Climbing Ethics: Vital Decision-Making Scenarios

In the act of climbing in the outdoors, we often face ethical forks in the road. The choices we make can effect the wilderness, as well as our and others’ access and experiences as climbers. Put yourself in these scenarios and ask yourself what decision you would make.


1. You see a climber struggling on Birthday Direct in the Buttermilks. After spending seven seasons in Bishop, you have that climb dialed. What do you do?

 

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2. You already pooped before you got to the Motherlode at the Red River Gorge, but last night’s Miguel’s pizza is turning today into a multi-poop day. What do you do?

 

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Related: Eco-Tip: When in Doubt, Pack it Out

 

3. You’re really psyched to get on the West Face of El Cap, but a ranger tells you that the area is closed for the season due to the Peregrine Flacons. What do you do?

 

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4. You’ve been hiking out to Resident Evil every day of your spring break trip to Joe’s Valley, and notice that there is a much shorter way to get to the problem. However, this short cut doesn’t follow a well-established trail. What do you do?

 

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Related: Eco-Tip: Disturbing the Dirt

 

5. You’re projecting Poodles are People Too in Joshua Tree. You head out early with friends and you’re the first at the cliff. You warmed up on White Lightening hours ago, but left your rope up in case you want to do another lap. Other climbers just arrived and are looking up at White Lightening. What do you do?

 

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6. You finally found a hidden foot chip on Center El Chinto in Ten Sleep Canyon. It is hard to see until you draw a large tick mark coming off of it. Unfortunately, you don’t send the route today but plan to come back tomorrow. What do you do?

 

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7. When you arrive at the warm-up area in Horse Pens 40, you notice old tape, beer bottles, and a Clif bar wrapper on the ground. What do you do?

 

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8. You’re backcountry skiing in Tahoe and find a huge, unclimbed granite boulder that has classics all over it. You’ve never climbed in Tahoe before and aren’t sure about the history or ethics of the area. What do you do?

 

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9. It’s finally sunny after two days of rain in Red Rocks. You know that sandstone if soft and fragile after rain, but you’re itching to climb and you only have one day left on your trip. What do you do?

 

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10. It’s a Sunday morning and you don’t have anything going on all day. Your friend texts you about a clean-up that the Access Fund is hosting at your local crag, Indian Rock. What do you do?

 

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We hope that as a beneficiary to our awesome planet, you’ll embrace climbing ethics, including Leave No Trace principles, and being a respectful and responsible member of the climbing community! One easy way to do so, is to join the Access Fund and support their efforts to preserve access to our treasured climbing areas.

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