What ever happened to "ground up"?


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Trad climber
Butte, America
Nov 29, 2006 - 06:47pm PT
My meaningless opinion is up in the wind, but I do know this--my rap-bolted FAs here in Montana are unemotional to me, and I am far more excited when somebody repeats them; however, my GU trad FAs are memorable and accomplishments which I am inwardly proud of. Typical response to a query over TD FAs, "Pretty anticlimatic, man, I had it wired when I red-pointed it." Typical response on a GU FA, "It was hairy, but fun and I actually pulled it off--great climb, etc..." Y'all be the judge and put yourself in the FA's shoes--justification for an action never exceeds the criticsm it brought about.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Nov 29, 2006 - 07:21pm PT
Kinda ironic.

The older generation preserved the boldness of the faces but created heavy damage on the walls and cracks using pins because they didn't have better gear, didn't have better vision, and couldn't wait. Later they suggest others wait until they have the skills to climb the bold stuff or leave it alone forever.

The old school also polluted the whole world, wasted resources at a wildly unsustainable rate and racked up huge debt as a nation.

The kids will have different set of challenges. Climb walls cleaner or trench heads for miles? Burn up the coal and screw up their own kid's world as the oil runs short or live leaner and more sustainably? Retrobolt something, everything or nothing?

Time will tell. The bar is high in some places and low in other. On the financial/resource/environmental level, We've left em with quite a lead out to begin with.

Not trying to make a particular point, Just some food for thought



Social climber
kennewick, wa
Nov 29, 2006 - 08:17pm PT
Damn! Wes, that was your best post this whole thread!

Although I certainly hate the idea of retro-bolting, having a committee decide about new and existing routes, etc...I realize we have come to that in some places.

mojede, My meaningless opinion is up in the wind, but I do know this--my rap-bolted FAs here in Montana are unemotional to me, and I am far more excited when somebody repeats them; however, my GU trad FAs are memorable and accomplishments which I am inwardly proud of. Typical response to a query over TD FAs, "Pretty anticlimatic, man, I had it wired when I red-pointed it." Typical response on a GU FA, "It was hairy, but fun and I actually pulled it off--great climb, etc..." Y'all be the judge and put yourself in the FA's shoes--justification for an action never exceeds the criticsm it brought about.

I thought this was worth repeating and I totally agree.

Climbing does represent many different extremes and it is totally necessary that the extremes of boldness be preserved. Maybe that does not mean all routes should stay that way but so far, nobody has come out and said they wanted route X at crag Y retro bolted.

Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 29, 2006 - 09:58pm PT
"We are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness on sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size."
John of Salisbury, 12th century

As AF noted, Sir Isaac Newton in the 17th century: "If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants." (I visited his birthplace a few weeks ago. OT trivia.)

"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"
Robert Browning, 19th century

Wes: Whose shoulders are you standing on, and what are your dreams?

It's risky to disagree with the philosophers and poets. And if we forget where we came from, it'll be harder to work out where we're going.

Freud, who had views on the need of sons to "murder" their fathers, may have had some interesting thoughts on this thread. As we're a rather heterogenous bunch, it'd be risky to say more.

My preference is GU routes, but I've climbed if not created most kinds. I don't think anyone, even those who create a respected FA, "owns" the rock or mountains. We share them. With each other, and with the public and the natural environment. We feel at home in them, but they're not "our" territory. A lot of climbing behaviour is explained by adolescent male sociology, especially to do with territory, control, peer groups, and challenge.

Those who create a FA, especially one of substance, should be accorded respect - a new route is often a work of art, even poetry. (I refuse to use "develop" when it comes to creating new routes - it demeans the experience. Although sometimes I wonder.) It also means I don't have any more - or less - right to behave as I want on the rock than anyone else. Living or yet to be born. We often in our selfishness forget the long perspective.

I think jstan hit the nail on the head. These are all old issues, thrashed to death, but we're in a time of change. We need to talk about and work out these things. Even though it's sometimes like the death of 1,000 cuts.


1. Climbers form a community. One full of strong-willed individuals. Being in a community means responsibility - especially to each other. Tolerance, open communication, honesty, and all that kindergarten stuff. It also means working together, something we could do better. Ken Yager and his ilk deserve many gold stars for their work on herding cats.

2. Climbing is inclusive, not exclusive. We're not special, or entitled to special treatment, just because we're climbers, or climb. The diversity of ST illustrates this - we even tolerate honorary climbers, e.g. LEB. Sort of, anyway.

3. Whenever we can, we have to work out our issues, real or perceived, ourselves. Else we're inviting others to do so for us. And perceptions count as much as reality - this is politics.

4. We're not on an unlimited frontier any more. There are boundaries, and they're mostly not going away. (The British and Norwegians largely refuse to countenance bolting, let alone rap-bolting, as they're acutely aware that they have a limited resource. Climbers in other parts of Europe often haven't been so forward thinking.)

5. Climbing always involves risk. It may be modest, as is often the case with bouldering and bolt-protected ("sport") climbing. But there's risk, and it's real. As is well illustrated by the number hurt in gyms, or bouldering. (The American Safe Climbing Association, for all its great efforts, should be charged with oxymoronism. Safer, maybe. Safe, never.)

6. Climbing also always involves challenge, usually physical, mental and moral. And it almost always requires real effort, and inconvenience. The greater the effort, often the greater the reward.

7. We may be in the last golden age of climbing. That is, pending environmental, economic, and other challenges may mean that the opportunities we have may not recur. For example, the days of easily undertaken road trips or foreign climbs may quickly end - if gas were US$5 gallon, unemployment 12%, and there was increased foreign tension and internal social problems. Environmental impacts, real, perceived, and imagined, may lead to much greater limitations on what we do and how we do it. Not out of the question. The next generations may not need to worry about climbing's next challenges - if they're too busy surviving, and can't afford to get to them.

8. Climbing ground up was in part due to the evolution of our odd avocation (climbing isn't a "sport" - that demeans it), in part due to limitations of equipment, and in part due to conscious choices. It isn't necessarily "right" or "wrong", but is how most climbers climbed in the 1950s - 1980s, and even now is often the style used for new routes. It happens to be a style which ensures that there is a challenge, and maximizes it. Desirable goals, in my view.

9. Stylistic differences are important, but not always substantive. As long as climbers minimize their impacts on the human and natural environments, respect the culture (traditions, history...) of the area they're climbing in, and are utterly honest with themselves and others about what and how they've climbed, it often doesn't matter. Bolts often have little impact in and of themselves - but the message they can convey to land managers is of a dispute (needing to be externally decided), environmental impacts (cleaning, increased use), and public attitudes (noisy thoughtless idiots). If you're perceived as a problem, that's probably how you'll be addressed.

Apologies for long-windedness. There does seem to be something besides smoke and heat on this thread.


Trad climber
Nov 29, 2006 - 10:00pm PT
Some time back, Supertopo posters discussed retrobolting of Hair Raiser Buttress (East Side of Sierra) and hit upon some of the same issues on this thread. Search for "retrobolting" or "Hair Raiser" if interested. Here are some possibly relevant bits from a past post of mine on HB:

1. On the issue of scant protection on some old routes and resulting frustration and/or retreat:

"Posters should know they are not alone in their disappointment at turning back from nice walls like HB because the protection/mix is problematic. I certainly have passed on great looking climbs due to a protection/difficulty balance beyond me. See my previous posts about turning back from certain climbs, for example a long sought prize - Super Pin in SD. Closer to home, I was disappointed at turning back from the Bachar Yerian and You Asked For It (sidebar: attempting them with a solo self belay system was stupid). The point is, depending on our abilities and the protection, all of us face climbs too difficult or dangerous for the day. I never thought to ask Bachar to add bolts to insure my safety. Being humbled is part of the game, especially early on when pushing and hungry. Overall, I believe the best response is to alter our own behavior (get sane or better) not the climbs."

2. On why some older routes have minimal bolt protection:

"Some posts also express quandary at why I kept the number of bolts to a minimum on HB, or certain other first ascents. My motive was not to create death defying or "manly" routes (a poster asks, 'You want a bold route that other climbers will aspire to do in the same manly style you did?' See Tricksters and Traditionalists post, Dec. 1). Under clean climbing standards and ground up rules I grew up with (see previous T&T post about strong role of my mentor), bolts were the last resort. Minimizing their number was not to create mind games for others but leave the rock marked with as few bolts as possible. I realize my attitude may seem quaint in the era of sport routes, but we are products of our times and mentors, and that was the attitude instilled in me."

3. On why not retrobolt without asking the first ascent party:

"Should bolts be added to routes created under the minimalist bolting ethic so more climbers can enjoy them? After all, couldn't bolts be added, guidebooks still note the original style of the ascent and give credit accordingly, as a poster suggests? Of course there is pleasure being named in a guidebook or history. But to think getting into publications is such a central prize in climbing underestimates the complexity of the game. Preserving original protection is not to insure climbers get scared or first ascent parties get into history as bold. Preservation insures climbers preferring to do the climb in its original style get to do so. Some climbers prefer more risk and complication than many sport routes provide. They deserve their opportunities just as much as sportsters deserve theirs.

But the picture is bigger than preferred risk profiles. Not altering routes insures they remain tributes to the time and mentality around their creation. An important joy of the climbing game comes not just from doing climbs, but viewing, pondering, absorbing (as per this very web site) the full well of experiences, the moving stage of heroes, fools and follies, high and low tales, grand and vain acts. In the drama, the features of routes and associated protection are the underlying choreography, the hand and foot sequences set in stone and passing on through time. Once protection is changed, the original choreography of moves, runs, hardware (and sling) frustrations, resulting pumps and rests, the curses and hoots - the entire emotional passage - is altered. And lost is an assessment of how nuts or noble were the makers, our second guessing of all they felt. In short, there is no tribute to the past, no way to tap the well. It is for all these reasons, barring unusual circumstances, routes should be left to stand as they were first done."

For those interested in other ramblings on climbing style issues, past and present, there is a style discussion section at my (non-commercial) web site: www.tomhiggins.net

Tom Higgins


Trad climber
Portland, OR
Nov 29, 2006 - 10:12pm PT
Nothing more to be said


Trad climber
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Nov 29, 2006 - 10:44pm PT
A response to Fracture...
What is a better climber? The guy that hang dogs a route using the rope as aid to learn a route? Or the guy that flashes and free climbs the route?

As Bob Kamps once said, leave hang dogging at the gym and do it right.

Trad climber
Grand Junction, CO
Nov 29, 2006 - 11:17pm PT
Since I do a lot of climbing solo, I usually establish the free climbs aid first and clean it as I go up and place anchor stations as I go. Do I get to be in the cool ground up clan? Or must I first balance on one toe on a friable flake while rubbing my crotch on a small nubbin for balance as I daintily slam on a drill?


Trad climber
Grand Junction, CO
Nov 30, 2006 - 12:02am PT
shoot, ill work on that.

Social climber
kennewick, wa
Nov 30, 2006 - 12:08am PT
Well Cuck, it does sound like a certain uh, satisfaction may be gained from that.

Trad climber
Grand Junction, CO
Nov 30, 2006 - 12:09am PT
I hear its only in circular clockwise directions. You counter the actions and things get..ah rubbed the wrong way
Russ Walling

Social climber
Out on the sand, Man.....
Nov 30, 2006 - 12:34am PT

From: Russ Walling
Date: Sat, Oct 3 1998 12:00 am

Gary Clark, naclassics...@usa.net writes:
>In Rock & Ice #87, we have Jim Bridwell' s essay "Where Are We Going?"
>containing this well-worn bit of climbing philosophy: "Climbers of lesser
>skill or lesser commitment had begun adding bolts to existing routes,
>destroying the dignity of other people's achievements and bringing them
>down to their level."
>Then in the photo-essay "2 Days in the Valley", we
>come upon this caption to Galen Rowell's photo of Ron Kauk climbing Cookie
>Monster: "Traditionalists may have screamed when the bolts when in, but the
>climb's popularity leaped exponentially and dozens of climbers each month
>now enjoy its technical liebacking and sudden exposure."

>Is the style of the first ascent somehow sacrosanct, or can
>ensuing generations "improve" on it?

Yes it is and I'll tell you why. In this sanitised world of diminished
returns and quick gains, some things should just not be within an arms reach or a minds grasp. Some things are just not for everyone. Call it what you want, but every climb is not for every person.

>First, I fail to see the logic of considering a particular piece of a crag
>or mountain to be evermore the exclusive property of whomever may have
>first shown up to climb it.

For the same reason that we do not add a moustache to the Mona Lisa.
For the same reason we don't rename Everest every time it gets climbed....someone put the time and effort into making a route, be it for whatever reason, and much like a conquistador has claimed this rock and put protection in as he saw fit. History dictates this as an acceptable style and method.

>Often the style employed by first ascensionist is aimed at simply getting up the route * they may have little
>time or intention of creating a route for those who will follow
>(sport routes are the exception, hence their popularity).

Flat out wrong. This is not the case where I climb, though it may be
where you climb. The modern first ascentionist actually puts in a lot of time and money to make the routes not only good, but equipped with sound bolts and other points of protection for those who will follow. Not only on Sport routes, but "sporty" routes as well.

>Second, it is obvious that the quality of protection is but one element that determines
>the risk involved in getting up a route. If we are to be so intent on retaining the same risk of injury or death
>for a leader fall as that experienced by the first ascensionists, why is it then permissible to improve on all the
>other risk factors? Shouldn't we all be doing The Nose
>in Vibram soles, using prussik knots and goldline ropes? Anything less is
>an afront to Warren Harding et al! They suffered with terrible gear and
>technique, so should all that follow!

You are correct. Technical advances have taken the teeth out of many
things, making the adding of bolts seem even more puss. New advances in gear are an accepted part of the sport. Adding or changing routes is yet to be an accepted standard.

Why, then, is it such a sin to
>improve such a basic element of a climb as the quality of the protection or

I can agree with the anchors portion of the argument, though some will
differ claiming that sh#t anchors add to the challenge. If sh#t anchors are indeed part of challenge of a given route, then I guess these too should be left alone. Same argument as adding protection bolts. Adding bolts to an existing route changes the route. Say you decide you need three extra bolts to make the route fun for you...someone else decides six makes if good for him...then ten...then? Where does it end? It should end where the guy who put the effort forth
to do the FA decides.

>I would suggest for two reasons:
> First, the first ascensionists want to make sure those who follow are
>sufficiently impressed with how bold they were,

In some cases this is true, and even so this effort should not be
watered down by some ball-less coward. This is what was attempted in the Needles of California. A disgruntled would be FA guy started to add bolts to numerous runout routes, thus making the climbs safe for "him". Wrong answer. He should have either whipped his sad ass into shape and then go and do the routes as designed by the FA party or just sucked it up enough to admit to himself that he just did not have what it takes to do some of those routes. Another point is that what seems to be a dangerous runout to someone doing a later
ascent was truly dangerous for the FA guy standing there trying to drill the bolt you now so easily clip. In his judgement or because of the nature of the area climbed, it is possible he could not stop to drill the bolt until a substantial runout was formed. So, now some guy comes along and says "gee, he's just running it out to be bold...lets add bolts". Wrongo. How about just doing the route, and saying "gee, what a good route. Nice effort for the FA guy on this one..."

>I suggest it is a notion whose time has come and passed. If a well
established and
>popular one route can be substantially improved by the careful and
>strategic placement of new protection, not only will the experience be
>enhanced for hundreds to follow, but perhaps some serious injuries or
>deaths will be prevented.

The question being why must hundreds follow? Why must injury or death
be prevented? Some climbers prefer to get outside the sanitised bubble of "gym"
climbing outdoors and test themselves and their mettle against not only the rock but other men. Example: The Bachar/Yerian in Tuolumne. If you go up to do this route you are not only testing yourself against the rock, but also against Bachar; or Gullich who whistled for 60ft out of the thing, or Menestral, another hard puller who took the ride. At least some of these guys are probably one of your "heros" or should be. Which would you sooner have: a level playing field where you can match your skills with a truly great climber, or some clip and go bush walk where all you do is pull and never think about the consequences? I'll take the first one, thank you.

>All this at the cost of a bruise to the ego of the hard men who believe that the route should remain a perpetual
>monument to their courage and boldness. Let it be recorded in the guidebooks that the route was done in
>bathroom slippers with railroad spikes for protection
>so that all can be properly impressed, then let's get on with making it
>something worth climbing!

It is not the ego of the hardmen that are bruised, but rather the soft
flesh and accomplishment of the climber who cheapens the event. To those with the requisite skill and nerve, these projects are the only things worth climbing, not some flaccid clip up with no sense of history.

>For those who bemoan the loss of adventure, I make two suggestions. First, there are vast ranges of unclimbed
>objectives out there where you can find a climb as challenging as you wish.

Won't happen, bad suggestion. The loss of adventure was not there for
the FA party. They got full value, before you even showed up, and at the time the route probably was an unclimbed objective. The flip side of this argument is why don't all the safe and sane wusses go and find something they can bolt the sh#t out of and then play happy all over, their own ball-less masterpiece, a climb just a safe as you wish.

>Second, if you want to do a route in the style of the first ascent,
there's often
>nothing stopping you * grab a rack of Hexes, put on some hiking boots, and
>make sure you don't clip any offending bolts or fixed gear as you go up.

Discussed above, and yes, some guys still do this. More power to them.

>None of this is intended to indicate I favor immediately leaping on
>someone's new route and grid bolting it because you can't climb it. But a
>route that has stood the test of time, but for which an improvement here or
>there could change it from a dangerous undertaking to a real classic, or to
>eliminate an aid section in favor of free climbing, is a route that will
>eventually be improved. This is already happening, and the trend will
>accelerate, to the benefit of the vast majority of the climbing community.

This is such sh#t. Just leave it alone and go to the gym. Routes that
stay the test of time are something to aspire to, not something to defile. Your
improvement may be fine for you, but will surely not be enough for someone else.
Just leave it alone. Everything does not need to be safe. Everyone does not have to climb everything. Face up to the fact that there are some routes you will never be able to do. You can cloak your own limitations in the old "good for the masses" battle cry of the retrobolter, but the real motivation in doing this is not for the masses. It is all about bringing something down to your level because you cannot rise up to meet the challenge head on.

>The first ascensionists should treat it as a complement that the route was
>worth repeating. That's my view of "Where we are going."

Retrobolting is no compliment. It is a slap in your own face, and hopefully not where we are going.
My .08
The Warbler

the edge of America
Nov 30, 2006 - 12:49am PT
The serious side of Russ! Whoa!! The truth comes out in a big way!

Vent on brother! Play on drummer!

Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Nov 30, 2006 - 01:03am PT
Russ quoted

"Then in the photo-essay "2 Days in the Valley", we
>come upon this caption to Galen Rowell's photo of Ron Kauk climbing Cookie
>Monster: "Traditionalists may have screamed when the bolts when in, but the
>climb's popularity leaped exponentially and dozens of climbers each month
>now enjoy its technical liebacking and sudden exposure."

Sometimes the devil is in the details. Folks cite Cookie Monster as a retrobolt but in fact it was preprotected by somebody else aiding it first and leaving the gear in, including a few fixed pins, which, you guessed it, damage the climb. Smith almost ate it being lowered off the pins on an early burn when they started to come out while he was on the rope. The proud "used to be a trad" climb rep was a fantasy.

Show me any legendary hardman and I'll show you somebody who probably added a bolt to a climb via the devil's details department.

Example. I think Vern added a bolt to Sunshine on Daff in TM on the second ascent. Why? There was a one 1/4 inch bolt belay. Why? Not because the FA was bold, but because they either ran out of bolts or their bit broke, cant' remember which.

Doesn't mean the basic "don't retrobolt" principles don't apply but again "abstinence only" is something we tell the kids but act differently ourselves.


Greg Barnes

Nov 30, 2006 - 03:16am PT
Russ nails it perfectly: "Face up to the fact that there are some routes you will never be able to do."

Every climber knows there are routes that are above our abilities. The problem with this whole argument is that many are so focused on numbers. Most of us here can't even consider 5.14 as a realistic goal. But that number is just that - a number. A number that tries to reduce the rock to a strange subjective system. And a number that says nothing about pro and psychological difficulty.

Wes focuses on this "5.13 climber putting up runout 5.11" when a much more appropriate description would be "really strong climber launching into the unknown on unheard of runout climbing on way-too-steep-to-stance-drill super-steep knobs with NO KNOWN good hook placements and lots of knobs that might break especially if hooked."

Too much focusing on numbers instead of the challenges of the rock. That leads to this idea that if you can get up some number climb somewhere you are entitled to do it anywhere you choose. Forget the numbers and challenge yourself with the climbing - considering all the factors of the climb.

Or, to put it bluntly, if you don't like runout climbs, climb protectable ones or put up your own new routes however you like. I'm not "entitled" to make it up a 5.14 if I'm not physically strong enough - and I'm also not "entitled" to make it up a Higgins 5.9 in Tuolumne if I'm not psychologically strong enough.

Nov 30, 2006 - 03:39am PT
Thx Russ!

I always liked Doug Robinson's piece, "The Whole Natural Art of Protection." Here's the applicable stuff:

"Where protection is not assured by a usable crack long unprotected runouts sometimes result, and the leader of commitment must be prepared to accept the risks and alternatives which are only too well defined. Personal qualities - judgment, concentration, boldness - the ordeal by fire, take precedence, as they should, over mere hardware.

..."But every climb is not for every climber; the ultimate climbs are not democratic. The fortunate climbs protect themselves by being unprotectable and remain a challenge that can be solved only by boldness and commitment backed solidly by technique. Climbs that are forced clean by the application of boldness should be similarly respected, 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.

..."And having the humility to back off rather than continue in bad style - - a thing well begun is not lost. The experience cannot be taken away. By such a system there can never again be "last great problems" but only "next great problems."

Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Nov 30, 2006 - 04:51am PT
Thanks for posting about clean climbing.

Wall climbing seems to be where boldness and perservation are at odds. Folks like to clean fixed pin and head to preserve the difficulty but in doing so sometimes create a situation where further damage to the rock is required.

Where you think we should draw the line between hammering the rock more and leaving some things fixed until some better solution presents itself?



Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Nov 30, 2006 - 05:08am PT
Weschrist, again, have you ever done an FA? If so, were they rap bolted sport climbs or ground up trad climbs? If you haven't put up any FA's than you're really more like a painter who doesn't paint but instead criticizes with a brush and who is sure they know just what a 'difficult' painting needs to make it more "accessible" to the general public.

And analogies to the arts can be a fairly useful tool in this discussion. Van Gogh was a gifted painter, but let's face it, he had no shortage of personal problems many of which bled through onto a few of his canvases. We recognize that today, but you don't see anyone rushing to 'repair' them so we can all have a better appreciation of some of his lesser works. And Hemingway was talented beyond question, but decades of literary criticism have built consensus around the weakness of a passage here and a passage there - no doubt each easily subject to simple fixes for all our benefit.

I suspect we can agree those are unpalatable prospects for obvious reasons, and so I suspect analogies to music would be more to your liking. Mozart - clearly a genius - has been interpreted and reinterpreted for centuries for the enjoyment of all without any harm to his legacy. True enough I'll grant you, but then again, hearing Mozart play or listening to the performances of his work in his time is sadly lost to us; all we have is approximate interpretations. But what B-Y or a Kohl A4+ solo line has in common with say, Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491, is that listening to Mozart's concerto is like watching Bachar, Kohl or another of their ilk climb one of their routes. Playing the concerto, however, is like climbing one of those routes. Dumbing either down so they can be played or climbed by lesser mortals unavoidably destroys the very essence of each. Not everyone is capable of producing or performing these difficult classics and that is in large measure exactly what makes them classics.

But of course you claim you aren't talking about classics and I agree. Rather I'm saying you are using the pretext of 'repairing' a few FA F#ckups to provide cover for a broad retrobolting of runout climbs that aren't protected by the imprimatur of fame or infamy. Your convenient indignation over prior art is made wholly transparent when you inadvertantly let fly with gems like '...could have brillant experiences if only...' and reveal your real motive - risk-free 'consumptive' entertainment.

And that's 'consumptive' as in consuming rock with bolts. The Pandora aspect of the impact of gyms and sport climbing has been to generate a reality distortion field of denial over the entire sport. That is evidenced by sport climbers who in general simply dimiss as non-existent many intangible aspects of rock prized by trad climbers. LNT and reverence of stone were swiftly, summarily, and sacrificially dispatched in the early 80's as sport climbing necessarily commoditized rock. And make no mistake, unbolted rock is an undeniable commodity getting more precious by the day (and oh, the absolute inhumanity of our grandchildren deprived of the orgasmic heart beat of a Hilti rapidly thumping home on a cleft of virgin rock!). If you doubt how strong the distortion field and denial are you need only head East to see beautifully colored overhanging sandstone walls literally carpeted with draws and chains and despoiled by chalk and then realize most climbers are totally oblivious as to why some folks might have a problem with that.

And don't get me wrong - I'm all for compromise, but not one that means I'm supposed to stand idly by and watch our legacy, trad climbs, and the last vestiges of pristine rock consumed for mere entertainment by people who aren't even aware of, let alone appreciate, what is sacrificed and lost in the process.

Sport climber
Austin, TX
Nov 30, 2006 - 10:03am PT
Don't be ridiculous, Joseph. An FA of a climbing route has nothing in common with painting or composing, regardless of how much you want to pretend it does. The only situation in which you could really consider routes artistic "creations" on anything remotely approaching that level is if the route is fully chipped and manufactured.

Sport climber
Austin, TX
Nov 30, 2006 - 10:06am PT
Hedge wrote:
Someone who is a proficient sport climber is cheating everytime they trad climb, because they hangdogged to get to the level of climbing ability they're at. If your climbing ability benefits in any way from doing just one rap-bolted climb, you've tainted your entire trad career, and you will never be able to actually trad climb anything ever again. You will always be on an invisible top rope, on every trad climb you ever do, whether you like it or not. In fact, just knowing that sport climbing even exists creates moral and ethical conundrums for the would-be trad climber, who would otherwise think that the ground-up, sub-warmup level 5.11 they were flailing on in fact represented the pinnacle of human achievement. It is therefore dubious at best that trad climbing really even exists anymore.

Best post in the thread. Thanks for that, Joe.
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