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pope

Boycott "Smith Rock 1986" documentary

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In my opinion, what happened at Smith Rock, and it's widespread aftermath, is a tragedy. I, for one, was around to see it unfold. If I felt there was something new to be learned about this shameful era, I'd be more compelled to attend, but if it's "funny lycra and mullets" and "bold clip-ups": been there, seen that. Maybe someone who has the time and energy can post a review that we can all consider.

 

Totally and deeply disagree. What "happened" at Smith is not even close to a tragedy. That was pretty much a choss heap with shitloads of loose rock everywhere before the bridge went in. Danny Gates and Steve Strauch pushed and cleaned tons of loose shit off of Super Slab alone just so we can have a clean 5.6 to jump on. Where's all the bolts on that route and bunches of others?

 

Later - Watts, Lester and those guys kicked ass. Go look at the East or North Faces of Monkey and think on it. Show me the bolts on those cracks sir and think of freeing those moves with Rps.

 

Tragedy hell.

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When crampons first came along, they were seen as tantamount to cheating. And why wouldn't they? They made hard snow and ice climbing much simpler and safer and - dare I say it? - more fun than the old habit of chopping steps. Ultimately, harder lines became possible, and the old lines became much quicker affairs. The widespread proliferation of bolts has had a similar effect, and predictably, those who grew up in the previous generation were aghast. But other changes will come eventually, from inside or outside the world of climbing; some will adapt, some will resist, change will come all the same. (Personally, I'm surprised how little money has made its way into climbing; it seems like a matter of time before climbing REALLY becomes big business, like surfing or soccer.)

 

As for environmental effects, surely these have more to do with popularity (related more distantly to bolts, I suspect). The environmental effects of crowds at popular traditional areas like the Gunks or J-Tree are no different from those at a popular sport area; bolts simply permit more rock to be climbed. Thus it seems that the difference is one of degree, not of kind. Bolts have made climbing safer and simpler to a certain degree, much like kernmantle ropes. In areas both with and without copious bolts we still have crowds, idiots, access issues, increasing regulations, trash, environmental degradation, etc. all the same. Individuals who dislike the current popularity and mainstream appeal of climbing are in similar positions to those who discovered a band before they made it big.

 

Pope et al. have every right to boycott the Smith movie if they wish. For those interested in the history of modern climbing, I expect a climbing version of 'Dogtown and Z-boys' - important archival footage taken from a vibrant era in our beloved subculture.

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Excellent post, GTG.

 

If anything, as a traditional climber, wouldn't bolted routes (as at Smith) keep the trad lines less crowded? Where is the celebration of that boon?

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OK, SC. Point taken. I was only trying to say that knee-jerk malignment of a "new" way decreases the effectiveness of ANY given point.

 

Thanks for a good observation.

 

Erik

 

How true. But here's another MisterE comment:

Change is inevitable, you can either accept it or become embittered by it.

 

That statement is similarly hollow. Blind acceptance of change is no better than knee-jerk opposition to change. Those who voice opposition to sport climbing on this website make every attempt to convey what they see as specific problems with this approach to rock climbing. The proponents generally reply with the assertion that our opposition is founded psychologically in a resistance to anything new and different. Inevitably, somebody parrots the cliché about how adding front points to crampons was once seen as "cheating" and opposed by "traditionalists", suggesting that: (1) sport climbing is no more harmful than putting two extra holes in the ice and (2) opposition to sport climbing is similarly ridiculous and motivated by a fear of ANYTHING new.

 

Actually, sport climbing isn't that new when compared to the number of decades that Americans have been pursuing rock climbing per se. In fact, when I got interested in climbing in the mid 1980's, sport climbing was already available to anybody who wanted to drive down to Bend. I didn't have any traditions to protect in my approach to climbing...I was just starting out. I read some magazine editorials and interviews and talked to some folks in both camps, and then I made up my mind. What would be iteresting would be your reaction if the future of rock climbing changes to a more ethically pure approach, with sport climbing no longer viewed as acceptable. How would you, Mr. "E", react to such change? Would you whole-heartedly embrace it, as a consequence of its trendiness?

 

Mr. Rylan More, you probably have the wrong person in mind. I went down to Smith a handful of times to check it out, to see what all of the fuss was about, but I probably haven't been there in 14 years. Yes, I clipped up a few routes (even flashed an 11d with a bowline on a coil for a harness), but I soon decided Smith Rock and sport climbing weren't where it's at. Call me a hypocrite if you wish, but I'm sure if I'd never tried sport climbing, then you'd insist that I don't have any basis for my opposition to it. Also, Raindawg is correct. I’m not promoting the introduction of via ferrata to the Cascades. Sorry you misunderstood my intent.

 

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It's interesting that as soon as I submitted my previous post, I noticed a new response from Geek the Geek, and sure enough, he/she brought up the 12-point crampon history. Predictable.

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will there be picketing? smashing of Starbucks windows? jack-booted stormtroopers with gas masks?

 

Can I get arrested?

 

I've got no problems with bolted sport lines. IMO, the bigger problems stem from managing the masses of people: erosion from helter-skelter foot trails, tons of shit (garbage and the literal sort), unruly pets (God, I hate barking dogs at crags), inevitable lawsuits, etc., ad nauseum.

 

The footprint on the environment of all the bolts at Smith wouldn't amount to a pimple on an elephant's ass compared to one shopping mall - and, I'd sure rather see folks exercising outdoors than milling about wondering how much garbage they can consume and take home in their cars and gullets.

 

So, the conflict is in the style of climbing. I agree the height of climbing style is clean trad, and for me, it's in the alpine. But, I've had a lot of fun clipping bolts on sunny afternoons with assemblages of friends, improving skills that allowed me to push harder on subsequent trad climbs.

 

Anyone who looks down their nose at a style they don't approve of has a festering insecurity of approval of themself by others: "those stupid bastards don't know the complexity and greatness of what I do compared to their simplistic ways" or "who will appreciate the nobility of my position on ethics". There are endless manifestations: rock vs. classical music, burgers vs. haute cuisine, KathyLeeGifford vs. Versace, paper vs. plastic, blah, etc. Get over it and yourself.

 

And it IS hypocritical to both take a vehement stance against bolted sport routes and climb them. It's akin to doing business with hookers on the weekend and working to outlaw 'em during business hours - just another Ted Haggard.

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IMO, the bigger problems stem from managing the masses of people: erosion from helter-skelter foot trails, tons of shit (garbage and the literal sort), unruly pets (God, I hate barking dogs at crags), inevitable lawsuits, etc., ad nauseum.

I agree. This is a problem.

 

 

The footprint on the environment of all the bolts at Smith wouldn't amount to a pimple on an elephant's ass compared to one shopping mall..

Right, it's not environmentally damaging in the way an oil spill is. It has more to do with aesthetics and recreation in the outdoors. Every time a line of bolts is placed on rappel, it presents a blemish on the landscape, the environmental impacts of the crowd attracted thereto notwithstanding. The result is that every subsequent climbing party in the area near the route is impacted. Also, the new bolts erase a potential new route for any future party that would like to climb it boldly from the ground up, to actually ASCEND (that idea used to be important) the rock while fighting to get an occasional bolt for protection while their lives actually depend on it.

 

 

So, the conflict is in the style of climbing. I agree the height of climbing style is clean trad, and for me, it's in the alpine. But, I've had a lot of fun clipping bolts on sunny afternoons with assemblages of friends, improving skills that allowed me to push harder on subsequent trad climbs.

If you don't leave the rock the way you found it, you are no longer talking about the "style" of the climb, you're talking about ethics, and I would like to see rock climbing move closer to a "leave no trace" ethic. Let's pratice restraint in bolting. Let's save bolting for those who are bold enough to do it while ascending.

 

 

Anyone who looks down their nose at a style they don't approve of has a festering insecurity of approval of themself by others: "those stupid bastards don't know the complexity and greatness of what I do compared to their simplistic ways" or "who will appreciate the nobility of my position on ethics". There are endless manifestations: rock vs. classical music, burgers vs. haute cuisine, KathyLeeGifford vs. Versace, paper vs. plastic, blah, etc. Get over it and yourself.

First of all, you're assuming I'm looking down my nose. That may be the case, or it could just be that I'm sharing a space with folks who leave what I consider to be garbage all over the rock. These days I have very little interest in developing my ego through rock climbing. I'm too friggin' busy with life and its obligations to worry about whether climbing gives me some kind of special status or worth.

 

 

And it IS hypocritical to both take a vehement stance against bolted sport routes and climb them. It's akin to doing business with hookers on the weekend and working to outlaw 'em during business hours - just another Ted Haggard.

I think you're right about that....if you'll be so kind as to read my post, you'll learn that while I tried sport climbing a couple of times many years ago, these days you won't see me carrying a rack of quick draws if we ever meet at Index.

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Pope said:

 

It has more to do with aesthetics and recreation in the outdoors. Every time a line of bolts is placed on rappel, it presents a blemish on the landscape, the environmental impacts of the crowd attracted thereto notwithstanding. The result is that every subsequent climbing party in the area near the route is impacted. Also, the new bolts erase a potential new route for any future party that would like to climb it boldly from the ground up, to actually ASCEND (that idea used to be important) the rock while fighting to get an occasional bolt for protection while their lives actually depend on it.

 

Your myopic vision yet again ignores that this is not possible for face or arete climbs without natural protection.

 

But I am finding the discussion healthy.

Edited by MisterE

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Impossible is a strong word. I don't have the details in front of me, but it's documented that, for example, the Huber brothers have put up long routes on steep rock at a 5.13 and even 5.14 standard...all on the lead and with respectable distance between bolts. I'm impressed and amazed by such climbing. Yes, they are using bolts but in a real and demanding situation and with great restraint.

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There was a time I was upset by the violation of a "from ground up" ascent. It was precipitated, initially, on hearing of some who placed passive pro on rappell in order to ascend a difficult line. "Chicken shits! If they can't place it on ascent they shouldn't do it at all!" Now, I view it as an ingenuity that was required for those particular climbers to climb the route. I don't differentiate for the placement of bolts.

 

There are many hard lines that would never have seen an ascent without rap-bolting nor the numerous repeats enjoyed by many. The placement of bolts on rappell on more moderate routes may be the meat of your objection - disallowing a more skilled party to place bolts while on ascent. You can shake your head in disgust and howl to the heavens for justice, but there it is; the dirty deed has been done. Short of another bolt-chopping Bolt War there's nothing to be done but rage while shoveling sand against the tide. Time didn't wait for the elite climbers.

 

My take on the difference between "ethics" and "style" in this discussion: ethics requires a determination of what is good and bad and the resultant moral obligations; style is simply personal preference without judging/labeling manifest in the comment "I wouldn't do it that way".

 

 

What bugs me are poorly positioned bolts, not necessarily how they got there.

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My take on the difference between "ethics" and "style" in this discussion: ethics requires a determination of what is good and bad and the resultant moral obligations; style is simply personal preference without judging/labeling manifest in the comment "I wouldn't do it that way".

 

By those standards, style seems the domain of the accepting?

 

[font:Comic Sans MS]Someone here ain't got no style! [/font]

Edited by MisterE

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I'm not sure I understand Pope's position, as he seams to equivocate. Do you wholeheartedly abhor bolts or are they ok if placed on lead "boldly"? You seam to say two different things in this thread.

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alp18-55-1.jpg

 

The old skool types definitely knew how to wear their lycra

 

And now for the biggest spray yet. I played guitar at his wedding! He married my ex-girlfriend. Go toni!

 

 

 

I know for a fact that Pope owns a pair of lycra climbing togs (bright yellow as I recall) (He's earned the "lycra privilege") and I played saxophone with my quartet at Pope's wedding.

 

 

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"Everybody has an opinion. Everyone has an @$$H*!3. They all stink."

 

Having an opinion about climbing styles is necessary. But attacking someone's efforts and attempting to rally the troops to boycott the event is childish.

 

The Eugene rock climbing community loves to have a place to gather and share their interests.

 

Leave it at that Pope.

 

 

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There are at least a couple of ideas at play here. "Leave no trace" is a completely different concept from that of "boldness" or "adventure." And the "rules of the game" can be something else entirely. Lastly, in the case of bolts, many of us care a great deal about whether or not they are in the "right" location, which combines consideration for where you stand to clip them, how they make the rope run, or how close they are to a crux move.

 

My own experience has been that most climbers tend to care more about how a route "turns out" than they do about whether the guys who made the first ascent climbed from ground up or not. And a "ground up" ethic is usually urged by those who are concerned with the total number of bolts and are assuming that an area will be less heavily developed if rap bolting is disallowed.

 

You won't get Pope or anybody else to be completely consistent on all of these various factors but certainly "sport climbing" in the Dihedrals is a different experence than climbing Zebra-Zion.

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I started climbing in the early seventies - read goldline, swami belts and klettersoles. I have done sport routes, but I prefer trad. I feel rapping off and drilling bolts for a pinkpoint is nothing more than aid climbing. Then again when crampons were invented people considered that cheating.

 

Bottom line is differeent strokes for different people. Sport climbing is not hurting anyone. Live and let live!

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I started climbing in the early 70's. We didn't have sport climbing or gyms, everything was trad. While I have done some sport routes, I prefer trad. I think rapping off and setting bolts for a pinkpoint is nothing more than aid climbing. But who is it hurting? Yea, bolt ladders can be an eyesore; bit it's not like you can see them for miles. When crampons were invented people thought that was cheating. Things change.

 

I don't have tattos or piercings; but that doesn't mean I condem those covered in ink and holes. If it works for them and they're not hurting anyone - so what.

 

Let folks climb in whatever style they want. Live and let live!

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will there be picketing? smashing of Starbucks windows? jack-booted stormtroopers with gas masks?

Can I get arrested?

 

Probably not, smart-alec.

 

I've got no problems with bolted sport lines. IMO, the bigger problems stem from managing the masses of people: erosion from helter-skelter foot trails, tons of shit (garbage and the literal sort), unruly pets (God, I hate barking dogs at crags), inevitable lawsuits, etc., ad nauseum.

 

The footprint on the environment of all the bolts at Smith wouldn't amount to a pimple on an elephant's ass compared to one shopping mall - and, I'd sure rather see folks exercising outdoors than milling about wondering how much garbage they can consume and take home in their cars and gullets.

 

As Pope said, the impact doesn't compare to that of an oil spill, but, it is a serious concern if you address it as a "leave no trace" issue. Backpackers had it figured out decades ago: you do your outdoor thing and you don't leave a mess. You don't enhance campsites, build fires anywhere you please, chop down trees, whatever...you strive to leave it natural for the next folk and generations to come. A wonderful spark toward this notion in rock-climbing appeared in the 1970's when the notion of "clean-climbing" was promoted. Sport-climbers don't seem to understand this concept: they leave their crappy little "creations" everywhere: lines of bolts permanently installed on the rock. What happened at Smith Rocks in the '80's would effectively put the clean-climbing revolution in the back seat, in preference to the easier gratification offered by sport-climbing.

 

Here are a couple of examples often used to illustrate some of the issues:

1) Apart from Smith, which has many great trad lines established well before the '80's, Vantage is a poster child for sporty abuse. With cracks for clean protection found everywhere, there is little excuse for the amazing proliferation of bolted routes found everywhere there. And even so, there are few routes there that can't be top-roped, thus avoiding the need to place the extensive lines of bolts.

 

By the way, I think there is a place for bolts...a VERY LIMITED place...for example, fixed rap/belay anchors as a compromise to people leaving tons of crap at such places, or as top-rope anchors for short climbs in order to protect the rock from sport-bolting, YET EVERY SINGLE BOLT PLACED SHOULD BE CAREFULLY CONSIDERED AS AN ETHICS ISSUE IN THAT EACH BOLT IS A PERMANENT ALTERATION TO THE ENVIRONMENT. The reality of sport climbing is that it is utterly bolt-dependent with seemingly little concern for its impact. I would venture to say that few sport climbers have any inkling that bolts might be considered an ethical and environmental issue.

 

And by the way,....the argument that "Smith Rocks", "Vantage", "Exit 38" are only "choss" and therefore exempt from ethical concerns (i.e., sacrificed to sport-bolting), is ridiculous. Folks were climbing there before the metallic onslaught and there are plenty of other places to climb if one finds those areas unacceptable.

 

2) Second, example:

Castle Rock in Leavenworth: I first climbed there 30 years ago...and it remains pretty much the same now (although there were some questionable bolted sporty routes added in '80's.) The clean-climbing ethic has left the place more or less intact for at least one generation. (And don't bring up Beckey chopping down trees on Logger's Ledge in the 60's or whenever...that was wrong too.) When some sporto's decided to retrobolt a bold seldomly climbed route a few years ago (Dan's Dreadful Direct)it was chopped shortly thereafter...for environmental and stylistic reasons: this area was not to be subjected to lines of bolts, and the route could be climbed clean and trad by those bold enough to do it....and by the way, it can also be climbed on top-rope without leaving a mess.

 

Yah, it ain't an oil spill, but that pimple on the elephant's butt statement can be used as a smoke-screen to excuse all kinds of behavior. You can cite anything on a larger scale (ski areas, freeways, whatever) in an attempt to make the issue seem trivial, BUT YOU ARE A CLIMBER, AND IN YOUR OWN LITTLE CLIMBING WORLD, YOU SHOULD BE ETHICALLY CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS THERE.

 

So, the conflict is in the style of climbing. I agree the height of climbing style is clean trad, and for me, it's in the alpine. But, I've had a lot of fun clipping bolts on sunny afternoons with assemblages of friends, improving skills that allowed me to push harder on subsequent trad climbs.

 

No, style is a different issue, second to environmental concerns. I personally think that sport-climbing tactics are weak: hangdogging a route into submission, red point/pink point nonsense, rap-bolting, etc. But folks have the right to be weak, as long as they don't tread on other people's experience (such as drilling lines of permanent anchors.)

 

Anyone who looks down their nose at a style they don't approve of has a festering insecurity of approval of themself by others: "those stupid bastards don't know the complexity and greatness of what I do compared to their simplistic ways" or "who will appreciate the nobility of my position on ethics". There are endless manifestations: rock vs. classical music, burgers vs. haute cuisine, KathyLeeGifford vs. Versace, paper vs. plastic, blah, etc. Get over it and yourself.

 

Hey Pop-Psychologist/Amazing Kreskin....your abilities to assess motivations is indeed questionable.."Anybody who..." Come on....where'd you come up with that baloney. You REALLY don't know, pal. And by the way, rock vs. classical music ain't the same choice as leaving the rock clean for others to enjoy vs. leaving a permanent mess.

 

And it IS hypocritical to both take a vehement stance against bolted sport routes and climb them. It's akin to doing business with hookers on the weekend and working to outlaw 'em during business hours - just another Ted Haggard.

 

Hypocricy has nothing to do with it. By your standards (to use an extreme example), we should tell them "Scared Straight" convicts to quit preaching to kids about not doing crime because they themselves are criminials, or that the crack addict down the street should quit whining about how he ruined his life. Bringing up the hypocricy thing is just another way to kill the discussion....it's not relevant. If someone wants to clip bolts and still thinks the concept stinks....that's their personal issue to struggle with.

 

 

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So, other than belay/haul anchors and some toprope anchors, all bolted sport lines, mixed lines, and bolts in general are "garbage", "a mess", spoil the climbing experience for subsequent climbers, and of considerable negative environmental impact?

 

Nah, I don't buy it.

 

In any popular activity there will always be a few bad apples that threaten to spoil the whole barrel; in this case, with bolts placed on trad lines, over-bolted routes, and grid-bolting of entire faces. I'm glad for the advent of bolted sport routes and, now, the solid presence of "sport climbing" as an identifiable activity and industry.

 

"Sport climbing", with its bolts, has introduced tens of thousands of participants to climbing which, subsequently, has channelled millions of dollars to industries accelerating the innovation and development of gear/clothing and empowering organizations as the Access Fund. Peripherally, charitable organizations like the Mountain Fund have appeared whose mission is to funnel dollars and humanitarian efforts to benefit indigenous people groups in mountainous areas around the world. Groups such as this have made profound contributions to climbing and the public perception of climbing not solely through humanitarian efforts, but by the clean-up of decades worth of trash at popular climbing destinations. Without the advent and establishment of sport climbing, the dollars and commensurate political power would not have arrived in time to save many climbing areas from residential and commercial development. We have all benefited from the presence and popularity of sport climbing.

 

You guys hold an ethos at odds with that of many. I think I understand it, having once been in that camp myself. I'm glad you're there and that you hold fast to your commitment as there's more benefit than liability in the practice of diverse methods. I believe the climbing community as a whole benefits from the presence of your beliefs.

 

But, I wonder if you recognize and/or aknowledge the benefit you derive in this world, as part of the climbing community, due to the positive ramifications of the placement of small stainless steel bolts and hangers in obscure and remote rock faces that 99.9% of the world will never know of or see.

 

The new ship we're on has already set sail - there's no turning back. As seasoned hands, are you gonna find how your old ways can be of benefit on a new vessel and help educate the crew or alienate the crew due to an attitude over a ship you can't have?

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We are all entitled to our own opinions, some of us believe we are entitled to our own truth. For me the truth is there is nothing wrong with sport climbing and it does have its place. My opinion of rap bolting is that it is kind of a wholesale attack on what could be a beauitiful and pristine area for the sake of its conquest on the bolters terms. And I personally don't like it. But I do believe it has its place in places like Peshastin, deception crags, etc. Sport climbing, in my opinion, should never be thought of in the same context as alpinism. They are really two different things.

 

As far as the advances in equipment and techniques in alpinism (crampons, cams, etc.) I think they are o.k.; they make what you are doing easier to accomplish, but leave minimal impact. There will always be the olditmers and thise of us who like to bitch that say it isn't as hard as it uesd to be, and that is the truth! When I see what others had to put up with 20, 30, 40 years ago, I'm even more impressed by what they did.

 

Now as far as boycotting the movie, who the fuck cares! If nothing else, give some alpinism equal time on the same bill!

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Nice, thoughtful post, Dechristo.

 

A few comments:

 

Sport-climbing as a negative environmental impact?

Absolutely. And I'm glad to see that places like Joshua Tree National Park have taken a stance on limiting it.

 

As far as introducing tens of thousands of participants...

Sport-climbing, with its very shallow learning curve, has resulted in lots of crowded crags, and the proliferation of more bolted lines. Personally, I don't think climbers have the right to permanently alter public lands and should be denied access if they can't climb "clean". Gee whiz, apart from the noise and the occasional tossed beer can, snowmobilers (who engage in a "sport" I absolutely can't relate to) leave less of an impact!

 

RE: clean-ups and humanitarian efforts...that's all great, but that should be going on anyway. You want to clean up the mountains? We can start in our own backyard with Mt. Garfield.

 

But, I wonder if you recognize and/or aknowledge the benefit you derive in this world, as part of the climbing community, due to the positive ramifications of the placement of small stainless steel bolts and hangers in obscure and remote rock faces that 99.9% of the world will never know of or see.

 

I'd rather have clean mountains than most of the so-called benefits you described. A "leave little trace" ethic should apply to all those who use the outdoors, no matter how visible to the outside world. (Yes, even Nordic walkers).

 

 

And as far as the ship analogy goes....the ship went off course, back in the '80's as it pulled into port at the Smith Rocks...it's time for old-school navigators such as myself and pope to try to set things straight, at least by expressing our perspectives. The widespread embracing of sport-climbing, in my opinion, was a form of devolution, and its course can be corrected.

 

carry on, sailor.

 

 

 

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Raindawg states

Gee whiz, apart from the noise and the occasional tossed beer can, snowmobilers (who engage in a "sport" I absolutely can't relate to) leave less of an impact!

 

Less of an impact? Now I know you are ill-informed and have tunnel vision in this debate. Snowmobiling (and other off road vehicles) with a 2 stroke motor causes more environmental pollution than any other form of transportation. Did you know that 25-30% of a snowmobiles fuel mixture is actually discharged unburned when in operation? That collects in all of the snow and when the spring run-off comes, all of the oil runs into our lakes and rivers, killing thousands of fish and wildlife. Why do you think that Park Rangers in Yellowstone must wear protective gas masks at park entrances in the winter? It is not from the sulfur released by geysers, I promise you. You cannot compare sport climbing's environmental degredation to one of the worst polluters on the face of the earth. Pollution from snowmobiles is so great that the government had to enact a new policy in 2002 under the Clean Air Act that includes companies that produce two-stroke engines to ban them over time in favor of a four-stroke.

 

The ship's course will never be corrected, Raindawg. You are now a minority. Of course you are entitled for your opinion and your environmental ethic. We, as climber's should always be striving to reduce our ecological footprint. It is what got the majority of us into the sport. However, I disagree with some of your statements regarding the environmental destruction found with sport climbing. I went to college up on top of a mountain in rural Tennessee. It is the 2nd largest college campus in the US with only 1,200 students. We were literally surrounded by 29 miles of sandstone bluff (the boundary of the campus) ranging from 20-200 feet in height. There are exactly 5 sport routes along the entire trail and bolting is governed by the University. However, at the same time that a bolting policy came in to play, another rule was also issued regarding the degredation caused by trad climbers topping out. Massive trails coming down steep slopes were causing large amounts of erosion in an otherwise pristine environment. This caused the university to require anchor bolts if no other natural anchors were available. A study by several University professors began looking at areas like T-Wall and Sunset for similar issues with topping out and causing environmental degredation and found that it does cause a great deal of erosional problems, destruction of native vegetation, and actual physical changes to the canopy that had a trickle-down effect on other species such as birds that relied on edge vsa. canopy. I will try and find the study and then find a way to post it, but there were geology, soils, and forestry professors and students looking at this for several years.

 

Placing bolts in itself is not an environmental travesty. Yes, they can be an eyesore, but they can also be masked by paint. If you look at the environmental destruction caused by the production of bolts and large masses of people coming to an area because of them, then I am sensitive to this as well. But to argue that sport climbing has made Smith an environmental travesty is not founded by me. If anything, look at the non-point source polution flowing through the Crooked River from poor irrigation practices and overapplication of pesticides in the local farms around Smith.

 

My profession involves the environment as I was a director of a land trust for many years working to protect land and water from environmental degredation. Pristine areas that are publicly and privately owned should and are being protected. But Smith is a State Park, to be used by all. Just like the National Forests. Smith is not a national park or monument and I don't see any reason that it should be.

 

It is great to have someone want to push a ground-up ethic and I love alpine trad more than anything in the world, but sport climbing has a special place in our world and it will continue to proliferate. You can profess all you want to but unfortunately, in the majority of cases, it will fall on deaft ears.

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Although I have never found all that much interest in sport climbing, I think it is very important training for more advanced forms of the sport. I think it is funny that Europeans seem to understand this, yet so many Americans still don't get it. We're not talking about bolted cracks (Eternal Flame, Royal Flush, etc, are a different arguement), we're talking about proper sport climbs at the training crags.

 

I know 5.13 trad climbers who train by going sport climbing. Jim Donini once said to me something along the lines of "rock climbing is the basic skill-set of the super-alpinist," and this is absolutely the truth, especially as alpinism evolves towards ever-increasing difficulty, even on the highest mountains. This is the reason why most of the world's best alpinists sport climb regularly - people like Rolando Garibotti, Ueli Steck, Steve House, Silvo Karo, etc. You can bet that Rolo was appreciative of his face-climbing skills while onsighting runout, 5.11+ face climbing on Cerro Torre's North Face.

 

Sport climbing isn't for everyone, and if you find it boring you don't have to do it. But it is a valuable addition to the sport of climbing, and if done in a sensible manner is not a violation to trad climbing.

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Mr. Moore say:

 

The ship's course will never be corrected, Raindawg. You are now a minority.

 

Nice of you to recognize the need to be "corrected" and thanks for putting us minorities back into our place. Yazz boss!

 

You can profess all you want to but unfortunately, in the majority of cases, it will fall on deaf ears.

 

So, you've got the take on the majority, eh? So, we're supposed to shut up because you feel we're wasting our time, eh? So, if it falls on deaf ears, are you suggesting that the "majority" is sufficiently close-minded as to not to consider the alternatives?

 

There are more of us out here than you think, and we're not leaving town. Get used to it.

 

 

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No doubt that climbing difficult sport routes will make you a stronger climber and possibly improve your skills. But several questions need to be asked.

 

(1) Would the standards found throughout the various activities related to mountaineering have increased without sport climbing? Probably. Isn't climbing more and more difficult routes just the natural evolution of the sport?

 

(2) Were standards increasing before bolts and sport climbing became so pervasive? (The answer is YES). Again, isn't climbing more and more difficult routes just the natural evolution of the sport?

 

(3) Are there other forms of training that are less destructive but equally effective for increasing skills and fitness? Bouldering, gym climbing, toproping (let's face it, that's pretty much what sport climbing amounts to anyway), not to mention a bunch of dirty 5.12 climbs at Index that could probably handle some traffic.

 

(4) Even if you believe that only sport climbing could have brought us today's difficulty standards, is this worth the cost of the negative impacts sport climbing has produced? I suppose "super alpinists" are pretty inspiring, but I could live without the latest copy of the Alpine Journal if we could see Vantage and Smith Rock return to pre-1986 status.

 

(5) Suppose the next generation of climbers believes that only through chipping holds and injecting steroids can the sport truly advance to the next level. Will we endorse such activities in the name of a couple of extra letter grades?

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