Lama Speaks Out on Compressor Debacle

Posted on: July 28, 2010

Editor's Note: In a June 1, 2010 NewsWire, reported that dozens of bolts had been added to the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre in support of David Lama's attempt to free the iconic route. The story incited a heated ethical debate that resounded in the climbing world. On July 25, Lama responded to the controversy on his website. What follows is a translation of the German that Lama posted on

Over the last few months my sponsor Red Bull and I have been confronted with heavy criticism. Precisely it dealt with the film production from my project on Cerro Torre and the leaving of material on the mountain.

After my alpine projects in the Dolomites and Mont Blanc and the competitions in Chamonix and Arco, it is high time to put down some thoughts on this subject on paper.

I, as well as all the other people involved in the project, am exceedingly unhappy with the current state of the thing. The following lines are intended to give a glimpse into the future of my project and above all to narrate the events up to this time from my point of view for those who wish to deal with this topic:

In December 2008 a friend gave me the idea to climb the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre free. This idea would not leave me alone, completely the opposite; the more I though about this project, the deeper the idea drove, becoming almost a type of vision.


Because such an expedition is a costly affair, I was glad to have a partner on my side who would lend an open ear to my dream and vision. Above all, Red Bull was excited by this project and the idea of making a high quality documentary film of it. I was surprised and excited by the significance ascribed to my enterprise. Both Red Bull and I knew the difficulty in the logistics of filming on the mountain because, unlike other shootings, on this terrain it would be impossible for me concentrate on anything other than my own climbing, not even on the safety of the crew. I was happy that Red Bull understood this, and I gave the job of seeing to the crew's safety to a three-man mountain guide team. The jobs were clearly separated so I could concentrate on my climbing, and the crew on the documentary.

For the mountain guides, it naturally was most important to guarantee the safety of the team. For me it was especially important to make sure that the mountain was polluted as little as possible and not to interfere with other climbers' attempts.

Therefore our lead guide determined that it made the most sense to set a fixed line from the highpoint to the foot of the shoulder. For this goal 12 bolts were placed above the shoulder and 14 placed below, that for the most part were placed far to the side of the actual route. [Editor's Note: When questioned by Alpinist in May 2010, neither David Lama nor his film crew nor Red Bull denied that roughly 50-60 bolts were placed. This number was cited by Horacio Graton, an Argentine guide hired by Red Bull to clean rope and other gear left by Lama and his team. Furthermore, Rolando Garibotti asserts that the bolts in question were placed along the routeline—visible to and within reach of climbers on route—not "far to the side."] The normal rappel route from the shoulder was too dangerous due to icefall.

It was very important for us, after the completion of our project, to leave the mountain clean. During production we cut down ropes left by previous teams, brought them down to the valley and disposed of them. This was also our plan for our own equipment. Naturally, we had planned for a lot of poor weather, but with such heavy snow it became clear that after a month we would not reach the shoulder. Because of this, before our departure, Argentine guides were hired to bring our fixed ropes and abandoned gear down to the valley as soon as conditions allowed. One haulbag and the bolts were the only things that could not be secured. These will of course be removed in the coming season. The material that was left in Nipo Nino, a camp between El Chalten and the shoulder, was cached by us.

The critical voices from the scene have not left us unmoved. Cleaning bolts and not placing them in the first place are two separate issues. The critics have made me think, and above all conversations with friendly alpinists have sharpened my views on these issues.

It is true that the stone is crossed with many crack systems, with opportunities for removable protection, which the camera crew could have used to jumar. But that is easy to say when you are not the one responsible for the lives and well being of the people who work on these placements meter after meter after a violent storm. I would not want this responsibility and understand the decision of our lead guide to place a limited number of bolts.

Bolts or no bolts, for many the controversy lies in whether or not someone should even attempt a production like ours on such a mountain. That question is what divides climbers. Film projects and photo shootings will always be a part of professional climbing and with that also a part of my life. I have without a doubt accepted the consequences from my critics and agreed with Red Bull that for the next attempt on this project other tactics will be used, and no additional bolts will be placed for the production. This decision will have consequences on the quality of the production, but I am happy that Red Bull is with me in this resolution. If it turns out that the film project is no longer possible, and the production abandoned, I will not change my plan—to attempt to free Cerro Torre.

Translated by Keese Lane

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Is it just me or is a corporate sponsor, climbing guides, helicopter, and a safety crew more AID than even Maestri used!? Lama must mean "free" ascent as in one which doesn't cost a dime, and where he gets paid to do it!

Lama calls these climbs "my alpine projects." The only alpine projects Lama should work on is cleaning up trash assholes leave on mountains.

2011-01-25 22:11:18

David, leave the Cerro Torre alone. Don't do it. It will ruin your reputation forever. If you really want to climb it free (or not free), go alpine style and don't add any unnecessary bolt. And leave your sponsor at home. You don't need this. Trust me.

2011-01-25 18:24:47

Free the thing or don't free it... who cares really? Just don't make a big friggin' mess in the process in the interest of personal and corporate gain! You should give up on the pro climbing "phase" of your life and do it for your own reasons. If you just want to make money, gain social status, and utilize natural resources try a business or law degree. Your type of ambition is a real detriment to the climbing community as a whole.

2010-08-29 08:52:21


Sure, flame me if you want but you have not addressed, nor have you really understood my point. Let me try to be more clear and explain: This is a stylistic outrage rather than a an ethical issue. If it were an ethical issue it would involve significant, quantifiable, environmental damage. In my opinion it does not. The bolts will not affect the cliff ecosystem, they will not prevent lichens from growing, nor will they prevent any animals from nesting, etc. Thus, they have VERY LITTLE quantifiable environmental damage. On the other hand climbers seem to have accepted driving and flying all over the world to pursue their climbing related desires. This has real and quantifiable environmental impact, but it is totally accepted by the climbing community as a necessary evil, yet a few bolts placed on a wall incite outrage. This outrage has more to do with style than ethics, because for it to be an ethical issue there has to be some quantifiable, environmental damage. Your comparison to destroying the Mona Lisa or the Hope diamond is inaccurate, because even with the presence of the bolts, any individual can still choose to climb the route in the style of their choosing. Hence, a stylistic outrage rather than an ethical one. Not necessarily an illegitimate stylistic outrage, but stylistic never the less. Still, the manner in which one climbs a route is ultimately personal, each climber knows what style they choose to they climb a route and if they are happy with it then that is what matters. I just find it very hypocritical, that climbers are willing to DRIVE and FLY all over the world to get to the next best route, but a few bolts are the murder of the impossible, and the end of the world. I hope that everyone can follow this simpleton's arguments.

And now, something just for you Philo, because you decide to flame me first; You are probably some chicken-shit, armchair-environmentalist who loves sipping organic, free-trade, lattes, but who will drive all over for a weekend of fun without thinking anything of it. Good for you, two thumbs up, Brah!

Your friends who can free this route should stop bitching and go free the route. Clock is ticking........

2010-08-23 13:09:22

On a slightly more positive note, this incident has made me wonder what tactics were used by the other climbing films I've seen. Perhaps the most lasting legacy of this debacle will be a new "Red Bull Clause" in future climbing media:

"No mountains were harmed in the filming of this production."

2010-08-18 23:34:03

This entire thread is like listening to a trail runner explaining why his pursuits are so much more pure and difficult than a road runner (ok yeah, I've probably been that guy), or a horse user regaling ultra-light backpackers with the superior experience he has using such tactics, Hotshots vs. SmokeJumpers, 5th graders and 6th graders, etc.. Also, it reminds me of the absurd polarization between various groups of individuals that we see spreading throughout the world, no one able to give an inch on there views, everyone else is wrong, bummer... It's not a bad idea to ask yourself every once in a while whether or not you really think you have things figured out more than everyone else, even if you are a climber...

Now that all being said, I have to say that if the bolts were placed along the route, not far off to the side, that's some bs (and as someone said, those bolts are out of reach for the vast vast majority of climbers, yet this still doesn't excuse their placement). I feel that in areas that hold such historical significance (if that's even the right way to describe it) it is even more important to absolutely minimize impact in every way, and that holds even more true in such an amazing place as Patagonia. You don't sacrifice a public resource/landmark for personal goals.

I also think that some good can come out of climbing gaining a foothold with more members of the public, doing something to encourage and excite our more apathetic youths, exposing more individuals to the outdoors and the wonderful experiences that can be had there, and perhaps instilling a greater sense of ownership for the areas that provide us with some of our most cherished experiences. Maybe sacrifices are made in the process (dumb ass newbies, more impact [without education], etc.), maybe those sacrifices lead to more protection, more awareness, and a better future for all of us in the end. I'm not saying I want climbing to blow up to the point where you have to stand in line for every route, but I also think that as it is with everything, nothing is constant but change (and if you are really an alpinist, then you know which lines you don't have to wait for, ever, and you certainly shouldn't be upset about having to hike a little further).

Individuals involved in promoting our sport, whatever discipline, have an increasingly greater responsibility to be actively involved in educating the new climbers they draw in with there videos. That goes hand in hand with the responsibility that the promoters and those who fund such projects have as well. And personally, I do like watching climbing videos, I do like watching people suffering through spindrift, rest-stepping there way to wherever, especially on hot-ass summer days when you can't get the personal experience (there's no way anyone believes climbing videos are like watching a golf tournament on TV, is there). I'm not Reinhold Messner, I'm not Peter Croft, I'm not Chris Sharma or Derek Hersey or Warren Harding or Fred Beckey, but I have been inspired or at least had the stoke dial turn up a little from reading, watching and hearing about these individuals and there pursuits.

Now I'll just sit back and wait for the avalanche of disagreement I can hear headed my way, but that's all good, because I know I don't have all the answers.

2010-08-05 10:57:49

Oh yeah. You should probably select that sport that isn't dangerous. Something like tennis or golf would look awfully purty on my 62".

2010-08-04 19:00:27

You either love climbing, and what it represents, and you love those "mere" hunks of rocks, or you love own own personal ambition that endangers your fellow man to where you would "require" a camera crew, and thus bolts.

David, it's obvious what you care about most. For this, I'm truly glad that alpinism is such a "pointless" sport that means even less to you.

I'd rather not see you climb. Ever.

2010-08-04 18:56:45

My personal simple rule: Placing bolts should be avoided if at all possible. Sounds like that's not the case here!

2010-08-03 06:44:31
crag dweller

i think Lama's next project should be to free the in free it of bolts. i think they should go down there with cleaning the route as the single most important goal.

2010-08-03 01:53:47

I'm surprised nobody's mentioned all the accomplished mountaineers who are also amazing photogs/filmers that could have done this project clean.

2010-08-01 04:54:03

Junk ethics from the promoters of junk food.

This isn't about climbing. It's about fast money, cheap fame and a commercial film crew trashing an alpine environment.

As for the role climbers can play in the environmental movement, look at how Chouinard & eventually Patagonia changed the world. It all started with young climbers wanting to push standards and climb clean.

2010-07-31 11:14:21

Curious... Red Bull site says nothing about Cerro Torre now. They wont even accept email with Lama or Cerro Torre in the subject line. The heat must be building up. GOOD!

2010-07-31 01:04:17

Wow Blah, you sound like such a simpleton. I have several friends who stand a better than average chance of freeing the Compressor route. You know what they are PISSED!

Your argument is weak sauce. 99.9% of the world population stands no chance of displaying the talent and skill of Leonardo DaVinci. But does anyone want to see someone cut out Mona Lisa's smile for a souvenir? I have never seen the Hope diamond. Nor will I ever possess it. But I'll be damned if I want to see someone whack a chunk off of it as a memento.

Lama's debacle possessed none of the purity of alpinism. It was a shameless act of self aggrandizing promotion fueled by a pathetic corporate publicity stunt. Shame on all involved. More murder of the impossible.

2010-07-31 00:17:46

What does Schooner think about all this?

2010-07-30 22:08:46
scotty vincik

The compressor route is biggest bolting controversy in climbing, and Lama adds 60 bolts to it. What a little fuckhead, corporate dick sucker.

2010-07-30 13:39:30

"You are all upset about style rather than real environmental damage, because the real environmental damage is done getting to from europe/north america/asia to the cerro torre, not by adding a few bolts to the tower"

"you are all just whining because you have 0% chance of freeing this route. David is an 18 year old kid with incredible talent and the money to follow his vision of freeing the route"

Awesome...more inane relativism and irrelevant, sycophantic dick-measuring. Thanks for stopping by!

2010-07-30 12:03:50

Chat less, climb more. Those bolts are out of reach for 99.9999% of us all anyways.

2010-07-30 10:51:18

You are all upset about style rather than real environmental damage, because the real environmental damage is done getting to from europe/north america/asia to the cerro torre, not by adding a few bolts to the tower. Climbing is selfish and you are all just whining because you have 0% chance of freeing this route. David is an 18 year old kid with incredible talent and the money to follow his vision of freeing the route. So some bolts were added? This causes no more damage than you DRIVING TO YOUR LOCAL CRAG OR DESTINATION ON A ROAD, AN ASPHALT ROAD, SERIOUSLY!

2010-07-30 10:15:48

I wonder what Red Bull and David Lama are doing to make their trashing of a wilderness area right?

Is Red Bull donating to local climbers organizations, environmental organizations, ect?

It seems they are not. Simply trashing a beautiful mountain that I one day would like to climb and then not even really having the decency to apologize for it - or explicitly say why they will not apologize for it.

David Lama has issued a press release but NO APOLOGY - I wonder what he is doing to make his mistake right. And make it no doubt that these bolts are his responsibility. It was his decision to climb Cero Tore, just as he made the decision to abdicate the safty of the film crew to a third party. These bolts are the legacy of his climb.

If Davids press release was an apology - I wonder, where is the contrition? Where is the making right? I simply see a dedication to using the bolts again - not to removing them from the mountain and making right his damage.

David, you should volunteer your time to helping improve South American climbing areas - not destroying them.

I don't know if David speaks English. For the German speaking world —

Ich frage mich, was Red Bull und David Lama tun, um ihre Trashen einer Wildnis richtig machen?

Ist Red Bull Spende an einheimischen Kletterern, Umweltorganisationen, ect?

Es scheint, sind sie nicht. Simply Wegwerfen einer wunderschönen Berglandschaft, dass ich eines Tages gerne zu klettern und dann nicht einmal wirklich mit den Anstand, dafür zu entschuldigen - oder explizit sagen, warum sie sich nicht dafür zu entschuldigen.

David Lama hat eine Pressemitteilung herausgegeben, sondern No Apology - ich frage mich, was er tut, um seinen Fehler richtig zu machen. Und machen es keinen Zweifel, dass diese Schrauben seiner Verantwortung stehen. Es war seine Entscheidung, Cero Tore klettern, wie er die Entscheidung zum Verzicht auf die Sicherheit der Filmcrew an einen Dritten. Diese Schrauben sind das Vermächtnis seiner klettern.

Wenn Davids Pressemitteilung wurde eine Entschuldigung - ich frage mich, wo die Reue ist? Wo ist das Recht zu machen? Ich habe einfach sehen, mit einer Widmung an die Schrauben wieder - nicht auf dem Herausnehmen aus dem Berg und macht richtig seine Schäden.

David, sollten Sie Ihre Zeit, zur Verbesserung von südamerikanischen Klettergebiete Freiwilligen - nicht sie zu zerstören.

2010-07-30 05:12:28

@philo: "Lama's lame attempt at justification tastes almost as bad as a can of Red Bull."


@keller: So you are google-able. Big deal. You seem to be the only one who thinks that comparison to worse makes this ok. We're all entitled to opinion, but register me a vote for "no it does not".

2010-07-29 23:38:32

The most interesting thing about David's piece is that he never says "I'm sorry" If he had said those simple words this controversy would be done. People in general will forgive mistakes when they see contrition. His entitlement rings out and increases the vitriol of his critics. His "separate entities" argument is laughable because it was in fact his project and has the echo of so many travesties of the past "I was only following orders... that wasn't my department etc." What is to me heartening about this incident is how opinion has shifted and solidified over the last 15 years so that so many diverse climbers all see this as a taint and have such passion about it.

David, you need to say you're sorry and that what you did was wrong.

Scott Backes

2010-07-29 23:18:11

Lama's lame attempt at justification tastes almost as bad as a can of Red Bull.

2010-07-29 22:51:00

"Bolts or no bolts, for many the controversy lies in whether or not someone should even attempt a production like ours on such a mountain. That question is what divides climbers."

NO! What divides climbers is the remarkable Machievellian hubris that would compel someone to desicrate one of the world's most iconic mountain for self aggrandizment. Hopefully Red Blue is taking enough heat and loosing enough revenue that the reassess their future publicity stunts. I am appalled! Phil Broscovak

2010-07-29 22:15:10

I realize that the nature of controversy is that we will fill pages of the internet with comments, critiques and comebacks. But news that we agree with, or fine no issue against, gets ignored. I would encourage everyone who has posted here to give a shout out to Kruk and Walsh. Their NewsWire "Canadians Fire New Line..." describes an excellent climb done on an infamous face, in great style. No they didn't tag the summit, But what they set out to do is in my opinion much greater than freeing Cerro Torre. They walked to a mountain with nothing but their wits and tools, their film crew appears to have been a point and shoot, (maybe nicer but still...) they placed no bolts, and made a good decision regarding weather. Now they set a challenge for someone to repeat, and it's a great one. No one will fund a video of it, but someone will have an amazing adventure following their path. There isn't much to say to them other than good job. But still feel like we should all let them know that, instead of adding more and more comments to Lama's corporate whoring and ignorance on an old route.

2010-07-29 22:11:10

It seems as if the attitude of the local sport crag is making its way into the big mountains. This is disheartening and disturbing. Cerro Torre is not a "project" and it is certainly not "my project" or "your project." What's even more disturbing is that the bolts were not drilled in the name of ascent, but in the name of entertainment.

2010-07-29 21:54:49

“Alpinism was exceptional and sacred because it was closed to the masses. And now it finds itself in the same historical situation as is love. When love was poetry, it was exceptional and sacred. When mass media put love in TV and magazines, it became pornography.”

Pavel Shabalin

2010-07-29 14:02:30

Hey Ed, You needn't have clarified yourself, I get it...millions of gallons of oil on a beach is a greater impact than 60 bolts on a mountainside. No argument. But what is your point, exactly? By playing the relativity game ("that's nothing compared to...") are you suggesting environmental ethics in climbing should be ignored and dismissed? It sure sounds like it. Perhaps we should also, say, dismiss domestic violence in America since it's so much worse in certain other countries? I could come up with a lot more absurd comparative examples but you get the point- you're using extreme examples to minimize aesthetic (at a minimum) damage to a place we use. It's all relative, but it all matters.

On another note, I'm not sure why you feel the need to establish your street cred with me. Honestly I don't care if you've been climbing for 30 years or 30 days. I'd like to think that everyone's opinion holds equal weight here.

2010-07-29 13:44:33

Spraylord: Glad I provoked a response, that was my intention. Let me clarify in reply:

• Yes, I've heard the statement 'think globally, act locally'. I'm an academic, among several other professions, and have been a relatively serious climber for 30 years. You don't know me but google will fill in the details if you're interested in a background check.

• Let me be very clear, since the optimistic tone in my post didn't work: I say, take all the bolts, pins, pin scars, and chipped holds, over the entire history of mountaineering. All of them. They add up to precisely NOTHING in the face of a real disaster. I make this point to clarify the childish lack of rigor in the thinking of any climber who believes that they're 'acting locally' in anything more than a token fashion by placing or not placing a few bolts.

• I wouldn't suggest picketing BP. That might get some media attention, which they already have, but would accomplish precious little. If there are climbers out there who really want to 'make a difference,' go and donate your time to a worthy cause and get involved in direct action. Help clean up a mess- a real mess. Or go prevent clearcutting by sitting in trees. Or become a lawyer so you can litigate against environmental disasters and protect the literally BILLIONS of utterly poor and disenfranchised people out there across the globe. Do you *really* think a few pounds of steel on the side of a mountain compares to the reality of MILLIONS of gallons of oil in the gulf [to continue with the example I used]? Climbers seem to think they are being environmentally sound by claiming to preserve the 'natural' state of things when they remove some metal from a wall. Ridiculous.

End of point.

2010-07-29 12:51:44

Steve House — I love the Woodrow Wilson quote, though I'm not a big Woodrow Wilson fan [big hypocrite. Favorite joke from his era: when he proposed to the future Mrs. Wilson, she was so surprised she nearly fell out of bed!]

I'm not in the same league as the big mountain free climbers that have weighed in here, but I do believe that if you need too much equipment to get the job done, aren't you missing the point? Seems to me that our sport is all about independence, not dependence. If you have to use bolts and oxygen to get the big mountains done, did you really conquer them? Like I said, I'm not one to talk, but at least when I do my small mountain scrambles, I can say I did them. I suppose a real purist could say I cheated by wearing boots, though....

2010-07-29 07:44:09

Why, when anyone is doing something inappropriate do folks mention other inappropriate things?

Pretty juvenile logic.

Grow up and take responsibility for your actions, Apologize for you misdeeds, clean up your mess, and find a dream you can afford to do without sacrificing the values you so claim you have.

2010-07-29 06:56:07

Though adding bolts is not the best way but projects like this will inevitably need them . Big film crews needs a lot more safety margins for their work and pro climbing ventures needs to have good shoots for sponsors and climbers need sponsors to achieve their vision . Free climbing the route without adding any fixed gear may be pure style but the reality is lama can get the sponsors to do his dream climb if he compromises about style. and believe me many will get hooked on such climbing films. the fact about damaging pristine mountain environment is also naive when you consider the guided expeditions that take place in Himalayas now days

2010-07-29 04:06:50

Lama, oh lamb whose prose it, ham cheese rye bagel the center of which you speak

2010-07-29 00:59:34

"You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a freer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand."

Woodrow Wilson.

2010-07-28 23:33:18

I'm pretty sure that we're all done with the Lama thing. I was done with him after he came to Asia to do his "professional climber" thing.

I happen to live here in the third world (where the "climber" in question is reportedly from) and I for one am not happy at all with the impact that he has had here.

Sherpa dad or not, Lama and crew rolled into N. Malaysia and tossed bolts around like they were going out of style, not to mention that most of the routes they put up were total crap.

From the beginning, Lama and his "Professional climber" buddies just wanted to get their names up on the board. I'm not surprised at all by his antics on the Cerro, and I'm sure there will be more.

Climbing is ruined, and it will continue to be a joke until the end of time. It's only partly Lama's fault, but we will all be in the embarrassing position of defending a broken pursuit because of people (businesses) like him.

2010-07-28 22:10:45

"Bolts or no bolts, for many the controversy lies in whether or not someone should even attempt a production like ours on such a mountain. That question is what divides climbers."

Wrong. I could care less whether someone wants to go climbing and tote along a film crew to make a movie about it. Knock yourself out. The controversy, at least to me, is the issue of what IMPACT you leave behind- and this applies whether it's you and an entourage of film crew, or just you and a partner on your own private trip. We are all subject to the same standard, so let's just cut the victim/persecution thread from your argument right now.

The main reason the film project is being scrutinized is that much of the impact that your team created was as a direct result of the demands of your "project", in order to maximize the "quality of the production". If your project truly required the sort of impact that was made, then it shouldn't have been done.

It sounds like you divorced yourself beforehand of any responsibility for the actions of your crew. Although I respect your statement of wishing to leave the mountain clean, the fact is you didn't, and since it is your project, the responsibility for it ultimately rests on you first and foremost. It was your job to lay out for your guides and film crew what was and was not acceptable, even if it came at the expense of the sweet "money shot" angle. It sounds, instead, like the crew was given the green light to do whatever they needed to do to ensure high quality production regardless of impacts. The issue of 'safety', while an obvious priority, is not an acceptable excuse. Maybe some things just aren't meant to be...

Finally: Ed Keller. Ever hear the statement "Think Globally, Act Locally"? That's what we're doing here. Telling environmentally concerned climbers to focus their energies on large scale disasters like the Gulf oil spill and leave alone the "little things" that happen in our community is backwards thinking. Things like the Gulf disaster happen precisely as a result of a breakdown in taking responsibility for our INDIVIDUAL actions; the big things we see are the collective result of this. We want to pretend the problem is "out there" when in reality it's inside every one of us. Climbing for many of us is a lifestyle, and this is our community, if there is such a thing in climbing. So what happened here matters and we have a far greater opportunity to effect a long term, positive action by addressing it here than if we go picket BP's headquarters and shout empty slogans.

2010-07-28 13:38:38

Let's keep things in perspective: I don't agree with the way the Torre project was handled by Red Bull & team, but a few pounds of metal on a mountain compared to the BP/Gulf oil spill? Or any of the countless other eco-disasters we create on our small island floating here in space? Are you kidding me? If there are climbers who want to complain about environmental damage and ethics, get involved there. All the bolts in the WORLD don't matter in comparison. Don't argue that Lama is being immature or selfish when all he's doing is climbing and moving a few pounds of steel around. What climbers call ethics is in most cases just pissing in the wind. The true 'impossible' [that Messner wrote about] can't be murdered, I would argue, because it's directly connected to the horizon of mortality we have as humans. If we let go of the rock at any moment- then that axiom will be proved. That's what makes it interesting. But the false ikon of the 'impossible' which many folks are praising and using as a value system to condemn Lama - that seems to keep climbers blinded and occupied endlessly, and does absolutely nothing. Each of us defines 'impossible' differently, and that is what makes the game. I still climb after 30 years because it's a completely 'useless' yet beautiful pastime. Just like that 'useless' emotion, love. It's worth fighting for. And there is beauty, for whatever it's worth, in a fine ascent. But defining what a fine ascent is- that's up for debate. Remember Robbins' attempt to erase Harding's 'Wall of Early Morning Light' on El Cap, and his decision to stop after some pitches because of the 'quality' of the climbing? Sobering to fight over such useless things: 'I believe I can see the future- as I repeat the same routine...' Stop getting your panties in a twist over the wrong things, I say. And if you ethically minded climbers have the energy to fight for something, make sure you're aware that what you are fighting for is really worth fighting for. The world is a fine place. Choose life! Be aware of the choice itself! And, BTW: congrats to Lama on his amazing climbs. Obviously a beautiful climber.

2010-07-28 12:04:53

"The outrage stems not from the bolts, but from the reason they are there - so that the latest teenage Hollywood comp climber could get someone to pay for his trip and watch himself on the big screen afterwards." — cjdrover

Well said.

I think climbers should express to redbull that we will not ever pay our hard-earned cash to see this movie. Cash talks louder than just bashing the kid (sadly).

For a "professional climber," he hardly act's professional.

2010-07-28 11:56:49

David, it should be clear to you that nothing short of rectification and humble, unqualified contrition will settle this controversy. There is, however, no apology explicit or implicit in what you say here. You fail to understand and accept of the significance of your actions, and so will remain, rightly in my view, the climbing community's punching bag.

2010-07-28 10:47:12

cjdrover spoke perfectly and I must agree.

2010-07-28 10:19:02

"Because such an expedition is a costly affair..." David, I am certainly not speaking for myself when I say that for the vast majority of us (the climbing community), most fantastic climbing trips to far-off lands and radical first ascents begin with a much less glamorous reality: getting a job.

"I was surprised and excited by the significance ascribed to my enterprise." Now, the only significance ascribed to your enterprise is the significant setback in ethics it represents and the significant damage done to the route. Congratulations.

"But that is easy to say when you are not the one responsible for the lives and well being of the people who work on these placements meter after meter after a violent storm." Listen to you on your high tower, telling all of us little people who aren't responsible for other peoples' lives how hard it is on you. We're so lucky that we don't have to deal with having peoples' lives depend on us, like clients, students, girlfriends, boyfriends, children, wives, husbands, or every partner we've ever climbed with.

David, my opinion of you drops even further every time you publish yet another list of excuses why what you did is okay. It isn't, and the reason is the motive. If a rescue team drilled the same number of bolts to save someone's life, it would be unfortunate but almost certainly accepted by the community. The outrage stems not from the bolts, but from the reason they are there - so that the latest teenage Hollywood comp climber could get someone to pay for his trip and watch himself on the big screen afterwards.

2010-07-28 10:04:24
Lisa Porter

Seriously, you should be apologizing to the whole climbing community who will never be able to experience that route in it's natural state. Forget your movie, your ego, and your sponsors. Do we need to start selling carbon credits to climbers like you?

2010-07-28 08:41:53

After every one of Lama's statements just put the quote "so we could make a film " . Then the absurdness of this letter and their project will become clear. IF they had just spray painted "Red Bull" on the Cerro the wind and ice would scrape it away in a few seasons. This will last much longer and is just as thoughtless.

2010-07-28 08:21:16

This sounds very un-appologetic and in fact arrogant. I really don't care about a documentary done to a high or low standard or whether it boosts Mr Lama's visability. I also don't care that the bolts are needed so that the film crew can get the shots in needs because it feeds Mr Lama's ego and he ends up looking prettier.

Wasn't the Compressor Route climbed withour bolts a few years back and some keen guys were talking of chopping the route? That soloution may be extreme however if Lama wants to up the ante then go climb the route free without the bolts. That would be a step in the right direction for alpinism and the mountain. Oh yeah, and leave the film crew at home. No one cares about posturing or watching a video of climbing. Watching an alpine climbing video is about the same as watching golf or curling. It is about the experience and it should be personal. Climbing is one of the greatest personal experiences around, but lets face it there is a reason it is not a spectator sport. Pony up David, you have the ability to set standards and raise the bar. Other wise stay at the local crag and top-rope a 5.15 to death and spray about it.

2010-07-28 06:03:37
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