1970s Bolt protected run-out slab climbing

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Messages 21 - 40 of total 214 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
landcruiserbob

Trad climber
the ville, colorado
Nov 30, 2006 - 09:06pm PT
Great read.rg
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Nov 30, 2006 - 09:11pm PT
In the sixties in SLC we had already drunk the kool-aid. My cousin George climbed the Dorsal Fin with long ruuts between chickenheads to drill from. It's still rated 10d. It was my first climb of that sort, when George took me to repeat it in 1967. I just thought it must be normal. I also really enjoyed the need for concentration and steady nerves. Compared to the Fin, when George and I put up the S-Direct that same spring, at 5.9, it just seemed like a good outing, even though there were several 30 to 40 foot runouts. I led the Ross route in 1968, which lacked any protection at all because I couldn't stop to drill, for the crux, which is now rated 11a, but somebody put a bolt in to protect the move, and now it's safe.Probably the hardest slab climb in the country in those days was my brother, Greg's route, Infinite, in the City of Rocks. Infinite had lots of 5.10 spice climbing, and a 5.11c crux fully 30 feet above the last 1/4" bolt. Kim Miller made the second ascent in the mid 'seventies, and I repeated it afterwards. These may have been the only ascents of the route, as someone bolted the hell out of it top down sometime later, changing the line and completely destroying an important piece of American climbing history. I always enjoyed that sort of climbing, and continued to occassionaly do a new bolted slab climb well into the eighties. We were not using hooks (we felt they were aid), so the runouts that resulted were natural.
Nate D

climber
San Francisco
Nov 30, 2006 - 09:15pm PT
Melissa,
I was on the fence about including the word "responsible". Yes, it's a bit strong. But some folks feel it's irresponsible to create a route where someone might get seriously injured, even if it was actually safer on the FA to keep moving and run it out.

And I'm sure rapping in later and adding a bolt is more the exception than the rule. Definitely not planned in advance and not standard practice.


Karl,
Thanks for the tip off. It's nigh impossible to keep up with all this chatter.
Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Nov 30, 2006 - 09:19pm PT
Nate...it's not like folks get suckered onto these routes. Why should the FAist feel responsible for a future party that f*#ks up or that has a bad stroke of luck whilst on a run-out route of their own choosing?
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Nov 30, 2006 - 09:26pm PT
Mellisa wrote
"I'm not saying no one ever decides a route would be 'better' with a different protection scheme, but I don't know anyone who does potentially scarey ground up stance drilled faces in Yosemite that prefers as a matter of course to return in short order and retrobolt it on rappel."

You know Greg Barnes don't you Mellisa. You think routes like Shagadelic had all their bolt drilled on the first go?

Just like I don't know everyone slab climbing when I'm not around, you're probably not getting the blow by blow on how folks are deciding to protect their routes.

Peace

Karl
Greg Barnes

climber
Nov 30, 2006 - 09:32pm PT
"I'm not saying no one ever decides a route would be 'better' with a different protection scheme, but I don't know anyone who does potentially scarey ground up stance drilled faces in Yosemite that prefers as a matter of course to return in short order and retrobolt it on rappel."

I don't claim to do potentially scary routes, but I do often add bolts to my new routes. Not as a "matter of course," but fairly often (sometimes on lead later on, but usually on rap only a few minutes after the pitch was finished). And I also move bolts that I just placed (since I use a lot of 1/4" and pull them and drill out the holes immediately - it's easy to just move the bolt if the stance was off to the side enough to cause lots of rope drag).

Depends on the route - lots of factors go in to that sort of decision. Making the route a fun reasonable lead for my partner was the primary factor for my most infamous route (Shagadelic, or as a friend called it this summer, "The Blasphemy Route"). But I'm not doing anything in the league of true old-school 5.10-11 slabs, so not sure if that has any relevance to your post.
Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Nov 30, 2006 - 09:32pm PT
Didn't you read the first part of my sentence?

"I'm not saying no one ever decides a route would be 'better' with a different protection scheme..."

This means that it could and does happen on occasion.

Nate was saying that he didn't think people were still doing bold FA's and leaving them at that.

The second part of my post said that I didn't know anyone who rap retrobolted their routes "as a matter of course." That would include Greg.

If it helps, lets define "people that I know" for these purposes as my close friends/partners, and myself...which would exclude Greg since we've never climbed together or talked about our new-routing philosophies and experiences. Anyway, the point is just to say there are people who still prefer to walk the old walk. It's not gone altogether.
Nate D

climber
San Francisco
Nov 30, 2006 - 09:45pm PT
Melissa- Simply because they view route development as a communal affair. Different strokes for different folks.

Hats off to those who've done FAs (requiring bolts) and haven't later regretted any of their decisions!
Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Nov 30, 2006 - 09:50pm PT
"Melissa- Simply because they view route development as a communal affair."

Altough they might be a bigger challenge and risk for the community, I wouldn't say that offering beautiful new ground up, stance protected, nature-respecting lines isn't also a communal affair. It's offering something different to the community, but I find that thing very special. That's why I'm taking my swings at this pore stinking, bloated horsey.

Now...off to pull plastic. See you kids tomorrow. ;-)
Nate D

climber
San Francisco
Nov 30, 2006 - 09:53pm PT
And BTW, I never said I thought people weren't doing bold FAs anymore. I specifically said I'm no authority on the matter. I've only heard of several of these cases, like Greg's above, and have experienced it myself a couple times.

Gotta run as well! :-)
Greg Barnes

climber
Nov 30, 2006 - 09:55pm PT
"But some folks feel it's irresponsible to create a route where someone might get seriously injured, even if it was actually safer on the FA to keep moving and run it out."

I'd have to say my motivation has nothing to do with "responsibility" to other parties - to be honest, the primary motivation for me for most of the bolt adding/moving was to make the routes fun for me to return to and do again & again, even on days where I wasn't feeling super psyched to run it out on a new route. The only time "responsibility" entered into my thinking was for my partner - by placing a couple bolts on traverses that I wouldn't need for the lead but to protect my second!

Most people who get seriously injured or die do so due to belay chain errors and so on. By creating a runout route you're not likely to cause accidents (unless you tell people it's easy and well protected when it's actually hard and runout!). I guess the argument could be made if some bolt location really increased the chance of hitting a ledge in a fall from a crux, but the whole thing sounds kind of weird to me. Climbers are responsible for our own safety - even a tightly bolted sport route can see nasty accidents.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Nov 30, 2006 - 10:03pm PT
Greg wrote
"Depends on the route - lots of factors go in to that sort of decision. Making the route a fun reasonable lead for my partner was the primary factor for my most infamous route (Shagadelic, or as a friend called it this summer, "The Blasphemy Route"). But I'm not doing anything in the league of true old-school 5.10-11 slabs, so not sure if that has any relevance to your post."

Actually I think Shagadelic was a fine public service and lots of regular folks enjoy it.

Sometimes it seems part of keeping things bold in a place like TM is just trying to keep it our personal playground. I benefit from that I admit. Runout climbing makes climbing with me a good idea for some folks

What about Excellent Smithers Greg? A great route too. Add any bolts after the initial lead? A fine 10a route and just an example of the grades we're looking at. This isn't about 5.10 to 5.11 necessarily. The Apron is loaded with runout 5.8-5.9 and TM has tons of it as well

PEace

Karl
Greg Barnes

climber
Nov 30, 2006 - 10:20pm PT
Excellent Smithers had the following changes (going from memory):

4th pro bolt p1 added after FA (maybe very last one as well)
2nd, 3rd pro bolts p2 moved left (stances were over right but gave bad rope drag in the bottom of the flake)
1st, 3rd, 5th, 8th bolts p3 added after FA
4th, 6th bolts moved way left
About half the pro bolts were 1/4" on the FA, and the original line on the 3rd pitch ran into grainy 5.10 friction straight up, so I went left 40' to find the easiest line up.

While we're in this discussion - how many pro bolts did West Country have originally on that 3rd pitch (one or zero)? Added due to an accident if rumor is correct? Dike Route had bolts added, Snake Dike, Epinephrine in Red Rocks, etc. Adding bolts is not exactly a new-generation idea.
JuanDeFuca

Big Wall climber
Stoney Point
Nov 30, 2006 - 10:22pm PT
I saw a guy die on the Kamps route Apparition on Daff. I was just starting Crescent Arch and saw this guy sliding down the slab. On the second 5.8 pitch their is only one bolt.

I wish the Stonemasters were not so Ego driven at the time.

JDF

Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Nov 30, 2006 - 10:32pm PT
It's plain that to put up a long face route that isn't super run-out, you can't just go crank it and drill everything on lead in a day. Those routes are projects with an eye to public service.

One modern counter-example to the old 'just do it' way is Galactic Hitchhiker. Some places are silly overbolted, others are just fine, and a few places got left run-out (10b move with an alien 8 feet below your feet) because the FA party never got around to rapping back down and finishing their protection plans.

Still, 39 pitches (26 if you run em together) that end near the Glacier Point railing. Pretty dang fun! Thanks to the guys who put in the effort

Peace

karl
SammyLee

Trad climber
Memphis
Nov 30, 2006 - 10:54pm PT
Karl says:"Runout climbing makes climbing with me a good idea for some folks "

Yep, for me it did and does. I enjoyed the slab climbing on the apron with Karl, though even as a second, I was nervous as heck. At a couple of belay stations, I looked up and thought, "there is NO route here!", only to watch Karl head up. Then he'd yell down, "get your weight over your feet and just step up!" Un huh.

As it turned out, slab climbing with Karl did more for my climbing than anything else to date. When I got home, I was climbing a full number grade harder. I recommend this highly.

These old runout slab routes are indeed a gift to our sport. Many thanks to the hardmen and women who put them up. One day, with luck, I can return and maybe experience one on the sharp end.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 30, 2006 - 11:03pm PT
Hey John B, I only remember one Robbins route in Tuolumne—the ‘Grey Ghost’ next to ‘Crescent Arch.’ It is a nice route, but pretty run-out. Robbins did it in 1970 with TM, I think. The climber whose leads terrified me was Kamps. His routes were strung out. So, were Tom’s.

G_Gnome, I didn’t intend to slight the slab route done after the mid-seventies. There are lots of them in the guide. My point was that for someone who has grown up with hang-dogging and sport routes is not going to understand what run-out slab climbing is about. They are sort of on opposite sides of the spectrum. (Both are fun and both have their place,)

Greg, I agree that once you start up a slab without cracks, pretty much everyone does them the same way. But, what I found surprising and interesting is that so many of the best young climbers in Yosemite in the early 1970s choose to climb bolted run-out slabs. Lots of other climbers didn’t participate. It is the breadth that surprised me.

Nate and Greg have provided some interesting feed back on immediately doctoring protection after the first ascent to make it more user friendly for the next party. Moving bolts and belays once you know the lay of the route sounds like a laudable practice. I never returned to a route to fix it, but I did go out of my way to try to make it repeatable and look like soeme thought had gone into it. I am not sure how I feel about rapping in to place bolts, just because you lead the pitch without them.

Roger
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Nov 30, 2006 - 11:11pm PT
Kamps may have provided inspiration to the Stonemasters, but he wasn't part of the group.

It's easy to accuse climbers that did runouts on face climbs as being "ego driven", certainly easier than leading their routes. You could argue that anyone who achieves a high level of skill in any field is ego driven. I'm here to tell you that the Stonemasters above all loved to climb and hang out with their buds...er...contemporaries.

The runouts on their routes are a product of many factors,

Some practical, like a shortage of bolts, dull bits, or burning daylight.

The deeper reasons for it were as varied as the characters involved, but it had a lot to do with a reluctance to alter the rock permanently if avoidable, and a primal urge to put oneself in a serious situation in the hopes of proving to yourself you could handle it, and growing from the experience.

A point that hasn't been raised here is the fact that in that era there just weren't that many climbers, especially climbing at that level. When creating a new route the idea was to climb the thing, not really to create a route for the average climber to enjoy. As has been mentioned repeatedly, hand drilling is a pain, avoidable by summoning the backbone to move on to a higher stance. Of course we hoped other climbers would do the route, but it was understood that they would be of similar mind and ability.

A possibility that hasn't been mentioned here is that future generations of climbers might choose to challenge themselves in the "Stonemaster style" of runout slab. Surfing has seen the longboard and it's syle return. The stone will be here forever, likely climbers as well, and there's still acres of virgin slabs that could be savored ground up with some spicy runouts.
crankenstein

Trad climber
Louisville, CO
Nov 30, 2006 - 11:16pm PT
As a long time slab climber, this is a great topic of interest. I began climbing run-out slabs in Texas and Oklahoma in the mid eighties. What is interesting is that the ethics that began in Yosemite and TM were perpetuated in other locales that had terrain conducive to climbing in that style. So it wasn't just a small group of protagonist's working in a small area. I can say that learning to climb in that style has carried over well for me over the years.
So to attempt to address the original question about whether people still do these types of routes, I'll say that for me and many that I know, we are more into repeating routes that "should" be in our comfort level, than actually putting up the routes. I'm willing to chase a couple of bolts up a pitch of 5.10 slab, but rarely will I do it for much harder.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Nov 30, 2006 - 11:36pm PT
Juan wrote
"I saw a guy die on the Kamps route Apparition on Daff. I was just starting Crescent Arch and saw this guy sliding down the slab. On the second 5.8 pitch their is only one bolt. "

I'll give Juan the benefit of the doubt here. I'm not sure how many folks have actually bought it on routes like that. Any stories.

I assumed it was more like A5 seems to be. Some angels protecting us from the consequences of what should be more common rationally.

I had probably led that 5.9- 150 foot pitch on Goodrich Pinnacle several dozen times before I accidentally fell on it. It was about 6am and we were going for the rim. I hurried, got off route slightly, and slipped on some sandy smear. Fortunately, I wasn't super far off the belay and only went 20-30 feet. My favorite (Lowe Products) shirt still has a hole in it from that and I'm wearing it as I type this! I can't imagine falling from the super continuous, thin, but lower angle 5.7 up higher.

Peace

Karl
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