/ Scottish Sport Climbing - I'm worried

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Robert Durran - on 22 Jun 2013
I got my beautiful, glossy and in many ways inspiring new Scottish Sports Climbs guide in the post yesterday but I am a bit worried. There seem to be rather a lot of little crags in it, often in out of the way places, which have been bolted up despite apparently not having anything about them which suggests they wouldn't make perfectly good little trad crags. Has this bolting slipped under radar without proper debate except perhaps by a small number of locals keen to have a "training venue"? Is it the result of Scotland not having the steep limestone which England has and which generally provides a delineation for bolting? Indeed, I recently heard a "local" suggest that a perfectly good trad crag I had just visited would have been bolted had it been "discovered" today. Should I be worried?
Fultonius - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran: Nah, there's hundreds and hundreds of amazing trad crags in Scotland. As long as they're not bolting up crack climbs, or retroing trad crags does it really matter?

If creagh dubh was found now, it could very well have become a sport crag and in my opinion would have been worse off for it, but if someone goes out and spends the time, money and effort developing similar crags into small, decent sport crags I can't see how it's a problem?

Maybe if there were more adventurous trad new routers around they would have found them first and climbed them trad; or maybe they have been found and left alone?

Can you point out a few examples?
JLS on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:

If a crag in the forrest is bolted and no trad climbers ever go there to see it, did the crag get bolted at all?

Sounds like you've lost something you didn't know you had.
Robert Durran - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to JLS:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)

> Sounds like you've lost something you didn't know you had.

And which I'll now never have.

The Pylon King on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:

Any new crag, by default, should be trad unless it is completely unprotectable.
Fultonius - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to The Pylon King: How do you define "completely unprotectable"?

What if you found a crag that had 2 lines that would give dangours E5/E6 chop routes with grotty top outs, or 15 decent sport routes in the mid 6s to mid 7s.

Should this be a trad crag?
MischaHY - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran: Correct me if I'm wrong, but if the crag is climbable on trad but is bolted anyway, then surely you can still quite happily climb away on your trad gear and ignore the bolts? I agree that trad should be the first priority on crags to which it is applicable, but sport is much too much fun to be elitist about it.
JLS on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to rasmanisar:

Did you not try this TROLL earlier today?
Robert Durran - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Fultonius:
> (In reply to Robert Durran) Nah, there's hundreds and hundreds of amazing trad crags in Scotland. As long as they're not bolting up crack climbs, or retroing trad crags does it really matter?

Maybe, but there can never be enough trad crags to keep me happy and busy in the north west! I hope I have several decades of climbing to look forward to, but I already sometimes feel I am running short of routes to do for the first time.

> If creagh dubh was found now, it could very well have become a sport crag and in my opinion would have been worse off for it.

Precisely. That's the problem!

> Maybe if there were more adventurous trad new routers around they would have found them first and climbed them trad; or maybe they have been found and left alone?

But the people who found them are often also trad climbers, so why did they choose to bolt them? Is it cynical to suggest motives other than that they would make crap trad crags. I don't know; I'm just worried!
>
> Can you point out a few examples?

Flicking through the guide, how about Crag nan Ord (p320) and Creag nan Luch (p302)? Unless the picture of Astar on p305 is very deceptive it looks a decidedly unsuitable sports route.

JLS on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:

>"And which I'll now never have."

I can only suggest you get out new routing more and save the last few undiscovered virgin trad crags from rape, by the hoards of bolters that are currently, running a mock in the highlands.
In reply to Robert Durran:
> Is it cynical to suggest motives other than that they would make crap trad crags.

Motives could be anything, but considering the considerably more effort, time and expense that making a sports route takes over a trad route, I suspect there's not much to be cynical about. Trad new routing is very much the easy option in my experience.
Robert Durran - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to JLS:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
> I can only suggest you get out new routing more and save the last few undiscovered virgin trad crags from rape, by the hoards of bolters that are currently, running a mock in the highlands.

You may well have a point.

Robert Durran - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> Motives could be anything, but considering the considerably more effort, time and expense that making a sports route takes over a trad route, I suspect there's not much to be cynical about. Trad new routing is very much the easy option in my experience.

So it was suggested to me that if Mungasdale had been discovered more recently it might well have been bolted. It is a good (though not outstanding) trad crag. So what is the motive that has emerged for bolting such crags? I'd be genuinely interested to know.

Jamie B - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to rasmanisar:

> Correct me if I'm wrong, but if the crag is climbable on trad but is bolted anyway, then surely you can still quite happily climb away on your trad gear and ignore the bolts?

AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Stop peddling this f***ing SHITE!! How can so many people not get it?! Is it a mass troll or has someone performed a mass lobotomy?

Sorry (deep breath), I'm usually the most courteous and open-minded of posters, as is required of a climbing professional. But this repeated trotting-out of the most knob-headed argument of them all drives me somewhat insane!
Fultonius - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Jamie B: I'm with you there Jamie. I honestly can't even bring myself to try and comprehend this line of thinking. Baffling.
Fultonius - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran: Unfortunately I don't have the guide, I'll try and grab a peak in the shops sometime.
ex0 - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Jamie B:

It's probably because the people that are on the other side of the argument (i.e: yourself) don't really seem to explain a counter argument. All that happens is people get called trolls, even when they are new accounts like the guy you're quoting.
aln - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Fultonius:
> (In reply to Robert Durran), I'll try and grab a peak in the shops sometime.

Modern convenience climbing taken to the extreme. Don' t bother climbing to the peak just buy it.
Neil Mackenzie - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to ex0:

The point is, if its climbable on trad, why the f*ck has someone bolted it?
Enty - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to ex0:
> (In reply to Jamie B)
>
> It's probably because the people that are on the other side of the argument (i.e: yourself) don't really seem to explain a counter argument. All that happens is people get called trolls, even when they are new accounts like the guy you're quoting.

We don't explain the other side of the argument because we just assume that something so simple doesn't need to be spelled out. Did someone teach you how to breathe?

E
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Goucho on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
> (In reply to rasmanisar)
>

> Sorry (deep breath), I'm usually the most courteous and open-minded of posters, as is required of a climbing professional. But this repeated trotting-out of the most knob-headed argument of them all drives me somewhat insane!

Unfortunately Jamie, there are obviously a lot of knob-heads taking up climbing these days.
Richard White on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Goucho:

In a discussion on bolting many years ago, Jerry Moffat said something along the lines that with experience it is simply 'known' where and when bolting is appropriate.

Unfortunately, there are people bolting and advocating bolting today who don't have that experience Jerry talked about. That experience comes from being an all round climber and being part of a wider climbing community.

Lots of climbers currently go straight from the climbing wall to the sport crags with little knowledge or understanding of the history and development of climbing in the UK. These very same people go to Kalymnos or one of any mass sport climbing areas and come back to the UK with an 'Why can't we bolt what we want to?' attitude as a result of their lack on knowledge and understanding.

I really enjoy sport climbing. I also really enjoy trad, alpine, bouldering, big walls etc. I also enjoy listening to older climbers and hearing their stories of crap gear, washing lines for ropes, hand made pegs snapping etc. Those stories, that kind of information and the history is important to an overall understanding of where and when bolts are acceptable.

Rich.
In reply to Richard White:


Well said.


Chris
Colin Moody - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Richard White:

> Lots of climbers currently go straight from the climbing wall to the sport crags with little knowledge or understanding of the history and development of climbing in the UK. These very same people go to Kalymnos or one of any mass sport climbing areas and come back to the UK with an 'Why can't we bolt what we want to?' attitude as a result of their lack on knowledge and understanding.
>

I think you will find that Scottish bolters such as Rab Anderson, Dave MacLeod and Andy Nisbet have a huge knowledge of the history of climbing in Scotland (and elsewhere).
Richard White on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Colin Moody:

I'm not referring to any climbers or any location in particular. I am simply pointing out that it is with experience and a knowledge of the history and development of climbing in the UK comes an understanding of where bolting is or isn't appropriate.

Rich.
Robert Durran - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Colin Moody:
> I think you will find that Scottish bolters such as Rab Anderson, Dave MacLeod and Andy Nisbet have a huge knowledge of the history of climbing in Scotland (and elsewhere).

And many others includng yourself! But this is just the point - in some ways I would be less concerned if the bolters were ignorant raiding sport climbers whose views could be sweepingly ignored and their bolts summarily chopped.

So this brings us back on topic: does the bolting of a proportion of the crags in the Nw in the new guide represent a departure from what might have previously been considered acceptable. Indeed, do the bolting guidelines on p10 condone such a departure? Has such a departure happened under the radar by being in remoter areas? For instance, when did it become acceptable to bolt "very clean Torridonian sandstone" (Creag Ord on p320). Admittedly I've not been there, but when I hear that nowadays Mungasdale, where the routes almost all follow obvious or incipient crack lines, might be considered fair game for bolting, I am, as I said, worried!



mark mcgowan01 - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran: Hi Robert (Hope you are climbing well), We had a bolt debate back in the 90's with Kev Howett (MCofS) and I speaking against and for bolts in Scotland. It seemed to get sorted after a few years bedding in and I would suggest that the dudes from that took over in Scottish sport climbing are doing just fine. If anything they should be allowed more leeway for more progressive expansion of Scottish Sport climbing... dont worry though :)
MischaHY - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Jamie B: Jeeeeesssus. Is this the overreaction of the century or have I inadvertently opened up a massive can of worms?

A little back ground here for those screaming 'troll' - I've only been climbing trad/real rock for about two months, and am still very much in the learning stage of the ethics etc, so I asked a question as a novice and expected to be replied too as such. Instead, I get a massive tirade of abuse and claims that I should just know 'as easily as breathing' the ethics of bolting vs trad - well, I'm sorry folks, but it just doesn't work like that.

Is this how you'd talk to someone asking a question when out at a crag? Feeling very disappointed with the UKC community right now tbh :(
Robert Durran - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to rasmanisar:

> Is this how you'd talk to someone asking a question when out at a crag?

Of course not. This is not a crag; it's UKC which is on a thing called the internet.

The trouble is that people regularly make the same point as you purely as a troll rather than out of genuine ignorance and it becomes exceedingly tedious.
MischaHY - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran: Ok, understood. I just wanted to make it completely clear that my question was genuine, not time wasting - is it something you can bear to take the time explaining for what is probably the thousandth time? If not I'll have to quiz a climber at the crag about it and hope for a more clement response :')
Robert Durran - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to rasmanisar:

Having the option of clipping a bolt removes much of the commitment and therefore a large part of the challenge of the climb.
Ean T - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> Maybe, but there can never be enough trad crags to keep me happy and busy in the north west! I hope I have several decades of climbing to look forward to, but I already sometimes feel I am running short of routes to do for the first time.

Perhaps you should become a producer, rather than just a consumer?

> But the people who found them are often also trad climbers, so why did they choose to bolt them? Is it cynical to suggest motives other than that they would make crap trad crags.

Yes
Enty - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to rasmanisar)
>
> Having the option of clipping a bolt removes much of the commitment and therefore a large part of the challenge of the climb.

Which is something my pet cat could probably work out ;-)

E
In reply to rasmanisar: Because bolting permanently alters the cliff (you drill holes in it and glue metal bits in). I've climbed some stupidly bolted routes as trad routes (where cracklines have been bolted) and even though you don't clip the bolts it still makes a huge difference to the experience as you know you always could clip the bolts if need be.

Your argument, made through ignorance fair enough, is not that different from saying why don't we chip big holds to make hard climbs easier? You could still use the original little holds if you want to make the route harder.

I suppose the lesson here is that wandering into to ethical discussions on something that you admit you really don't know much about probably isn't going to get you very far. Now I'm off to tell some bio-ethicists and research neurologists what they're getting wrong. ;)
tom_in_edinburgh - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Goucho:
> (In reply to Jamie B)

> Unfortunately Jamie, there are obviously a lot of knob-heads taking up climbing these days.

The problem with that attitude is that the said 'knob heads' are citizens of the UK with money to spend and legal rights and are quite likely to take offence at being called knob heads.

MischaHY - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:

Right, I can completely see it now. When you consider the mental perspective it all makes a lot more sense, and from my experience thus far I'm sure there would be a difference.

Obviously it's good to be clued up on these things, but I suppose we learn through our mistakes!
sebrider - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran: There are many many sport crags that don't fit the MCofS guidelines for one reason or another.

Now at last there are guides to these climbs enabling the community to know what is there, go climb them, and decide what is appropriate or not.

The only problems are the grey areas, which will be debated forever and ever with the usual arguments for and against, we all know them!!

A couple of examples...

Glen lednock was de-bolted and proved not to be nearly as popular as a trad venue. Should this have stayed as trad so few could possibly climb another mediocre trad route or is good that it is bolted to be enjoyed by a greater number of climbers?

At a crag I helped bolt we decided to leave a crack line as a trad route, our reason (for that particular crag) being there is very little trad in the area as a whole. Conversely, there times a crack is possibly better bolted, for example Sweet Revenge at Legaston - this could have remained as trad but would it really be enjoyed by as many?

Due to the grey areas these decisions are at times just left to common sense and applicable very much to the crag in question, rather that bolting guidelines.

Your example of Creag nan Ord. Torridonian sandstone yes but due to very sparse protection this crag would probably not have made a great trad venue (for the majority). Should it have stayed as such for future extreme trad...possibly, there has to be scope for this. The rock is very nice and made for nice sport routes...hopefully it will be climbed and will stay that way.

The best thing to come out of this is finally you and others reading guides and having an appreciation for what really is Scottish sport and questioning it. It will hopefully help trad and sport co-exist and is important for its future.

lets hope there is less of the usual nonsense about trad VS sport and some constructive debate that makes a difference to the future of our crags!
Fraser on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Having the option of clipping a bolt removes much of the commitment and therefore a large part of the challenge of the climb.

Wrong. It may remove some of the committment and only part of the challenge of the climb. It may be a 'large' part to you, but as you like falling even less than I do, that's probably a more honest assessment of your statement. Plus, it's pretty subjective and should be filed in the same place as Fiend's NW grades comments! ;) Personally, I find the largest part of the challenge of a climb is always the physical part, and that's the part I most enjoy. That applies to trad or sport routes.

And yes, this too is a subjective statement, but at least I recognise it as such and that other people's opinions are just as valid and strongly held.
Fultonius - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Fraser: Sorry fraser, but I have to disagree. Gaining any enjoyment from climbing a bolted route on trad gear requires a massive set of blinkers. I reckon the only people that enjoy it are people with a point to prove.



I guess one of the difficult issues with developing new sports crags in the "grey areas" is: You cannot seek opinion before bolting, or the cat is out the bag and you can't get your first ascents. Because, I can only imagine even the most altruistic of sport climbing crag developers still want to bag the routes before they announce the crag.

In places like Glen Lednock this leads to the highly unsatisfactory cycle of bolt-chop-bolt-chop....



A final thought: I hope we don't ever end up with crags like this one in Aosta: http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crag.php?id=9607 Nice gneiss crag with a fully bolted HVS and E2 which felt very strange to climb...
Goucho on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> (In reply to Goucho)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> The problem with that attitude is that the said 'knob heads' are citizens of the UK with money to spend and legal rights and are quite likely to take offence at being called knob heads.

Good.

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Fraser on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Fultonius:

Sorry, I wasn't meaning my comments relative to a bolted trad route, just a regular sport route. I'd agree with you about the former.
Robert Durran - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Fraser:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)

> Wrong. It may remove some of the committment and only part of the challenge of the climb. It may be a 'large' part to you, but as you like falling even less than I do, that's probably a more honest assessment of your statement.

Actually, it is a sliding scale from "not much" for really well protected routes to "almost all" for chop routes.

Robert Durran - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Ean T:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)

> Perhaps you should become a producer, rather than just a consumer?

Fair point. Maybe I should devote some time this summer to wandering the north west in search of new crags before the bolters find them!

> Yes [it is cynical to suggest motives other than that they would make crap trad crags?]

So, since a local activist suggested to me that if Mungasdale were discovered now it might be bolted, and therefore, for all I know, there might be bolted crags in the new guide which would have made equally good trad venues, does it follow that there are local activists who consider the likes of Mungasdale crap? It is this possibility that I find worrying.



Robert Durran - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to sebrider:
> (In reply to Robert Durran) There are many many sport crags that don't fit the MCofS guidelines for one reason or another.

So would anyone complain if I chopped them? (Don't worry, I have no immediate pans to do so).

> The best thing to come out of this is finally you and others reading guides and having an appreciation for what really is Scottish sport and questioning it. It will hopefully help trad and sport co-exist and is important for its future.

Mmmm.... In an ideal world maybe.

I must admit I am kind of hoping in some ways that I've been seduced by all the lovely pictures and stars in the new guide and that all those new little sport crags are actually worthless bits of crap like Benny Beg and not worth worrying about!
>
> Lets hope there is less of the usual nonsense about trad VS sport and some constructive debate that makes a difference to the future of our crags!

Indeed. And I hope this thread might be a small part of that.

Robert Durran - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Ean T)
> ........does it follow that there are local activists who consider the likes of Mungasdale crap? It is this possibility that I find worrying.

Note that I am not seriously suggesting that anyone thinks Mungasdale is a crap trad crag but that you might be wrong in declaring that no one has motives for bolting crags other than that they would make crap trad crags.

Rob Naylor - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to ex0:
> (In reply to Jamie B)
>
> It's probably because the people that are on the other side of the argument (i.e: yourself) don't really seem to explain a counter argument. All that happens is people get called trolls, even when they are new accounts like the guy you're quoting.

There are at least 3 good, detailed explanations of why "just climbing past the bolts" isn't on, on threads currently near the top of the list on this forum.

Ean T - on 25 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> a local activist suggested to me that if Mungasdale were discovered now it might be bolted.

If Mungasdale was discovered now it would probably have ended up as a mixed crag in the same way Goat Crag has i.e. the good quality trad routes wouldn't be bolted, but the poor ones might have been.

> for all I know, there might be bolted crags in the new guide which would have made equally good trad venues

There aren't.
Jamie B - on 26 Jun 2013
In reply to rasmanisar:

> I can completely see it now. When you consider the mental perspective it all makes a lot more sense, and from my experience thus far I'm sure there would be a difference.
> Obviously it's good to be clued up on these things, but I suppose we learn through our mistakes!

Apologies for the rant. In truth I wasn't screaming abuse at you but at the literally hundreds of UKC posters who have posted the same over the years, as you can now see it simply isn't an argument and does make folk like me just a little bit mad!

Jamie B - on 27 Jun 2013
In reply to Neil Mackenzie:

> The point is, if its climbable on trad, why the f*ck has someone bolted it?

Anything is "climbable on trad". Some very famous trad routes are virtually solos with no protection whatsoever, but they should no more be bolted than an established sport route chopped because you could fiddle a couple of nuts into it. We shouldn't attempt to make a direct correlation between availability of natural pro an suitability for bolting.

Basically, as far as I can see, current thinking is that the overall feel of the crag is a more important consideration than that of individual routes. "Mixed ethic" crags seem to be a rarity, and I *think* I'm probably in agreement with this, although my feelings on bolting are constantly evolving.

The Pylon King on 27 Jun 2013
In reply to Fultonius:
> (In reply to The Pylon King) How do you define "completely unprotectable"?
>
> What if you found a crag that had 2 lines that would give dangours E5/E6 chop routes with grotty top outs, or 15 decent sport routes in the mid 6s to mid 7s.
>
> Should this be a trad crag?

Sport crag
Jamie B - on 27 Jun 2013
In reply to sebrider:

> Your example of Creag nan Ord. Torridonian sandstone yes but due to very sparse protection this crag would probably not have made a great trad venue (for the majority). Should it have stayed as such for future extreme trad... possibly, there has to be scope for this.

And there is, lots of it throughout the country, especially in the Northwest.
Jamie B - on 27 Jun 2013
In reply to Fultonius:

> What if you found a crag that had 2 lines that would give dangerous E5/E6 chop routes with grotty top outs, or 15 decent sport routes in the mid 6s to mid 7s? Should this be a trad crag?

Surely that's up to whoever gets there first? This seems to be the current "ethic", and it doesn't seem to work too badly to me. Problems only arise when a trad history gets revealed post-bolting (Lednock, that wee crag on Skye), or when locals decide that an under-used trad venue is due a makeover (Farrleter, the Badan).

unclesamsauntibess - on 27 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran: bolts are for gays
John Workman - on 27 Jun 2013
In reply to Fultonius:
> (In reply to Robert Durran) Unfortunately I don't have the guide, I'll try and grab a peak in the shops sometime.

That'll be in a Mountain Shop - eh?
Donnie - on 27 Jun 2013
In reply to Neil Mackenzie:
> (In reply to ex0)
>
> The point is, if its climbable on trad, why the f*ck has someone bolted it?

Because they'd prefer to climb it with bolts???
GridNorth - on 27 Jun 2013
In reply to Donnie:
> (In reply to Neil Mackenzie)
> [...]
>
> Because they'd prefer to climb it with bolts???

Let's hope then that someone doesn't come along who would prefer to climb it with a handrail, metal steps and holds hacked out of the rock.
CurlyStevo - on 27 Jun 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
> (In reply to rasmanisar)
>
> [...]
>
> AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!
>
> Stop peddling this f***ing SHITE!! How can so many people not get it?! Is it a mass troll or has someone performed a mass lobotomy?
>
> Sorry (deep breath), I'm usually the most courteous and open-minded of posters, as is required of a climbing professional. But this repeated trotting-out of the most knob-headed argument of them all drives me somewhat insane!

I agree in principle but then there have been numerous worldwide high profile solos and trad ascents of bolted routes so I can see why people think this way.

jshields - on 27 Jun 2013
In reply to unclesamsauntibess:
> (In reply to Robert Durran) bolts are for gays

Hardly constructive, what are you 10?

CurlyStevo - on 27 Jun 2013
In reply to jshields:
well said.
Donnie - on 27 Jun 2013
In reply to GridNorth: Yes, and while we're at it let us pray that gay marriage stays banned, just in case men start marrying their fathers for tax purposes.
GridNorth - on 27 Jun 2013
In reply to Donnie: And your point is? If you are trying to compare the two things as being anti-progressive then I don't know how to respond.
Donnie - on 27 Jun 2013
In reply to GridNorth: let us pray the sun rises tomorrow
Robert Durran - on 28 Jun 2013
In reply to Ean T:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)

> There aren't [bolted crags in the new guide which would have made equally good trad venues]

Good!

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