Is Dani Andrada a climbing role model? [VID]

via La Obsesión – A film about Dani Andrada on Vimeo.

A nice new video from Haroun Souirji, creator of Better Than Chocolate, about the man, la máquina, Dani Andrada. It’s a thoughtful portrait in which we follow Dani as he boulders and climbs routes, most notably La Reina Mora (5.14b/d) and La Rambla (5.15a). More interesting than the climbing, though, is what Dani says in the longish interview segments. He touches on a topic important for all climbers:

Siurana and more precisely Cornudella, that is below, has turned into a climber’s town. There are a lot of people climbing. It is a very “fanatical” moment… During the week, 12 years ago, there were 4-5 cars. Now every day seems to be a weekend day.

The phenomenon of once-peaceful crags becoming over-crowded is increasingly common. Perhaps nowhere in the United States is this trend more evident than at Kentucky’s Red River Gorge, which seems to be experiencing growing pains in many locations. Muir Valley is one example, and the recently closed Roadside Crag another. Dani comes back to this idea at the end of the video with a somber assessment of climbing’s growth. Before, when only a few people were climbing at a given crag, a small percentage of them leaving a mess wasn’t enough to threaten access, he recounts. But now, with so many climbers, even a fraction of them behaving badly can cause real problems. (The emphasis in the quote below is mine.)

Popularity is very good for climbing in part… [But] what I see in Spain is many crags being damaged, people leaving papers and leaving the place dirty, and this is really a serious issue. It’s not a problem with the climber but with education. And in the future it might get worse…

The thing I enjoyed most about this video was that it didn’t focus just on Dani’s projects and his personal climbing goals, but also the perspective he’s gained from many years of climbing and his desire to give back to the community. It’s a welcome departure from the borderline narcissistic tendencies on show in a lot of today’s climbing videos.

This just leaves me wondering, could Dani Andrada be one of the few pro-climbers worthy of the label “role model?” What makes a climbing role model, anyway, and who else would you put in that category? Lynn Hill? Fred Nicole? Chris Sharma? Just some possibilities… Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Dani Andrada at RocTrip China
Dani Andrada at RocTrip China.

About A Blog: Splitter Choss on Cerro Torre

The wind-blasted beauty of Cerro Torre

I am constantly adding snippets to my running list of blog ideas. In this quest, I enlist the help of handy apps like Evernote and Google Docs, pen and paper, and even voice memos. It’s a long list with a few good thoughts and lots of junk. And, of course, not all of the ideas will come to fruition. Ideas are easy; it’s the execution that’s difficult. And then there are those times when someone just beats you to the punch. Such is the way of things.

One of the ideas on my list that actually got my pot percolating had to do with the controversy surrounding Hayden Kennedy and Jason Kruk’s recent bolt-choppery on the wind-blasted, knife-blade of a Patagonian peak known as Cerro Torre. (Read the dynamic duo’s manifesto official statement here.) I won’t go into detail, but basically, a climber named Cesare Maestri attempted to climb Cerro Torre in the 1970s, using a compressor-powered drill to pepper the immaculate granite wall with bolts. The route, in honor of his technique, is called the Compressor Route. This bolting spree has pretty universally been accepted as wrong, as it scarred the rock and all but ruined the climb for any future climbers who might want to do it using cleaner (i.e, much less bolt-y) means. Fast forward to 2012: two young tough guys climbed the Compressor Route (relatively) cleanly and then pulled out a bunch of Maestri’s bolts. Seems simple enough, but a heated debate followed nonetheless.

The controversy is, in the truest sense of the term, a tempest in a teapot. Climbers on the Internet have tripped over themselves in a effort to share their opinions on the topic, most of whom, as Kelly Cordes pointed out in his most-excellent appraisal of the situation, never have and never will lay a finger on Cerro Torre. Meanwhile, to non-climbers, the “ethical” debate over bolting must be confusing (at best) and, at worst, trite.

With many experts who know far more of this topic than I ever will having already weighed in, I reasoned the only value I could add would be an tongue-in-cheek explanation for non-climbers or climbers who just can’t stand to take things like this so seriously. Then, of course, BJ over at splitterchoss.com beat me to it:

Cerro Torre For Dummies & Non-Alpinists : Splitter Choss.

My favorite paragraph from the Splitter Choss post:

People leave the controversial route in place, because it’s much easier to get to the top using all the bolt ladders. Over time it becomes generally accepted, even though everyone knows it’s wrong, like porn, or watching American Idol.

I guess I can’t complain — I still managed to make a post (of sorts) on the topic, even if it is a blog about a blog. I’ll cross the idea off my list and start working on the next one. Such is the way of things.