/ Bolting 'versus' Trad

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ian Ll-J - on 01 Oct 2013
A must read article from Nick Bullocks Blog...

http://nickbullock-climber.co.uk/2013/10/01/oblivious/
johncoxmysteriously - on 01 Oct 2013
In reply to ian Ll-J:

Not another Gibson debate.

There's no point in it; the fellow has no shame. There's only one way to deal with him and that's to debolt his routes when he does this sort of thing. It's damned tiresome, which is why it doesn't get done as much as it should.

jcm
The Pylon King on 01 Oct 2013
In reply to ian Ll-J:

This is not good at all.
ian Ll-J - on 01 Oct 2013
In reply to johncoxmysteriously: I think it's more than a Gary Gibson debate, I see it more as a very strong message to other would be bolters. I bolt myself but would never do what Gary has done at Craig Arthur.
johncoxmysteriously - on 01 Oct 2013
In reply to ian Ll-J:

> I bolt myself but would never do what Gary has done at Craig Arthur.

No, of course not. But then you're not an irresponsible twerp. There's only one thing to be done.

jcm
Dave 88 - on 01 Oct 2013
In reply to ian Ll-J:

What does PR, TR and BR stand for in the descriptions?
In reply to Dave 88:

> What does PR, TR and BR stand for in the descriptions?

peg, thread and bolt runners surely?
Dave 88 - on 01 Oct 2013
In reply to TobyA:

Oh right, that would make sense. Cheers mate.
johncoxmysteriously - on 01 Oct 2013
In reply to ian Ll-J:

Actually, looking at the UKC logbook, GG is quite open that he's retroed Manic Mechanic - he says on there that Relentless climbs the first half of MM and that Oblivious (sometimes I almost think he chooses these names deliberately) is basically a version of MM. They seem to have been bolted for at least a couple of years, as well.

You'd think he'd have learned *something* from Pembroke, Lundy, etc, wouldn't you?

jcm
johncoxmysteriously - on 01 Oct 2013
In reply to ian Ll-J:

It would be interesting to know what John Moulding, Pat Littlejohn and Stuart Cathcart would have to say. I wouldn't have thought any of them would be terribly pleased and it's hard to see them having consented. Not that that would bother GG, obviously.

jcm
Michael Gordon - on 01 Oct 2013
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

I don't know what would possess someone to do that. They're not even new routes by the sounds of it.
Dave Garnett - on 01 Oct 2013
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:
> (In reply to ian Ll-J)
>
> It would be interesting to know what John Moulding, Pat Littlejohn and Stuart Cathcart...

As I recall, Cathcart wasn't a complete stranger to bolt-based controversy.

Not that that justifies retro-bolting his routes, obviously.

Misha - on 01 Oct 2013
In reply to ian Ll-J:
I'm not the only climber to owe Gary Gibson a debt of gratitude for bolting a load of sport routes is god forsaken quarries. I quite like Masson Lees for example. But in his quest for 4,000 'new' routes or whatever, he has sometimes overstepped the mark. Craig Arthur is a fantastic crag - it would be really popular if it were in the Peaks (as popular as trad limestone gets anyway). There are a fair few sport routes there as well. Is there really need for more? It is after all primarily a trad crag in an area with loads of sport (Dinbren just down the road for a start).

Here Gary seems to have broken what I consider to be a very obvious and common sense no-no of bolting: if a bolt is within easy reach of a trad route, it must not be placed as it would alter the trad experience. Unless a route is actually being retrobolted but I don't think Craig Arthur is in any way suitable for retrobolting because it is a superb trad crag.

So - I think this is completely out of order.

Would be interesting to hear what the Clwyd locals think.
Enty - on 01 Oct 2013
In reply to ian Ll-J:

Shoddy!

E
MischaHY - on 01 Oct 2013
In reply to ian Ll-J:

I presume in the above post, PR refers to pegs? In that case, I find it somewhat ironic that the poster is all angry about bolts when a peg is near enough the same thing, just without the caveat of actually being certain to catch you.

That said, I think the bolting of these routes is pretty bad form, even for Gary.
Robert Durran - on 01 Oct 2013
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> You'd think he'd have learned *something* from Pembroke, Lundy, etc, wouldn't you?

Given his track record (and now this disgrace), I thought it a little distasteful that he is a major author of the new Pembroke guides.
Robert Durran - on 01 Oct 2013
In reply to MischaHY:

> I presume in the above post, PR refers to pegs? In that case, I find it somewhat ironic that the poster is all angry about bolts when a peg is near enough the same thing.

Oh Dear.
On second thoughts, FFS.
dr evil - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to ian Ll-J:
That is an outstanding piece of writing. I think with GG it is more of a megalomania than an obsession. Google that if you want Gary, you tw*t.
johncoxmysteriously - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:

>I thought it a little distasteful that he is a major author of the new Pembroke guides

It was pretty strange, to be honest. Of course, he's always very eager to help with guidebooks, in order to ensure that his magnificent contributions to British climbing get the recognition they deserve. If I'd still been on the CC guidebook committee there'd have been one dissenting voice in appointing him, that's for sure.

jcm
Kid Spatula - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to ian Ll-J:

ANOTHER BOLTING THREAD. How exciting. Just what we needed to keep the constantly angry two angry.
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r0x0r.wolfo - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to ian Ll-J: Check Pete harrison out of no where name dropping ukc in the replies, I think he is a touch obsessed.
Offwidth - on 03 Oct 2013
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:

I think you mean name dropping in one reply and a lot what he says makes sense to me. Im not for retrobolting but neither am I keen on heavily pegged routes to sneak an FA that should have been left for someone with more talent.
johncoxmysteriously - on 03 Oct 2013
In reply to Offwidth:

Sure, but life and ethics were different in the 1980's.

jcm
Coel Hellier - on 03 Oct 2013
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> There's only one way to deal with him and that's to debolt his routes when he does this sort of thing.

Apparently he's lost interest since achieving the 4000 mark, and hasn't bolted any new routes since. This could be a temporary hiatus of course.

I don't climb at the elevated levels of these climbs, but I've never really liked crags where sport and trad are mixed, to my mind a crag should be one thing or the other. That demarcation is one way of holding back the wedge. Plus, bolters should aim for quality of routes not quantity.
1poundSOCKS - on 03 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier: Even when it's fairly well segregated like Malham? I love the fact I can go there and do both.
Coel Hellier - on 03 Oct 2013
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

> Even when it's fairly well segregated like Malham?

If they are sufficiently well segregated then ok. But to me a trad route doesn't have the proper feel if there are sport routes within vision, so that you look around and see sport bolting on adjacent lines.
r0x0r.wolfo - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to r0x0r.wolfo)
>
> I think you mean name dropping in one reply

When I said "in the replies", I meant in "the replies [section]" had I meant that he mentioned UKC twice I would have said "in his replies". It's an easy mistake to make, but you really need to hone your pedantry next time. I'm not sure what retro-bolting specifically has to do with this website. I suppose anyone with a different stance than Pete's is catering to dark side that is UKC.


> and a lot what he says makes sense to me. Im not for retrobolting but neither am I keen on heavily pegged routes to sneak an FA that should have been left for someone with more talent.

A lot of it makes sense to me. I don't like pegs myself, I never take them up routes, wouldn't feel like a 'clean' ascent. The thing that doesn't make sense is banging on about pegs every time someone retro bolts a route. It's a cop out, a distraction from the issue, by bolting something you're not 'leaving the route for someone with more talent'. Who makes a stance against fixed protection by placing more of it?

I will ask you the question posed in the replies: Do you think the bolting of this route is a part of a wider anti-peg stance? Or is any talk of pegs just to simply side track the debate from retro-bolting?
Jon Stewart - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to 1poundSOCKS)
>
> [...]
>
> If they are sufficiently well segregated then ok. But to me a trad route doesn't have the proper feel if there are sport routes within vision, so that you look around and see sport bolting on adjacent lines.

The reason I've never done Mad Dogs is because I'd feel like a bit of a prat huffing and puffing my way up a solitary trad route (at about f6b), getting massively stressed placing gear while pumped solid and scared, when I'm surrounded by people only 3 feet away calmly sitting around on their ropes exchanging beta. As you say, it's just not the same.
Michael Gordon - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:

Folk often seem to use pegs as an excuse to argue for bolts.
Robert Durran - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to Michael Gordon:
> (In reply to r0x0r.wolfo)
>
> Folk often seem to use pegs as an excuse to argue for bolts.

Which is either a transparently dishonest pro-bolts stance or just a reflection of their ignorance and lack of understanding of the issues.

MischaHY - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to MischaHY)
>
> [...]
>
> Oh Dear.
> On second thoughts, FFS.

Just to clarify, this was arguing against the use of pegs, not for the use of bolts.
1poundSOCKS - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart: Sounds like you're calling for Mad Dogs to be bolted?
Offwidth - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:

You seemingly assume that motive. The bolter was almost certainly wrong but the person pointing out the ethical possibilities around what to do with the declining safety of heavily pegged routes also had a point. These two positions can co-exist. I think there is a middle way that can consider a retro-bolt in specific circumstances alongside a more preferred line of stripping unreliable pegs altogether (without regarding the bolt as an almost intrinsic evil). We have a thread locked nearby as a bunfight almost re-started based on the removal and replacement of an unneccesary chockstone on a famous route. Grey areas are varied and very real.
Bulls Crack - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Go and do it - you have the moral highground! ;-)
r0x0r.wolfo - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to r0x0r.wolfo)
>
> You seemingly assume that motive. The bolter was almost certainly wrong but the person pointing out the ethical possibilities around what to do with the declining safety of heavily pegged routes also had a point.
He's not merely pointing it out, he is justifying the retrobolting with the presence of pegs. There is a huge difference there.

> These two positions can co-exist. I think there is a middle way that can consider a retro-bolt in specific circumstances alongside a more preferred line of stripping unreliable pegs altogether (without regarding the bolt as an almost intrinsic evil).
Possibly, but there should be a discussion first, the routes have been converted to sport overnight without consulting the wider climbing community.

Again, because no one answers this question: Do you think Gary Gibson bolted these routes as a part of a wider 'anti-peg' stance?

Coel Hellier - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Mulling this a bit more, I am fine with -- for example -- the Red Wall at Llanymynech being sport bolted and the Black Wall being trad. Despite them being close, you can't see one from the other so the "trad feel" of the Black Wall routes is preserved. It would, though, (to me) ruin those Black Wall routes if the blank bits of the Black Wall were sport bolted.

In that way, I think crag areas should be one or the other (where the different areas can be close, as above, but do need to be clearly distinct). The issue here with Craig Arthur (and a lot of Clwyd limestone) is that it is neither one nor the other, and thus there is no clear boundaries and nothing to stop encroaching bolting.

The drift to bolting seems to be a one-way ratchet, and thus we need clear boundaries as to what is acceptable. That means preserving trad venues even if it means some routes are rarely climbed and even if some parts of those trad venues have no routes on them.
ice.solo - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to Kid Spatula:
> (In reply to ian Ll-J)
>
> ANOTHER BOLTING THREAD. How exciting. Just what we needed to keep the constantly angry two angry.

consider it a good warm up for the drytooling 'debates' about to begin. a couple of bolting threads really keeps the mood aloft during the low season.

Nick Bullock - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:

>
> Again, because no one answers this question: Do you think Gary Gibson bolted these routes as a part of a wider 'anti-peg' stance?

No.
Dave Garnett - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> The drift to bolting seems to be a one-way ratchet, and thus we need clear boundaries as to what is acceptable. That means preserving trad venues even if it means some routes are rarely climbed and even if some parts of those trad venues have no routes on them.

That's my view too. We've been down this road before and twenty years ago I took on the fundamentalist 'no bolts under any circumstances' diehards both here and in Cape Town when I lived there. I've had my stand-up public arguments with Ken Wilson when he took his thin end of the wedge stance.

However, I now think he had a point. The pressure for bolting to encroach just seems inexorable once it's established in an area, and subsequent generations come to see it as not only acceptable but necessary.

Even the type of venue can be pursuasive. Bolting is acceptable at LPT and Portland, so it must be OK on Gower. If Gower, why not Pembroke? The easy rule used to be quarried limestone and aid venues were OK, other natural limestone not, but I think Cheedale put paid to that.

Keeping whole crags (preferably) or at least whole buttresses bolt-free seems to be the only workable policy. Maybe there should be a one-off settlement redrawing the boundaries but then somebody would just ignore it anyway...
GrahamD - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:


> The issue here with Craig Arthur (and a lot of Clwyd limestone) is that it is neither one nor the other, and thus there is no clear boundaries and nothing to stop encroaching bolting.

On crags like Stoney I always thought there were clear boundaries - for all the difference that made.
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In reply to Jon Stewart:
> getting massively stressed placing gear while pumped solid and scared, when I'm surrounded by people only 3 feet away calmly sitting around on their ropes exchanging beta. As you say, it's just not the same.

Don't come to Scandinavia then sadly. Definitely here in Finland and also at lots of Swedish and some Norwegian crags I've been too the norm is cracks are trad routes, in between are sport routes. It generally works pretty OK but there are some crags where people have tried to squeeze another indifferent sports route in between two cracks, making an eliminate of the sports line (don't touch the cracks) and basically retroing the trad cracks.
Offwidth - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo: I know Gary but not well. I have listened to him trying to explain his motivations and when compared with what he does I am left confused. He does acknowledge having made mistakes with bolting and route claims in the past.

It doesnt make sense this is anything to do with an anti peg stance.
Jon Stewart - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> [...]
>
> Don't come to Scandinavia then sadly. Definitely here in Finland and also at lots of Swedish and some Norwegian crags I've been too the norm is cracks are trad routes, in between are sport routes. It generally works pretty OK but there are some crags where people have tried to squeeze another indifferent sports route in between two cracks, making an eliminate of the sports line (don't touch the cracks) and basically retroing the trad cracks.

Sounds crap!
Jon Stewart - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart) Sounds like you're calling for Mad Dogs to be bolted?

DO SOME WORK!
Jon Stewart - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to Bulls Crack:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
>
> Go and do it - you have the moral highground! ;-)

Will do, at some point. This summer I spent ages in Pembroke, then when I came back to the Peak lime it seemed so pathetic that I just couldn't be bothered to put my harness on.
Robert Durran - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to TobyA)
> Sounds crap!

Indeed. It must never, ever come to that here.

r0x0r.wolfo - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to r0x0r.wolfo) I know ary but not well. I have listened to him trying to explain his motivations and when compared with what he does I am left confused. He does acknowledge having made mistakes with bolting and route claims in the past.
>
> It doesnt make sense this is anything to do with an anti peg stance.

Fair enough, thanks for your honesty. So as thiws route would have been bolted anyway, pegs or not, I'm not sure what their revelvance is in this particular case. I don't think it was at all obvious that:

1) The route would be bolted
2) The removal of the pegs would have saved the route from being retroed.

Conclusion: Everyone else but Gary is to blame for not taking the pegs out.

Of course, this argument only claims the meagre legitimacy of the ultimatum 'do as I say or I will bolt this route'. But as the premises are false, it's illegimate and misleading to blame the pegs existence, or the community for not taking them out. Therefore, it should simply be classed as an act of unilateral retrobolting, and treated as such.
1poundSOCKS - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart: I love contracting. :)
Offwidth - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:

If this was a classic bold route I dont think Gary would have bolted part of it: that doesn't mean its an anti-peg stance, just that pegs can form part of a (often false) justification. I forgot to add in my earlier post that like for like replacement of pegs should obviously also be a possibility if this is safe and doesn't leave an increasing mess.
Offwidth - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:

We don't really have that sort of route though in the UK: especially long unprotected (more than a pitch) stretches of granite. Trad bolting (originally hand drilled on lead) works well in the US on similar routes too.
Robert Durran - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> We don't really have that sort of route though in the UK: especially long unprotected (more than a pitch) stretches of granite.

Generally true. The Dubh Loch, Shelter Stone? Heaven forbid! (Though I don't see it as a threat in the forseeable future)
r0x0r.wolfo - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to r0x0r.wolfo)
>
> If this was a classic bold route I dont think Gary would have bolted part of it: that doesn't mean its an anti-peg stance, just that pegs can form part of a (often false) justification. I forgot to add in my earlier post that like for like replacement of pegs should obviously also be a possibility if this is safe and doesn't leave an increasing mess.

I pretty much agree. I was never implying that he had an anti peg stance, I think it has more to do with the proximity to other sport routes than anything else. But motivations aside, I think retrobolting unilaterally is unjustifiable. If someone has a case they should make it, its completely ignorant to just go around doing whatever the hell you want.
puppythedog on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to ian Ll-J: It does seem in this instance that the wanderiongs on about Pegs are a straw man. A line was bolted, those bolts could be clipped from existing trad lines ruining their experience. th bolts should be removed by Gary as sympathetically as possible surely?
I was reading an article the other day, can't remember where whereby the author had had one of his trad first ascents retro-bolted, he'd made a fuss to the guidebook writers and people who knew the person who had retroed it asking that they take the bolts out. the response that came back was that the bolter was hapy for the first ascentionist to take the bolts out. Seems a bit arse about face to me.

I rarely get involved in the bolt don't bolt arguments. I have my views but i supsect they won't change anyone elses. The points in this argument seem to be being muddied by a different argument though. In this instance pegs are irrelevant. someone put lots of bolts iwthin reach of good trad climbs. that should not be acceptable.
Offwidth - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:

More than a pitch in the UK with no possibility for pegs??. Some of these overseas lines are on hundreds of meters of granite face with no cracks seams or breaks.
GrahamD - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Don't you wish more people would take the James Pearson 'Walk of Life' ethical stance ? its a real shame that got overtaken by the grade controversy whereas the most important statment was the peg removal and subsequent pegless ascent.

Also all the more reason that the Birkett addition to Dyers Lookout should have received more scrutiny for the use of the peg rather than the hero worship he got for suggesting a down grade of walk of life.
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> Sounds crap!

When done well - bolts can't be clipped from trad routes - it works surprisingly well, but the vast majority of crags are granite so its not like you have naturally sports crags or naturally trad crags because of the rock type.
Jon Stewart - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to GrahamD:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
>
> Don't you wish more people would take the James Pearson 'Walk of Life' ethical stance ? its a real shame that got overtaken by the grade controversy whereas the most important statment was the peg removal and subsequent pegless ascent.
>
> Also all the more reason that the Birkett addition to Dyers Lookout should have received more scrutiny for the use of the peg rather than the hero worship he got for suggesting a down grade of walk of life.

Can't say these issues about cutting edge routes really bother me. As for pegs on the routes I climb, some would be better without the pegs, others are better with the pegs replaced.
ian Ll-J - on 05 Oct 2013
In reply to Nick Bullock: Has anyone spoken to or contacted Gary Gibson about this?

Or failing that any local 'Clwyd Limestone' activists, what do they think? and more importantly what are they going to do about it?
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:
> It would be interesting to know what John Moulding, Pat Littlejohn and Stuart Cathcart would have to say.

I am not sure whether anyone has mentioned it yet, on a brief scan I can't see any comments.

Manica Mechanic is a bad route to hang this debate on. It was chipped from the start and took an unnatural line up the wall relying on several chipped buckets to cross two difficult sections. As a route it has no historical pedigree anyway. I would have thought Littlejohn's routes are much more worthy and, indeed, Friday the 13th is mentioned.

In the context of what has gone on here though I think it worth remembering that Craig Arthur has been messed about for years by climbers a little too eager for first ascents.

Alan
paul mitchell - on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to ian Ll-J: As for eventually doing without pegs and using only nuts and cams,sometimes this is worthy of respect.Consulting the creator of the climb would be good manners.

Some routes that have been aid climbed have been free soloed.London Wall being a spectacular example.

If it is better style to do routes without pegs,or less pegs,then presumably it is better style to cut down bolt numbers on bolted routes where there is a bolt every 1.5 or 2.5 metres.Better to space them at 4 or 5 metres;unlikely I know.

There's a reason I didn't put up any routes at Horseshoe Quarry;it's shite.I went there once with a friend who led an E2 on bolts.I asked if it was loose.He said there was one loosish hold.I then sight soloed the route,crux at about 9 metres. If people solo bolt routes or do them on trad gear only,does that entitle them to take out the bolts?

On crap routes,there is hardly any point;just leave it as a clip up.But on a good line there is some justification for tradding it,after it has been bolted,and stripping the bolts.

Placing bolts on poor lines next to necky trad routes is pretty insulting to the first ascensionists and repeat ascenders of those climbs.
There are always going to be plenty of short- neck sport climbers justifying bolts next to classic neck routes.There are enough sport climbs available.Leave the trad classics alone.

Retrobolters seem to think they are doing a service by bolting up ''unpopular'' routes ,or placing bolts within reach.IF A ROUTE HASN'T BEEN REPEATED,THAT MEANS POTENTIAL REPEATERS DON'T HAVE WHAT IT TAKES,SO LEAVE THE ROUTE AS IT IS.THE ROUTE CAN WAIT ANOTHER 20 YEARS FOR SOMEONE WITH THE BALLS. AS BULLOCK SAYS,THERE IS NO NEED WHATSOEVER TO CLIMB EVERY SQUARE FOOT OF ROCK.
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ian Ll-J - on 10 Oct 2013
It appears that plenty of folk are happy to discuss this on here and on Nick's Blog, but no sign of anyone taking any action....so I guess the problem remains...and sadly the cycle will continue....
johncoxmysteriously - on 11 Oct 2013
In reply to ian Ll-J:

Well, Ian, you live pretty near and you have experience with bolts. Why not do the necessary yourself?

jcm
Dave Garnett - on 11 Oct 2013
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

On a slightly different tack, has anyone seen the North by Northwest article in the current Climb? There's a double-page spread of a great-looking route (Rehab Roof) looking for all the world like a bit of Stanage, or maybe the Yorkshire Moors - until you see the lower-offs.

Don't know why it should bother me - I don't know the area at all, and it's not as if I haven't climbed bolted routes in areas at least as beautiful elsewhere in the world, but I guess it was the juxtaposition of a familiar image with jarring addition of obvious bolts and lower-offs. It almost looked like photoshopped wind-up.

Classic example of an unreasonable prejudice I should try to control, I guess.
Mick Ward - on 11 Oct 2013
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

It might be argued that Ian has done more than his fair share for the common good. Your intention to take the bolts out of Cocytus was pretty rare on here. Usually there's a Grand Canyon sized chasm between people venting and taking action - or even just making the effort to go see for themselves, make up their minds at the crags affected rather than in cyberspace.

Mick
andyathome - on 11 Oct 2013
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:
So can we identify the specific bolts that should be removed? Nick's photos are a good start; but are we talking abut stripping ALL the bolts on that wall? Or just some of them?

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