/ Do abseil/belay bolts erode trad ethics?
I've been thinking along these lines myself: unless the route was originally graded to take into account a paucity of good anchors etc. (and I can't think of an example of such), then the presence of bolts on belay ledges does not affect the grade pitch by pitch, though it might take away some of the overall character of the route.
In fact, having a bolt waiting for you on the belay ledge affects the style of the ascent a lot less than having a pile of mattresses waiting for you at the foot of a single pitch route.
I get that its not an opinion shared by many though, and you have to go with the majority :)
As the route isn't graded based on getting down from it, I don't see why abseil bolts would. And when bringing up a second they're meant to be totally protected, I guess.
So no, I don't think they do. And nobody is forcing you to clip them.
Does Trad = Adventure?
Do Ethics = Aesthetics?
many climbers using these terms apply them differently.
Interesting point. Would you also consider abbing off dubious tat and dubious anchors part of that adventure? Personally I would consider it too dangerous and it would put me off the route if that was the normal descent, but that said I also don't do "bold" trad or soloing so our views on what we want to get out of climbing clearly differ (which is fine in itself, so long as we don't tread on each others' toes, e.g. by bolting routes that the majority of users don't want bolting).
 In an emergency I would abandon sufficient gear to make it safe, but I'm not going to do that as a matter of course.
Yes course they do, trad is about placing your own gear
Am I against it though? No
Seconding, is effectively top roping anyway so the fear of dodgy gear doesn't need to be there. It might as well be as safe as possible so why not have bolted belays
As for abbing, at places where the descent is dangerous then fine but ab points to save a 5 min walk down are ridiculous, it's just lazy
So guidebooks should probably be banned as well? If you are making the first ascent of a route then I can maybe understand, but trad is little more adventurous than sport. We can con ourselves in to believing it might be but then perhaps the only problem with bolted anchors is they are a little honest and bring us back to reality.
I find the debate somewhat absurd, and seems to be more about trad climbers wanting to set themselves apart from those who clip bolts.
Surely not always, and particularly multi pitch and where belays might be marginal? I don't think I would be comfortable falling off as a second in winter where there was a chance my partner was attached to nothing but a rotten peg so when seconding pitches in winter there is still an aspect of uncertainty to me and that is what adds to the enjoyment. I genuinely don't think I would enjoy the experience as much knowning that at the end of the pitch I was guaranteed a bomber bolt belay on the lead. Getting to the end of the pitch, trying to find a belay and making myself safe is part of the enjoyment as much as the climbing.
That's all a matter of perspective. The UK landscape, denuded of trees, already looks pretty vandalised to me so whether bolts on a rock are in a quarry or not makes little difference. The roads and parking spaces, walking trails and crowds have far more of an impact on climbing venues than a few dull coloured bolts ever will.
Yes, absolutely. Trad climbing is about a self-reliant and self-contained team doing what is necessary to make its way safely up a route. This includes building belays, and building abseil anchors in case of a retreat.
As for abseil descents from the top of routes: from how many British routes is it not possible to walk off? Any advance on Napes Needle?
Winter's a whole different ball game and a different thread. The op is talking about trad ethics
Is winter not trad then? Even multi pitch in summer isn't always guaranteed bomber belays surely? Same principal.
It's amazing how often climbers who are predominantly sports climbers get all defensive when these topics come up. I certainly don't feel superior I climb trad and sport. The fact that I value the trad higher than the sport is a personal issue and nothing to do with anyone else.
> Yes, absolutely. Trad climbing is about a self-reliant and self-contained team doing what is necessary to make its way safely up a route. This includes building belays, and building abseil anchors in case of a retreat.
> As for abseil descents from the top of routes: from how many British routes is it not possible to walk off? Any advance on Napes Needle?
Lots of sea cliffs? I like "adventure climbing" and self-reliance as much as the next man, but I have to admit that "approach by abseiling off two gorse bushes and an in-situ tent peg" sounds less like adventure and more like Russian Roulette.
On the other hand, sea cliffs generally lend themselves to belay stakes, which are presumably no harder to put in than bolts, probably last longer and have less permanent impact on the environment...
Okay but then, what's the different between a rotten old peg and a nice new bolt. Both are ugly imo
> Interesting point. Would you also consider abbing off dubious tat and dubious anchors part of that adventure? Personally I would consider it too dangerous and it would put me off the route if that was the normal descent,
But I can't think of a situation where a seriously dodgy abseil is the 'normal' descent. A bing from a poor belay happens when you can't finish the route for whatever reason. Knowing that this is a possibility adds to the seriousness of the route and contributes to the grade.
Bolting belays absolutely changes the route. Being able to manufacture an acceptable belay (or deciding to belay somewhere else, maybe using extra-long ropes), deciding what 'acceptable' means and getting yourself out of a mess are all part of trad climbing.
> Of course but you use your skill and experience to mitigate the risk. In almost 50 years of climbing I can't think of many situations where I have not been able to manage that risk safely without resorting to drilling and bolts. Similarly I haven't abandoned that much gear. Drilling holes in rock is just selfish vandalism. Quarries don't count they are already vandalised but that's a different debate.
You have some valid points but nonsense like the above doesn't help your case.
For one thing, accessible bolted belays transforms good crags into polished, top roping outdoor climbing walls and abseil venues.
This isn't a thought experiment, you merely have to look at places like the right end of Sea Walls and the Squamish Smoke Bluffs to know that to be true.
Is that an erosion of trad ethics? It's hardly the crag's heyday.
doesn't worry me too much but could be the start of the slippery slope.
> doesn't worry me too much but could be the start of the slippery slope.
Not on muilti-pitch route stances though
Thats a confusing read, sounds like you mostly resort to drilling bolts.
They generally won't last as long (lots of rusty old iron, and erosion around the stake), I would also think that more pollutants from the metal will make its way into the ground from a stake than a bolt in solid rock.
*I also recognise that often there isn't a choice between the two, a stake can be the only option available*
Yet you're happy to clip those placed by others, despite decrying the placing of bolts as "selfish vandalism"? You can quibble the semantics all you want but in the context of your posts it's pretty clear what you were getting at (and you can spare us the "I certainly don't feel superior" BS - your choice of words makes it abundantly clear that you do).
I suggest you look up the meaning of the words "hypocrite" and "patronising arse".
I understand the point about not wanting to abseil off gorse bushes, but that's fine too. Just don't engage in that crazy adventure and leave it to someone for whom that's exactly the sort of thing that floats their boat. Not everything needs to be accessible to all; if it's not hard to achieve then it tends not to be very memorable. And if you're really desperate to do that route beneath the gorse bushes then you'll just have to either rise to the mental challenge or find another way down there, be it a very long walk, a boat ride, whatever. Accessibility and convenience isn't the name of the game, it's challenge and adventure and putting the effort in.
It puts me in mind of people wanting to put in fixed belays at Millstone. You can arrange perfectly safe ones, but sometimes it takes considerable effort in advance of getting on your route. Make the effort then, or accept that route is too much time and effort for you.
Just get on with it and rise to the challenge. If you don't want to rise to the challenge then there are lots of other sports that are less challenging, or challenging in different ways, that you can do in much the same areas as you go climbing.
Don't spoil the challenges nature provides for us just because you're not up to them. Lots of other people are up to them, and climbing is a more suitable sport for them than for people who can't cope without fixed gear.
It's ok to accept that something is too hard, too scary or too inconvenient for you.
If yours were the majority viewpoint, I'd feel absolutely no obligation to go with it; I'd be out there with my spanner, hacksaw, hammer or whatever it took.
Bolted belays significantly change the trad experience by removing a large part of the element of self-reliance. It is surprising and depressing that there are people on here who simply don't get this or who do not think it's important.
As for bolted abseil points, the only possible justification I can think of is for environmental reasons - perhaps to prevent severe erosion of a descent route. Any other justification is just laziness. And no, pegs and tat, though not ideal, are very different (they exploit natural weaknesses in the rock). The argument for bolts on the grounds that tat is messy is also laziness on another count - remove it, just leaving what you need to be safe (or, if poaaible, remove it all and walk down.
I'll admit this is a greyer area. I don't think bolts are ever justified, but where the belays and ab points at the top are trees then significant damage can accumulate as a result of running ropes etc around them. Stainless chains sheathed in plastic seem reasonable to me in these cases. But use them at your own risk, obv...
Exactly right. If you think tat is messy then get rid of it. Then all you leave is a single fresh strand which is removed and replaced by the next self-reliant person.
>Do abseil/belay bolts erode trad ethics?
Yes of course they do FFS.
> I understand the point about not wanting to abseil off gorse bushes, but that's fine too. Just don't engage in that crazy adventure and leave it to someone for whom that's exactly the sort of thing that floats their boat. Not everything needs to be accessible to all; if it's not hard to achieve then it tends not to be very memorable. And if you're really desperate to do that route beneath the gorse bushes then you'll just have to either rise to the mental challenge or find another way down there, be it a very long walk, a boat ride, whatever. Accessibility and convenience isn't the name of the game, it's challenge and adventure and putting the effort in.
> It puts me in mind of people wanting to put in fixed belays at Millstone. You can arrange perfectly safe ones, but sometimes it takes considerable effort in advance of getting on your route. Make the effort then, or accept that route is too much time and effort for you.
> Just get on with it and rise to the challenge. If you don't want to rise to the challenge then there are lots of other sports that are less challenging, or challenging in different ways, that you can do in much the same areas as you go climbing.
> Don't spoil the challenges nature provides for us just because you're not up to them. Lots of other people are up to them, and climbing is a more suitable sport for them than for people who can't cope without fixed gear.
> It's ok to accept that something is too hard, too scary or too inconvenient for you.
Absolutely spot on.
Could leaving a sling or a couple of nuts behind during an escape be construed as a form of sacrifice to the mountain, either as a yeah you won this one or a please let me off safely offering. Actually now I've thought of it I really like the idea
> Could leaving a sling or a couple of nuts behind during an escape be construed as a form of sacrifice to the mountain.....
No, a sacrifice to the next climber to pass that way. Hopefully me.
Really? Couldn't you just not use them? Keep placing gear for your anchor as you would normally? All sorts of aids are at hand for the climber (from clip-sticks, aid devices and ladders to a handy Hilti) and most people can quite happily sport or trad climb without using them. Why is there an obligation to use the bolts that someone else has put in? Likewise, old pegs and tat can happily be ignored if you wish to.
Right, so those pegs don't require a hammer to be inserted? Don't remain on the rock, rusting away and looking obnoxious? The definition and reasons for bolts = bad, all else = good, seems quite arbitrary.
Oh FFS. I despair.
Of course they do. And your point is?
No. Try reading what I wrote.
> So no, I don't think they do. And nobody is forcing you to clip them.
Yes they do. Whether or not you decide to clip or use them in any way during an ascent they're still there if you decide you've had enough and want to retreat, thus the commitment is eroded, as is the seriousness and therefore the grade. Make no mistake, fixed belays make it easier. Hence my earlier laments about classic Alpine rock climbs being made more amenable/convenient by this practice.
Not that I haven't enjoyed climbs altered in this way, but I'd say I got more out of e.g. our early seventies climb of The Cassin on The Piz Badile than I did out of last year's South Ridge of The Salbitshijen. The technicalities remain similar but the commitment is less, and as a consequence the number of people greater.
I hate hate hate the idea of bolted belay stations on multipitch routes, but I do find the idea that pegs are better a bit weird - it's not like they're any less of a compromise to your self-reliance, unless you're in the habit of carrying a hammer and a set of pegs whenever you climb trad.
It feels like they're mainly acceptable for historic reasons, rather than any practical difference.
Pegs are a halfway house as they don't always damage rock during placement and they will only go in where existing placements exist (for the most part anyways)
As always a well thought out and relevant response from you. As for your comment quoted above I agree it's depressing, but, sadly, am in no way surprised by the phenomenon.
Hypothetically if it was possible to place a large boulder at the desired belay/abseil position made of the same rock type of the surrounding crag, replacing the need for bolts. Would this be identical to placing bolts? i.e. an act of vandalism or leading to a change in the nature of the route etc?
This is hypothetical (a thought experiment) and obviously only possible if there was space and excluding any consideration of how said boulder would get there.
> I do find the idea that pegs [than bolts] are better a bit weird - it's not like they're any less of a compromise to your self-reliance.
Firstly, and separately, there is the the principle that pegs exploit natural weaknesses in the rock whereas bolts do not.
Secondly, pegs are always treated with suspicion and should, if possible, be backed up, whereas the general assumption is that bolts are bombproof. So pegs preserve at least some sense of self reliance.
But I agree that pegs are generally undesirable (though not as undesirable as bolts).
> Hypothetically if it was possible to place a large boulder at the desired belay/abseil position made of the same rock type of the surrounding crag, replacing the need for bolts.
No, it would be on a par with wedging a piece of rock in a crack and using it like a natural chockstone! A not uncommon practice?
and of course just because you do not want bolts, does not mean you do want pegs.
I would rather see neither.
I expect he can read OK but gets low marks for comprehension and has a degree in offensiveness.
"So guidebooks should probably be banned as well?"
These comments are remarkable in their irrelevance.
But it is a matter of education - remove excess tat and leave or replace only what you need. I don't see that this is really any different from educating people not to leave used bog paper blowing around.
As the site of vast number of people's first abseil descent, often in the company of a guide or instructor, I think the Inn Pin would offer an excellent chance for education in tat management. I think it is sad that local guides (presumably) have placed the chain for commercial convenience. I've even thought of chopping it myself!
Doesn't happen though does it? It strikes me that UK climbers are perfectly happy with big, complex ab points which are basically permanent as long as bolts aren't used http://lightfromthenorth.blogspot.fi/2007/07/superior-ethics-or-littering.html which is fine, but probably everyone who has climbed in the UK for a decade has used such gear, and not removed them. This makes moaning about the death of adventure etc. seem a bit less believable.
> No, it would be on a par with wedging a piece of rock in a crack and using it like a natural chockstone! A not uncommon practice?
Except that said boulders, assuming them to be heavier than one ("if it's as big as your coffin it'll be OK", I was once told), and further assuming one had a large quantity of cord to wrap round 'em, would provide a descent "ladder" and thus reduce commitment and seriousness as do bolted stances.
Obviously, if you have just abbed of it, you're not going to be removing it! However, you might have tidied it up by removing knackered bits of it and replacing them out of a sense of self preservation as well as environmental responsibility. And if you're not abbing off it, you can remove it - admittedly most people don't but this is where education can come in (along with self interest if those nuts are still shiny!)
I don't get what I'm failing to understand - if I called you a 'selfish vandal' would you be especially happy about it? It's a derogatory statement. Telling someone they haven't understood the words properly is patronising. If Al Randall/GridNorth doesn't like having that pointed out to him then that's not my problem.
(Incidentally Mr Randall, if you want to harp on about 'selfish vandalism', what are your views on the excavation of crags like Sergeant Crag Slabs just so that trad climbers could use them?)
Anyway, Flashy's summed up my own views on bolted belays on trad routes more eloquently than I ever could so I'll leave it at that...
Irrespective of where anyone sits on the fence regarding bolting belays/abs etc, I find it staggering that there are still people who appear unable to get their heads around the very basic difference between climbing (with all associated protection and descending issues) routes using what is geologically provided and modifying the geology to suit.
Heads and walls...
> So guidebooks should probably be banned as well? If you are making the first ascent of a route then I can maybe understand, but trad is little more adventurous than sport. We can con ourselves in to believing it might be but then perhaps the only problem with bolted anchors is they are a little honest and bring us back to reality.
> I find the debate somewhat absurd, and seems to be more about trad climbers wanting to set themselves apart from those who clip bolts.
To be honest, I still get lost even if I carry the guidebook en route. I guess it just becomes a game of find the bolts if you have every belay/abseil bolted. I have a gunks guidebook, where the topo's arent great because of the trees/multipitch/grain black and white images and yes there was a different feeling to route finding relying on mostly text rather than a high def colour photo. So yes, guidebooks do have a role in the adventure.
> Irrespective of where anyone sits on the fence regarding bolting belays/abs etc, I find it staggering that there are still people who appear unable to get their heads around the very basic difference between climbing (with all associated protection and descending issues) routes using what is geologically provided and modifying the geology to suit.
Ice screws are OK though??
Ah, well, I guess that seeing as the majority view doesn't matter I might go drill some belays in the lakes, I mean f**k it, you'll come chop em when I've had my fun anyway!
> For one thing, accessible bolted belays transforms good crags into polished, top roping outdoor climbing walls and abseil venues.
> This isn't a thought experiment, you merely have to look at places like the right end of Sea Walls and the Squamish Smoke Bluffs to know that to be true.
> Is that an erosion of trad ethics? It's hardly the crag's heyday.
Another area where this was a problem is some of the popular crags at Joshua Tree where an abseil descent wasn't required. Many belay bolts have been removed to prevent overuse and bolt proliferation. On the other hand some UK routes become abandoned and overgrown due to poor belays or loose top-outs and bolt belays agreed on a case by case basis through local BMC area committees can help ressurecting them.
Well this just goes to show how crap a medium this is for these types of discussions because I am also in agreement with Flashy and therefore, by association, with you.
> Ah, well, I guess that seeing as the majority view doesn't matter.....
Only if it were based on ignorance, lack of respect for history and tradition, laziness and selfishness.
Of course they do.
"Trad" (I hate that word) is about adventure and moving around in a potentially hostile environment on it's terms not yours. Every time you alter it by placing a bolt or to a lesser extent, by battering in a peg you are changing that environment to make it easier for yourself.
Whether bolts are placed for protection or otherwise is largely irrelevant except in degree.
Ah, so the majority view only matters if its your view! Unfortunately you just create a situation ripe for unilateral action by doing so and we end up with a bolt war.
(For the record, I don't think we should be bolting belays - I would prefer them, but I understand that I'm a minority user-type for these routes so my preference shouldn't make any difference. I'll continue to do long pitches between workable gear belays)
Do you strip away ab tat left where you climb?
But this is sort of missing the point, not in terms of the principle you describe, but in terms of the effect it has on the experience of leading a route. Yes, pegs require an existing weakness in the rock and bolts do not (let's ignore the fact that pegs do alter the rock they're placed in, because incrementally so does all metal pro to some extent).
To the person placing the peg or bolt, it is a crucial difference. But if you're clipping an in-situ peg, you haven't used what is 'geologically provided' - someone else has done it for you. Of course you still have to judge for yourself if the peg is reliable, but the same could be said of a lot of bolts.
I have nothing against leader-placed pegs, but I think every effort should be made to remove them by the second.
That said, I'll clip in-situ pegs if they're there, often gratefully :)
In the absence of natural anchors, then bolted belays MAY have there place. I think it's a case by case basis though.
I'd certainly be shocked to see a pair of bolts staring me in the face on the Idwal Slabs for example.
> Ah, so the majority view only matters if its your view!
That's not what I said.
The important point here is that my view is also the correct view. And the majority view only matters if it is the correct view.
At last a kindred spirit - I too despise the use of the epithet "trad" in relation to climbing. I similarly hated it as applied to New Orleans derived jazz in the fifties and sixties. Nice to know I'm not alone and a comparative youngster like you shares my view!
The Inn Pin? But that is a cable.
If it "semi-permanent" I try to set a good example of removing old tat and if abandoned by retreating climbers or on a non-standard descent, I'll generally remove it, though I admit I tend to be more thorough when there is good swag as an incentive - it's amazing how many people ab off sewn slings rather than carrying ab tat - but I wish more people would abandon rocks rather than those hopeless wallnut things!
Indeed. Ryanair don't fly to Skye.
It is a mess, but can be backed up by trad gear that is good enough to ab off... We removed the trad gear after we finished climbing. What Toby didn't show in his photos is the two bolt stubs to the left of the ab point that show that bolts their didn't suit everyone's ethics.
If you are going to leave stuff around the place then you must accept that others who don't want it left around will tidy up after you. That applies to bolts, pegs or ab tat. I happily strip ab points as I pass, especially If no one has left metal work on it!
The countryside code is fairly clear about leaving the countryside as you found it. I don't see how this fails to apply to us just because we are doing a sport? Leave it as you found it and cart others rubbish out.
P.s. I really liked flashys last comment on accepting that something is too hard, too scared or too inconvienent!
Apologies, iPads herald the end of correct punctuation and grammar!
Amazingly it seems you're cheaper than me! :) I'm dubious of left slings as I don't know how much UV it's had or how old it is. And the biggest thing of all is once someone's pulled 50 mtrs of rope down through it, it maybe structurally damaged too. Do you really hang on to slings like that and use them for yourself? Braver man than me.
I'm just packing for Norway and found my bundle of ab tat which currently includes a BD dyneema sling. I'd be happy to ab off this, but it must be at least 10 years old by now and was well used for four or five years as part of my every weekend cragging rack. I'd hate to think someone picking it up if I needed to leave it and then using it on their rack. Maybe I should stick a note on it saying "this is old rubbish"!
Open the photo as new tab - so full size - and the stubs are easy to see.
Just below the top left end of the white rope.
I think that for classic mountains routes most of the time it is very easy to arrange bomber belays with trad gear.
However there might be some awesome lines that are never climbed just because there is no belay, in that case I don't see any harm in putting two solid bolts.
> Amazingly it seems you're cheaper than me! :) I'm dubious of left slings as I don't know how much UV it's had or how old it is. And the biggest thing of all is once someone's pulled 50 mtrs of rope down through it, it maybe structurally damaged too. Do you really hang on to slings like that and use them for yourself? Braver man than me.
> I'm just packing for Norway and found my bundle of ab tat which currently includes a BD dyneema sling. I'd be happy to ab off this, but it must be at least 10 years old by now and was well used for four or five years as part of my every weekend cragging rack. I'd hate to think someone picking it up if I needed to leave it and then using it on their rack. Maybe I should stick a note on it saying "this is old rubbish"!
The addition of a quick link in the coils of rope / slings is good way of making the abb more secure.
You've obviously not been up in a while, the Inn (sic) Pin has a chain.
Also, if you litter-pick any hopeless wallnuts in your travels, don't throw them away, I have a recycling facility.
> Amazingly it seems you're cheaper than me! :) I'm dubious of left slings as I don't know how much UV it's had or how old it is.
Agreed, a sling that's been left on a UK mountain crag for a year or so will probably have been exposed to at least 20 minutes of direct sunlight.
> Do you really hang on to slings like that and use them for yourself? Braver man than me.
Yes, if they're not faded and not damaged. Just like I weigh up ab tat. I've got so many, I'm thinking of using them as ab tat.....
> Doesn't happen though does it? It strikes me that UK climbers are perfectly happy with big, complex ab points which are basically permanent as long as bolts aren't used
No it doesn't and I agree that there is a littering problem with respect to this amongst Britain's climbers.
But nobody gets on a route saying "don't worry, there's possibly in situ tat at the abseil, that'll see us through ok". Whereas with bolts people do think that.
Climbers do make a mess, but bolts aren't the answer. Cleaning up after yourself is the answer.
> You've obviously not been up in a while, the Inn (sic) Pin has a chain.
Yes, I know. I said cable - same thing?
I've quite a collection and happily give them away.
> I think that for classic mountains routes most of the time it is very easy to arrange bomber belays with trad gear.
> However there might be some awesome lines that are never climbed just because there is no belay, in that case I don't see any harm in putting two solid bolts.
On another thread I used the example of the Piola bolted-routes in the M.Blanc massif as an example of where bolts didn't do any harm. An example I gave was "Asia" on the Aiguille de la Floria , in the Aiguilles rouges. I doubt anyone would even dream of climbing there if there wasn't a Piola route ! Not surprisingly one 'trad climber' said someone might ! There's already so much choice, adding a little bit more in the way of quality sport-routes can only improve things further.
What about that thick rope on the Dent de Géant ? Surely this should also be removed ? The normal-route would be an amazing climb without that rope ! When I last did the route on the S Face, I abbed down the normal-route just to get on the nerves of the punters ! ( with the necessary amount of respect mind you).
Hi David. This is a very common question asked by people new to climbing who can't understand why sport and trad climbs can't co-exist on the same routes.
Trad climbing as practised by the vast majority of the UK's climbers is at least as much a mental exercise as a physical one. It's a common misconception by new climbers (particularly if they were introduced to 'climbing' at an indoor wall) that climbing is all about doing moves on rock. It's not.
When you approach a route you have limited information (what you can see, the guidebook, etc) on how well protected it is and how safe you'll be up there. So embarking on the route at all is a really big deal. And once you're on the route you climb in a more circumspect way -- you're looking for gear, you're weighing up how far you dare climb above the current piece before it's better to downclimb and/or fall instead of carrying on. Maybe you'll only do moves that you can downclimb because committing yourself to possibly unprotected climbing with dangerous fall potential is too much. Or maybe you have balls of steel and you choose to make the commitment. Everyone is having different, and very personal, experiences.
But if this route is bolted (or if your mountain route has bolted belays) then a big element of uncertainty is GONE. What's the worst that can happen? Just get on it whatever, then commit totally to the moves. If you get scared or tired you know that you can pussy out and just clip a bolt. No more nasty fall for you (and nobody is going to choose to take a ground fall instead of clipping one of the prefabricated outposts of safety)! And on a mountain route you know you can be back on the ground quickly and safely in the event of a storm, injury, or your mate being desperate for a dump.
So that's why bolts on a route stop it from being a trad route. Hope that helps.
> Indeed. Ryanair don't fly to Skye.
Was thinking of europe mate ;)
Are you making th mistake of assuming that anyone who objects to some bolts objects to all of them? I love sports climbing! Now then, the high Alps is another matter......
> Yes, I know. I said cable - same thing?
> I've quite a collection and happily give them away.
Woah, me first! I'll pay postage ;).
> Are you making th mistake of assuming that anyone who objects to some bolts objects to all of them? I love sports climbing! Now then, the high Alps is another matter......
No not at all, I meant that here the majority decision is to not have bolts everywhere. When someone said they might as well bolt something against the tide of opinion, I said it's not exactly like you're on a plane declaring war on europes finest sport routes.
I'd not enjoy mountain crags as much if I had to climb past permanent metal stuff sticking out the crag at every belay. If you want that, go sport climbing.
I wouldn't argue with you there. But the point the 'trad climber' made, while possibly inappropriate in this case, is valid elsewhere. You could have argued 30 years ago that the Indian Face was a ridiculous route to leave unbolted (ignoring all other concerns like it being in the mounatins) -- there's virtually no gear! To think it could have been an anonymous sport route instead of the icon of British traditional climbing it is now.
Not saying your point about this particular Piola route is wrong, just bear in mind things change and maybe there are routes that 'need' bolts now that people could do without in the future. You dictate all future experiences of other people when you bolt a route. Just something to think about! Bolts are a bit of a here-and-now attitude in some ways, they leave no room for progression of the route i.e.:
"An inaccessible peak - The most difficult ascent in the Alps - An easy day for a lady" vs "clip up - clip up - clip up". Yawn etc!
It may be your view and probably the majority view, but it's definitely not the "correct view" as the issue is completely subjective.
Personally I've found climbing long trad routes in the US and Spain that a bolted belays make the whole process a lot more enjoyable while not taking any of the adventure away. For me the adventure lies in the climbing and the positions. Bolted belays simply allow you to cover ground more quickly, which for me adds to the adventure.
> Hi David. This is a very common question asked by people new to climbing who can't understand why sport and trad climbs can't co-exist on the same routes.
Awesome, thanks for the lesson on trad climbing. I often wondering why I was spending so much on my rack.
The simple fact is we are talking about bolted belays. A route hardly becomes sport climbing if you are still having to place gear all the way up. Likewise, a peg to me is no different to a bolt and I will overlook the peg in favour of gear if I feel so inclined.
The whole argument might hold if bolts are placed at every crux, but I again find it odd that various different arguments are being conflated to justify a position: one being environmental (sorry, pegs, tat, cars in the car park, and climbers themselves are no better or worse than bolts, really), another being adventure (I guess Birchen Edge must be more adventurous than sport in the Alps), with ethics (which as anyone should know are far from agreed).
Thats the problem, everyone will have their own take on things.
I meant position as in exposure and setting rather than body position.
It's academic anyway, unless your putting up a new route. I think there would be a uniform consensus that bolting existing lines even just at the belays is not acceptable.
I have just logged on and scrolled thro all the posts in literally five seconds flat.
Its an important subject but I just can't be bothered to contribute on here.
The argument doesn't need bolts at every crux in order to hold. The decision to embark on a mountain route is made easier with the knowledge that retreat is relatively trivial. Maybe climbing at Birchen isn't as adventurous as climbing (some) long bolted routes in the Alps, but that isn't a reason to bolt either of them.
If the gear is there then, bye bye peg from my point of view. If the peg goes anyway in a more crucial position then there is usually a conversation on whether it is really necessary. Peg is different from a bolt, or you would be saying "why don't we double peg all belays/routes" as that would be easier to accept.
Compare Birchen edge to the alps, and I will compare indian face to the 6m top rope wall at your local climbing centre. I don't get your point. Yes it is true that bolts/lack of isn't the only factor in whether a route is adventurous or not. Doesn't mean it has no effect, do you think indian face would be more or less adventurous with a bolt every 3 feet?
I'm not so sure about that!
Many years ago I led Dives/better things finish in Wales.
When I reached the top of the last pitch I'd managed to use every piece of gear I had startted with - which takes some doing with the extensive rack that I have.
The only thing left was my stitcht plate and its karabiner.
I spent ages trying to sort out a belay but if there had been a bolt I could simply have threaded the rope through it and hey presto - job sorted!
But trads not about that, it's about getting yourself into and out of situations and sometimes that is scary and sometimes it takes a while.
I fashioned a belay by tting knots in the rope and jamming them in the available cracks, I was really pleased with my solution but my wife wasn't exactly thrilled when she saw what I had done .
No bolts, chains, cables or whatever in the mountains - or most other places come to think about it - if you want to clip bolts bugger off to France or Spain where they do that sort of thing:)
> "An inaccessible peak - The most difficult ascent in the Alps - An easy day for a lady" vs "clip up - clip up - clip up". Yawn etc!
Compare what is comparable : the UK has much less quality climbing than France and I can fully understand why 'trad climbers' want to keep things 'pure'. I don't think the French can grasp the notion of British 'trad' and given all that they've got, it's quite legible .
In the Alps the worst perpetrators of bolts are the Guides. Many of the 'classic' routes have equipped belays to enable the guides to work more comfortably.
What about the 'great summits' like the Matterhorn, Dent de Geant or Eiger that have been 'disfigured' with metal stakes and thick ropes ?
It read as condescending - maybe it is just as dangerous to presume people know nothing as to presume they know everything/anything.
Personally I also think your argument is romanticized more than a little. If you were talking about some Himalayan route, then fair enough - but most British trad routes are two proper pitches at most (and most less) and, if you're not lucky enough to live in or near the Highlands, you're likely to be following a line of polish and chalk (and the odd bit of stuck gear) on any averagely decent route. For most of mere mortals we can also read dozens of comments on the route on the UKC database in addition to good guidebook descriptions.
And on the other hand, some of the most adventurous routes I've done have had fixed belays - it might have taken me three minutes more to build a belay had the bolts not been there, but I can't say they detracted from the adventurousness of the experience otherwise. Indeed knowing a mountain has an equipped descent may well encourage you to try something harder than you might otherwise knowing you can escape bad weather or climbing failures! You also know you don't need to leave behind your gear and there won't be the littering of tat and slings at ab points.
I don't actually think any of that justifies bolting belays on UK climbs - British trad works fine the way it is, and like people who telemark at small ski areas, you get a bit more bang for your buck. I could though be convinced that some sort of safe permanent ab points are the lesser of two evils in places where there has traditionally been loads of tat left. Is, for instance, all the decaying crap still round the block on the top of the old man of Stoer or has Bob the knife-Durran been up there public spiritedly taking away the tat the rest of us left up there?
Indeed, I was making the general point.
It is just different and I've enjoyed it too. But variety and tradition is great and we should preserve it in the UK, the Alps (MUCH more of THREAT THERE...) etc.
Unless you are talking about France's admittedly vast amount of limestone suitable for momoculture sport, I think that is very, very debateable. I could never live in France because of it's lack of quality and variety.
They don't get it because they have no experience. Far from having so much of it, they have almost none of it
Yes. It's scandalous.
> But I agree that pegs are generally undesirable (though not as undesirable as bolts).
What about stakes?
More like pegs. They can't be placed soundly just anywhere and are in principle removable. One could reasonably carry a couple of stakes and a big hammer when climbing on sea cliffs.
dynamic ropes, modern clothing, photographic topo's........
> More like pegs. They can't be placed soundly just anywhere and are in principle removable. One could reasonably carry a couple of stakes and a big hammer when climbing on sea cliffs.
Just don't it around St Govans Head, some dude from the M.o.D. got pissed with us for placing some good Iron mongery...
> Unless you are talking about France's admittedly vast amount of limestone suitable for momoculture sport, I think that is very, very debateable. I could never live in France because of it's lack of quality and variety. They don't get it because they have no experience. Far from having so much of it, they have almost none of it
I can't let you get away with saying that ! What is it that we haven't got here; grit ? The Pyrénées have a wide range of rock : granite, limestone, schistes, sandstone, andesite and pudding stone.
The N Face of the Vignemale ( direct exit ) is over 1000m. There are routes of over 600m on the Pic de Midi d'Ossau. There's nothing like that in the UK and I haven't mentioned the Alps !
I see, you want a top rope and arrows draw on each route with green paint for hand holds and pink for feet. You also want zipwires placed at the top, and a ladder at the side of each route with a vf installed incase you struggle at any poinf. Not convinced? Neither am I. Dolt.
> I can't let you get away with saying that ! What is it that we haven't got here; grit ? The Pyrénées have a wide range of rock : granite, limestone, schistes, sandstone, andesite and pudding stone.
Ok, I stand corrected, but I think it would be fair to say that for most French there is a relatively much more convenient and ample supply of bolted limestone which they understandably get stuck into rather than trad climbing and that they therefore generally don't experience trad and therefore struggle to understand it.
No. Nothing really ethical about rotting tat and shoogly pegs.
That's kind of what I'm thinking. I'd only ever propose bolting or fixing chains to replace anchors which are manky and/or dangerous.
I have never clipped a bolted belay and thought 'thats it....my day is ruined'.
I just dont buy the thin end of the wedge stuff either.
If the belay at the end of p2 on Smith Gully was bolted then that would not lead to the route becoming a wintery clip up. It would just be a better belay on an amazing route.
I was agreeing with you right up until you mentioned a winter route - rightly or wrongly I do see these as a separate case, and an environment that is inherently insecure.
> I was agreeing with you right up until you mentioned a winter route - rightly or wrongly I do see these as a separate case, and an environment that is inherently insecure.
Wrongly as in you don't see shoring-up a "problem" summer belay as different to the Smith's Gully scenario?
All the belays on Smiths are good anyway!
> Wrongly as in you don't see shoring-up a "problem" summer belay as different to the Smith's Gully scenario?
There is a related thread on "Bolts in the UK" that has opinions, including some of mine, that seem relevant to this discussion. Have a look at http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=554061 .
I think questions about belay and abseil bolts overlap, but are still often different questions. And I think the answers are subtle and vexing. I'm going to stick with belay bolts here, because that commentary is by itself already long enough.
I think any understanding of trad clmbing involves making do with what nature provided. Climbers have gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid or minimize the use of bolts, but they have not completely eschewed bolting. Although confronting and dealing with risk is an inseparable part of trad climbing, it is usually assumed that the belays will be good, at least on rock in non-winter conditions. Most trad climbers regularly confront the possibility big and dangerous falls on "relatively easy" ground, and many deal with analogous risks on very difficult ground. But most climbers do not fancy having the entire party pitch off the crag because of inadequate belay anchors. Consequently, at least in my experience, there has been almost no controversy about belay bolts placed at stances with no natural opportunities to use conventional gear.
But such situations are very rare. There are entire crags where the need for a belay bolt never occurs. The vast majority of trad climbs have features that allow for the construction of belay anchors without drilling. So lets put aside the tiny minority of cases where it is a bolt or there is no anchor at all. I think the current discussion is really about bolting belay stances that do not require bolts. These cases, and I believe they are a huge majority of the instances, are mostly about convenience, which is surely not one of the goals of trad climbing. The party can carry lighter racks, since they won't be using up six pieces of gear at each pair of consecutive stances, they can move much faster, since they don't have to set up and break down belay anchors at each stance, and they can quit at any time---there is zero commitment---using the bolted belay anchors to rap off without leaving any gear. They can also use the bolts to set up a top rope on the first pitch, thereby clogging up the entryway to an entire route.
It is not possible to seriously argue that needing less gear, being guaranteed quicker passage, and having most if not all the commitment eliminated doesn't constitute an extreme alteration of a route.
Every time these issues come up, someone says that you don't have to clip the bolts. This again betrays a deep misunderstanding of trad climbing. Building a belay anchor is a skill that eliminates certain dire risks. Confronting the risks dictated by nature and dealing with them is what trad climbing is all about. It isn't about tricks like going over Niagra Falls in a barrel. Once the bolts are there, the entire process of confronting and resolving the risk is gone and not clipping the bolts is just a dumb trick, interesting in some cases, when people thought the bolts were "necessary," but ultimately still a stunt.
Oddly enough, those who say you don't have to clip the bolts seem strangely hostile to the idea that they don't have to do the climb if it isn't bolted. They insist on a choice for others that allows them not to have to make a much more fundamental choice. Underlying this is something new, in my opinion: a sense of entitlement, that says if the climb nature made isn't suitable for me, then by god we'll drill it up so that I can be comfortable on it.
That sense of entitlement has been, historically, the very furthest thing from the nature of UK climbing. Those of us from other lands who look to the UK as a beacon of the best aspects of trad climbing wish you well in keeping the drill where it belongs, on sport climbs.
Very well put. Agree 100%
Although that's how people describe point five with the amount of fixed gear in it now. Wasn't it Guy Rob who said earlier this year that the amount of fixed/stuck gear is one of the big issues of Scottish winter these days?
Who has clipped the bolt on Coomb Gully? We certainly did!
In general I completely agree with you. FYI, however, I am personally not aware of any instances of this particular scenario in UK climbing. I gather it's more common in the States?
In the Dolomites it seems to be a hot issue at the moment. The standard Dolomites belay is a couple of pegs, of unknown age/provenance/quality. It's generally easy to back them up with a thread or a nut, but lots of people are too lazy/complacent/in a hurry to do so, and deaths of entire parties have occurred. Some of the locals think bolted belays are a valid answer to this, others don't. On the Cima della Madonna for example I saw chopped bolts next to perfectly adequate, easily backed up peg belays. Ten miles further down the road on the trade routes on the Pala del Rifugio, where the belays are even easier to construct / supplement with natural gear, bolted belays have been accepted as a way to protect the ignorant and lazy from their ignorance and laziness. I dunno.
Quite. It's not as if there's any shortage of easily protected, safe trad climbing in the UK. There is a shortage of decent easy sport climbing, which I suspect may be a large part of the problem here.
The "problem" is that more and more beginners would rather climb an F4 than a VDiff. We are seeing a proliferation of timorousness and laziness.
> The "problem" is that more and more beginners would rather climb an F4 than a VDiff. We are seeing a proliferation of timorousness and laziness.
Or rather an understandable desire to put into practice athletic skills learnt indoors without the hssle of placing gear.
That may be the case in the US, but it would certainly not be the case in the UK and that is what this thread is really about: bolted belays on British trad crags are virtually unheard of and would be, I think, vigorously opposed my the majority in all cases.
Agree with evertything else you say!
Yes, there is an element of that for sure, but also of the above. Basically, if you have a limited frame of reference and are not immersed in the history and mythology of trad climbing, sport climbing very often seems to make more sense, whether you are pottering or cranking.
I personally don't have strong feelings either way about the issue, as I mainly climb in Scotland on mountain type crags where we almost exclusively don't have bolted belays [and I'm a selfish ba$tard].
But I do wonder about this - for example. King Bee - a popular VS at Craig Dubh [Newtonmore]. When I first climbed it a long time ago we climbed the first two pitches of good rock climbing and then another one up some poor grassy stuff followed by a bit of an arborial expedition back to the foot of the route. When I last climbed it, a couple of years back - at the belay at the end of pitch two, where the 'good' climbing ends, there is what is obviously an abseil point - comprising of two or three rather suspect pegs strung together with 'tat'. We abbed - as I guess most people do - not without some trepidation I should add. The stance is cramped. There's no 'natural' features with which you can back up the pegs. Now whilst we came for a bit of adventure and were happy to run the risks associated with the climb, up to the point of the abseil, I personally would be in favour of placing a bolted [safe?] ab point / belay instead of the poor pegs.
[Runs for cover]
I'm wishing I'd rephrased the thread title now. I'm certainly not being a Devil's advocate for widespread belay-equipping or the creation of abseil pistes. Thinking more of instances like Sergeant Crag Slabs where the walk-down is problematic, Castell Helen where the option is a cluster of rotting pegs, or single-pitch venues like Salisbury crags where natural anchors are non-existant.
I think that's a good example John. Folk abseil from the nearby cluster of ancient bolts at the top of Brute without feeling that their trad experience has been ruined. But both of these "solutions" are less permanent or reassuring than a modern bolted anchor.
Creag Dubh is an interesting case anyway - I'm convinced that if it was first discovered tomorrow it would be grid-bolted!
trad climbing adventure these days = read description in the guide book, check photo diagrams in the guide book, check route on ukc, check photos/opinions on gear/moves/loose rock etc on ukc adding bolt into this doesn't take anything away from the route
What if in the multi pitch environment, particularly in winter where you sometimes get people belaying from different places?
For a talking point let's say that on a long pitch, just before the crux of a route is a small natural ledge, with limited natural protection at waist/head height. What if someone decided to make a new bolted intermediate belay before the crux, because bolted belays are allowed right? The seriousness of the full pitch has just been reduced because bolts have appeared before the crux. Some people might use this belay but others just use it as a runner to protect their crux move. Has the bolted belay on a multi pitch just became a clip up?
Who would moderate it? Who would decide what was a belay or an ab? Where would be be allowed?
In theory I have nothing against bolted belays and abs as just that purpose, but I am against them because I think the lines would blur. It might take a couple of decades but anything which happens slowly enough that you don't notice the change can still be completely different at both the start and the end point.
>1 to 3 years
You can generally tell, can't you?
>For a talking point let's say that on a long pitch, just before the crux of a route is a small natural ledge, with limited natural protection at waist/head height. What if someone decided to make a new bolted intermediate belay before the crux, because bolted belays are allowed right?
Well, obviously you'd claim the route, come up with some pi quote about living your life like a thrown knife, and go off elsewhere until someone came along to climb it clean.
I chose the Smith example deliberately really.
It is a brilliant memorable route with decent gear through-out but the P2/3 belay is rubbish. There are two pegs, one could be pulled out by hand and the other is in a stupid place.
This could be 'improved' by a passing climber bashing in a couple of new pegs. Is that really better than a fixed stainless belay?
I guess Lillaz Gully would be a good example of a 'Scottish' gully climb with fixed belays. Seemed plenty exciting when I did it.
> >1 to 3 years
> You can generally tell, can't you?
Yes, that's what worries me.
> This could be 'improved' by a passing climber bashing in a couple of new pegs. Is that really better than a fixed stainless belay?
Far, far bettter. I imagine any sensible, well equipped climber would back the belay up with their own pegs anyway. It's called self-reliance.
Is hashing pegs in and out of mica schist really better?
> Is hashing pegs in and out of mica schist really better?
Yes. In the grand scheme of things, the rock damage is neither here nor there. The damage by bolts to the spirit of winter climbing is massive.
It is not.
In erply to Robert:
Robert, as ever I admire your passion for the sport and respect your option. I do disagree though. The (re)introduction of bolts is inevitable.
Shite belays are part of winter climbing. It's a dangerous activity and not getting yourself killed is part of the challenge as is pushing the boat out a long way above any decent gear.
I don't remember any particularly bad belays in Smiths either.
I think they're part of the experience of those routes. Orion Direct?
To object to safe belays on a mountain featuring a bungalow just seems weird to me.
Folk usually have a good idea what they're getting into when they get on the routes.
Do you not think i is a bit contrived though? Middle grade trade routes with duff belays.
Contrived? Not at all.
Sure, they were often slicker by simply using an Italian Hitch from a s/gate clipped to the bolt (both for bringing up the Second & belaying thr leader!) but by thd end of pitch 2 or so, the single rope was often desperately twisted & in need of tlc.
So, I think that the widespread use of bolts on UK crag belay stances might well encourage the same poor approach.
1) Deliberately created rather than arising naturally or spontaneously.
2) Giving a sense of artificiality.
Unbolted belays don't sound contrived to me. Odd route to choose too, as not seen anyone agree that the belays are particularly bad.
In general I agree with what rgold has said here (actually, that's generally true - I find he often writes sense).
There is one, important, exception that I feel to not bolting belays -- and that is to bolt belay locations, especially on popular routes, where the historical anchor choice has been to sling a tree. I do not think there is a noticeable gain in time, nor a noticeable easing of commitment or of gear required. I think this can be important in order to preserve the health of the trees -- the wear and tear on the bark of climbers slinging & pulling slings can and does damage or kill trees.
Having duff belays on middle grade trade routes is contrived - it is artificially adventurous and deliberately dangerous.
Smiths was chosen because it is a classic route, very busy when in condition and has only one bad belay.
The point was 'would improving that belay really detract from such an amazing route'. My thoughts are no, others think yes.
You can take a stake out without leaving any damage, you can't do that with a bolt.
Why would you want to take either out?
Does it not entirely depend on the crag configuration and rock quality?
In the UK, in my limited experience, I have never found that a bolt anchor at the top was required: due to it having boulders/ fences, or good natural anchors at the top. Furthermore, for the most part, there are easy descent routes on the side.
This summer, I climbed in Annot. It is a soft sandstone crag in tiers with very narrow horizontal ledges which formed in between sandstone layers (in shale layers I think). The pitches all climb between 20 to 30m to huge roofs or shale (total choss). So the Frenchies, for once with a good reason, decided to equip all routes with a lower off chain between 2 bolts. The rest of the route is climbed on trad gear. Makes perfect sense.
I have seen a happy marriage between bolts and none in Val dell'Orco
and the States.
I have not read the full thread because I am lazy, therefore I have only answered Jamie's initial musing with my own half cooked ideas.
Indeed, I see the logic. However, if the top is total choss/ very friable, what makes the bolt safer? It will be in afore mentioned rock after all. If it is placed way left or right of the top out it will be pulled at weird angles.
It is worth remembering that crags that have been bolted were often in compact rock that were suited to bolting: be it expansion bolts or glue-in bolts. Bolts are only as safe as the quality of the rock allows surely!?
Thus disqualifying a significant amount of the crags where we are thinking bolting anchors would be of use?
Bolted abseil and belay stations are different things.
Belay stations are part of the route and generally have no place on trad routes, perhaps with a very few exceptions if natural gear used to be but is no longer available.
Abseil stations that are needed for the approach to a route are part of the climbing experience and adventure, i.e. sea cliffs. Bolts have no place there.
Abseil stations to get off a route have nothing to do with the climbing experience, it's just a convenient way to get down without having to negotiate a tortuous descent. Bolts do damage the rock but it's minor damage and the visual impact of a couple of bolts is less than that of a load of tat or a disintegrating descent path. Besides, faster descents mean more climbing time!
> Having duff belays on middle grade trade routes is contrived - it is artificially adventurous and deliberately dangerous.
The words I have a problem with are 'artificial' and 'deliberate', I don't think a chunk of rock that ices up now and again can be called either.
The 'bad' here, people have expressed different opinions, did you only use the pegs? If it's really busy and getting a lot of ascents then is there a problem bolts would fix? Are people dying on this route?
Can't disagree at all here.
I do know i'm always happy to see bolts at a belay. It's just faster and more efficient. It means in a day, i can do that little bit more climbing.
I never know what to do with the information shouted down by the leader:"erm...the belay is a bit shit....try not to fall off?"
But that's the joy of limestone.
I guess saying you can climb E3 is way more impressive for bragging rights than saying you can climb 6a+ (but poorly protected) I think when people say 'protecting trad ethics' etc. They are actually talking about protecting their fragile egos :)
> I do know i'm always happy to see bolts at a belay. It's just faster and more efficient. It means in a day, i can do that little bit more climbing.
> But that's the joy of limestone.
Haha, I'm lucky enough to have not heard that. I might have thought it one or twice, but usually say nothing, letting them worry about the climbing, though my 'bad' anchor has been more than enough so far...
I think e3 is more than 6a+ surely? Haha perhaps, I'm sure most e3 climbers are strong enough to save face when climbing sport :).
> Having duff belays on middle grade trade routes is contrived - it is artificially adventurous and deliberately dangerous.
It's just what the rock has provided - hardly contrived or artificial!
Bolted belays on multi-pitch trad or winter routes is contrived and artificial - trying to make a certain aspect of the route safe (which may not work anyway when the bolts get covered up by ice!) but kidding yourself that the route is still an adventure.
I'd have thought 6a+ with no gear could easily be E3 or harder.
> Abseil stations that are needed for the approach to a route are part of the climbing experience and adventure, i.e. sea cliffs. Bolts have no place there.
> Abseil stations to get off a route have nothing to do with the climbing experience, it's just a convenient way to get down without having to negotiate a tortuous descent. Bolts do damage the rock but it's minor damage and the visual impact of a couple of bolts is less than that of a load of tat or a disintegrating descent path. Besides, faster descents mean more climbing time!
I'm not sure why approaching a route and descending from it should have different 'rules'?
> I'd have thought 6a+ with no gear could easily be E3 or harder.
You're right. No gear it deffo could be 6a+ for the solo. If you were a 'solid' e3 leader you would be able to climb 6c and above. Though really, not many 6c indoor leaders are doing e3's.
I hear what you're saying - two sides of the same coin I think.
Some climbers love the adventure, the unknown and the wonkiness of trad/winter climbing in the UK. By wonkiness I mean pegs, tat, weird rules.
They love the head-management as part of the experience and embrance the on-sight, self reliance ethic.
I respect it, understand why they like it, understand the history - its just not for me.
I love climbing, I love the movement and I like moving as well as I possible can both in rockshoes and with axes.
I am pretty poor at both aspects of it and will nevery go beyond middling grades. I'd like to think that I can pull off those grades with a certain elan though.
Near my limit I would rather top-rope a route, dial it and climb as nicely as possible rather than scratch up an on-sight all puffing and knees. I've never kidding myself or anyone else about that.
That is what influences my view on tat, pegs and poor belays and why I think they are contrived. The Orion Face has a bunglow below it and in good condition there will be teams all over it using every conceivable aid to get to the top safely. Not extending that to the belays seems odd.
I like a day clipping at the sport crag as much as the next guy and in some ways see the development of areas where bolts are common as a fair trade off for a no-bolt ethic in the mountains.
> I respect it, understand why they like it, understand the history - its just not for me.
> Near my limit I would rather top-rope a route, dial it and climb as nicely as possible rather than scratch up an on-sight all puffing and knees. I've never kidding myself or anyone else about that.
If there's teams all over it, then it must be safe/easy/accessible/good enough to draw crowds without the help of bolts. Not sure what the bungalow has to do with it, not a premise that can go very far, 'all crags with bungalow below it should be bolted?'. Roaches has whillans memorial hut below it thus must be bolted?
> Why would you want to take either out?
To be replaced if damaged?
> I'd stick my neck out and say the majority of trad climbs don't have a single peg/piece of tat on/in them. You make it sound like trad is a clip up on wonky pegs.
Clip up on wonky insitu tat is actually a very good description of southwest climbing. Avon isn't far off being grid pegged ;) most pitches have several pegs, nearly every route has at least one and most have between 5-10.
A few very special cases even have the belay consisting of manky pegs only.
We have such a variety of rock types and climbing styles in the UK it will be impossible to make a single generalisation :) Ideally I'd climb bullet-hard grey granite, on soaring walls, easy to protect and challenging to climb . But unfortunately i live in Bristol so will keeping sketching up loose, dirty and overgrown iron mongery museums ;)
You seem determined to misconstrue the sense of my post(s).
That's fine, the nature of the straw-man argument I guess, but I'm not going to explain it all to you.
> You seem determined to misconstrue the sense of my post(s).
> That's fine, the nature of the straw-man argument I guess, but I'm not going to explain it all to you.
I don't think you're a straw man at all. If you think I have miscontrued something then could you actually me what I have miscontrued? I'm genuinely asking.
Because descending from a route is the boring bit you do after you've finished climbing and the aim to to get down as soon as possible to get another route in or to to the pub! Whereas abseil approaches off difficult to find and sometimes dodgy gear is an integral part of the sea cliff trad experience. Actually, I've yet to ab in off a dodgy anchor, it's just that it sometimes takes a while to set something up, potentially using extra ropes, but that's part of the adventure.
On the topic, it seems obvious to me that there's no overall answer but each case needs to be viewed on its merits. A bit more boring than being "for" or "against", but really it can be justified for some routes but very much not for some others.
Descending from a route may be the boring bit but it's surely still part of the experience? Especially in a mountaineering sense. Take sea stacks for example where the descent is just as much an intergral part of the experience as the approach and ascent.
Taking your arguments about the descents, I'm still not sure why approaches should be different. After all, a bolt belay at the top of a sea cliff would also speed up the process, allowing one to get more climbing in (perhaps not the best reason?). Not that I'm advocating this; I'm more pointing out that I don't think there's any particular reason why the descent should be a different case regarding bolts.
Fair points regarding your approach to climbing and what inspires you, no problem with that.
We shall certainly have to agree to disagree regarding bolted belays though!
I can live with that - most people I speak to about it in real life disagree too...
Yes, agree re sea stack descents. Though the Old Man of Hoy for example has fixed ab stations anyway. Admittedly of the tat, old nuts and very old pegs variety! I'm not saying it needs to be bolted, just that it's already fixed anyway.
I guess the distinction for me is tedious walk off on a path vs committing abseil approach / descent (off a stack). One is walking, the other part of the climbing experience. A tedious walk off is also part of the overall experience but I think one we can so without!
For instance, on the Cromlech you have to walk off for routes to the left of Foil, whereas for the other ones you ab off tat stations. It doesn't make sense! Why not bolt a few more lower offs? I don't buy the 'it damages the rock' argument, the main damage thereabouts is from the disintegrating approach path and people going on the scree slopes - which you can see from the other side of the Pass, unlike a few descrete bolts. Obviously it would have to be on the understanding that no bolts are to be placed other than for ab stations.
> For instance, on the Cromlech you have to walk off for routes to the left of Foil, whereas for the other ones you ab off tat stations. It doesn't make sense! Why not bolt a few more lower offs? I don't buy the 'it damages the rock' argument, the main damage thereabouts is from the disintegrating approach path and people going on the scree slopes - which you can see from the other side of the Pass, unlike a few descrete bolts. Obviously it would have to be on the understanding that no bolts are to be placed other than for ab stations.
Last bolt abseil (Llanberis slate quarry) I did was backed up with tat as the bolt was of an uncertain age and quality. I don't think bolts are discreet and placing them alters the climber's relationship with the crag environment.
So for the top of a sea stack that requires pegs, you could remove the last set, place your own and abseil. But that doesn't make sense so everyone abseils of the set of gear that's already there. Also if pegs were always going in and out the rock would get damaged. You could argue that's good as good nut slots would appear, but I don't think we should be manufacturing gear placements any more!
As for the tops of sea cliffs with stakes -- we could all carry our own and hammer them in every time, but that would create a godawful mess so we leave the first one in place and all use that.
Then there's fixed chains and piping around trees -- that's to prevent the trees being damaged by ignorant or lazy climbers. It's not ideal but it does save the trees so I'm happy to see them.
In all of these cases they exist either because there is no alternative or to prevent damage to trees etc. Don't go building bolt belays just to avoid a walk; it puts me in mind of the Tami Knight cartoon "Mountaineering as it would be if the cola-sucking-potato-chip-gobbling-tv-addicted wretches had it their way..."
There are fairly new bolts/staples (can't remember which) at the top of Comes the Dervish - on of the most famous routes on the slate. There are no bolted routes on the Dervish slab. Yet no one had chopped these bolts. Why? I suspect because it's convenient to ab off. I'm just saying let's extend this common sense approach. I am very much a trad climber (I do sport only occasionally), I love adveturous climbing and sea cliffs with their often complex approaches and I am generally against retrobolting. But I do think bolted lower offs would make sense in many places.
If that at intermediate belay points on a multi-pitch then yes. If you mean at the top-out then no.
Safe belays at known locations will have a huge effect on the charicter of a multi-pitch and imho makes it kinda semi-trad, semi-sport.
Safe belays/Abb points after the top-out do not effect the grade (your done for a start) they just make it safer for the 2nd and belayer, and can help prevent erosion in certain places. I'd fully support there instillation at trad-crags lacking natural belays. Yet there is often a bizarre hypocritical opposition to this even though belay stakes and fence-posts (i.e. dodgy artificial anchors) are apparently totally OK...
It's not bizarre or hypocritical. Stakes and fence posts do not involve using power tools to permanently damage the rock. I'm not against the use of belay/abseil bolts in some limited situations but lets not kid ourselves about their use. Making comparisons like this does not help the cause.
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