/ 17 new bolts on Grandes Jorasses

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Jon Bracey - on 07 Oct 2013
Guides from Courmayeur have added 17 new bolts to Pointe Young on the Grandes Jorasses, see here:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.239241206226710.1073741828.151602574990574&type=1

For me the Grandes Jorasses represents one of the last bastions of adventure climbing in the Mont Blanc massif. I personally find these new bolts completely unneccesary.
As far as I'm aware there does not appear to be a recognised and agreed policy for bolting practice in the Mont Blanc massif, but I think it time for discussion before it's too late.
Cuthbert on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to Jon Bracey:

Surely that discussion should take place initially in Italy and France?
jon on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to Jon Bracey:

Do I understand that these bolts replace the fixed ropes that have sprung up there?
Jon Bracey - on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to jon:
There was no need for the fixed ropes and there is no need for the bolts!
graham F - on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to Jon Bracey: I completely agree!
Robert Durran - on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to Jon Bracey:
> Guides from Courmayeur have added 17 new bolts to Pointe Young on the Grandes Jorasses, see here:
> https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.239241206226710.1073741828.151602574990574&type=1

Absolutely pathetic. Go and chop them!
>
> For me the Grandes Jorasses represents one of the last bastions of adventure climbing in the Mont Blanc massif. I personally find these new bolts completely unneccesary.

Obviously unnecesary - when was the route first done, FFS?

> As far as I'm aware there does not appear to be a recognised and agreed policy for bolting practice in the Mont Blanc massif, but I think it time for discussion before it's too late.

Although I hope not, it's probably already too late. When Piola started putting bolts on the Freney and Brouillard Pillars in the 80's, the depths had already been plumbed.....

graham F - on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to Jon Bracey: Good effort in removing the old ropes, but adding new bolts up there is a shame.
HeMa on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to graham F:
> (In reply to Jon Bracey) Good effort in removing the old ropes, but adding new bolts up there is a shame.

Indeed, but from a quick glance the bolts would be less of an eye sore than fixed ropes.
wbo - on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to Jon Bracey: What's the grade with/without fixed gear/tat? How was it originally done?
Mark Collins - on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to Jon Bracey: I like the idea but it strikes me as closing the stable door after the horse has bolted (sorry for the pun). I may not have been on the Grandes Jorasses but I have climbed in the Alps and there is so much iron mongery and assorted junk around, that to remove it seems like a massive job. From what I can gather, the continentals operate in a totally different culture, where bolting is considered de rigeur in all but a few exceptions.
graham F - on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to HeMa: yes, but there's no need for either is there?
Jon Bracey - on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to jon:
I don't see how the bolts are replacing the bits of unwarranted fixed ropes that have appeared over the years.
HeMa on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to graham F:
> (In reply to HeMa) yes, but there's no need for either is there?

Can't say as I've never been there.

But most likely fixed ropes would appear quite soon if they were simply removed. The bolts might redeem them unnecessary.

Of course, the bolts themselves might be completely unnecessary as well.
jon on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to Jon Bracey:
> (In reply to jon)
> I don't see how the bolts are replacing the bits of unwarranted fixed ropes that have appeared over the years.

I think you misunderstood my post Jon. I was simply wondering if that was their logic - remove the old tattered ropes but replace them with something a bit stronger/more resistant - and as HeMa dared to observe, less obtrusive. I was not agreeing with it in any way.

I love to see Rob with the bit between his teeth!

Solaris - on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:

Agree with every word, but I hope your second-to-last observation isn't true.

Not done it, but the traverse is high on my hit-list. Why does it have to be spoiled for me, both in the anticipation and in the execution?

Doug Scott's essay on bolts in a recent AJ should be compulsory reading for anyone taking a guide's exam, and agreement with it mandatory!
Solaris - on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to Jon Bracey:

Excuse my ignorance but which side of the frontier are the bolts? Who has a say about what gets put in where?
Simon4 - on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to HeMa:

> Of course, the bolts themselves might be completely unnecessary as well.

The bolts certainly are un-necessary, I managed the traverse including the technical pitches above the Canzio bivouac hut several years ago without them and I have never been the world's greatest rock-climber.

Italian guides do do some good things, cleaning up after people who should know better than to leave junk of various sorts around the mountains (like the decaying fixed ropes in this case), but they also seem to be acquiring the bad Swiss habit of regarding the mountains as being their personal possessions, to do what they like with, for slight convenience. Another bad case is the belay hoops on the Dent d'Herens, though very useful, they are all about taming the mountain and domesticating it.
Tim Sparrow on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to Jon Bracey: What a shame. I have had this as a must do traverse for some years, expecting to find it a very wild experience and a proper bit of alpinism. It might not be the route I aspired to now.
Agree also about the croquet hoops on the the Dent d'Herens - very obtrusive.
Jasonic - on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to Jon Bracey: Most of the classic routes I have done recently in the Alps seem to have bolts somewhere.. If the Mont Blanc massif was a National park there might be a body to talk too- I think it is not because of commercial pressures.
Luca Signorelli - on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to Jon Bracey:

Just for the record

1) My current understanding is that this is the independent action of two Courmayeur guides and not in any way something sponsored or endorsed by the Courmayeur guiding community as a whole

2) Also, I infer that the main scope of the operation was to remove all the fixed gear from Young (and there was a lot of it, mostly rotten and dangerous) and to create a quick escape route for those coming DOWN from the ridge, rather than climbing it.

3) The area bolted is definitely in France territory.

Not sure what to make of all this. It's definitively not your average "retrobolting", as the removal of the fixed ropes and the rottin gear as made climbing definitely not easier. On the other hand the rappel anchor have some definite impact on the commitment level of the ridge, particularly coming from the Hirondelles. There's a small rappel line on the lower Hirondelles, put there years ago by French guides (and it's the Italian side!), but it's hardly the same thing.

My own take is that these bolts won't have a long life there, but I may be wrong....

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Solaris - on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to Luca Signorelli:

Very interesting. Thanks, Luca.
Simon4 - on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to Luca Signorelli: Thanks for clarifying the situation regarding what has happened Luca.
Robert Durran - on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to Jasonic:
> (In reply to Jon Bracey) Most of the classic routes I have done recently in the Alps seem to have bolts somewhere.

Yep. It seems to me that anything with a market for guiding gets commercially convenience-bolted by the guiding industry. Switzerland seems to be the worst. A very sad state of affairs.
alasdair19 on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to Robert Durran: the swiss have been known to over do it.

However they listened to international opinion after proposing the bolts on the zmutt...

Sounds like the guys were trying to improve their mountain as they saw it.
Robert Durran - on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to alasdair19:
> (In reply to Robert Durran) the siss have been known to over do it.
>
> However they listened to international opinion after proposing the bolts on the zmutt...

I thought that was because the new hut got destroyed, so they didn't bother.

> Sounds like the guys were trying to improve their mountain as they saw it.

Presumably, but completely misguidedly (as it were).

Robert Durran - on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to alasdair19:
> (In reply to Robert Durran) the swiss have been known to over do it.

> Sounds like the guys were trying to improve their mountain as they saw it.

"IMPROVE"....."THEIR".....Is this what it has come to?

alasdair19 on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to Robert Durran: well ben nevis is ours isn't it?
Robert Durran - on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to alasdair19:
> (In reply to Robert Durran) well ben nevis is ours isn't it?

No, not really. It is a climbing venue of internetional standing. And if any Fort william guide decided to put bolts in it on the grounds that it was "theirs", I hope they would be hounded out of the country.

jonnie3430 - on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to alasdair19)
> [...]
>
> No, not really. It is a climbing venue of internetional standing. And if any Fort william guide decided to put bolts in it on the grounds that it was "theirs", I hope they would be hounded out of the country.

No, it's an natural environment that should be left as it's found. There is enough legacy of human existence on inhabited areas that we should limit our impact on recreational.
cubanking - on 08 Oct 2013
Hi Luca Signorelli,I am appreciate your record.I think most of the people support you.
jcw on 09 Oct 2013
In reply to Luca Signorelli: Then it's about time you put some pressure on those concerned. It is a disgrace. There is neither need for fixed ropes nor bolts. If they or their clients can't manage it they shouldn't be on it. The kind of mentality that is prepared to ruin great classic routes so they can get anyone up or down it safely is what is ruining Alpinism. I don't care if it is French, Italian or whatever, it simply reflects an approach to the great mountains that is abhorrent and typical of the selfishness of those incapable of comprehending what mountaineering is about. So if you know who is responsible saybso and shame them openly.
Solaris - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to jcw:

I agree with your aim but I am not sure that Luca's putting pressure on those who placed the bolts is the best way of achieving the desired outcome. What's needed is collective pressure from Guides' organizations, from the UIAA (Ha!), and people like Doug Scott and Piolet d'Or winners who (all due respect to Luca) have outstanding track records in the mountains.
MG - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to jcw: <steps delicately in to minefield>

While agreeing with your general sentiment, I do think an element of pragmatism is needed on popular routes. Where people abseil regularly there will be either tat or bolts. Personally I would prefer bolts to piles of rotting tat. For example the Schreckhorn bolts don't make the route any easier or safer but do elminate all the tat that, I understand, festooned every abseil point prior to bolts being placed. I haven't climbed the Grandes Jorasses ridge but the diagrams linked above suggest these bolts serve a similar purpose.

Realistically I don't think lots of people climbing a route and having it in pristine condition is really possible. There are of course plenty of excellent little known routes with neither tat nor bolts nor people.
Toerag - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to jcw:
> If they or their clients can't manage it they shouldn't be on it. The kind of mentality that is prepared to ruin great classic routes so they can get anyone up or down it safely is what is ruining Alpinism.

This isn't about getting up and down safely, it's about not leaving rap anchors consisting of loads of tat.
Solaris - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to MG:

Nor am I an anti-bolt absolutist, in fact I suspect my views are pretty close to yours.

But I think the Schreckhorn bolts have probably reduced the level of commitment (didn't do it before they were put in) and how many bolts are there? 10, 12? The Schreckhorn is frequently guided, so I suppose punters like me have to put up with guides needing to earn a living. But how many guided parties traverse Pte Young each year; are *17* bolts really needed on such a remote peak?
Robert Durran - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Solaris:
> (In reply to MG)
> The Schreckhorn is frequently guided, so I suppose punters like me have to put up with guides needing to earn a living. But how many guided parties traverse Pte Young each year; are *17* bolts really needed on such a remote peak?

Yes, I would have thought very different.
Though surely on very frequented routes it should not be beyond local guides to set a good example and regularly remove useless tat. Bolting is just lazy.
As for Pointe Young, what were there fixed ropes for? Presumably not for descent. And wouldn't the route be much more frequently ascended anyway?Again, good to tidy things, up but bolting in such a location is totally out of order.



Solaris - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Solaris)
> [...]
>
> Though surely on very frequented routes it should not be beyond local guides to set a good example and regularly remove useless tat. Bolting is just lazy.

Good point. I suppose guides would say that bolting is safer for them and their clients... Still doesn't excuse the bolts on PY. And perhaps clients would prefer their hills untarnished by bolts or tat.
jcw on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Toerag: No it isn't. The fixed rope was not about abseiling and the number of abseils for getting off certainly do not require 17 bolts. It is about bringing down a not particularly difficult but really great route requiring some commitment to a banal level. It is easy enough to say that there are plenty of other unspoilt routes, but there are few of the scale of the Jorasses traverse and in many cases others have keen spoilt by the proximate rappel bolt lines removing the commitment eg the Petites Jorasses. It is this sort of complacent acceptance of eroding Alpine values which encourages more and more of these so called improvements to the great classics.i see from an earlier posting that now even the Diables has been fixed.
Tyler - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Jon Bracey:

What are these bolts for? I thought it was usual to traverse the ridge from Aguille Rochefort, is doing it in the opposite direction also popular?
MG - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Tyler: The diagram on the facebook page in the OP suggests 14 of them are for abseiling, so presumably some people do go the other way, yes.
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jon on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to MG:

Or there and back?
Robert Durran - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to Tyler) The diagram on the facebook page in the OP suggests 14 of them are for abseiling, so presumably some people do go the other way, yes.

Bonington did after doing the Walker!
So did Simon Richardson I think.

Maybe the normal route on the Jorasses can be so nasty that it's an appealing alternative descent?
Still doesn't excuse the bolts of course.



Robert Durran - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Solaris:
> Good point. I suppose guides would say that bolting is safer for them and their clients...

Even safer for the guides to get a desk job and their clients to stay at home.
jonnie3430 - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Jon Bracey:

I was very unimpressed with the rope on SW ridge of Pollux and the one on Dent de Geant but figured out that it meant that the numpties were kept in a few places and not scattered through the Alps. It was my poor route choice and I should have chosen anyone of the many that are less travelled. Guides will continue to offer more to their customers, so the famous routes and peaks will go this way. How long will it be until the 1938 route on the Eiger is a clip-up? Who knows, but they'll want it to happen.
victorclimber - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Jon Bracey: can of worms you open there I quite agree they shouldn't be there ,and neither should the fixed ropes that were left .But to take the argument to its logical conclusion what about the Guides on Everest every year it gets more cluttered and you could even say Dumbed down ,so is there a difference depends how pure you liketo think you are ..
Dave - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to jon:
> (In reply to MG)
>
> Or there and back?

Thats what I've been puzzling over. Why put a rap line there ? As far as I know most parties don't reverse the route which would be very time consuming and not very logical given where you end up back at the Canzio bivy, and I don't have the impression that a full traverse after an ascent of the Hirondelles or N. face routes is done very often. And as a bail out its right at the start, so not too much help to assist an escape, say, in bad weather. It would be interesting to hear the rationale as to why the rap line was put in. And for perspective I understand there are already bolts and chained rap anchors for the descent from the Dome du Rochefort, nevermind a b..... great metal bivy hut at the start of the route. I'd argue that the Canzio bivy has a far greater impact on the commitment and wilderness aspects than a few bolts replacing other fixed gear and tat on the first 140m or so of the route.


By the way, when searching for a bit of information about the traverse I came across this snippet from the website of one highly respected British alpinist based in Cham who is a frequent contributor to UKC.

'Thankfully some nice guides have attached fixed ropes for the first two crux pitches of the traverse which was much appreciated as it was pitch black when we started off.'

No criticism intended, if there is fixed gear on an Alpine route I use it myself.




Robert Durran - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Dave:
> (In reply to jon)
> 'Thankfully some nice guides have attached fixed ropes for the first two crux pitches of the traverse which was much appreciated as it was pitch black when we started off.'

Starting an alpine route in the dark! whatever next?

Incidentally I backed off this because it was verglased and too time consuming with a less than great forecast (intertesting retreat down the Periades Glacier......). If I ever go back, I'd definitely climb Pte Young in the evening sun and have a more relaxed day afterwards.
jcw on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Robert Durran: That actually I suspect is why it was bolted. Getting an early start on bitterly cold rock at 4000m was the hardest part of the route for me, but then that is the name of the game!
MG - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to jcw:
> (In reply to Robert Durran) That actually I suspect is why it was bolted. Getting an early start on bitterly cold rock at 4000m

But the rock section isn't bolted!
MG - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Dave:
nevermind a b..... great metal bivy hut at the start of the route.

There is a bit of perspective problem there isn't there? Is there a logical reason for accepting a hut mid-route but not a bolt? (I want the answer to be yes as I like sleeping comfortably).
Robert Durran - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to Dave)
> nevermind a b..... great metal bivy hut at the start of the route.
>
> There is a bit of perspective problem there isn't there? Is there a logical reason for accepting a hut mid-route but not a bolt? (I want the answer to be yes as I like sleeping comfortably).

Yes.

Though if people are ridiculously going to use its presence as an excuse for bolting then it should be chopped too (just like pegs should be removed if ignorant people are going to say "there's no real difference between a peg and a bolt")

humptydumpty - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Solaris:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> Doug Scott's essay on bolts in a recent AJ should be compulsory reading for anyone taking a guide's exam, and agreement with it mandatory!

This one? http://www.alpinejournal.org.uk/Contents/Contents_2007_files/AJ%202007%2075-83%20Scott%20Ethics.pdf
jon on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Solaris:
> Doug Scott's essay on bolts in a recent AJ should be compulsory reading for anyone taking a guide's exam, and agreement with it mandatory!

I wonder if anyone has ever totted up how many bolts Doug placed on Peak limestone...?
John2 - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to jon: To be fair to Scott, he admits to having placed bolts in his article. He now regards these actions as a mistake.
Solaris - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to humptydumpty:

I think it was a more recent article than that, but I'd have to check when I get home.
Rick Graham on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to jcw:
> (In reply to Luca Signorelli) Then it's about time you put some pressure on those concerned. It is a disgrace. There is neither need for fixed ropes nor bolts. If they or their clients can't manage it they shouldn't be on it. The kind of mentality that is prepared to ruin great classic routes so they can get anyone up or down it safely is what is ruining Alpinism. I don't care if it is French, Italian or whatever, it simply reflects an approach to the great mountains that is abhorrent and typical of the selfishness of those incapable of comprehending what mountaineering is about. So if you know who is responsible saybso and shame them openly.

Well said.

No need for fixed ropes.

Even so called essential ones on tension/ diagonal abseils can be overcome by modern techniques and equipment (eg. Hinterstrosser Trav Eiger 1938, half way up Walker spur, after 90m diedre American Direct Dru.)

Fixed abseil points are inevitable but Kernmantle rope lasts for years if protected from wear by a krab or maillon. It is just sheer laziness not to use and replace natural gear. (same with outdoor centres bolting anchors in the UK).

If it snows a bolted anchor is hard to find. Solution: tie a bit of bright rope to it.
highlanderwolf - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Saor Alba:

Of course it shouldn't! They should have asked the great and good on UKC for permission 1st.
Simon4 - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to MG:

> But the rock section isn't bolted!

No, it is clearly an abseil line down to the snow some way below the start of the GJ day. It does not protect the first relatively tricky leftward traverse pitches - which are the ones that you will be tackling early on (we actually waited till it at least got light, if not warm on the fingers).

I do recall some pretty blank and protectionless slabs toward the top of the Point Young, but you don't get any runners from these bolts anyway.
jcw on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Simon4: It is difficult to say from the diagram which does not come across clearly. The green seems to indicate bolts on the main line and the red a short cut abseil. But whatever! It is interesting that one can sneer at the great and the good when defending Alpine values, but if it were the bolting brigade touching British trad routes most of UKCLIMBING would be up in arms.
Simon4 - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to jcw: I thought (which is consistent with my memory), that the red is the climbing line, the green the abseil line. After all, the 2 XX marks are indicated as the belay/lower offs, which was why it did not seem as if the start of the climbing line had been protected, as it has no XXs or even single Xs. It is hard to see how you could abseil the bottom of the red line, as it is such a pronounced traverse (which I remember), even rising slightly at one point.

If so, that certainly makes you wonder what the purpose of it was, as others have observed reversing this route is going to be pretty rare (unless it was just done to annoy British Alpinists).
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Simon4 - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to jcw: In fact, the picture confirms this, "via di salita" seems to mean (courtesy of Google Translate), way of ascent.
Solaris - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Simon4:
> (unless it was just done to annoy British Alpinists).

No, just the great and good of UKC...
Simon4 - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Solaris: And Doug Scott.

But I suspect there will be quite a few Italian and French alpinists who will not look kindly on it either.
Solaris - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Simon4:

Yes, but are they members of the UKC massive? ;-0

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