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Does racism exist in climbing?


Original Post
Rico Tan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 100

Does racism exist in climbing? I’m not talking about historical route names or the percentages of climbers that are minorities, or the climbing culture/Social media is mostly about white dudes and girls ( which it is ) , or how some minorities have less access to climbing due to income levels, locations, cultural heritages ..etc.                                         My question is , do some climbers exhibit unfriendly behaviors or bad attitudes towards you either in person or online because you’re a minority or let’s say, a “not preferred race” , or if some climbers would avoid or not respond to you as a climbing partner due to your (different) color or their (in your mind ) personal prejudice.                               From my personal experience , the majority of the climbers are friendly towards me ( Asian), but there’re also occasionally a few that would behave unfriendly, even hostile towards me , either at a gym, in person, or (pretty often) online . And I can’t think of any good reasons other than I’m of different color/race , after all things considered.                                 No matter what color you’re, I’d like to hear your personal stories, experience or thoughts on this topic. I hope I’m not being too controversial with this topic because that’s definitely not my intention here ,  it’s just after being attacked by quite a few trolls and online bullies,  with my image post on the public forum ( has since be deleted by admin), attacking my every offhanded comment posted , accusing me of things I didn’t even do YEARS AGO (which I can only attribute to they just don’t like me due to my Asian name/race/color of skin/heritage....).  Of courses lot of times people just like to attack you for fun, that’s just what bullies and trolls do after all , like shit eating flies, nothing at all to do with the R word , or my name, my color, me being a pushover.   But I’m still really , genuinely curious about what other people’s, especially if you as a minority’s experience are . Does racism exists in climbing interaction at all, online or in person, or it’s almost nonexistent , or I’m just the “lucky few” ?                   English is my second language so bare with my sometimes not very grammatical correct writing.                                             PS: not sure how many minority climbers will be reading this post, I suspect not many??? So the response I get may be very skewed/ biased, but I’m still curious.

Stagg54 Taggart · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 10
Rico Tan wrote: Does racism exist in climbing? I’m not talking about historical route names or the percentages of climbers that are minorities, or the climbing culture/Social media is mostly about white dudes and girls ( which it is ) , or how some minorities have less access to climbing due to income levels, locations, cultural heritages ..etc.  My question is , do some climbers exhibit unfriendly behaviors or bad attitudes towards you either in person or online because you’re a minority or let’s say, a “not preferred race” , or if some climbers would avoid or not respond to you as a climbing partner due to your (different) color or their (in your mind ) personal prejudice.  From my personal experience , the majority of the climbers are friendly towards me ( Asian), but there’re also occasionally a few that would behave unfriendly, even hostile towards me , either at a gym, in person, or (pretty often) online . And I can’t think of any good reasons other than I’m of different color/race , after all things considered.  No matter what color you’re, I’d like to hear your personal stories, experience or thoughts on this topic. I hope I’m not being too controversial with this topic because that’s definitely not my intention here ,  it’s just after being attacked by quite a few trolls and online bullies,  with my image post on the public forum ( has since be deleted by admin), attacking my every offhanded comment posted , accusing me of things I didn’t even do YEARS AGO (which I can only attribute to they just don’t like me due to my Asian name/race/color of skin/heritage....).  Of courses lot of times people just like to attack you for fun, that’s just what bullies and trolls do after all , like shit eating flies, nothing at all to do with the R word , or my name, my color, me being a pushover.   But I’m still really , genuinely curious about what other people’s, especially if you as a minority’s experience are . Does racism exists in climbing interaction at all, online or in person, or it’s almost nonexistent , or I’m just the “lucky few” ?   English is my second language so bare with my sometimes not very grammatical correct writing.     PS: not sure how many minority climbers will be reading this post, I suspect not many??? So the response I get may be very skewed/ biased, but I’m still curious.
Funny I always thought climbing and climbers were way more tolerant than the general public.
s.price · · Pagosa Springs · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 1,346

I agree with Stagg. But climbers are just people so yes it exists.

John Barritt · · OKC · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 1,080
s.price wrote: I agree with Stagg. But climbers are just people so yes it exists.

End of thread......

Long Ranger · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 156

Historically, yeah there's been some nationalism-borderline-racism going on in climbing. Consider the ascent of the Eiger Nordwand and how it was used as Nazi propogranda to illustrate, "the master race". This is obviously not specific to climbing (just sports in general - look at the German Olympics around that time).

Consider the treatment of the Sherpa by clients on Everest expeditions.  

Rico Tan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 100
Stagg54 Taggart wrote: Funny I always thought climbing and climbers were way more tolerant than the general public.

I agree. Like I said, in my experience “most climbers ” are friendly, open minded and have no problem with people from different culture background/race , but I believe there are exceptions. I’m just curious if it’s more prevalent than I thought and if other people/minority have a totally different experience.

master gumby · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 131

Putting the sweat pants on and grabbing the popcorn.

Ron O · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2018 · Points: 0

Rico Tan, consider paragraphs (makes things easier to read).

A climber's kid put a disparaging sign outside my house with swastikas (I'm jewish), and the dad claimed it was his "first constitutional right" (I think he meant first amendment.)

Plenty of climbers are ignorant uneducated racists.

Long Ranger · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 156
Rico Tan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 100
Ron O wrote: Rico Tan, consider paragraphs (makes things easier to read).

A climber's kid put a disparaging sign outside my house with swastikas (I'm jewish), and the dad claimed it was his "first constitutional right" (I think he meant first amendment.)

Plenty of climbers are ignorant uneducated racists.

Done . Thanks for the advice and the input.

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 793

Does racism exist in climbing? No. Tricams are indifferent. There are no white bros only crags that I know of, nor no policies at REI that you can't use their bathroom. That's racism.

Are there racists in climbing? I would expect so. Would they purposely cut your rope? Drop you at the gym? I doubt it. Might even accidently get used to seeing you around, have their attitude "slip up" some day, and discover they like your sense of humor, or whatever. Then, it becomes (fill in the blank) are (fill in the blank), but this guy at the gym is an exception. Then the guy brings his wife and kids in. Hm. You like ​Those People too. A lot of racism has slid away quietly, just by people getting to know each other by proximity. Yay.

Best, Helen

Rico Tan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 100
Long Ranger wrote: Some food for thought - climbing isn't a very racially diverse hobby, but that isn't quite "racism". I'm of the opinion that more diversity would probably make for a better party out there:

https://www.climbing.com/people/diversity-in-climbing-a-tough-conversation/

https://www.outsideonline.com/2301896/my-own-everest

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/adventure-blog/2013/05/09/first-all-african-american-team-takes-on-denali-in-june-why-it-matters/

https://brooklynboulders.com/blog/black-people-dont-rock-climb/

Great read . Thanks 

highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35

I would love to think it doesn't happen but I'm sure it does.

I remember one day of DWS and I looked around and I was the only white guy there. Of course I was the only American too. 

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,455

Did someone leave the door to the insane asylum open?!? What's with the ranty posts as of late?!!?

Keep 'em coming please ;)

Rob the tricam · · Springdale, Utah · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 0
Ron O wrote: Rico Tan, consider paragraphs (makes things easier to read).

A climber's kid put a disparaging sign outside my house with swastikas (I'm jewish), and the dad claimed it was his "first constitutional right" (I think he meant first amendment.)

Plenty of climbers are ignorant uneducated racists.

Ron... did this just happen?

Mike0110 · · Long Beach, CA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 5
Jaren Watson · · Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 2,033

I don’t know if racism exists in climbing or not, but I for one wouldn’t climb with an Asian. Asians tend to be lean and fit, which puts me at an unfair disadvantage.

Nor would I climb with a black climber. Black people tend to be super strong and athletic, which leaves me at an unfair disadvantage.

I definitely wouldn’t tie in with a Latino. Those gals and guys tend to have the ability to give 100% far too often. This, too, would leave me at an unfair disadvantage.

I could, perhaps, overlook the above as long as the person was cool. As a clumsy, chubby fellow only willing to give half-efforts, I’d be willing to suppress my judgments about entire groups, you know, if the person was cool.

But I’ll be damned if I ever climb with a Native American. I lost my hair years ago, so their miraculously beautiful hair is an affront to my very existence.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 502
Rob the tricam wrote:

Ron... did this just happen?

Shit like this happens all the time. We got a nice little period where the hate died down a little bit after people found out about the Holocaust (although, that's kind of a hefty price to pay for a break from the hate). Now the memory is starting to fade as most of the last survivors are dying out and antisemitism is rearing its ugly head like it has for pretty much as long as we've existed. 

And to answer the OP, in my experience climbers tend to be more inclusive and progress than average, but there certainly isn't as much diversity as there ought to be. There's definitely some cultural barriers to it, especially for black people, who think that they shouldn't climb because they're black. I'm not sure what causes, this though, and I'd be curious to understand why these cultural barriers exist.
Serge Smirnov · · Seattle, WA · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 262
Rico Tan wrote: occasionally a few that would behave unfriendly, even hostile towards me , either at a gym, in person, or (pretty often) online . And I can’t think of any good reasons other than...

Everything else notwithstanding, some people don't need a reason to be unfriendly - they just are.  Read this forum more and you'll see how unfriendly people with of-similar-race-sounding names can be to each other, over disagreements that don't seem like good reasons to be unfriendly.

Drederek · · Olympia, WA · Joined Mar 2004 · Points: 315
Jaren Watson wrote: I don’t know if racism exists in climbing or not, but I for one wouldn’t climb with an Asian. Asians tend to be lean and fit, which puts me at an unfair disadvantage.

Nor would I climb with a black climber. Black people tend to be super strong and athletic, which leaves me at an unfair disadvantage.

I definitely wouldn’t tie in with a Latino. Those gals and guys tend to have the ability to give 100% far too often. This, too, would leave me at an unfair disadvantage.

I could, perhaps, overlook the above as long as the person was cool. As a clumsy, chubby fellow only willing to give half-efforts, I’d be willing to suppress my judgments about entire groups, you know, if the person was cool.

But I’ll be damned if I ever climb with a Native American. I lost my hair years ago, so their miraculously beautiful hair is an affront to my very existence.

This is racist

Jaren Watson · · Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 2,033
Drederek wrote:

This is racist

Then I guess racism does exist in climbing. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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