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korrigan

Bolt Nazis

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Once it's been decided that a person is going to put fixed pro on a route, seems like they already admitted that they weren't up to the risk. It seems a bit contrived or a moot point to forgo additional fixed pro later up a route after this first concession.

 

Phillip, I can't necessarily agree with this as a blanket statement. I think every line has a unique story to tell. How well we percieve, understand, and interpret that story depends heavily on ones abilities, skills, experience, and style. My personal approach has always been extremely prejudiced against fixed pro and especially against bolts. To justify the use of fixed pro from that starting point means each and every such decision represents a real dilemma and results in some introspection in the process. I basically agree that any time fixed pro is placed you are abdicating to risk - but you are doing the same when you place gear as well.

 

The question is more around why, and for me it comes down to what is the line all about. If it's in the middle of a sport crag then what it's all about is likely determined by that fact and what the line has to offer in that regard is irrelavant. If it's not, then then I guess I look at what the overall character and 'risk profile' of a prospective route is all about - what is the line about? Why am I climbing it at all. That's pretty nebulous I know, but it's one of those deals where "I know it when I see it..." sort of deals. I'm never casual about routes - they either hook me and I obsess over a line or I don't do it. When one does there it is usually speaking to me in one way or another.

 

People have typically tended to think my routes are "spicy" not so much because of the moves themselves, but more because the protection can be fairly technical. On some of my routes establishing the protection is both technically challenging and physically demanding, but that is integral to the 'flavor' of the route. But I'm a complete freak for highly technical placements and love the challenge presented by what some consider "marginal" placements. I'm not so much a gear nerd as a placement nerd, so when I resort to a piece of fixed pro it means the gear doesn't exist or it's so marginal that any placement would be "contrived" in the sense it really isn't going to hold a fall and is more about art than function.

 

So to get back to that abdication to risk - yeah, short of free soloing everything, we all abdicate to risk to a degree. I approach it on a line-by-line, placement-by-placement basis and try to keep fixed pro to an absolute minimum within the context of how the line is 'speaking' to me. I have backed down and walked away from more than one FA because they had so many runouts they would be 'contrived' free / free-solo hybrids with no option but bolting to remedy them and that's not what my climbing is about any more than sport climbing is.

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...But I've worked hard at developing my craft with gear and have always free climbed above crack'n ups, hooks, microstoppers, small ball nuts, and using steeply pre-sliced screamers to keep the odds in my favor. That doesn't mean I regularly entertain death falls, but I don't hesitate to run it out above what others sometimes consider marginal pro. But I only do so because I've fallen on all of it many times in the past and know the limits of what it will likely sustain.

 

Simply slapping in bolts on mixed routes before developing advanced trad skills is pretty weak to me. I am far more inclined to respect a decision to bolt under such circumstances when they are made by someone who took the time to develop those advanced skills and understands the limits of what can and cannot be reasonably accomplished with gear...

Joseph, based on the above 2 sets of statements, I'd like to digress a little to ask: what is your opinion of what is reasonable gear for avoiding the placement of a bolt by an FA?

 

Let's say, hypothetically, that you're putting up a new route, and somewhere up one of the pitches (in a section that is on par with the overall grade of the climb - i.e. not necessarily the crux, but not really easy either) you come to a spot where it turns blank for about 40 feet before another good crack becomes available. On your way up, after 15 feet you find 1 placement for one of your little crack'n'ups w/ a screamer on it, and after another 10, you get in a little microstopper, before going the last 15 ft to a crack. As the FA, would you put any bolts in that section, or leave them off because you personally were able to protect that section with specialty pieces (knowing that the route would be R/X for anyone showing up with a more main-stream rack)?

 

Just for the record, I've never placed a protection bolt on a route of mine. I placed and removed one on an existing route once, but that had nothing to do with the route per se but with overall climbing management issues. I have placed a few pins in keeping with traditions, and they were in exactly the scenario you describe - retro'ed on pitches where I did the FA on a string of [bomb] Crack 'N Ups and small ball nuts (none of which required screamers in that particular case). The pins are in a couple Crack'N Ups placements because you can't buy them today. Ball nuts anyone can buy, so those are placements still require them.

 

But in this specific case, "anyone showing up with a more main-stream rack" isn't very likely to head up that route. But your statement "specialty pieces" speaks more to the issue in my eyes; I don't consider ball nuts "specialty pieces" but rather carry a #1, #2, and #3 as a standard part of my rack. I guess in reality, being a bit of a coward, the reason I've always free climbed with all that aid gear is for me it comes down to 'any pro is good pro' and I'll take 'marginal' pro over no pro every time. My old partner Jim Tangen-Foster on the otherhand takes the approach "no pro is less sh#t I have to hassle with" and just gets on with it.

 

Take your pick I guess...

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At the risk of sticking myself into a converstion that is probably way above my head, I can respect the rule respecting the style of the first ascentionist. If you can't climb/protect it at the required level, go climb something else. The possible exception to that IMO would be if some strong climbers put up an easy route (say 5.6 to 5.7ish) that might be a reasonable outing for beginners if it was bolt protected but the first ascensionists only put one bolt every rope length for a belay. This seems like a waste of rock to me. Strong climbers would be bored with it and new climbers would be scared to death. I think this was the case with Snake Dike, first ascensionists found the route trivial and gave permisission for bolts to be added. My understanding is the person doing the retro-bolting ran out of time and didn't finish the job completely. My other issue is with replacing rusty old bolts. My guess is the first ascensionists placed the best bolts they had access to or could afford, so replacing them with new stainless ones seems to not mess with the spirit of the first ascent.

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Discussing bolts is like discussing politics though. Nothing is ever accomplished. Fun though.

 

Largely, I agree.

 

However, once in a while and maybe in spite of some folks' efforts to keep it otherwise, we occasionally exchange real ideas or information on cc.com. I have learned a great deal from the discussion here.

 

Many of you may feel it is silly or naive to expect serious or constructive or even tangentially beneficial discussion on a website like this, and I recognize the reality that many people are here for fun rather than education, but I continue to extend sincere congratualtions and thumbs up to anybody who cares to discuss bolting or any other "hot" topic on this forum in an honest fashion.

 

I don't mean any insult to you, Korrigan, or anybody else. I'm simply saying that honest and thoughtful discussion can coincide alongside the playful or inane. This thread has been realtively "on target" compared to others. Cool.

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I have found that out here there is a tendancy by First Ascentionists to put too many bolts in, this being a recent (last 20 years) development, maybe spurned by our "Father of sportclimbing" area in central Oregon.

 

Personally, I find that boring climbing-wise and just plain not economically feasible. What are you people? Trustafarians?

This shit is expensive: $50-$80 a route for the spicy stuff. How can you afford Infinite Bliss? The sheer boltery of Condormorphine Addiction?

Money is obviously not a consideration of the routes, much less risk.

 

OK, I am done, I have been lambasted for my "spicey" bolting many times, but Fuck It, you're not going to get hurt, just a little scared. And if you are climbing a solid .11, you should be ok with a 10-15 foot runout 5.9 or low .10.

 

Carry on. boxing_smiley.gif

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One question that occurs to me: The fist ascent princple is probably the "absolute" that it is (at least for some) because the assumption has always been that the FA's were not using as many bolts as subsequent people might desire, and also that the FA's most likely placed whatever bolts or fixed pins in sensible places.

 

How do you feel if the FA OVERBOLTED (by your standard) a route, or if the FA just plain did a BAD JOB and put things in the wrong place? And what if the FA COMES BACK to retrobolt in a style that you now find excessive? If you are one that argues that it is "accepted rule" that we honor the style of the first ascent and that any subsequent alterations are up to the first ascensionist, do you still follow this rule?

 

Is the "FA Rule" something that only applies in one direction, that is does it only weigh in favor of adding no more additional bolts or no moving of existing placements? It generally seems to be promoted as such. By this I mean that plenty of people who cry foul about this or that bolt or belay station that has been added to an existing line are in full support of removing bolts from something they consider to have been overbolted on the first ascent, and I often think it is odd that where somebody may have placed a bolt in an inconvenient or possibly "stoopid" location on first ascent we are hesitant to "correct" it even, in some cases, where maintaining the mistake is in many ways more obtrusive than fixing it.

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I'd tend to agree that this has been a good discussion. The fact that it was started as a troll is ironic. Many good points on both sides of the issue. I hope neither ever wins out - I'm for diversity. Its nice to have something safe to warm up on and also to push your physical limits. Running it out and solving intricate gear placing problems are rewarding as well. With modern guidebooks and lots of experience its not that hard to see what you're getting into. The FA'er has somewhat of a fixed slate, that he or she can shape to some extent as they see fit. I'm sure they all do what they think best. If their vision conflicts with too many others' they'll catch a lot of grief. Can the FA'er make a mistake? Sure they can. I've led routes where the crux was making the clips, ones where runouts on crappy rock was just "stoopid" and some that had bolts next to protectable cracks. However the vast majority of routes have been equipped (or not) just fine. I think that if you come away from the climb thinking about the moves,position and the day and not the pro or the stupid belay spots etc the FA'er did his or her job well. And others may do the same climb and feel differently.

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This may have been mentioned previously, but anyway...

A while back a friend and I put in a route at Darrington that had a 10b crux on a frictiony slab where one scrabbles at an ever widening seam (and okay placements) until reaching a good crack. On the last pitch we left a 30-40 foot runout on 5.8 ground (Darrington slab) with a final step over to a good crack. The spicy part was that that final step over to the crack left one looking down over an edge into a large dihedral (not part of the route). A fall from that spot would have been nasty, but we figured if you had climbed through the crux, this section the move shouldn't be considered a fall risk, so we didn't protect it with fixed gear. Someone later asked my friend for permission to add a bolt there and my friend agreed. If I had been asked, I would have said no for the reason mentoned above.

 

The route When Buterflies Kiss Bumblebees is another example of this. The crux is below the wildly runout Rash pitch variation. A leader fall from the Rash pitch would likely totally hammer the person taking the fall, but there is no fixed gear (and to my mind little likelihood of good natural pro) on that pitch, and there shouldn't be because to get there takes more skill/psyche than the pitch itself.

 

Just another facet to the conversation...I think.

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So, veering back again to the original topic, snow crik wall and bolting. We just climbed Iconoclast today, and noted big, shiney new bolts/rap station on the left end of Library Ledge, and another new bolt/rap station at the base of the corner crack just below 35 feet below (!) library ledge. And, Iconoclast was put up in '71, so someone must have upgraged the bolt that protects the move to the shield. And, someone must have upgraded the bolted anchor above the 5.11 yellow wall. Where was the peanut gallery when all these new bolts went in?

What the hell's the big deal about updating a piece of crap bolt on Orbit?

Edited by telemarker

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So, veering back again to the original topic, snow crik wall and bolting. We just climbed Iconoclast today, and noted big, shiney new bolts/rap station on the left end of Library Ledge, and another new bolt/rap station at the base of the corner crack just below 35 feet below (!) library ledge. And, Iconoclast was put up in '71, so someone must have upgraged the bolt that protects the move to the shield. And, someone must have upgraded the bolted anchor above the 5.11 yellow wall. Where was the peanut gallery when all these new bolts went in?

 

New? Egads those were there (in I think 2000) when I last climbed the route. rolleyes.gif One is a glue in with clear epoxy right? I just hate those things but they are SS so don't rust. The whole time I was using it I expected it to crack. cantfocus.gif

 

Not to be a jerk but so many things stated as fact on cc.com are really so far from the truth that it's scary. The only person I believe on this site is Dru.

 

 

 

 

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New? Those were there when I lost my Neutrino on Girth Pillar! In 1927. In a meteor shower. And my partner was not only dead, but his gangrene was so bad that I couldn't eat him when we ran out of raw potatoes.

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DRU Said:

New? Those were there when I lost my Neutrino on Girth Pillar! In 1927. In a meteor shower. And my partner was not only dead, but his gangrene was so bad that I couldn't eat him when we ran out of raw potatoes.

 

Re: Peter said: (Not to be a jerk but so many things stated as fact on cc.com are really so far from the truth that it's scary. The only person I believe on this site is Dru.)

 

OMG Peter! hellno3d.gif

 

yelrotflmao.gif

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Just for the record, I've never placed a protection bolt on a route of mine.

 

Can you say retro without permission? madgo_ron.gif

Edited by kevbone

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so i climbed this nice 11 pitch 5.8 today that was put up in 96

 

there are from zero to two bolts a pitch, a couple of pitches have a single gear placement, the rest is blank slabs.

 

it's a 5.8 route for a 5.9 leader, if it had 10 bolts a pitch i'm sure it would see trains of gapers clogging it up, as it is it probably sees three or four parties a season. it is clean on great rock. i don't see any legiitimate reason for adding any bolts to this one.

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I am surprised that nobody mentioned the style of the FA. This dictates responsibilities. If you are climbing the route ground-up, on site, you have a responsibility to yourself of not dying. If it turns out to be an R or X route, then thats great. Although if you are a 5.11 climber putting up a 5.7 X I disagree with that.

 

If you start at the top and the route is cleaned and rapp bolted, it is chcken sh&& to put dangerous runouts on the route. IMO you have an obligation to make the route safe if it is a sport route.

 

With the ground up approach, the playing field is level. The FAists dont know whats up there and the following climbers dont either. On a route that was rapelled down and cleaned and or bolts put in, the playing field is not level. The FA team has valuable knowledge that the next guys dont have. That is why I think it is chickensh&& to put runouts on a route done in that manner.

 

I was surprised to see many of the routes I did the FA of way back when (mostly in Utah) now sport an R rating. We didnt know any better back then and minimal impact was the name of the game. You get minimal impact through ability, boldness and as Healyje said, sometimes stupidty.

 

The mindset that all climbing should be safe belongs in the gym or at sport crags, it does not belong at traditional areas. Traditional to me means ground up, whether bolts are added or not.

 

Doubt this helps, but I do think the discussion of how the route was put up is vital to the discussion.

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If you start at the top and the route is cleaned and rapp bolted, it is chcken sh&& to put dangerous runouts on the route. IMO you have an obligation to make the route safe if it is a sport route.

 

Ill second this. wave.gif

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It depends on relative difficulty and ability of the climber; if the sport route is, say, a rap-bolted 5.13 and contains a dangerous 5.10 runout, the 5.13 leader can reasonably be expected to handle the runout and the section doesn't need a bolt. It might be different if it were scary 5.10 friction slab, but also it might not.

Rap bolting doesn't imply creating an aidable bolt ladder; rather it (ideally) implies pre-placing bolts AS NEEDED for protection. The best rap-bolted routes that I've climbed have been reasonably protected at cruxes, were free of bolts where natural gear was available and featured fewer bolts higher off the ground as long as no ledge feature was in play.

Remember that "dangerous" and "runout" are highly subjective terms, as for some the same section will be a playground.

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Not to be a jerk but so many things stated as fact on cc.com are really so far from the truth that it's scary. The only people I believe on this site are Dwayner and pope...

 

Agreed.

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Speaking of replacing bolts. Where are some of the routes that need to have old 1/4" spinners that need replacing in the 11worth area. For example, the last time I climbed 'Tober (10a on Icicle butress) the bolts were in bad shape. Any others?

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Dude, there are many spinners out there. Ask Vik, I am sure he has a list of routes with ?able bolts...if not can make one. The bolt(s) on Tober are questionable but with all the great gear around you don't "quiver" that bad....

I think Goat dome needs a retrobolt replacement job. But, does not need any inbetween existing bolt retroment. Givler's dome probably has some similar routes.....um, how about any other pre90's route at Leavenworth. Or try Peshastin Pinnacles if really ambitious. hope that helps.

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I can think of a couple rusty pieces o' sh** at a certain belay on Orbit

boxing_smiley.gif

the_finger.gifthe_finger.gif

 

Just make sure the local hardmen don't trundle your ass.

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