- Does a climber have any kind of obligation to prove a claimed ascent?
- Does the climbing community have any right to doubt anyone's word?
- Is the climbing media supposed to scrutinize suspicious ascents and ask inconvenient questions?
Our sport is based on trust, and if a climber's word isn't good enough, this base would fall appart. However, if you claim to have climbed the most difficult route in the world and has a dubious track record, it's inevitable people are going to ask questions and demand some kind of proof. Barnabé Fernandez knew what was waiting when he contacted Desnivel , claiming his ascent. After all, it wasn't the first time he climbed a controversial route. According to Alexander Huber, he chopped off natural holds when Iker Pou found a new way (avoiding the artificial holds) of solving the crux of Orujo, his 9a+ at Archidona.
One could argue that Barnabé DID prove he could climb the route though. According to photographer David Manilla, Barnabé climbed all the moves in front of his camera during a photo shoot after the FA. If so, one might wonder about the fact(?) that there aren't any photos showing him climb the crux sequence.
Another problem is that there were no rubber anywhere on the top section when Dani Andrada tried the route just three weeks after the FA.
Of course Barnabé doesn't have to prove anything to anyone if he doesn't want to. After all, there are no laws or regulations. But then again, if he doesn't want to make the small effort of doing this, we don't have any obligation to believe what he says. We can believe what we want. Remember he chose the attention when he could have chosen not to tell anyone. If he's climbed the route, this is a sad situation, but he should have seen it coming and thus he brought it on himself.
What I believe?
I'm not convinced either way as there are fairly strong evidence pointing in both directions. I think media has a responsibilty to sometimes be inconvenient, but at the same time it's also extremely important not to let innocent heads roll. This I've learnt the hard way, and I don't want to make the same mistake again.
What do you think?