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Black Diamond Athlete Summit: Project Siurana

Wednesday, Septembre 7, 2016
In December 2015, a group of Black Diamond athletes and ambassadors traveled to Siurana, Spain, working with the local climbing community to clean up the crag. The group installed toilets, cleaned up trash, rebolted routes and, of course, went climbing. Global Athlete Hazel Findlay describes the experience.

Project Siurana started off differently than any of us expected, with me saying, “But I want to pick up poo!"

“Hazel, you can’t pick up poo, it’s not sanitary,” replied Jonathan Thesenga, aka "the boss" and Black Diamond's Global Sports Marketing Manager.

I pleaded a bit with JT, reasoning that we could easily use gloves and mask in order to make it more sanitary. But he remained firm. “I just cannot ask you to pick up poo, Hazel," he concluded.

All images: Bernadro Gimenez

As it turned out, I almost got a gold star for suggesting we pick up poo, but in the end, I didn’t actually pick up a single poo myself. When the fateful poo day came, which saw some of my teammates picking up the stuff, I was conveniently on a bolt replacement foray. This left Daila Ojeda and Colette Mcinerney as the Queen Poo-Collecters, dealing with the stinky business, and I’m very proud of them. If you don’t know Daila and Colette, you should want to. They are proper ladies of the climbing world; particularly beautiful and classy, they aren’t your run of the mill poo collector. Watching these two pick up poo after a day at the crag would be like watching Julia Roberts scrubbing toilets at the premier of Notting Hill.

The fact of the matter, though, is that someone does have to do this stuff. As climbers, we think we are in touch with nature, or at least more so than 90% of the population. This might be true to some extent; we do spend a lot of time in wild places. However, in spite of this (or perhaps because of it), we sometimes have a sense of entitlement, feeling that we should be allowed to treat these areas as we want, to treat them as if they belong to us. So what do we do? We shit on them.

If you stray from the path at any popular European sport crag, chances are you’ll come face to face with a poo and some paper. How can we do this to the areas we love and yet we turn our noses up at litter on the side of the highway? Of course sometimes you’ve got to go, but you can at the very least dig a proper hole and burn your paper. That would help. What would be even better would be to put in toilets at the most popular crags.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt more psyched to work for Black Diamond than I did after the two weeks we all spent together in Siurana. The group of global climbers that work for BD aren’t just good at climbing; they’re proud ambassadors of the sport. No one complained about the fact that we weren’t just there to climb. We were there to do stewardship work, including litter picking and re-bolting, and I think we were all most excited to try and make the areas that we love nicer places to be.

Recovering from a shoulder operation and climbing roughly 10 grades lower than everyone else, I didn’t feel at all out of place. In fact, everyone was super supportive and understanding when I had to rest more or skulk off to do physio. It was great to see porta-loos go in to my favorite van spots (I’ll be using them for sure), and we cleaned up several busy spots in Siurana and Margalef. At Montsant, I was mega grateful to be taught how to re-bolt with glue-ins by Tyler Willcutt, master bolter extraordinaire. Most of all, I was proud to work for a brand that thinks these things are important.

—Hazel Findlay