Access Fund Condemns Delicate Arch Stunt
Well, I wonder if Dean Potter is still preening about his little stunt the other day? You know, the one in which he soloed to the top of Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. The one that brought quite a bit of criticism down upon his sinewy shoulders.
Climbing forums across the country have been chattering about the pros and cons of Potter's actions, and now the Access Fund, the only national advocacy organization for the climbing community, is adding its criticism.
"The Access Fund does not condone the climb of Delicate Arch and the actions of this individual are not representative of the climbing community," the organization said Friday. "We trust the public will understand that the actions of one person should not condemn the larger community of climbers who are equally appalled by this event.
"The Access Fund urges all climbers to recognize and limit the impacts of their climbing practices on the environment and other users of the land and to respect existing closures. If questionable restrictions arise, climbing advocacy efforts opposing such unreasonable restrictions should follow proper administrative procedures."
Of course, a question that might naturally arise in some circles is if El Capitan and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, and the Grand Tetons in Grand Teton National Park, and many towering walls in Zion National Park, can be climbed, why not Delicate Arch?
The obvious answer, of course, is that when Delicate Arch finally does decide to turn into a large pile of rubble, hopefully it will be gravity, and not the weight of a climber, that makes that decision. Arches such as Delicate are much more susceptible to outside forces than El Capitan, Half Dome and the other rock edifices I mentioned.
That said, according to the Access Fund, national park officials in Arches and other national parks are reviewing their climbing policies and could place some restrictions as a result of Potter's climb.
If such restrictions are enacted, I wonder if Patagonia, the clothing manufacturer that hails Potter as one of its "alpine ambassadors," will continue to refer to him as one of the "best and most highly respected climbers in the world."
While Potter's certainly one of the best, I'm guessing he's not among the most respected these days.