bolting myths...

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the kid

Trad climber
fayetteville, wv
Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 24, 2007 - 10:10am PT
in the last few weeks i see a few posts regarding adding bolts to run out routes. I have also seen arguments made for the retro bolting of not so classic 5.8-5.10 routes, based on the f*#ked up logic that the current classics are now too crowded so we need more, so let's bring those run out routes DOWN to our level. Then we don't have to wait in line on the trade routes!
Since i lived in Yosemite all through the 80's and have a few of these run out routes you talk about i would like to clear up some myths.

myth #1- those run out 5.10 routes are out up by 5.13 climbers. therefore it is unfair that they bolt these routes so run out. Plus it is Nat. Park property, therefore any climber has the right to add these bolts.

Ok- if you really believe this then i have a RANCHO IN MEXICO I WOULD LIKE TO SELL YOU. CASH ONLY!
This is an absurd argument. Let me clue you in on these routes.
Before the days of RAP bolting and sport climbing there was a thing called commitment and every new route you did was ground up, un-rehearsed. You started at the bottom and put in gear if you could find it and bolts when you got a stance and if your calves held out for the hand drilling. If you could not get gear you either down climbed or went for it hoping for another stance higher up. Many a times i choose the later and ended up way out from the last bolt, wishing i was at Tenaya lake drinking a beer. But you COMMIT and if all went well you made it.

Second myth- it took a long time for me (and many others) to get to 5.13, so all those routes in the 80'2 had nothing to do with 5.13 or the modern frigging that goes on today. Again the word COMMITMENT!

Most climbers did not make routes run out on purpose, most of the time you got the stance that worked or you just kept going.

Cookie Monster is a prime example of where sport climbing f*#ks up the spirit of climbing. I did that route (1st pitch) ground up, placed all the gear and placed the pin on stance and got the red point. Other climbers tried it, had to resort of rapping in to place gear. I left the valley for the season and by the next year, rap bolting had taken over and it got bolted without my permission.

Commitment is what the sport has always been based on until now, and to take routes that have character and bring them down to some wanker's level, kills what little values and history and flavor we have left. If you want to clip bolts all day long then go to jail house or somewhere else.

Maybe instead of looking to bring a route down to your level, maybe you should strive to taste adventure and learn what the word committed means. Then when you do get the send it will be that much sweeter....Plus, with todays modern gear and small cams, there are a ton more gear possibilities than in the 80's, so another reason to go for it!

I cringe for the day that we become so sanitized and scared that climbing loses it's last thread of flavor and risk. I still love this sport and those routes have a ton of history and meaning to myself and many others. So find another line until you are ready to walk on the wild side....the reward will be greater than the risk and the memories will not fade like most sport climbs of today.
Kurt Smith
Degaine

climber
Jul 24, 2007 - 10:24am PT
Nice post, Kurt!

Kurt wrote: … ended up way out from the last bolt, wishing i was at Tenaya lake drinking a beer.

Ha! Ain’t that the truth.


Kurt wrote: Commitment is what the sport has always been based on until now, and to take routes that have character and bring them down to some wanker's level, kills what little values and history and flavor we have left.

For all the Internet whining and bitching that goes on, I can’t think of many (or any) run out routes in CA that have been retrobolted – Hair raiser buttress seems to be the one route in question that comes up as the exception to the rule to get everybody’s panties in a bunch.

Sorry, though, that your route Cookie Monster was retro’d.

Kurt wrote: Plus, with todays modern gear and small cams, there are a ton more gear possibilities than in the 80's, so another reason to go for it!

I think that’s one of the key points people claiming “the FA party purposely ran it out” forget: different times, different equipment.

Anyway, again, nice post.
the Fet

Knackered climber
A bivy sack in the secret campground
Jul 24, 2007 - 10:36am PT
I agree with the views presented, but I don't think that post is going to change anybody's minds. It's too inflammatory.

Why didn't you chop the bolts?
snyd

Sport climber
Lexington, KY
Jul 24, 2007 - 10:37am PT
Amen brother!
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jul 24, 2007 - 11:07am PT
Just to clarify, Here is a post from Werner on a thread about Cookie Monster

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=19928

"To all you obsessive folks with your bolt problems;
Dave Shultz first bolted it...ask him why, not me. For your info Kurt Smith almost died trying this route on the first ascent. He had his friend aid it with pitons and nuts and cams. (Friend was very inexperienced with placing pitons) At the crux he placed two Lost arrows. When Kurt tried to lead it he fell at this crux. As I was lowering him the pins shifted and if they had come out he would have hit the deck.(they came out by hand). The consciousness at the time was not about bolts or pins or clean but in doing this line free. The rock is fairly crumbly in various places and several KEY holds have broken in the past years making some of the moves harder. Nuts and cams can rip out easily on this cimb and you know the scenario that can result. Most of you haven't seen enough of the people we've picked up at the base after one of these hit the deck missions. Get a life folks and go climbing stop worrying about all this bolt sh#t. Werner Braun"

Edit: for comparison's sake, here's what Kurt wrote:

"Cookie Monster is a prime example of where sport climbing f*#ks up the spirit of climbing. I did that route (1st pitch) ground up, placed all the gear and placed the pin on stance and got the red point. Other climbers tried it, had to resort of rapping in to place gear. I left the valley for the season and by the next year, rap bolting had taken over and it got bolted without my permission. "

Which was it?

peace

Karl
jstan

climber
Jul 24, 2007 - 12:05pm PT
Another angle on all this. I once ran into a bolt clearly placed on rappel just so that something like a 5.8 move had to be done on crumbling rock while looking at a 70 footer to the deck. An easy stance for placing the bolt on the lead was perhaps six feet lower down.

What do I learn from this? If you are going to count on other people placing protection( of any kind) for you, take into consideration a few incomplete six paks are walking around out there. Other than that, when on a rope go up when you are comfortable. Down when you are not. Both directions allow you to learn. Both are cool.
Big

climber
Jul 24, 2007 - 02:35pm PT
People that piss and moan about where bolts are located on "ground-up" routes have obviously never put one up. Heading out into no-mans land is an incredible feeling. It's amazing how much harder a grade feels when your well out past the last piece of pro. 10+ suddenly feels 12-. It's also amazing how easy it feels when you clean it.

Don't get me wrong sport climbing is load of fun, but 5.hard rarely leaves the lasting impression that the mentally challenging routes do. At least for me they don't. In my experience, campfire stories rarely revolve around the wicked hard send, even at sport crags. Everyone wants to hear about the time you almost died because you pitched 20' out from the tiny RP and it held.
Ksolem

Trad climber
LA, Ca
Jul 24, 2007 - 03:04pm PT

" ...The true and honest statement about running it out would have been made by someone climbing at their limit, not 2 number grades below it... "

Bachar wasn't "true and honest??"

I don't really think that the validity of doing a runout climb has to come from being at your very limit. Rather, it is about being in your comfort zone. I'd apply the same logic to free soloing as well.

There are plenty of routes to go around. Some are bold. Some are not. Take your pick.

And three cheers for the General...
Colt

climber
Midpines
Jul 24, 2007 - 04:13pm PT
I agree...don't add bolts to establish routes.

There is point, however, where the "I got here first" mentality for first acentionists doesn't hold water for me. If Johnny Runout crams in a single 5.9X at an existing 5.8-5.10 sport crag I would not necesarily defend his style. I am sure there are better example, but I gotta run. 19 times out of 20 I am in the don't add bolts camp...may be 29 out of 30.

On the note of style, what style was Keeper of the Flame put up in. All natural right?
Maysho

climber
Truckee, CA
Jul 24, 2007 - 04:42pm PT
Kurt,

Howdy dude!

I agree with your post in principal, as a Tuolumne local through the 80's I was inspired by your bold achievements in that era.

As with any bold artist, we can appreciate the body of work, and still critique specific pieces. I was really critical of one of your routes, The Kid on Medlicott. The story I heard at the time was that you had the belayer mark the rope at the groundfall point, so that you could purposefully and boldly punch it up the homogenous 10b black streak another 10 feet before getting on a hook (hands are sweating typing this, yikes man!) and drilling. At the time I was chief guide at YMS, and tried to take the big picture/community viewpoint, so the point I made in the rat room and parking lot back then was that it would be a real bummer, when some newbie 510 knob seeking guy (without the hook option) went up there misjudging the distance and cratered and his partner came to the lot with bloody hands to tell you about it. Probably never happened, but I wonder if anyone climbs it today? A monument to your young bravery, sure, but kind of too bad that someone else did not put it up without the groundfall.

Changing such things should only be done with the blessing and input of the first ascentionists, but with changing times, I think there could be routes that could benefit from adjustment for safety.

Other bold and hard routes, that you did in such exemplary style in the 80's stand out still as some of Americas best. My opinion from the sidelines on one route takes nothing away from my respect for your formidible contribution to that era.

Peter
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Jul 24, 2007 - 06:14pm PT
"some wanker's level"

I resemble that remark.



Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jul 24, 2007 - 07:00pm PT
First, I neither bolt nor chop and I don't advocate much. I just want to say what I see.

Which is that climbing ethics will pretty much remain the way they always have been, a community concensus heavily weighted by those who are most emotional about it and with reference but not obedience to the past.

Nobody can predict how this will turn out, like sport climbing or everybody soloing like stolby.

After us codgers are all dead, the crags might be flooded with climbers looking for moderates to do, or they might be deserted as nobody can afford $30 per gallon gas and it's epic enough to stay alive.

The new climbers, raised in the gym might read these old posts and embrace the past and dust off the old routes, or they might bolt em.

It might happen by rogue elements or maybe there will be committees to review routes to judge their future.

Unknown forces set change in motion. A vocal enough superstar, the wrong person dying.

For better or worse, in the past, all the following were condemned as unethical:

Chalk
Topos
rap-bolting
cams
Fixing ropes
power drilling
hang-dogging
bolting at all for pro
hanging on hooks to bolt

Much of the ethics noted in Kurt's post are directed at the commitment and experience of the first ascent party. Nobody else get's to decide where they need pro on a face climb. There are several schools of thought on FA's

1. FA party makes it's statement, as bold as possible.
2. FA party creates route as public service, sacrificing adventure at times to make something that people of that grade can climb either safely or not dying
3. FA party puts up a sport climb

They all have their place. Personally I respect the public service types more. Cookie monster would have about 4 ascents by now if you had to protect it ground up like Kurt says he did and Werner says he didn't. Is it a shame or a blessing the Dave bolted it? Or both?

Peace

Karl

Edit: I should note that having someone else pre-protect your new route like a sport climb in advance may still allow you to say you did it ground up onsight in a sense, so I'm not calling Kurt a liar, but I wish his initial post had been more clear since he said it was the perfect example.
Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Jul 24, 2007 - 07:23pm PT
hmm, well this is pretty clear cut, cause I'm only guilty on, let's see, all of those unethicaliosities. But, still, you don't remake art from before your time. I'm not adding chicken bolts to the B-Y until after I paint on Mona Lisa's mustache.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 24, 2007 - 07:29pm PT
Jaybro: You're totally wrong and unethical. Mona Lisa needs a beard, and would be significantly improved and made more accessible to the masses with one. A retro-mustache would be contrary to community mores and styles and ethics, and if anything would make her less accessible.
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Jul 24, 2007 - 07:32pm PT
I'm with Kurt. I like to respect the FA style. But I've suggested the addition of a bolt or two on a few of my routes, because I either led them on lousy gear, ran out of bolts, or didn't use a stance and regretted it but got past the hard part and continued.

As to hedges comment about climbing bold closer to your limits: my hardest on-sights ever were only around 11+ or 12-, yet I did a bunch of runout 10's and 11's. Does that qualify those routes for preservation? If so, it's too late for a number of them as they've already been retro-bolted.
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
Jul 24, 2007 - 07:34pm PT
I don't see a lot of good coming out of the bolt wars. And leaving things as they are is perhaps the lowest common denominator that most climbers can agree on.

However, what about the routes that are so bold, that not only does no one repeat them, but no one bothers rebolting them.

When the quarter inch bolts have rusted into oblivion, can another party do a ground up ascent putting in bolts where they will? Or do the rust stains mark for all time the only sanctioned spots?
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jul 24, 2007 - 07:38pm PT
If we're going to retro the Mona-Lisa, I say add hooters!

More wouldn't be unwelcome at the crag either.

Then the bolting debate would lose some of its edge too.

;-)

Karl
G_Gnome

Sport climber
Everywhere, man...
Jul 24, 2007 - 07:38pm PT
I wonder how many leads The Kid has had. It is a fine toprope for those not inclined to face death though and gets done this way from time to time. I suppose the Meadows will be one of the first to be peer reviewed in the future. It has had some bold a$$ lines put up and I know lots of people would love to do some of those routes but never will because of the risks. I have led some of them and will never lead others. I think that's how it should be. Find your comfort level but leave the routes so that others can find their own too. There are some badass boys out there doing all the hard and scary routes at Tuolumne still and I applaud them. If you aren't one of them then go do something you can do but don't deny the future the ability to find it's own high level.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jul 24, 2007 - 07:41pm PT
"and IF by chance the parties involved on a FA are no longer with us???...

then the opportunity is GONE so...

LEAVE IT ALONE!!!..."

yup, Harding is finished, when are we going to chop those retro-bolts on Changing Corners, Texas Flake, and elsewhere?

Peace

karl
yo

climber
The Eye of the Snail
Jul 24, 2007 - 08:14pm PT
vrrooooooooom!!!!11
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