Delicate Arch – Patagonia Stand Firm

A couple of weeks ago we reported that Dean Potter had made the first ascent of Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah. The solo ascent caused a real stir, with many people siding with the state in condemning the defacement of a national monument, and others supporting his non destructive actions. Below is a statement from his sponsor Patagonia, a company world renowned for its pro-active stance on ethical issues. Many individuals have asked us where we, as a company, stand on Dean´s recent climb. Since last week, Patagonia has received hundreds of emails on the issue, many asking for a public stance. First of foremost, we support Dean as our Ambassador. He´s part of our family and will continue to be. For those who are curious to see Patagonia´s “official stance” on the subject, read on: 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´ll 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 climbed. 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.” Previously we reported here that Dean himself was urging people to email Patagonia supporting his actions. We are sad to say that this was a hoax, devised by somebody wishing to stir up the controversy. We have since managed to track Dean down – no mean feat. He confirmed that he barely uses email and stands by his actions. Apologies for inadvertantly perpetuating the hoax.