Defaced petroglyphs force rock climbers to reckon with sport’s abusive past | Rock climbing


Richard Gilbert claims he had no idea he was doing anything wrong when he drilled bolts into a rock wall in Utah to establish three new climbing routes, illegally defacing a 1,000-year-old Indigenous cultural site.

Climbers know the rock Gilbert bolted as Sunshine Wall, a crag north of Moab and Arches national park hosting the centuries-old petroglyphs of the Fremont people. Gilbert has said he didn’t realize the carvings’ significance, even though most climbers make it a point never to disturb Indigenous cultural sites.

Gilbert’s bolts have since been pulled from Sunshine Wall. But his admission last month that he was the one who had desecrated the petroglyphs, in pursuit of sport, sparked a backlash both swift and severe, with…

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