In a bizarre story from the climbing world, professional climber Joe Kinder was booted by his sponsors, Black Diamond and La Sportiva after he admitted to cyber harassing Sasha DiGiulian–very much a mainstream name thanks to a World Championship in sport climbing and success tranferring that skill set to the natural realm outdoors with numerous first ascents.
Kinder used a fake account to post memes making fun of climbers and other public figures. According to DiGiulian, Kinder’s posting has been “malicious and ongoing” for some eight years. She finally posted publicly about it after reaching out to Kinder privately on multiple occasions.
Most of the memes disappeared from social media when Kinder deleted the fake account. It sounds as if the final straw was a meme he posted where DiGiulian’s likeness was portrayed in negative terms with regards to her weight and a trip she took (you can see it in the second slide of Sasha’s post, above). Kinder had already reportedly used the fake account to chastise online self-help guru, Sarah Sapora, as well, whom DiGiulian also stood up for.
Fake accounts poking fun at athletes with bigger names in their respective sports are common across social media. But this is some serious cynicism and Kinder took responsibility for his actions. “I’ve always had a bit of a harsh sense of humor as I grew up a skater-kid punk,” Kinder wrote. “I’d rile my friends with pranks or nicknames….fast forward to my adult years and I still enjoy joking and never taking ourselves too seriously but there’s a point when it’s too much. Bullying or harmful content is nothing I’d like to be connected to and I’m not proud to have offended people… I went overboard and would like to publicly apologize, Sasha, I’m sorry.” I sent a note to Kinder for comment but have yet to hear back.
Sasha, for her part, emphasized that she had tried to get Kinder to tone down before but it wasn’t going anywhere. “I tried to resolve this privately,” Sasha told us in an email that was part of a statement that went with her vlog post, below.
“It has gone on for years and those who know both of us are fully aware of this. I was not going to just let this keep escalating; it has been so incredibly hurtful. My response was to a meme that was the final straw. I am not going to stand by and be silent about something like this. It is not acceptable behavior.”
Kinder was almost immediately dropped by his sponsors La Sportiva and Black Diamond, which to DiGiulian’s credit as a human, wrote that she didn’t want to see that happen. But people usually lose jobs when situations get ugly like this.