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The conflict between traditionalists and tricksters extends to methods of reporting new routes. Whereas climbers once agreed to report their first-ascent style openly, now information about style is not readily forthcoming. Some tricksters simply refuse to say how they did a climb, perhaps believing the style of ascent is no one's business. They may not lie about how they climbed, but often they remain silent about their style of ascent until asked directly. Their silence creates an awkward and misleading situation. For example, Morris remarks of a Tuolumne first ascent: "No one will ever know for sure whether [the leader] drilled all the bolts strictly on the lead." And referring to Piece de Resistance, another Tuolumne climb, Morris states, "Only one bolt—but [the climbers] would never say which one—was supposedly drilled on aid." Other climbers acknowledge their aid ladders or rests on protection, but only to close companions. The information rarely gets into print. Journal articles relate heroics, not style, and modern guidebooks, short on history but long on route maps, contain few references to the style of ascent.

Climbers arguing for full disclosure of style perceive a glaring contradiction in the paucity of reporting. Why are tricksters so loud in defending what they are doing but so reluctant to reveal their style of ascent? It appears tricksters want a free ride on the backs of people climbing in traditional style. Because tricks are a relatively new phenomenon, climbers unaware of the inside story presume traditional styles were employed and give their respect accordingly.

It is time to reexamine the issue of climbing styles. The first question is obvious: why should there be any agreement about styles? The answer is equally clear: because these agreements safeguard the climbing enjoyment of others. Some agreements between climbers aim at facilitating the competitive side of the sport. Contrary to cherished belief, climbing is a competitive sport. Climbing a route all free, with limited protection, and on the first try means much more than climbing it after rehearsing moves or placing protection on rappel. Consequently, climbers should agree to reveal how new routes, particularly hard ones, were done. Only in this way can climbers test themselves by trying routes in the same or better style.

 

 

Bachar on Crack-A-Go-Go. Lanny Johnson.



 
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