Sterling's response to the Joe Kinder incident
October 20, 2013
Friends of Sterling Rope,
This past weekend, Sterling Athlete Joe Kinder contacted us and informed us that last month, while in the process of developing a new climbing route in Lake Tahoe, California he cut down two Juniper trees. He has taken full responsibility for his actions, expressed deep remorse at the decision he made, and will certainly face further consequences. We have received several emails about the incident from concerned climbers. I thank you all for reaching out to us. Joe's email to us regarding this incident reached us first, and for that I am grateful as he owned up to his mistake and notified us before we read it on the blogs. I decided to address the issue here with this letter, instead of trying to make multiple blog postings in response.
While we support the concept of making routes safe, we would never approve of someone cutting down trees without receiving permission or authority to do so. This action was not done to facilitate a photo shoot. Sterling would never support such acts, nor ask any climber to engage in that type of activity just to a get an image. Ignorance cannot be used as an excuse either. Joe knows this now. As Joe has admitted, his passion and exuberance for his sport clouded what should be his good conscience and judgment off the climb, as well on the climb.
As a manufacturer of life-safety products, we take our products, our employees, our actions and our sponsorships very seriously. We strongly support the ethic of Leave No Trace, and this applies to employees, sponsored athletes, or any other individuals who serve as ambassadors for our brand in the community. We have had a long relationship with Joe in part because we felt he was a person of good character. If I thought for a moment that Joe didn't regret what he had done, thought the climbing community was overreacting, or that he might repeat his mistakes in the future, Joe would never have a spot on our team again. But I don't feel that way. Joe's apology is sincere and heartfelt and he intends to do what he can to make amends. Having said that, we all need to work to make this right, and certainly, as Joe suggested in his blog apology, to use this incident to educate others.
However since Joe is one of our athletes, we will be working with him to see what steps we can take. Whether that means planting more Juniper, or putting up signage and information to educate future climbers, not only to avoid cutting down trees, but to leave no trace at all in places where they climb, this is what we will do together.
I thank all of you for your concern and reaching out to us. Sterling actively supports the Outdoor Foundation (helping to engage, empower and activate kids into the outdoors), The Access Fund, American Alpine Club, American Mountain Guides Assoc., and The Nature Conservancy with money, product and our time. Keeping areas open, safe, accessible, clean, and left in the manner we found it, reflects our values as a company. Please continue to focus on your climbing and keeping our great natural spaces open, clean and vibrant; always remember to obey the rules of the parks and standards of common sense and decency.
Thank you and climb safe!
Sterling Rope Co., Inc.