By Monomaniac Administrator From Morrison, CO Jan 7, 2011
The sporting achievements of UK strong-man Rich Simpson have recently come under scrutiny (see here and more deats here.)
(You may remember Simpson from the "Obsession" video thread)
Ironically this started because his claims were simply too impressive to believe (5.15a sport send, 2:30 marathon, 4-min mile, alpine speed ascents, boxing victories). His sponsors asked him for some kind of basic coroboration (for example, the name(s) of his belayers for 4 of his most noteable ascents) and Simpson is as of yet unable or unwilling to respond.
As a "professional" athletes, sponsored by the outdoor industry for advancing the sport and acting as the public face of our sport, all sponsored athletes need to be able to prove their claims. Mountaineers have been doing it for decades (with photos) and have proved time and time again that people will create stories of success for public consumption.
I have to believe that any ascent (bouldering, sport, traditional, alpine) that is publicly promoted and acclaimed had better be validated by reputable evidence (ie photos, video, at the least a belayer or witness).
Been recovering from wisdom teeth surgery today and listening to an audio book by a well known mountaineer. I like his philosophy. It boils down to success isn't necessarily gauged by a predetermined outcome but how you handle yourself throughout the process. It seems that most of the folks that I look up to harbor this mentality. Some seem to get blown off track so easily when their sights are set upon something that they have attached their emotions to and the attainment aspect isn't going their way.
By Monomaniac Administrator From Morrison, CO Jan 7, 2011
I just watched the obsession vid again, and its really interesting watching the last 3 minutes, which is presented as though that is the redpoint ascent, with people cheering at the end, and the camerman asking him "how did it feel?" and what not.
But if you read the UKB thread (linked above), the filmer, Chris Doyle, posts (under username "Doylo") and someone asks him if he was there for the send:
"Chris, did you have to go home before Rich did Action Direct, or were you just having a lie in and he slipped out and sent?"
"Your spot on i was in bed as he was out the house at 7. I can't say i've seen him do something hard cos i haven't but i didn't climb with him that much when he was fully going for it. On what i saw he could do the route without question, i know this doesn't mean he did it...."
I think its pretty disingenuous to present it as the redpoint, but I suppose this type of sleight of hand goes on all the time in climbing vids. I've edited hangs out of videos for my personal use, but I've never pretended to be really happy when I got to the chains so that it would look like I just sent.
Furthermore, the entire 26 minute video never shows him do what looks to me like the hardest individual move. (the move shown 19 seconds, and again at 26 & 36 seconds into this vid):
I don't really have any thoughts on Rich Simpson, aside from being bummed if he did exaggerate/lie about his achievements. I do have some general thoughts about the "Burden of Proof" in climbing.
In our legal system, everyone is assumed to be innocent until proven otherwise. The way I see it, the system was made this way because it was judged to be worse to falsely convict an innocent man than to mistakenly set free a guilty one.
While the stakes are far less, I think the same holds true in climbing. I assume that people are telling the truth about their accomplishments as a rule, unless there's significant proof otherwise. I think it would be worse for someone to be truthful about what they did, and have no one believe them, than the opposite.
Of course, the easy answer is to provide evidence of your feats, maybe a witness, or a photo. But if it comes down to taking someone at their word, maybe they were out soloing and didn't bring a camera, I'd rather believe them. If they're lying, they'll have to live with it, and that's way worse than any outside criticism.
By Stich From Colorado Springs, Colorado Jan 8, 2011
After having a really cool guy in our circle of friends compulsively lie about his own climbing achievements for years, amongst other things, I can see that even non-professionals will fib for whatever reason. So there you have it.
People will even lie about getting a coupon for an Egg McMuffin®.
Furthermore, the entire 26 minute video never shows him do what looks to me like the hardest individual move. (the move shown 19 seconds, and again at 26 & 36 seconds into this vid)
Finally got a chance to watch the obsession vid. It is odd how the mono to mono dyno at the start of the headwall is clipped out of obsession.
I've seen enough vids of Chris Sharma not sending something and talking about how it will be there next time and how much he would like to come back and finish the project someday. As far as I know he hasn't lost any sponsorships over that. I don't understand really what would be the motivation of Rich Simpson to use any sort of subterfuge. If that is the case it is rather disappointing. To be in the position of being an ambassador for a company, being sponsored by them, one would hope that the fellow would be stoked to share all the details of the experience in a humble honest way that really made you feel welcome to be a part of the Company, as though you were extended family.
Honestly, I think it's between the climber and his/her sponsor. It's all just about the $$ anyway. If the company is happy spinning BS into gold, it makes no difference to me. If they want to can his ass for being a lying sack of sh*t, that's fine too.
The burden of proof is exactly as high or low as the sponsor requires.