The ethics of climbing

by Tom Markiewicz on June 27, 2006

Mark Scott-Nash of wrote a thought provoking article on the ethics of climbing.

The “guidelines” of climbing range from restricting one’s technical climbing style to the first ascentionist style ?? for example, no new bolt placements ?? to not claiming an ascent of a peak unless you actually stand on the summit. They help us measure and define what is in reality a very open-ended activity.

But there are more serious ethics that come in to play when the stakes are higher.

Two incidents rocked the climbing world in May. David Sharp, a British climber on Mount Everest, was reportedly solo climbing when he ran into trouble and slowly died high on the mountain. Scores of people climbed past Sharp while he faded away in the thin, cold air on May 15. And in a completely different type of incident on the other side of the world, rock-climbing star Dean Potter made an ascent on an off-limits rock formation in Utah called Delicate Arch on May 7, sparking a controversy that has drawn national attention.

Climbing ethics is always a touchy issue, but the author brings up some salient points. The full article is a good read.

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