Manufactured climbs....what to think? A dialogue.


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Oct 1, 2017 - 01:04pm PT
Two different activities.
Someone looks at a cliff or a mountain and thinks: I am going to try and climb that.
Someone else has the same view and says: I can change that, and then I can climb it.

Oct 1, 2017 - 01:21pm PT
For the ‘changers’: they must have waaay too much time on their hands.


Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Oct 1, 2017 - 02:16pm PT
Consensus was what forged the rules of the game in the 60's and 70's, as there was surely no mechanism for enforcing rules. As climbing has diversified and the climber base has expanded, the ability to achieve consensus has declined, and at this point alternate perspectives compete with little expectation of resolution.

As climbers have embraced new approaches that would have been almost universally rejected by previous generations, there has been a powerful desensitization to all forms of unnatural modification of nature, with the result that nothing is either all that surprising or, for many people, all that consequential.

The way desensitization works is that first something occurs only in special settings, but ultimately makes its way more general contexts. If chipping is the latest example, then it gains legitimacy in special situations involving crappy rock, but the effect of desensitization is that chipping will inevitably become far more mainstream, and the arguments used now for quarries will find plenty of application elsewhere.

I wouldn't be surprised if a new occupation, that of the chipper, akin to the present concept of hold-setters, develops first in the quarries and then spreads.

The UK has quite a few quarries that are extensively climbed. I wonder how chipping in those quarries would be viewed.

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Oct 1, 2017 - 02:21pm PT
Locally here a great little pitch variation was destroyed when it wasn't just chipped, but wholesale chiseled for a good part of the length of the pitch. It's straight up a totally f*#ked thing to be doing as far as I'm concerned.
norm larson

wilson, wyoming
Oct 1, 2017 - 03:20pm PT
It's obviously wrong. Climbers used to be caring of the landscape. Now it might boost your instagram views for a day or two so it's deemed necessary to stay out front. It's all about ego.

Sport climber
Oct 1, 2017 - 03:45pm PT
locker. lmfao.

mongrel, everyone is entitled to their opinion, i would guess that your definition of quality relies more heavily on perceived purity than my own. mine would prioritize interesting movement, consistency, and to a lesser degree ergonomics since i've spent too much time nursing injuries. i tend to think that one move wonder routes are lame and are even less compelling if you have to be 6'4. it's just too specific for too small a segment of climbers. 6' would be a different story, albeit less restrictive. accessibility shouldn't be a primary characteristic of quality. but that doesn't mean that we cannot consider it at all or make the case that a route that you just need to be 6'4 for isn't as good as one that you can train for.

your slippery slope argument is facile, but i get it. generally this practice should continue to be frowned upon because even tacit approval gives licence to everybody and then where does it stop. i'd suggest that it would stop way before people started reaming out 5.13s to make 5.10s and that people are capable of appreciating the difference between a single hold vs manufacturing a route. the only fully manufactured route i've been on was total crap, an ego route from the 90s with contrived sequences designed to match the FAs strengths and proportions. the other instances that i have encountered were single holds designed to allow passage between good climbing instead of a dead end.

i agree that not every route needs to be good, and not every route needs to be climbed by everybody. that's precisely why I haven't ever chipped a hold. my development is more about curiosity than conquest.

AP: have you climbed Cytotoxic at Skaha? I know that is a route with a chipped slot controversy. that route was 5 stars of fun!!! nothing faces the right way, so techy!


Mountain climber
Timbers of Fennario
Oct 1, 2017 - 03:50pm PT
Weren't some of the old Ice Fest Comp routes drilled and enchanced?

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Oct 1, 2017 - 04:07pm PT
You chippy, no climby! Period.

Oct 1, 2017 - 05:12pm PT
Bring yourself up to it, admirable.
Bring it down to you, abomination.

Not in others eyes but your own. If you are ok with it, you are probably a narcissist. Pretty simple in my mind. If your recreational ethics are that bad I wonder.what your social ethics are like?
Jolly Roger

Trad climber
here and there
Oct 1, 2017 - 06:05pm PT
Having climbed at this a few times here are my thoughts. The area has a very short band of moderate, which regardless of the route required some cleaning for sure. The rest goes up some kitty litterish stone. Here you encounter fun moves on, yes some chipped/drilled holes. Without these the climbing would stop at about 20ft(at least on the left side). The area is literally a rotary park off the 550, that for the most part was just a picnic stop, or the ice rink in winter. The initial development capitalized on what was the best of the rock, with certainly some cleaning. It created a good spot for a family to easily climb, or anyone driving through. The subsequent expansion required manufacturing/chipping and personally this did not bother me at this particular area.

What does not make sense is the use of glued/bolted holds. At this point I would prefer the drilled/chipped holds. the holds at a minimum should go.

Andrzej Citkowicz far away from Poland
Oct 1, 2017 - 06:21pm PT
I'm against any rock modifications. Would it be chipping or bolting or nailing. If you can't find your way up, well, too bad. I wouldn't use any of those while establishing a new route.

But, I am happy to use any of those that are already there.



Trad climber
Oct 1, 2017 - 06:34pm PT
Has every free ascent of the Nose used the Jardine Traverse?

Trad climber
Oct 1, 2017 - 06:47pm PT
Given a local choss pile that no-one would ever climb at or care about.

Like a quarry.

Someone comes and cleans/bolts-up some routes. The general public is not offended. Safe and fun.

Sounds like a free outdoor gym to me.

I'd prefer drilling/chizz to artificial holds if I really had an opinion.

My only concern would be the few(clueless) that would adopt this practice...ANYWHERE. Yikes!!

Hard Rock

Trad climber
Oct 1, 2017 - 06:54pm PT
One part of this would be supply and demand. I once made up a number like 19,343 (I use to write fiction) and said that was the number of routes we had left in the Bitterroot to be down. Kevin and I once described an area near the Beaverhead River that had 400 routes (again estimate) of routes needing to be done. It took climbers 12 years to get the first routes put in (after the 2 "test" routes that we did). Saw 30 climbers there about a month ago. The first climbs on the wall are a 5 minute walk from the road.

We also don't have a ton of rope climbers up here.

So I would say - if you have plenty of routes to be put in there is no reason to chip or glue. But then I'm in a nice situation.
Ojai Alex

Trad climber
Alex Bury
Oct 1, 2017 - 07:52pm PT
I think climbing has entered a 'post-modern' era. Views are changing rapidly, without a central core to refer to. As Rgold points out, things have expanded so far and with so many arms, that 'consensus' is perhaps not possible in the way it was. This means the task of education falls on the shoulders of mentors, guides, and FA'ists.

Part of the problem, I believe, extends from the culture associated with younger people like myself. We were raised to think our opinions MATTER. That you have a different opinion is irrelevant. Because my mom and my school told me I am important.


Trad climber
Castle Valley, UT
Oct 1, 2017 - 09:35pm PT
I have never commented on Super Topo before, but I feel so strongly about this issue, that I could no hold back. I, in fact, was the one that removerd the glued-on/bolted holds at the Rotary Park, Ouray, CO. The route of mention is not the only manufactured route at the RP. There are numerous, all created by a couple people. One of them, I believe, was influenced by the "older, more experienced" climber.

Anyway, I felt something had to be done to retain traditional climbing as we know it: that is, climbing on natural rock with natural holds that the first ascensionist found while climbing the route. Yes, I do believe that loose rock, that is sure to fall or break off, should be removed to have a worthy route. Few people want to climb a route with dangerous loose blocks or crumbly holds. I'm OK with re-inforcing key holds with epoxy, but those holds should be limited and carefully analyze as to whether they would simply be better to be removed or glued. An experienced climber should be able to make that call. After all, you will be judged on your actions. Do your best and don't make a mess. If you knock off the key hold and now it won't go for you, well, too bad, leave it for a better climber. None of us can say "we're the best and no one will ever be able to climb this". Every year we see the standards rise. I can not even conceive of 5.15c climbs, but they exist. What about in 5 or 10 years? We should leave climbs that we can't do for the future and better climbers. Nobody should have the right to alter the rock and bring it down to their standard, simply because they can't do it.

The Rotary Park, an easily accessable city park that is visited by young climbers, often with their parents and perhaps their first experience at climbing outdoors. It is just that, not a "Climbing Gym" but another crag and all routes should be climbed on "natural holds", not drilled pockets, glued on rocks or plastic, nor chipped or chiseled holds.

In my 48 years of climbing, I have only chopped one route. It was at Lover's Leap, a bolted face climb, 5' to the right of a super classic TM Herbert route (East Corner 5.10) and 10 feet left of another route, "Out to Lunge 5.10). What a ham!!! Using holds from both right and left routes, that were independent. The climb at the RP had some natuural climbing down low and shold have been ended, when the 1st ascentionist could not continue. The future climbers with more ability could have continued it some day, using the natural features. I totally believe that.

What I saw at the RP, I have never seen anywhere, ever. The route that I removed the 5 glued-on holds from, is the most atrocious/manufactured route I have ever seen, anywhere, beyond belief, with huge gouged in, chiseled holds etc. I'd say there were at least 35 manufactured holds in 110'. Don't bring climbs down to your standard, just because you can't climb them. Someday, someone will be able to hike that same terrain, maybe even without a rope. These climbs can never be returned to their original state and I left the bolts in, for better or for worse. Enough said.

Jay Smith

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 1, 2017 - 09:59pm PT
I just received a message from Jay Smith which succinctly summarized my feelings in this matter. Jay said...”routes were designed by nature, not man. Man only climbs them.”

Social climber
Oct 1, 2017 - 10:10pm PT
hey there say, donini... wow, sounds neat... you know, it matches this, too:

the ol' critters of these landscapes, they FIND those routes, all through-out all kinds of terrain, as well, too...

then, after the deer, etc, FIND a good trail, AND use it enough, well, we-all kind of 'fall into place' following them, too... :))

(this of course, is more for fields, and in the woods, meadows, etc,
but CAN up rock-face mt-hill, as well)


Social climber
Oct 1, 2017 - 11:11pm PT
Obviously it makes sense to remove loose rocks and flakes. That's a no-brainer. If you can't climb it after that, then leave it for someone who can. That may be next week, 20 years from now, or never. We don't have to climb every square inch of rock on the continent. What about giving the rock a chance? There's more important things than getting your name in the book. If you want a manufactured climb, go to Europe and do some via-ferrattas. Or just stay in the gym.

Mountain climber
Timbers of Fennario
Oct 1, 2017 - 11:41pm PT
Hey Jay! Hope you are well.

-Pierce, old bartender from O'Briens.
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