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AR_Guy

First Ascent - How?

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So how do you experienced folks go about doing FA's? Specificially, I'm asking more about sport climbs (trad seems straight forward enough - find a crack and climb it - yes, I realize there's more to it that that). So what do you do, find a good spot to top rope a future sport route, climb it, mark where the bolts ought to go, then come back and set the bolts? What do you do if there's no good spot to protect either from above with a top rope, or cracks or other features to set pro in to lead a FA? Drill and bolt as you go?

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I've never done it, but there are as many ways as your imagination, courage, and skill allow. Drill by hand on lead, hang on gear or hooks, pre-inspect, clean, and drill on TR--all of these techniques are used. Some people thoughtfully take the time to talk to locals about what the prevailing method is and respect that tradition. Chipping, bolts next to available gear placements, and overbolting are all usually considered poor form, to say the least.

 

If you're going to permanently alter the rock (with bolts) and introduce greater potential for impact (with a new trail), it sure seems worthwhile to carefully consider why you're going through all the trouble and work.

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I climb to the top via the back side and get out my eyedropper. I watch the path the drop of water flows, and follow the natural line.

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Water, and its known defects causes a problem with a true line. Layton knows this and is just messing with you. All true alpinists use mercury. It is the only know substance that truely is capable of demostrating a pure line. Why do you think it's used in thermometers? Duh. Use your head for something other than a hat rack.

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AR_Guy,

 

There is way more to trad climbing than "find a crack and climb it". I'm sure you have the best intentions but would suggest you actually try some more trad climbing and in general get way, way more experience under your belt before even thinking about bolting new lines. How about availing yourself of several more years of climbing existing lines to gain the sort of experience and yardage necessary to make informed decisions and choices in such matters.

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Fuck that. You should just do what the developers at Vantage do and gridbolt the rock in 3 x 3 foot sections then attach arbitrary grades and names to every "line." People love it.

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AR_Guy,

 

There is way more to trad climbing than "find a crack and climb it". I'm sure you have the best intentions but would suggest you actually try some more trad climbing and in general get way, way more experience under your belt before even thinking about bolting new lines. How about availing yourself of several more years of climbing existing lines to gain the sort of experience and yardage necessary to make informed decisions and choices in such matters.

 

It doesn't sound like AR_Guy is actually planning on bolting any routes. It sounds to me like he's just wondering how experienced climbers go about it. It's a reasonable question, and maybe if he's lucky someone will give him an informed answer, rather than letting this turn into yet another ethics debate.

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Oly is right and you all are missing the point. Mercury is the most powerful first ascent tool known to man. Especially when mixed with urine.

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Thanks for the non-smart aleck replies Slothrop and Ireno. I guess I’m too ignorant to understand the water and mercury comments……

 

I suppose I should have prefaced the questions with the following: I’m a newbie climber – I’ve only been at this since November of last year. The only real rock I’ve climbed is at Exit 38 – so the only thing I know (so far) is sport climbing (one of these days I hope to get out and try some crack climbing). Hence, all the routes are, by definition, bolted. Some of the routes at exit 38 (those way above my level) are incredibly (to my eye) overhung – some of those 11’s & 12’s. Hence, to this newbies eye, would be an incredibly dangerous climb before being protected. Hence the questions – how does one FA one of these routes (the highly overhung, etc) before the bolts are in place? (and the bolt as you go question.)

 

I also just picked up (last Friday) the ‘Tieton River Rocks’ guide by Ford and Yoder. In the intro / history section (pages 9-13) there’s the discussion of the new route development in the 80’s, along the first sport routes on Honeycomb and the addition of bolted routes on pillar faces (between the crack routes). There’s also discussion of new walls and the routes developed on them, specifically in regards to the “declining first ascent opportunities at the established cliffs”. Looking through the guide, there’s lots of entries labeled ‘project’. Well, to this ignorant newbie, that kind of leads to the questions of how some one who FA’s a trad route goes about it. What do you look for? Do you scope it from above first? Top rope it first time up (assuming you can get to the top by some other means)? What if the crack is so long, it would be a multi-pitch climb to get to the top? Do you just climb up from the base knowing you might have to abandon gear if you don’t make it to the top and need to lower off? Yadda, yadda, yadda……

 

Bottom line, if SOMEONE hadn’t FA’ed and bolted the sport routes I’ve climbed at exit 38, I’d never have climbed. I asked because I’m curious and wanted to know how others have done it, not because I wanted to do it (hell, I have enough troubles with 5.9’s – no way in hell I’m going to head up an unknown slab/face wall, with unknown difficulty, with no ability to protect myself from my too frequent falls anytime soon). It’s damn impressive that there are folks out there who have the nuts and are lookin’ for the rush of doing a FA. For the foreseeable future, I’m content to follow……

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As far as trad routes go, people do all of the things you mentioned. You can practice on toprope or just pick a climb that looks like it has gear and try it with or without doing some research first. Much of what you do depends on the the climb itself. For FA's on multipitch climbs you are at some point going to have to continue without knowing the terrain. If the gear is good though, you can always aid up tough parts and possibly have to bail.

 

As far as mercury and water go, you just have to make a nonsensical reply. Its funny.

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I haven't done it either, but my understanding is that for bolting seriously overhanging stuff people bolt from top down while hanging on jumars, clipping their fixed line into the bolts as they go, to keep them fairly close to the rock. In my mind this still leads to a fair amount of swinging in space far from the rock, so perhaps the odd hook or even (!) piece of gear is used keep them close enough to wield the drill on occasion. I've also heard rumors of using ladders for the lower parts, that being much easier than hooks or whatnot, if you don't mind lugging the damn thing up.

 

Disclaimer: this post may contain poorly informed idle speculation.

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From my experience, albeit somewhat limited in this regard, I have put in FAs from the ground up, and respecting the local ethics. This goes for trad routes as well as the (very few) bolted lines I have put up. And I use an "old skewl" hand drill/hammer set-up. Yah, it takes forever, but that's half the fun. grin.gif

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I think that in order to simplify climbing to a state more boring than Sport climbing, if you want to do a FA, do that euro/alps thing, first you but big steel things in the rock then you weld, like 1/2 rebar to the big thing. all you need is 2 daisy chains and your off to the races, of course these were built by battalions, just imagine the glory if you made one with your Bro, and kept it secret till your Done, I know somebodys got the picture so "ar "can see what the hell I'm talking about

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AR_Guy, glad to get a little clarification on what you're asking.

 

I definitely fall under [trad] "old school" relative to FA's. The ethic/ideal I pursue when I get a potential line under my skin is to do it ground up, no previewing, no toproping - just get on it and climb. Sometimes it works out even better than you expect and you onsight it (seldom if you are aiming high) and other times you epic big (somewhat way this side of more-often-than-onsights). For me, not knowing is the very best part of doing an FA this way - it would suck to know anything more about the route than you can see from the ground. That means you do have to sometimes deal with loose and uncleaned rock, shitty pro, and the occasional dubious anchors - but you either make do or you bail. I love the epics I've had as much as the successes over the years, and to be honest, I learned more about myself and my partners during the epics than I ever did from the ones that followed the vision exactly.

 

Multi-pitch voyages up completely unclimbed stretches of rock are just about as sublime as life gets as far as I'm concerned. It requires a semi-obsessive vision; a high level of technical skills; a stubborn dose of constantly reinvented naivete mixed with an odd, clueless willingness to just let the things unfold without any real plan; and most important, a partner that can be talked into pretty damn near anything, especially endeavors obviously stupid and ridiculous at first glance. Once you have those prereqs in the bag, and make it to the base without forgetting or losing anything, you pretty much just throw caution to the wind and climb; or at least that's more or less the old "why are we here?" school of climbing. Also, I don't really give a rat's ass about the "no one has climbed this before" aspect of FA's so much as the outright assurance that you will be completely clueless and improvising every step of the way with no guidebook, beta, chalk, or bolts lighting the way.

 

P.S. Oh, and please be aware that in a few of the older, more rigid "traditional" cliques and quarters that most hallucinogens are still considered a form of aid.

 

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

 

"Place thy protection well, lest the ground rise up and smite thee..."

 

Sage wisdom from an old "Devil's Lake Trial and Error School of Rock Climbing" tee shirt...

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AR_Guy,

 

What JosephH said, completely. He and I, although we've never met/talked, sound like kindred spirits in this regard.

 

PS: just out of curiousity, what does the "AR" stand for? I knew a guy years ago at VA Tech who was nicknamed "AR". It stood for Air Rappel, because once he forgot to check his rap set-up before going over the edge, and he "air rappelled" to the ground. He lived, obviously... ...and hated the nickname. blush.gif

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AR, before the 80's and pink tights and coke and shit no respectable climber would be caught dead putting in bolts on rappel. It was mostly done on lead usually with hand drills. Hence, most bolted routes were real slabby. Now its pretty much accepted practice to get to drill an anchor then rap down and power drill bolt holes all over the place even in steep overhung sections.

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It's kind of funny that the question really had nothing to do with ethics of any sort, or how to trad climb. The dude is asking how (not why!) you go about bolting a steep or long sport rig.

Obviously no one here knows shit about it, or doesn't care to get flamed for giving how-to advice on bolting.

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My, such cynicism from the Geek!

 

Maybe everyone wants to keep adventure in rap-bolting by not giving up the detailed beta. It'd be a shame to ruin someone's rap-bolting onsight. yelrotflmao.gif

 

Seriously, there have got to be as many ways to do it as there are routes. There would be some combination of numerous cleaning sessions, marking bolt placements, and climbing the route to assess the moves and potential bolts. You could do all this on rappel, while hanging from hooks, free soloing, on lead, or some combination of those. Hand-drill or Sly Stallone style.

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Plus, you just have to watch the first five minutes of that movie with Sylvestor Stallone bolt gunning his way through a climb and you will learn all you need to know.

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In the one or two posts that actually sought to answer his question, I think he's gotten a decent answer. He's gotten some information that he didn't ask for, too, there is nothing necessarily wrong with a bit of ethical admonishment leaking into a "how to" discussion.

 

In my view, it would be a mistake to discourage all such "how to" discussion - as some have tried to do in the past (I'm not necessarily talking about cc.com, but remembering how, when I wanted such information many years ago, it was not available anywhere). If somebody IS going to take it upon themself to install bolts I'd rather have them be able to get information about the proper harware and methods for planning and undertaking their project than not to have access to that information because there is a considerable amount of complexity to it and the damn things are in fact quite permanent and others will come along and clip into them assuming they are not only "strong" but in a "safe" location and on a "sensible" route.

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