Photo courtesy of the National Park Service
The Ohio climber Kris Hampton, best known as the rapper Odub, almost found himself in legal hot water over a rap-song parody concerning the talented free soloist Dean Potter. Hampton posted the song, “Not All Roses,” to the Web on April 2; it sends up Potter's controversial free-solo ascent of Delicate Arch on May 7, 2006, an ascent that preceded changes in climbing management at Arches National Park.
On April 11, after "Not All Roses" had been up for 10 days, Potter's lawyer sent Hampton a Cease and Desist notice demanding that Hampton immediately cease all distribution of the song by any means, destroy all copies of the song, remove all links to the song on the Internet, and desist from any other infringement of Potter’s rights. “The funny thing,” Hampton says, “is that the song had dwindled to about 10 or 15 listens a day by the time I received the letter from Mr. Potter’s attorney. That day, the song received over 700 listens.”
Hampton wrote “Not All Roses” immediately after Potter’s Yosemite free solos of Dog’s Roof (5.12b) and Heaven (5.12d/13a), both done post-Delicate Arch in spring 2006. Hampton originally intended to release the song with a CD in late April, but pushed the date forward when Arches National Park announced plans to develop a new climbing management plan (visit nps.gov/arch/parknews/news030907.htm for more).
The chronology preceding the climbing management plan at Arches is linear but complicated. In April 2006, Potter, according to one source in Moab, made a highline walk between two of the Three Gossips, the highly visible roadside towers, on a busy Sunday afternoon, attracting the attention of park visitors and managers alike. Next came the Delicate Arch free solo, on May 7, 2006, and on May 9, the NPS’s imposition of strict regulations regarding climbing at Arches, including no slacklining within the confines of the park year round, and a prohibition against any new permanent climbing hardware, effectively limiting climbing to existing routes that do not require new fixed anchors. At this point, the Access Fund stepped in and in a letter to the Park alleged “improper rulemaking,” i.e., in their own words, “ …the Access Fund urges Arches NP to terminate this unnecessary public use limitation and pursue climbing management policies to address this loss of recreational opportunities as soon as possible.” On March 7, 2007, the NPS in a press release announced the development of a climbing management plan, one that “will consider a full range of alternatives to protect resources, visitors and visitor experience.” In the same document, they also stated, “In 2006,unusual climbing activities raised public interest and concern about issues associated with technical rock climbing.”
Says Hampton, “After learning of the new management plan being developed for Arches National Park, I first commented on the NPS Web site, and then put the song online to hopefully get more people to comment.” Hampton says the song sends up professional climbers who claim they don’t like having sponsors or being in the spotlight, yet seek publicity by, say, distributing film of themselves on the Internet. He calls this behavior egocentric and used Potter as an example in his song to get climbers to think about the nature of publicity and the responsibility that goes with it.
While the same finger could be pointed at Hampton for posting a link to “Not All Roses” on various climbing sites (supertopo.com, mountainproject.com, redriverclimbing.com, rockclimbing.com), Hampton says, “Honestly, this isn't about money or attention.” He is playing a free concert at the Red River Gorge on April 21-22, and will donate all the revenue from album sales toward the Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition.
Meanwhile, in the wake of the Cease and Desist letter, Hampton removed the link to the song at Mountain Project and has made “Not All Roses” a free download instead of charging $.99.
“I'm also considering changing the first line of the song, with Dean’s name, because a funnier option has presented itself due to all of this, but those will be the only changes,” says Hampton. “A follow up song, called ‘Cease and Desist’ is in the works too.” Meanwhile, both Hampton and Potter have decided not to purse the matter legally after seeing the firestorm of comments, both pro- and anti-“Not All Roses,” on the principal climbing forums. Hampton says he holds no animosity toward Potter whatsoever, and that he never intended to target him. Climbing contacted Potter via phone and email, but he had not replied as of press time.