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If you are into climbing or bouldering and are a little bit active on social media, chances are high that you stumbled upon the “pink one in the corner” meme. It is a climbing joke that has been around for quite a while and while I really enjoy all the posts about it, I was still wondering about how the pink one in the corner joke got started.

The “pink one in the corner” climbing meme probably got started on the subreddit r/ClimbingCircleJerk and has developed from there all across the internet. It still remains unclear who exactly coined the meme and where the pink one in the corner can be found so in this article I’ll highlight the most likely theories.


Explanation of the “pink one in the corner” climbing meme

If you search for the “pink one in the corner” on reddit, you’ll find a ton of posts about people sending or struggling with different pink problems at various corners at bouldering gyms all around the world.

The comments under those posts seem to escalate quite quickly and it’s pretty hilarious to read through a few of them of you need a morale booster. 

As mentioned above, it probably got started on r/ClimbingCircleJerk as there seem to be the most posts about that particular climbing meme. 

A nice example is this one:

Finally sent my year-long proj, the infamous pink one in the corner. Please critique my power screams. from r/ClimbingCircleJerk


But honestly, I was quite surprised that it actually took this guy a year to send such an easy looking problem… (What kind of bouldering gyms leave their problems so long on the wall without re-setting, though?!)

Apparently, even Alex Puccio can’t send the pink one in the corner as you can see here:

Alex Puccio can’t do the pink one on the corner from r/climbing

Theories on how the pink one in the corner joke got started

On my quest to find out more about the genesis of this bouldering meme I asked in a story on my instagram channel @bestboulders if anyone knew more about the origin but it seems that nobody knew and people seem to be quite frustrated about that. 

In order to change that and to do my part I will collect the most likely theories on how the “pink one in the corner” meme got startet right here.


Theory 1: 

The climbing historian TheClimbingGaucho who apparently first ascended all of Patagonia seems to know more about the background of this meme: 

“It’s from back in the 50’s when Royal Robins and Hading were fighting for “domination” of “The Valley” (Yosemite).
Legend says they both struggled incredibly hard to send this one boulder problem, Cotton Candy (V12, V17 AYG). It became so infamous that people just referred to it as “The Pink One in the Corner” in an attempt to keep the location to prevent try-hard assholes from flashing it before they could send it. Even back then gumbies like Harding or Robins were defensive about the projs.”


Theory 2: 

In stark contrast to this, masterD3v who studied under TheClimbingGaucho but parted ways once they disagreed, puts it this way:

“There is some dispute on exactly when it happened, but the real story is that Harding was actually putting up pink colored bolts in the Changing Corners route. Royal Robbins started up after him, tearing them out in a fit of anger, but then realized about half of the way up that the route was actually inspirational and bold when colored with pink. He let the rest of them remain and thus now sending the Pink one in the corner exists. In more recent history Alex Honnold freesoloed it.”


Theory 3: 

A quite harsh theory comes from GritsConQueso and goes like this: 

“In the summer of 1963, 17-year-old Frances “Baby” Houseman was vacationing with her parents, Dr. Jake and Marjorie Houseman, and her older sister Lisa, at Kellerman’s, an upscale Catskills resort. Dr. Houseman was punishing Baby on the night of the final banquet because she had stolen money to pay for an illegal, backroom abortion for the dance partner of head dance instructor, Johnny Castle. When Johnny found Baby at the banquet, she was wearing a pink dress and sitting in the corner. Johnny confronted Dr. Hauseman and famously said, “nobody puts baby in the corner.” Then he onsighted her in front of everyone, and it was so dynamic that all the other jealous camp staffers who had been projecting Baby all summer decided that they would continue working on their own “pink ones in the corner.“”

Johnny Castle onsighting the pink one in the corner
Johnny Castle onsighting the pink one in the corner


As I found this theory quite controversial, I digged a bit deeper and a clarifying discussion developed: 

BestBoulders: But did he use protection when he onsighted her or would that be aid?

GritsConQueso: I think Johnny free solo’d that first partner, which was how they got into this crazy mess to begin with. She was also pink though.

BestBoulders: Was it a First Ascent?

GritsConQueso: I could only speculate, but I wouldn’t have gone up that crack without protection.


Theory 4:

Another theory which looks at this topic from a religious angle comes from Davos14678:

“In days of old when Mike had sent Mount Ararat, there was a mighty wind from the West. When the cities and town’s had been destroyed by our Lord, the people dispersed, and the women did lament and did tear their garments, and did then don the yoga pants. In the desert, the people were led by their faith to the rocks. There was great feasting on vegan fare, and the Pale Ale. When the feasts subsided, the people did scale the very rocks, setting various routes, and projects, until the day that the Lord declared the Pink One to be set. It is said our Lord will return someday with the The Beta, and we will live in the new kingdom, where even the gumby will be forgiven, and will send. Amen.”

Source: Reddit


The genesis of the pink one in the corner remains unclear!

As it remains unclear for now which theory actually is right I will continue to look for the true origin of the pink one in the corner and I am happy about any kind of hint or clue which leads to the truth in the comments.  

Please share this article so that the right people see it and can enlighten us. 

If you are more into real scientific research on climbing and bouldering topics, have a look at my other surveys.

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