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THE LOWDOWN: Chris Sharma about red tagging

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When I started climbing 16 years ago, red tagging was super common and way over done.  People would bolt entire crags and not even be trying the routes and red tag them all simultaneously.  Some would even just put the first bolt and then claim it as theirs.  No doubt...

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=54494

Some of these replies were posted on Björn's old blog website, and so won't be from registered UKC users
Lee Cujes 31 Mar 2010
Bravo. The key with this issue, like so much in life is about personal respect.
Thomas J 31 Mar 2010
I'm glad he wrote his opinion. I'm not going to try to provoke anybody, but just have one question.

So if you've been friends with Chris for a long time, your allowed to work on FRFM and if not, well that's too bad???
John A. 31 Mar 2010
Well said Chris!
gian 31 Mar 2010
feels a bit voyeur, but it's interesting to read this.

my armchair 2 cents is that such misunderstandings are the price to pay for the unprecedented media exposure the route has got while still being a project.

It is a bit as if i was dating an amazing looking girl, ask her "when we are in public, dress and act as sexy as you can" and then ask that no other male tries to get laid with her...
Chri 31 Mar 2010
Well...that´s a pretty impressive piece of writing. My feelings towards the subject are exactly the same. Maybe (please note that i said maybe) nNlle thought he could do it fast and make himself an even bigger name...
@Thomas: exactly that´s how it is. I would let my brother or my long time friends try my project but wouldn´t let some guy I have never even met before. that´s just the way it is.
I personally am totally with Chris´s general opinion. Joe Kinder has labeled red tagging lame. I doubt that he would still label it lame if some guy came and send his projects now that he has taken up bolting as well. There seems to be a strangely consumerist and thereby elistist attitude among pro climbers (some of them) who seem to believe that they can harvest the crops without planting them (which is done by the guy with the drill, if only he was a better climber and was able to do it faster...).
ABC 31 Mar 2010
Gian I am loving your very acute comparison.. It's hard to oversell something and then expect everyone to look the other way, even if they have the "buying" credentials.. Note that I am not blaming Chris for the overselling there (nor anyone else in particular for all that matters).
Anonymous 31 Mar 2010
A few observations from the peanut gallery;
1) Props to Chris for his candid reply. I'm more impressed with this modest response than if he'd have sent 'yet another' mega-gnarly route.
2) I wish people weren't so quick to see things in black and white terms. Neither Chris or Nalle have behaved poorly. It seems an unfortunate misunderstanding with no winners, but no real harm done. I wish that, in a community as small as ours, people wouldn't start acting like sharks that smell blood in the water.
3) I also respect that Nalle didn't seem to initially be trying to make a big deal out of the "redtag". The story seems to have developed some momentum on it's own, and I hope that Nalle realizes that Chris asking him to stay off is actually a huge compliment in a strange way. After Chris has sent FRFM, it will be very interesting to see how Nalle adapts to the route, providing this whole thing hasn't soured him on the idea. Both these guys are aesthetic and athletic powerhouses, it would be really sad to see stupid ego shit turn them against one another.
Sakari McGregor 31 Mar 2010

I think different, I would let an unknown person to try my projects, even if he would climb it.

It wouldn't change the fact that it would still be a project for me. yeah I couldn't name it, but it could still be a 5 star problem or route.

I don't think Nalle is trying to harvest others problems and routes, he just wants to push his personal limit, (I'm not sure you were talking about him when you said "without planting them@( and don't go on about saying that Nalle hasn't opened a lot of quality stuff for all the climbers out there...

and in nalle's blog he didnt even talk about FRFM, it was some random who started asking questions about the nines he had tried in spain, and the conversation just started boosting up, and finally it came out that he wasnt allowed to project on FRFM...
Anonymous 31 Mar 2010
Thanks Chris, for taking the time to share your position. Also for the right forum to this - props to Bjorn for a really nice blog.

Even from watching your movies, the personal intensity you climb with shines through. With that in mind, I find it funny reading comments "if it were me, I would open all of my projects" from climbers like me that have perhaps never invested more than a few attempts at a bolted route.

I can only imagine the connection you must feel with the rock after so much time, and effort spent on a line. In addition, the ever-increasing pressure to send it, must be no small thing.
Sakari McGregor 31 Mar 2010

If your comment "I find it funny reading comments "if it were me, I would open all of my projects" from climbers like me that have perhaps never invested more than a few attempts at a bolted route." is regarding my post, well have you also thought about that we who don't climb for a living don't have the time or the money to travel to new sectors and bolt our hearts out.

isn't climbing about pushing each others limits, sharing experiences, and finding new stuff for everybody.

but these are just my thoughts, i dont try to do FA's, i just try to find and climb really cool looking nice lines with my friends, and i thank all the people who have brushed all the nice boulders and bolted all the nice routes we have around.
Fred 31 Mar 2010
Nice answer from Chris but common, when you are among the legends of the climbing world it's in my humble and brave opinion a totally lack of style from somebody wanting to promote the image produced these past years.. really cool guys don't close projects especially when they are super strong like Chris is. I'm afraid I'm not a Chris fan anymore... no more style...
Stephen Gordon 31 Mar 2010
I can't believe how idealistic some people are. It's all very well to be caring and sharing, but why should anybody spend hours bolting a project if other climbers don't respect it and let them try it? Do you think the bolts will drill themselves?
The tradeoff is simple -- the FA invests effort in bolting the line, and in return gets the opportunity to climb it first. Other climbers invest in the climb by allowing the FA the opportunity to climb it, and in return get another nicely bolted climb that they can do the 2nd ascent of.

It seems like Nalle understands this and has respect for Chris so this is all a storm in a teacup.
gian 31 Mar 2010

it could also work in another way.

a good but not neccessarily cutting edge climber bolts good lines and gets credit, media exposure, minor sponsorhip and funds for doing it.
This climber also names his routes.

Stronger climbers like sharma and nalle FA the lines keeping the original name and in the post-fa interview spend a lot of words in praise of the bolter.
John 31 Mar 2010
Wow. Great response by Chris. I can see both of their perspectives on this... and, as someone said, they've both proved reasonable.

In the end, I've come out of this with more respect for both Nalle and Chris.

Good luck to both with their projects.

(hope this controversy doesn't diminish Chris' motivation for FRFM) Send, Chris!
Climbing Islove 31 Mar 2010
My compliments to Chris for such a thoughtfully humble reply. I really couldn't agree with Chris more and only wish I could have put it so clearly myself. And compliments to Bjorn for always managing to facilitate constructive discourse.
Anonymous 31 Mar 2010

Sure I have thought of that, seeing how I am one of these people that falls squarely into that category - but this still doesn't give me the right to pontificate about proper ethics using the argument "if i could, i would". If anything, it makes me aware that since I am in this situation of an unexperienced observer, I should defer to the judgement of someone who

a) Is in tune with the local ethics at the crag.
b) Has bolted numerous routes at the same crag (and all over the world.)
c) Is a world class climber with great reputation.

Doesn't it seem silly that I should claim to know better about the route that HE bolted, in the crag next door to HIS house when I am a million miles away, supporting my discussion with metaphysical statements such as "if it were me?"

Until I hear from another authority - this explanation seems good to me.

Anonymous 31 Mar 2010
Very measured response from chris. I dont think nalle comes across well from this situation at all. Sounds like he just wanted to see if he could grab some media attention and fa a hard project without putting in any work or showing respect to chris- who has obviously contributed alot to climbing in catalunya. Why not bolt some other project when he was in spain?
Anonymous 31 Mar 2010
"And the first ascent is very different. It only can happen once....
...People love to do first ascents but don't want to do any of the leg work..."

Are we talking about Women? Is Daila a FA for Chris? or less important if Dani did the FA? ahhh Probably they are friends so no problem.

nice to see that the guy who didn't grade boulders, who was all Buddhist... is a bit more like all the others...

marketing Chris marketing
ZK 31 Mar 2010
I hate to add to the pile on this topic, but this is common sense manners we are discussing. Which is why it's silly that anyone would get negative on Chris because of this. His position is completely reasonable.

@Sakari on 'Nalle is just trying to push his limits'. Come on! This is the only thing that would push Nalle's limits?! As Chris pointed out there are many projects in the area with out an FA that are open that would be Nalle's style. On top of that there are are at least two other well known 9b+(Neanderthal, Golpe de Estado) routes in Spain that he could try on for size before deciding that his appetite really couldn't be satisfied by anything other than FRFM.

Frankly I'm questioning Nalle's character when the scenario is that he openly said on his blog that he was going to Spain primarily to try FRFM. He did this likely knowing that Chris would be out of town, for sure knowing that Chris is close to a send, and for sure knowing that Chris is really psyched on this climb. Wanting to swoop in without throwing a courtesy request to Chris is just out right unsportsmanlike. In the end he respected Chris's wishes, but I'm not so sure his intent was respectful to begin with.

On whether or not the route should have been red tagged. Of course Chris doesn't own the rock, or the route. Nature obviously put it there, but it still takes creative and personal effort to visualize the line and make it 'reality'. Clearly an important part of that process for Chris is that a route isn't done being created until he's sent it. It makes sense that not getting the FA might ruin that process for some people. If an FA isn't an important part of the process for you, that doesn't mean you should disrespect someone else for which it is important. We all get motivated by different things.

I too hope Chris stays psyched for this line after all this silliness.

Keep up the inspiring work Chris!
Sakari McGregor 31 Mar 2010

Check out Nalle's reply...
pav 31 Mar 2010
Neanderthal and Golpe de Estado are both long, endurance routes. Nalle is primarily a boulderer and FRFM would surely suit him much better?
ZK 31 Mar 2010

Yeah just checked it out. I wish he had been that clear in his blog as opposed to being a bit ambiguous about not being allowed to climb it.

I understood Chris to mean that he and his buddies were projecting it together when he was around, or before he was inches away from sending it. If he said it's OK for you guys to try it while I'm gone and no one else, that is F@$d up. If you are going to close a route, it should be closed to everyone.

Sorry Nalle, now that you've cleared it up, I agree how you were excluded is inappropriate. I don't agree with the 'no redtagging' in general. Just that in this case it was done in poor taste.

Though I'm still psyched for Chris to send it. And given all Chris has done for climbing am willing to overlook this Faux pas.
ZK 31 Mar 2010

Yeah good point. I only meant that there is plenty to choose from in the area(or the world), and that singling out a route you know someone is still desperately trying to send(that they found and bolted) may not have been the best choice at the time.

But given Nalle's additional context that he was standing there watching others try it kind of nullifies the rest of my points. =)
Anonymous 31 Mar 2010
I think that the vision of Nalle standing there while other 3 guys climbed doesn't nullifies anything at all. Sharma - Andrada - Graham are friends, maybe they discuss about FRFM since several months and maybe (never happened to you) two of them are there just "to help" Sharma, giving him hints, presence, but whithout a real chance or even will to send it. Nalle came from far away to put shoes on and send it. The red tagging is not against Nalle, it involves the entire world except for those three guys, and amongst those 3 guys I guess there's only one who really wants, has the chnace to and try to send it. It was not smooth, it was not a crime, it was simply human, something that happens thousends of time in the crag of your courtyard, but something you can highly judge on since it comes from a media-pumped Sharma.

Shame on BigUp, shame on this world where we are all judge of everyone other but ourselves.
Anonymous 31 Mar 2010
I think you should have 2 years from the time you bolt something to when it should become an open project. That to me seems like a good balance between respecting the wishes and intents of the bolter, provided he/she actually wants the FA, and not claiming ownership of something no one really owns.

Chris's statement about there being practically unlimited unbolted hard projects in Catalunya also bears some weight, and I wonder what the reaction would be if the roles were reversed, and Chris travelled to Finland to try a project Nalle was invested in.
Anonymous 31 Mar 2010
I think no rule, precise term and expiration date can solve the problem, since the problem is the base on wich this issue has grown: good looking worse acting media pumping that emphasized personal way of live, act, and feel. And most of all, too many expectations and too many indiscriminated "fans". It was a deluded fan who killed john Lennon...
Fred 31 Mar 2010
"And the first ascent is very different. It only can happen once....
...People love to do first ascents but don't want to do any of the leg work..."

Are we talking about Women? Is Daila a FA for Chris? or less important if Dani did the FA? ahhh Probably they are friends so no problem.

That make sense.
Fred 31 Mar 2010
"And the first ascent is very different. It only can happen once....
...People love to do first ascents but don't want to do any of the leg work..."

Are we talking about Women? Is Daila a FA for Chris? or less important if Dani did the FA? ahhh Probably they are friends so no problem.

That make sense.
Truth 31 Mar 2010
His route is like his own private gym, and he can invite his old friends to play on it, and he didn't know Nalle personally, so it's 100% logic to do that.

so for all those seeing he's not fair, go fuck yourself, he gave everyone a huge number of routes, that you probably will never climb, so why bother attacking him? he did all the work, and he will one day make it open. I find everyone disagreeing with him, really stupid, and that knows nothing about the true spirit of interaction with the rock. the new line or boulder project is like a super discovery and it can be compared to kids having their own new game, soo into it... knowing that Dave and Dani will are not that good to do it hehe, he won't have pressure, but Nalle seems fresh, young and strong, and unstoppable, so he brought fear, and i understand that, i have the same feeling about my projects. It's a matter of ego, yes, but you can't say anything about it. Like i have a ferrari, and i gave it to 2 friends to try it, and not to you, what can you do?! it's the same, in different rules
Noah Kaufman, MD 31 Mar 2010
I enjoyed your honesty and candor, Chris. There is no right and wrong in this situation. ...One just has to dive with the heart and be confident about it.
Anonymous 02 Apr 2010
Except...you own a Ferrari, you don't own the wall, your logic is completely flawed. And being irate and loud doesn't make your argument work better. I agree with Chris on this one but your method of delivery does not help the situation.
Polux 03 Apr 2010
one thing I'd like to know is whether Adam Ondra was "allowed" to try FRFM when he went to Spain, or is it why he went to try Demencia Senil ?
Truth 05 Apr 2010
@anonymous, he made the route, without him it wouldn't be discovered.without his eyes, other's would not have bolted the same route.

so you are narrow minded my friend.
Fede 21 Apr 2010
Well said Chris!!

I truly appreciate your transparency and fairness, besides you're the biggest sport climber you're also a great person!
I fully agree that everyone should respect the work and effort of others.
Go Chris gives us another first ascent with garnde FRFM!!

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