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thedylan

Bolts on Little Sister

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While climbing the left arete of Little Sister last week I noticed shiny new anchor bolts on the right arete (two aretes pictured below). Seems pretty unnecessary: the route is 5.4, most parties are simul-climbing or soloing, and there is usually lots of natural pro in this rock.

I'm not interested in stirring up drama but I am curious if anyone knows the intention and reasoning behind these bolts. I personally would prefer we didn't have these bolts in this specific situation, but I am open to a good reason I don't know about!

IMG_20210819_122947656.jpg

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I heard (from a guide) that it was guides that put them in, along with the piton anchors on Green Creek Arete. I'm not sure why they put them in however.

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I thought new bolts are prohibited in Washington Wilderness areas.  Did something recently change?

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Posted (edited)

Not sure I have a leg to stand on but that seems totally unjustified.  The arete was first climbed onsight solo by Ben Peterson eight years ago.  Seems unlikely that they would have asked and he would have agreed to his line being bolted.  It would be nice to know who the guides were and what guiding form they work for.  If they feel their decision was reasonable they should be happy to defend it..

 

.  

Edited by dberdinka

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Bolting 5.4 routes in 'Merica!  Gotta take dem techies on dem climbs because they pay $$$!

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21 hours ago, Kyle M said:

I heard (from a guide) that it was guides that put them in, along with the piton anchors on Green Creek Arete. I'm not sure why they put them in however.

Cuz they're lazy sods that don't want to take the risk of killing a "guest" or have a "guest" kill them. This guide-produced climb had many of its pins, next to perfectly protectable cracks, disappear some years back https://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/topic/53230-fa-of-n-arete-of-varden-creek-spire-6222007/

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My spiritual homeland has been desecrated.  

WTF....climbed that central arete a few years back and the abundance of good gear on solid rock was nearly overwhelming.

 

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11 hours ago, Bronco said:

I thought new bolts are prohibited in Washington Wilderness areas.  Did something recently change?

The Mount Baker Wilderness line is on the crest of the range, so this face is just outside of it. Might explain the pitons instead of bolts on Green Creek Arete, which is in the Wilderness.

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Posted (edited)

I would reckon to guess this was Baker Mountain Guides.

 

Edited by BK9
typo

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Baker Mountain Guides got back to me and said they are not their bolts and agree the bolts are unnecessary.

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2 hours ago, thedylan said:

Baker Mountain Guides got back to me and said they are not their bolts and agree the bolts are unnecessary.

I will go ahead and eat crow. Goes to show what happens when you assume.

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I did the Green Circuit this weekend with my daughter.  This provided a very different perspective on the objective hazards of traveling though this range.   We climbed Jaw Tooth/Skookum and the right side of central arete on Little Sister.  While there's lots of solid rock the amount of loose debris on ledges just waiting to get knocked down on your belayer was startling.  We dropped our gear to climb Skookum and then rappelled back down the northeast ridge with a single rope which was a very trying experience requiring several simply inadequate rappel anchors.   On Little Sister we stayed further right of the supposed bolt anchors and did not find any on the upper ridge.   So whatever bolting has occurred appears limited.  The Northeast Face of Little Sister now has several piton-based rap anchors.   While I've always downclimbed this face previously, these were welcome particularly after the prior days experience.  I think the community as a whole would find it unacceptable for guide services (or anyone) to retrobolt existing well-traveled routes so ultimately no one should plan on those bolts still being there in the future, but personally I feel fairly cowed after taking responsibility for someone other than myself out there. 

One big change seems to be the number of guided groups now accessing Green Creek Valley.  On the east side of Little Sister we encountered an AMGA guide certification group as well as a Canadian guide sussing out the range.  The appeal is obvious, reasonably easy access a diverse variety of moderate terrain along with I presume a lack of regulation compared to other areas that are increasingly crowded/competitive.   The amazing wilderness character of this valley would be seriously compromised if was stacked with multiple large parties every day of the week.  I'm considering reaching out to the Forest Service to see if they have or care to have a management plan commercial guiding in the Twins.    (And yes I realize the hypocrisy in my concern considering I spent years spraying about this place).

 

   

 

 

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Thanks for the report Darin. For me it feels impractical/inconsiderate to be opposed to piton rappel anchors, those are inevitable if anyone not comfortable soloing wants to climb out there. Drilled bolts and unnecessary anchors on ascent routes like Little Sister is specifically what I am opposed to. Too bad you didn't run into them, I'll have to go back out there and make sure I wasn't hallucinating in the fog :D.

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Hey y'all, I was participating in one of the recent AMGA courses that went up there.  I think this area probably fits better with these kinds of courses and recreational parties better than guiding for the general public, but at least alerting the forest service to the increased use seems like a great idea.  As word gets out that the trail into the area involves no bushwhacking its just going to take off more and more.  My group was responsible for the handful of piton anchors on the northeast face of Little Sister and some updated/adjusted stations on the Green Creek Arete.  No idea who put the bolts in, and I know some other AMGA courses have been going up there as well but I have a hard time imagining they would have hauled a bolt kit in.  

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