I would have given Patagonia some slack and just let this die, but this reply is amazing. Basically, Dean's climb was OK because it didn't break any NPS rules and, you know, its OK for climbers and the NPS to not agree on resource management. Sure no problem. But, Dean's actions also violate well-understood Moab climbing community rules that forbid climbing named arches. And that's not cool.
----- Original Message ----- From:
Sent: Wednesday, May 17, 2006 10:06 AM
Subject: RE: Comments from
Thank you for writing us with your concerns. Patagonia ambassador Dean
Potter's May 7 free solo of Delicate Arch has generated significant
controversy about the legality and appropriateness of the climb of what has
been described as a national icon. We will be interested to follow the
controversy and to listen to views of those on both sides.
A few facts are in order. First, no crime has been committed. The National
Park Service has conceded that its regulations were ambiguous and that they
will not cite Dean for the ascent. They have said they will seek to clarify
their regulations to prevent a second try. The Park and a number of opinion
leaders have argued that Delicate Arch is an icon that should not be
It is important to note that Dean did no harm to the route or to the rock.
He free-soloed the arch, placing no anchors and creating no impact beyond
blowing dust off the holds. As he says, "No one reveres rocks more than me.
I consider all rocks sacred, as do most climbers."
Dean, like all Patagonia ambassadors, undertakes his own climbs on his own
terms. He told us about the climb afterward.
We have taken positions in the past on a number of issues of climbing
ethics, including bolting. We take no position on this one. As Casey
Sheahan, our CEO, notes, "From the early days in the Tetons to the
rebelliousness of Yosemite's Camp 4, every generation of climbers has had
its run-ins with government regulations that attempt to restrict climber's
freedom of expression. At Patagonia we don't control the ways our sponsored
athletes conduct themselves except to encourage respect for the environment
and uncommon approaches to every challenge. Dean is at the pinnacle of free
solo climbing, makes decisions for himself, and has our complete support."
Again, we thank you for your time and your opinion.
Sent: Tuesday, May 16, 2006 6:33 PM
Subject: Comments from
First Name: Dawn;
Last Name: Muhlestein;
Comments: I am writing in regard to Dean Potter, one of Patagonia's
sponsored climbers. I recently read an article regarding Dean Potter's
recent ascent of Delicate Arch in Moab, Utah. I am disgusted that Mr.
Potter would even consider climbing Delicate Arch with or without climbing
I am a climber myself. I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Potter's
climbing accomplishments. Dean Potter's noteriety as a climber makes his
recent climb of Delicate Arch worse. Are there different rules for "famous"
climbers than the rules for the rest of us? Everyone knows that the arches
are not to be climbed. Climbers have to share resources with many other
recreational users, his recent actions shed a negative light on climbers in
Dean Potter claims that he did no damage to the Arch and that he did nothing
wrong. How many others will say, "Potter climbed it... I can too"?
I have always respected Patagonia's commitment to the environment, but Dean
Potter's recent actions do not reflect that same level of commitment.
Perhaps Patagonia should reconsider Dean Potter's sponsorship.