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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 11:12 am 
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Dear Climber

In 1897 the 17 year-old George Travers-Jackson made the first ascent of Arrow Final on Table Mountain. He did this alone and without equipment. George was pushing the envelope of climbing not just locally, but in the world.

Arrow Final has been enjoyed by countless climbers (and at least one dog) in the intervening 114 years. The many attractions include the aesthetic beauty of the line, the situation, the great rock and the easy grade. In October 2011 a climber saw fit to drill holes and place bolts on this route.

Local regulars have a clear understanding that Table Mountain is an extremely high-value climbing destination. It is, and has been, from the 1800s, the epicentre of traditional climbing in South Africa. It has been praised and enjoyed by leading climbers from around the world - people like Don Whillans, Dave Birkett, Doug Scott, Todd Skinner and many others.

Table Mountain has had holes drilled and bolts placed before this recent incident. If I had the equipment I would probably have placed a bolt in a route called Cool Cat that I opened in 1978. Fortunately I didn't, and with the RPs of today the route is safe with natural gear.

The time has come to co-ordinate, create and publicize a Bolting Policy for Table Mountain. With this writing I intend to initiate this Policy and will be happy to hand over to the Cape Town Section of the MCSA (Andy Wood - chairman) if they will take leadership. Legislation and regulations will be reviewed. The Table Mountain National Park and SAN Parks will be consulted. Stakeholders, including the MCSA and other clubs, rock-climbing guiding services and climbers will be canvassed.

To start with, your help is requested. We need to take stock. This means that we need to capture a history of what bolting has taken place in the past. This must by necessity exclude the actions of the cable way company, Eskom, the city, SAN Parks and other official bodies. We are interested in the actions of climbers and their past bolting activities - who, where, when and why.

Please contribute any information here, if it can assist with filling-out the history and please provide your full name.

Thank you
Hilton Davies


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 10:47 pm 
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I believe the first bolt on Table Mountain was when Mike Scott, Alec McKirdy, Hans Graafland and someone else placed a bolt on their new route Boltergeist in 1978. These are good guys and I count them good friends (Hans was until he died in the mid to late 80s). The bolt was placed for protection on a run-out tricky section with bad fall potential. Brian Gross and Greg Lacey chopped the bolt soon after, and climbed the route without it. Also good guys and good friends (Greg died in 1982 on the North Face of Les Droites). There was some prickliness but with time the realisation dawned on all of us that this was a brilliant and ground-breaking action. Table Mountain was to be respected and treasured.

Boltergeist is a great route and demands a bit of respect on that tricky section.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 1:32 am 
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Real Name: ClimbRat
Thank you for taking the initiative to bring forward this policy. I hope it will bring much needed clarity.
Indeed a ground breaking ascent for the time. Amazing climbing.
Rutger


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 8:48 am 
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Thanks Rutger.

Ask any TM regular and they will tell you that there has in fact been a policy for a very long time but the way these things work is that unless they are written and publicized as standing regulations, the next generation coming through doesn't know about all the discussions and agreements with the regulators and articles in old publications. It is this aspect that I'm trying to fix and ClimbZA is a great vehicle for the housing and dissemination of policy. [Personally I totally hate policies but they're necessary in this over-crowded world to protect the natural environment from people who lack good judgment].

Fortunately for me I've been advised by the MCSA that this project has been taken in hand and knowing the individuals involved (smart, sensible, great climbers) this will be sorted out properly for the long term.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:01 am 
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Aside from the one on Boltergeist, the only other bolt that I can think was placed for protection was the one placed by Gordon Morton and buddies when they opened Clockwork Orange near Atlantic Crag in 1990.

This bolt is still there and would be very dangerous to rely on.

The only reason it hasn't been chopped is because it's such a bitch to carry a hammer up TM as well as all the kit. The route is also nondescript and doesn't really appeal. It would be a good thing if the person who chops Matt's bolts also chops this old one from a top-rope.

As an aside, Joe Mohle is a very hard climbing young Cape Town guy. He recently told me that he tried Clockwork Orange and couldn't do it. It says to me that this route at grade 23 is very suspect. The bolt should go and the route should be erased from route books and history.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:41 am 
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Hey Hilton. Not debating the Clockwork Orange bolt but are you sure erasing the route is the way to go. I did not know Gordon well but he did not strike me as somebody who would claim a false ascent.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 10:10 am 
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Real Name: Scott Miller
Isn't there already a bolting policy that is partly administered for the parks department by MCSA?
Please correct me if Im wrong.

I think it is great though to have th history of bolting on TM so we can live and learn from what has happened in the past.

Cheers
Scott


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 10:34 am 
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Hi Patrick
Not for a moment do I mean to suggest that Gordon claimed a false ascent. He was a very good climber. The problem is that without the bolt in situ the route won't be very hard (maybe grade 30 or something?) but extremely hard and very serious (maybe grade 36R or something). It's one of those routes where without the bolt it isn't the same route. Any unsuspecting visitor following the route book would be in for a shock.

Hi Scott
I believe you're right. The way I see it is that the problem is not the existence of a policy but the current buy-in and dissemination of the policy.

The original cable station was built in 1929. After 60 years of use in 1997 the entire set-up was revamped and for about a year a big area around the top cable station was a construction site and we couldn't climb and top out to walk back down Fountain Ravine as we used to. It was this issue that led to negotiations which then permitted some abseil stations. One abseil station wouldn't do it because the different sections of Africa and Fountain are not connected below the level of the summit and so abseil stations were set up over Odd-Shouters Outing, Africa Corner, Magnetic Wall and Staircase.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 12:17 pm 
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Hi Hilton

Thanks for getting this going. Its great to hear the actual history, especially the rationale for the lower-offs. There’s so much talk/speculation/confusion about existing rules and policies, it would be good to make the reality more widely known as a starting point.

If there is a written SANParks/MCSA policy for bolting within TMNP can we request someone from MCSA to post the highlights on this forum/thread to see if it is generally adequate to address climbers’ concerns for TM proper/the ledge? If its just publicity it needs, this is a great place to start. If it needs more debate and re-consideration, the same applies…

I agree with chopping the Clockwork Orange bolt, its an eyesore and hazard. And not to get sidetracked, but we need to make sure these historic ascents and routes stay well described (just maybe more accurately). In this case, the 1st pitch of Clockwork is a spectacular 19 that leads to a ledge where a climber can choose any number of variations, including decent. Its almost never done because it only appears as the warm up pitch to this mad old undoable route with a sketchy bolt. Sorry for the digression.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 8:48 am 
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Real Name: Charles Edelstein
No route should ever be erased. It is a part of history and part of the character of the place. If a bolt is chopped so be it. Very hard trad routes around the world are rarely on-sighted and many are top roped and then head pointed. Sanitorium as an on-sight is desperate and a lot harder than 25. I am not aware of anyone on-sighting it with and certainly not without some beta.

As for the bolted abseil points on TM:

All fixed gear at least to some extent changes the commitment and safety of doing the route. Watch Arnaud Petit on Black Bean (See link below). By "head pointing" it on trad the whole character of the climb is changed.

What is important on TM is that the character of the climbing must not be affected. It is inherent in the climbing there. Bolted abseils do not change the character of the climbing but their presence has resulted in individuals justifying placing bolts on TM in other contexts that do change the character. And this will happen again. Frasers is next.

The bolted lower offs can be replaced with far more elegant if less sexy traditional lower offs and there are still several on TM. Or the ledge can revert to what it was 20 years ago.

The ledge and TM represents a form climbing that is being slowly but surely erased by commodity climbing that lacks commitment and adventure. "Progress" is no substitute for adventure. It is worth conserving and preserving irrespective of the fact that there is blasted rock and cable ways and tourists around. Life without adventure is hardly worth living.

Nobody should ever be denied the adventure of climbing the routes on the Ledge, whether it be Arrow Final or Africa Arette in the style that they were made and certainly not first timers. There is plenty of other avenues for that.

I propose all bolts be removed.






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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 9:57 am 
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With reference to Clockwork Orange, it might be of interest to some that many years ago, when I was younger, stronger and braver I was looking at the line that eventually became Sanatorium. I had top-roped it, thinking it about 25, but wasn't sure about the gear and so neglected it. Well done to Adnan for also spotting, and completing, this line. While up there, with Mike Scott providing support and top-rope, I also top-roped Clockwork Orange. I remember it being hard, but not impossible. At the time it certainly felt no harder than Sanatorium. The bolt is certainly an eyesore now.
Richard


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2011 4:41 pm 
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Real Name: Justin Lawson
MCSA response to Table Mountain Bolts

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 4:04 pm 
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Adnan: thanks, all good
Richard: Excellent! And you're still a beast..!

For years we've been abseiling off a collection of bongs and chains at the left-hand end of the ledge where Staircase / Boltergeist / Don't Tickle I'll Laugh end.
These bongs were placed by Abseil Africa and this was their original commercial abseil spot.
While hanging around on Muizenberg last weekend Andy Wood told me that Ed February wasn't happy about a commercial operation above us where we climbed and insisted that they move to a spot where they wouldn't interfere with us. This is what caused them to seek permission to bolt a spot above Captain Hook where they would hang far out in space and not affect any climbers.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 5:48 pm 
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"One flew over the cuckoo's nest" had or has a bolt on the first pitch just under the roof. Sorry I don't know the history of this bolt.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 3:55 am 
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I added a hand drilled bolt to the first pitch of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest just below the roof before freeing it in 1991. Prior to me attempting to free it there was already an old Leper bolt on the face about a metre below the roof. After falling off and splitting my shin open to the bone several times, my partner (a medical practitioner) pointed out that if I broke my tibia (or worse if the Leper bolt came out) it would be an awkward place to lose a lot of blood. Given the grade, 29/30, back in 1991, I was falling off it a lot, so wimped out, convincing myself that a further bolt was justified. Since there was already a bolt in place (apparently put there by climbing luminaries Lomax and Hartley), on an aid route, I did not think that it was a major departure from the prevailing ethic on TM. In fact I thought that this was the trend I was supposed to build on i.e. hard ground up trad with the odd bolt placed on lead to overcome a blank section. In hindsight I should have done a bit more research. For 20 years I have assumed that the Leper bolt was placed by Lomax and Hartey when they originally aided it but apparently not. Andrew De Klerk recently told me that someone else (I cannot recall who) placed it, presumably with a view to free climbing it themselves. The original aid line apparently gained the roof a metre or so further right using blade pegs. I wish I had known this at the time.

Jeremy Colenso.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 7:23 am 
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Real Name: Charles Edelstein
Quote:
I did not think that it was a major departure from the prevailing ethic on TM. In fact I thought that this was the trend I was supposed to build on i.e. hard ground up trad with the odd bolt placed on lead to overcome a blank section. In hindsight I should have done a bit more research.


It was indeed not a departure from the prevailing ethic at the time. However, the grade is not relevant.

Fixed pieces of gear on the Ledge were used at the time to advance the level of the climbing and bolts were just one of those devices. Climbing techniques and equipment have changed and so has the ethic. Climbing harder routes on the Ledge were at the experimental and development stage 20 years ago. It is only over the last 10 years or so that the style of climbing harder routes has matured and become the norm. Most first ascents are now "head points", a vastly different modus operandi from the ground-up ethic of the '70's and '80's.

"Head pointing" has resulted in fixed gear becoming mostly unnecessary and then the routes are there for those who are bolder and better to on-sight.

The peg on the first pitch of Africa Arette is a case in point in that it is nice to have, but it is certainly not necessary for safety and once it is perished it should not be replaced.

The question is now, should the bolt on Cuckoo's nest be renewed when it is considered to be perished?

There are two hand drilled 20 year old bolts on Armageddon Time direct at Yellowwood too. Should they be replaced?

I think not. As someone pointed out on this thread. We should accept that there are some places we cannot go and some routes we cannot do. There are undoubtedly several climbers in the world that would be bold enough to climb both these routes sans bolts.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 11:26 am 
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Real Name: Warren Gans
For these old bolts (and perhaps new routes) why are removable bolts not used? Placing and using them has a very similar sense of adventure to trad, but more than that they wouldn’t damage the rock nearly as much as conventional bolts. This would offer more freedom to new routes, and make existing ones safer. Then, in terms of management of the area one would still have to apply for hole placement through existing channels, which would protect the mountains from over drilling.

Over the long term, if the TM management choose to go this route it would be an important first step in starting removable bolt usage in RSA, making the mountain- as in the past- on the forefront of climbing in the country.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:44 pm 
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Excellent point Warren - I think. It seems to offer a neat compromise.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:51 pm 
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They come in various diameters. Standardizing the size would be key.

Given the squealing that too place when Snort modified a placement, I would be suprised if RBs would find approval.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 6:35 am 
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Removable bolts have been discussed over and over. They are difficult to place and the hold is diffcult to see. Expensive etc etc Fashioning a neat slot for a small cam is more elegant and durable and everyone doing tricky routes has small cams.

But as you know I got nuked for trying do just that on Tatwoc.

Again it opens a can of worms or cock roaches and where does it end? How do you regulate and standardize it?


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 7:47 am 
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Related article: Removable Bolts (RBs) – a useful addition to your trad-rack

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 10:42 am 
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I think the suggestion was to only use of removable bolts where an existing bolt is chopped.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 12:24 pm 
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As an aside here, surely cableway station being installed is irrelevant to the placing of bolts? Mountains the world over have been altered by man in some shape or form, anything from a simple footpath to a jeep track to an aerial to installing a cog railway or cable cars to drilling a hole through the mountain and putting a train up it.

Does any of these acts mean that once they are done we have the right to an ethical free-for-all? I don't see how. No-one used the railway as an excuse to bolt Cloggy.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:06 pm 
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Real Name: Franz Fuls
Hilton wrote:

The time has come to co-ordinate, create and publicize



Great initiative! This will clarify things and prevent confusion and misunderstanding in the future.
Getting people informed is very proactive.
Respect!


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 1:11 pm 
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Goo: thanks for info. Who are you?
Jeremy C: thanks J. Those days were experimental for all of us and you were at the bleeding edge. It's only in recent years that we are sorted.
Warren & Patrick: removable bolts on TM would be a very, very bad idea. Thin edge of the wedge applies. You have to anticipate that the traverse on Roulette would get drilled as would the crux on Touch and Go, Boltergeist, top pitch of Tour de Force etc etc. And you can't unscramble an egg. Some places need to be treasured and TM is one of them.
Chris F: agreed completely. Who are you?
Franz: thanks buddy

More on Abseil Africa:
Richard Behne tells me that they placed those bolts directly over Magnetic. And that they placed bolts overlooking Platteklip Gorge.

In February 2008 Robert Breyer placed a bolt (or two?) above Bombay Duck on Venster Buttress. These were chopped by the MCSA.
In October 2010 the MCSA procured Sanpark permission and placed bolts above Bombay Duck.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 3:45 pm 
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Hilton wrote:
More on Abseil Africa: ...that they placed bolts overlooking Platteklip Gorge.


I am aware of one bolt that was placed at Platteklip Gorge - the rest of the placements (for the abseil) were trad.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 4:15 pm 
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Hilton wrote:
Chris F: agreed completely. Who are you?


A concerned citizen of the planet. I can PM you my ID number if you want :?:


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 3:44 pm 
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Joe Möhle recently sent 'A Clockwork Orange' on Table Mountain and removed the bolt.

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