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To Bolt or not to Bolt, That is the question !
Bolt all Tradable Lines, stuff ethics 43%  43%  [ 3 ]
Bolt lines that are not Tradable 29%  29%  [ 2 ]
Stop Bolting for the sake of Nature 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
Chop all bolted routes in South Africa 14%  14%  [ 1 ]
Ban the use of all Pro, grow some balls & free solo everything 14%  14%  [ 1 ]
Total votes : 7
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2006 8:59 am 
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Have your say on where modern climbing should head. Feel free to add a comment , but try keep it clean.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2006 9:22 am 
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the issue is more complicated than that, offer more options then I'll vote.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2006 9:35 am 
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Stu, suggest other options, I'll consider them, put them to the board and approve those that are valid. Input is most welcome. :)


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2006 11:55 am 
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All lines are traddable! You can drag a rope up anything, it might not have any gear however!


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2006 1:48 pm 
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The final say should go to whoever owns the land! Climbing anywhere is a priviledge, bolted or not bolted!


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2006 3:06 pm 
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Come on, the voting options are way too simplistic. For example, bolting practices differ from area to area (based mainly on a general consensus amongst climbers, never mind the landowners). Take Boven - I think most would agree that opening a trad line there, and expecting it to stay as such, is selfish, or at least out of keeping with the area; the opposite is true of, say, Wolfberg in the Cederberg, where most climbers would agree that even the most awesome untrabable line at the cracks (of which there are hundreds), is out of bounds to bolts.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2006 3:56 pm 
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Our rock is often in the grey area between a desirable trad lead and a stonking sport line. We need to develop a set of criteria or guidelines that can be followed to ensure a healthy future for both aspects of the sport. Friends and I have dealt with this issue numerous times at a crag we have been developing. These are some of our findings on the subject. If everybody can contribute their ideas and comments we might be able to discern a common thread, and define these criteria/guidelines more clearly.

(The following assumes we want to open a new line that falls in this grey area)
1 Attempt the new line ground up trad.
2 Failing that rig a toprope, reassess the line in safety and look hard for possible gear placements. If there are enough to protect it properly, it is a trad line whether you manage to lead it or not.
3 How much gear is enough? Weve used a one third yardstick, if one third to a half of the route has no gear it might be best done as a sport line.
4 Exceptions? Some routes have conceivably enough gear but are hard (let say 7a/24 and up) and the gear is in completely the wrong place to adequately protect the moves. Maybe it could then be considered for bolting?
5 Was the climbing any good? If not it should definitely not be bolted!
6 Discuss the line with other climbers (whoever you can trust not to go steal it! ) Other eyes and input often turn up things you may not have considered.

Note the lack of absolutes (grey area remember). The only absolute is if it takes good gear it absolutely should not be bolted-period!


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2006 8:16 am 
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Bolt, but with reservation. Don't waste hardware on tradable stuff.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 3:48 pm 
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Funny - this debate has gone round in a kind of cycle - with a period of about 15 years it seems.

In 1991, Guy Holwill and Jeremy Colenso developed the Worlds Apart crag in Badkloof at Montagu. Guy opened his route in the recent style (recent to SA that was), of a fully-bolted sport route, and Jeremy opened two routes on pre-placed trad gear - sort of as a kind of protest and to show his pure ethics. The result was that Guy´s route got loads of ascents, and Jeremy´s two routes never received a second ascent. Some time later, he returned to bolt a single line, as a combination of his two trad routes, which he called the Delete Button, because it erased the two former routes. No surprises that the Delete Button received numerous repeats in short time.

Moral of the story: people went to Worlds Apart to climb sport routes, not trad. If they wanted to trad climb at Montagu, they went to Lost World, where in respect of this choice, people did not apply the \"new\" fully-bolted route ethic.

Now we have an interesting situation at Boven: a visiting German climber, Jens Richter, opens a new hard route. But not in the generally accepted style of the area (i.e. fully-bolted). Rather he opens the route in the style of his home area - the Pfalz of south-western Germany (also known as the Palatina), where routes usually receive bolts only where they really \"need\" them (consequently hard routes tend to have many more bolts than easier ones, which would be fuel for a whole new angle to this debate were we to have that in SA!)

With all due respect to Jens (because I know him well), I think his route should be fully bolted by any climber who considers it worthy of a repeat attempt. My reasoning: the style of protection is completely at odds with that of the area, which is overwhelmly for fully-bolted routes.

We do, after all, have many, many climbing areas, where nobody would dream of placing bolts. So I think as a climbing community, we can generally say that we have a good balance.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 3:56 pm 
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I should have ended that off with the following:

If Jens had opened a route in the Pfalz style at say Krakadouw, or Tafelberg, or at the Ledge, my opinion would be, with the same conviction, and for exactly the same reason, that the bolts should be chopped.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2006 2:39 pm 
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Another angle to this debate is whether new crags should from the outset be designated as trad areas. It seems to me that, at least in Cape, new crags are being largely developed wholly as sport crags. I personally think it would be great if there were new crags developed along these lines i.e. no bolting other than maybe lower offs.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2006 8:44 pm 
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Paddy et al, A lot of my opinions and rantings stem from experiences I have had during the many years of developing Hellfire crags where sport and trad and the odd mixed routes live next to each other in perfect harmony. There has been little overlapping or clash of interests. I am firmly of the opinion that designating a whole area as one or the other is short sighted and retrogressive, look at what has happened at Boven. A lot less bolts and a bit more tradding would have created an area with far more character and depth to the climbing experience. Barring areas where obviously blank rock or well railed and cracked rock may dictate overwhelmingly a certain approach to equipment, areas should be handled on a route by route basis. Let the rock dictate what is needed not climbers.

Our fascination with sport climbing in the recent past has bred a whole generation of climbers who are completely clueless about trad and the myriad of possibilities it has to offer. Again I wish all those new to our sport were trained in the art of trad from the start so this narrow minded dependance on bolts could end. All the arguments about not owning the gear etc etc are rather thin, and pale in comparison to the daunting task we are setting with having to maintain all of these routes in future. If youre looking for endless trad exploration and new areas head out to the Eastern Cape, there are a million lifetimes worth of lines waiting for you!


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 12:33 am 
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That statistic doesn't inspire any great confidence in SA's climbing furture, does it?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 5:48 am 
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Who is going to maintain all these sport routes? Who? Who will pay for the equipment & hardware?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 8:37 am 
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Gri, Hellfire is a great example of what a crag could look like where trad and sport routes exist in the same area. If all crags were like this it would be great.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 11:24 am 
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Yeah Stu, dont think the poll stats bear any representation of actual opinion. Where exacltly and how I do I enter my vote anyway??? Good point Marshall, maybe people should be forced to maintain their own routes! Bet that would put a lid on the explosion of ironmongery!!! :P


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 12:05 pm 
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I think the reason Hellfire has sport and trad routes living in harmony is because the average sport climber is too lazy to walk all the way up there.
How many of the silvermine/lakeside/peer's cave grade 14-20 sport climbers do you think would take the time and trouble to walk all of 40 minutes up to a crag that has only a handful of routes that they can manage anyway, never mind carry a drill and bolting gear up to the crag?

I may be mistaken, but all the sport routes at hellfire were bolted by trad climbers that also climb sport. Are there any excpetions to that?

Had the crag been closer to the road the many amazing trad routes that are there would have been under considerable bolting pressure.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 2:20 pm 
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How do you force bolters to maintain their routes? Who does the forcing? Who wants to waste his money & time putting fresh hardware on an old route?

Guys like Keith James, Guy Howill and some others have bolted well more than 200 lines. Are they really expected to maintain all these lines at their cost?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 4:02 pm 
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South Africa is not the only country in the world with a \"generation\" of people who do not know how to climb on trad gear (if it really is a \"generation\"). Most rock climbers in Europe have never placed trad gear - they find it difficult to comprehend entire multi-pitch routes with no bolts - of which we have many hundreds, with more being opened all the time. So I fail to see what is wrong with SA climbing in that regard, when taking a world perspective.

Grigri - maybe you are right about Boven. If an ethic if minimal bolting and mixed routes had developed there, then maybe the climbing would be a whole lot more interesting, and still remain very accessible.

But many people do want to climb fully bolted routes. So perhaps taking an area-by-area perspective is still not a bad approach - where it is accepted that some areas will be fully-bolted, others mixed, and others completely bolt free; with criteria such rock type, quality, landownership, locality, and the state of the natural environment being used to make a pragmatic consensus decision on the matter.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 4:04 pm 
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Oh, and the \"ruling\" climbing body (in SA, the MCSA) will organise the maintenance of equipment on routes - just as is happening in Cape Town, and as happens in Europe (the various Alpine clubs). Who else would do this for f---sake?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 4:07 pm 
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Does anybody know how many years for example a hilti expansion bolt would last on say silvermine crag in the Western Cape equivalent to say the slipper in the Eastern Cape in distance from the ocean.
And how long the same bolt would last compared to montagu in w-cape more or less the equivalent distance from the ocean as say cocks comb region in the e-cape.
I know there are many factors involved but more or less how many years would be safe?
Hope i dont have to use my pension to rebolt the routes i'm bolting.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 5:22 pm 
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Doug as always good balanced comments, I do understand how areas develop into one approach or another, but it seems as though some approaches to climbing have been shunned at the expense of the rock. Nobody would dream of toproping as a serious alternative and yet it is the best way to play on rock in new areas which may not be suitable for further development, mixed routes are frowned upon as not conforming to the ethics of pure trad yet more of them would have saved the placing of hundreds of bolts country wide. Perhaps SA climbers need to rid themselves of this tunnel vision, think out the box a bit, and stop conforming to ethics and standards that were imported from overseas, but which probably dont suit our rock that well.

PS the maintain your own routes comment was obviously tongue in cheek! :wink: I mean who would continue the maintenance when we are old and decrepit and unable to get it up anymore?

How long do bolts last? Good question, 316 stainless corrodes at the rate of 1mm every 200years under ideal conditions. Most overseas crags are turned over every 15-20years inland and more often by the coast. The bolts probably last much longer if placed correctly but safety comes first.

The sport routes at Hellfire were all equipped by climbers -period. We all trad, sport, boulder and aid too, its all climbing. I dont think any of us define ourselves so narrowly!


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 5:54 pm 
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Doug I say balanced comments - except one. \"most rock climbers in Europe have never placed gear\" come on! You've been around long enough to know thats complete crap! Most brits are well versed in the ways of trad, at Verdon, Presles, Chamonix and many other bigger cliffs in france mixed routes are everywhere, and thats on limestone in the country that brought us sport climbing! Additionally there are thousands of trad routes throughout the Alps. Groups of German and Swiss climbers I met recently all do trad on a regular basis. Trad is most certainly alive and well all over the world.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 1:46 pm 
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\"in SA, the MCSA) will organise the maintenance of equipment on routes - just as is happening in Cape Town\"... oh right. All of them! This is not Europe.

There are about 322 bolted lines in ECape. 6 drills. MCSA members who would consider re-bolting... 6 max. MCSA is funding the re-bolting of van Stadens Main Wall. About 8 routes.

Life span of bolts on the Slipper 10-12 years max.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 2:54 pm 
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I think the reason Hellfire works is because the people who developed the area have ethics that don't include bolting trad lines!


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 10, 2006 1:06 pm 
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... there's still nothing stopping a trad ascent of a bolted line, if you want to climb trad. Try it and you'll see how pumped you get wishing you could wimp out and clip one of those nice shiny hangers ...


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 10, 2006 7:12 pm 
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Wow... f#&k... I never though of that.

Maybe we should change the ethic too: if you trad a line with bolts on then it is ok to chop them on the way down.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 10, 2006 10:25 pm 
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Grigri, I have never done a census, but I did live in Germany for nearly 5 years. On the basis of that, as well as travelling to MANY areas in Europe both during this time and before, I would bet that more than half the people in Europe who climb on rock have never placed trad gear - that makes most.

In Germany, areas like the Frankenjura, which are fully-bolted, have many, many, many more visitors than others which require tradding, like the Pfalz. One almost always queues for the classic bolted lines; one almost never queues for the classic mixed lines.

Enough said. The point is we are not so strange in SA.

I like your comment that maybe we shouldn´t just import an ethic from overseas, though. Maybe our rock type is better for something else. Afterall, the fully-bolted ethic does come from limestone.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2006 9:53 am 
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Ja Im just hammering the trad point Doug. Well I cant singlehandedly convert everyone, Im just going to make a point of doing more trad myself, especially at places like Hellfire, so that the sport climbers queing for their routes can be exposed to the trad option happening next to them.


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