transgressions that go with our sport and are usually at the heart of access issues. It’s simply about selfish behavior on a very basic level.

    And to Mr. Strachan and BJ, thanks for working towards solutions to problems that others cause.

    Chris Kalous August 13, 2007 at 10:53 pm
  7. I totally understand about the disrespect of the land owner’s. I’m from the southeastern U.S and we have some really mindless people here at times, either their spray painting the rock or trashing up the place up. Not all southern climbers are like that of coarse, but as you know there in the creek area that one out of a hundred is all it takes to shut the climbing access down! I we have to do is RESPECT the land and it’s owner’s and they will work with us on the access issues-RESPECT!!

    Brad Killough December 31, 2007 at 9:00 pm
  8. Great article, good looking blog, added it to my favs!

    Colemerointet November 24, 2009 at 11:58 am
  9. From what i’ve found living here in Bishop, I completely agree with your posts. Most climbers that I have met here are extremely selfish, quick to judge, and live off either their parents or the government. They have no respect for the local culture in the town and they always use people to get what they need.

    Bishop Local March 17, 2010 at 7:03 pm
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