Museum climbs?


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Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 11, 2007 - 11:19am PT
I posted this below in the needles thread and thought maybe a good topic for thinking about?

Hammer did make an interesting point that made me think about this problem we are now facing every day in climbing areas around the country.

"This 'ethic' is turning the Needles into a museum with routes to look at rather than climb."

It seams this was also the core argument/idea that weschrist was trolling a while ago also?

Are "we" the so called "old guys" unconsciously trying to "overprotect" the past?

Another point hammer made "There is already a disconnect with the experience of the first ascent, they weren't clipping bolts that had been there for forty years."

How many of you would go out and clip 40 year old bolts and do the death run out with no feeling of "Oh sh'it I'm gonna die now feeling?".

Sometimes it does seem that "the old skool is making museum climbs which nobody can climb anymore?

On the other hand the young guys that have been coming all these years have been doing incredibly hard scary ass sh'it,
that will make any seasoned hard man piss in his pants just standing at the base.

Just some thoughts of mine, so don't go ape sh'it over them.
pimp daddy wayne

The Bat Caves
Sep 11, 2007 - 11:24am PT
I like the way you think Werner. You have to let the kids climb!

Social climber
Ventura, California
Sep 11, 2007 - 11:27am PT
Seems to me the old bolts are being replaced. At least thatís what I noticed. I appreciate those efforts. Yet to see a route you would actually die on, might have an uncomfortable long fall though.

Sep 11, 2007 - 11:35am PT
Werner, I was thinking along those lines on the "Kid,BDTH" Thread. Just something to read.

Its interesting to me sometimes when I think about some of those older badass routes ( some I've done some I most certainly haven't) that the bolts are sooo bad now that the climbs themselves have become even more badass. To me there's a big difference with gunning it above a rusty old thing and gunning it above even a new 1/4 incher. Are people with me on this one? I'm NOT trying to take away anything from those bold first ascents because they are truly awsome and take unbelieveable determination and skill. Two things many new climbers don't have when it comes to putting it on the line as far as safety goes. I wonder though, if some of the younger crowd aren't going for those routes because of the rusty old things. Maybe they, me(I'm 34), are just lazy and don't want to go through the trouble of changing out those bolts for the go. Even if they do they won't have the same experience as some of the folks that nabbed ascents back when the bolts were still sound. One, they could go for it on lead which means they have to climb the route on sh#t bolts that may very well not hold the big wing, thus forcing them to do the more insane. or Two, they could rap in and replace the bolts, but then they don't get the full OS experience because they see it all before climbing it. And I know my eyes would be open for that crucial hold 30 feet out if I was rapping in to put sound bolts in.
I did Mr Kamps and a route that starts left of Sorcerer's App then crosses it and then comes back to join it after the Sea of Knobs (no idea the name or who did it). Both of these routes had not been replaced, but we were very tense because of the old bolts. Especially when at hanging belays and the leader was out gunning it. I went back and did Mr Kamps post replacement and it was a whole different experience. Had pucker, but not like the first time.
Just some thoughts on the subject of older, superbad, inspirational routes that should get done more often and probably get done more than I think. Believe it or not there are some young, soft spoken climbers out there who do the raddist of rad whether its well protected or not and they only talk about it with their closest friends
Bob J.

Social climber
The West
Sep 11, 2007 - 11:37am PT
Isn't the "Oh sh'it I'm gonna die now feeling?"
part of the fun, a lot of times?

Trad climber
Sep 11, 2007 - 11:46am PT
Good topic--

At the moment what is emerging is something like what we see in landscape and urban management with designated areas set aside for conservation. designated historic districts have strict building and renovation codes to preserve period housing and commercial building styles. In recent years we've seen particular areas like the Gunks or Needles become preserves, mostly through consensus but sometimes through the initiative of land managers or owners. That seems like a really reasonable solution to me--although it may be less appealing to gung-ho teenagers whose only local crag has been designated a reserve for aging traddies and the few who would emulate them.

The interesting thing is that this approach to "historic preservation" in climbing has appeared across Europe as well: Gritstone (trad) versus limestone (sport) in England; Fontainebleau versus Boux in France; Elbsandstein versus Frankenjura in Germany.

If you haven't read the new Tuolumne Planning Workbook (AND YOU OUGHT TO--THE COMMENT PERIOD ENDS SOON), one of the most intriguing options is "Concept 3" which would place "historic landscape" at the center of management priorities. The plan currently refers to the river corridor but could easily be expanded and serve as a model for other management zones (i.e., most of the climbing in the park).

The banks of reality
Sep 11, 2007 - 11:48am PT
The Sistine Chapel ceiling has been restored a few times. It's not the same piece as when Michelangelo put it up, but he's still the man. It's in a museum (sort of) and Renaissance freaks can enjoy it for what it is.

Sneaking up behind you...
Sep 11, 2007 - 11:50am PT
I think preserve the flavor at all costs...replace the hardware when possible.

The FA had a "bomber" bolt..why shouldn't someone repeating it?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 11, 2007 - 11:52am PT
Should I be able to go add a couple of bolts to the Bachar -Yerian at fifty so that the crux runout doesn't prove so bothersome? The answer is likely no to most people. The license that some people are after is simply that. I bolt where I want to, when I want to. Right??? The discussion on the Needles Eye thread ultimately distills down to that core issue of bolting as a claim right. We all allow each other the latitude to drill while creating new routes but that license does not usually carry over to repeat ascents. Every climb is not for every climber and the ethic that has thus far allowed most of our routes to maintain their historical character and challenge dictates that you respectfully don't alter or diminish the creative efforts of your fellow climbers.

If every person viewing the Mona Lisa felt the need to flick a booger at it to establish a more personal and lasting connection with the artwork, should they be allowed to express themselves in that fashion at everyone else's expense? Again, probably not. Well, little metal boogers ain't really so different.

Trad climber
Sep 11, 2007 - 11:57am PT
Yeah, and replace the hardware will be one of the fighting issues. Easy to get behind replacing bad bolts but what about the fixed pins near gear placements? Historic preservation has to pick a period to "fix" as its ideal. Do we pick the thirties? Fifties? We're obviously not going to get a lot of folks keen to wear corduroy knickers and a bowline with four soft iron pitons to cast off into the blue.

The "historic" period that will be "preserved" will be the seventies, or the seventies approach to routes of the thirties, forties, fifties, etc. So we'll have kids in 21st century clothes and gear, aping a seventies clean climbing experience on historic routes from, say, 1937. Not necessarily a bad thing---
scuffy b

The deck above the 5
Sep 11, 2007 - 12:03pm PT
there are three different experiences provided by these climbs.
The experience of the first ascentionists is unique and cannot
be duplicated exactly.
Climbing a bolted route with old, suspect bolts, as you describe,
is special, obviously, but was never part of anybody's plan.
You are certainly aware of the ways, positive and negative, that
it is different than the first ascent.
When one of these climbs becomes a standard, or a classic, or
even just "accepted," the experience that is considered standard
and worth preserving is that which early repeaters got to enjoy.
2nd Ascent principle.

Sport climber
Everywhere, man...
Sep 11, 2007 - 12:06pm PT
ALL routes need to be maintained. There is nothing special about the old runout trad routes in that regard except that they have been ignored for too long and probably the only safe way to rebolt some of them if from the top down. BUT just because a route needs it's bolts replaced shouldn't have any bearing on whether anyone has the right to add more bolts.

If someone really wants to do a particular route and the route needs new bolts then show some initiative and replace them. But don't think that you have any sort of license to change the route. Nobody should be dying because of bad bolts, but no one should use them for an excuse either.

Trad climber
San Francisco, Ca
Sep 11, 2007 - 12:08pm PT
Replacing hardware is a necessity- why should future climbers have to risk their lives cuz the FA party put in mank? Those fecking leeper hangers for example. Should climbers 50 years from now be expected to clip those things and do the same run out as the FA party? I can't believe people were even arguing about whether to replace some ancient pins in SD. Seems like route preservation is a nuanced thing and the answer lies somewhere between grid bolting classics and refusing to update obscure routes that have random dangerous sections having nothing to do with the FA party's vision or boldness.

Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
Sep 11, 2007 - 12:21pm PT
The thing that I see most often over the last few years is that some new climbers can't tell the difference between what is a pant-filling-but-relatively-safe fall and what is really going to hurt someone. A lot of old school routes have runouts, but then you find that that bolt is right where you need it to be to PROTECT the route. I say we stick with that. Replace old bolts as needed to provide trustworthy protection, but there's no reason to add bolts just so someone doesn't have to exercise judgement and experience risk on the routes. A lot of climbers these days seem to want to "feel safe" all the way up a route and that's just b.s. IMHO. Good healthy fear is a critical element of climbing for me. Lets me know when I'm sticking my neck out too far, or maybe just enough.

Funny how when sport climbing started, all the sport doods were clamoring about "why can't we have both type of areas, trad and sport!", and now we have the trad climbers saying the same thing. It's great that we can all pick and choose our level of "risk". Lets not lower that to the lowest common denominator.

the Hooterville World-Guardian
Sep 11, 2007 - 12:33pm PT
like castles made of sand, slips into the sea, Eventually.

be real careful defining 'your' territory, climbing 'artists' (good gawd) and grad-students.....a bus tour where they hand out binoculars and you get to look from the road cut and identify all the historical rust stains of art sounds like a US Dept. of Zookeepers wet dream.

Where's the Nobility? probably in not attaching your sense of self-importance to some fleeting exercise in bravado.


Gym climber
Sep 11, 2007 - 12:36pm PT
Sometimes it does seem that "the old skool" is making museum climbs which nobody can climb anymore?

In the "Old Routes Disappearing into Obscurity" thread, I noted that MANY old routes are becoming unclimbable due to aging hardware. As each year goes by, routes that haven't seen maintenance will fade away.

BDTH is a good example. No repeat, yet who's going to start that one from the bottom? The only reason we're talking about it is because of it's place in history--the FA party made the route a highlight the moment it went up. Other lesser known, but still worthy, routes just keep fading ...

Space Babble, which had some pitons for pro, is a good one to look at--a fantastic route that needs some TLC. Do you replace pins with bolts? Not if you can use modern gear instead, but what if you can't?

Museum pieces? I say some routes should remain as so--so what if You Asked For It doesn't see many ascents anymore--I look up at that in awe, shaking my head at what it would take to start up it. Sure, a 5* line that goes unclimbed. Maybe I have to climb 3* route instead. I don't mind.

As the museum guards tire and go to sleep, will the vandals break in and paint a beard on the Mona Lisa?


Sep 11, 2007 - 12:37pm PT
I agree that the hardware should be kept sound, but not added to change a route. If one thinks that a route should have added hardware (which they are free to think in my opinion) then they MUST ask the establilsher(s) of the route. There is a route called "Black Bart" on Daff dome which I've done three times now and the crux 5.9 on the first pitch leaves one with a ground fall from 50 feet up. Not good. Then the crux if basically sport bolted. TM and Ron Kauk were the first to finish the route so I asked Ron what he thought about adding a bolt (just one) to keep the ground fall from happening because its not in character with the rest of the route. He (no surprisingly to me) said go right ahead. I was quite fired up because that route is really cool, but then I started to think more about what I planned to do and also thought about the fact that I did not clear that with TM. Ron also told me some other guys started that route and didn't finish it before them. So, do I need to talk to them about the first pitch since they did it? I don't remember who they are, but..... Anyhow, I decided I didn't want to go ahead with that mission because of all the grey areas, and besides, I'd already done the route a few times which means I was ready for it like the first folks. Maybe it should just stay that way, but with updated metal. Not more of it.
Just some thoughts.
Bob J.

Gym climber
Sep 11, 2007 - 12:53pm PT
Times have changed.

With older gear, you'd go out and be happy to get in a few pitches in a day. With advancements in gear (and familiarity with the rock), folks are doing much more in a day.

We expect to be able to fly up the stone, with bolts being bomber and modern gear quickly protecting our asses. We expect to climb many routes in a day.

The thought of taking time to go out and do some maintenance on an old route is almost unheard of.

A repeat of Burning Down the House? It will take about as much time as the original FA, days; you'd fist have to replace the bolts (unless you approached it as a solo). And obviously nobody is willing to take the time for that.

Sure, we can get scores of folks to go out and Clean Up our crags, but how many folks will take that a step farther and put on a rope and help to clean up & restore the routes.

Big Round of Applause to Roger, who recently made the museum of Arches Terrace visitable again. He went over to GPA and reopened the door to the Oasis. How many folks did he have to help him. Sadly, I was out climbing...

(My excuse was the heat, dang it was hot those days!)

Trad climber
Sep 11, 2007 - 12:55pm PT
The 'joker', is an old school Pat Callis route in the Gallatins that has a 40 foot or so run-out on 5.9 face to a spinner bolt(worst bolt in the canyon?) to another 30' or so to your next piece. One of the few routes (in the canyon) I could see certain death on... My friend Nate recently repeated the route, and when he clipped the spinner, he sat and replaced the bolt. Now I know he didn't get the exact experience that Callis got (since Callis probably drilled from a stance), but he got as good as protection as Callis, if not better, and replaced the bolt in what I believe to be in good style, making a proud route more accessible to the masses, though not to many will go up there anyways....
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Sep 11, 2007 - 02:24pm PT
Well, as long as we're not talking about museum CLIMBERS, if you know what I mean. Not that anyone on SuperTopo is quite museum quality, yet...

I suspect few have any difficulty with climbers replacing old bolts with new, one for one, in the same location. Even adjusting the location (but not number) slightly, if there's clear community consensus, it's ok with the land manager, and those who did the first ascent are agreeable, assuming they're alive and can be located. If the replacement is done en rappel, few would have problems - it's really up to the personal choice of the replacers. If they plan to climb the restored route, then the purest thing would be to not preview. Climbers can get someone else to do the replacing, and not provide beta - perhaps "You fix up the route I want to do, and I'll fix up the route you want to do". Or alternate, with the climber who's belaying a given pitch being the replacer for that pitch. Or the Mike G approach - blindfold. (Don't tell YOSAR.)

Adding fixed anchors, whether at belays or for runners, is a far more complex subject. Best if there's solid community consensus, it's well communicated (in advance), and those who did the first ascent agree.

A lot of climbs are possible, even if poorly protected. The amount of rock is finite. If we allow everything to be gridbolted, we're simply stealing from following generations of climbers. The Alps are overrun by via ferratas and guides, and many European rock climbing areas are entirely bolted (often retro-bolted), despite natural anchors. The English and Scandinavians are very protective of their rocks and mountains - they don't have a lot, it's under great pressure, so they simply don't allow some activities.

The Grand Wall bolt ladder at Squamish is protected as a heritage artefact - even though it's one of the longer pre-1980s ones in the world, and was the subject of some debate.

We also have to think of how outsiders look at climbing. If we're seen to be responsible, and looking after our heritage and the environment, it always helps. Indiscriminate bolting, and squabbling about same, do the opposite.

Ultimately, we don't own the environments in which we play, despite all the adolescent male territorial behaviour - and we have to look after them.
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