What Is Trad ?????????


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Sport climber
Apr 18, 2013 - 09:33am PT

Memories or not?
Standing on the shoulders of giants who are standing on the shoulders of giants who are....
What's the value of a god laughing?
Dingus McGee

Social climber
Apr 18, 2013 - 10:22am PT
Hey Tarbuster,

I am on this post for one more entry. I see far too many testimonies overlooking what goes on with TRAD or gear crack climbing compared to face climbing and sport climbing when considering environmental damage .

The environmental damage wrought by crack climbing far exceeds that done by face climbing. Most of the time an ecomix or community of plants grow in the cracks. Even if the crack route is put up TRAD and the route sees any traffic the plant community soon or later disappears. A fine example of such a TRAD route is Assembly Line at Devils Tower. The very popular handcrack had abundant vegetation when I did the FFA,ground up, TRAD style. Today there is no trace of vegetation on/IN it. Later, we put up the route New Wave just below A Line and it shows far less alteration even thought its the second most popular climb on the Tower. It is a face and corner route with some bolts.

Again, environmental alteration, the amount of rock removal in crack climbing far exceeds that removed from drilling for face bolts on sport climbs.

Need I say much more? A lot of Trad Heads must be clueless when they make the fallacious comparison that Trad is less degrading to the environment than sport.

Tradsters, GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF THE SAND or admit trad hurts the environment more than SPORT. Yes, I answering the question, What is TRAD

right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 18, 2013 - 10:39am PT
Yes Dingus, that's why I put environmental in quotations on the last page at the top of my talk on nutcraft. There was as the others said, a leave no trace component to the clean climbing revolution; about this there can be no doubt, at least as it concerns intentionality.

I was very careful not to critically juxtapose trad and sport in this regard. All climbers impact the environment in direct proportion to its local fragility, as well on a global level in terms of carbon output with all of our driving and dependence upon fossil fuels for our ropes among other things.

So this is why I couched my piece in terms of the more immediate and relative impact on augmentation of the environment purely as it applies to altering the protection opportunities; and this obviously addresses bolting. Again this merely highlights a preference to engage a relatively unaltered environment in pursuit of the effects which that experience renders: definitively NOT a saber rattling, more exalted than thou perspective.

I once read an opinion and perspective on how climbers denude swaths of lichen alongside their line, whether it be crack or face. The writer compared these visible effects to vertical trails. I thought that was good critical thinking.

Thanks Dingus and enjoy yourselves Everyone!
I'm off to Moab for the weekend, not to tie in per se, but where I'll be required to choke down endless sushi in the company of like-minded vertical trail building enthusiasts!!!

Sweet Dreams,

Yes DMT, one of our favorite passages.
"It is much quoted[1] and has been described as "perhaps the most moving death soliloquy [sic] in cinematic history".[2]""
Dingus McGee

Social climber
Apr 18, 2013 - 12:01pm PT

It is the tradsters who have and express the Holly er than Thou Attitude when they make and talk comments about how they prefer No Trace Climbing While in some way comparing how elegant and cute they are without using bolts. You know the less is more Bullsh#t. Ed is one to bathe in such malarkey and dreaming as Higgins warns not to do to ameliorate the tension.

Simple as this: gear takes a clean crack hence removal of that rockvolume/plantvolume/soil and much more happens when such a crack becomes popular. The protection for bolted face climbs removes the bolt volume of the rock drilled out.
Todd Eastman

Bellingham, WA
Apr 18, 2013 - 12:05pm PT
Dingus, try telling the land managers you want to leave a swath of destruction...
Dingus McGee

Social climber
Apr 18, 2013 - 01:28pm PT
Mr Todd,

if it were a show off with land managers about which type of climbing (crack or face) results in more altercation to the climbed area, the before and after photos of the crack would be conclusive evidence to establish that that form of climbing results in far more change when compared to how difficult it is to notice the bolt/hangers on a nearby unscared face, hence sport Climbing would win.
Todd Eastman

Bellingham, WA
Apr 18, 2013 - 03:06pm PT
Trad climbing is not only crack climbing...

... but, yes Dingus, the clearing of rock for either sport of whatever other types of climbing there might be should be kept to a minimum.

Minimum impact intentions become less relevant when the user numbers increase, but that doesn't mean that aspiring to leave as little trace of our activities at crags is not a reasonable ideal.

Dingus McGee

Social climber
Apr 18, 2013 - 08:56pm PT
Hey Ed,

it seems each time I call you out for poor reasoning/comparisons you ask me the likes of if I am in a bad mood and then avert answering the main topic. Well, no estrogen, serotonin or dopamine problems then or now. I present counterpoints to this thread and especially when I see gross misconceptions.

The last one was with elegance and the idea that less is more, leave no trace etc. It goes without saying that if I make the argument for sport climbing I am presenting a holier than thou attitude against Trad Climbing.

But here is what may be an elegance argument for sport climbing: The 100 feet pitch took only ten bolts and climbers needed to carry only 10 draws. The bolts are expected to last a thousand years. The rock removed for the 10 bolts was less than the volume of those 10 bolts. The drill dust was swept away by the winds.

Now comparing this to trad climbing each new leader of the adjacent crack would have to likely carry 20 cams and nuts and soon the crack would be devoid of vegetation for with crack climbing the feet steep everywhere along the crack and face while face feet find the face foot holds. Many rocks were then removed from the crack so the next (another) climbers set of cams could be fitted to where he wanted them. And yes soon the crack was clearly clean and many smashed rock bits lay along the trail.

Apr 18, 2013 - 09:34pm PT
Good that Ed replied. Now I can stop sitting on my hands.

There are just too many climbers for the old idea of leave no trace, at most road accessible crags. Doesn't matter if it is Smith Rock or the Gunks. It's the people, not the bolts, not the cams or hands in cracks. I like going to Smith or Indian Creek but that is mainly because gym climbing has accustomed me to being around large groups of climbers.

Today we have to work at keeping impact low, or hike.
Mark Force

Trad climber
Cave Creek, AZ
Apr 18, 2013 - 10:48pm PT
We can minimize our impact by staying home. Our carbon footprint driving there and our footprints walking there have the biggest effect on our environment. Now having gotten that out of the way....

Cleaning cracks isn't essential practice to all areas or even all climbs in areas that are prone to the practice. Changing the vegetation in cracks is, IMHO, a lesser impact than changing the rock and trundling grossly loose blocks is a lesser impact than drilling a hole and leaving a permanent installation in the solid stuff.

Doesn't mean I haven't drilled in the past or won't in the future. You can be sure, though, that, when I do drill, it will be by hand. That way, I'll have to think about what a pain in the ass it will be to drill that hole and I will have to suffer through the experience and pay my penance directly. I don't want the experience to be sanitized.

Ed, thanks for your thoughtful posts and I respect your style.

Red Rocks, bolted before climbable.
Red Rocks, bolted before climbable.
Credit: Chris Craggs

Mr. Natural, The Valley. Cleaned of vegetation before climbable.
Mr. Natural, The Valley. Cleaned of vegetation before climbable.
The Warbler

the edge of America
Apr 18, 2013 - 11:06pm PT
But here is what may be an elegance argument for sport climbing: The 100 feet pitch took only ten bolts and climbers needed to carry only 10 draws. The bolts are expected to last a thousand years. The rock removed for the 10 bolts was less than the volume of those 10 bolts. The drill dust was swept away by the winds.

Not often articulated, but a conclusion I've arrived at myself also, Dingus. Sport climbing is super clean and simple to a point where it is purer than gear climbing or trad on a certain level. Not that I don't appreciate the skills and challenge involved in protecting with gear or the cleanliness and simplicity of following bolt free crack systems.

Being aware of your impact on the environment is respectable, but deliberating which approach is more environmentally destructive - a non issue, IMHO.

Hobart, Australia
Apr 18, 2013 - 11:30pm PT
Hi Ed-- good to hear "Fireside Chat" might have gotten a second ascent. Walt and I hiked up with the tiniest of tiny racks, rope, t-shirts, found a line and climbed it. I recall the day as very mellow, blue sky, peaceful and quiet, everything seemed timeless back in the day when time wasn't a factor in day-to-day life. Cruiser route--5.9 if I recall?

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Apr 18, 2013 - 11:33pm PT
It is beautiful up there... a real antidote to the hectic scene in the Valley... and a lot of great rock to climb. So much like that it's a wonder that people complain about crowding. These should show up in the next guide edition too, though I'm not sure it will increase the traffic very much.


Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Apr 19, 2013 - 05:08am PT
Too funny Ed (a few up)!
patrick compton

Trad climber
Apr 19, 2013 - 05:23am PT

Nice job showing the impact of chalk on two different kinds of rock. You think the 2' chalk highways in Indian Creek splitters 'leaves no trace'? Oh, and there are shiney bolts and hangers at the top of each route, whether one can walk off or not.

Trad climber
the tip of god's middle finger
Apr 19, 2013 - 05:30am PT
out-of-text-ed cracks me up..
one can climb with a minimal touch...
...as far as faces are concerned, they too harbor life

so ed, myster physisist, how doth one climb with minimal touch?
like levitation on the order of zen mastery? like floating upon the
ether vibes of harding's farts?

come on ed, you surely better understand the universal physical laws better than we.

now, regarding the faces comment:
my face is an exo-ecosystem?
life spawns upon my cheeks and chin?
hmm. i don't wash very often, so im sure the bacteria fraternitys
are keg-standing in my ugly scruff;
and then there's the emoticons etched upon my expressions.
these facial aspects are spirtual entities,
lawfully dead in the physical realm,
though vibrantly alive within god's dreams.

thanks ed.
your hybrid analysis of uncommon understanding is always commonly confusing.
which is very welcome, in my mind.
goatboy smellz

Apr 19, 2013 - 05:34am PT
Trad is a surfer now, she doesn't care what you guys think of her.

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Apr 19, 2013 - 05:53am PT
Actually, Weeg in Master of Rock our own Patrick Oliver & Jogill do 'touch on' that levitation* thing

* not to be confused with Leavitation...
Dingus McGee

Social climber
Apr 19, 2013 - 06:08am PT

good post, yes I suspect you and I can perform such analysis from hours of experience while defying the rules of trad.


...based on a review of the literature...

like many of your posts this one entails endless babbling from you. You are all around the topic but seldom on top of it. You search the web like a madman? and produce little that shows you understand the central gravity of the issues.

For 19 years I was married to and often worked in the field with Hollis Marriott. She was the rare plant botanist for the WY Nature Conservancy. I have had three plant searching contracts myself and I am still ask to review her reports and articles.

Now brother here is what you fail to see or mention, the effect of gradients. Yes, you and all that literature fail to have set up the question of how long would be the recovery time for plants to again grow in the cracks. Comparatively trails recover in a short time but once the soil and anchoring base is gone from a crack, the plant life will be gone for centuries.
Dingus McGee

Social climber
Apr 19, 2013 - 06:18am PT
Dingus McGee? what would the land managers think of such a thing? speaking hypothetically...

this is WY not CA. For WY (raw) BLM land which is far from designated wilderness or land having much agency concern, but may feel more like it than being in a real CA wilderness, the rules and concerns are quite different than your state. One can find temporary structures here and there on lands of WY, several old sheep herders wagons are near where we park. Are they the Faraday cages of some old experiments?
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