Rich Simpson & The Burden Of Proof

Rich Simpson & The Burden Of Proof

About a year ago this video of Rich Simpson’s “obsession” with the famous Wolfgang Güllich Frankenjura testpiece Action Directe (5.14d) made the rounds on the internet amassing an impressive 46K+ hits to date.  The video chronicled Simpson’s impressive training regimen and showed him doing most, if not all, of the moves on Action Directe, a route which he was reported to have redpointed late in 2005.  I say “reported” because in recent months there has been a growing question as to whether or not Simpson ever sent the route or achieved several other of his high-end sporting claims.

I first became aware of this story about a month ago when a reader sent me a link to this thread on the UK’s UKBouldering forum which noted that Simpson had been dropped by one of his  climbing sponsors.  The UKB thread (and apparently at least two other threads on UKClimbing) began to question not only Simpson’s claims in the climbing world but also his claims to have run both a sub 4 minute mile and a sub 2:30:00 marathon in addition to owning an undefeated amateur boxing record.

Forum accusations are one thing, but the story really reached its crescendo last week when UKC posted an editorial about the situation.  They outlined the allegations against Simpson and noted that while he was apparently aware of the situation he did not want to offer even the most basic level of proof like who belayed him which could help corroborate some of his claims.  Simpson apparently also “requested that we [UKC] do not contact him again.”

UKC also has statements from two of Simpson’s now former sponsors, Wild Country and Scarpa.  Simpson resigned voluntarily from Scarpa when faced with questions and was summarily dropped by Wild Country when he refused to provide any substantiation for his claims.  As a result of this UKC has taken the drastic step of removing any news briefs about Simpson from their archives with this caveat about their general reporting policy which I agree with strongly:

Our general policy is to have faith in reported climbs and climbers and to not seek ‘proof’ of ascents.  However if world class performances have been claimed, especially from a fully sponsored and well knownathlete who is publishing these achievements on his sponsor’s websites, we would expect some cooperationfrom that athlete if basic details are requested.

Where does this leave us?  It’s really quite impossible for anyone but Simpson himself to reveal the truth, and in the grand scheme of things the veracity of one climber’s claims is of little importance to you or I individually.  Obviously everyone should strive to be honest about what they’ve climbed and “do what you say you’ve done” as Jamie Emerson likes to put it, but beyond that do climbers, especially sponsored ones, owe something to the community as a whole when it comes to “proving” they’ve climbed a given climb?

Simpson himself argues in interviews like this old one with sponsor MoonClimbing that crowded crags and competing in public make him “uneasy” and that he has “nothing to prove to any one” about his climbing, sentiments about climbing for oneself that I agree with in a general sense.  However, I would argue that with a sponsorship relationship comes an added responsibility for a climber to be more forthcoming with details if asked.  I don’t think it’s necessary for a climber to have uncut video footage for each of their ascents, but providing the most basic details about who belayed you or who was there to witness the ascent doesn’t seem like it’s asking a whole lot.

What do you think?

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55 Responses to Rich Simpson & The Burden Of Proof

  1. Unai December 21, 2010 at 8:11 am #

    From 8a.nu forum
    Rich Simpson claimed to have run a sub 4 minute mile at a stadium in Birmingham, UK in 2008. For anyone who doesn’t know, this is an elite level achievement – something done maybe once or twice a year by the best athletes in the country. RS claimed to have run this under a different name, but someone with contacts at the stadium and the local clubs said it was impossible that he could have run this race at this stadium. No athletics meets took place where he could have run this race, or the races building up to this which he said he ran. No-one has ever heard of him in the athletics world. So it looks like this is a lie.

    Rich Simpson also claimed to have run a 2:27 marathon in NY in 2008. This result does not show in the results page for the NY marathon. RS claims he ran it with someone else’s ticket (supplied by Ivan Greene from NY).

    Rich Simpson claims to have a record of 16 boxing fights, all won. He also told a number of people that he would have been on the 2012 Olympic boxing team if he hadn’t had an operation this year. People in the know regarding boxing say with a record like this he would be well known. As it is, there is no record of him having ever boxed in the UK, and no-one in the boxing world has ever heard of him.

    Rich Simpson has written on his blog about some routes done in the dolomites this summer (including a solo of the Brandler-Hasse in 1hr 37 mins, on-sights of The Fish, and redpointing all crux pitches of Pan Aroma 8c). He provided one photo of this summer of climbing (on top of a tower with his partner). No photos of climbing. When asked for photos by his sponsors he refused, and was then dropped by them (Scarpa and Wild Country).

    So all this has brought his sport climbs from before he ‘retired’ into the spotlight. Turns out there are no known witnesses or belayers for any of his hard ascents (8c or harder).

    Rich Simpson was asked to comment or provide names of belayers / evidence for these routes for an article about this for UKC. He has refused to comment or provide any information at all.

    Think that’s about everything that’s come out of the forum so far.

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  2. polaropposite December 21, 2010 at 9:36 am #

    In reality no one ever “needs” to prove anything. If it really happened, there’s always either enough witnesses, or enough credibility built up by comparable ascents that no questions are raised.

    The tricky part is when the media and sponsors get involved. The media may be hesitant to question something it already reported, as it calls the individual reporter’s competency into question, which could follow them throughout their career. It might be a better career-move to just stick with the original story, and not admit to being journalistically incompetent by reporting things that didn’t happen in the first place.

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  3. JollyClimber December 21, 2010 at 10:16 am #

    I recall Wills Young writing a similar article awhile back regarding the claims of a few…actually one…US climber…Very similar situation…Big claims at that level need to be substantiated. It’s too bad we have gotten to this place, but if reporting to sponsors and national/international is the result a certain workflow at this point must be followed. I think it is fair to say that with all of the media devices of the day some sort of documentation must be garnered. What is climbing turning into…Such a shame…I am hearing more and more of this happening…

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    • Narc December 21, 2010 at 10:24 am #

      I believe this is the article you are referring to. Lots of great thoughts from Wills including this quote which is pertinent to the current topic specifically:

      “Those who deliberately seek publicity or work with photographers, journalists, and sponsors to widely publicize their achievements should be expected to demonstrate their ascents either through uncut video (when possible) or through varied and reliable witnesses and to have their achievements properly placed into context with accurate background. It should rest with the media to be more demanding. Those who don’t work with the media have no reason to concern themselves, of course. But I don’t feel we, the general public or the media, owe anyone who is out posing for photos and doing interviews and claiming world-class ascents the benefit of the doubt any more. Not because I believe there are relatively more cases of lies and exaggeration but because the sport has become more mainstream, while witnesses and the means to video-record an ascent are relatively easily available.”

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    • JebBruno December 21, 2010 at 12:06 pm #

      I don’t think that it is wrong to ask for documentation. Climbers have been taking summit photos (for proof and posterity) since they made cameras small enough to carry to the top of mountains. I mean Bonatti had people watch him on telescopes, or in some cases fly by him in planes to confirm his summit.
      “What has climbing turned into” it has always been this way, lying about ones own feats is as old as the sport. I am not saying it is something we should accept but, it has been going on for forever.

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  4. bboyd December 21, 2010 at 11:22 am #

    Would love it if he was stockpiling his footage to get a reaction prior to his releasing them. Talk about making a point… drama aside, if you’re getting paid to climb, then film your ascents or have a crowd from time to time. If you don’t want that burden, the you’re going to have to dirtbag it or get a real job like the rest of us.

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  5. DreamingGnar December 21, 2010 at 12:15 pm #

    You know, I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion. There are those climbers out there who wish to climb their heart’s desires for the sake of climbing and nothing more. They have nothing to prove because they climb only for themselves. They’re also un-sponsored.

    If you have the desire for sponsorships, then it’s not exactly climbing for climbing’s own sake anymore, and you’ve signed away your right to claim that it is. Once you enter a sponsorship you’ve become an ambassador for a particular product brand, and need to act accordingly. One of the easiest ways to do that, and to simultaneously prove ascents is simple video footage of you working and sending with your sponsor’s equipment. It’s really not that hard.

    If you don’t want the public eye, buy your own shoes.

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  6. peter December 21, 2010 at 12:28 pm #

    i really like the comments made by bboyd and dreaminggnar. This seems to have been simpson’s approach toward climbing from the beginning (see interviews posted elsewhere from moonclimbing and the interview post-send of AD on freak climbing posted by the narc) until the end (see his decision to forfeit his sponsorship rather than cave and ‘prove’ himself). He doesn’t care about proving himself to anyone other than himself, and if that means he gets bad press and has to pay for his shoes then so be it. He certainly isn’t a worse climber because of it.

    I’m not going to comment on the boxing / running accomplishments (I know nothing about those) but the video of AD, the video of perky pinky (less cut in ‘obsession’ than in its original form) and other videos of his sends in the school room, combined with his relationship with ben moon convince me that, regarding climbing, he has nothing to prove. He was (is) strong as nails. If we choose to doubt his accomplishments, that reflects our approach to climbing rather than his. I prefer to remain inspired by his dedication, and immense physical strength.

    for the record, the footage of the “hubble problem with start and finish” is cut as well (http://vimeo.com/6644468). This video, and obsession, remain two of the most motivating climbing flicks I have ever seen.

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  7. john apple December 21, 2010 at 12:28 pm #

    It seems to be such an easy fix in this case. He had someone filming, someone belaying, and that random guy at the base of the climb when he is lowered down to the ground. I can only speak from my experiences but when I complete a climb I am proud of that ascent, for the work it took to accomplish that goal. I’ve never made a video documenting my struggles but I can’t imagine not wanting to clear my name if certain allegations were presented. Especially if all it took was a phone call to my belayer… Kinda weird.

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  8. Dave December 21, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

    wow, I remember watching that video and being impressed and had no doubt he sent. What was the story? They said he sent on his warmup try like the 5th day, w/o the camera rolling?
    Anyway, climbing has a very rich history of climbers and their hoaxes. *cough* reardon *cough*

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    • kicking a man when he's down December 21, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

      Don’t speak ill of a man who has passed on. It’s just bad form! no matter what he did or did not do it’s just wrong.

      AS to Simpson, he does not have to prove anything to the climbing community. But he was getting paid and does owe proof to his companies that give him money. I can understand that clmbing is a very personal thing to some of us. Crowded crags can be a horrible. Again it does cause some question if some of his friends that have belayed him have not come to his aid, even he did not want them to. I know if he was my buddy and I’d seem him crush I would speak up to help him out.

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      • Dave December 21, 2010 at 1:54 pm #

        Kicking a man when he’s down, or telling the truth… I guess there’s different ways to see that.

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        • SP December 21, 2010 at 3:03 pm #

          You are quite emotionally invested in discrediting Simpson’s and Reardon’s claims. Why? I’m not sure. If you have been directly affected by their claims, I guess I understand. If not, than your multiple “liar” posts seem a bit bizarre.

          While I won’t make a comment on RS, you should remember that MR has left behind a family, including a daughter. He is dead – there is no reason to emphatically try to destroy the mans name.

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          • Dave December 21, 2010 at 3:11 pm #

            I see what you are saying… but what is the alternative? Everything he claimed to have accomplished climbing-wise is now cemented in history and we cannot discuss or question it?

            I think climbing history is interesting, and this includes the many lies and hoaxes. Cerro Torre, that guy who claimed he summited K2 last year and then admitted he didn’t, Refiner’s Fire.

            No one questions guys like Honnold, no one. But then some big claims and climbing mag covers… with some big questions and holes in the story come along. We no longer get to ask those questions or discuss those holes?

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          • Isaac December 21, 2010 at 7:49 pm #

            I watched Reardon solo Ghetto Blaster, 13b, at Malibu Creek, CA like it was 5.8. I’ve never doubted his claims.

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          • kicking a man when he's down December 21, 2010 at 8:26 pm #

            Agreed SP. I’m am not at all saying Michael did or did not do something. I am not saying he soloed all or not. I am just saying that he is a man who gave his life to climbing. There is no reason to speak of him in a bad light. ANY MAN OR WOMAN WHO HAS DIED CLIMBING WILL ALWAYS GET MY RESPECT!

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      • Steve December 21, 2010 at 8:33 pm #

        It is no disgrace to speak of a mans successes or failures when he is gone, it is both those categories that equally define the man. Though I agree with everything else you said.

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  9. Narc December 21, 2010 at 12:33 pm #

    From what I understand that video was made by a friend of Simpson’s and not Simpson himself. Also, it only shows him making very short links on the route and it isn’t from his actual send. This doesn’t mean he did the route or didn’t do the route but it can be confusing some times when videos that try to piece together footage to show an entire route don’t explicitly state that what you are seeing isn’t an actual send. According to some posters on UKB it is somewhat “easy” to do individual moves on Aciton Directe but quite hard to link it all together.

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    • peter December 21, 2010 at 3:04 pm #

      not sure what you mean by “very short links.” The way I see it, the final seven hard moves (up to the match after the dyno) of the route are completely uncut. The difficult portion of the route is only eleven moves long (if you count the jump as the first move, thirteen if you count the moves you do with your feet still on the slab). Either way, the video shows the better part of the route uncut. The link shown convinces me that he had the ability to fire the route.

      Also, I would be very interested to know how many of these posters on UKB have been on AD. I think that, for the most part, capable climbers avoid the forums while others talk it up. In fact, it was Simpson himself who said that it’s the link that’s hard. If he was trying to pull a fast one on the community, why undermine his own proof?

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      • Narc December 21, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

        “very short” was not the right choice of words but, as you point out, without actual knowledge of the route it’s hard to make any definitive statement about what the links shown mean

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      • polaropposite December 21, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

        You’re obviously not taking the rest of it into account: no belayers for any hard ascents including AD, the sub-4 minute mile that only Britain’s olympic team member has done recently, the 2:30 marathon no one has any record of, the 16-0 boxing record no one knows anything about…the sponsors undoubtedly have other “inside info” they’re not making public that decided them. Climbers who are compulsive liars don’t just lie about their climbing.

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        • peter December 21, 2010 at 4:32 pm #

          I have no doubt that some of his accomplishments are likely exaggerated. But instead of allowing my misgivings about those to cast an immovable shadow of doubt over the rest of his accomplishments, I’ve chosen to give him the benefit of the doubt in cases where I see a preponderance of evidence suggesting likely success.

          Moreover, I find the fact that our community’s reaction is to dismiss his rock climbing ability is indicative of a larger, erroneous, way of thinking that each of us has partaken in at some point in the past: “if I just climb [insert rating] I’ll be a better climber.” Eric Horst’s book is called “How to Climb 5.12,” and, as if the very name 8a.nu didn’t set an arbitrary, slippery benchmark, they have an article entitled “Shortcuts to 8a.” You don’t become a better climber the day you climb 5.12 or 8a, or 8B (nic…), you become a better climber every day you train leading up to that accomplishment. The send itself changes nothing about your abilities. And, on the flip side, a near-send also changes nothing about your abilities.

          My point is this: even if he never climbed AD, or Hubble, or even PP, the power that he displays in these videos is inspiring to me as a rock climber. Maybe I’m alone in this, but personally I don’t care whether he climbed, or almost climbed, a piece of rock in Germany that I’ll see, let alone touch. I do care that he obviously trained hard, is incredibly fit, and cares (or at least professes to care) about maximizing his potential. And I believe that it’s a shame that he made decisions that unnecessarily overshadowed this enthusiasm, and that he felt the pressure to do so, whatever his reasons, psychological or external, may be.

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          • polaropposite December 21, 2010 at 5:12 pm #

            “I find the fact that our community’s reaction is to dismiss his rock climbing ability is indicative of a larger, erroneous, way of thinking that each of us has partaken in at some point in the past: “if I just climb [insert rating] I’ll be a better climber.”

            What? That doesn’t even make sense as a sentence. His climbing ability isn’t being questioned, it’s his veracity.

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    • Dand June 22, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

      I know this is late to point out but this story has just come to my attention. I know C.Doyle who made the film and the portion that was filmed and edited out in the Frankenjura plus some other segments were not made by him which is why he wasnt able to conclusively end this debate. So noone really knows who made the footage of the ascent. So this mystery is destined to go unsolved forever, i imagine

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  10. dom December 21, 2010 at 1:31 pm #

    According to the information on ukbouldering, he got up early before doylo (the filmmaker)woke up, went to the crag and sent Action Directe with an un-named belayer. Dai Koyamada’s crew were around at the time, although none of them can verify that they saw him on the send, but they don’t doubt he did it. At the time doylo absolutely believed he did it too and celebrated it. In my eyes Rich Simpson sent Action Directe.

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  11. Narc December 21, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

    I guess that’s one of the most intriguing elements of all this to me. Clearly Simpson is a gifted athlete and by all appearances he had the skill to do what he claimed, but then why wouldn’t he just provide the most basic of information to put this issue to rest?

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    • dave December 21, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

      Because he lied, plain and simple. He’s not the first great climber who wanted to shortcut to legend status. For example, you can free solo 5.10 all day when people are watching, but the real noteworthy stuff has no witnesses.

      There is a reason guys like Bachar and Honnold don’t get questioned ever about what they do… because they do it all the time, in front of people. A pattern of shady behavior or unsubstantiated claims will get called out sooner or later.

      Refiner’s Fire? The examples are endless.

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    • agree December 21, 2010 at 1:49 pm #

      I have to agree. Many people are humble, but it does shed an odd light on this situation when his buddies just have to say I was there.

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  12. robm December 21, 2010 at 2:11 pm #

    Be interesting to see how much coverage this gets in Climbing Magazine and R&I, who certainly have a lot to answer for with their over the top coverage of Reardon’s claims, which were 10 times more outlandish than Simpson’s, and with virtually nothing to back them up. Probably, like someone noted, they’re afraid that coming clean will damage their professional reputations for not checking it out better in the first place.

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  13. colin December 21, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

    I don’t really understand the argument that RS has “nothing to prove.” He’s a pro-climber who put his achievements out in the public domain, and those achievements have been called into question. He’s got his good name and integrity to prove.

    I also disagree with the posters above who seem to think linking the 2nd half of AD, or doing strength tricks on the campus board show one’s ability to climb the route. It’s pretty easy to stall out 1- or 2- hanging a route, or even regress on the route, and run out of time on the road trip.

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, innocent until proven guilty and all that. But if you don’t even put up a defense the jury isn’t going to decide in your favor.

    Flame shield on.

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  14. David December 21, 2010 at 6:40 pm #

    Why can’t climbing be more like other sports with regards to competition and proving achievements? It seems like every climber, especially ones like this guy —>(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJBLk6QryQM&feature=related) act like competition and comparison are completely irrelevant.

    Competition is fun and it often helps pull out (effort) that might not have happened otherwise.

    Fuck all this “I climb only for me” bullshit everyone is always espousing.

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    • Drew December 21, 2010 at 11:03 pm #

      The problem with the notion of ‘achievement’ in any sport is that it can muddy the waters of motivation, so to speak. Someone who draws most of their inspiration from potential external reward is setting himself or herself up for a situation like this one, where expectations become unrealistic and mistakes are made. I think few people, however, are truly motivated entirely by the relatively fickle promise of fame. Even the best climbers love to climb for their own personal enjoyment. They may also be avid self-promoters and that arena, of course, comes both with its own set of perks, and its problems and personal dangers.

      Competition can be productive and a source of growth or it can be destructive. It’s not irrelevant by any means, but it certainly is not the point of the activity for every participant. Neither is it for every soccer player, although I would argue that competition against others is more integral to team sports than to rock climbing. This comes back to the whole ego conundrum: in a lot of ways, climbing parallels other sports in terms of the pressure we put on ourselves to ‘succeed’. Often this notion of success originates from competitive (or comparative) impulses. Sometimes we compete against others but I think more often we ‘compete’ purely against our own doubts and weaknesses with the intention of learning from them.

      What I’ve always liked about climbing is that for me the ‘self competitive aspect’ of it has allowed me room for introspection and personal growth. The difficulty in quantifying the experience (i.e., the summit versus a four minute mile run) helps to accentuate this. Most of the growth occurs (again, in my own experience) when the quantification of achievements is put aside and the experience itself moves to the forefront. Grades, speed records and the notion of ‘winning’ are a reality in climbing: they have their places. However, when they become too much the focus of ANY sport, problems occur. We concentrate more on our inadequacy compared to others (or perhaps to our own past accomplishments) and this distraction hampers our enjoyment. Worse, it clouds our original enthusiasm.

      I would therefore argue that competition is integral to the activity, but it needn’t be competition against others. Excessive quantification fits in nicely with our society’s tendency to measure everything in dollar amounts, but it’s never added much of anything to my unfettered enjoyment of climbing.

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      • Keenan December 22, 2010 at 4:16 am #

        Thank you so much. I have often thought about the competitive nature of climbing both with others and myself, and have always found that I enjoy the personal aspect, and I lose psyche when I get too competitive with my friends. In my opinion, one of the most beautiful things about climbing is that it IS personal, and NOT a team sport. You phrased that very well.

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      • Narc December 22, 2010 at 6:49 am #

        Great thoughts, Drew. Thanks for sharing.

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      • Sebastian December 22, 2010 at 9:47 am #

        To follow up on these comments, I would say that one great thing about climbing is that success for one person doesn’t automatically mean that another has to ‘fail’ or ‘lose’. This is unlike many sports or activities (or whatever way you want to classify our pastime) where one’s success means another has to lose. I have played plenty of sports and I enjoy competition, but as I get older, I really appreciate climbing for the fact that success for one person doesn’t mean that others have to fail, and in fact, when one person succeeds, that often leads to success for others in the group.

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  15. DreamingGnar December 22, 2010 at 2:32 pm #

    The current debate and the comments about Reardon say a lot.

    Mankind, or at least specific members of our species, have always had the desire to disappear into the wild from time to time. There’s no doubt that these places, and climbs, and achievements have held special (and in some cases spiritual) value to many.

    There are those who just enjoy a day alone in the woods, and this causes problems whenever you do something impressive. We all have at least SOME element of pride/hubris/whatever within us which makes us want to share our accomplishments(because usually those moments are special ones in life, and that’s cool to share). and even supposing you don’t…. if you pull hard enough times someone’s bound to notice.

    And then we get problems. you’ve never cared about spraying your accomplishments, it was just about going out and enjoying the day, and yet people now scream LIAR!

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    • Dave December 22, 2010 at 4:37 pm #

      Agree with much of what you say, I’d just add that the rules are a little different if you’re a pro climber, or you are making huge claims that are above and beyond what has been done in the past by other great climbers.

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      • DreamingGnar December 23, 2010 at 12:39 am #

        Granted. It’s just good to keep in mind how easily debates like these tend to snowball.

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  16. Tom December 22, 2010 at 4:26 pm #

    Well I’ve met him in the Frankenjura (Germany) and he first laughed at me for eating biscuits on my bread ( there wasn’t anything else, OK!?!? ) and then he went on and fell of a 7c I had just done. I’m just saying.

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  17. Phunk December 23, 2010 at 12:16 am #

    I actually belayed Rich Simpson on his send of Action Directe.

    Then I flashed it. No big deal.

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  18. Crafty December 23, 2010 at 3:53 pm #

    It’s absurd to suggest that one has “nothing to prove” and is secretly laughing with videos of his or her ascents while the rest of the climbing world calls that person’s achievements into question. I’ve worked pretty hard to finally climb a few boulder problems (I didn’t work as hard as many, and these problems were definitely not cutting edge. Also, I am not sponsored). I would be outraged and do everything I could to clear my name and validate my ascents if I were being called into question. Furthermore, when one has made financial gains from his or her dishonesty, that’s a severe tarnish on our sport.

    I don’t care what one does for fun or a living. When others have good reason and a mountain of evidence against your claims and achievements, and you silently resign, I presume you to be guilty.

    Lying about one’s climbing ascents, whether or not you can do 10 one-armed pull ups and 1-5-9 on the campus board, is deplorable. It lessens the value of the accomplishments of those who have actually climbed these rock climbs.

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  19. Crafty December 23, 2010 at 4:01 pm #

    I also like to add:

    I agree, the great thing about climbing is often that one gets to spend time in the woods or in the mountains, often with friends, and attempt things that challenge one’s self.

    However, the type of person who gives interviews to major climbing publications, claims to run 4 minute miles and 2:30 marathons, and makes unsubstantiated claims about succeeding on the world’s hardest rock climbs isn’t exactly the “soul climber” simply out to enjoy nature and play around on a few rocks.

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    • DreamingGnar December 23, 2010 at 4:17 pm #

      Definitely agree on that one. Once you’ve started actively spraying your accomplishments to the world, you have to expect the world to get curious.

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  20. Chuck L. December 24, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    “Jerry, just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it”….George Costanza.

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    • Drew December 24, 2010 at 3:41 pm #

      “It’s not bragging if it’s true” -Cassius Clay

      (or something to that effect)

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  21. Crafty December 24, 2010 at 9:24 pm #

    “If it’s all completely unsupported by the evidence, it’s probably not true.”

    -Me

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  22. Rhoads December 25, 2010 at 10:31 am #

    If you want to be sponsored or famous you are required to properly document your ascents. The burden on proof is on the climber.

    If he really did accomplish these things he probably feels quite proud that we are debating them since they are so unbelievable. Only he knows the truth and if these are fabrications he knows he will go to the grave as a liar. That’s punishment enough.

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  23. bldrbat December 27, 2010 at 3:51 pm #

    For a couple decades an American (not MR) known as an extraordinary climber suffered a gradual but steady erosion of his reputation. Several factors conspired against him – first, times changed, and the honor system that had allowed him to make incredible unsubstantiated claims for years became less tolerant, largely because while before there was no gain presumed to be had by lying, as sponsors etc. became more involved, the stakes grew. Also, more people who could have rightfully claimed ascents (including myself, I realized years after the fact) grew more irate when their claims were preempted. Like Simpson, he told a few too many tales that ventured into other realms where documentation was clear and irrefutable.
    A few troubled folks will lie, even when no benefit is imminent; more may stretch or bend when the stakes are higher. They won’t go to their graves giving a rat’s ass about the truth, because they suffer from a range of psychological abnormalities.
    Reardon strikes me as a different sort; he had no financial stake in his claims, he didn’t really seem to be overpublicizing himself, and often witnesses did verify ascents after others had scoffed at them.
    Professionals operate in a different world, where every claim needs to be supported, akin to drug testing, etc.
    What about THAT pandora’s box in the climbers tidy playpen, eh?

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  24. toothbrush December 30, 2010 at 5:37 pm #

    When money and sponsorship is involved you’ve gotta pay your dues. And by that I mean ya gotta own up to the business aspect of it and he owes/owed his sponsors an explanation if there was any question of the accomplishments that aided in his sponsorship. You owe any financial backer your accountability that you live up to your end of the bargain – plain and simple.

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  25. Coxy May 7, 2012 at 2:08 am #

    Undefeated boxing record? Ummm, nah mate.

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  26. Dave December 21, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

    Or maybe when you’re a liar you think everyone else is a liar.

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  27. Drew December 21, 2010 at 2:32 pm #

    You brought up Reardon, but I believe his example was rather of someone who did, in fact, make an effort to substantiate his claims (about Romantic Warrior, specifically, as most of the ‘Reardon controversy’ centered around his solo ascent of that route). He also received a strong vote of confidence from none other than John Bachar about his prowess as a soloist.

    Reardon returned to Romantic Warrior for a reenactment photo shoot, as have many other soloists (Alex Honnold, Alex Huber); in part this is so that they can ‘prove’ their ability to perform such feats, often in lieu of witnesses the first time around unless they are in a crowded area (the Needles is not such an area).

    The difference in this case, apparently, is a history of other somewhat dubious claims and the rejection of a forthright approach to the situation by Simpson. Still, I would err on the side of caution until more specific information is available, despite the rather damning evidence so far. It’s possible that he simply grew tired of the sponsorship ‘game’, or that he truly feels he has nothing to prove to anyone. However, the latter is doubtful given the fact that he has made the choice to place personal accomplishments in the public view.

    Ego is truly a paradox that we stumble over collectively as a sentient species.

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  28. Dave December 21, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

    Reardon did return to the Romantic Warrior with a photographer and got many pretty pictures of himself on non crux sections. Similar to other big solos he did (the Pirate.)

    All that was in addition to him claiming other solos of routes… where guys who were there the same day never saw him. Or a billion joshua tree solos in one day… when the wind was blowing 60mph.

    I’ve never heard of this simpson guy aside from that Action Direct vid, and today. What it tells me though, is that you can imply a LOT with a photographic or video record. I also think that if you’re 98% legit and 2% bullshit, that 2% is going to cloud everything.

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  29. markus December 21, 2010 at 2:58 pm #

    Huber actually re-soloed The Kommunist 5.14a twice for video, once for Heinz Zak and the other time he just handed his video camera to a tourist who had no idea what was going on. Definitely not the same thing as going back with a still photog and posing on the easy parts of the route

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  30. DreamingGnar December 22, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    To be fair, it doesn’t seem to me that hanging out in a crux sequence so a photographer can get just the right shot on a free solo that’s at the edge of your mental ability doesn’t sound like a good way to stay alive. and perhaps those were simply the best places to get a photographer, seeing as you REALLY don’t want anything getting in your way during a solo.

    But at this point it’s all just speculation, though I’d lean towards accepting the claims. I can’t see enough reason to doubt them. The dude was mad crazy strong and had insane mental fortitude.

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