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Adventure Sports

with Stefan Nestler

Auer: “Clif bar has the right to take its choice, but why now?”

clif-barA little danger is good for business, but not too much. So the decision of the US company Clif Bar can be summarized to stop the sponsoring of the top climbers Alex Honnold, Dean Potter, Steph Davis, Cedar Wright and Timmy O’Neill. “Over a year ago, we started having conversations internally about our concerns with B.A.S.E. jumping, highlining and free-soloing”, Clif bar said. “We concluded that these forms of the sport are pushing boundaries and taking the element of risk to a place where we as a company are no longer willing to go.” In the climbing scene, the decision of the energy bar manufacturer has triggered an intense debate about how much influence sponsors may have. “I draw the lines for myself”, wrote Alex Honnold, who had been supported by Clif bar for four years, in the New York Times. “Sponsors don’t have any bearing on my choices or my analysis of risk. I know that when I’m standing alone below a thousand-foot wall, looking up and considering a climb, my sponsors are the furthest thing from my mind. If I’m going to take risks they are going to be for myself – not for any company.”

“Who wants to be a madman?”

Hansjoerg Auer during the IMS in Brixen

Hansjoerg Auer

Like Honnold, the Austrian top climber Hansjoerg Auer has already made headlines with free solo projects. For instance in 2007, when he climbed – solo and without ropes – the difficult “Fish Route” via the Marmolada South Face in the Dolomites. Regarding this, he had never problems with his sponsors, the 30-year-old wrote to me: “However, I have never pushed the theme ‘free solo’ in the media. I did not want to be fully identified with this topic. In Europe, things are different. In America heroes are created by doing high-risk sports. As a free solo climber in Austria you are seen more as a madman than a hero. And who wants to be a madman?“ Auer takes the view that Clif Bar certainly has the right to decide not to support free solo climbers, base jumpers or high-liners. “But I don’t understand that it happened so suddenly“, says Hansjoerg. “The protagonists have been known for being engaged in risky sports for many years.“ The Austrian pleads that top climbers should not always be asked about the sense of their actions: “There is basically no justification for free solo climbing, and it is also not necessary to search for it. Those who do not understand why climbers do that, should be interested in something else.“


25. November 2014 | 10:40