Ethical dilemmas and what about cheating?


Friday, 3 December

Over the years, I have received plenty of emails where climbers inform about high profile climbers cheating. The most common way to cheat seems to be using tight belay, i.e. rope drag stopping the pendulum swing while doing dynamic moves in an overhang. Personally, I have also witnessed it but then the climber just responded, "It was not my fault!" In the end, my friend did the route again but according to the emails I am receiving, tight belay might be used also by the top climbers.

Other cheating comments I have received during the years are giving beta during onsights, belaying friends trying to redpoint a route as well as asking for tickmarks before his onsight attempt, pre-clipping carabiners or commenting that the logged ascents were a complete lie. When it comes to bouldering, sometimes climbers seem to misunderstand where the boulder starts, stacking crash pads or dabbing the pad or the spotter.

It should be mentioned that we have only twice received such cheating complaints about top-level or famous ascents. In both cases, I talked to the climbers and was pleased with the answers. However, as climbing is growing and there is more money and lucrative sponsor contracts out there, the cheating and crossing the ethical border will most probably increase. There are many classical examples of cheating in other sports and possibly there is no other sport where it is so easy to cheat like in climbing.

I do remember when a climber told my local community that he had done a 7a onsight. We met him at the crag and asked him if he could show us his sequence. After some five minutes working the crux with no success, he said, "It is strange but it seems I am much better onsighting!" He hang-dogged to the third bolt but also there he could not solve the second crux. My point here is that mythomaniacs are part of society and surely also found among the climbing community.

As it stands, crossing the ethical borders and cheating in climbing has not been a big problem but actually, this year I have received several emails on the subject. However, it has not have had an impact on the reported news. In the future, I could possibly send out a message to the climber involved if I get two independent emails? What do you think?

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