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Dry tooling at Arco
Photo by Nicolas Favresse
Dry tooling at Arco
Photo by Nicolas Favresse
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Nicolas Favresse and sustainable climbing

10.03.2008 by Planetmountain

Nicolas Favresse invites all to reflect about the human impact of our vertical activity, and launches his appeal for sustainable climbing.

Nicolas Favresse, the extremely talented climber who recently moved base from his home in Belgium to Italy's Arco, invites all to reflect about the impact our vertical game has on Mother Nature. In particular, the 28 year old examines the impact dry tooling has on rock, the consequences and possible alternatives.

While it's clear that one of the most beautiful aspects of outdoor climbing lies in the fact that it’s a game "without rules" and referees, it’s equally clear that nature is not an infinite resource. And that Mother Earth needs our help. According to Nicolas, respect for the environment should take prime position in a climber's conscience, above all personal motivations and gratification. The text published below is an open letter, the appeal is there for all.

I want to share this with you.
by Nicolas Favresse

The other day, I was scoping cliffs looking for natural lines to bolt that could possibly push my limits. Here is what I found. A beautiful cliff, probably one of the nicest I have seen in this area with a possible potential for hard new natural lines; instead, however, this wall is completely scarred with pockets chipped by ice picks and scratch marks left by crampons. The scars are all over the wall. I was quite bummed, especially considering the fact there are so many cliffs in the area with shitty rock for rock climbing.  

While dry tooling is a technique that brings climbing possibilities to a whole new level in the mountains, it now seems to be becoming more and more a discipline of its own. This could be understood as a natural evolution, given the impact of global warming. Indeed, year after year the ice climbing season seems to be getting shorter and the walls that used to be full of ice expose more and more rock. The game is there and these days ice tools allow us to do all kinds of things. It’s fun!

Many admirable climbers are proactive, working with environmental groups and others to protect our crags from excessive human impact. This impact seems to follow a broad spectrum, from using chalk, leaving tick marks, wearing climbing shoes, bolting,  throwing your crashpad down at the base of a boulder...if we
want to have no impact we'd have to stop climbing entirely. But activities such as dry tooling, leaving an irreversible imprint on the rock, seem to fall at
the extreme end of the spectrum. Although, thankfully, there are no rules to control our climbing activities, each of us should play our game with thoughtfulness and maturity. If we just take a moment to think
outside of ourselves and our own instant gratification, we'd probably be able to find an appropriate place for each activity that wouldn't take away from the future. For example, why not dry tool in an area that can sustain the impact, like a quarry or an area whose rock isn't suitable for freeclimbing.

My goal with this is not to prove what’s right or wrong. It’s just to open our eyes to what's happening out there and make us think, so that we can lessen our impact at which ever level it is and share our ideas with our friends.

Have fun climbing

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