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Mary overbolting

Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 1:04 pm
by Hector
I was at Mary in the eastern cape recently and was amazed at the amount of steel at the place. All the stonking cracks had lines of shimmering bolts running next to them. The place is not a sport crag - its on the edge of the karoo and has a steep and hot hour long walk in. I dont have a problem with bolting some of tha appealing blank faces, but why spoil perfectly good cracks? Can anyone enlighten me?

Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 1:35 pm
I'm from the states and have only climbed in Boven this past march. I was blown away by the bolting of, well, everything. Cracks, seams, faces any lines I saw had been bolted without any respect for the traditionalist or aid climber. If possible natural line exists let it be freed by the bold climber, not by the sport climber. And lets not even bring up the name and grade being written at the base of the climb. I'm from the North-East USA and our climbing community is highly motivated and self regulated. If bolts go up that shouldn't, chop chop and fill the holes in.

Besides this I loved your country, your crags, and your climbers. This is more of a commentary that a criticism. We have a good deal of crags in the states that have been, in my eyes, ruined by the overeager bolter.

P.S. Maybe I'm just jelous, we're in ice season right now and I miss the long warm days of summer

Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 1:43 pm
by Hector
This whole sport/trad debate has been raging ever since the first bolts were placed. I dont have such an issue with places such as Boven, because they are high volume sport crags and people go there to climb sport. As long as the FA ethics are respected I think its ok to bolt some of the cracks there. Mary is a different story. Its location makes it a very low volume area. The crags are 100m high and theres a fair amount of loose rock. In my experience, no pure sport climber is going to head up there. So why make clip-ups?

Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 4:57 pm
no mater where, every thing always gets bolted no mater what. why not let the grag be a trad grag for a while and then maby later on some lines with no natural pro can be bolted. because if you think about it the only places that are not bolted are places where it is not alowed. or places nobody wants to climb at. leave it natural for a while and then maby you can bolt some things later.

Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 9:19 pm
The cracks were bolted by this old top who lives in the Eastern cape and thinks that the crag is the private reserve of himself and selected guests, unluckily for us he lost his balls some time back on one of those bumpy dirt roads and has been retrobolting everything in sight since. Sad really, he is still doing it, see inset on page 30 of the latest samountainmag. What a waste of good stainless steel! Take a trad refresher course for pities sake Keith!!!

Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2006 12:21 am
right on hector, if it's a naturally protectable line and this guy bolted it even though its a back country cliff. Chop chop. It's weak he did it, I second the recomendation for the guy to go back to trad school. :D
Jon from the US

Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2006 11:50 am
it's not only mary. I did a little hogsback trip and was shocked at the bolting up of the place. same story, some routes were obvious trad cracks and not only were they bolted, but they were 'macho' bolted. Bolts were well below cruxes and some falls would have been really unsafe. what ever happened to climbing mixed style? everyone bitches and says 'it's a mission to carry the extra gear'. what bullsh*t. A small set of camelots and some nuts is not alot extra. Place where the gear is good, drill where it's blank and the fall is unsafe. As for 'boven, I do not agree with you Hector. The same ethics should apply. I hear your consumerist plea, however Yosemite is full of consumer routes that are mixed. Why cant we have some trad lines next to sport lines? It's sheer laziness and very sad to expect that everyone shares your ideas on this. Jon, I agree with you. We should chop those lines. It reminds me of Voytec and Alards line in Namibia, 'Water sports'. They opened the bomber line with all trad. The stations were wherever you wanted one. Then some doos went and placed nice shiney bolted anchor ststions. They did this without any permission. The FA'ists will now have to go back and chop these bolts as the spirit of the climb has been tampered with. All too often we hear of idiots with drills messing up a place. Kieth James is one of them. I am yet to climb a KJ route and think it was cool. He either bolts the biggest piece of shit line or when he finds a good one, he probably topropes it to death, then macho bolts it so his friends can think he's brave and kool. The sweat in his jocks can then help his tiny shrivelled raisen nuts fill out a bit.

Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2006 12:53 pm
by Dees advocate
Hi <blank>,

I agree it's poor form to stick bolted belay stations on someone's line.

Surely what you're saying is that the first ascensionist gets to dictate the style of the route?

Are you suggesting that this shouldn't apply to a sport route?

Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2006 2:02 pm
hello, not exactly. There needs to be a root ethic where the division between sport and trad becomes blurry. Nobody wants to die or get hurt, thus the FA's conscience should come into play when developing a route. If everybody played it this way then obviously all we'd have is mixed routes. To me the big joke is that alot of climbs are not safely protected and as the average joe weekend warrior believes if it gleems it's good, they end up getting hurt because of the bolter's ego. I just think that if a climb can be protected in a way that it's always safe, then people will have fun on it. If there happens to be a bomber rail then why not use it for pro. Basically, I am saying the FA'ist has the final say. If he's some crazy punk with a death wish, and his route is classic except for the 10 meter lead outs, then people should try and reason with him. If the person still declines, then that should be respected. It will be reserved for other like minded people.

Seriously tho, you can climb a route any way you like, use bolts, dont use them. It would be cool if we had more mixed routes though. There are some at 'boven however nobody chalks them up. Probably from fear. If we were more used to thinking for ourselves we'd be better climbers.

To sway the topic though, what about if you climb a sport route and along the way you back up a bolt or fill a gap with some trad pro. Does this still mean you sent it? It wasn't climbed exactly the same as the FA did. Or if a hold breaks off you should rename the climb 'cos it's not how the FA did it. We should get a climber into parliament so we can make ONE set of laws, and anyone who breaks them, will go to Pretoria Pen and get butt slammed for it.

Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2006 2:10 pm
by Hector
Dees Advocate, I think you're right - it is all about the style of the first ascent. I hear what you're saying - if the first person to climb a particular route decides that it should be a clip-up, then thats his/her prerogative. The difference is that once a climb is a clip-up it will stay that way. And no matter what anyone says, if the route is done on trad subsequently, it will not be the same as if the bolts were never there. But there is a fine line. Take Dream Street Rose. It was initially climbed by AdK with (I think) 1 bolt. Subsequently Clinton climbed it all natural. Now no one can claim that Adk had poor ethics or small balls. I think people just need to use their discretion. I think the one good thing is that sport climbers tend to shy away from big stonking jam cracks and like to stick to the blank faces!

PS. it would be good to hear Kieth James' comments on the issue

Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2006 2:48 pm
by Dees advocate
Hector and <blank>,

Thanks for posting thoughtful comments (i.e not flaming me), it makes a change in this forum :P

I pretty much agree with your sentiments regarding bolting easily protectable lines (despite being predominantly a sport climber). It just seemed that you were bagging on someone with a different opinion on what \"proper\" ethics are.

The fact that we still discuss this issue shows that there's never going to be complete agreement...


Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2006 3:02 pm
by Gadget
Hector wrote:I think you're right - it is all about the style of the first ascent
I do think, and you'll probably agree, that there is more to it than respecting the style of the first ascent. In most areas, crags are to some extent designated sport / trad / no-bolting and where there is sufficient consensus (whatever that is) this takes precedence. The issue gets complicated when styles are mixed or crags that are resurrected after many years (e.g. should bolted routes that became accepted, classic sports routes be chopped becase 15 years ago someone trad it once and then moved on to greener pastures?).

Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2006 3:52 pm
only if the first ascent was trad.then u must ask permission to bolt. If it's bolted and you go trad it then no, of course the route will not be changed. If this were the case then all the routes that get solo'd would men you'd have to do the same.

Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2006 8:39 pm
Gadget I disagree that 'things get complicated when you mix styles'. Twenty years ago there was no such thing as one style or the other, John Bachar's death routes in Tuolome meadows cannot be considered as anything other than trad even though the only protection available are the (very few) bolts he placed.

At a crag we have developed, sport routes live happily right next to trad lines and (so called) mixed lines. The distinction as to how to protect a route is obvious and quite clear. A blank face or arete gets sportified, crack lines stay trad. If at all feasible the trad line is climbed pure with no recourse to bolts. Only in the (very rare) intstance of a five star route, of a grade accessible to most people, that has some extremely dangerous sections would we consider going the 'mixed' way, and then only after much argument and consultation with other climbers. Under no circumstances should a climber ever bolt an obvious trad line. Its just being selfish and pathetically mediocre, let alone being a complete waste of time and decent hardware that could just as easily have been used to create a worthwhile sport route.

The obvious confusion would set in when a large portion of the route is unprotectable by traditional means. In this case why not just bolt that section and create a mixed line? Purer ethically and a lot less work and expense. We have used as a rule of thumb, that if a third or more of a line has no pro then it should be a sport route, even then such decisions are usually only arrived at after much discussion with other climbers. Although I slam Kieth earlier in this discussion in his defense most of the routes were opened by him and there are few other active climbers in the Eastern Cape, however it still does not excuse his actions. Can one of his peers please take it up with him (Microbe?). Kieth dust off that rack and leave the noisy machine at home!

We have all become way too enamoured with our power tools and how effortlessly they place those shiny little metal brackets. Save the bucks you would otherwise spend on all these useless bolts and put it toward some trad gear, once you can do trad the entire world of rock opens up to you, and you can conceivably climb anywhere in this vast country where rock appears rather than just at a few developed crags. Derek Marshal has a point! Save the steel for accessible classic crags/lines that do not have traditional gear placements. But Ive ranted on about all of this before so enough mumbling, Im off to Oudtshoorn with a large box of steel in the boot!!! Later!
PS If I see any cracks I'll be sure to bolt them for you Kieth! (Kidding!) :lol:

Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 1:28 am
Just because you wrote a book (long post) doesn't not make you right! If a route only has bolts how f#@k is it a trad route? You are retarded and should think before name dropping. Bachar would probably laugh at you! Paarl has very run-out routes but they are in no way traditional! They are BOLTED routes! South Africans (in general) are becoming pussies when it comes to the danger aspect of climbing compaired to the rest of the world. Ethics seems to have taken a back seat to 'greed'...

Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 2:23 am
...doesn't make...

Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 12:34 am
For the moronic out there traditional means the way things have been done in the past. It does not refer exclusively to using 'Natural' or 'clean' protection such as nuts and friends. Back when Bachar bolted those lines sport climbing was only just being defined and the modern term trad had not yet been coined.

So to elucidate further:

Traditional; ascending using the cleanest means possible only in the eighties did this pursuit of purity evolve to include the exclusion of bolts and eventually pegs in the interests of null impact. At first it was called clean climbing or naturally protected climbing. It is only in recent years that the term traditional has been retrospectively used to describe this style.

Sport climbing developed in Europe where the safety provided by the use of bolts to protect otherwise unprotectable limestone cliffs, was exploited in order to push the standard of free climbing further. The core idea beng to remove the danger so that the climber can concentrate on the moves.

By no stretch of the imagination do Bachars routes (or any other routes of the time where bolts were used conjunction with other gear) comply with the ethos of Sport climbing. In fact if you consider them properly they are quite obviously closer in character to the description of trad climbing. Hence I call them trad routes. Study a little climbing history before you blurt out in ignorance. I would hardly compare the retrobolted routes at Paarl to lines such as the Bachar Yerian. Perhaps if ADKs routes there had been left as he opened them there would be a valid comparison, but even then one could hardly have called them sport routes.

Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 12:48 am
Perhaps you would be more comfortable with the term bolted adventure route? Does that fit modern nomenclature better?

Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 5:00 am
The point is: If a route only has bolts and no gear it is not a trad/traditional route, period! There is no debate.

Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 5:11 am
And further more purity of climbing was practised way earlier than the 80's my friend! Do you ever read about the rest of the world, have you ever heard of the Saxons in East Germany and the Czech Rep? And what about English Gritstone, go to any of these places and you'll find real climbers not bitches complaining about run-outs. I clip bolts too and like to have a fun day out not feeling gripped but I don't diss people who open 'danger' routes I respect them!

Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 9:07 am
Crap. You don't appear to have any respect for anybody.

There's no doubt you'd diss someone who opened a \"danger\" route if you didn't have anyone else to diss at that particular moment in time, because it seems that that's the only way you know how to interact with people.

Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 12:00 pm
argumentative little pr-ck arent you? Yet another thread swerved off course and scuttled by pedantic semantics and macho one-upmanship...YAWN :roll:

Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 12:42 pm
Yawn aimed at the guy getting all worked up and swearing, not the post immediately above

Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 7:50 pm
by Derek Marshall
Back to the topic...

Current SA ethic, as I understand it is, a route is free to be bolted if the FA has given his permission. Thus if Keith has their permission or is the FA, he is free to drill away. Clearly...That is the story. No bitching

But personaly, bolting of obvious tradable routes is detestable & a waste of bolts. 3 of the routes I bolted on Lady Slipper, turned out to be previously opened on trad(not obvious)...this is embarasing & regretable. They will get the chop at some stage soon. As well as my 2 routes on the Hog. Think twice before you bolt fellows. If you can't onsight it on trad, pre-place & remove or keep walking. Get the right gear if you don't have it.

This idea(in SA) that sport climbing is the only way forward for climbing, as it is in totaly false. UK, USA, parts of Europe & Australia are strong trad countries. The minute a bolt is placed it starts to decay. Who is going to replace all these bolts when they are rotten? Sport routes require maintanance, which makes them unsustainable in a climbing population as small as South Africa's.

Often a route is bolted for other people to enjoy. This is a crap motive for bolting/opening a route. Open it because you want to, because you have to...because you will explode if you don't. To hell with others enjoying it or not being able to do it because they don't have the gear. Sack them. And people need to learn how to get down from a walk down, place some tat... find an ab route.

There are by the way a fair number of climbers in the EC who are very active.

Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 9:35 pm
by Gonzo
I am predominantly a sport climber, but I do believe in trad climbing “ethics”.
The main disadvantages of bolting in my opinion are.

1)Permanent damage to rock faces – Bolts need to be replaced holes have to be made bigger each time or additional holes are made. Strubens Valley is looking like metal scrap yard lately, new anchors have been places which aren’t even usable because old anchors haven’t been removes and gates touch old anchors. Some tosses also continually belay off the anchors causing them to wear out rapidly.

2)Increased amount of people per area – I’m sorry to say this but I like the mountains to myself, sport climbing draws many people who have little appreciation for nature and conservation, this is largely evident in sport crags which have many eroded path and plenty of litter and cigarette stumps.

3)I don’t believe that the choice of bolt/trad should be left up to the FA as many areas are on private land and without getting proper permission access could be lost, also if an area is generally considered a trad area it should remain that way, example Magalisberg.

4)This last point is purely emotional but to me rock climbing is a competition with you and the rock and milking the natural protection that the rock offers is gives great satisfaction as opposed to giving the rock no chance by bolting it. This is eviden’t in mountaineering in general where in the Himalayas for example cash and hi tech equipment gets you up the mountain and the sherpas do most of the work.

I’m running out of time, but I’m keen to also post my ideas on Pros for bolted climbs and when I do agree and support it. Till then climb on.


Posted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 11:07 pm
by American
I was looking for articles on glue-ins and stumbled across this thread.. Here in the states.. its like this.

You bolt something that should not be bolted.. its going to be chopped. no discussion. DOnt like the bolts there b/c you can trad it.. chop those bitches! sure someone will be pissed.. but you gotta stick with the ethics.. Bolts running parallel to a crack are senseless.

There is a place for bolts...but not on routes with gear placements. Take it upon yourself to piss someone off for the reason of doing something you believe in.

Posted: Sun Jan 08, 2006 2:12 pm
by Derek Marshall
Now there's an American policy that I can agree with.

Posted: Sun Jan 08, 2006 7:16 pm
by Scott Noy
I personally get more REWARD from climbing something that challenges me both physically and mentally (scary), that's way I enjoy both 'bouldering' and 'trad'... and to a lesser degree 'hard sport'. It's all about your own evolution in climbing, you'll see, the more your confidence grows the bigger your 'balls' will get. Open routes in the best ethics possible because they will be there long after you're gone...

Posted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 4:34 pm
by Juri
Thank god I boulder!

Posted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 7:41 pm
by Derek Marshall
Thank you God that Juri boulders. Long may he be satisfied.