FRFM Controversy - Why Do We Climb?

Chris Sharma, presumably the best climber in the world has been accused of red tagging.

What's red tagging? Let's say you bolted a sport climbing route and want to be the first to climb it. You would hang a red sling in the first bolt and this way people would know the project climb is reserved for the climber who bolted it. That's red tagging.

While Sharma didn't actually hang a red tag on his route - "First Round First Minute", on which you can see him working in the climbing video "Progression" by BigUp Productions (trailer above) - he did ask climbers not to try it, as he wants to be the first to complete it. He wants to have the first ascent and asked Finnish climber and boulderer Nalle Hukkataival to try other projects. Nalle came to Spain specifically for this route but as he said "Later on I found it extremely weird standing there on the ground, watching Dave Graham and Dani Andrada trying FRFM, when I wasn't allowed to..." You can read Nalle's blog here.

Chris wrote an article on his girlfriend's blog in which he lays out his thoughts on red tagging - First Respect First Minute.

You can read two interesting articles about this on or on BigUp Productions Blog.

I don't want to judge anyone here. I just want to say that I'm new to the red tagging concept and I've never heard of it being practiced here, in Romania. If you listen to Tommy Caldwell at second 47 in the clip above you can hear him saying "...even if I can't climb this I want to plant the seed for someone in the future to come and inspire us all." For all I know, when a climber bolts a route, he makes a generous act for all the climbers out there who are definitely allowed and/or invited to come and climb it. I always thought climbing is a lifestyle rather than a sport and sharing the fun was a part of it.

It seems that for top climbers performance and first ascents may become a priority. Nothing wrong with that but if ego goes too high it just doesn't feel right to me... If I would like to try a route and a guy came to to me and asked me not to, coz it's his project I would be left with the impression he's not cool and I would get either intrigued or sad...

But anyway, I wouldn't know how it is to be a top climber coz I'm weak and lazy. I don't claim to hold the absolute truth when it comes to balancing ego and performance.

Go climbing for fun. Share the joy. Share the tips and tricks. Connect with people and performance + first ascents + glory (if you're in it for glory) will come naturally. I'm just saying...

So why do we climb? William Shatner has the answer.

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