60 Bolts drilled on Compressor Route in Patagonia


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Trad climber
Bay Area
Jun 3, 2010 - 10:36am PT
But quarries and mungy urban cliffs are far more deserving of convenience anchors than Tuolumne meadows.

Aye, there's the rub. I don't like to be absolutist (bolts only ground up yada yada yada) BUT why is a junkpile less deserving of protection than Tuolumne?

I'm inclined to believe that crags which can be toproped should be, and bolt lines not put up.
Is the satisfaction gained by "leading" and clipping the bolts or is it the climbing?
If you want to practice clipping on lead, go to the gym.
If the only safe way up a climb is to add a bolt here and there, then do it if the climb is "worthy" (another quagmire of semantics). If it's not "worthy" leave the junkpile alone.

Trad climber
Somewhere halfway over the rainbow
Jun 3, 2010 - 10:58am PT
"BUT why is a junkpile less deserving of protection than Tuolumne?"

Are you serious?
Michael Kennedy

Social climber
Carbondale, Colorado
Jun 3, 2010 - 02:14pm PT
If you want to know the history, read Rolo's article on Cerro Torre from the 2004 American Alpine Journal.

Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 3, 2010 - 05:12pm PT
Will Gadd's thoughts about what happened:

Mountain climber
Aoraki/Mt. Cook Village, New Zealand
Jun 4, 2010 - 03:39am PT
I'm wondering.

With so many strong men chilling in Chalten at the time, surely one and many must have heard the drilling going on. Thereby, why didn't a posse get together to stop things as they were unfolding?

Totally though, Lama is a bullocks. I'd like to think that locals take things into their own hands (as/if need-be) should the Lama return next season for his comeuppance.

Any names of the Euro guides used on the safety/film crew?


Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Jun 4, 2010 - 06:19am PT
It can happen when you take a sport film crew on an 'adventure production'.

Jun 4, 2010 - 08:45am PT
It seems to me that stopping drinking Red Bull is one way to get at the problem. I've never tried the stuff, myself, but given the amount of money they spend on advertising, someone must drink it.

Social climber
Jun 8, 2010 - 12:26am PT
The mountain gods were pissed, too:

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jul 14, 2010 - 08:59am PT
Lama seems to view his climbing as if he is performing on a stage before an adoring audience.That being the case, he should realize that there are certain things you do on the stage and other things you do in your bathroom.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Jul 14, 2010 - 12:37pm PT
Why couldn't Red Bull have left fixed cams instead of bolts to anchor their fixed lines. They have a lot of money evidenced by the flying a big crew to patagonia in the first place. I don't think that climbers would complain then, but some hard core climber would have a nice new rack.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Jul 14, 2010 - 06:41pm PT
"And, when someone can drill new bolts up our own Dihedral Wall, in order to claim a FFA, and get away with it, there is no stopping the spread of that sort of disease."

I told you guys this. I even published photos of retrobolts on this website right beside perfect cracks. Do I have to do it again? Brand new bolts a measured 16" from the A3 crack, right beside perfect Alien placements, etc. Unfortunately the perp is dead, so we can't make him take the bolts out. So now what? You guys have completely ignored this. WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?

Hey everyone, if you want to climb an easy wall, go climb Dihedral.

I have still not heard if the bolts added by Tommy Caldwell on the Mescalito free attempt are within reach of the aid line, or knott. This is important to know.

"This is interesting to see so many up in arms about a route that 99% of the commenters here have never laid eyes on.

This retrobolting crap goes on every day at local crags (even - gasp- yosemite). I have watched many of you accepting and enabling this mentality with comments like "just leave the bolts..you'll only damage the rock", etc. Tacitly approving the addition of convenience belays, rap stations, added bolts, excessive cleaning, pruning, etc.

Why is this behavior ok in your own lives, but is so abhorrent on Compressor? Are your own modest routes and values less important?"

Hear! Hear! See comments re. Dihedral Wall and Mescalito above.

"RedBull and Lama should pay a team of experienced Patagonia climbers and guides to clean the mess, repair the rock as much as possible. They should not be allowed to go back to climb or film."

Emphatically concur.

Proposed solution:

Think about this a bit. Does Red Bull have ANY IDEA what's going on? They sponsor a hot climber to go climb a hot [cold] mountain. They send a film crew. Does Red Bull know anything about mountain ethics, climbing, or bolting? Probably knott. Accordingly, it's our job to educate them.

What we need to do is write to Red Bull, tell them that this is beyond not cool, and that their team basically broke all the ethical rules of mountaineering and climbing, cheating for the sake of convenience. Red Bull needs to know that sponsoring this kind of crap makes THEM look bad. They are probably unaware of this, or don't "get it". We need to teach them.

Who do we write? Anyone got a link or email please?

"One has to wonder what the Swiss or the French would say if the same was done in one of their most iconic peaks in the Alps by a team of foreigners."

"Ooh la la, merde alors! Someone 'as added more bolts! Tres bien! Zer are not enuff already!"

Jul 21, 2010 - 07:35am PT
I really like Will's piece. It is a very good analisis of what went on and what the problems with RB's approach are.

One correction, the bolts are on the route regardless of what RB says. The rap line is very much part of the route (in that area the route raps several different ways depending on conditions), and the bolts above while at times are 3 or 4 meters to the side of the line they will be seen and used by parties that climb by.

The Austrian guide responsible for the drilling argues regarding the rap line that it is safer, better, etc. My objection to his actions is that he, a non local, decided arbitrarly that it was needed. This is the first case of a retro-bolted rap line in the area, and should be something that should have come out organically as a result of a discussion amongst "locals" (visiting and local climbers alike, those that over the years have shown some passion for the area) and not by decree of a "one time visit mercenary".

the kid

Trad climber
fayetteville, wv
Jul 21, 2010 - 09:03am PT
Well put Rolo.
I think there are a lot of issues that are coming to the surface here.
as one who has seen the "wrath" when the drill is used, i think the ethics of yesterday, go to the wayside when $$$ and films and sponsorships are in the game. It's the end result and the glory that motivate some of todays climbers. it's what you get with todays media/sponsor/corporate world..

Now, there has to be a balance when these projects are being done. When Coz, Eppi and i were on the Muir, our #1 concern was to make sure that our free attempt did not change the nature of the aid line. That came first and the drill came out for shoddy belays, and "replacing" the few lead bolts on Muir and adding a bare minimum on our "variations".... I know that is no longer the case on todays El Cap, and regardless of wether it's had drilled or power, too many bolts for the free ascent takes the Aid route out of play and reduces it to sport aid. I did Mescalito, Zodiac, Shield and the Nose in 86, and had to work for every move, every day on the three aid routes. Those routes are no longer hold the mystery and commitment that they once had. for better or for worse, it's just the way it is..

styles, change, ethics, change, we change but the rock stays the same..


Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jul 21, 2010 - 09:04am PT
The safer, more convenient argument has been used by some European climbers in Patagonia for decades- the bolts on Royal Flush come to mind. The Torre Towers are one of the most beautiful expressions of mountain sculpture on the planet and don't deserve to be turned into a via ferrata for everyone's enjoyment. Their very in-accessibility is part of their allure.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jul 21, 2010 - 09:12am PT
Three months for this very important thread to garner 85 posts, par for the course on ST.....sighhhh!

Trad climber
Boston, MA
Jul 21, 2010 - 12:29pm PT
Three months for this very important thread to garner 85 posts, par for the course on ST.....sighhhh!

I can assure you that many more people are following this thread than are posting to it. I, for one, don't have the depth of experience to have anything worth *posting*. But it's clearly an important topic, so I'm reading and thinking.


Relic Hominid
Jul 21, 2010 - 12:37pm PT
The Black Dyke in Squamish was sacraficed in pretty much the same way, for similar reasons. The energy required to offset these transgressions is very difficult to muster up.

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jul 21, 2010 - 01:17pm PT
I scanned through these posts and the question I basically ask myself is: When I used to be a super active climber, what were the questions asked and the assumptions drawn. Most of the time, if I heard of a cutting edge ascent, I assumed the folks involved were doing the whole climbing world proud. The means had something to do with my evaluation of the people involved. One of the reasons Ray Jardine was never highly valued in my era, despite his fantastic climbs, was that his methods were often remarkably lame and baffling for someone of such talent.

And that's what I see in this bolting frandango. A lot of the original routes on El Cap didn't have 60 bolts. The effort is lame, as Kurt said. Cutting edge folks don't do this kind of vandalism. These guys might be able to pull down, but so what.


Jul 21, 2010 - 01:38pm PT
...styles, change, ethics, change, we change but the rock stays the same

Nice post. The point, in my mind, is that the rock did not stay the same. based on what i am reading, they changed the nature of the route (rock).

Some places, challenges and mysteries need to remain unchanged and not suitable for mass consumption. Not everything is supposed to be filmed or blogged into submission. If this route as special as the climbers and guides claim, then maybe they should care less about filming it and more about preserving and respecting it.
gonzo chemist

Crane Jackson's Fountain St. Theater
Jul 21, 2010 - 01:51pm PT
In case anyone missed it, the most recent Rock and Ice Magazine had a short article that tried to absolve David Lama and his partner of any actual wrong-doing. It stated that the bolts were placed by the film crew, not the climbers, so the climbers weren't culpable.

That is some serious horsesh#t...

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