Climbing Ethics

New Areas. New routes. Retrobolting. Add-ons. Re-grading. etc.
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themoonandthelily
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Climbing Ethics

Post by themoonandthelily » Sun Jan 13, 2019 1:13 pm

Dear Climbing Community

This post is about the ethics of route development. While everyone may have their own opinion. It's my view, that if someone has:

*Spotted a line they would like to develop
*Invested money and time in arranging and acquiring the resources needed to bolt the line
*Taken the effort to drill and put up the chains
*Put in hard work beginning to clean the route
*Has marked the route with In Progress (IP) at the bottom

.. that no one is to ascend that route until the bolting is complete or route is cleaned and or IP is changed to OP or route is given a name and grade for all to climb.

If the route setter is taking too long, the process would be to
1. Find out why from the route setter or MCSA climbing committee member. If there is no valid reason then...
2. Consult with the relevant MCSA climbing committee member about your concerns and wishes. The committee member will then also consult with the route setter to agree about possibly handing over the line to someone else to set and make a first ascent.

There is a case of a climber who began to develop a route, had begun cleaning, had put in chains until he was stopped by Eagle Conservation and bolting was put on hold for quite some time.

After some time a trad climber decided to trad climb the route, wipe out the IP at the bottom of the route and give the route a name and grade as his own First Ascent. This climber has a wealth of knowledge about climbing, and is more than capable of finding his own lines to do First Ascents on and to open.

What he did in my opinion is totally unethical and is just plain shitty behaviour. His ascent in my eyes, may or may not qualify as a first ascent but the route MOST DEFINITELY does not belong to him to open and claim as his own. Especially as this climber was well aware that someone else was busy with opening the route.

After this event and at the end of 2018 the MCSA climbing committee members and Eagle Conservation group had come to agreement on how, when and where climbers could bolt routes. The original route setter was given the go ahead to finish bolting his route after November 2018 once the Eagle Chick had fledged the nest in the area.

Finally, after this climber had done the right thing, waited for the right time to bolt his route, he could finally finish it.

Today the climber, with myself in tow, set up the stance to descend to the anchors at the top of the route so that we may finally finish bolting the route. After gearing up with trad gear, hammers, bolts, a charged drill and was ready with the emotional, mental and physical investment to clean and finish up what was started, I began to rappel down the route. Shocked, I saw bolt after bolt the hole way down and realised someone had come and bolted the route to completion.

Firstly, this route should never have been illegally opened /stolen from the original route setter while there were discussions going on between Eagle Conservation and the MCSA by the trad climber.

Secondly, the fact that the route was opened illegally does not give anyone the right to bolt the route without consultation with the *original* route setter as well as the relevant MCSA committee member.

I am so disappointed in whoever these climbers are that allowed this to happen and did this. Especially when I have been proud to be a part of such a freaking awesome community of climbers that support and respect each other, respect our environment and cheer each other on to be better climbers and people in general.

And with all that in mind, just think twice before being such a...

Lilja

Ockert
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Re: Climbing Ethics

Post by Ockert » Sun Jan 13, 2019 3:14 pm

Developing should not be for own gain.

themoonandthelily
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Re: Climbing Ethics

Post by themoonandthelily » Sun Jan 13, 2019 3:29 pm

That's not really the point. Of course the development of the route is for everyone to enjoy.

It's about basic manners and respect for someone who has begun a project, invested money and time planning, cleaning and ultimately has a vision for the line and how it should be bolted. The right thing to do would be to chat to that person if you'd like to assist in bolting or if you'd like to do the first ascent, alternatively leave them be to finish the route the way they envisioned. It's a project they started after all.

Then everyone can climb it and enjoy it.

Stu
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Re: Climbing Ethics

Post by Stu » Sun Jan 13, 2019 6:34 pm

Sounds like pretty poor form to me. The person should be ashamed, but some people don't care as long as their ego gets a boost, it's a f**k everyone else attitude.

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Forket
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Re: Climbing Ethics

Post by Forket » Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:50 pm

It took the party that placed the IP 3 years to notice that it had been climbed. I traded it in 2016 when I saw the IP without bolts on it. 3 years.... fml 3 years

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Thermophage
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Re: Climbing Ethics

Post by Thermophage » Mon Jan 14, 2019 8:28 am

Keep the MCSA out of it dammit.

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Nic Le Maitre
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Re: Climbing Ethics

Post by Nic Le Maitre » Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:07 am

Should you be bolting a line that you can trad...
Happy climbing
Nic

mokganjetsi
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Re: Climbing Ethics

Post by mokganjetsi » Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:07 am

Agree with you Lilja it was a doos-move. Disregard the supposed FA and claim it.

Just a thought:
We never own a route. The rock's been there for countless millenia and will continue long after we are pushing up daisies. Treat all crags and lines with respect. Consider how the cliffs are a part of the ecosystem (e.g. bird's nests) and participate in that ecosystem - the cliffs are not there only for our enjoyment.

X and R-rated trad lines should not exist (without good reason) in areas where bolting is allowed. Also a redundant trad line at a sport venue doesn't make much sense to me - if it will hardly see any trad sends it may be more appropriate to bolt it (as has been done at Boven, Silvermine etc.)

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Forket
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Re: Climbing Ethics

Post by Forket » Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:24 am

It's a beautiful vertical crack that had an IP on it. So I took a trad rack the next time I went to Bronkies and sent it ground up. I could see no bolts from the ground.

You can disregard FAs as much as you like but you cannot change history.

mokganjetsi
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Re: Climbing Ethics

Post by mokganjetsi » Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:35 am

Forket wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:24 am
You can disregard FAs as much as you like but you cannot change history.
I consider FAs mostly academic, unless it breaks new ground - what does it actually matter who scaled said route first? the real work lies in the cleaning and bolting. some baboon probably climbed that it 1734......

imho you should have asked around and found out whose line it was - IPs on cleaned routes are not random. but anyways, if you climbed it on trad for your own pleasure i would have no problem with it; just uncool to try and wipe out someone else's toil and claim it for yourself.

AndrewV
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Re: Climbing Ethics

Post by AndrewV » Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:52 pm

I agree with Forket, if hes correct and the route has been IP for 3 years, that's plenty of time to get it done....

mokganjetsi
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Re: Climbing Ethics

Post by mokganjetsi » Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:26 pm

AndrewV wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:52 pm
I agree with Forket, if hes correct and the route has been IP for 3 years, that's plenty of time to get it done....
themoonandthelily wrote:
Sun Jan 13, 2019 1:13 pm
he was stopped by Eagle Conservation and bolting was put on hold for quite some time
:thumright

Marshall1
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Re: Climbing Ethics

Post by Marshall1 » Tue Jan 15, 2019 10:32 am

This is a really amusing thread. I had to check it wasn't 1 April.

Somehow normal climbing ethic is on it's head. How can a "beautiful vertical crack" be IP-ed? Lilja, surely you are not publicly grumbling about somebody beating your party to bolting a perfect trad crack? Is this two separate situations?

Correct ethic would be if Ebert made a big noise about shaming the bolters & removed all the bolts on the trad line, but its lots of work & probably not worth the effort.

Mok,why "Disregard the supposed FA and claim it." if you consider "FAs mostly academic, unless it breaks new ground - what does it actually matter who scaled said route first?" So does it matter or does it not matter? Just trying to understand your position.

mokganjetsi
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Re: Climbing Ethics

Post by mokganjetsi » Tue Jan 15, 2019 10:52 am

Marshall1 wrote:
Tue Jan 15, 2019 10:32 am
Mok,why "Disregard the supposed FA and claim it." if you consider "FAs mostly academic, unless it breaks new ground - what does it actually matter who scaled said route first?" So does it matter or does it not matter? Just trying to understand your position.
personally i think whoever "developed" the route should get the credit - spotting the line; obtaining permission; cleaning & bolting. I wouldn't say the FA is meaningless but for a guy like Ebert that was probably a warm-up; for some other oke it might have been the route of a lifetime. personally i don't give a rat's ass that Ebert was the first to climb that line; its just shitty that people who did the actual work got no credit - why not apologise and let the guys who developed the line claim & name their route?? his "FA" does not give him any rights as far as i'm concerned.

i also generally agree with your sentiments around tradable cracks; but let's be honest - Bronkies is a sport crag; trad lines will see very few repeats there. and traddies can always go climb the bolted route.

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Re: Climbing Ethics

Post by Marshall1 » Tue Jan 15, 2019 12:03 pm

It has always traditionally/historically been the FA who gets to name & have his name recorded as the FA. This has been the norm for more than a hundred years. Unfortunately the people who do the actual work, spotting the line; obtaining permission; cleaning & bolting don't generally get recorded as the FA.

Normal climbing ethic would agree that Ebert's ground up trad send trumps a flimsy IP. Flimsy because spotting, cleaning & top anchors on a trad-able route would not normally be recognized as enough development for a legit IP. It should be the bolter, if he did not get permission from Ebert to bolt, who should apologize to Ebert & offer to remove the bolts. Normally a trad FA is respected & its up to the FA to decide if it is changed. Eish sorry Mok,its not correct to say that Ebert's send was a doos move. His send is legit & commendable, even if he regards it as a warm-up for a "hike".

I think the above would be in-line with norms across the world. I think its ok to change & move away from global norms, but then just to recognize that we have moved. Recognize that speed, stealth & guile are important aspects of a project. An IP is advertising.

At the end of the day its the guide writer who decides how the details (history) will be written. In the fullness of life it doesn't really matter & nobody reads the details.

mokganjetsi
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Re: Climbing Ethics

Post by mokganjetsi » Tue Jan 15, 2019 12:41 pm

Marshall1 wrote:
Tue Jan 15, 2019 12:03 pm
Normal climbing ethic would agree that Ebert's ground up trad send trumps a flimsy IP. Flimsy because spotting, cleaning & top anchors on a trad-able route would not normally be recognized as enough development for a legit IP. It should be the bolter, if he did not get permission from Ebert to bolt, who should apologize to Ebert & offer to remove the bolts. Normally a trad FA is respected & its up to the FA to decide if it is changed. Eish sorry Mok,its not correct to say that Ebert's send was a doos move. His send is legit & commendable, even if he regards it as a warm-up for a "hike".
my understanding is that Ebert climbed the route after permission was obtained, the route (partly) cleaned and top anchors bolted by the other parties. The "IP" was in place for 3-years because they did things by the book and suspended the bolting due to Eagle Conservation's request - hence they were "punished" for doing things right. Surely we can't consider that to be the acceptable way of doing things? And why should the bolter apologise to Ebert for placing top anchors before Ebert's send? Completely different issue if the line was trad'ed before all the development efforts were made - then I agree 100% with your sentiments.

If my version of events is wrong then I apologise and retract the "doos move" accusation :pirat:
Last edited by mokganjetsi on Tue Jan 15, 2019 12:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

mokganjetsi
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Re: Climbing Ethics

Post by mokganjetsi » Tue Jan 15, 2019 12:50 pm

Marshall1 wrote:
Tue Jan 15, 2019 12:03 pm
It has always traditionally/historically been the FA who gets to name & have his name recorded as the FA. This has been the norm for more than a hundred years. Unfortunately the people who do the actual work, spotting the line; obtaining permission; cleaning & bolting don't generally get recorded as the FA.
sure enough if it was an "OP". but imho its fair to say that stealing an "IP" is a doos move - or at least not trying to consult with the developer if the IP takes very long.
as a side note, we rejected a legit FA's "rights" when Grant Campbell named "Two to Win" and the Saffa community stuck with the development name of Street Fighter.
Last edited by mokganjetsi on Tue Jan 15, 2019 4:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

AndrewV
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Re: Climbing Ethics

Post by AndrewV » Tue Jan 15, 2019 1:37 pm

Perhaps a cable tie with a note giving the setters contact info discretely placed on the first bolt would go a long way to clearing up these kind of disagreements.

Bloke finishes a route that's IP for 3 years is not unreasonable. If you're prepared to write "IP" on the rock, then there would be no issue using a cable tie to put your contact details on. The responsibility I believe lies with the person who started the route to discretely tag it with contact info. It's silly and unreasonable to expect route developer #2 to ask around and get permission and establish why the route was idle for such an extended period.

Tagging it with a cable tie on first bolt is also imo is better than unnecessarily scrawling IP on the rock.

Any thoughts on this?

mokganjetsi
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Re: Climbing Ethics

Post by mokganjetsi » Tue Jan 15, 2019 4:50 pm

AndrewV wrote:
Tue Jan 15, 2019 1:37 pm
Any thoughts on this?
i agree Andrew (somewhat) - routes should not be hogged for years on end.
in this specific instance there were no bolts yet (only top anchors) and the 3-year delay was totally legit.
since bolting permission have to be obtained in most instances, it should be the minimum effort to find out who is bolting / going to bolt a route. my view is that the onus remains on the prospective new opener - if a reasonable attempt was made to find out and no success i'd say the route is free for the taking.

anyways, thanks all for your viewpoints. i'm out :thumleft:

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Forket
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Re: Climbing Ethics

Post by Forket » Tue Jan 15, 2019 5:18 pm

Lol

To set the history straight:

The guy bolted the anchors before or after he cleaned the stellar vertical crack line.

I went to Bronkies. Spotted an IP on a gorgeous crack line.

At that time the Eagle sector was open to climbing and closed and open, there were mixed signals (we truly believed it was open when a mate went to open his sport line just right of the crack. As he needed a catch I took a rack with me the next time we went to do his proj.

There was still an IP on a gorgeous crackline, with no visible bolts, so I climbed it. Awesome line with a spicy middle, especially on trad.

When I got to the top I noticed the anchor, but proceeded to top out as to not use them.

2 weeks back Paul Bruyere, Barn Paul, asked me if he could bolt it as I had given permission on my 8a scorecard and probably in the guide. He proceeded to bolt it.

3 years later the anchor bolter, Günter, and girlfriend, aka Lilja, went to bolt it and found it already having bolts. They didn't know it has just been done.

Then shit hit the fan.

If anyone disregards and of my first ascents or that of anyone I know on a topo or in a guide, I'll personally invest my time and saving to annoy you.

Ebert
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XMod
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Re: Climbing Ethics

Post by XMod » Tue Jan 15, 2019 11:26 pm

Dear Lilja - welcome to the shitty side of climbing!! You are right about the rules however there are many climbers who could not give a toss about them.

I have personally had many routes stolen and people sneaking in first ascents before me, while I was still actively working the line, well within the usual 1 year time allowance.

My sad conclusion from these experiences was that climbing is full ego-maniacal narcissists who have no clue how to respect other people. The cost of the equipment on all the routes so affected totals in the thousands never mind the scores of days of my free time it took to equip the lines.

All in all a VERY sad reflection on the climbing community and the complete lack of integrity some people have. I have since lost interest in climbing and if I ever do decide to get off the couch (probably - it's a great sport and I miss it) I will NEVER bolt a route at an accessible popular area again EVER. I have also made up steel locking plates that block the bolt hangers and prevent anyone from getting on my projects. I have long made it a practice to never put in chains without also bolting the entire line - that way it's cut and dried who the line belongs to.

PS: Better solution to this conundrum - GO BOULDERING - fuck all the politics that come with sport climbing.
PPS: People are c-ts!

wesleywt
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Re: Climbing Ethics

Post by wesleywt » Wed Jan 16, 2019 9:04 am

At that time the Eagle sector was open to climbing and closed and open, there were mixed signals (we truly believed it was open when a mate went to open his sport line just right of the crack. As he needed a catch I took a rack with me the next time we went to do his proj.
So you didn't bother to find out or obtain permission for the climb from the conservation authorities. Anyone endangering access because he is a P.O.S (add the E where needed), should have their FA disregarded.

KieranKP
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Re: Climbing Ethics

Post by KieranKP » Wed Jan 16, 2019 10:13 am

Yussy oaks, this was back in 2016 :pukel: There are a lot of climbers browsing these forums looking for interesting topics to read and learn from, including young psyched climbers who probably don't need to reading topics with you all cussing each other out? Maybe keep the swearing and personal insults for offline conversations... If you so worried about climbing ethics i'm sure theres a better way to set an example than this.

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Re: Climbing Ethics

Post by SNORT » Thu Jan 17, 2019 7:24 am

Some years ago I did 3 trad FA on a panel of rock at Montague I called the "Dog Bowl". Surprised to find bolted lower offs. The routes are demanding on trad at grade 23 24 and 25. The bolts were placed I found out later by Paddy McCann. The trad routes follow follow lines of weakness of seams and cracks where gear placements are needed. Bolted,the routes would be straighter and quite different.

Paddy told me he had considered bolting the panel but abandoned it.

Finding the bolts up there did not deter me from doing trad ascents and over the years I have had my work cut out preventing wholesale bolting of the panel.

If there is a bolting moratorium on a route then I cannot see that an obvious tradable line may not be climbed by an intrepid tradder. Or perhaps even that someone who is so capable can go solo climb it.

Climbing a perfect crack ground up on-sight on trad has its own particular merits and quite frankly in my view is fundamentally a different ascent than scoping out a route on a TR finessing (cleaning) it with brushes and then bolting it. The whole way of climbing it and the commitment required can be hugely different. So if anyone trads a line they can claim the ascent in that form and I think it is fair enough that it supersedes the right of the bolter to keep it on hold. After all the bolter can go and TR it and record it as such if the bolting is not allowed or the bolter can fix trad gear and do it that way too and claim and name it that way. There are lots of options to claim a FA. One can even hang a rope from the top and put loops to clip into where one would choose to place the bolts while waiting for permission.

What is not acceptable is for anyone to climb a route that has been identified as ecologically sensitive.

History is written by those that care to write it and any FA should be acknowledged for its style.

In Mountaineering winter ascents, speed ascents, alpine vs seige ascents, solo ascents, linkups, all have their place. By all means claim whatever it is you have done in the style you have done it.

Go climb it but don't go bolt a route that is clearly "work in progress" and then claim a FA

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Nic Le Maitre
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Re: Climbing Ethics

Post by Nic Le Maitre » Thu Jan 17, 2019 12:38 pm

Basically:

Don't be a doos, be lekker.
Happy climbing
Nic

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