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stonewall

Clip up on Concord Tower

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Would you listen to yourselves? Those of you who advocate no bolts whatsoever are either very naive or shamefully boasting.

It is like some kind of macho stance, swaggering around boasting who has the purest ethics. I would wager that W is one of the harder climbers you will be likely to meet. His balanced perspective is much more realistic and constructive than those of you who claim bolts are roads and such nonsense. Go try to climb El Cap and skip all of those awful bolts and we'll see how far off the ground you get. Have you done Town Crier? Did you skip the bolts and hook entire pitches?

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LOL Thanks DPS,

I was starting to wonder whether I was a super wuss cause I'm not fond of grounding! I get out quite a bit and I must confess I have not run across these super hardmen who refuse to use bolts. Of all the climbers I've met and talked with I have never heard this kind of disdain for even responible use of bolting before. Go figure. This is a head scratcher.

[This message has been edited by jblakley (edited 04-19-2001).]

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With 20+ years of experience, I am not capable of naivete and this is not shameful boasting, but more akin to mournful greiving for a sport gone awry. It is a macho stance and climbing used to be a macho sport. It used to require courage. It is wonderful that W is one of the harder climbers you will be likely to meet. But climbing hard does not automatically merit respect. I will not object to the occasional bolt in the blank section of a pitch or even the occasional ladder in the middle of a grand otherwise natural line. But bolting as it is almost always practiced today is road building. It opens wild expances of stone to any gumby with $500 and a corresponding lack of respect for the medium. If your only tool is a hammer; every problem is a nail. And if your favorite toy is a drill; every problem is a bolt.

99% of today's access problems are completely attributable to two factors:

1) the top down approach and,

2) the power drill.

I have skipped bolts; entire pitches of them. Pudding Time 5.11a on Frenchman Coulee's Middle East Wall is entirely bolted and I climbed it with a handful of stoppers. It protected just fine, was never run out and is not 5.11 either. I would have been justified in ripping out the whole pitch of bolts but I have learned that fragile egos of the first ascencionists often cannot handle this and the bolts grow back as 1/2 inchers. It is more productive to let their way-h**o pussy effort stand as is and to log my route over the top of it. Another time I was lucky enough to catch a rap bolted route in its early stages and climb it before it could be bolted. It had one bolt in it and the rest of the climb was marked for bolts. I didn't clip the bolt and I didn't rip it out either. The route is now called "Shrinking Ball Disease".

And now this approach has found its way into one of our favorite alpine playgrounds. What do we value about Washington Pass climbing? I think most of us will agree that it is a stepping stone into the alpine environment. It is not a grand advdnture area. It is a small adventure area that most Washington climbers have used and continue to use to develop into real alpine climbers. The introduction of sport climbing will FOREVER take the spirit of adventure out of climbing there.

I have a crowbar and a couple thousand feet of rope. Possibly I could contract with the Forest Service to restore the stone in an entirely legal not to mention profitable manner. Do the first ascencionists want to tell me why I should not?

And just what is the problem with naming names? Are the first ascencionists not going to claim their prize? I have heard the word slander. Slander has to be FALSE and injurious. Let's get some truth out on the table.

Mitch Merriman

I don't consider my self a hardman, I just have a set of values and try to climb in a style that reflects them.

[This message has been edited by Retrosaurus (edited 04-19-2001).]

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I’ve been lurking on this thread since it started, and I’d like to express my appreciation at the depth and quality of the discussion so far. There have been a lot of well-articulated ideas exchanged.

Let me start by stating my position: I think that the traditional, ground-up ethic should prevail at Washington Pass. The first bolts I ever placed were at Wa. Pass, and they went in (at a belay) the old fashioned way, with a hammer and a hand drill. The granite there is very hard and each bolt took over an hour of hard work to get in. This experience went a long way towards forming my opinion about bolting in the mountains: placing bolts by hand is such hard and time consuming work that it is self limiting. As many here have recognized, Wa. Pass is too close to the road for this “defense” to be effective.

Retro, Stonewall and others have expressed the opinion that if the new route on S. Early Winters gets chopped, that it will send a strong, unequivocal message. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s the way it will work. W has put his finger on it – it’s about communication, or lack thereof. I’ve heard a lot of buzz about the route from the “other” side, and I think that the first ascensionists are getting, and will continue to get, enough positive reinforcement from their “side” that they will feel justified in continuing, self-righteous if the route is summarily chopped. They will see their creation as having been trashed by some crusty minority of bitter backwards-lookers. It will reinforce the notion that there are 2 sides at war with each other.

The only way to short circuit this unhappy spiral is if we can collapse this whole false division into “trad” climbers and “sport” climbers. Which brings me (finally) to my real point, or question: how can we broaden this discussion to include all the involved parties? I think we’re fooling ourselves if we think that the discussion here on CC in any way is “representative” of the climbing community. I don’t know the answer, and I’d be really interested in concrete suggestions.

W has suggested personal example and personal relationships. I respect that approach, but I suspect that for many the process of real dialogue is frustratingly time consuming. While I don’t personally know the guys putting up the route, I am friends with a lot of people who know them, and their attitude so far has not been very open. I'm not losing hope, but it's a slow process.

[This message has been edited by forrest_m (edited 04-19-2001).]

[This message has been edited by forrest_m (edited 04-19-2001).]

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Perhaps we could organize some sort of public forum in which all are welcome to come. We all know enough climbers collectively that perhaps we could get a broad cross section of the WA climbing community. If some can't make it fine. If it doesn't go over well the first time fine. I think the important thing is we get somewhat organized at least in our ability to communicate our opinions.

I don't live in a vacuum and I quite regularly change my views based on the information I am given. Also talking about this on the internet is one thing. Looking the person in the eye while making your point is a whole different level. Thought?

Thanks

Jim

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Hey, I have the perfect solution to the bolting controversy. Anytime someone wants to bolt a line we will let Machosaurus have a crack at it first with his handfull of nuts. If he climbs it he can name it something clever like Testicular Hypertrophy Disorder, and it will stand for all time as a testament to boldness. If he fails the bolters can have their way with the rock.

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Although interesting I keep thinking that the continued preoccupation with arguing over specific routes at specific areas misses the larger issue which is that bigger issues are at stake than a particular route or area. In this my 30th year climbing I am convinced that the sword of Damocles is hanging over the sport’s head. The sword being the specter of regulation. Earlier I suggested that no “community” exists. No one responded to this point so I will raise it again. Background: In the late 80s I was at Smith Rocks with a bunch of Sport Climbers. The discussion came up that some “Bird Watchers” were upset at what was happening at the Park. When I said that I remember climbing at Smith in the 70s and that I could see why they were upset. (Note I didn’t say that they were right only I could see their issues) I was astounded that everyone else participating in the discussion looked at me like I was goofy – they could not or at least would not admit to any negative aspects Smith’s transformation. Ultimately their values differed so much from my own and until I could change their values we would never come to the same conclusion. They could not even see a differing position as being valid. It is not a question of us being on different starting positions with hope of finding a meeting place - we were on different planes. Ultimately each viewpoint merely expresses someone’s personal values. Consequently why should each listen to the other? Absent threat of force or I guess public ridicule I can’t see a reason. In otherwords why are one person’s values more important than an others? In short they aren’t. HOWEVER in the context of a “community” people by definition have to deny some of their own personal desires to the greater good. I see the solution in pragmatic terms where actions aren’t ridiculed (see how many rap bolter’s actions have been denigrated in this thread) but viewed in terms of their consequences. Since we all share the same scarce resources and all feel the same affects of changes in land management policy it is precisely around the issue of consequences that a true community can form.

For example routes squeezed in creating a bolt grid whether done in a “traditional” or “sport” style are sure to provoke a responses by land managers and other climbers. This is especially true at easily accessible locations. Regardless of FA style routes creating this situation should not be made. Since excessive bolting is an issue with land managers it should always be avoided because of the consequences of the act.

Acts at all climbing areas have consequences.

A quick response to Pope’s comment regarding the “American Tradition” : You have given a name to a method of first ascent but to say it is a “tradition” is a far different matter. I brought up Jardine not so much to illustrate he broke the rules but to show that the mass of climbers seem to now consider the use of chopped holds valid in freeing a route. The cover of the free climbs guidebook to Yosemite even goes so far as to show a route now bolted that was originally climbed w/o bolts. I am simply suggesting that “American Tradition” was something advocated as the “right thing” for a short period of time and collapsed as the (publicized) predominant ethos at the first opportunity. It is in no way a tradition in a meaningful sense of the word.

 

 

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Peter,

Your post is right on. Finally, someone sees it: the issue has never really been about to bolt, or not to bolt. The issue is about recognizing the destruction that ensues when we all give psychological, assertive importance to our opinions and "values". Protecting and asserting the opinion becomes all important and so therefore, consequences are not even visible to such a person. That person constantly seeks, fights for a solution, but there is no insight. Every action of such a person always comes back to the values of the self, which are always bound to conflict with societal relationships.

Two countries don't really "see" the consequences of war- death, destruction, chaos- or else they would never do it. Instead, their positions and ideologies are given all the attention.

A true community can only form when individual opinions and ideas are placed in proper perspective, not clung to and violently defended. Only then is it possible to see what is right for us, right for the land, and for a new way of seeing to come into being.

Keep up the dialogue, people.

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This forum is the crowbar and all of you are its leverage.

Once again, let's keep it real.

------------------

Stoney

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Just a few observations:

- Remember that the group that posts here is in no way a representative sample of the climbers (who are *not* a community) in this state.

- There are many people reading these posts and not posting themselves (lurking). Including, I would guess, the people in question and the land managers.

- Homo pussy? Is this grade school? If you were one of the people working on the routes in question would you stick your head up in this forum? A portion of the posters here are starting to sound like a lynch mob. Remember that people were once burned at the stake for being witches and the "community" supported the action. And worse has happened when a group of people assumed that they were the majority b/c they didn't choose to hear the other voices.

If you really want to know what they are thinking, then go forward with an olive branch, not a crow-bar, chisel and childish name-calling. And if your mind is closed, then don't pretend it isn't.

It also occurs to me that bolted routes means more people which means my "alpine" playground (questionable in my book since it is a stone's throw from a freeway) is more crowded (by "lesser" climbers). Anyone care to step out from behind the convenient defense of ethics and fess up to that fear? Here, I'll go first: It is precisely the reason I don't want the west-side road opened on Rainier.

Climbers, in general, are fond of anarchy. Note the fear of the land managers making a rule. We think of that as the worst possible outcome. And the thought of getting together to make a decision as a group? To be a community? I'd love to see it happen and I have no clue how to do it: This is a group that dislikes crowds, rules, and red tape ('cept on that cherry project wink.gif

Remember folks, opinions are like assholes: Everyone has one, and thinks theirs is the only one that doesn't stink.

-CC

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Does anyone have ANY idea on how to achieve a "consensus" on this issue?? I agree that the adversarial nature of some of the posts may actually be doing more harm than good, by discouraging the people putting up this route to come forward with their side of the story. (there's three sides to every story. Yours and mine, and the cold hard truth) But there really isn't any TRUTH to this story, only people's opinions or what is right/wrong.

On the other hand, I think the overwhelming vibe I get is that people don't want an "alpine" route with bolts every three feet, and hopefully the people putting up this route can relate to this sentiment. Mitch, I totally respect your trad values, and I like climbing because it's HARD and SCARY. I learned how to climb when the mantra was "the leader shall not fall", just like you. I've seen the sport (and way of life) become another Mountain Dew life-style commercial venture, and it makes me sick. BUT, we have to realize that these styles will continue to exist (risk-free climbing is like decaffeinated coffee, what's the point??), and we need to promote DIALOGUE, NOT CONFRONTATION! If the route being put up is not overbolted given the consensus grade (I think we can all basically agree what this means, bolts only where necessary for PHYSICAL, not psychological protection), and it is a good climb, I won't get bent out of shape over it. I still think all bolts should be hand-drilled, because it makes the ascentionist REALLY evaluate what bolts are critical for safety.

I WILL get pissed if anyone does anything to jeopardize my access to my playgrounds!

The recent bolting debacle in Boulder is a good example of a "community" coming together to find a common ground, and common ethic. It may be difficult to identify a specific cross-section of the climbing community that this Wa Pass situation affects, but forums like this are a good start. All of you, please extend your best wishes to the people putting up this route, and hope that they respect the sentiments of those who will follow in their footsteps.

Paul Warner

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Yes we all are well aware of the fact that one must weed through these posts to find the gems. There is no Lynch mob or witch hunt going on here. I totally respect the guys that are working on these routes. the purpose of this forum topic is to hash out ideas that might raise awareness to all tuning in. The purpose is to get people talking, communicating and voicing their oppinions: to create a buzz. I'm disapointed fingers have been pointed at individuals, but I guess it comes with the territory. The real issue isn't about them. The real issue is about how we go about protecting a natural resource. In this case we are talking about Cascadian granite.

The last thing we need is more government regulations and fees in the Cascades. I would like to see Washington pass remain a place where we can escape the built environment. It's a damned shame there is a highway there to begin with. The Cascades are being encroached apon by all sorts of development: Stevens Pass is on its way to becoming some kind of damned "resort". It is clear to me that WA. Pass isn't far behind.

I think it is important to think hard about how we want to leave the Cascades for future generations... I remember the first time I went there at age sixteen. I was backcountry skiing on Blue Mountain and went home totally inspired to learn how to rock climb so that I could return to climb Liberty Bell in the spring. The ascent that followed changed my life; It made me realize climbing was an exercise in self-reliance. In the years since I have returned to Wa pass every year and have skiied and climbed many of the surounding peaks. I often ask myself what makes WA pass such a special place; it is quality of wilderness without a doubt.

This is the American far west for gods sake, the last frontier. Climbers know this, they are the last of the pioneers. We live here because the Cascades are here....We don't have to model our mountain environments after the Europeans! We have ideas of our own! We don't need huts, cable cars, Via Ferrata style routes and ski lifts developed all over the range. THIS ISN'T THE AMERICAN ALPS! This is the CASCADES!

So how does this relate to the development of sport climbs at Washington pass? It is this kind of mechanised "development" that changes wilderness into a "built environment"

Stefan suggested humans not need visit every place on the planet. Edward Abbey said wilderness isn't for everyone. They both make good points, but climbers are misfits and the thought of being in isolated wild places stirs our imagination. The idea of visiting a place where no one has been is something we dream of. Wa. Pass embraces that wild feeling. I understand my idealism doesn't jive with everyones idea of the ultimate climbing experience, but then again maybe it does groove with many. I don't know.

So we are looking at the state of the environment and the state of "the sport of climbing". Clearly both are in jepordy and they are linked inextricably together. I argue that the quality of a climbing experience is directly related to quality of the place that one is climbing. A classic climb stimulates the senses; It is, in part, the smell of the air, silence and the feeling you are in a place that has been largely unaffected by human hands. It is a place to free yourself from the consraints of society.

I'm well aware of the fact that the likelyhood of preserving Wa. pass as a "natural" climbing area is a far fetched dream, The domination of nature always seems to prevail because progress is measured in dollars or....How many routes can be done in a day etc..... It's all progress untill you have to figure out how to undo what's been set in stone.

I suggest looking at the big picture. not just Wa. Pass or the routes that have been mentioned, but the American West for example; from Punta Reinas to the Gates of the Arctic. What makes these places what they are. What makes them cool places to climb. I argue it is the fact that they are all different. They all have a distinct Character. That is why I am suggesting that we not turn every piece of rock in Washington State into Exit 38 style climbing.

Let's keep it inspired. Let's let the rock decide where we can and cant go. Let's not skrew ourselves by threatening wilderness areas with power tools.

 

------------------

Stoney

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I just want to quickly recognize Paul Warner's excellent point that if the bolts on the route in question were placed only where necessary for PHYSICAL, not psychological protection I wouldn't likely get bent out of shape over it either.

Mitch

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I must say that I share a lot of the sentiments being expressed by Stefan and Mitch in regards to the sacred nature of the stone, particularly in the mountains. As someone who is almost strictly a trad climber, who goes to places like Joshua Tree and Vantage only to climb cracks, I don't identify at all with those who see a potential route on every unbolted piece of rock. I definitely subscribe, for myself, to the notion that if I can't climb it as it is, then it doesn't go. This train of thought comes from years of climbing in the mountains without a bolt kit. Sure I've climbed lots of routes that were already bolted, and why shouldn't I? But, you won't ever find me placing a bolt except perhaps on a new wall route. And, as someone who looks at places like Index, Vantage, Josh, etc. as places to train and get in shape for what is 'real' climbing to me- the mountains, it makes it that much more difficult to not recoil at the idea of Washington pass becoming a sport climbing area. It was well put above that washington pass is a training ground for alpinists- not too remote, but with big and difficult climbing routes in a mountain setting.

But put down your crowbars and just calm down for a minute. Mitch, you contradict yourself. You admit that pulling the bolts out of Pudding Time would result in an adverse, hostile reaction from others. Yet then you advocate doing it at washington pass because it is in "our house". Even if you are bluffing in an attempt to scare off would-be bolters, does this method lead to sport climbers' understanding of our wishes? Or does it just further divide us into "us" and "them"? Is there another way of communicating the popular sentiment?

In one sense, you didn't pull the bolts on Pudding Time at Vantage because you knew it would get retrobolted. But in another sense I imagine you recognize that Vantage is a stronghold of sport climbing and that, at least in some capacity, you wished to respect the local custom/ethic.

Can this respect/understanding be fostered with the sportclimbing community in regards to the alpine zone? Can it? Not through coercion and threats but through genuine discourse and exchange? Again, if the sportclimbing community has a connection with us as fellow humans and as fellow climbers, they will have the capacity to recognize that washington pass is not an area that the drill is accepted, and will respect it. And this is not some naive fantasy I have.

You're right, Mitch, my climbing skill has nothing to do whatsoever with the issue. I didn't bring it up either. But neither does your 20+ years have anything to do whatsoever with your ability to look at the problem in a constructive way. Again, I agree with almost everything you feel about the ethics, courage, and sanctity of the rock (I started climbing by climbing mountains long before I ever went to the crags), yet you sound hardened and defensive and bitter and ready to attack. Calm down, start by looking at what connects us, and focus on that. Quit focusing on the differences because addressing those will never unite us all.

 

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Maybe this thread should be discussing the ethical way to chop a bolt then? (IE, don't damage the rock, do it on lead, ground-up, patch the hole, after obtaining consensus from local climbers, and not if the bolt cannot be replaced by adjacent gear?)

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Stoney,

Now that we know this, how can we turn being "upset" into something constructive here?

Without advocating any particular strategy, plan, etc., all I can say is this: if I were doing something I strongly believed in, that I later found out was very unpopular with most people- and those people approached me with their concerns in a way that communicated the urgency of their position yet also encouraged a connection, compassion, with me and a genuine concern for right relationship, I think I would, without thinking about it, be much more capable and apt to actually look at whether what I was doing really was necessary, or at least be willing to discuss doing it much differently in a way that would work for everyone. But if someone equally tethered to an opinion as I comes at me angrily telling me to quit or else, I would spend all my energy defending my position, which includes continuing what I was doing, rather than looking at the problem.

Most of us have little experience relating to others this way so we have no idea what it would be like.

I don't know, people. If you want to pick up arms and go fight the fight, then go right ahead. But in doing so you won't be learning anything new.

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Ive finally read this posting all the way through and dispite the trashing and chest pounding (and downright insanity) I have to say I agree, Washington Pass is no place for sport route development. It seems that is the consensus among everyone on this site. A while back, a friend and I discovered the loose pillar at Vantage. I felt it appropriate to ask you guys your opinion before we tried to tip it because it would change one of the routes and the appearence of the area, and Im fairly new to climbing and was unaware of the standard practice in that situation. I think people should ask the opinion of other climbers in thier area before they start drilling. I was at Castle rock yesterday and saw the new line of bolts next to Angel. I had always just figured it was an old aid line but, I looked in the book and saw it was a preexisting route: Dans daring...(11a) a double x rated trad line. That must of taken a lot of balls! To sport bolt that line is total disrespect for that Daring Dan and his accomplishment. The more I thought about it, the more I thought it sucked. Castle rock is like a museum of rock climbing in Washington- just look in the guidebook at by WHO, and WHEN most of the routes where put up. You can still see a lot of the original pitons on the routes. Go to smith if you want to sport climb!

[This message has been edited by Charlie (edited 04-20-2001).]

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Rag on Retro all you want guys he is just stating "his" beliefs here. He comes from a previous generation than many of us and I respect that. I may not personally agree with him on everything but I know he is a kewl mofo.

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I agree with the majority, I really don't enjoy sport climbing and cringe at sport routes in trad areas, but this forum has got me thinking and I want to pose a hypothetical question.

If we have the right to ban sport climbs at "our" trad crags, then does that give sport climbers the right to ban trad climbing at vantage, smith, etc.

This question in no way reflects my views, just food for thought from the devils advocate.

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Kevin, I'm not sure how that would work?? This isnt about the type of climbing at any particular area as much as the issue at the center: placing bolts that damage the resource. Trad climbers don't typically place bolts and basically "leave no trace", so don't see how you could argue for the sport climbing only thing....

besides, we already have that, in gyms.

Alex

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Guest

Well, I've wrote and cleared a response/post on this issue for several times by now since it came up a while ago. But everybody needs to be more vocal. So:

Bolting proper - please do not (!!!) take the leading away by overbolting. When there is a bolt at ones feet and head then it is effectively TOP-ROPING. So what if it's 5.12? Perhaps the rating needs to be augmented by adding a "chiken": say Jim Yoder's climbs have skulls, Condorphamine can have chickens... Sorry man, that's too much iron.

To bolt or not - I feel that proliferation of bolted routes at WA Pass is destructive and servers no purpose. Beginners can enjoy bolted climbs at Smith with a huge number of outstanding climbs or Vantage or 32 or go first do the existing climbs - there is enough for a lifetime! Really bored ones instead of first ascents can work to free the City Park. Even publishing a new guide book will not bring you as much fame as freeing the City Park or Liberty Bell for that matter. Then soloing... Lifetime's worth of objectives with nothing to loose and everyhting to gain.

I am not necessarily against a 12a up the Spire if bolted sensibly, but a whole bunch of them? Yes, I know all the arguments for. I can't explain why. But my vote is against putting a whole bunch of bolted lines. ONLY outstanding and ONLY bolted in the spirit of other climbs out there. Please, let's leave it the way it is at the WA Pass.

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Alex, I agree with you completely, and I'm glad you made the distinction. However, I feel like much of the arguements I've read are about the conflict between different styles in the same place more so than about the ethics of leave no trace. They are definately two different arguements. Your point would definately hold true if damaging the rock was the only issue here, but I don't believe that is so.

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