First Ascender Registry Proposal


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Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Topic Author's Original Post - May 30, 2003 - 10:12pm PT
The opinions of the first ascent party have always been given serious consideration by the climbing community. When it comes to adding bolted anchors or additional protection bolts to routes, we ask the first ascent party's opinion.

Some first ascents were put up in a bold style and were intended to stay that way. Other first ascents were put up in a bold style because the party ran out of time or bolts. Some first ascensionists have changed their outlook on protection with the advent of sport climbing or because of family responsibilities, and others feel the same way that they did when they put up the route.

One problem we have as a climbing community is that we really donít know what the feelings of many first ascensionists are. We tend to assume they all sit around wearing wool underwear with a sense of indigence that people are putting up well protected routes in modern times. Maybe yes, maybe no.

I have talked to a number of first ascenders who say that they intend to go back to some of their dangerous routes and add anchors or protection bolts so more people could enjoy the routes. On the other hand, Iím sure just many first ascenders would like their routes left alone. They want their bold statement to stand untouched.

I just saw the movie about Yosemite Climbing history called Vertical Frontier. Itís a good history. It was shocking to see how many of the pioneers of our sport died in the past few years. Itís important to record the views of those who forged our climbing heritage before they pass from the scene.

I have a proposal that Iím putting out there to be implemented by the whole climbing community, folks on every side of the fence. It is to offer climbers who put up new routes a place to register their stories, preferences and intentions regarding their creations. Volunteers could contact veteran first ascenders from the past and record their views for the consideration of future climbing communities. The first ascenders themselves could post information about their creations.

They could ask that their routes remain unchanged. They could relate how the route came about. They could give their view of local ethics. They could stipulate that they think adding anchors or bolts in certain places would be appropriate. They could advocate retrobolting by anyone, or established locals, or no one. They could state an intention to work on the route themselves. They could put the evolution of their route into the hands of future climbers based on local consensus.

Naturally, the consensus of local climbers determines what is acceptable in any area. The views of the first ascent party are just one important factor to consider.

We don't know how climbing will change in the next 300 years, but those future generations won't understand each area's historical ethics and culture unless we them tell. Harding would have something different to say than Robbins. Bachar might have a different view than Kauk. has an extensive worldwide route database that can be edited and expanded by users. A workable registry can be worked into the database with the support of the owners of Sites with a more local focus like could use the information from the registry to inform local climbers as well.

I am not proposing a tool to promote retrobolting or to ensure routes remain unchanged. I am merely offering a tool to promote communication and self regulation by the climbing community. Itís better for everyone if we can minimize bolt wars and stress among each other. There should still be climbers 300 years from now enjoying the routes that were put up in the past 60 years. They wonít know what the first ascenders intended for those routes unless we ask. If the popularity of climbing sustains, the pressure to change routes will increase. Letís do something to help those future generations of climbers come to agreement.

Feedback? Conerns? Support?

Karl Baba

Initial discussions about this are posted at

This is a community project, not "my baby" I repeat, this is not a dating service for retrobolters but a record of individual histories and views that come together to make our collective climbing awareness. The future will undoubtedly bring change though, and consideration of future route change/protection should be a part of the dialog.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
May 31, 2003 - 02:58am PT
Dear Karl,

This is a good idea in principle, because it is interesting
to know the ideas and motivations of the first ascent
party. I.e. what they had in mind when they used their
chosen style to establish the route.

However, I do not feel the FA party has the authority to
modify their route arbitrarily at any point in the future.
Often a few changes are made immediately following the FA,
to handle cases like you mentioned (when they ran out of
proper gear like bolts, or were short on time and had
to top out quickly). I think a window of 1-2 years
should handle that; maybe more time if the climbers
are injured or can't return to the route for some reason.
If the modifications are important to them, they will
find a way to get it done promptly.
But I don't like the idea of a route being established for
say 10 years, and then the FA party changing their mind
and changing the style of the fixed protection. I think
by that time, the route belongs to the climbing community
in a sense. Perhaps many people have climbed it by then,
and others may be preparing to climb it in the original

The "first ascent principle" is detailed in "Basic Rockcraft"
and "Advanced Rockcraft", by Royal Robbins. I don't think
he invented the concept - probably it is a British tradition.
But he explains it well. He talks about how the style of
the FA should be preserved. Nowhere in his description is
the concept that the FA party should be allowed to change
the style themselves. I think it would not be in the spirit
of the principle, which is primarily about preservation.

I think we all have certain routes in mind when we
think about this sort of thing. I think most of us
have seen routes which have "pointless" runouts, where
the FA folks could have stopped and placed a few bolts
to make the leads feasible for the majority of people.
My response has usually been "there are thousands of FAs
still to be done - if you don't like the style of existing
routes, do your own FAs in the style you like!" (within
some limits; with consideration for local styles). I think
this is still true for Yosemite Valley. In some other
climbing areas, where the quantity of rock is extremely
limited, it wouldn't be true.

It's still helpful to check with the FA party on "route
maintenance" issues, such as replacement of existing
fixed protection (bolt/pin replacement). They will
sometimes want to do the work themselves to make sure
it is done correctly.

All this being said, sometimes there are routes worth
changing (in minor or major ways). My advice would be
to check first with climbers at different ability levels
(and the FA party) and see how they feel about the route.
You may discover that there is a wide majority on one
side. But the minority opinion is valuable as well.

One good retrobolting example I can think of is
Little Feat at Donner Summit (Snowshed). It was led
by an expert climber (Max Jones) with minimal gear in 1979.
Probably it had only a handful of leads in that style.
In the early 90s it was retrobolted, and now people climb
it daily. Cookie Monster is about the same story, except
it was established later, and is not as easily toproped,
so it was retrobolted sooner.

Bad retro examples (in my opinion):
1. I recall in the mid 70s, the Free Blast had some bolts
added, but they were not accepted and were removed.
2. In a slightly different case, on the East Buttress of
El Cap a bolt was added when the old fixed pin fell out.
The bolt was a lot higher than the pin and was removed.
3. 2.5 feet above the crux mantle on the DNB.
At least since the FFA in 1965, there were just 1-2
bolts right at the mantle, but not above it. Then in
the mid/late 90s this bolt was added. I would remove it
myself, but it's a Petzl Longlife, and I'm not sure if
I can get it out without further damage to the rock.

Probably most of us would agree that the Bachar-Yerian
shouldn't be retrobolted, even if Bachar loses his mind
and thinks it should be. [Incidentally, it's possible
to toprope the Bachar-Yerian (pitch 2), by rappelling
over from Shambles or Shipoopi - I've done this twice.]
I think Space Babble is about the same. Probably it
sees very few leads, but it can be toproped with a little
effort, to preserve the original experience for those
people capable of the leads. Ditto for Tour de Force
and the Direct Start to the Central Pillar.
(Not that many people could do the crux on Tour de Force,
even on toprope - I've heard it's extremely tough!!)

Here's a tougher retrobolting decision:
On the FFA of Quarter Dome (Pegasus), Max Jones and
Mark Hudon did not bring a bolt kit. (that by itself
is a testimony to their ability and style).
On pitch 11, they were unable to free the original
aid crack, but they found an unprotected 5.10c face
to its left. After they got down from the FFA,
they told other climbers they would have placed a bolt
on the pitch if they had brought a bolt kit with them.
The route has seen some repeat free ascents (although
I've heard the "leap" to free the pendulum is quite
extreme), and the 5.10c is well within the abilities
of most free parties, who are also doing 5.12 above.
But there was one ascent when the leader fell over
backwards on the runout pitch 11, hit their head,
and died. Should a bolt be added there?
I'm not sure - there are good arguments either way.
But in the theory that "if it was important, they
would have gone back", I'd have to conclude that it
should be left as is. I suspect if a bolt was added,
though, it would probably not be removed (but I
could be wrong).

I hope I haven't taken this topic to a place you
didn't want to go. But I thought a few examples
of retrobolting were needed for perspective on
the "first ascent principle" and its potential

Have fun,

Clint Cummins
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Topic Author's Reply - May 31, 2003 - 06:24am PT
Hi Clint

Even though retrobolting issues are only part of the use of the registry, they are a valid concern. Different areas may have different ethics and issues about it.

What you just posted (or something like it) would be appropriate and helpful as an entry under "Clint Cummings" for the First Ascender Registry. It would help folks understand Yosemite ethics from your perspective and also get a clearer picture of what not to change on your routes. It's a piece of the puzzle that will made history clearer to folks 150 year hence.

Some stories about how your routes came into being would be great too.


Karl (up early to go climbing) Baba

Note: folks might be be dying to respond to the facinating questions brought up by the examples cited by Clint and future posters. Please start a new thread for those discussions. It would be helpful to focus on the advantages and pitfalls of a registry, and also, so discussions of the issues of different areas and routes don't get all mixed up.

Trad climber
Bend, Oregon
May 31, 2003 - 02:17pm PT

I've read the thread at I think it is a wonderful idea, particularly if it becomes a living, breathing document/database that helps to chronicle our sport. It's intention doesn't seem to be an electronic permission slip to bolt or to chop, although it could provide more context for those who might alter routes.

It seems that folks are a little concerned of it becoming a Be All/End All sort of thing, an absolute source for determining what the First Ascensionists had in mind and how future climbers may or may not alter the climb. Of course it will not be; with a community such as ours I can't imagine there ever being an absolute.

My view is, that despite potential drawbacks, it will provide more information to climbers, and increased information is almost always better than none at all.


Greg Barnes

May 31, 2003 - 02:38pm PT
I've posted before on my concerns about retrobolting (see Karl's thread link above).

To quote Karl's last post to Clint:

"It would help folks understand Yosemite ethics from your perspective and also get a clearer picture of what not to change on your routes."

THAT is my big objection to the whole idea: "what not to CHANGE on your routes."

A first ascender registry proposal, like Karl proposes, inherently encourages the idea that people should go changing others routes. BAD idea.

I like the idea of recording history. Let's not just put all the FA opinions out in the public eye in the form of an internet database sorted by route - it will, regardless of intentions, strongly encourage retrobolting. Having a "what famous FA folks think" but NOT referenced to specific routes would be better.

But to really get the feel for the history of a route, you need what the FA did/thought, but also what everyone else around then thought/said/wrote/complained about, the climate of other significant new routes before and after, etc. A LOT of people change their outlook over the years. I think Mick Ryan said in that Access Fund opinion piece a couple years ago that even the FA should not be allowed to go back 30 years later and say that bolts can now be added...

And Karl, sorry to talk about retrobolting, but that's the biggest change that the FA registry has the potential of making. If someone tells us that the 4th class 4th pitch of Higher Cathedral Spire fell off in the 60s or 70s or whenever and is now loose 5.9, there's not much anyone can do about it...if TM Herbert says it's OK to add a bolt to the runout slab section of South Crack, then that's something that any gumby with an REI card can go "change."

I'd like to see a "FA folks talk about climbing and their first ascents in GENERAL" registry. That would solve the problem of inviting folks to retrobolt specific routes, and would be really interesting. Some people might go on forever with all sorts of funny stories and examples, some might do the Harding thing at the Camp 4 celebration - "people always said my speeches were the best because they were SHORT. Goodnight." It'd be really cool and avoid having to mess with tying it to specific routes in a database.

Of course, might require a new database, but a very simple alphabetical one by FA last name would suffice.

My 2 cents...

Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Topic Author's Reply - May 31, 2003 - 05:21pm PT
I think very few first ascenders are going to submit that they want their routes retrobolted. Even then, if local ethics are against retrobolting, that is going to be emphasized openly as we can see from the responses here. There will certainly be a disclaimer cautioning about any route change and emphasizing the importance of local consensus ethics.

Ethics are different in France than in Yosemite than in Korea. Rc.Com has a worldwide database, and this could grow.

You might find some FA parties approving bolted anchors where natural anchors are now in use, perhaps because some once obscure area now has crowds and inability to bail becomes a problem. This is common in Europe. Other's might say they would like folks to walk off the route or leave gear as penalty if they have to bail. Will the local climbing community respect their wishes? Maybe. But at least 75 years from now we'll have a way of looking into their minds.

I did the second ascent of Galactic Hitchhiker in Yosemite. The FA party told me that they intended to go back and place a couple bolts on the Olympic Wall section, midway though the route where the runouts are out of character with the rest of the route. They haven't been back, but that might be the kind of retrobolting that gets advocated and allowed only by experienced locals who know what they are doing.

Far more important will be that opportunity that FA parties will have to present their view on local ethics at the time so visitors can understand how things evolved.

I think every first ascender will have something individual to say. Some may make a general statement, some might tell a story about every route. There will be no database field for "OK to retrobolt" and folks will only bring up the subject of bolts if they want to make a plea for no new bolts or if they want to communicate what they think might be reasonable in the future.

The structural idea is to have an "FA Notes" area in the listing of every route. If the FA is in the registry, their names will be there, linked to their general statement about their climbing and perspective on the area. If they care to tell a story, give beta, or share their intent about that route specifically, that info will be there in the "FA Notes" field.

Climbing is going to change. When I started, people were arguing about giving up pitons for freeclimbing pro. Then we argued if cams were cheating. Folks are learning to climb though gyms and sport climbing now. That didn't exist when I started. That fact is going to have a big influence on climbing once the old guard passes. If we want folks to understand the traditional ethic that some areas have now, we will have to explain it to them. I think the registry has the potential to preserve more than it changes, but I'm not coming at it with an agenda like change or preservation, but rather history and education.



Mountain climber
San Luis Obispo County, CA
May 31, 2003 - 05:49pm PT
From Clint's post..."But there was one ascent when the leader fell over backwards on the runout pitch 11, hit their head,
and died."

I think that pretty much answers the question on adding a bolt...I don't think strict ethics, etc. should hold more value than a guy dying.
Greg Barnes

May 31, 2003 - 09:08pm PT

I disagree, I think a lot of FA folks would invite retrobolting of their routes. I know of at least one guy who did a lot of prominent extremely runout climbs in Tuolumne who's invited me to fully retrobolt his climbs, and said once he moves back to CA he'll probably do it himself. I told him we certainly wouldn't retrobolt, and that even if he did it they would likely get chopped.

We (ASCA) get a LOT of requests to add bolts to climbs, from adding an intermediate bolt between the first and second on "pretty much all sport climbs at " to adding bolts to famous classics to adding convenience rappel routes.

I think a surprisingly large percentage of FA folks would say "I don't care, do what you want."

And what about when someone says "we did the FA of Salathe and we want all but the original 13 bolts chopped NOW."?

We don't want more bolt wars - even if FA folks approve the addition of bolts, others may chop (witness the bolt at the crux of E Buttress of El Cap).

Again, how about asking FA folks about the history and their opinions, but NOT tying it to a database that is linked to individual routes?

Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 1, 2003 - 09:04pm PT
Hi Greg

After reading many comments during this "Public Comment Period" (mostly on it is obvious that concerns about retrobolting are formost in people's minds, and the advantages of knowing the FA party's opinion about the any potential route changes in the future are not particularly valued.

Folks seem to want the FA party's take on history and the local area, and some interesting stories about their routes.

Personally, it seems to me like parents telling the school, please don't give our teenage daughter any sex education! It will just make her want to go get drilled!

It is true, though, that information has consequences. Obscure Routes that get "supertopoed" skyrocket in popularlity and big wall routes that get "ASCA'ed" are morelikely to become trade routes.

But this isn't about me so...

I think it would be wise to get first ascender's general comments under the listing of their name, and anecdotes about their specific routes can go under the "FA notes" for each route if they care to share stories.

No enouragement will be given to comment on bolting issues perticular to the route and hopefully each general area can have a link to a local ethics summary, reprinted with permission if possible, from the local guidebook or paraphrased by a local. No blanket "will or intent about my routes in general" should be asked for either.

I wouldn't prohibit talk of bolting or chopping cause I think frees speech is critical, but the introduction to the registry can shape how it is used. I think the concerns expressed over retrobolting issues should be respected.

The issues and problems that arise from bolting issues still be with us though. Perhaps a better understanding of the past will help. Even if it doesn't, we will have a better history than just the polished accounts of the sponsored folks detailing their cutting edge climbs.


mike hartley

Colorado Springs
Jun 1, 2003 - 11:29pm PT

There's a saying that "the truth will set you free; but in the short term it will drive you crazy". Some people will always draw strange conclusions and rationales from history but that certainly doesnít make history or education bad. If Godfrey and Chelton hadnít written ďClimbĒ most of us wouldnít know the history of the Bulge or, similarly through the work of others, that the Salathe only had 13 bolts. If you know the history then climbing the Salathe with more bolts, and still getting worked, can only heighten your respect for the first ascent party.

So I would support your ďregistryĒ if the intent is to gather information and not skew the data in a certain direction. I donít sense that you are trying to justify a ďcauseĒ (retro/chop) by gathering the information.

Big Wall climber
oakland, ca
Jun 2, 2003 - 03:08pm PT
Bumped from the When to add Bolts thread because it seemed more appropriate over here...

Karl wrote:

"I'm disappointed that Melissa would characterize my "First Ascent Registry Proposal" on in terms of retrobolting after I have disclaimed that retrobolting is the purpose of the registry. We hear what we fear."

But he also wrote:

...I have talked to a number of first ascenders who say that they intend to go back to some of their dangerous routes and add anchors or protection bolts so more people could enjoy the routes...

...They could advocate retrobolting by anyone, or established locals, or no one...

And in later posts (see your specific examples of where info would be helpful involved FA desire to see bolts added to Space Babble, Pieces of Eight, and EB of El Cap.

I also saw the disclaimer where you said you weren't hoping to create a retrobolters dating service, but there were so many specific examples of testpieces that you personally thought could use a little hardware augmentation and had the FA's approval to back up your feelings, that it rang a little hollow.

I hear what I hear.

I like Greg's idea the best of a more general 'white box' where FAist could write whatever they want about their routes, climbing, the meaning of the universe. It seems like there are already a lot of online formats for them to do this if they so desire though. The centralized db will just give it better organization (which would probably be a good thing). My hunch is that FAs who are not already playing on the internet won't enter their data, and you'll end up with a lot more info on routes like "Melissa's Proud Heap of 5.3 Choss" than you will on routes that people actually want to climb. Maybe I'm too cynical.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 2, 2003 - 04:26pm PT
Hi Melissa

The fact that the registry, as originally concieved, had an aspect that offered to let First Ascent parties pass down their intentions of preservation or positive change for their routes doesn't mean that this one aspect should be characterized as it's intent. My comments on specific instances of guys who considered changing their routes was in response to the numerous concerns that folks expressed, to see what folks thought was acceptable.

Personally, I believe in certain areas retrobolting of death routes by the FA party or their friends is going to happen and I think that's fine. I would think that it's better to do it after a dialog with the local community after building a consensus, but these issues have threatened a lot of folks. Since I want the Registry to be a community project and not reflect my personal bias, I have decided to drop this aspect of the registry in favor of the "general" talk that you suggest, and, in addition, stories and anecdotes about specific routes. Read my last post above.

Whether it catches on or not will remain to be seen. has a worldwide database of routes and a lot of resources. I'm hoping a lot of climbers who use the net will take the opportunity to sit down with the pioneers of their area and write down their experiences before it's too late. We're trying to work out the bugs so trolls don't take up residence. I'm in touch with some volunteers already. It's up to the community to develop something for the future or not. There is only grief in it for me now, but I'll feel good if folks look back and say "I'm happy that we have a "people's history of climbing" available instead of the top dog stories that the Magazines serve up.

It still could be a concern that folks will try to put up new routes that aren't necessary just so they can write about themselves in the database. Unfortunately, there is already plenty of ego pressure to be a first ascent artist.



Trad climber
Oct 17, 2011 - 12:11am PT

Would be good to see this thread awakened, but for starters we need to know if/how registry idea died at rockclimbing, whether from inertia or lack of consensus or specific decision at that site or what. Still seems like a good idea however much or little retrobolting gets attention in write ups. Just some history and reflections on how and why things were done in what ways would be ample reason to have a registry, in my view. Maybe as you have time, you can answer that question and we can go from there..



Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Oct 17, 2011 - 03:04am PT
thanks longago for bringing this subject back

i've heard many opinions and discussions about bolting; but don't recall that i've ever expressed an opinion about bolting

i've been climbing actively for over 50 years; yet don't recall that i've ever placed a bolt on a climb

however i do have opinions on the subject; so i'll express them here; even knowing many climbers will disagree with me

i respect their right to opinions and right to disagree with me; but i've lost too many friends in the mountains and know there are many ways to get in trouble in the mountains

bullying about bolts doesn't need to be one of them

i've belayed both Bob Kamps and Tom Higgins on first ascents where they placed bolts; i was very happy that they placed them; and thought the placements were very appropriate

i have done other difficult first ascents where i think it was very foolish that we didn't place bolts

it is great to do challenging climbs; and important to properly manage the risk

it's all about managing risk; in my opinion it does not make you more macho or a better human being to assume high levels of risk

it is not good for the sport or anyone else when someone assumes too much risk and is injured or killed

i think events on the Half Dome cables route this year adequately demonstrate that hardware in the rock doesn't remove the risk; although it can certainly help manage the risk

it's a lot of work to place a bolt

in my opinion the decision to place a bolt or not, shouldn't be subject to peer pressure or ethical debate

if someone feels a need to place a bolt to manage their personal risk; they won't hear a complaint from me


right here, right now
Oct 17, 2011 - 12:16pm PT
Fresh from this thread about potential retro bolting a route in the meadows some 30 years after its inception.
Really one of the best discussions we've had (it was decided the route be left alone BTW):

The responses here by Clint and Barnes are also quite good and clearly state their position on the potential risk of including information/opinions from the FAists concerning retro bolting.

Whether or not that is included, this idea is pretty good and here are my thoughts on it:
(these conclusions were also illuminated with the help of off-line discussions I've had recently with Accomazzo, Haan, and Robinson)

The least intensive and most direct way to get any sort of oral history concerning specific routes out there for future generations to see is simply to get these FA folks to post up their recollections on the mountain project route info sections, or here on the Super Topo route beta sections. Those recollections would just go in the string of comments, or ideally, the bit of functionality which would help out would be to get them inserted at the very top, perhaps with a button for the FA history.

I did a short survey, about a dozen routes, of the information on those sites specifically for climbs in Tuolumne, and found all the entries record experiences primarily or even exclusively from climbers doing these climbs in the last eight or nine years. Admittedly a small sample. There were no comments from the FA teams in the half-dozen routes I looked at. This would be very simple and would get it under the eyes of modern and future climbers where they most commonly go for route information.

Second thought I had is to simply put something like Karlís original registry proposition right here on super topo, which is after all or seems to be, the current go to site for all things trad (in the West). And it's pretty clear that the history's were talking about are primarily trad era. So itís possible Chris Mac might want to host the registry; that seems more natural than May also be that regional registries are the way to go.

The third place this more generalized history has always shown up, are the guidebooks, which are getting increasingly more sophisticated in terms of inclusion of stories from the relevant pioneers. Almost all guidebooks have had a history section; so I took a look at my old Reid and Falkenstein guide for the meadows and there was a very nice opener by Higgins, outlining a thorough historical orientation. Obviously this doesnít include specific route information, at least not in a comprehensive sense, but it definitely helps to orient one to the nature of the thinking, methods and so forth that the FA teams applied to their creations.

The fourth-place this might naturally be made available is in Grossman's historical archiving of interviews with the Golden age protagonists still around. Again, more general, but very helpful in terms of conveying to future generations what the heck we 'been thinking with all these run outs and bold behaviors! I'd really like to see Grossman's work hosted in some high profile spot, such as the AAC web site, or right here on super topo, or at YCA.

Trad climber
Oct 24, 2011 - 09:07pm PT

I certainly agree with you FA bolt placements should be done in good measure with subsequent parties in mind, never mind plain sanity for oneís own safety and that of others in the FA team, and all absent some dangerous run out game merely to boost a reputation as bolder than most, which in time will only come toseem more foolish than most.


You make good points about where we might get some FA reflections. Supertopo would be a logical place. Your quick survey suggests FA teams need some encouragement to add comments with their routes. Whether those comments go with route info on the existing Supertopo route section or into a new registry r section of Supertopo is an issue Chris Mac can address. I also agree guidebooks could have more historical introduction than we see typically nowadays. Route by route reflections would not work for an introduction, but snippets from FA parties and a solid overview by guidebook authors or someone they know as capable would be a major improvement. And one certainly hopes Grossman's project would include some FA depth beyond tales of feats and trials to choices on protection style, FA motive overall, and how competitive instincts played out in the time of the FA.

I further agree may not be the best place for a registry, but still would like to hear form Karl on what did finally happen there with the registry proposal, just to learn about the stick points for purposes of evaluating registry options in the future.

Tom Higgins
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 24, 2011 - 11:49pm PT
how wonderful that would be, a repository of our intent, I still prefer contacting the first ascent party when possible...
When I was working with Eric on Runaway Emotion on Reed's our route merged for a part of a pitch with the Cashner/Bachar route Fasten Your Seat Belts a wild 5.10b R/X climb that moves from a ledge system high on the east side of Reed's. The first pitch of that climb starts from a bolted belay, on the top of the western most portion of the ledge, and leads off on a ramp to the left out over a long drop... exhilarating! There isn't any pro for quite a long way, and a fall is really not an option.

Here Eric leads out on one of our forays...
Runaway Emotion ends up traversing left onto the face at the roof on the skyline, Fasten Your Seat Belts goes east under the roof and up the major dike system that transverses all of Reed's.

Here Eric is "getting a piece in", I think he hooked a diorite knob..

I asked John and Rick if they would mind putting a bolt in on this stretch of 5.9 and they both said "no," so we didn't. It's a heady lead, and a heady follow, and if you blow it your hanging in space (with luck) over a roof, and without luck you've crashed into the corner below.

We respected the FA team's wish, but it took some time to get John to remember as it was Rick's idea...

I'm not advocating that anyone go up and do any of those routes, they are not the sort of route you go on if you need more security than confidence in your abilities. We'd have banged a bolt in if the FA had said "yes" because it would open both climbs up to a broader audience, but that was not the intent of the FA... and as we were "borrowing" a bit of a pitch on their climb, we felt they had a say in what we'd do up there.

Fasten Your Seat Belts probably has not seen many repeats, and I don't think Runaway Emotion has seen a repeat by other than components of the FA team... great routes, but you have to be ready.

Where this history gets recorded I have no idea. STForum isn't even 10 years old, and Karl was throwing a few centuries around... that would be impressive... but I suspect that no matter the history, or the desire of the FA, these routes will change, will be changed, by the generations of climbers yet to come.

As Tom Frost put it at the 50th Anniversary of the FA of Salathť Wall: "we climbed it in the style that we did because of you" and he gestured out to the crowd. They not only set an example, but also taught us about style and its importance.

More important than a dusty record of intent, our active engagement with the climbing community, and with young climbers, and our own explicit comments on style, are the key to "preserving" those important aspects of climbing in Yosemite Valley. The room on Saturday night was packed, trad daddys to the hardest core modern climbers... it was heartening.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 26, 2011 - 11:54am PT
I further agree may not be the best place for a registry, but still would like to hear form Karl on what did finally happen there with the registry proposal, just to learn about the stick points for purposes of evaluating registry options in the future.

Tom Higgins

It just sorta faded at While I was told it would be implemented in an upgrade to the site, it didn't seem to happen. It would probably be "doable" if the users of the site just decided to place comments attached to the relevant routes, I'm not keen to be a cheerleader for any of it. Still, for the global nature of the database they cover, could be a good place for a registry covering everywhere.

But everywhere can take care of itself in it's own time. Our local areas can set the stage if we care to kick start this (but it's not like even this thread tends to get legs)

So, informally, perhaps first ascenders can start by pasting their own comments in the beta section of routes covered by supertopo and people with energy can search up this information when somebody eventually wishes to adopt this project, a natural extension, perhaps, of the museum project or similar history minded thang



Oct 26, 2011 - 12:40pm PT
Best thread revival of the year.

Trad climber
Oct 26, 2011 - 08:25pm PT

Thanks. Now I see why was in your thinking way back for the registry. Sorry the registry idea "faded." But I like the following idea of yours and see no reason it could not go, especially if supertopo managers (?!) encourage it as part of some sort of lead in to beta section of supertopo:

"So, informally, perhaps first ascenders can start by pasting their own comments in the beta section of routes covered by supertopo and people with energy can search up this information when somebody eventually wishes to adopt this project, a natural extension, perhaps, of the museum project or similar history minded thang.."

Showing my ignorance: how do we request supertopo do a little lead in encouragement for route reflections as part of the beta section? Maybe just forward this thread link to whomever and request it? Karl, I gather you donít want to fiddle with the registry notion forever, but would you mind making the contact and request since you birthed the whole registry notion way back when?

longer and longer ago

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