Letter To Summit

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Letter To Summit Editor On Style

Dear Editor:

I recently came across Roger Breedlove's review of Rock Climbs of Tuolumne Meadows in SUMMIT (March -April 1984). I regret not seeing the review earlier, as it contains an inaccurate criticism of my introduction to the Guide, and a defense of thoughtless climbing styles. I offer the following response.

Roger calls my introduction ". . .a self-serving methodology of reducing stylistic and ethical considerations to a black-and-white decision process which only he and his mentors may define and to which all others must aspire." The introduction argues strongly the case for traditional style, but it does not tell climbers what they must do. Instead, the introduction advises the climber to "Think and question yourself as you climb in Tuolumne Meadows. Try to assess which routes and ethical traditions seem best." And later, "Will you prefer to remember having done the most severe routes in whatever way was necessary, or having done a few of the hardest in the best style, while perhaps failing miserably on some others and avoiding altogether still others? It is a question the tumultuous climbing traditions of Tuolumne force upon you. Think before you answer it, for your best climbing days too soon rush by." Are these statements commandments to climb in one style? Black-and-white prescriptions? Or does the introduction state where I stand, but urge climbers to consider the opposing ethical traditions and decide for themselves? I think the introduction clearly urges the latter, not the former.