The intention of this policy on the naming of climbing routes and climbing areas is twofold. First, it is giving guidance to route developers and first ascensionists on the naming of new routes and areas and second, it describes the procedure and policy of theCrag to address existing route names that do not meet the current guidance standards and are identified as being offensive to certain groups within or outside the climbing community.
This policy is an integral part of the Code of Etiquette of theCrag. Disregarding the policy might result in the consequences listed in the theCrag Site Usage Policy and Licensing of IP User Content.
While many might have the impression that the discussion about route and area names is a relatively recent development, reality is that name changes in climbing and alpinism have a much longer, however not well documented history. Typically, name changes were not announced but old names were simply omitted or different names published in new guide books or alpine magazines, making it very hard to track them down. In Europe these changes were often driven by territorial or political changes during or after wars. A well documented example is the change of the name of the Fritz-Pflaum-Hütte (a mountain hut in Austria) to Griesnerkarhütte in the years from 1937 to 1949 (a). Fritz Pflaum was jewish, reason enough to quietly change the name. Another example is the suppression of the name of “Torre Preuss” (the smallest of the Zinn’s - “kleinste Zinne” - in South Tyrol) by the Italians in the 1930’s (b).
More recently we have seen the renaming of summits and mountain ranges back to the names used by first nations people and traditional custodians. The change from Mount McKinley to Denali in 2015 and the change from Ayers Rock to Uluru in 1993 are just two famous examples from different continents out of this group.
The increase in popularity of climbing that propelled the sport out of its niche in recent years led to a new awareness about the topic of route and area naming in the general public. Youthful follies of the early days of climbing when pubescent youngsters gave names to their latest creations that were hitherto buried in low volume, self-published guidebooks suddenly made headlines in mainstream media and tarnished the image of climbing as a sport in general (think of Nowra in Australia, Ten Sleep Canyon in the USA, Sørlandet in Norway or Asyl Box in Austria to name just a very few).
Whatever the reason might be that certain individuals chose a certain name for a route or an area we at theCrag would like to ensure that everyone, including young children and minority groups do not feel offended by names they find on theCrag and that everyone can talk about their latest sends without being ashamed of mentioning the respective route names.
Globally, first nations people and traditional custodians have experienced a loss of their lands, resources and cultural identities as a result of colonialism. theCrag pays respect to traditional custodians and acknowledges that land was never ceded. Although the names of routes and crags hold no official authority, names are a form of recognition which create cultural meaning and what we share in print or online inevitably influences our understanding of these places.
In most countries it is the unwritten right of the first ascensionist to name a new route. Areas and cliffs are typically named by the initial developers of the respective area.
While theCrag is in no position to direct the naming of new routes and areas we ask developers and first ascensionists to adhere to this policy when naming their latest developments on theCrag and encourage them to follow this policy also when publishing elsewhere.
Thousands of routes are added to theCrag per week by its users. The task of reviewing names and identifying offensive ones - especially in different languages - is therefore unsurmountable by the site administration. theCrag administration might identify the occasional offensive name but in general relies on the community for the identification and reporting of offensive names as it also requires knowledge about local history and culture. This is also the reason theCrag does not apply an automated keyword filtering to identify offensive names.
Developing abroad: Especially when developing new areas far from home, maybe even in different cultures (with different languages) it might be advisable to seek local guidance before naming and publishing routes and areas. Consider local sensitivities, customs and beliefs to avoid negative surprises or outright hostility (read about Misogyny on the Rocks as an example) and to promote a positive image of climbing. A name that might not be considered offensive in one place might very well be offensive elsewhere.
Do not publish offensive names on theCrag. Offensive names may be words or phrases that have the potential to cause harm, disrespect or insult to a person, group or community.
A name is considered based on the words and phrasing of the name alone. Historical context and inside jokes are not considered. In support of our commitment to diversity and inclusion, theCrag will not tolerate abusive, homophobic, transphobic, sexist, misogynistic, racist or ableist names of any kind.
If a name is deemed offensive, the person responsible for the offensive name (if known) will be contacted in the first instance to discuss the reported name and provide a new, non-offensive name. If the person responsible for the offensive name proposes a new name within 30 days, the name of the route is changed and the original, offensive name is added to the AKA field “offensive”. This ensures that the route can still be found if searched with its offensive name but the offensive name is not displayed on theCrag pages (unless searched explicitly).
If the person responsible for the offensive name does not wish to change the name they may within 30 days provide a publicly readable explanation for the name in the route description to avoid future reports. If the explanation is deemed non-sufficient by theCrag the procedure continues at (5), if the explanation is deemed sufficient by theCrag, the procedure ends (see 9).
If the person responsible for the offensive name cannot be contacted or does not provide a new, non-offensive name within 30 days theCrag will change the name of the route or area to “Redacted” (followed by a counter) and add the original name in the AKA field “offensive”. At the same time theCrag will start a forum discussion on the route or area in question to inform the community about the name change and request proposals for new names. If known, theCrag might also involve local advocacy groups to propose a new name.
Once agreed, the new, non-offensive name replaces the generic “Redacted” while the offensive name is kept in the AKA field “offensive” for historical purposes.
If there is debate around whether or not a name is or is not offensive, theCrag will request further information from the person responsible for the name. If the person responsible is not contactable or does not reply within 30 days theCrag will seek advice from its diversity and inclusion partners.
If a name has been changed and at a later point in time the responsible person for the offensive name is identified they may recommend an alternative name considering it is not offensive. Their proposal overrides any name resulting from (5).
If the name has been deemed not offensive the name will remain as is and the outcome and reasoning documented in the route or area description field for future reference. The outcome is also communicated to the reportee and the report considered closed.
We encourage users to report a name they deem offensive. This can best be done by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with a short explanation, full name of the reportee and link to the route or area in question. Alternatively users may initiate a discussion on the route or area in question.
Anonymous reports or reports lacking required information will not be accepted.
Once a report has been made theCrag will follow the procedure described under “Offensive names”.
To protect the privacy of the reportees, their names will not be published on theCrag or any communication with involved parties unless they agree to it.
theCrag thanks Riley Edwards a queer, non-binary rock climber, outdoor enthusiast, LGBTQ+ advocate and educator and co-founder of ClimbingQTs based in Naarm/Melbourne, Australia whose years of experience and expertise from working in Diversity & Inclusion Consultation and Education to support the trans and gender diverse community in sports and recreation helped shape this policy.
- Geschichte der Fritz-Pflaum-Hütte 1912 - 2012, Walter Welsch, DAV Bayerland
- Sextener Dolomiten, Richard Goedeke, page 160
- Route Naming Best Practices
- theCrag Site Usage Policy and Licensing of IP User Content
- Code of Etiquette
- Adding and Editing Routes
- Adding and Editing Areas