Charter of Climbing Ethics

Community and passion

We the climbers are a community of passionate people. All over the world, whoever we are, we like to meet and share a passion which is much more than a sport. For each of us, in a personal and intimate manner, climbing is life.

Freedom and diversity

Climbers like to be free. We value the freedom of choosing our way of climbing, to think about it, to share it, to dream about it. Respectful of our freedom, it is difficult to choose which values should represent climbing as they are diverse and various, as they somehow still remain to be invented. Thanks to our freedom and our diversity, we can recreate the richness of climbing and of its values each time we climb.

Nature and sustainability

We love nature. We are moved by the beauty of nature, of the rock, of the places, of the landscapes and the lines that inspire our climbing. The strength of nature and the power of verticality invite us to humility. We agree to adapt to nature rather than to force our way whatever the means. Through our lifestyle or travels, we like to explore and discover a nature whose creativity overcomes and surprises us. We have a personal endless responsibility to pay attention to where footpaths tread; where waste is recycled; where faeces are disposed of; what transport we use; where we park; whether access is regulated and, last but not least, to the needs of other flora, fauna and all future generations. We strive for climbing areas where the relationship between outdoor activities and nature conservation is mutually beneficial, not a one-way journey where nature gets exploited in the name of conquest or even human pleasure seeking. Climbing must develop our ecological consciousness.

Performance and pleasure of climbing

We value performance and pleasure in climbing in our own way. We desire the intense satisfaction that rewards our success or the attainment of our objectives. We like to progress, to improve, to find our limits, to push them and (sometimes) to surpass them. We often like to climb new grades. Determined and perseverant, we also know how to fail and make sure that our attempts are a way to learn or a motivation to try more. Maintaining our level can also be enough. We love climbing much beyond performance and deeply appreciate the intrinsic pleasure of climbing. Climbing promotes a form of harmony between the body and the mind, an emotion for beauty, grace, flexibility, balance, rhythm, power or energy that can take us much beyond our imagination. Climbing is also a game, an art or an adventure. Each in his or her own way, we live an experience that commits us totally to ourselves and which is the mirror of ourselves.

Friendship and sharing

Climbers like to choose whom they climb with. Friendship, complicity, trust, respect, support, emulation, solidarity - all contribute to the experience and sharing of the best of climbing. We depend on each other to inspire, to advise, to teach, to guide, to help, to belay, to clean our holds, to spot, to encourage as well as to congratulate ourselves embracing our limitations, capacities and differences. We depend also on utmost honesty in our actions and in the communication of our achievements: we are responsible for maintaining the integrity of our passion. Climbing is also to climb with a team spirit that contributes to performance, pleasure and the meaning of life.

Movement and beauty

Movement is at the heart of climbing. We like to decipher the holds, to explore textures and contact, to invent tricks, to discover solutions and to realize them in our own way and every time anew. Simple or complex, we love to discover new ranges of moves and new playgrounds, inventing climbing as a sport, a game, a teaching, a dance or a form of poetry. This freedom, this diversity and this creativity all contribute to the efficiency, the pleasure and the grace of a climb. In this infinite quest for movement and beauty, we listen to our body and we must care for it, respectful of its ability and of ourselves.

Risk and safety

We the climbers know that we are taking risks. Above ground, our commitment exposes us to dangers whose conscience requires a permanent attention to safety. In climbing, it is possible to lose everything and we must give attention to the reliability of the rock, of the equipment, of weather forecasts, of our belayer, of our climbing partners and of ourselves. As an apprenticeship in assessing risks and trust, climbing encourages autonomy and responsibility. Indoors or outdoors, risk is present at every second of life and we should not abolish it from climbing. We must be fully conscious that we can put others in danger and share information about the risks that we are aware of.

History and culture

We are proud of the specificity of climbing and of climbing values. Always in movement, climbing is an ancestral activity of humanity which fascinates and inspires people well beyond our community. We value and respect our history and our culture. We acknowledge the contributions of all those who participated in the development of climbing in respect of its values. In order to preserve free access to climbing locations, to benefit from the best equipment and gear, to be supported by institutions at the service of our activity and to enable our passion to shine, we engage with local communities, with sport institutions, with economic or associative actors, with political representatives, with media and the general public. Climbing strives for being a communication across different worlds.

Climbing Gyms and Social Transformation

Climbing gyms are innovative. Here we create our landscapes, we design our lines, we mould our holds and we unleash a new freedom to explore and invent a way of climbing bounded only by our imagination. The considerable spread of indoor facilities particularly within urban areas has brought the world of climbing to a wider community, giving access to increasingly diverse populations. Especially for people discovering climbing indoors, gyms are colourful and playful spaces inviting a demanding and scary engagement with themselves and their bodies. Not devoid of risks, climbing gyms are an opportunity for self-education reminiscent of the playgrounds of our youth. Offering such close proximity to one another, climbing gyms are powerful places where we learn by watching others fail and succeed, try and abandon, in delight and in despair, in grace or in agony, vulnerable or empowered, prestigious or unknown, joyful or reserved. Often acting as a door to nature, climbing gyms are an opportunity for raising environmental awareness. They raise an obligation to learn that natural holds are not man-made, that outdoor risks are distinct from indoor risks, or that the natural environment shall not be misconceived as a commercial space. Climbing gyms have a special responsibility for the transmission of climbing values, for the future of climbing and for the contribution of climbing to social transformation.

Competitions and Integrity

When we compete, we like to be at the centre of the event as athletes. We value organisations that respect climbers and sustainably contribute to their development. We like set of rules that are equitable, clear and transparent, respecting different types of climbing and of climbers. We believe that the quality of boulders, of routes, of route-setters, of walls, of holds and of athletes is essential to the value of climbing competition. We value rankings that reflect a comparison of performance with integrity, without doping, cheating, fraud, manipulation or corruption. We work with our coaches, trainers and other team members and officials to promote a culture of integrity, in particular one that resist doping. We are proud of the opportunity to share our sport with a public beyond our climbing community. Competitions would not exist without climbing heritage and must contribute to the development of climbing through the respect of its values.

Meeting the Olympic Spirit

Climbing values align with the first fundamental principle of Olympism: « Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles. » Olympism may be a natural and positive evolution for climbing and/or a change destructive of its essential values. We value Olympism at the service of climbing and of climbers and fear the dangers of a sport at the service of money and power. We think that climbing and climbers have much to bring to Olympism in its current agenda of reform, in particular its quest for ethics, for environmental sustainability, for bringing athletes back to the center of sport, for inspiring and educating young people and for maintaining integrity in the face of the multiple forms of corruption.

Inspiration, Inclusiveness and Openness of this Charter

We are conscious that an ethics charter raises risks, like the one of restricting our practice, of legitimizing an inappropriate power to judge or control, of going through the motions of thinking, of initiating a false debate or of impeding the evolution of climbing. We however think that a charter is also an opportunity to accompany the evolution of climbing, to bring climbers at the centre of the debate, to raise consciousness about ethical risks, to reinforce climbing values or to better share the richness of climbing. This charter has been designed and drafted following a process inclusive of climbers of all ages and levels, and from many different countries. Values such as Inspiration, Inclusiveness and Openness have presided to this process. We would like to encourage anyone to seize this opportunity to express his or her point of view and thus participate to the ethics of climbing.

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