A somewhat interesting internet controversy started this week when Nalle Hukkataival mentioned in the comments of his blog that he was “not allowed” to try the very well-known First Round First Minute project in Margalef, Spain during a recent trip there. The FRFM project is well-known of course because it happens to be the main project of one Chris Sharma who also bolted the line. Hukkataival’s thoughts can be summarized with this comment of his:
The lesson here is that if you want to keep your project, don’t put it in the next BigUp release, but if you do, at least don’t let people think it’s open and travel a long way to try it and then suddenly close it (and still not make it publicly known that it’s closed)
Hukkataival’s thoughts touched off a firestorm of comments from readers of this blog and many others who questioned the motives of both Sharma and Big Up Productions. Most people expressed surprise that Sharma would close a project as this seemed out of character while others rightly pointed out that none of us really know the parties involved.
Josh Lowell from Big Up refuted claims that Big Up had anything to do with the closure of FRFM, but many were wondering what Sharma himself had to say about the situation. Despite not being an active participant in the online climbing world Sharma has, in fact, posted his thoughts on the matter on both girlfriend Daila Ojeda’s blog and TheLowDown:
So until recently Id never met or spent anytime with Nalle Hukkataival. He’s obviously a really amazing climber and I really respect the the style of boulder problems that he’s been putting up (big impressive beautiful hard lines). I can understand his draw to a route like FRFM. I guess what was surprising was that he didn’t ask my opinion or permission (not that he needs to, its not illegal or anything we’re just talking about climbing etiquette). I found out his aim that he came to spain specifically try first round by reading his blog. Discussing it with Dani (we were like : “thats strange; he’s never been to spain, where there are so many hard routes to try and he’s planning to go directly to my project”) . Catalunya has a lot of good climbers and in general the locals are pretty respectful about these things, at least to ask is a good policy. I feel that its better to express yourself if you feel like if you don’t your going to be frustrated., So I told Nalle that Id appreciate if he gave me some more time to try to get it done before he started working on it. Obviously he didn’t have to respect my wishes.
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Its not like I have any power to enforce any sort of climbing laws and not allow someone to try it, I just expressed my feelings. He could have disregarded that and tried it but it seemed that he respected that and gave me some more time and I was very appreciative of that. I pointed him in the direction of several other futuristic projects that I bolted that I thought he would like and it seemed like it was all good.
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There is much more from Sharma so I encourage you to read the full post before forming your opinion on the matter…
Update: You can read some more thoughts from Hukkataival here including this interesting nugget:
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. I totally understand when Chris says he doesn’t want to turn it into a contest to see who does it first, but I surely felt left out standing there below the route, watching others trying it. I don’t think it’s cool to be separating people like that, who’s allowed to try it and who’s not.