11/13/14 - Earlier this week, Clif Bar suddenly released five climbers—Alex Honnold, Dean Potter, Steph Davis, Cedar Wright, and Timmy O’Neill—from their athlete roster. The decision sparked strong feedback from the community, which can be found in comments on their Facebook page. Today, Clif Bar released the following statement, explaining their decision:
Over the past few days there’s been a heated dialogue about our recent decision to withdraw sponsorship of several climbers. We’ve watched, listened and been humbled by the conversation, and wanted to share with you where we are on this topic. Our hope is that we can provide clarity around our climbing sponsorships and to demonstrate our continued commitment to supporting this great sport and the climbing community.
Climbing has been a part of our company’s DNA from the beginning. Over a year ago, we started having conversations internally about our concerns with B.A.S.E. jumping, highlining and free-soloing. 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. We understand that some climbers feel these forms of climbing are pushing the sport to new frontiers. But we no longer feel good about benefitting from the amount of risk certain athletes are taking in areas of the sport where there is no margin for error; where there is no safety net.
As such, going forward we will not be sponsoring climbers who are primarily recognized for free-soloing, B.A.S.E. jumping and high-lining. This change in sponsorship approach did not come without great debate.
Ultimately, this decision came down to a sense of responsibility to our own story, what we endorse and the activities that we encourage – which is largely reflected in our sponsorship of athletes. This responsibility extends to adventurers of all types – climbers, outdoor enthusiasts, as well as children.
We have and always will support athletes in many adventure-based sports, including climbing. And inherent in the idea of adventure is risk. We appreciate that assessing risk is a very personal decision. This isn’t about drawing a line for the sport or limiting athletes from pursuing their passions. We’re drawing a line for ourselves. We understand that this is a grey area, but we felt a need to start somewhere and start now.
This is a new path for us and we haven’t been perfect in the way that we’ve communicated or executed the change in sponsorships. For that we’re sorry and take full responsibility. Climbing has been a big part of Clif Bar’s history and we remain as committed as ever to the sport that we love.