By Ángel Durán
The answer is YES, without exception.
When you’re a beginner, climbing on rock is like sex between adolescents. It’s full of clumsily executed techniques, feelings of being in a hostile environment and exaggerated stories to your friends afterwards. And in the same way, we all want to gain experience in order to do it really well, awakening, if possible, admiration and even applause after our execution.
The personal anchoring device, or lanyard, is to climbing what some buttons are to dressing well. Clothing manufacturers put a button on the collar of polo shirts and a second one on blazers. But you’re not meant to button them up! So what are they there for then? For the same reason that all rules of etiquette exist, which is none other than to identify the uninitiated and look down on them.
"Personal anchoring devices serve a merely ceremonial function"
There are more obvious defining features of beginners, such as walking around the base of the crag with your climbing shoes on, carrying a rack of 10 quickdraws when you’re about to get on a route with the draws already placed, or doing the walk-in with your harness on. And, while it is true that these are features more of the uninitiated, they serve as a poor filter as they include too many people among the "experts" that logically are not. It would be analogous to wearing white socks with dress shoes or a tracksuit with a fanny pack. Those who do not do so yet are in the minority, and they are therefore of little use as distinguishing factors between those with class and those without.
The aforementioned "lanyard" fulfils this role perfectly: a distinguishing feature created by the climbing community, in collusion with manufacturers and climbing instructors, with the sole purpose of branding newcomers as if they were cattle.
Do you feel left out of plans with other climbers and they won’t add you to their WhatsApp group? No-one will share the topos of that new climbing sector that has just been opened with you? It’s highly likely that you are the victim of marginalization by lanyard. Next time you go climbing, take a good look around. Note how the "lanyardists" don’t tend to mix with the "non-lanyardists".
There are forums in 8a.nu and UKclimbing.com that debate whether the branding and posterior discrimination against climbers with lanyards is ethical. Lanyardheid, as it is called by its detractors, might be rather classist and not in keeping with the open-minded and welcoming spirit of climbing.
"Lanyardists don’t have access to the secret sectors and have to make do with the overcrowded, popular sectors."
Now you may tell me that you and your buddies have been climbing forever, that you redpoint "whatever" grade and that you use a personal anchoring device. I feel you man. I’m in my thirties and I still wait until my girlfriend’s parents are out of the house so that we can get it on. And when I’m done, I say thank you.