Should ethical standards depend on grade?


Friday, 15 January

If my 8-year-old dabs his first 5A, I don't tell him that his new personal best isn't valid. On the other hand, ascents of historical importance in the climbing community must submit to the highest ethical standards regarding onsight, rope drag, dabbing, etc.

Yannick Flohe recently did Dreamtime 8B+ (C) but in his video you can see him touching a tree while lifting his foot for a heal-hook in the super easy ending. In the video he added a sticker, "Dab", when it happens, and he also mentions it in his Insta. Some have claimed this send isn't valid. In this case, I think it's ok, as there's a video showing exactly how it happened and it evidently didn't help him.

However, had it been an 8C+, I would have been more sceptical, especially if he had done it some years ago. Had it been a 9A, I would have strongly questioned the ascent, and had it been the world's first 9A I would say it's not valid.

Onsight ethics are more difficult as they have changed over the years. Yuji Hirayama has been credited for doing the world's first 8c onsight in 1999, even though he belayed his friend on the route several times before his ascent. I totally trust that Yuji wasn't helped by belaying his partner. In other words, one could say he onsighted it!

On the other hand, should this be considered the world's first 8c onsight? I don't think so, unless it's always clearly mentioned that “he had previously belayed his friend several times”, whenever this onsight is mentioned. Furthermore, for safety reasons we don't want this onsight approach to become standard as it means the belayer needs to look down.

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