TALK OF THE CRAG
Examining two important issues for climbers in the presidential election
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