TALK OF THE CRAG

Ex­am­in­ing two im­por­tant is­sues for climbers in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion

Climbing - - CONTENTS - BY BREN­DAN LEONARD

This elec­tion day, vote for climb­ing.

ON AU­GUST 10, Stephen Ro­gata, 19, at­tempted the first free-solo aid as­cent of Trump Tower in New York. Ac­cess is­sues stopped his bold line on the tower’s south face. Less than one-third of the way up the route, the NYPD re­moved a pane of glass on the 21st floor and pulled Ro­gata through. In the spirit of this elec­tion sea­son, it was an ap­pro­pri­ately bat­shit-crazy sit­u­a­tion, and for a minute, climb­ing was part of the dis­cus­sion. Ro­gata, who was at­tempt­ing to meet with Don­ald Trump, was sent to a Man­hat­tan psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tal af­ter his ar­rest.

Like most Amer­i­cans, you have thoughts, emo­tions, and con­vic­tions about this year’s elec­tion. I have one over­rid­ing feel­ing: sad­ness that Hunter S. Thomp­son is un­able to cover it. I mean, Fear and Loathing on the Cam­paign Trail ’72 was a bril­liant book about a ridicu­lous elec­tion year in which an em­bat­tled Ge­orge McGovern fi­nally won the Demo­cratic Party nom­i­na­tion and then lost the elec­tion, but 2016? Good heav­ens. Thomp­son would have been ec­static to have this cast of char­ac­ters dropped in his lap.

I am not telling you who to vote for this year. That’s as ef­fec­tive as try­ing to con­vince some­one to quit smok­ing, wear a bi­cy­cle hel­met, or ac­cept ad­vice on im­prov­ing their janky toprope an­chor so they don’t kill them­selves. How­ever, I want to break down the is- sues that are per­ti­nent to climbers and how the pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates and their re­spec­tive par­ties stand. Ob­vi­ously you’ll want to con­sider ev­ery­thing from a can­di­date’s knowl­edge of where Aleppo, Syria, is on a map to the pro­por­tion of their hands to the rest of their body, but for the pur­poses of this ar­ti­cle, we’ll fo­cus on two is­sues: ac­cess and cli­mate change.

MOST CLIMB­ING (un­less you’re in the Gunks or a hand­ful of other places) takes place on pub­lic, fed­er­ally man­aged land, like na­tional for­est, BLM, and na­tional parks. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment owns and man­ages ap­prox­i­mately 29 per­cent of the land in the U.S. In the west­ern United States (Alaska, Ore­gon, Wash­ing­ton, Cal­i­for­nia, Idaho, Utah, Ne­vada, Ari­zona, Mon­tana, Wy­oming, Colorado, and New Mex­ico), it’s 50 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to the Con­gres­sional Re­search Ser­vice. The Ac­cess Fund’s GIS database cal­cu­lates that al­most 60 per­cent of the moun­tains, climb­ing crags, and de­vel­oped boul­ders in the U.S. are on fed­er­ally man­aged lands. Re­cently, con­ser­va­tive leg­is­la­tors and pri­vate in­ter­ests like the Amer­i­can Lands Coun­cil, Free the Lands, and the Koch broth­ers–backed Amer­i­can

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