Climb Ethic

Starting point of the Charter of Climbing Ethics


In April 2015, Marc Le Menestrel is invited by the International Federation of Sport Climbing(IFSC) to lead an institutional initiative on Ethics within the IFSC governance activities but also within the Climbing Community. This pro-bono mandate followed a decision at the IFSC Plenary Assembly in March 2015.

Discussion with the IFSC leadership identified two main intentions beyond the essential objective of promoting ethics within IFSC activities. Firstly, there is a desire to bring the IFSC and its activities to the centre of the different passions present in the climbing community. Secondly, there is an ambition to respond proactively to the call for improved ethics in sport and in sport institutions as formulated by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in its Olympic Agenda for 2020.

In general, it is considered that institutional approaches to ethics may be rather ineffective if not properly supported by the leadership as well as by all the stakeholders. Also, ethics is much more than compliance. The principle has been adopted to identify climbing values more than merely drafting climbing ethical rules.

A consultation of stakeholders about what gives value(s) to climbing and what in climbing offers value has been carried out. A questionnaire has been sent to a hundred people, from all over the world, from between 12 and 75 years old, from elite athletes to beginner climbers, from competition officials to sponsors, officials from federal institutions, journalists, owners of climbing gyms, members of local communities, etc.

This consultation revealed how climbing shows a richness of values that goes well beyond most of sports. Community, Freedom, Nature, Performance, Pleasure, Friendship and many other values are strongly held by climbers. These values can be an inspiration far beyond the climbing community and support the potential for future development. If ethics is about living values, then the ethics of climbing can be proud of a very powerful and diverse set of values.

Drawing upon this consultation, a first prototype Ethics Charter which synthesizes these values has been drafted in 2015.

Three principles have been guiding the Charter:

1) to be inclusive, so that every climber can recognize themselves in this charter,

2) to be open, so that ethics is firstly about values rather than compliance to rules,

3) to be inspirational, so that all stakeholders feel motivated to embody these values and promote them through the community and its activities.

The responses to this first draft have been very positive, encouraging to continue such a process where climbers are both the authors and the audience.

After integration of comments and suggestions, and modifications of style or of minor importance, this website presents the current version of this charter. It has been presented to the CIO and to the Pleany Assembly of IFSC. It is now an official document that supports the Ethics Commission.