Paul Ryan's 40 14ers? About as Credible as his 2:50 Marathon


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Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Nov 6, 2012 - 12:32pm PT
that looks like a late summer aerial shot of Longs.

Pretty cool!
(too bad it wasn't taken a couple hours earlier)
Rick A

Boulder, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 11, 2012 - 12:41pm PT
For those of you who dismiss the deleted thread as having no impact on the presidential race, let's consider the facts. They demonstrate otherwise.

Google "Paul Ryan mountain man" and you get 23.5 million results; google "Paul Ryan mountain climbing lies" and you get 1.1 million results.

Here is a sampling of hundreds of sources that cited--directly or indirectly-- the conversation on the original, mysteriously deleted thread, "Paul Ryan has climbed 40 of Colorado's fourteeners."

The Atlantic Monthly , where respected journalist James Fallows quoted extensively from the thread:

A crucial "will it matter?" factor is whether this proves to be one embarrassing but isolated glitch, or whether the new scrutiny it provokes will turn up other, similar problems. I have argued that on big questions of public policy, Ryan showed impressive sangfroid in standing before a national audience at the convention saying things he knew would be easy to attack. But I've known of no other indications of personal whoppers like the marathon.

Here's the first exception. Ryan has told his hometown paper that he has climbed "close to 40" of the famous "Fourteeners" in Colorado -- the 54 peaks more than 14,000 feet high. In fairness, he made this claim a few years ago, before he knew he would be under the scrutiny he is now.

Still: this claim makes me even more suspicious than his marathon answer did. I know nothing about mountain climbing, so give my views appropriate weight. But to see what people who do have experience think, you might check out the current comments at the climbers' site SuperTopo. One explains the reason for his skepticism:

The 54 peaks are scattered throughout remote parts of Colorado and you have to visit out-of-the-way little towns and valleys to tick the list, towns and valleys that you would never visit otherwise....

To have climbed forty and not be a resident means that you would have had to devote entire summers to climbing fourteeners, in essence becoming a "lifestyle" hiker/scrambler. I doubt Ryan had the time or dedication to fourteeners to take the required time out from his political career. Even if you did four a summer, that would be ten summers devoted to traveling to Colorado for the purpose of high altitude hiking. Even if you live here and can drive to the trail heads, forty is a huge commitment of time and energy.

This reader then quoted an admiring op-ed about Ryan, from someone who believed the "about 40" claim:

Why does it matter that Paul Ryan is a mountain man, at home above timberline on the fourteeners? Because there is no better index of character. It tells of someone's backbone under pressure, resourcefulness in facing adversity, and trustworthiness for power. Conservative or liberal isn't the point. The high peaks simply test your mettle. Declinists and defeatists need not apply.

The skeptical climber replied:

Why does it matter that Paul Ryan--as seems likely in light of his marathon fabrication--is not a "mountain man" and is lying about his fourteener record? Because there is no better index of character. It tells of someone's desperation to connect to the voters of a swing state, his ability to make stuff up without conscience, and ruthless ambition to obtain power through any means. It also indicates his contempt for the citizens of Colorado. He apparently believes that Colorado voters are clueless and that the press is a lapdog that has lost any ability to check facts. Dedicated hikers, scramblers, climbers, hunters, fishermen and other aficionados of the Colorado high peaks do not need to exaggerate their visceral connection to the Colorado high country and need not apply to become a faux mountain man, like Paul Ryan.

As I understand it, mountain-climbing is like marathon-running in this way: people pay enough attention to their achievements that they remember the details, and they know that they are written down somewhere. Lists of who has climbed which "Fourteener," like lists of finishers and their times for marathons, are part of the permanent record of each pursuit. As with his marathon time, this is so specifically impressive a claim that it should be very easy to back up and dismiss doubts about**. If it is true.

If not, this is trouble.

The New York Times:

The New Yorker magazine:


British newspaper, the Daily Mail:

international business times:

The Romney/Ryan campaign took time out from the early days of the Ryan campaign to respond to the fourteener controversy. Certainly, the Ryan campaign took the thread seriously, since it saw fit to respond to Fallows within one hour of his blog post.

The New York times article by Trip Gabriel demonstrated that the Ryan campaign was worried enough to allow a reporter to witness Ryan and his brother counting up the fourteeners on the campaign plane, in an attempt to try to innoculate itself against the internet virus portraying Ryan as one who has little regard to the truth.

The original theme of the Colorado Ryan campaign touted his forty fourteeners and sought to portray Ryan as a man to match the Colorado mountains. This clearly was an orchestrated campaign, planned by top Republican state officials, including the chairman of the Colorado GOP campaign.

Paul Ryan was announced as the VP candidate on August 10, 2012. State GOP chairman Ryan Call kicked off the Colorado campaign on August 11, 2012 in an interview in the Denver Post when he sought to portray Ryan as a mountain man because of his forty fourteener ascents.

Colorado Republican Party chairman Ryan Call said Ryan is a humble, religious family man whose goal is to reduce federal spending, the national debt and the role of government.

"I think it's exciting. I think it's bold. I think it's inspirational," he said of Romney's choice of a running mate.
Ryan has been a leader who has attracted bipartisan support for meaningful reforms, Call said.

Claims by Democrats about his economic plans are intended to "scare seniors" and are "downright dishonest and disingenuous."
In truth, Obama was the one who has cut hundreds of billions from Medicare since he was elected, Call said.

"I think (Ryan) is a really good choice," said former Republican Gov. Bill Owens. "Paul Ryan has been such a leader in warning us we're headed over a fiscal cliff."

Call said he has met Ryan, who told him he has climbed nearly 40 of Colorado's 53 fourteeners, or mountains above 14,000 feet in elevation.
"I think he appreciates the beauty of Colorado," he said.

Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli said Ryan's ultra-athletic and outdoors lifestyle is in sync with Coloradans and that part of his background will attract state voters.

"He is immediately going to add enthusiasm to the camp of the Republican ticket," Ciruli said. "This will help reframe the debate to the budget, spending and the national debt."

Colorado pundits react to Mitt Romney's choice for running mate - The Denver Post

Then on August 26, 2012, former Colorado state senate president, Jon Andrews, wrote the histrionic op-ed piece in the Denver Post that continued the campaign to portray Ryan as a Colorado "mountain man".

Add to this the hard-charging congressman's love for the Colorado high country (he has climbed 28 of the state's 54 peaks over 14,000 feet) and you have the most potentially transformative VP selection since President William McKinley put Theodore Roosevelt on the ticket in 1900. (Not the genteel Roosevelt, squire of Hyde Park, but his "strenuous life" cousin who ranched in Dakota and hunted bear in Glenwood Springs.)

Why does it matter that Paul Ryan is a mountain man, at home above timberline on the fourteeners? Because there is no better index of character. It tells of someone's backbone under pressure, resourcefulness in facing adversity, and trustworthiness for power. Conservative or liberal isn't the point. The high peaks simply test your mettle. Declinists and defeatists need not apply. Excuses are for flatlanders.

Describing the summit approach for Capitol Peak near Aspen (14,130 feet), the Colorado Mountain Club guidebook says with jaunty understatement: "Scramble around a pinnacle or two, stroll along the knife edge," and you're there. Ryan told me last week that Capitol and nearby Pyramid Peak (14,018 feet) are his favorite climbs so far.

Can you imagine Vice President Joe Biden even wanting, let alone being able, to stroll the Capitol knife edge? Or forging to the top of a "very rough and steep" Pyramid, with its "precariously poised rocks" warned of in the same guidebook?

Andrews: Paul Ryan, mountain man - The Denver Post

There is a suspicion that whoever started the deleted Supertopo thread was a Republican social media activist and that the thread was part of the GOP campaign. The thread was started, soon after Ryan was announced, by a poster who was new to Supertopo, and who has never posted any climbing content, to anyone's recollection.

After the deleted thread got traction over the internet with its suggestion that Ryan lied about climbing fourteeners, the theme of Paul Ryan, mountain man, was abandoned. Ryan brought up fourteeners only briefly in his Colorado campaign appearances after this and never mentioned the claimed number of 40 fourteeners again.

The thread on Supertopo acted as a fact check of Paul Ryan's exaggerated mountain climbing claims and exposed Ryan as a peak bagging poseur to hundreds of thousands, according to the google results totals.

So the facts demonstrate that the deleted thread did have an impact on the Romney/Ryan campaign by (1) helping to define Ryan early in his campaign as one who lied, not only in his speeches, but also about his athletic feats (2) stopping in its tracks the original campaign in swing state Colorado that sought to show a Ryan connection to Colorado through his fourteener claims; and (3) forcing the candidate to take time out from early campaigning to respond to the growing understanding that he habitually varnished the truth.

Trad climber
Somewhere halfway over the rainbow
Nov 11, 2012 - 12:46pm PT
Well done Rick, very well done.
dave goodwin

carson city, nv
Nov 11, 2012 - 12:52pm PT
Credit: dave goodwin
The Warbler

the edge of America
Nov 11, 2012 - 12:52pm PT
Sounds like perfect material for a Rolling Stone article.

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Nov 11, 2012 - 01:06pm PT
Great job Rick! Much thanks for taking the time to put this all together for a second time.

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Nov 11, 2012 - 01:28pm PT

And of course, this morning's Denver Post says Ryan is probably
in the running (scoff) as the Repugnicrat presidential candidate in
2016. I wonder if the 6(0)% bodyfat in his head will change by then. . .
The Warbler

the edge of America
Nov 11, 2012 - 01:39pm PT
^^^ Exactly why this story should be investigated ^^^

And likely why the thread vanished

It may seem petty in relation to national politics and their worldwide implications, but put it this way - if Karl Rove had something like this to work with, he could ruin any politician's future.

Ice climber
chingadero de chula vista
Nov 11, 2012 - 03:01pm PT

Nov 11, 2012 - 04:19pm PT
Excellent work Rick, allow me to commend your efforts at documenting both the lies of Mr Ryan and what appears to be censoring of the same.

Nov 11, 2012 - 04:27pm PT
In 2016 Hillary Clinton will be one year younger than was Reagan when he was first elected. Since she will also outlive him by twenty years, age is not an issue. By 2016 the republicans will have completed their present effort and will have adopted fully the Democratic platform. The task for the two will be to defeat the Tea Bags. The, now named "TB's/To Be's" will be hard to beat because they will have adopted a snappy brown uniform. Once elected Hillary will appoint Paul Krugman Secretary of the Treasury and TB's will be wiped out by the Mars Attacks syndrome. Ryan will have been imprisoned for his attempt to assassinate Putin, newly elected head of the United Nations. His unsuccessful defense will be that "Guns kill people. People don't kill people." Putin will have attained his office because he said. "I am an SOB. I know how to solve the Palestinian issue. TRUST ME."

For some reason, in his case, that argument will be believed. Even though only modestly changed from another leader's argument - which failed.

Unfortunately some upset will be caused in the US by Putin's insistence that W. bring him coffee every morning, under the very convincing argument that no one else had shown W.'s ability for finding things.
Rick A

Boulder, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 17, 2012 - 11:58am PT
The remaining issue is why Chris McNamara, the owner of Supertopo, saw fit to delete the original thread in the weeks before the election. It is likely that the deleted thread brought more attention to Supertopo outside of the climbing community than any other thread in its history. A thread that might have been viewed for years to come, especially if Ryan runs for President in four years, is now gone. So it is very curious as to why this happened. Since Chris has chosen not to explain himself, we can only speculate.

There are a couple of possibilities that have been suggested:

1) He was threatened by GOP operatives. If Chris caved to this pressure, he was not getting good legal advice. The First Amendment would certainly protect him against any liability arising from a Ryan supporter's lawsuit, there would be hordes of volunteer lawyers lined up to defend him pro bono if that happened, and public exposure of the litigation threat would certainly make them back down. Has anyone ever heard of any candidate for national office bringing such a suit? It just doesn't happen. So, I have ruled this out.

2)He received a financial incentive to delete the thread from some republican funding source. That is too mercenary for me to believe. I have ruled this out too.

3) A poster to the thread was offended by a personal remark in it and asked it to be deleted. This is more likely since a libel suit by a non-public figure can be a real threat to a forum like this. This seems the most likely explanation to me, but I don't remember anything particularly scandalous said about any poster on that thread. Sure, there were the occasional "inanely combative" comments, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Chris can do what he wants with his site and can delete any thread. But Supertopo promotes its discussion forum as a "community." It certainly detracts from any sense of "community" when a unique political/climbing thread disappears and no explanation is offered.

It also displays a disturbing arrogance by the owner of this site to simply ignore this subject. I have written Chris privately, and asked him in the forum for an explanation. But nothing.

The way this has been handled is surprising and is just not "good blokery", as a Brit might put it.

Ice climber
chingadero de chula vista
Nov 17, 2012 - 04:50pm PT

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Nov 17, 2012 - 05:32pm PT

What have you been drinking?????

hee hee hee. . .
Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Nov 20, 2012 - 10:44am PT
I'll chime in. Yes, I was not aware of the previous thread, so I am glad that Rick brought the issue up.

I just cannot see CMac deleting the previous thread, I would guess that something else happened. What? Don't ask me but that is my gut feeling.

As for Hawkeye writing that posters to this thread are pathetic, that is his right. But he certainly put his two cents in. Why?

As for Paul Ryan, it doesn't surprise me that he "embellished" certain activities that he may have done, after all, he is a politician. But one has to question his judgment. He has been caught out on lies before, one would think that he learned his lesson.

At least Mark Udall admitted back in 2008 that he was busted for pot in 1972. Honesty is the best policy. If one is under the scrutiny of the public and media, best to be honest and take any hits aimed at you. "I am not a crook", "I didn't inhale", "Victory is ours", etc etc, all came back to bite the butt of the people saying them.

"Oh! what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive!"

Ice climber
hartford, ct
Nov 20, 2012 - 12:52pm PT
The puppet race is over for now.... geeez...

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Apr 17, 2013 - 07:49pm PT
Glad to see this back....too bad Ryan's bs didn't get more traction.

Don't they have subways in Boston....Ryan's a great candidate to be the next Rosie Ruiz.
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

Out Of Bed
Nov 1, 2015 - 05:41pm PT
Credit: Gnome Ofthe Diabase

Mountain climber
Jan 5, 2017 - 06:21pm PT
A true liar, and sonofabitch.

Social climber
Wise Acres
Jan 5, 2017 - 06:32pm PT
I ran a 30 min Marathon but I drove the last 26 miles!

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