Manufactured climbs....what to think? A dialogue.


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Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 1, 2017 - 10:34am PT
There has been a bit of a controversy in Ouray about manufactured climbs at the Rotary Park. Some climbs have had holds drilled or chipped and on a couple of climbs holds have been bolted on. The architect, a respected and accomplished climber, has argued that he has creatively enhanced the wall and brought out it’s full potential. He referred to the Riverside Quarry in Southern California as an example of an area where enhancing and chipping holds on natural rock increased the number of climbs and added to the overall quality of the area.

I looked up the Riverside Quarry on Mountain Project and they mention that a number of the climbs have been chipped but did not offer any judgement, i can recall a climb at Arch Rock and one at the Cookie that had holds chipped in the early 70’s and, of course, there is the Jardine Traverse on the Nose but nobody today would think of doing that in Yosemite.

Route creation, in the age of sport climbing, has involved the scaling off of loose rock and occasionally the reinforcing of existing natural holds with glue or cement and, of course, the way routes are bolted has become a grey area for many.

Climbers who manufacture climbs argue that they would only do it in areas where the quality or nature of the rock does not lend it to truly natural climbs and that they would never do it in “classic” or “qualiity” areas. They refer to places like the Riverside Quarry as an example of where much has been made from little.

It is my opinion that manufactured climbs should be a “gym only” affair and that natural rock should never have holds enhanced, chipped, drilled or added regardless of the quality or nature of the rock.

I can understand peeling of loose, dangerous rock and perhaps even reinforcing existing natural holds but that is as far as it goes for me.

Comments please.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Oct 1, 2017 - 10:47am PT
To quote a famous Democrat climber economist...

"It's the economy, stoopid!"

Social climber
Wilds of New Mexico
Oct 1, 2017 - 10:51am PT
Hard to know where to draw lines. Cleaning, glueing and smoothing out pockets have been around for a long time. Chain draws are now the norm at many places. Still, actually manufacturing climbs feels a step too far, though that's based on a totally arbitrary standard.

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Oct 1, 2017 - 11:20am PT
"Natural Rock" as a starting point means unaltered by man/woman.

In the case of a quarry. It's already been altered irrevocably, and not by the climbing community. To then chip, chisel, manufacture holds there, is trivial and not an ethical concern.

Likewise, private property, is trivial for the owner or with owner consent and not an ethical concern.

But on shared resources, a bright line is easily drawn and those that suggest otherwise are equivocating the cart before the horse.

cleaning loose dirt and rock, or flakes that present a danger (e.g. key holds that would fool the leader into thinking the move secure on a run out climb) should be cleared, or at least climbers should be made aware that the climb is otherwise filthy. cleaning loose rock and dirt from a cliff is straight forward.

Its when a series of holds present the only path forward that aggressive cleaning becomes remotely close to 'manufacturing' and worthy of discussion. But even then the safety of a clean line when going top down is obvious. Knock the loose stuff off. Be judicious in the amount of force if a flake is already friable at the edge but solid down low.

We've all seen what manufacturing in NY looks like. That's horsesh#t.


Social climber
Oct 1, 2017 - 11:23am PT
hey there say, donini...

i love rocks, the way they are, but-- i am not a climber...

however, you DID trigger me to think of this...

when climbs, or, areas, parts of nature, all over the world are CHANGED
in any LARGE way-- they become a:

thoroughfare: (ˈθʌrəˌfɛə)
1. a road from one place to another, esp a main road
2. way through or access: no thoroughfare.

*not meaning anything bad to ANYONE etc...

i just noticed this:

all those bridges through areas, and paths through areas,
where humans just simply NEEDED a way to 'get from spot to spot'

well, they HAD to enhance what was there, to do it, to
accomplish things, travel, visit, get food etc...

now, of course, climbing, is more the experience and adventure,
so, it seems like one may DO it when they want to get to a new spot,
safely but, mainly would not NEED? to change
the WHOLE thing???

is that right, the right idea?

NOW ON A NON-CLIMBER NOT, BUT, as to enhancement
just to get somewhere... here--
it made me think of these place, :))

THEY REALLY had to 'manufacture', here, :))

from inter net...
from inter net...
Credit: neebee

from internet...
from internet...
Credit: neebee

from internet...
from internet...
Credit: neebee

from internet...
from internet...
Credit: neebee

from internet...
from internet...
Credit: neebee

from internet...
from internet...
Credit: neebee

from internet...
from internet...
Credit: neebee

well, very interesting...

i know it is more of a CLIMBING situation that you mean...
but, human sure do KNOW how to GET somewhere, when they
really want or need to...

those ol' mt goats, of course, never have to
change a thing...

we've all seen their pics, :))

from internet...
from internet...
Credit: neebee

okay, back to your more serious, share, here, donini...
you just got me a tad sidetracked, :)

*and, we've seen that 'climb' of the chinese kids, path, as well,
as to 'needing to get somewhere'... :O
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

Out Of Bed
Oct 1, 2017 - 11:28am PT
Just yesterday I 1st saw the Ivan Green saga thread
that had devolved into a religious scree . . . it was a thread hy-jacked by
Donald Perry,and others.

the link(s)

the whole magilha, the reelin' mcCoy

I knew Ivan well. A supremely talented person on many levels. his actions from a-far were unfairly judged. a number of the ivan chipped routes stole easy climbs from less capable climbers. I in no way am exonerating or approving of the practice but it is a long part of the whole canvas.

Often it is the "Jardines'" the independent thinkers wwhos' bordom with the norm and mis-guided belief that the end excuses all the means needed to achieve, Im thinking back to the -"FRENCHED" Connection- a pry'd out slot, that led to a 1st free ascent of the 'Twilight Zone' a climb that would see a cleaner ,more natural version climbed within or at the very end of a generation.

There are a few well documented cases of excepted chipping, or what those that rejected the practice, but let it pass, called "'Comfert-tizing'": using the drill to remove crystals and scale in lime stone slots & pockets . . .

Mnt Charleston?

then a few quarries ;
one being a 20 minute drive from the white quartzite of the Gunks.
They Call the squalid pit "Kingston" it is drilled mono and bye-duaws, slick lime stone
it was a super popular zone for getting very hard, before the influx of indoor climbing.

State College in PA Belfonte quarry, but that's probably closed now?
Belfonte, in central Pennsylvania : The home to one long "crack" that was made with a circular saw'

El Crak-it-can, or Manufractured

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
Oct 1, 2017 - 11:33am PT
I had to look up the definition of the word, "manufacture."

There doesn't seem to be much common ground with, 'creative enhancement.'

In my early climbing days I had a horror of any alteration to an existing route, including removing loose rock. Lately, though, I have pried and tossed large blocks and still am troubled that the next person might get hurt.

I will take this on a case-by-case basis and try not to lay down rules.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 1, 2017 - 11:36am PT
I see the point about quarried rock. Has all of Riverside Quarry been quarried and what about Quincy Quarry in Boston...have the routes there been manufactured?

I went to an area near Palm Springs with Bridwell years ago. It was steep to overhanging pretty featureless granite. Jim had chipped and drilled holds there to create what he referred to as an outdoor climbing gym. The granite, while feature poor, was solid and had never been quarried....what’s the take on that?

Social climber
Oct 1, 2017 - 11:41am PT
hey there, say, MH2

as to this quote:
I will take this on a case-by-case basis and try not to lay down rules.

that is a good solid thought...


Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 1, 2017 - 11:47am PT
In rock climbing rules aren’t written down but are inscribed by climber consensus. There are grey areas, quarried rock being one, but I think that there is a worldwide general agreement that holds should not be chipped, drilled, or added to “natural” or (previously unaltered) rock.

Sport climber
Oct 1, 2017 - 12:04pm PT
no one wants to think about how the sausages are made. most are content to think they come from happy pigs that self pulverized. its all shades of grey though. i'd rather see the practice kept to a minimum, done only by hand in small batches by artisinal developers.

case in point, i bolted a route at one of my local crags in 2011. stellar 12b to an all points off dyno to catch a sloper that you could only ever hope to stick if you go static. the only person to send the sequence is 6'4 and climbs 14b. he did it static. another friend of mine (pictured below) is also 6'4 but climbs 13b and can't go static. its called "short man's dream" and goes at 13a, as if a grade could apply to a problem so subjective. if i ever send it will require sticky temps and an 80mph tail wind. the route would be much better with a chipped hold. even though i can recognize this, the dogma runs deep, so instead it is my personal lifetime supply of bail biners.

Credit: Ben909

Grey Matter
Oct 1, 2017 - 12:29pm PT
Riverside quarry is all manmade.
Here's a typical picture.
Those vertical lines are 4 inch boreholes that were drilled from above,
then filled with dynamite to break off big sections of rock at once. It was not a granite quarry so they used massive explosions that fractured the rock. Some of it is still unstable. Routes take a lot of fixing & reinforcement to develop.
The Riverside Cement Company was mostly after limestone in the Crestmore area.

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
Oct 1, 2017 - 12:45pm PT
the route would be much better with a chipped hold.

My opinion is, No, it wouldn't. The cool experience some people would have who are able to do this long move as is would be much diminished, so that somebody else can do it too. There's not really much difference between that and starting to chip holds everywhere so all the 13s and 14s are doable by 5.10 climbers. Someone might say, it's just one hold, the 6'4" 14b climbers can just not grab it, but that's a load of BS. Same would go for 20 chipped holds on some other route: the 5.13 climbers can just not use them. There will always be some routes that hardly anyone can do. What's wrong with that?

There's a practical issue too, akin to that of bolt wars. Once somebody chips a hold, someday somebody else who's opposed and doesn't care about impact goes and chips that chipped hold off. Then the people who climbed it with the chipped hold think that guy is an A-hole and chip a new hold, and pretty soon you have a real mess. It's a cleaner climbing world if none of us ever even starts down that path.

I can see the point in quarries, where they're already industrially chipped in a gargantuan way to make the exposed faces. Otherwise, my urging would be, just don't do it.

Sport climber
Oct 1, 2017 - 12:49pm PT
Graham Doe did a bunch of it out at Shuteye Ridge, theres lots of threads here on ST. Supposedly he repented for his sins years ago, good for him! Such a great area.

Oct 1, 2017 - 12:52pm PT
there is the Jardine Traverse on the Nose

Is that all you know?

Jardine was a maniac.

He chipped a lot of different climbs.

Then there was this one guy who power drilled a huge pocket while we watching.

We yelled up will it go now? sarcastically laughing.

He yelled down It'll go It'll go .... LOL ... so st000pid ....

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 1, 2017 - 12:55pm PT
I knew about more routes Werner...wanted to keep my post brief.

Oct 1, 2017 - 12:57pm PT
“...he has creatively enhanced the wall and brought out it’s full potential.”

Sounds like a God complex; he should find another activity where his talents are better utilized...

they would only do it in areas where the quality or nature of the rock does not lend it to truly natural climbs

IMO, if it won’t lend to natural climbs, move on...

“...lest a climber be guilty of destroying a line for the future's capable climbers to satisfy his impatient ego in the present -- by waiting he might become one of the future capables. Waiting is also necessary; every climb has its time, which need not be today.” The Whole Natural Art of Protection, Doug Robison

‘possibly out of the original context, however this speaks to the potential of the climber...


Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
Oct 1, 2017 - 12:58pm PT
Manufactured clean and free routes galore.

Credit: clinker

Trad climber
Oct 1, 2017 - 12:59pm PT
Skaha has over 1300 routes( mostly sport) in one heavily topographied but not very large area. There are a number of routes with some chipped holds. There were two opinions when both style exponents were actively putting up routes:
One that thought adding a few holds was worth it for a good route
The other thought it was blasphemy
Both sides debated but both viewpoints were generally accepted as pretty much OK even though radically different.
There were no wars or violence because Canadians would rather smoke produce than fight.
"Sorry I chipped that hold"

Oct 1, 2017 - 01:04pm PT
Two different activities.
Someone looks at a cliff or a mountain and thinks: I am going to try and climb that.
Someone else has the same view and says: I can change that, and then I can climb it.
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