Unsavoury route names
Rock climbing's new-found popularity uncovers dark past
Posted on 17.08.2020
Rock climbing’s new-found popularity uncovers dark past of unsavoury route names, sparking its #MeToo moment
As society has grappled with cultural reckonings of movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, sport has not been spared.
None more so than the sport of rock climbing, where a debate about the names of climbing routes has divided what was once a small, close-knit community with strong traditions.
Warning: The following article contains words and phrases that may offend some readers
In just the past two months, a debate has exploded within the climbing fraternity about route names considered to be sexist, misogynistic, homophobic and racist.
Names like Rape and Carnage, Rape and Pillage, Flogging a Dead Faggot, Pasty Poofs and One Less Bitch have been raised as being deeply offensive.
As a result, climbing has been forced to reconcile its past.
“Definitely it’s grotesque,” Emma Horan, who has represented Australia in climbing and runs one of Sydney’s largest bouldering gyms, said.
“I started climbing when I was seven and I’d never considered the implication of the names — I guess that’s my privilege.
“And then [when] one of our other friends, who’d been climbing for not too long, made reference to it, I thought, ‘Actually, that is really bad.'”
There are thousands of route names in Australia alone.
- Historically named climbing routes featuring racist, sexist and homophobic content spark debate in the community
- Some say the offensive names are indicative of what was once a “very male, white-dominated sport”
- But there has been pushback to changing the names in some corners, from those arguing “we cannot change history”
The Crag is attempting to change the names and, indeed, (The Crag’s head of business development) Ulf Fuchslueger says many first ascensionists are coming forward to ask for that to happen. But he acknowledges that it’s a slow process for a sport which, in some regards, is still struggling with its new-found popularity.
Have a story to tell or news to share?
Let us know by Submitting a News Story