/ Why do we place bolts?
Just what is the function of a bolt placed to protect a climb?
I do seem to recall, when we were back at the 'thin end of the wedge', that bolts were needed to enable us to push grades on rock that just couldn't be protected in any other way. I accept that.
I also seem to recall that there was a plea that this new way of climbing was accepted as simply an alternative to trad. and that we could develop a 'mixed' view of climbing with trad and sport mutually acceptable. I accept that.
I now understand (see link to thread above and many others)that the role of bolts is to
a; demarcate those routes/crags that are 'sport' and where 'trad' is not the predominant ethic (which rather scuppers the original argument that we could all live together peaceably in a mixed milieu!) and
b; enable climbers to not bother carrying and using using leader placed protection on crags of choice.
So why are bolts actually placed in the UK now? To protect 'unprotectable' routes or as a sort 'marker' that says 'hands off' this is 'sport' territory?
To expand UK climbing from quality trad and hard sport, into quality trad, hard sport, and hundreds of cars parked up at Horseshoe Quarry?
Now you've done it.
I don't think this a troll, but if you make no more posts I predict your victory ;-)
I'm pretty sure people place bolts just to keep the UKC forum busy.
That Marian Bach thread is a perfect example of why climbers across the world think we (in the uk) are bonkers.
I enjoy sport climbing, I love trad climbing. I'd be just as livid if someone bolted some crags and chopped others. I love climbing.
I find people who get so worked up about these things tend to do more frothing and less actual climbing ;)
most of the "controversial" retro'd trad lines were actually just poorly bolted sport. Just because someone uses a drilled peg doesn't mean its trad. It just meant they did a crappy job of equipping the route :P
Sorry, don't understand what you are getting it. Who do you think is bonkers?
Excuse my ignorance of matters trad. I may never do it, however I do wish to understand what my fellow climbers mean with this type of discussion. Is it not still possible to climb a line using placed protection even if it is bolted. I understand, as with a previous comment, pro placement may not be possible, however I'm assuming this isn't always the case?
Surely with trad you can pretty much climb anywhere there is sufficient nooks and crannies to poke your nuts in? sorry if slightly off topic.
An interesting question. I personally don't know the answer, I have never placed a bolt. But I can hazard a guess.
1 as you say to protect that which is hard to protect by normal means .
2 to make otherwise amenable graded routes safe. Here I am actually thinking of quarries where there is little natural protection or it is on dubious rock but the actual climbing might be relatively easy.
Both above answers can be countered by the leave it to the next generation view, today's impossible climbs may become tomorrow's standards. And there are plenty of easy but bold trad routes about.
It should be considered that back in the day any form of modern protection (cams, sticky rubber, hexes) was cheating to some.
Placing bolts where there is adequate and good protection though has to be
1 the lazy option, a quick burger fast food fix.
Why do we bolt routes?
To give dry tool's hope.
No, because the fact that the bolts are there removes the aspects of trad that are pivotal, i.e. danger, fear and boldness.
Climb some trad, then you'll understand perfectly well why climbing a bolted line using trad gear makes no sense.
Was going to claim my 5 pounds, but the profile is too elaborate!
Fishmate: Commitment, like leading a sport route with a top rope on too, bouldering a highball without gravity. Trad without comitment isn't what its about, the meer existance of a bolt on the crux negates the comitment of trad.
You could have an E6, but bolt the crux and it could be E3. The trad experience is reduced somehow.
On the other hand, I can think of a few severes which would benefit from a few bolts. Others a sign that says do not trespass, or maybe, please don't feed the troll hunters.
You could but it involves a blinkered approach and fundamentally changes the nature of the climb.
Trad climbing is all about reading the rock, looking for not just the holds but the means of protecting your ascent, making constant assessment, weighing u p decisions. A bolt is a HUGE distraction that you would have to try really hard to ignore. Like a bloody great cheesecake at a weight watchers meeting.
It beggars belief that even any non-climber couldn't have this explained to them in about 2 seconds (or work it out themselves in 5)
Guys, thanks. Slightly surprised by the sensible and informative responses. Makes perfect sense. Feeling educated :)
Yes, but its understandable when most of them have no reason to know any better.
More likely people who have done loads of climbing over many years, know what stands to be lost and are prepared to put a little time into defending it.
You really are a miserable s*&te aren't you. You got chased off a thread celebrating Shauna's fantastic victory earlier today due to your negativity which no one wanted, despite your pathetic attempt at passing it off as humour. You just have to get your pound of flesh. Be positive Robert, be encouraging, be happy. If that isn't possible then perhaps try being absent?
And you are a slightly less ignorant one than you were a few minutes ago.
It was humour. You really need to lighten up a bit (and just for the record, I wasn't in the slightest bit negative about her victory).
I'm feeling perfectly happy, thankyou. Maybe you should be the one making yourself absent.
Do me favour! I've been around long enough not to be a one-hit troll.
Its a serious question. WHY do 'we' place a bolt on a route? What is the function of that bolt?
Thanks Duncan. To others, yes, I could make that leap, however with my growing yet still limited experience of sport climbing, I would be making that leap based on a degree of ignorance. It would be insulting to assume the haed game is equal in both sport and trad. A more definitive understanding can be expected to come from those with experience. And as I learnt in Neuroscience, no question is a stupid question. Failure to ask and learn is a good way of remaining ignorant, no?
Yes. It is. But it is a seriously diluted experience. There have been one or two threads alluding to this.
And if I wish to climb a route 'poking my nuts in' why should there be holes drilled in the rock and bits of pre-placed metal there that aren't actually needed?
Apologies if I have offended you. As far as I can see the noble sport of trolling on UKC is enjoyed by players both new and old.
In reply to your question; bolting an easily protectable trade route seems to me to be more like pissing on a lamppost than enabling inexperienced climbers to have a safe lead.
Maybe the ideal compromise would be larger holes drilled but bolts not attached. The option would be there to use leader placed ice screw protection, or to use said holes as holds.
The full traditional experience would still be available to climbers not carrying ice screws.
Or like leaving a large steaming turd on someone's living room carpet?
Perhaps so. Did they wipe their arse on the curtains?
What if someone's living room carpet is already drenched in sick and piss? I don't think there's anything at all wrong with bolting worthless choss.
Maybe humour isn't your strong point? No one wants to hear the same old tripe about bouldering. It's done. Eric Morecombe could repeat jokes because he was funny ;) I also suggested your posts were negative, not your opinion on Shauna's day, which incidentally you didn't comment on.... oddly enough? Your need to snipe (or instill humour into the thread as you call it) prevailed instead.
For the record, I love climbing. I promote it and help others in a positive way. I don't try and put people in their place because they are less able or less knowledgable than myself. I try to help pull them up. That is what happpy people do Robert. Try it if you are happy also. I dare you ;)
That is very nice, but you may just have to get used to the fact that dry humour at the expense of boulderers is not going to disappear at your say so. Let's face it, with the shirt-off-beanie-on look, the "sending" or "sick" problems, and the climbing that involves sitting down, they're not exactly helping themselves to avoid a bit of light ridicule, are they?
To remove danger.
There is no other purpose (other than saving climbers buying a shedload of trad gear). Removing danger permits sports climbing (i.e. climbing where falling off is always OK). Anything trad is inherently more dangerous as you can always place crappy gear; it is possible to screw up sport climbing but it is much harder.
Personally I am fine with this...
Well, you'd best ask people who know me.
Did I say anything about bouldering? I did (having a sense of humour) make a little joke relating to bouldering mats in response to Jonny's post. Maybe it wasn't the funniest joke ever but it was certainly completely inoffensive.
What, the banter about some "yoof speak"? As I said, you really need to lighten up.
Fair enough, apologies, but when the stuff about "you don't need to clip the bolts" needs to be explained by stating the obvious for the millionth time, it really does stretch one's patience. I'll try to be more patient next time.
Not always that simple. Since crap sport climbing took off in the UK, lots of the bolts are now placed in heaps of tottering choss. I'm quite surprised that there are very few accidents in the nations new chossholes.
Why not just top rope then? :-)
The whole point of trad leading is beating the fear.
I can see a future in scrap metal...
>'I don't think there's anything at all wrong with bolting worthless choss.'
Define worthless choss. The cracks that I saw abroad that were bolted would have been starred VS's at, say, Stoney. I climbed a route next to one of them and noted the obvious nut and cam placements all the way up. It was just wrong. To me bolted routes are justifiable where there is no trad protection and the climbing is hard. As in the original bolted routes in this country at Malham. In the past if a route or a pitch was easy and without protection you just solo'd it. Admittedly, if the rock is too unreliable for trad protection then bolting can be a solution. The trouble now is that hordes of climbers are coming off climbing walls in the spring demanding easy sport climbing.
I'm not quite sure what the OP is getting at. The point of placing bolts is to create sport routes. People like sport routes just like they like McDonalds. Thankfully, there's a very strong trad ethic in the UK so all the decent rock that provides good trad is 'guarded' by that ethic.
It's perfectly reasonable for new crags to be opened up for piss-poor sport climbing, it imposes no affect on trad climbing, it merely broadens what's on offer to include a load of crap. Which people lap up (see the number of cars parked up at Horseshoe) just like they lap up McDonalds, Miley Cyrus and Mills and Boon.
But Stoney has a strong trad ethic guarding its trad lines, and that doesn't exist abroad. Why should it? Why would you seek to impose your idea of "just wrong" onto another culture. They don't know what you're on about.
Well it's not really a problem because the strong trad ethics forces those who demand convenient crap into the chossholes, while those who seek to engage with the quality rock that the UK has to offer either have to climb trad or get good at sport.
Ok, perhaps boulderers in your chosen climbing areas use the American parlance. I have never heard it myself except in jest, so understandably I don't see any avenue for taking the piss out of English boulderers. It wouldn't make great sense to refer to American standards on an English forum. That's the funny thing with subject based humour, it's so referential ;)
Perhaps say in brackets (I'm pretending you are American hence the ridicule). No, still not funny :o)
Funny is funny, with or without your mates opinions and no one on Shauna's thread felt imbibed to join in. Go figure? On the other hand if you can take the piss out of me and it is genuinely funny, I will laugh. I don't want to stop humour on any level, but did find the Frankie boyle approach tiresome eventually (not suggesting you use that approach, merely offering frame of understanding.
'So why are bolts actually placed in the UK now?'
Because if you just chuck 'em, they don't stick.
Which people lap up (see the number of cars parked up at Horseshoe) just like they lap up McDonalds, Miley Cyrus and Mills and Boon.
I wonder whether a lot of this is down to a generational thing, and also the whole indoor wall, sport bred psychology and culture.
Phillipe, the young French guy I climb with down here quite often, is a perfect example.
He's a typical French sport bred climber, brilliant, and strong as Samson, but virtually no trad experience.
A couple of weekends ago we met up down at the Calanques for a days climbing. Phillipe turned up, all tanned rippling muscles - Mrs Goucho very quickly turning into Anne Bancroft from The Graduate. When we arrived at the first route - a trad route - I looked to see that all he'd bought were a load of quick draws. When I asked him where his trad gear was, he just gave me a confused shrug of the shoulders.
I handed him some of my gear, and he looked at it like I'd handed him some sticks of rhubarb.
Spent the rest of the day educating him in placing trad gear on lead. By the end of the day, he was loving it.
We all tend to follow the examples of our peer group, and if the peer group people are in, are unaware of trad and it's traditions, then I suppose it's human nature to follow and emulate that peer group.
Johnny Dawes on "Indian face"; "The climbing itself is hard, and with eight bolts would rate about E6 6b/c"
Trevanian, from "The Eiger Sanction"; "Placing protection on the lead is like seduction, bolts smack of rape."
So some French bloke, in France, is a perfect example of why people here all of a sudden like shit sport climbing? Help me out here.
Reading your posts, I can see now you weren't taking the piss, so here goes at a proper answer.
The presence of risk is a fundamental part of trad. There is little or no risk when sport climbing, (at least not the same type of risk), because the objectives are completely different. I happen to enjoy trad and sport.
Take a trad route with a bold section, lots of people have done it but there are voices calling for a bolt. More people could enjoy if it weren't so risky. But the risk is exactly why so many trad climbers enjoy it so much, and part of their game is risk chess played with bits of weird metal and another is self control played against little voices in the head, especially when climbing onsight.
That's not to say that trad climbers are just risk junkie thrill seekers. They don't pursue arbitrary risk like some stuntman, the risks come with the environment. Placing that bolt changes the environment and would completely ruin the route.
'Not clipping the bolt' essentially reduces the experience to a cheap stunt.
> Anything trad is inherently more dangerous
While I appreciate that this is the perceived reasoning it is not actually true. Bolts do not remove danger they make it less obvious and you are actually placing your life in someone elses skill (ie at placing bolts). There have been a few fatalities that attest to this and I myself have climbed bolts abroad and come across some very unsafe fixtures. If your bolts are shite and all you have are quick draws then your options are limited.
If you climb trad and you place crap gear generally you know that it is crap and alternatively you know when it is bomber. Generally if you know it is crap you can back it up.
If you think that bolts remove danger then you are deluding yourself
It's not complicated. If people are introduced to climbing through sport and/or climbing walls (effectively also sport) they will naturally look to take that approach when they go somewhere different. If shit sport climbing is all that's available many will choose to do that. I think it can feel like a big leap stepping outside of the realm of fixed gear and unless people have experienced for themselves the attractions of doing so it can seem pointlessly risky, faffy or expensive.
It's a little like skiing, where many people are happy on piste and the joy of off-piste can be hard to appreciate given the extra work involved and a constant worry of avalanche. Most recreational skiers will stay on piste virtually all of the time.
Please tell me you're not joining the grumpy old man brigade that thinks trad is on its deathbed.
You're splitting hairs. In the vast majority of cases, they do remove the type of danger offered by many trad routes.
Far from it, but I think those wishing to preserve its popularity need to sell its charms rather than simply saying 'you can't bolt here'.
Ok then. You're not accusing me of that are you?
> Do me favour! I've been around long enough not to be a one-hit troll.
> Its a serious question. WHY do 'we' place a bolt on a route? What is the function of that bolt?
It surely comes from the tradition of peg placing. All that banging in tapping out carrying a heavy hammer and ironmongery. If peg placing is ok all the time then bolting is an obvious substitute as it saves carrying that other stuff around, saves time, once that principle is established it is easy to see that they are even better as they go in where pegs won't.
Skies the limit.
> What if someone's living room carpet is already drenched in sick and piss? I don't think there's anything at all wrong with bolting worthless choss.
Jeez I wouldn't want to take a dump there.
I'm not making any accusations nor looking for a fight. Just pointing out that the messages I see from trad climbers on the whole I believe could be more positive about trad and less negative about sport.
Lets not forget all those chock stones rammed into those lovely cracks you're all so fond of protecting. Those things have spoiled a good looking crack for me. It was all just sitting there in the corner looking lovely, waiting for me to ram a cam in.
Thank you sir. At 46 and 2 1/2 years in I have discovered something I find amazing in climbing and I know I don't have the luxury of bumbling about if I am to discover our disciplines true riches. Went to Sella last year and got my head a little fecked and knew if I was to progress I had to start from scratch and build a solid foundation, especially on the mental side. This is starting to bare fruit. I don't want to just have nice days out climbing polished f6a classics. I am lucky to have a good condition and a vo2 max of 64 and want to convert this to glory ;). So it dissappoints me when members of our community who have clearly achieved much to be proud and clearly have much to offer our community treat those like myself who aspire to greater heights with disdain. Hopefully your answer will give myself and others coming up the ranks with great insight and food for thought. All the best
What I was asking was whether that was, indeed, now the generally accepted motivation for placing bolts. Are bolts now simply a 'marker' of a style of climbing rather than a means of protecting the climber where there are no other viable options?
You are welcome.
You certainly can do this. I do it by carrying a full rack of #10 wires and threading them through these little metal holes I find on the route. I'm excellent at placing protection and have led E2 in this way. I didn't even really get scared. Cool huh?
You actually just move the responsibility and power of placing good gear to another person. It's quite possible to place crappy bolts.
Easy sports climbing?!! Don't you mean easy bolted climbing?
In the UK today people place bolts because they want to create sports climbs for themselves or others to do. This is because people enjoy sport climbing and want sport climbs to do. It really is that simple (though there may have been other reasons historically).
It sometimes causes a fuss because a route cannot be both a trad climb and a sport climb at the same time. So any newly bolted sport climb is a lost trad climb or potential trad climb or might set a precedent resulting in other lost trad climbs in the future.
oh dear, too late love. Read my earlier post on humour. ;)
I think you were right to be reluctant as the question is context/crag dependent.
I thought you'd be bright enough to not get hold of the wrong end of the stick on this one.
But then again, you probably like getting hold of the wrong end of the stick, just for the sake of it.
I'm not sure that that was ever really the case; with the obvious exception of aid routes :-) Placing pegs was normally pretty carefully thought through and pretty much restricted to places where no existing protection could be used.
Why do we place bolts?
To establish bolted climbs. We create bolted climbs for a variety of reasons, some good, some debatable, some pretty shoddy. The same can be said for the establishment of all routes, not just those that are bolted.
I know you have the odd personal bete noire, but I think in general, the conflict is very occasional. In general, either the trad climb being 'lost' is dogshit and no one wants to do it (e.g. loose, overgrown, bold Yorkshire limestone) or would have been dogshit had someone done it (e.g. Peak chosshole). There aren't good new trad crags that are getting bolted, and if there are, then I don't see what's wrong with "who got there first".
And how do you get good at sport in this country; climb in the crap chossholes.
As someone who has spent a fair bit of time climbing in chossholes and has now finally graduated to the harder prettier sport venues I did it because I wanted to get better at climbing and unlike the Continent all the quality low grade venues in this country can't be bolted.
The small amount of trad I've tried I have enjoyed and there are many great trad lines and venues I'm looking forward to climbing in the future that must stay trad only but do we really need to have an apoplectic outcry from bumberling saga crowd every time a bolt is placed near a chossy crack.
I have found that the thing that has put me most of trad is the holier than thou trad brigade who deride all other forms of the sport for being silly and then spend their weekends ledge shuffling with a hand full of nuts. If trad is fun why are trad climbers all so bloody miserable?
Edit: After a quick re-read of some of your posts and it sounds like we are on the same page, sorry. Fancy a belay?
Yes, things have changed. There never used to be a demand for easy bolted routes, now there is. Since all the good rock is either trad or hard sport, the new bolting under this idiom is on the shite. Which is fine by me.
If you like. Or go bouldering, climb indoors, climb trad, top rope, just go climbing a lot generally?
No we don't. As I say, I don't think it's a problem, the "potential trad routes" with bolts are shite.
They're not. The people I meet trad climbing in the UK are passionate climbers who climb amazing routes on the most wonderful cliffs and often their lives revolve around that. They do tend to find it infinitely more rewarding than bouldering and sport, but they also do a lot of bouldering sport, so their piss-taking of these disciplines is just that, piss-taking.
> It sometimes causes a fuss because a route cannot be both a trad climb and a sport climb at the same time. So any newly bolted sport climb is a lost trad climb or potential trad climb or might set a precedent resulting in other lost trad climbs in the future.
And yet there was once a big push to remove fixed gear. Could the pendulum swing that way again?
I agree. That is why I only said sometimes. In the UK, a general concensus has been established (more so south of the border than in Scotland). But there will always be people testing the boundaries and there will always be grey areas so there will always be some areas of debate and fuss or conflict.
So if someone hypothetically discovered new "Huntsman's Leap" or "Cloggy" they should be free to bolt it because they got there first?
It's a case that is thankfully hypothetical because it's a tough one. It's also implausible in the sense that if you're adventurous enough to be discovering major new crags (say on remote coastlines) then you're unlikely to be passionate about f5+.
But pushed I would say that yes, if you can find the crag, clean it and cover it in bolts before anyone's managed to put up a trad route, then it's all yours. I don't think that there is a fundamental supremacy of trad climbing as a matter of policy - but there is a fundamental supremacy in terms of the experience it offers for me.
> But pushed I would say that yes, if you can find the crag, clean it and cover it in bolts before anyone's managed to put up a trad route, then it's all yours. I don't think that there is a fundamental supremacy of trad climbing as a matter of policy - but there is a fundamental supremacy in terms of the experience it offers for me.
Can't say I agree with this.
Why is alright for a chosshole but not alright for a proper crag? What part do you object to?
Don't get me wrong, I'd be livid, but that would just be because my gang didn't get there first. If it was such a great trad crag, then why hadn't the trad climbers gone out there and developed it?
As I say, it's not an issue we'll ever have to contend with.
The latter :-)
The whole generational argument from seniors such as yourself that would normally deserve my respect, brings me out in a rash because it's complete bollocks, and I will bite, every time.
Why is there a demand for easy bolted climbing, if the climbs are easily trad-protectable? Is it because people don't want to learn trad, aren't aware that you can climb without bolts, or does bolted climbing have its own appeal in the same way as trad does? Or another reason?
There is plenty of stuff in scotland with no routes and also fresh cliffs quite regularly getting discovered and bolted.
It's easy. Same reasons people like McDonalds.
There must still be plenty of crags in Scotland, The Lakes and even some 'undiscovered' bits in North Wales. The traditions and ethics of the area must trump someone's claim to do as they see fit. If the crag was as major as Cloggy then the right of one discoverer to dominate would be even more questionable.
But someone who discovered a new Huntsman's leap (it could happen!) might be passionate about 7b.
I disagree. There should be an open debate about whether it is a crag better suited to sport or trad.
Nor do I.
Yes, I was quite surprised at the Mull guide/blog someone posted recently and much of it was bolted. Looked like a great balance of sport and trad on different crags - presumably suited to the rocktype as well as who got there first. Seem jolly good to me, if there's that much decent rock to go round.
I like McDonalds because it tastes good. I don't eat it much because it's expensive and it aint the best nutrition wise. Plus I try to avoid meat, but I obviously don't try hard enough.
I like sport climbing because it's fun.
Is this a serious question? You can't possibly be that ignorant. Bolt clipping is a completely different discipline from trad climbing - of course it has its own appeal. There's plenty of people that have no interest in trad but enjoy sport climbing for its own merits. It's not some subhuman form of climbing that's below you.
Yes, and I think that would happen because no one's going to bolt an entire crag without anyone else getting a look-in. If the discoverer wanted to put up a 7b in the new Leap, then I don't really see why they shouldn't. If as the ethic of the crag evolves, the bolts seem out of place, then they'll end up being be removed. I don't think it realistic to expect a process of consultation before a single bolt is placed.
I don't like McDonalds because everything about it makes me feel depressed. I like cooking my own food because it's creative, satisfying and healthy. Seems like a perfect analogy to me.
Try to keep it civil.
Assuming you're only being rude by accident, I didn't say it was "subhuman." However, it's easy to see how people relish the challenge of doing tough sport routes and focus on the climbing only, and not worry so much about protection. (I don't, but I get it.) My question is does that extend to easy bolted climbs, where the climbing isn't really that difficult.
Problem is, it's like being savaged by a dead sheep.
I think hard sport (redpointing) and easy bolted (onsight) climbing are different styles and shouldn't be lumped together because they both employ bolts.
Sport/redpointing is for people who are driven by the physical difficulty of the climbing and not by the broader experience of trad climbing. Easy bolted climbing is for people who aren't sufficiently driven to get involved with the more challenging disciplines of trad or sport.
> I'm not sure that that was ever really the case; with the obvious exception of aid routes :-) Placing pegs was normally pretty carefully thought through and pretty much restricted to places where no existing protection could be used.
I was replying to your original more general question of why place bolts and coming at it from its European roots: See Munich Climb!
Good point. Or people who are driven to do hard sport routes, but are transitioning through "easy sport" (eg. first few sessions outside), I guess.
Like it or not, things have moved on from the idea that sport climbing is only for high grades. Lots of people now only climb sport and have not and will not serve a trad apprenticeship. F5+ might be easy for you and me, but might be as daunting as my 8a project to someone else. "Easy" sport is here to stay and needs to be sensibly accommodated. having said that, sensible accommodation in the UK context will probably be fairly limited.
Not sure if this point has been done above but there is a strong environmental case for bolting <mediocre> crags, I'm thinking Harpur Hill, Horseshoe, Tintern, Marion Bach etc.
Climbing is now a mass participation sport, when I started in the late 80's in Sheffield Trad was stanage, bolts were raven tor and rubicon. Now numbers mean that if places like Horseshoe were not available to the masses the pressure on the popular trad crags would be overwhelming. The number of cars at horseshoe show that there are 20+ ropes not adding there impact to froggatt. A day spent at the cuttings is a day not spent polishing swanage, a day spent at Marion Bach is a day not spent jamming up the pass.
I think its supply and demand, if the increased numbers of climbers were not diffused into numerous venues of convenience over quality then Stanage, Froggatt, Dina's Mot, Symonds Yat et all would really be in a terrible state.
This is a non argument. People want to climb easy trad routes and hard trad routes. People want to climb easy sport routes and hard trad routes.
It's no different climbing an easy sport route to climbing an easy trad route, it's fun.
I'd suggest that those whose cars are parked up at Horseshoe would otherwise be parked up at the Foundry, not at Stanage.
I think you're using an argument popular in business when business is profiting form selling something crap and harmful: that supply is just a response to pre-existing demand. But give people McDonalds and that's what they'll demand more of. Supply creates demand: that's how businesses grow. The reason that there is now a demand for crap easy sport is because of the growth of McClimbing, not the growth of climbing.
A classic case of trying to separate a grey scale into two distinct groups!
Personally I will use easier bolted climbs (for me) to get in shape from some trad when I haven't been getting out much. I'd like to do some redpointing but up to now I haven't had the time.
I think bolted climbing does separate into these two groups in the UK because of our peculiar ethics, but not so elsewhere.
For what it's worth, I'm in a couple of climbing clubs that have a fairly regular intake of novices - either people who've climbed a bit indoors and joined a club because they're interested in going outdoors, or because they're new to climbing entirely and thought that joining a club was a good way to get involved.
Most of the time, when a newbie comes out to the Peak or North Wales or Cornwall or wherever with us and goes out on trad for a day or two with a bunch of enthusiastic climbers they seem to "get it" pretty much straight away.
So it's not all doom and gloom...
So do easier trad climbs! Or even go out seconding a mate up harder trad lines where you'll dial in fitness, strength and technique, yet brush up on gear placement,etc... too.
Can't Mike do what he likes?
It is true that Portland/Swanage etc often look terrifying... but they also get shedloads of traffic (as do most easy sport routes) which helps clear off the worst of the choss. And as you state, there don't seem to be lots of accidents in the 'nation's new chossholes'.
In reply to tlm:
This is very true, but it is rare (at least in this country?). How many times have you heard of someone ripping gear? How many times have you heard of someone ripping bolts? Even if a bolt rips it shouldn't matter (beyond the third bolt) on a sport route. There is a strong desire from climbers to control the risks themselves, but I suspect in this case surrendering that power to the bolt-placer is actually a safer move in the long run.
In general people place bolts in solid rock. Trad gear is placed in whatever rock takes the gear. Sometimes this is good rock, sometimes it is not; even when you place your own gear you can't control this completely.
In reply to Lusk:
Yes it is. This is why sport climbing, on bolts, is different - it is about beating the climb, not beating the fear. And so this is why bolts are placed...
As for why you can't just top-rope everything - because anything exciting is hard to top-rope (either over-hanging, traverses, hard to access the top or multipitch). Plus top-roping is a faff. Plus the 'rules' of the sport are to lead.
Not if he is going to change the experience for others. I don't mind what he does, so long as it is the same as it was before he arrived. Why is that too much to ask?
Mike's not proposing retro-bolting trad routes is he?
> So do easier trad climbs! Or even go out seconding a mate up harder trad lines where you'll dial in fitness, strength and technique, yet brush up on gear placement,etc... too.
You can climb HVS/E1(or even E2) equivalent on real rock instead of shaky VS/HVS and get twice as much done.
But it's not the equivalent as it's bolted! The unknown is removed!
I don't know if he bolts or not, but he is encouraging others who do. There was a nice line set where bolts could be placed to allow hard routes to be put up that couldn't be protected another way. Bolting easy routes is just making a climbing wall outside for those that can't see that they would get the same training value from top-roping the routes and can't be bothered with the hassle of sticking a top rope up because they are then classed as "top-ropers," instead of "sport climbers" and think that anyone cares.
What's wrong with bolting shite that no one in their right mind wants to trad climb? No one's bolting trad crags, what's your problem? Why not create a crap outdoor climbing wall where you can go McClimbing for a couple of hours? Who loses out?
I'm not sure, I know a fair few climbers around Manc and most do all 3 if they have the time (trad, attempting onsight of bolted lines and redpointing). Tough I admit this is anecdotal.
And thanks for defending me against these unfounded accusations while I was out at lunch!
I do. Too.
A few times over the years. There was that time in Portland when the resin hadn't been mixed correctly. And we don't have many old bolts yet, but that is something that will happen over time. Some of the older bolts abroad are terrifying! And I've quite often found bolts that move in their hole (not in the uk admitedly), as I often give them a feel, but lots of other people just climb on them and don't even realise that they move because they didn't look...
I wasn't really saying that they need to be different people, just that onsight bolted routes and redpointing are different styles - you either go to Malham and sit on your rope all day, or you go to Horseshoe and climb worthless choss onsight - by virtue of how the crags have been developed (i.e. Malham Right Wing isn't covered in 5s and 6s). Also I think many people into one style aren't interested in the other, probably because the venues are different.
But many into one style or the other also climb trad.
> But it's not the equivalent as it's bolted! The unknown is removed!
It's training for the 'real thing' :)
> What's wrong with bolting shite that no one in their right mind wants to trad climb? No one's bolting trad crags, what's your problem? Why not create a crap outdoor climbing wall where you can go McClimbing for a couple of hours? Who loses out?
This all sounds very reasonable Jon, but the increasing appetite for easy bolted climbing has been mentioned a couple of times already, with the assumption that if enough people lacking basic climbing skills demand more venues (maybe facilities would be a better word) then they should be provided for them.
If this is the case, then pretty soon demand will outstrip supply. What happens then? Do we keep building more MacDonalds on green field sites or do we point out that there are already lots of good bakers and greengrocers around if only people took the trouble to learn at least how to make toast and boil eggs?
The climbing is harder. Everything else is easier. Some people prefer it this way. Some don't.
Yes, why not?
Depends if there are queues at bakers and greengrocers. Personally, I'd like to point out to some of the non-numpties at Horseshoe that there's a crag down the road that could do with more traffic, on the hand I don't want the numpties on Stanage, plenty there already. Except to clean up neglected crags that I want to climb on, I don't see any need to encourage people out of the chossholes onto proper crags, they can stay there. And I don't see the problem with bolting more shite.
Why do you think we should be pointing out the bakers and greengrocers when they're already in plain view on the high street?
I think when climbers get into redpointing well above their onsight style it becomes their exclusive activity, but I do know of plenty of people who will attempt to onsight in the high 6s, low 7s, then try and get it on the day if they don't onsight it (I'v done this with 7a, probs soft touches ;)). I think within the contect of this discussion this is inbetween the styles, noY
An another note I agree, the decent low grade trad in this country has been done. Anyone wishing to bolt easy lines really has to set their sights low, I would have thought it unwise to waste their money on the gear.
Yes, I've done that "attempted onsight" turning into quick redpoint style but you couldn't really make that your major interest in this country. There just aren't enough decent routes to approach like that.
> Yes, why not?
It's been a steady one-way ratcheting of attitudes over the last 30 years as far as I can see. I don't think it's impossible, or even far-fetched, that before long there will be presumed utilitarian consent to bolt any route that doesn't get regular traffic, with any objection dismissed as outdated elitist selfishness.
Possibly wrong. What happens if a currently banned and potentially excellent cliff suddenly becomes accessible due to a change of ownership?
Say it's the "Forbidden Wall" at Wintours Leap. Do the first people to get there claim the whole crag for Sport or Trad, according to their personal preference, or would we be better having a proper debate with BMC moderation. I'd hope the latter.
Yes, I think that's why sport climbing revolves around redpointing. Onsighting is utterly uninvolving when it's within your comfort zone because the routes by definition are dull; and to be hard enough you have to fail all the time, and that's not much fun. With redpointing, you don't have to fail, or with trad it can be completely involving without having to fall off the whole time. Once or twice a year is plenty for me!
That would be a good case for a BMC moderated debate.
I think you'd be amazed what people will bolt and climb, just like the way people would eat dogs brains if they're minced up fine enough and there's a picture of a familiar farmyard animal on the packet.
I don't see it happening. Those crags have a strong trad ethic, people climb the routes. If they became totally overgrown because no one was climbing there, then there would, I think be a legitimate case to consider bolting. That would bring out those who object with the secateurs at the ready (for the vegetation, not the bolt numpties).
I don't think there has been much of a trend towards retrobolting trad, maybe in the slate quarries? Where disused venues have been bolted, what has been the loss?
Sadly, I think you are right and it is already happening in isolated cases such as the Ratho Quarry fiasco last year (now thankfully sorted out).
Just because a route does not get regular traffic does not mean it is a poor route lacking in value. The idea that more traffic is necessarily a good thing is a horribly consumerist approach.
Ignoring the fact that describing sport climbing as MacDonalds is fairly insulting...
If you go to MacDonalds every day and eat lots of food you will get fat. If you go sport climbing every day and climb lots of routes (or climb one route lots) you will get strong.
If you don't like sport climbing, or you prefer trad climbing, that is fine. Many people have no interest in it. And while you may or may not class trad climbing skills as 'basic' that doesn't mean that someone who chooses not to learn them, as they have no interest in trad, is in any way 'lacking'.
What's being described as McClimbing is not sport climbing, but the new wave of bolted choss.
Far too an intelligent comment for UKC. I do admire your optimism though.
> Ignoring the fact that describing sport climbing as MacDonalds is fairly insulting...
I didn't mention sport climbing.
Anyone who has an active interest in climbing and hasn't figured out how to adequately protect a Severe crack isn't in strong position to argue in favour of bolting anything.
I really don't like this distinction. Sport climbing IS bolted climbing. The grade (absolute or relative to the climber's ability), rock quality, redpoint/onsight is all irrelevant to the definition.
For most of the world, sport climbing == fully bolted climbed. I realise that there a distinction between 'redpoint sport climbing (lots of falls)' and 'onsight sport climbing (no falls)', but when I say 'sport' read 'bolted'. So you describe bolted climbing as MacDonalds; this is still insulting to climbers of bolted routes. It is also a terrible, terrible argument for trad (and there are very, very good arguments for preserving trad climbing and trad climbs).
I would argue that before someone bolts something in this country, they should have:
a) an appreciation of the ethics of British climbing (not that anyone can agree on it, but it usually seems to all work better in practice than in theory)
b) enough skill to climb the route on the bolts
c) enough skill to bolt the route safely
I very much doubt there are that many people in this country who have the above and don't know how to climb trad, but I can imagine there are people who don't want to climb trad or don't have a rack. No one should have to learn trad to be considered a climber. There is no required progression from indoors to trad. There is nothing inherently superior about a trad climber than a sport climber. I would also argue there is nothing inherently superior about a trad climb than a sport climb; some people will enjoy the trad route more but some will not. They are very different things; you cannot get the trad experience from a bolted route, but equally you cannot get the (nearly) care-free sport experience from (most) non-bolted routes.
I am not pro-bolt or anti-trad, I am anti-trad-superiority-complex... both are valid, both need to be respected, and both generally do a very good job of coexisting in practice.
Are your feet really that big?
I reckon it's an important distinction. My feeling towards the people who climb at Horseshoe is that they're being lazy and just like someone who can't be arsed or doesn't have the skills to cook eats some revolting fast food, these people settle for bolted choss. On the other hand, my feeling towards the people that climb at Malham is that they're much stronger than me and have a million times more patience.
The hard sport happens at good crags that were never suitable for trad climbing. These crags are spectacular, the routes have history, the places have their own culture: it's full-on, proper UK climbing. Chosshole bolt clipping is a recent trend that is just a crap, diluted style of climbing that requires little effort, has no aesthetic or historical interest, and doesn't have much in common with UK sport climbing.
We do have some places like Portland and Pen Trywn that offer something in between, which is good too.
So long as people aren't destroying routes that others want to climb, I'm not bothered what gets bolted. And it entertains me to make reasoned value judgments about what's good and what's shite.
I think you need to read what's being said more carefully. Not all sport is Junk climbing.
and d) made sure the same climb can't be adequately protected by trad gear.
St Bee's head has some very poorly bolted routes. Cambus O' May quarry has a classic flake line that would easily take cams that has been bolted. I have no argument against those that bolt routes hard routes with no other protection available. The default setting should still be trad, as seen in some crags where sport and trad climbs are side by side.
It's the exceptions from people that don't care that annoy most and encourage a no bolting stance, as it can be seen that the accepted bolt rules aren't being followed.
Just because Craigmore near Glasgow is getting overgrown doesn't mean it should be retro bolted to encourage people to use it. It should just be cleaned up, using UKC to organise the clean up would be a smart idea. The same applied to Ratho last year, just because the routes are dirty, it doesn't mean they should be bolted; just cleaned.
The whole trad is cordon bleu and sport climbing is fast food analogy is lazy and inaccurate.
When people put in years of training and effort to climb cutting edge routes how is this any less significant than a fat punter climbing vdiffs all day fiddling about with gear placements.
Hmmm, perhaps not a great example? A fall from the crux above would likely involve smashing straight into the flake, so just because the gear might keep you off the ground doesn't mean it would be a 'safe' trad route.
To be honest, this one you could do as trad if you so desired. Although it would feel contrived, the bolts don't affect the commitment here as you could easily step back down onto the flake and lower off your top cam.
So no point in bolting it...?
I thought sports climbing was all about enabling you to climb as a purely physical and gymnastic effort, as hard as you can, without having to worry overly much about the gear?
I can't see how lower grade bolted routes fit into this idea? They aren't sports climbing, because the climber isn't pushing themselves to climb at their hardest level, not because of any other factor? I see a use for them and a place for them, but they aren't sports climbing...
Fair enough, I doubt there's much difference between us, although I do agree with Jon Stewart's feeling that there's something pretty lazy about spending more than the occasional hour at Horseshoe. But, if that's what floats your boat you're welcome to it.
I don't do much bolted climbing in this country now but I've clipped my share of bolts all over the place and argued in favour of bolting in certain situations, sometimes because it's obviously not a trad venue, sometimes because it's the environmentally sensible thing to do. What I don't like is being backed into a corner where I have to concede that remaining lines should be bolted (even retrobolted) because all the rest have been.
Where I do part company with Jon is over the issue of 'abandoned' routes. I just don't agree that just because a route has a few dandelions growing out of it at the moment that makes it a legitimate target for retrobolting. By that standard, we should be bolting Chee Tor. It's OK for crags to go out of fashion for a few years, or even decades. That's no excuse for completely changing their character by cleaning them up and bolting them. If their disuse bothers you, just go and clean them up and see what happens.
I agree with you that, in general, most active climbers in the UK still have some appreciation of the history and rules of the game. But it's dangerous to assume that this will continue if we don't occasionally have a lively debate about it. We had the guy on the Marian Bach thread who seemed a reasonable enough chap but who had no idea why anyone should object to retrobolting a trad line.
Couldn't you use a similar argument for trad? What about onsighting a sport route at or near your limit?
Yeah - that is a good way to describe it, Jon. Only I don't always think people at Horseshoe are being lazy. If they did a course at a wall, then a leader course at a wall, know no one who climbs, then this might be their way of climbing, doing any climbing at all, without knowing any other way to get into climbing... It's all so exciting when you start out that Horseshoe probably feels great!
Your point d) is already covered under point a), an appreciation of the ethics of British climbing.
You will note that I point out that there is not universal agreement on what that actually is.
As a result, there are no universal rules. In some areas bolting is not OK regardless of protection/difficulty. Some areas are much more bolt-friendly. Local opinion counts, but so does regional and national opinion. There are no strict rules. Everything is done purely by consensus, and mostly this seems to work. The default setting IS trad (because rock doesn't come with bolts); bolters should always consider carefully the benefits of bolting versus the costs. But if people refuse to acknowledge that there are benefits (even for easy, chossy sport routes) then they cannot have a reasonable discussion and debate about it.
Alternatively there can be a rational debate with a good understanding of each other's positions and aims to work for compromise. Such a compromise may be not bolting cracks like this. Or it may be bolting easy cracks in some place, in some circumstance. Or even not bolting anything in certain circumstances (e.g. gritstone).
Bolting for sport is not about bolting hard routes with no other protection available. The hard routes of today will be the moderate routes of tomorrow; the protectionless routes of today will be the protectable route of tomorrow. Bolting for sport is literally bolting to allow sport climbing; some future classic trad routes would be destroyed if we bolted everything currently hard and unprotectable, and this would be a loss.
Which is exactly why people make a distinction between sports climbing and bolted climbing....
Someone appears to be playing me at my own game here. How dare you! I am officially wound up.
Well, not really, because I did not suggest for one nanosecond that at the first sight of a dandelion, the drills should be brandished. What I suggested was that if no one (and I mean no one) wanted to climb a route or bunch of routes, then there's a case for bolting. And unlike with bolting a new venue, I think there should be a discussion (of the BMC-mediated variety) if anyone wants to retrobolt trad routes, so we can find out if anyone's bothered.
I think it would be fair at such a meeting for anyone saying "no, you can't bolt this so that lots of people can enjoy it because one day in the future someone might want to trad climb it (again)" to be told to go f^ck off and climb it then! Or at least find someone who will so that a convincing case can be made that the thing is actually a trad route, not just some words in a guidebook concerning something that happened a long time ago.
Disuse only bothers me at the crags I go to: so yes, I am doing precisely this!
I was pointing out that despite being protectable to an extent, it would be far from a 'safe' trad route anyway. Nor a very good one to be honest.
And that yes, if you were feeling bold you could climb it as trad route, trying hard to ignore the bolts. I've considered it myself.
I think the fast food analogy was aimed at a particular aspect of certain 'sport' climbers and venues, not sport climbers or sport climbing in general.
A lot of passionate trad climbers also climb sport, and visa versa, but the harsh reality is that there are a finite number of good crags to climb on in the UK, and finding a balance that enables both trad and sport climbing to continue to develop, means sensible dialogue, and, respect for the traditions and history of British climbing have to be part of that dialogue.
It is in fact far more significant. It is also far more significant than a fat punter spending all day trying to redpoint bolted 5a sport routes too.
Remember all the hoo hah about Harpur Hill when that was first bolted?
I am pretty sure people who climb trad don't only climb their hardest grade. I think most people are quite happy to get out, particularly on the classics, on easier routes.
This is because climbing is fun.
Equally it is fun to climb/onsight new routes on sport; plus it takes much less time (so even if the routes are not as awesome it is still fun).
Also remember that 'easy' sport routes are much harder climbing than 'easy' trad routes (at least in theory) - just because it is 'only' f4/f5 doesn't mean it isn't grade-pushing for someone, particularly if it is short and steep (like Dungecroft Quarry in Portland, where the 4s and 5s are really quite hard if you haven't climbed for so long!).
The main wall at Horseshoe is really rather good, not many better clusters of mid-high F6s in the north that I'm aware of.
The rest of it is... less good.
Much of it is somewhere in between, many of today's better sport lines would once have been aid lines then freed (once or twice maybe) on bits of hammered tat and bad bolts then eventually retroed into decent sport routes. I'm comfortable enough with that, they're much better as they are and there's still a wealth of hard trad in the uk, even hard trad on falling-down rubble if that's really what one wants (rather than merely arguing it should be neglected for posterity).
I'd agree with that. Now let's not mention the Slate...
That no one wanted to climb a route would be impossible to ascertain.
This is true, but in the broader picture of UK climbing, it is absolutely toss. It's depressing, like climbing in a skip.
Actually I think that is b*ll*cks people choose not to see the danger
Well I suppose so. I retract the bit about literally no one. Let's say "there are no objections to the proposal".
Surely an analogy only works if it helps people to understand. Just saying you don't like sport climbing would be easier to understand, the McDonalds thing just confuses things, I didn't know what you meant.
This was a reply to me. Can I make it clear that I agree with you!
I'm not saying its danger free, but the point of sport climbing is that the sort of danger encountered on a trad route is removed. Obviously, peoples skills with a belay plate or a rock drill will vary, but the amount of accidents compared to the amount of successful ascents is vanishingly small. Go and worry about something actually dangerous.
So if Adam Ondra pisses up an 8a it's not sport climbing, but if I dog the same route to death and then redpoint it, it is?
To be fair on my way to work today I was thinking "Why do I climb on bolts?"
I have climbed Harpur Hill, Horseshoe, etc. I also climb on bolts abroad (as well as trad abroad) and I realised that there was only one single reason for doing so.
Pure and simple.
Safety doesn't even enter into it.
It is a quick blast in the evening. I can get more climbing done and carry less gear than if I was trad climbing. Going abroad there is less weight at the airport to consider, less weight to carry round. So it is like going to the wall but outside and sometimes in nicer surroundings.
For real climbing I always go trad.
I doubt Adam Ondra would be daft enough to bolt a crack line
The generally accepted definition of sport climbing is climbing that relies on bolts for protection all the way up. I don't see the point of making it any more complicated than that …. it's not as if there's any shortage of less well-defined terminology to discuss :)
Absolutely. I am amazed there is any debate about this.
So you implicitly trust in the skills of those who put the bolts in?
>Go and worry about something actually dangerous.
I pass that on to my mate who go smashed up after a bolt failed on him in Spain.
I was actually responding to some one who said that the main reason for bolt climbing was safety. It isn't.
Sounds good to me, as long as it's not simply wish fulfillment, and a genuine effort is made to seek out the objections. By putting forward the proposal at a BMC meet, for example.
No bolt climbing fits the fast food analogy to a tee.
As I said convenience pure and simple.
Anyone who says "I only climb bolts because it is safer" Doesn't want adventure. Fine no problem. But hundreds of people also only ever climb Severe because it is safer and that is fine too. But to say that there is no quick sesh in the gym element to bolt climbing then that is just plain not true.
"Sport" climbing is a different thing, that is about pushing the limits on protectionless rock (which incidently comes under Messners "Murder of the impossible") but no one will convince me that climbing a bolted line up a crack capable of taking all the gear you care to throw at it is in anyway sporting. Convenience, pure and simple
I'm not saying I don't like sport climbing though, I'm saying I don't like climbing complete rubbish. That could be trad or bolted, but the bolted rubbish has the added flaw of having absolutely no character and requiring no effort - hence the McDonalds analogy.
I guess the reason that I make the distinction is because of the arguments put forward for those early bolts being put in...
These latest batch of routes don't fit the arguments put forward by those early bolters. They are being put up for very different reasons. I remember when they first put low grade routes up at Portland - what a hoo haa! I think those must have been the first bolted 4s and 3s in the UK
We've been very lucky to retain our trad climbing ethic in the UK - it is a very special thing for such a tiny crowded island. :-)
You can redpoint 8a?!!!! =8-0
>> Onsighting is utterly uninvolving when it's within your comfort zone because the routes by definition are dull
Err, no, because trad climbing might be an adventurous route like The Moon where the climbing is physically fine but the whole experience is f^cking mega. The difference is in intrinsic quality and what that is drawn from. In chossclipping (shorthand for chosshole boltclipping) the routes have no intrinsic quality because they're in a dump, on poor rock and have nothing to differentiate them from one another. On a trad crag, the routes may or may not have intrinsic aesthetic value and offer a meaty experience even if it's not at your limit. For example, trad might be scary or brutal without being that hard.
And I covered the disads of onsighting at one's limit in the post you responded to. Certainly has the potential to be a very fulfilling experience - but it also has to involve a lot of failure which is not most people's idea of fun. Nor is there a sufficient number of routes to go at in the UK to make it a viable kind of climbing to concentrate on the way you might if you were abroad.
The best argument for trad in this country is the quality of climbing on offer. There is at most a relatively tiny amount of sport that is anything like as good as the best trad.
Well, there's no sport that I would find comparable to the best trad which is massive, steep multi-pitch sea cliff climbing on perfect rock in mind-boggling beautiful scenery.
But yes, the average quality of bolted stuff is piss poor compared to the average quality of trad, and the variance is much smaller too.
Most people I know who climb in the average peak choss hole are a country mile from McDonalds climbers. They are often the very same people who helped me with less well travellled trad venues for the peak guides. Horseshoe away from the main wall is maybe an exception and bits of Harper Hill but even then its not all laziness. Most of the top climbers doing work are mainly resident on UKB. We all get to choose the games we play day by day and the keen ones nearly all mix things up.
Maybe its Ken's fault but I wish every time a bolt is mentioned people didn't go off the rails in both directions. Like Dave (BMC editorial conspiricy I guess, as you could add Moff and Martin as well) I can see reasons why bolts are a good thing in some situations and at times things are more grey and in many situations I would object strongly. Its either easy, or if not, needs discussion at say an area meeting. There is no massive urgent risk of a thickening from any thin end of the wedge, if nothing else because anything placed approaching that gets chopped.
On John's point, I'm ambivalent about selling any climbing more, let alone trad. Its a risk activity and if people are keen whilst clearly understanding this then fair enough I'll sell then.
I'd mostly agree with that - maybe not utterly though. For me onsight satisfaction has to be at the limit or thereabouts trad or sport
I agree John.
I do like bolted climbing, I did it only a few weeks ago, and it can be fun, in the way that via ferrata can be fun. But it is such a different feel from trad climbing. Generally low grade bolted climbs are not very memorable, this can be due to the venue (if you've got a chossy quarry then you've got a chossy quarry and there isn't much yo can do about it), but often (most especially abroad) it is because the urge to cram as many routes in as possible creates "nothing" lines that simply go straight up and down right next to each other totally oblivious to any natural line that the crag has to offer. And there is no sense of topping out on a bolted route it is up to the lower off and down. Longer multi-pitch routes tend to have more of a character but are still inferior to equivalent grade trad routes which always seem to offer up a more memorable experience
No offence taken I assure you. But I did think that it was a question worth asking. We tend to obsess about where 'we' can place bolts but I think that the root issue of 'why' we place bolts is just glossed over. Its interesting to see that it would appear that bolts are now seen as simply 'markers' that declare a route, irrespective of leader placed protection possibilities, as 'sport'.
But a series of bomber Rock 7's also 'remove danger' (interesting concept - I think we 'manage risk' in whatever form of climbing we undertake rather than actually make it risk free).
So if there is good gear; why bolt?
Disagree. I think we can debate the underlying motivation for placing bolts without getting into the specific contexts.
This thread seems to illustrate that.
Sorry to pick on you, Jon, as I can't find the original 'whoever got there first' post. But if we accept that whoever got there first is free to determine the style of climbing then surely there can actually be NO retro-bolting of trad routes under those rules? Any placing of bolts on previously done trad routes as a way of creating fresh 'sport' should not be countenanced as a result?
But if we don't accept those 'rules', if we decide that we will allow 'exceptions' then we obviously have to accept the idea of routes such as some of those at Marian Bach being stripped and claimed as trad routes?
In the same way that I implicitly trust the guy that services my brakes, yes. I can use all the information available to me; does it look ok? Is there some history I should know about? But really, I have no idea whats going on in there. So I am forced into a position of trust, and I accept the risk, otherwise I might logically conclude that I should stay in bed forever.
It's safer in terms of the type of danger encountered on a comparable trad route. But is that the main 'reason' for it? No, I agree with you, it's not. Its safer because its a necessity, if you want to climb at your limit and expect to fall off a lot.
One solitary trad line in the middle of 30 sport routes isn't going to get climbed much because hardly anyone will bring trad gear to that venue.
It would probably be fair to say that an E3 climber doing an easy HVS may well find it somewhat uninvolving.
I think the experience of onsighting is at its best when it's something close to your limit, and failure is surely an important part of that, whether that be trad or sport (otherwise the successes are less pronounced). I take your point about the number of decent routes available - could this not be more of a factor than the relative intrinsic worths of onsighting/redpointing?
(though if there is an outstanding crack-line there one might hope they would see the potential and make an exception)?
I half agree with you there. I don't agree that it is a necessity (Great Slab, Frogatt), but on routes of the type you refer to (unprotected very technical routes) it may be preferable and does allow for a level of safety otherwise unobtainable and allows for a physical challenge while excluding the otherwise necessary mental one (other than the mental one of endurance). I can see the appeal no problem.
However there are other lower grade bolted routes which run alongside perfectly adequate protection so the bolt in such cases is not a necessity but a convenience.
Because like much else in modern some people are selfish and egotistical. they have the view that because they want it, it is right. Selfish enough to believe that no one is better than them and so it needs pro as no one will climb it without.
I want is the modern ethos, bugger you carries it on.
Of course some clever sod will say that this comment actually is the same but I might point out 2 things.
Default is a virgin unclimbed piece of rock. It was there before climbers be it Cloggy or some shitty quarry. It damn well wasn't made for climbing.
Indeed nowadays there has arisen the every increasing tendency to grab what you can, be it routes or the environment presumably as it will be gone soon and "our" use of it is more important than "our" descendants.
The bolter can only prove this wrong and that he is above all that by not doing it.
And balls to safety, if you don't think you can do it or don't want the risk stay at home. Oh sorry, we are not allowed to let anyone take risks any more.
There seems to be a general feeling that a crag is designated as either a sport crag or a trad crag. I don't agree with this. A crag may have a number of lines on it, some of which can be protected naturally and some of which can't be. If the line without protection has very physical climbing then stick one or more bolts in, fair game. If it's not physical, toprope it and/or solo it. Stoney is a good example of this type of 'shared' crag.
And , in your view, is that a viable reason to retro said 'trad line' by drilling holes in the rock and inserting bolts?
The interesting thing here, Jimbo, is that it almost seems that it is the 'trad climbers' (OK, no such thing really, we all actually do everything) who are the tolerant ones. Who are accepting of a 'mixed economy' and the possibility that bolts are acceptable on routes that can't be protected without. Witness Malham.
It seems to actually be the 'sport climbers'* (OK, no such thing really, we all actually do everything) who are the militant zealots. 'This is a sport crag and thou may not trad'. 'I'm not going to accept a trad route on this sport crag - its all or nothing here'.
* OK. Not fair. Maybe I should say 'those people who are determined to bolt routes because they can'?
Where's the 'like' button when you need it!
There's a couple of fundamental problems with this:-
1) Who says just because a line is unprotected, that it has to therefore be a 'sport' route - why can't it be an unprotected trad line?
2) Exactly who is making the decisions as to whether or not it can or can't be a trad route? If it's the consensus of people knocking out E10 on a regular basis, then there is credibility. But if it's someone who can't even onsight an E3, then there's none.
And of course, what about future generations, who will reach ever higher standards and re-define the sport - as each new generation tends to do.
I was thinking about venues like Kirriehill and Benny Beg which now seem to be accepted as purely sport. I guess there is history, presumably contentious at some point, of how those venues got bolted but I am not familiar with it.
The point I was making is of the attractions about 'pure sport' venues is all you need is a rope and QDs and you can have a go at any route on the crag.
I've never really understood this kind of comment?
It might be true of a some sport, but regards trad, it just seems to miss so many aspects of what makes trad so enjoyable.
I've had consecutive weekends where I was pushing myself hard onsighting E5's, then the following weekend, having a blast doing loads of Brown Whillans classics on Cloggy.
Just because I was easily within my comfort zone on the Brown Whillans routes, didn't make the climbing inferior or dull. They were great fun, hugely enjoyable, and just as memorable, but in a different way - great routes are great routes, and great climbing is great climbing.
That's what makes trad so magical -it's not always about the difficulty, or pushing your limits.
Yes, climbing at your limit is the biggest buzz in trad. But on many cliffs I don't climb at my limit and it's still amazing. I don't go to South Stack to climb at my limit, with failure being a big part of it, for example!
For me, there's only a small subset of trad routes that are "sporty" which I'll approach with a "might fall off this" attitude - and that's nothing multipitch on a tidal sea cliff for a start. What I'm saying is that many trad routes have intrinsic merit from something other than their difficulty. People don't finish Dream of White Horses and say "that was amazing, I was right at my limit, I nearly fell off every move". But they do finish the route and say "that was the most amazing route I've ever done". Because it has oodles of intrinsic aesthetic merit and offers climbers an incredible experience: probably more so for the VS than the E3 leader, but I wouldn't say it was "uninvolving" (I've actually never done it, to my shame). Bolted climbing in the UK just doesn't have this to offer. Whilst everyone can do what they like, it's daft to suggest that onsighting bolted routes in the UK has any serious potential compared to trad. That's not to say that some people might not be happy with it, and not want to engage with something big, meaty, challenging and fantastically enriching.
Out of context, it was about UK bolted routes. See post above.
>There's a couple of fundamental problems with this:-
>1) Who says just because a line is unprotected, that it has to therefore be a 'sport' route - why can't it be an unprotected trad line?
>2) Exactly who is making the decisions as to whether or not it can or can't be a trad route? If it's the consensus of people knocking out E10 on a regular basis, then there is credibility. But if it's someone who can't even onsight an E3, then there's none.
>And of course, what about future generations, who will reach ever higher standards and re-define the sport - as each new generation tends to do.
Your points are all valid and I had that in my mind as I hit 'submit'. No one in their right mind would suggest that a bolt be placed in the middle of the future E11* project at the Lawrencefield roadside bay for example. (*it's E11 according to Johnny)
That leaves us with historical precedent. Things started to be bolted on Limestone in the 70s and 80s because top climbers wouldn't stick their necks out any further without protection and they had seen that this was the norm in Europe. Things of extreme physicality like Hubble could not have been conceived without bolts (should Ben have left it until someone prepared to solo 9a came along? I don't think that would have been right). With that in mind, the general consensus that it's ok to bolt hard limestone came about but that moorland and mountain rock should always be for adventure climbing.
Stoney is that way it is becasue the easy routes were climbed before there was any proper equipment available and the harder climbs were done when the limestone bolting ethic was coming about. Newly develeped crags do not have this history to guide what should and shouldn't be bolted but in my mind the same ethic should apply regardelss of what the person who 'found' it and cleaned it wants to do.
Slate has an interesting bolt ethic, kind of 'this bit's only a bit scary but I'm going to die from up there if I don't place a bolt' I like that idea but I wouldn't apply it to outcrop or mountain routes.
There's no easy answer but history, rock type/ geological environment, and difficulty all play a part.
I don't think it's useful to deal in absolutes. Why have a single dogma that must not be broken...
If there's no demand for them as sport routes and the consensus is to remove the bolts then that would be sensible, wouldn't it? But if someone put up the route with bolts and others want to climb it with the bolts, who would have the "authority" to strip someone's route? How would they acquire that authority?
I have no idea about the less well-travelled chossholes, but I know that when I'm on my way back from pulling dandelions out of Chee Tor, the Horseshoe carpark is rammed full of McClimbers!
Isn't that a bit of a cop out? 'I can bolt them because I can (I was the first here) and no-one can take my bolts out, even if they are actually on a well protected Severe, unless you can prove no-one is climbing them'. And, of course, as the thread above demonstrates they WILL get climbed no matter how crap because there are bolts in them.
I'd rather put it as 'if a climb has been bolted but it makes a perfectly well protected trad route then the bolts should come out'.
I meant it's a necessity for Sport Climbing, so not sure why you mention Great Slab.
Again, a little confused. So your point is that bolts aren't placed to make it safer, because its already safe? Generally speaking, you are rarely right. Fiddling in some wires on a bold E5 6b at Cheedale isn't anything like as safe as clipping a bolt on a 7a+. Most of the sport climbing I've done in the UK would not (did not) make safe or good trad routes.
I don't really agree. I think places like Trollers Gill, where apparently the 7as were perfectly well-protected E4s (i.e. in the mind of the tight-arsed Yorkshire bastards of that era) are better as mediocre outdoor climbing walls where the routes get done. I don't think anything was lost, just because it was (apparently) possible to protect the routes.
I just don't give a toss what cracklines are lurking in deeply mediocre bolt venues, I don't want to climb there. There are apparently trad routes in Horseshoe, but anyone eccentric enough to climb those has got a trillion other bits of esoteric tosschoss to choose from. These aren't routes that need preserving!
Apparently I've been a McClimber and I still don't understand what one is? :(
Same as a chossclipper.
Great Slab is an unprotected trad route, ergo protection is not necessary to actually climb a route though it may be preferable.
>Again, a little confused. So your point is that bolts aren't placed to make it safer, because its already safe?
Correct a bolt would be superfluous on some LOW grade bolted climbs. Nothing confusing about that.
>Generally speaking, you are fairly right.
BUT we are not talking about a bold E5 we are talking a bout LOW GRADE bolted climbs where you could stand around all day picking your nose before deciding to clip a bolt or put some gear in. LOW GRADE not top end grade. Like 3 or 4 in such cases, and god knows I have seen plenty in Spain and France where you could lace the routes with gear, it is a convenience.
And let's be fair there is nothing wrong with convenience in its place if that's what floats your boat
Google has failed me....
Low Grade sport still does not equal bags of gear in most cases. Ever been to Dali's Hole?
Well, you might have restricted yourself to low grade, but I'm talking about standard sport climbing.
The continent is another discussion entirely, they do not have anything like the checks and balances we have before deciding whether to throw bolts in.
So? Is there a news report every time a bolt doesn't fail? Is there a news report every time a wire pops? Bolt failures make the news BECAUSE they are so rare.
I'm convinced that I can [well, Robbie Phillips reckons I can, so who am I to argue ;-)] and fully intend to do so* in next few years (when all that tedious trad climbing and mountaineering stuff stops interrupting my training schedule for long enough).
*For the unashamed vanity grade tick (I'd probably never bother redpointing another route again - far too many routes to onsight!)
But the same goes for sport. I've done sport routes in stunningly beautiful locations several full grades within my onsight limit which were a joy of pure movement on peerless rock, uninterrupted by gear placement or physical strain.
As a diehard and ardent defender of the British trad ethic, but as someone who also loves to go sport climbing, I am quite frankly dismayed and just a little embarrassed by some of the views and language being spouted supposedly in defence of that ethic in this thread.
Good grief! I'll spell it out
1. Yes there are some low grade climbs where (arguably there is no gear) hence the reason I use the word "some" which in general English means "not all" in conection with my comment that SOME low grade bolt routes can be protected by hand placed gear
2. I am talking about low grade bolted climbs, you keep dragging it to "Standard Sport Climbs". It is like me saying cats are harmless but you keep saying "Yes but I am talking about tigers"
3. To me a sport climb is a completly different thing to a climb that has been bolted for the sole convenience of people who do not wish to place gear (and here I am refering to climbs that CAN be protected)
To be discussed further.
> I thought sports climbing was all about enabling you to climb as a purely physical and gymnastic effort, as hard as you can, without having to worry overly much about the gear?
> I can't see how lower grade bolted routes fit into this idea? They aren't sports climbing, because the climber isn't pushing themselves to climb at their hardest level, not because of any other factor? I see a use for them and a place for them, but they aren't sports climbing...
Just because someone's on a 5 doesn't mean it's not top of their grade.
I think Duncan Bourne 'nailed it' in answer to your original question (a very long time ago now) but he posted it in reply to someone else so here it is if you missed it:
To be fair on my way to work today I was thinking "Why do I climb on bolts?"
I have climbed Harpur Hill, Horseshoe, etc. I also climb on bolts abroad (as well as trad abroad) and I realised that there was only one single reason for doing so.
Pure and simple.
Safety doesn't even enter into it.
It is a quick blast in the evening. I can get more climbing done and carry less gear than if I was trad climbing. Going abroad there is less weight at the airport to consider, less weight to carry round. So it is like going to the wall but outside and sometimes in nicer surroundings.
> I am not pro-bolt or anti-trad, I am anti-trad-superiority-complex... both are valid, both need to be respected, and both generally do a very good job of coexisting in practice.
It depends on how you view climbing. If it is just a form of physical exercise, combined with developed skill, then you may be right. If it is taken as deriving from the traditions of adventure and exploration then there is a clear hierarchy.
Ask yourself which is the greater achievement: Oxygen free solo ascent of Everest/the same with oxygen guided up fixed lines.
There is little need for bolts - people can top rope instead and get the same SAFE experience.
There are two primary exceptions:
1) Multi pitch routes (where it is unfeasible to fix top ropes), and,
2) Very overhanging routes (where you can obviously swing too far from the rock).
In these cases, as long as the no natural protection is feasible, and there is a history of bolting, we should allow bolts.
I don't really find sport climbing any more convenient than trad climbing. My bags a bit heavier, but I'm not going to be doing a long walk in for an short evening session.
Not sure about the baggage weight argument either. Obviously it's weighs more and that needs to be accounted for, but if I was going to Yosemite, I'd make sure to pack my trad gear. If I was going to Thailand I wouldn't bother. It's depends on the trip and what I fancy doing, I don't really see one as being more convenient.
The Everest analogy is a bit misleading, at least in how I approach trad vs sport climbing. Sport climbing would be a guided trip up Everest, trad climbing would be an oxygen free ascent of Scafell Pike. :)
Maybe this is the wrong thread for this but...
First off, I think if you are going to say "x y z bolted crack line could be protected by trad gear", then you should really go out and lead it! without clipping the bolts, placing safe gear. (When I say "you", I don´t mean you, andyathome, and I am not saying nobody already does this either).
Also, some pro-bolting trad sceptics do sometimes proclaim that trad fanatics can trad lead a line of bolts if they want, and in a way they are right.
I live in a predominantly sport climbing country and I sometimes get nostalgic for UK style trad single pitch. So I have trad led a few sport single pitch routes, though not yet onsighting. For me, it was still a fairly satisfying trad experience. Now, I am not saying this is an argument to justify bolting up protectable stuff, far from it, I am just advocating a bit of less talk talk and more "action".
And yes, I am being slightly tongue in cheek too.
One argument I've not seen put forward for bolts vs gear (where adequate but maybe fiddly or awkwardly spaced/positioned gear exists) on hard routes is that the route can be worked from the bolts, all you need is a stick or you climb a series of short problems bolt to bolt. This definitely comes under the convenience/pleasure category but then we do climb for fun (at least I do), redpointing on awkward gear wouldn't be half as enjoyable as on a well bolted sport route.
Just to be clear I'm not suggesting bolting everything for my convenience, just saying well placed bolts make redpointing a pleasure.
Makes sense to me in an area where the climbing is overwhelmingly bolted and people don't carry traditional gear, there's little point in leaving holes in the crag development that people just won't climb because they're not equipped to.
In an area or on a crag with a properly mixed ethic those gaps in the bolting and various part bolted options make more sense. The Welsh slate could have been a model example of this kind of pragmatic development.
> I don't really find sport climbing any more convenient than trad climbing. My bags a bit heavier, but I'm not going to be doing a long walk in for an short evening session.
> Not sure about the baggage weight argument either. Obviously it's weighs more and that needs to be accounted for, but if I was going to Yosemite, I'd make sure to pack my trad gear. If I was going to Thailand I wouldn't bother. It's depends on the trip and what I fancy doing, I don't really see one as being more convenient.
I don't see how you can say it's not more convenient. Someone's done a huge amount of the work for you: They've place the gear, they've (hopefully) checked it's a good placement. It's a lot more convenient.
But protecting the climb is what I enjoy doing, it's not just the climbing. If I want to trad climb, bolts are inconvenient. It's all about perspective.
They are completely wrong.
Good, because it's nonsense.
> But protecting the climb is what I enjoy doing, it's not just the climbing. If I want to trad climb, bolts are inconvenient. It's all about perspective.
I agree but in the sense that McDonalds is more convenient than cooking for yourself (to borrow another poster's analogy) and convenience = less effort (but not necessarily better) then bolts are more 'convenient'.
That is just how you approach trad climbing! I often climb my hardest on the lead; seconding the same routes I quite often fall off. And when I get on a sport climb, I basically trad climb it - not as in placing the gear, as in, doing everything slowly, reversibly, statically with zero intention of falling off. I put this down to all the soloing I do. Now that is convenience climbing: no gear etc, and good routes on good rock in beautiful places. What more could you want?*
*I already know the answer to this question.
DOES NOT COMPUTE> DOES NOT COMPUTE> DOES NOT COMPUTE
Works in lots of places: Cheedale, Stoney, High Tor. It's just not a problem.
Redpointing is one activity I don't have any time for at the moment. I only had it forced upon me when I went to a hard crag in the Costa Blanca, and the easy warm-up was 7a. It took 4 attempts, I didn't enjoy the last 2 at all. A couple of goes, ground-up, and I'll walk away in future. :)
It can be a convenience (McDonalds and sport climbing), but it isn't always the case for everyone. I don't know if you're saying that or not anymore, even if your reason for sport climbing is convenience. :)
I was talking about the fact that people (yourself included) will attempt sport climbs that are more difficult, say in French grade terms, than what you would attempt to trad climb. Say 7a+ for sport, 6c for trad. Everest is Everest. If it had a French grade, it would be the same in both situations.
So Scafell Pike vs Pillar then!
Fair enough, we each have our own interests.
I agree, it can work really well. Sometimes it doesn't work so well.
Except on ** VS routes like Evasor, of course, where there is a bolt easily clippable from the traverse.
Didn't know about that, I like that route it was the first limestone route I ever did. Not sure one bolt clippable from the traverse is going to ruin it, but it's a step in the wrong direction.
What happened with the bolts encroaching onto Mad Dogs on Two Tier? Not done the route yet, but it's high on the list.
But one (guided with oxygen) would be the equivalent of top roping the 7a+ the other (solo without oxygen) like soloing the same.
> It can be a convenience (McDonalds and sport climbing), but it isn't always the case for everyone. I don't know if you're saying that or not anymore, even if your reason for sport climbing is convenience. :)
I'm not personally advocating bolted climbing for its convenience, merely pointing out that the convenience is what drives its popularity for many.
What's amusing is the very slightly greater degree of convenience (you still have to drive there, bring your own rope, put your harness on, etc) is so attractive that everything else (quality of the routes, quality of the rock, quality of the setting, enjoyment of being somewhere peaceful) gets binned.
This is why I think it's justified to slag it off. Yes, it's a matter of taste, but chossMcClipping is outright bad taste!
This degree is slight for you, but maybe greater for other people, who maybe don't own gear, don't know any trad climbers, are strong and fit and used to clipping bolts indoors and also the quality of the setting might feel amazing if it is your first trip out!
I agree that Horseyshite might seem brilliant if you don't know anything about climbing. But that's not who it's full of, it's full of people who've been climbing for yonks and are good enough to climb in the mid-6s which are the popular routes. It's entirely their choice if they don't have any gear or just hang out with similar chossfiends.
I've been there when it was very windy - it's a snug little hole...
and thinking about it.... how do you know who it is full of if you never go there?!
From what I read on UKC it generally seems to me to be the exact opposite. It is usually the trad climbers who are militantly anti-bolt in any/many circumstances, or want to stick by rigid rules against bolting (no bolting on natural rock/anything other than limestone/anything below 6a/anything protectable).
In general it seems bolters are the ones who have to be more reasonable, and seek more consensus, or the bolts get pulled.
At the end of the day, part of the reason most sports climbs aren't that good is because trad climbers have clung on to all the awesome climbs! Since trad climbers rarely climb at their limit (since falling off is more serious), they get to onsight lots of awesome routes which are a fun adventure. For sport climbers the difficulty of the climb is more important; since you are spending lots of time climbing it the quality of the route is less important as opposed to the challenge of doing it.
Most stuff is still not bolted after all, and almost none of the fun stuff!
As I have already said 4s and 5s can be hard for a new climber (or me!). Using the Rockfax safe routes conversion this converts to middle VS to low/middle E1 in terms of just climbing (not overall seriousness/significance obviously); they are not easy for everyone.
And frankly the idea that trad climbing is the only 'real' climbing is complete rubbish. It was interesting reading the Joe Brown article in Summit, describing the 'cheats' in modern climbing, like rope that won't break when you fall on it, good protection, sticky shoes etc...
You are talking as though these are two distinct groups of people, rather than the same people?
Now come on, there's more to British bolted climbing than Horseshoe. Did you live in Sheffield for a long time?
Well I must have been at least once in order to form an opinion about the place. Also, you don't have to be there to know people who go, and who they go with. The ones I know ain't novices (but they are lazy!).
I posted higher up about proper sport climbing (e.g. Malham, Kilnsey, Raven Tor) and mentioned Portland and Llandudno that do offer mid-grade bolted routes that aren't a total joke.
But the conversation seems to have drifted towards my favourite topic: why Horseshoe Quarry should be filled in.
What 'stuff' do you think would be more 'fun' as a bolted line that isn't already bolted ? or where the 'fun' couldn't as easily be had by top roping ?
You don't really seem to get it. A "sport climber" can pull his or her finger out and go and climb all these amazing routes. Put bolts in them, and they are destroyed for everyone. It's not a matter of "clinging onto" it's a matter of "not vandalising" classic trad routes.
ahh.... it's a hard thread to keep track of on a part time basis.
Chee dale is good too, no? Nice place too.
I would agree with most that Main Wall Horseshoe is pretty good, and the setting is a bit of a novelty (one that would rapidly wear off though I admit), but it's like convincing someone who hates broccoli that it's quite nice.
I'm "studying" for an exam tomorrow, hence the constant posting.
Nice place. Can't be arsed with the redpointing personally but yeah.
I once enjoyed a route on the main wall. But that's rather like admitting that I quite like "if this ain't love" by groovejet feat. sophie ellis bexter.
You've got a point there. Maybe we should relinquish some of these trad climbs to the sport climbers - a sort of gesture of goodwill.
Cordon off 50% of Stanage, and bolt it all. We could paint all the holds the same colours as you get on an indoor climbing wall, to really make people feel at home. Install pre-placed crash mats on routes where the first bolt is 8 feet up, not 7 - don't want any sprained ankles do we. Hell, we could install iPads next to the finishing moves, so when you clip the last bolt, it automatically loads that climb onto your UKC logbook, with a big 'Like' button.
Just think of all those routes who's character you could fundamentally change - for the better obviously. No more getting tired and hurting your fingers trying to get that fiddly gear in Fingerlicker, just wack 10 bolts in the side of it - perfect. Just imagine how much better all those routes on the main cliff at Gogarth would be with bolts.
Whilst we're at it, get some bloody bolts in Indian Face. There must be loads of people who'd love a go at that, so why should they be discriminated against just because they lack the climbing ability, courage and bottle to run it out as it is.
In fact why not go the whole hog, and just dig the crags up, and put them all indoors - quite sensible bearing in mind the inclement weather of the UK. Then you could paint them in lots of pretty colours - always thought that the area around High Neb would look brilliant in bright orange, and imagine how f*cking cool the Vector buttress would look in vivid purple, with contrasting yellow for the overhangs - pick out the Ochre Slab in a really vivid red and even the ghost of Jackson Pollock would be impressed.
I mean lets face it, trad climbing is just so uncool and pre- Facebook, it really does need a big wake up call, and dragged into the modern world.
You really are not doing your cause any favours here by going on and on representing sport climbers/bolted rtoute climbers (SAME THING)as some sort of aesthetically challenged vermin choosing to grovel in shiteholes. or McDonalds eating subhuman scum. It comes across as really quite snobbish. People like sport climbing for various reasons. Get used to it. they like it so much that they are prepared to do it in the shitty places left over when all the nice places have been reserved historically for trad climbing in this country. Long may it remain so. You ought to be grateful rather than borderline offensive to them.
Have you seen the "thick end of the wedge" cartoon in the Pembroke Rockfax? Brilliant - can't recall who did it - Alan James maybe?
I'm not sure whether your tongue is partially in cheek there. I think that an equal amount of fun could quite easily be poked at the painfully middle-class hex jangling masses of Stanage, and I wouldn't find it "borderline offensive".
And while you're determined not to differentiate between rubbish bolted climbing and hard sport climbing as two different styles (just like safe outcrop trad and multi-pitch sea cliff chossfests are two different styles) and pretend they're the same thing, that doesn't mean that I'm accusing the entire contents of Cheedale of being vermin. I'm not accusing the entire contents of Horseshoe of being vermin either, just of being lazy.
Not at all. I genuinely think you are damaging our cause and making an arse of yourself.
Different styles, but both sport climbing by definition.
At least he is consistent :)
Favourite Climbing-Related Discussion Topic
Why grades are all meaningless and subjective, but even so, how my opinion on them is still objectively correct.
Why Horseshoe Quarry should be filled in.
Well thanks, but you have to remember that I drive past Horseshoe on my way back from the filthy, neglected Chee Tor, which has amazing *** trad routes right at my limit (that's Peak E3 btw, or NW E5) that I'm going to have to clean up and thus not be able to enjoy onsight. And the car park at Horseshoe is overflowing. Can you image the degree of bitterness that I feel about this? There genuinely is a good case for filling it in!
Edit: And the thing about "our cause" is that I don't really think there is one. As I say, I think we manage the interaction of trad and bolts well, often peacefully co-existing on the same crag. No one's out bolting decent trad routes, and where this happens there is a genuine discussion about the merits, not an online thread about the principle. By taking the piss out of the laziness of people climbing the very lowest quality "sport" routes I don't see how this is "damaging a cause" - somehow I don't think those guys have got the get-up-and-go to take a drill to Main Cliff in revenge!
I accept this criticism, you comment is very true. Most people do both. Even more for people who climb hard, I suspect. So in some sense a trad climber is a person wearing a rack, and a sport climber is currently someone clipping bolts.
But lots of people probably swing much more one way than the other. There are people who do lots of trad in lots of different ways, and people who spend a lot of time redpointing a small number of routes at their 'local' sports crag. I wouldn't be surprised though if the most vocal zealots in both groups though tend to fall to one extreme.
PS I suspect me and Robert Durran might have very different views (and I think he has rather more experience to base those on), but I agree wholeheartedly with what he saying saying on this thread.
I said that trad had all the best climbs. I certainly did not say that meant that some/all should be bolted to bring the average quality of sport routes up. I subsequently explained why I believe trad needs better climbs (since the climbing is easier for the same 'difficulty'), and this is why onsight trad is popular. Sport climbers can focus more on projects and get more value out of less poor climbs (obviously this isn't as fun as having better climbers.
Personally if the ethics were to bolt 50% of Stanage and put crash mats at the bottom (no coloured holds though please) I would probably never venture to the other half, and for all your mocking I suspect the bolted side would get far more traffic.
Would I enjoy this? Yes. Would I support this? No.
You may like the danger, real or perceived, of trad. I don't. This doesn't mean that I should get to bolt everything (not that I am probably ever going to bolt anything), but denigrating an entire form of climbing, equally valid to any other activity, is not a good way to build consensus.
PS finally is the 'quality' (not the moves, but everything else) of climbing on Portland really that good? Because a) I have rarely/never got on the 'high' stuff (i.e. about 20m) and b) from what I understand it was pretty unpopular as trad. I suspect expectations may be different and/or aimed at different things for sport and trad...
I used to think that, that trad leading a bolted route was "nonesense" until I tried it a few years ago. Now, I think it can be quite a positive thing to do; you can get to do a nice line, use nice gear placements, educate any climbers watching about trad climbing (who might not know).
It´s a tad rebellious, but not in an agressive way like chopping bolts off.
Also, don´t forget there is lot of pressure on you when you do it - not to fall and get hurt, because you know you´d get largely pilloried if you did.
But this is all an aside I know.
Intersting comment - presumably if you aren't pushing your grade it doesn't really make any difference either way?
Haha. Yes, I wouldn't normally laugh at climbing accidents, but it would be kind of hard to keep a straight face...
It doesn't sound to me like you've given it a chance, trad climbing need not ever be about enjoying danger if you don't want it to be. I know lots of people who stick to safe routes because they don't like bold climbing.
I genuinely think that by taking the attitude that trad is dangerous, you're just cutting yourself off from all the quality of UK climbing below really hard grades. Why would you do that?
Nah - I think they are just the most bored....
Climbing culture is full of piss take and winding people up. Don't mistake it for seriousness. I think there are very few people who only do one or the other once they have been climbing a few years.
Well up till now I haven´t pushed my trad grade doing that type of lead. I have only done it where I´ve led the route first on bolts. But even then for me it´s a mental push.
It isn't about the 'danger'. It is about all of the mental aspects - finding gear placements, managing misplaced fear, protecting yourself well, working out where the route goes, pretending you are the first ever person to climb the route, the feeling of self sufficiency... A trad route with loads of gear placements is probably safer than a sports route, and you get to choose which routes you climb, how close you want to space your gear and how much risk you want to take. How often do you hear about trad climbing accidents caused by the route being a trad route, rather than some other factor?
Any climbing accident is pretty rare compared to car accidents!
Exactly, therein lies part of the challenge.
Which is fine, but not everybody likes that (I actually enjoy bumbling around on pretty much everything, don't mind climbing well above gear as long as it is really easy, and bizarrely the thing that scares me most is falling off indoor leading... need to deal with that!)
What I would say is - why should someone who doesn't want to do trad have to?
They will inevitably cut themselves from most, probably even nearly of the quality routes, but that is fine. But there should still be some reasonable accommodation.
The reality is I live in Devon, and don't climb that hard. There is (almost) no sport for me in Devon (or Cornwall). Portland is hard and often slightly/very steep, although there is some easier stuff. I have enjoyed a few trips to Cheddar but there is not very many easy climbs.
There are however awesome sea cliffs, ridiculous sea stacks the Dewerstone, Dartmoor and DWS, all of which I have done at least once (except the sea cliffs).
But if there was a second Dewerstone, and it was all bolted? I think I might do rather less trad (save it for mountaineering and ridiculous sea stacks), and rather more sport. More DWS either way though :P
PS just because apparently it isn't obvious, if a second Dewerstone was to emerge out of the ground somewhere near to Exeter, I wouldn't be calling for it to be bolted!
That's what I meant by the 'perceived' danger (obviously there are some trad routes with 'real' danger as well). I actually find myself worryingly blasé to the real danger sometimes, I just don't like the fear!
I'm really not sure what point you are trying to make here. That people who like sport climbing are suddenly going to come along and clean up Cheedale for you but leave it unbolted (all for your convenience!) if you filled in their hole?! Do it yourself you lazy old so and so!
So don't wind up sport climbers by putting them down if the status quo suits you! keep you powder dry for when they try to bolt up decent trad venues.
I subsequently explained why I believe trad needs better climbs (since the climbing is easier for the same 'difficulty'),
Not sure I agree with this, as I've seen a lot of 6b/c sport climbers turn into a lump of quivering jelly on a VS which you could stitch with more gear than Ellis Brigham stock!
You did notice how far in my cheek my tongue was didn't you?
This is such a straw man comment. Trad does not automatically equal danger - unless you don't know how to place gear. Sure there are bold trad routes, but there are far more completely safe ones.
Quality is in the eye of the beholder, but it seems many people are developing the argument, that if a trad crag doesn't get much traffic, and looks a bit chossy, then it's fair game to bolt. I agree, that there are probably trad crags which see little climbing, which would make good sport venues, and if a consensus is agreed, then go for it. But the danger with this, is if it becomes an insidious creeping trend, which 'could?' start to go too far.
I climb sport as well as trad (since moving to France especially) and do enjoy it, but as I don't have the temperament or patience to work routes, and prefer to onsight, it starts to just feel like vertical gymnastics after a while.
People are worryingly blasé about all sorts of danger: smoking, not exercising, being overweight, accidents in the home....
People don't actually really know what the risk of a lot of their activities is. Most people who climb trad climb very, very safe routes, not at their limits, but it is that pretend fear and adventure that people enjoy...
I remember finding bolted routes rather frightening when I first started going on them in the 90s, because I had to actually climb above the bolts instead of being able to place bomber gear in front of my nose pretty much whenever I felt like it.
There's lots of trad climbing that's perfectly safe ... for people who own substantial amounts of expensive specialist kit and have experience in how to use it.
Once you own a harness, rope, boots and quick draws (not to mention a vehicle to get to the crags), then a basic rack is a relatively small additional outlay.
Its about leaving the countryside as you found it for others to "discover" as they see fit (again without damaging it). No one is forcing you to climb, so if you cant enjoy nature without minimalising your impact on it, stay indoors or in the quarries.
we as climbers dont have a god-given right to climb every inch of rock on this earth. if we cant partake in our chosen activity without causing irrevocable damage to the environment then what right do we have to do this ahead of the countrysides many other users. they have to abide by the countryside code (granted many also flaunt this, but at least litter etc can be picked up) and so should we.
if you dont like trad and you dont want to spend your summer in a dirty quarry then go bouldering, walking, kayaking, scrambling, surfing etc etc. if it is the dificulty of the climb for sake of the challenge that interests you then there are more than enough indoor walls and quarries to satisfy your taste.
again, nobody is forcing anybody to do trad, it is a concious descision we make to go out and climb, and we should consciously act so as not to damage the environment or impede on its other users.
p.s this is nothing personal, i am refering to the general "you" not specifically the poster in question
until you can artificially create trad indoors, i think bolting should be kept to a minimum(!) i think what is interesting is its surely not VS climbers, or low grade sport enthusiasts who are bolting routes, but more experienced sport climbers. i would be interested to know who is doing the bolting and why.
There is a semi-serious point that I'm trying to make here which is that there has been a change in fashion from good trad to shit sport. I doubt that the bolt fans would really dig Chee Tor much (although the gear is good, it's not a dangerous place to go climbing), but this change in fashion leaves a bitter taste for me - overall, I would say it is a loss because I genuinely believe that those who can't be arsed with trad are missing out on intense experiences in place of bland experiences. I lose out on Splintered Perspex onsight (I will clean it though), and they lose out on climbing good stuff.
Yeah me too. Can't get my head round it!
They don't have to.
I thought there was plenty in Portland, and of reasonable quality?
Is DWS not twice as scary as trad? I haven't tried but I imagine it to be petrifying (and a massive faff).
I just don't really see any problem. We have a limited amount of rock in this country and a strong trad ethic. It doesn't cater brilliantly for lovers of low grade bolt-clipping, but given the history of climbing and limited resources, there's no reason why it should, because the only way to make that happen would be to destroy a load of trad climbing that people love, and that's not fair or desirable.
I wish that there were adventurous multi-pitch sea cliffs in Yorkshire, but there aren't, so I drive to Wales. There's not a lot more to it than that.
I have nothing against convenience, do it myself sometimes, I just think that it is a reason for bolting no more no less
Jon - climbing used to be for those on the edge, those looking for adventure, mavericks and wild people. I don't think you should over worry yourself, because by their very nature, those adventurers will still find adventures for themselves....
It's just like swimming. People used to just go swimming, in whichever bit of water was near to them. Then swimming pools were invented. Nowadays, most people go to a clean pool with showers and do laps. A few wild people will leap into muddy pools and tarns, in the rain, in winter, or plunge into green canals with pikes and rusty shopping trolleys, or dive through wild surf in a stormy sea. And then someone will relabel this swimming as 'wild swimming' and it will be seen as the preserve of a crazy elite! Adventure is all around us for the taking!
Ok let's reign back a bit you said.
>I'm not saying its danger free, but the point of sport climbing is that the sort of danger encountered on a trad route is removed. Obviously, peoples skills with a belay plate or a rock drill will vary, but the amount of accidents compared to the amount of successful ascents is vanishingly small.
Now I agree with most of that. but commenting on your last statement there it also rings true for Trad. The vast number of trad climbers great and small suffer no ill effects from their chosen ascent, I have been climbing for over 20 years and have never had much more than a bruised ankle. Equally I know people who have been injured in both disciplines.
I have yet to see any actual proof other than anecdotal evidence that on is inherently more dangerous than the other.
If I harp on about this it is because I see a generation growing up in the belief that trad climbing is some sort of suicide mission, only for the foolhardy. It needs a balanced view.
But let's just look at the risks involved (I posted those links as examples however rare, if you like, that bolt failure is real and exists).
The risks for both fall into two catagories a) personal error b) environmental effect
a) failing to use equipment properly (not placing gear right, poor rope work etc.),
failure to check equipment for faults
poor risk assessment
b) rock failure (ie broken hold, rock fall)
I do not include long run outs because although they increase the consequences of failure a long run out is not in itself a failing
a) failure to use equipment properly (not clipping right, poor rope work etc.)
failure to check equipment for faults
poor risk assessment
skill failure (in the sense that if you fall off anything less than vertical you are going to hit something if not the ground)
b) rock failure
As will be seen on sport routes the personal risk factor uses less factors while the unforseen circumstance factor increases.
If people have an unreasonable concept of the dangers of trad they can also have an unreasonable belief in the safety of bolts. I appreciate that the majority of bolts are safe, GG has been placing bolts for years and is very experienced and I trust his placements. But you don't know everyone who places bolts and there is certainly no risk assessment that they need to under go, and even if a bolt is perfectly secure when it is shiny and new a few years down the line how trustworthy is it?
For the person placing the bolt it is not the easy option. Bolts cost and bolting takes time.
Currently most people climb both styles but there seems to be an increasing number who ONLY climb bolts. I foresee a time when the majority of the country will be bolted, because it is so much easier than buying gear and learning trad and trad will be forgotten as some strange foolhardy practice that people used to do before the world was made safe and dull.
Very much agree with this.
I've got no issue if people give both trad and sport a fair crack of the whip and decide that on the whole they prefer sport, but it makes me a bit sad to see people who don't even try trad because they're under the impression that
a) it's suicidally dangerous
b) it's prohibitively expensive and
c) it's hard to get involved with
when in fact
a) it doesn't have to be unless you do it wrong or choose necky routes
b) it isn't much more expensive than climbing sport, particularly if you start off climbing with someone who already has a rack and
c) there are plenty of ways of getting into trad without too much difficulty - clubs, mates, courses etc.
Edit - this is probably why people who get introduced to climbing through clubs seem more likely to just get on with trad - they see what's actually involved for a regular punter rather than developing some sort of distorted impression of it from magazines and videos and whatever else...
Would be a fairer comparison. :)
Just a bit of a self-deprecating joke. Fell a bit flat! :(
Maybe so, I haven't done a survey. :)
Yes. That's because they necessarily conduct a risk assessment and obviously hold something back, because its trad. Most risk vanishes because we're built to avoid it.
I have been climbing for 30 and have all manner of injuries.
I've NEVER said that trad is more dangerous than sport or vice versa, it is a nonsensical comparison without definition. But if examining comparable routes, then it is highly likely, almost guaranteed, that the sport version will be less dangerous TO ATTEMPT. The reason not many will come to harm on the trad version is because far fewer people will attempt it. Now I'm not talking about low grade sport because things get slabby and weird and not much can be consistently said, F6a and up is MY definition of sport climbing here.
So that's your agenda. Yet another media driven paranoia attack that our youths are off the rails. I have worked at youth groups and two universities, including teaching trad lead climbing to various clubs in the UK and Canada and can assure you that the adventurous spirit is alive and well. Why do you harbour those assumptions? That's all they are, they have no basis in reality, they are an invention of your mind and the Daily Mail.
I know its real, I've experienced bolt failure. What happened? I fell down to the next one.
I can recommend actual statistics over opinion and worry. Lots of national organisations collect accident stats these days, where are the piles of sport climbers bodies waiting to be counted? In any case, as I said more than once, I'm only talking about comparable risk, the types of risk encountered when trad climbing, and their mitigation in Sport.
Back to the agenda...
The telling word in that first sentence is 'seems'. That doesn't make it true. There are more trad climbers in the UK than ever before, so you can forsee away, its all just your opinion.
You guys obviously spend a lot of time thinking about this.
I was talking about sport vs trad. I think I got the wrong end of the stick.
Tell me which NW E5s are really more like E3 - so I can go and try them!
are you doing it right ;-)
well you did imply as such, but hey I'm glad we can agree on that. Though why you keep harping on about top end climbing is a mystery to me as I have stated time and time over that is not what I am on about.
where do you get that weird idea from?
>Why do you harbour those assumptions?
Because every now and then some bright spark pops up and says lets bolt everything and it might be a bit daft but I feel the need to defend the opposing view.
>That's all they are, they have no basis in reality, they are an invention of your mind and the Daily Mail.
Now you are just being insulting. Please keep to proper arguments if possible
Lucky you. But that proves my point.
Can we have some?
Well I am glad that we finally agree that trad climbing is not the bogeyman folk make out.
We do. We sit up all night having big discussions and worship Ken Wilson
The question of relative safety is a red herring - the key difference between sport and trad is that the former is very focussed while the latter is very broad.
Sport is just about the climbing. In that sense, it's very pure. However while most people can manage 4s and 5s, to climb F6 and above requires training and commitment. Personally I had quite enough of that from school sport and one of the attractions of climbing was that I didn't have to train. For those who don't have the time or inclination to train, I wonder how long they can remain satisfied by climbing 4s and 5s. And when they get older, will they accept that they can no longer achieve what they once could?
Despite the impression sometimes given by the climbing media, trad is not mainly about the grade. It is a much broader experience and the best climbs are worth doing regardless of their grade. It is entirely possible to have a long and fulfilling climbing career without ever pushing your grade (I've been climbing over 40 years and never led harder than VS). It's pure in its own way because it avoids deliberately damaging the rock (wear and tear is inevitable in both).
I'm not saying one is better than the other, they both serve different purposes. I suspect you can get more out of trad for longer than from sport, but perhaps that's just me. I can also see the point of bolting routes which would otherwise be unprotectable (although in some cases, Sunset Slab at Froggatt for example, that is part of the character of the route). I do find it regrettable that so many sports climbers seem to dismiss trad without properly understanding it, and that protectable routes are bolted simply to provide low-grade sports routes.
Not guilty and I reject that I ever implied anything of the sort.
F6a is not top end, by any measure. Below that, its barely sport climbing, too much to hit.
Well, you seem convinced that newcomers are turning to sport because they think its less dangerous. You've said so in several posts. I merely filled in the blanks :-)
Who has ever said that? And surely you don't think they would actually get away with it? I think there are more layers of resistance to that idea than you think. Over here and the States, the UK is held up as a bastion of tradness, and I can see what they mean when I make comparisons.
Ok, conceded, that was out of order.
I'm at work, its 1.30pm here, so not right now.
hmm. (raises eyebrow at Jonny)
other than one occasion I don't believe I said that. I believe I was implying that newcomers were turning to bolts as a matter of convenience.
>And surely you don't think they would actually get away with it? I think there are more layers of resistance to that idea than you think. Over here and the States, the UK is held up as a bastion of tradness, and I can see what they mean when I make comparisons.
quite glad to hear that.
I think we can both agree that a mix of styles is good for UK climbing
hmmm... I know quite a few older climbers turning to hard sports climbing once they retire and have the time to train more... I don't think it is all just the simple story that you have described, although I do agree that there are plenty of climbers who climb for the same motivations that you describe.
Jon thinks that NW E3's are really E1 and is just extrapolating his ignorance to other grades ;-)
This idea that trad is dangerous and sport is safe is really thinking about it the wrong way.
Trad involves much more risk management to make it safe than sport. ie it requires additional skills to make it safe. In sport most of the risk management has been done for you by someone else. Trad is only dangerous if you lack appropriate risk management skills.
I'm not sure even this is true. Lowering or abseiling off a bolted route is way more hazardous than the walk off from Stanage for instance. Sure there are a few more variables in trad but in essence its the same - try to stay connected to the rope, some gear and your belayer unless you are confident you are safe.
No. Just different.
This would be a good point, if it weren't for the fact that most crags are largely artificial outdoor playgrounds based on rock... most crags would (should?) be covered in vegetation and loose rock, but climbers strip crags bare to create dead, grey walls to climb on, as well as footpaths, ledges and gearing-up areas. Personally I am fine with that provided there is no significant environmental impact, but the idea that ANY climbing has no impact (or even minimal impact) is just untrue...
Whereas bolts are probably environmentally irrelevant, and where there is delicate fauna on the top-out bolt belays can be much more environmentally friendly :P
So I don't think this is a clear-cut argument for trad vs sport. I think it is a much better argument in mountainous areas though (where stuff is wilder and less managed).
I agree - I was disagreeing with the "much more" part of your earlier posting:
> Trad involves much more risk management to make it safe than sport.
> Trad involves much more risk management to make it safe than sport. ie it requires additional skills to make it safe. In sport most of the risk management has been done for you by someone else. Trad is only dangerous if you lack appropriate risk management skills.
This goes to the crux of the whole issue. People incapable or, more likely, unwilling to develop the skills required would, logically, just limit themselves to top roping or seconding or try MTB. Instead we get this argument that 'if there's a line of bolts up that face I can have a go, by denying me that line of bolts, I am being robbed of my right to climb'
> Personally I am fine with that provided there is no significant environmental impact, but the idea that ANY climbing has no impact (or even minimal impact) is just untrue...
> Whereas bolts are probably environmentally irrelevant, and where there is delicate fauna on the top-out bolt belays can be much more environmentally friendly :P
Actually, I agree with all that. There's no doubt that lowering off leaves the top of the crag pretty much pristine from a wildlife point of view. Not only that, but clipping bolts causes much less damage to vegetation and animals living in cracks on the route itself.
However, in really sensitive areas we shouldn't be on the crags at all and I wouldn't want to use environmental bolting as an excuse to develop such sites.
true for some crags (and i dissagree with the industrial scale gardening that has been required to discover certain crags, many of which would be best left to nature), but i think you are wrong to sugest it is true of "most" crags. for instance i think most of the grit crags (certainly the ones above the tree line) have (in historical times at least) always been free from vegetation and choss.
yep not arguing with that, but its about minimising our impact. many of the paths would exist from walkers/sheep anyway, climbers just utilise them. paths are necesary to access the countryside, and have become an acceptable eye sore for many of the countrysides users (in an ideal world there would be no paths and everyone would find thier own piece of wilderness, but that just isnt practical). bolts on the otherhand are not neccesary to facilitate the masses enjoyment of the countryside, they are an addition of convenience for the lazy minority, or the gymclass elite.
the amount of uproar on this site when a geologist knocks a small piece of rock off somewhere or winter climbers "tool" up our precious rock, i am amazed how it has become acceptable to carry out industrial scale acupuncture (however that is spelt) on some of our countries beauty spots in the name of sport climbing! so yes if you dont consider rock errosion a matter of environmental concern (which is fair enough) then bolting has no environmental impact (arguably true, but undeniably an eye sore). but the vast majority of people on this site seam to care very much about damaging our precious rock, except when done by rock climbers... i find the hypocracy of some on this site frankly baffling! (not specifically aimed at you)
There certainly was more veg on the grit than there is now, look at many of the route names - heather wall (on now blank grit etc).
I really think you're looking at things from the wrong way round. It is the rock that dictates whether or not bolts are appropriate, not the presence of a demand from people who want to climb bolted rock at their grade.
I guess I kind of agree but from the other direction... if the conditions are OK for bolting (following the local ethic, preferably but not always quarried, normally limestone but possibly sandstone or even occasionally granite a la Cheesewring, not in grit or mountain crag, in a bolted area etc) then the grade of the rock shouldn't matter as to whether it is bolted or not. So if conditions are otherwise OK, it should be OK to bolt even if the climb is 'easy'.
Equally if conditions are not right for bolting (based on the current ever-changing ethic), then it should not be bolted, even if the climb is too hard to do now on trad.
That should be true but so many sport climbers find themselves in difficulty on trad routes because they have never learnt to read the rock, that they reduce the route to their level in panic by inserting bolts.
I doubt the people doing the panicking are the people placing the bolts !
I don't understand that argument at all. They're not bolting on the lead.
I think the point is more about how good a route can you get from any sort of rock once its bolted. Something like 3PS would be a very poor bolted route as, from a technical perspective, it is a one move wonder. The brilliance of the route comes from the fact that the commitment increases as the climbing gets technically easier giving interest all the way up. A lot of grit is like this.
I am pretty sure this is nonsense.
Yes, having a line of bolts tells you (roughly) where to go (but then most sport climbs are fairly short and straightforward anyway in routefinding terms?), but it definitely doesn't tell you where to put your hands or feet, or what to do with them? And sport climbers will be doing more technically difficult and/or more sustained routes for the same amount of experience, so actually should be 'better' at this.
I guess it is true that sports routes rarely involve thrutching up some grubby chimney/offwidth etc (since these are generally HVS and below? out of my experience range).
(with the usual caveats that most people do sport and trad)
I can assure you on trad routes there is very often the element of doubt the longer the route very often the more so. Even if you are following the description this is sometimes wrong!
If you trad climb enough you will end up going the wrong way from time to time and only reading enough rock without a line of bolts pointing the way is going to improve this.
There's a lot of good arguments and opinions herein but I'm detecting a bias towards 'trad is the only true way' and similar views in many of the posts as well as several disrespectful comments towards sport climbers and beginners here.
Frankly, I don't understand this in what has been (in my experience) an inclusive, helpful and encouraging community (both here on UKC and out at crags or at indoor walls). So far I haven't met a climber I didn't like, whatever their preference in style or experience level.
To answer the OP from a relative beginners point of view I saw the placement of bolts as a twofold thing:
1) To adequately protect good/interesting routes where trad placements were potentially unsafe
2) To provide a sport climbing experience on crags/quarries where it was seen as acceptable by the climbing community.
Of course, my own lack of experience may show in those answers but that is genuinely my perception at this point. It may change as I become better informed and more experienced.
I DON'T think that bolts are placed to demark a particular route as 'Just for Sport. No Trad allowed' and it's my experience so far that trad climbers and sport climbers (and boulderers) are happy to mix on a crag.
I would sympathise somewhat with sport climbers that might take offense at the suggestion that bolted routes are done purely for convenience, to provide the lazy option or because doing it trad is too scary. I think those are the types of suggestion that somewhat miss the point of why someone might choose to sport rather than trad - to my mind the two styles offer a different experience of moving on the rock face. Yes, some of that is undoubtedly down to the route itself but still, the same line climbed trad and sport would seem to me to offer a different psychological experience and encourage a different approach each way.
Personally I've only have a handful of outdoor solos and trad leads. I lead sport indoors only at the moment. I want to experience outdoor sport routes as well as doing more trad and I may find I favour one over another eventually. I tell you this so you know where I'm coming from - Please take my opinions in the context of my limited experience.
As for my little group of outdoor newbies, their wants and aspirations vary between sport and trad and their expectation of the experience varies. To put it simply I have a couple of climbers that can't wait to get their hands on my rack (oo-er, missus!) and start placing their own gear but by the same token I have one climber who doesn't like the idea of trad because he doesn't want to have to split his attention between gear placements and the climb itself. Another of my newbies doesn't like the thought of trad because of all the gear involved and wants to strip it down to basics - he pulled his first V.Diff solo recently and actually finds he prefers bouldering.
All that from a group of wall-bred top ropers. Who'd have thunk it?
Note that in no case are any of my group frightened off from trad or are seeking bolted protection because trad looks (or feels) too scary (or even that we panic). Just because we are inexperienced does not mean we'd all want bolted routes - we'd want bolted routes when we fancy a sport-style climb experience.
Is trad scary for us? Yes indeed, but so are E grades, sport climbs, multipitch, mid level bouldering puzzles and so on. Will it stop us from trying it all? Not on your nanny :)
Now I'm sure I've missed part of the point and I have picked on a few particular viewpoints to counter here but I wanted to offer an honest view from the less experienced end of the spectrum seeing how most of you here seem to have already chose your preferred style and view to match.
In my honest view I don't see why sport and trad aren't in closer harmony and have no real issue with bolting routes of any grade where appropriate. The bit I admittedly don't quite understand is what really dictates where bolted routes will appear or what dictates the acceptable 'ethic' of a particular crag (to bolt or not to bolt?). Is it really just the preference of a handful of regular users of a particular crag or something more widely accepted?
Anyway, sorry for chucking in my two penneth this late on.
Note: Do you know what these 'sport vs trad' style discussions remind me of? The PC master race vs the console kiddies argument from the video gaming community. Both are valid ways to 'play', surely? Aren't we all practising the same sport at it's core or am I just being really naïve?
I think I(?) am confusing 'reading the rock', which I assume to mean 'working out how to climb the rock' with 'working out which bit of the rock you are supposed to be climbing' (i.e. routefinding, obviously more the preserve of the trad climber).
From what I understand easy trad routes tend to take lines of natural weakness whereas hard trad routes and most sports routes take non-lines up faces and overhanging walls? Again, following a line of natural weakness (and not straying onto more difficult territory) is definitely a trad skill.
Mockerkin's comment just sounded a bit arrogant to me. Perhaps it is just me, but sports climbers* are not inferior to trad climbers* for not being able to follow cryptic guidebook descriptions; it is just not a skill they require. It is the 'reducing a route to [someone's] level' argument that really annoys me; the route is equally hard to climb (in technical terms) no matter whether it has bolts in it or not. Obviously a trad ascent of the same route is a harder achievement, but that does not denigrate someone sport working the route at their limit. We are not all Ondra, after all...
* usual disclaimers etc.
You're online now! ;-) It's the same in any forum.
Most climbers climb all styles, not just one. sports climbers and trad climbers are usually the same people, not different people.
but computers are an infiniteish resource, not a limited one like rock, particularly in a small, crowded country like the UK. One person choosing to use a console doesn't stop someone else from using a PC.
Of course it's not because you have to hang on longer to place gear (even if the gear you are placing is obvious cams). Conversely sometime climbing a route trad can feel less scary than relying on bolts because you can place more runners - although this is mainly an issue on stupidly bolted cracks which doesn't really happen in the UK.
Thanks, I guessed that might be the case!
The reality of the situation is that most trad climbers, also clip bolts. And a large number of those also boulder and/or climb indoors. The single activity climber is rarer than you might think.
When I think about my climbing buddies back in the UK - I don't actually know any single activity climbers.
Though it might be worth checking out the well named Gift at Reiff ;-)
I know lots of sport only climbers. They hang out at Ratho. I even speak to some of them.
That seems strange, maybe peculiar to Ratho. I would imagine most people who sport climb would at the very least mess about on the bouldering occasionally. Doesn't Ratho have bouldering?
Yes, they boulder, but, I think, only really as training for sport.
Yes but that's your problem, not the rock's problem, just as if you chose to wear a weight belt up the climb it wouldn't change the 'insert-word-here-which-means-purely-the-rock-difficulty'. Sadly I can't think of a good word for this?
As I have said before, yes, climbing a route trad is obviously harder than climbing it sport (because of the faff), but the moves are the same (again albeit you may choose to make some extra ones in trad to place gear).
no-where near E3 though surely?
Yes, I was careful with my wording, most trad climbers clip bolts, I stopped short of saying the opposite.
I expect that there are grit E3's that would feel just as hard if you weren't used to climbing on grit. It would certainly be hard to complain if it was given E4. The Quickening nearby really is ridiculously soft at E5, so much so that no-one being honest with themselves would take the tick. Oh, and before Jon thinks I've capitulated, I should add that there are plenty of routes solid for their grade at Reiff.
But you said "the route" is just as hard, not that the hold are just the same. "The route" is a subjective aspect of human experience, not a geological reality. Too get to your idea of sameness would mean soloing, which is fine, but most climbers are unwilling to do routes that way for obvious reasons.
There is a long discussion to be had about how to correctly use French grades for trad routes - if a route should be graded in the totality of the experience of climbing it, then trad routes of, say, 6a+ should have slightly easier moves than a sport 6a+ because the grading should account for the experience of having to hang on and place the gear!
That is just silly! A French grade tells you how hard the route is to top rope. Everything else including the placement of gear only appears in the Adjectival grade.
Fair enough, I should have said the 'line'.
Indeed, hence (to go back to the very original post) the bolts - the closest convenient thing to soloing :)
PS I agree with Robert, a French grade should be for worked top-roping, so the grade should be the same for trad/sport/soloing/DWS/top roping etc. Anyone who climbs 6a top-rope and then leaps on a 6a trad route should just know better...
PPS where sport grades are used for trad, is it more common to have a bolt or two to protect difficult/unprotectable sections? We don't seem to really have the concept of 'partially equipped' routes in this country, which is probably partly because our sports routes are all short enough to bolt the whole thing without too much hassle?
I generally agree with that. Regarding the grade issue, the fact is that the average 'easy' route has big holds, potentially cracks, breaks or pockets that would make the route protectable with trad gear (there are exceptions of course). The average 'hard' route has more compact rock with fewer and smaller features and therefore less protectable with trad gear. This has given rise to some crags having a mixture of trad and sport routes, which I'm perfectly happy with.
The general UK ethic is that climbing is an adventurous activity and that the rock should not be changed to make a route easier or safer. This has been with the caveat that routes with no other possibility for protection that are pushing the cutting edge are ok be bolted (or in the past pegged). This is mostly limestone because that is predominantly where the (physically) hardest routes have been to date. The 'bolt caveat' was expanded to cover man made venues because, after all, we made them and the climbing there is about the physical aspect and/ or training rather than going out for an adventure.
So that brings us to what many see as the 'thick end of the wedge' where routes that could easily be protected with trad gear have been bolted in a non-adventurous setting. Fair play to the people who put the time into cleaning the crag, but to view it as 'their' crag and that they had the right to make it a 'sport' crag would be wrong in my opinion. I accept that I and many others will never visit this esoteric spot but there is the fear that if this becomes accepted, the adventurous tradition of British climbing will slowly, over many generations, be eroded to the status of a playground.
The line of what can be bolted needs to be drawn somewhere and it needs to stay drawn; Whether it is this crag but not that crag, man-made but not natural, this region but not that region or these types of rock only. No easy task, and while the decades long argument rages on, somewhere, somebody is chipping away at the stone.
Well not according to the very good French climbers (who did loads of new routes) who we camped and climbed with in Lofoten many years ago. The French grade is meant to be how hard the whole pitch feels, and than includes sustainedness and if a trad route - how hard it is to get the gear in.
I prefer UK grades for trad routes but they are hardly taking the rest of the world by storm, so we just need to get our head around how climbers in other countries grade trad routes with French grades.
They are French grades, not "sport grades"! :)
Actually come to think of it are there any other countries around the world where they have different grades for sport and trad? Not sure if I can think of any. Here in Finland, Finnish grades (which are really Swedish grades but with a built in sandbag dig at the Swedes being effeminate hair-netted softies who couldn't knife fight a Russian soldier at -30 if their national survival relied on it) were originally used for both trad and sport routes. Then sports routes morphed into using French grades and now trad routes are increasingly just getting French grades too! But US, Aus, Norway for example all just use one system for sport and trad from what I've seen.
I think Rob's description is how Brits use it and I think your French friends were using it how the French use it it for their version of trad. At least that's the conclusion I've come to too, climbing terrain d'aventure routes here.
This thread has got out of order as many do on UKC. There are posters sucked into degrading the OP with silly things such as which is real climbing, trad or sport? So let's go back to basics. Climbing began with mountains. It evolved when "mountain climbers" liked to go to the hills. They then found themselves wondering if they could climb the mountain by a more difficult route. This is what is called trad. It is basically love of the mountains with more risk and understanding of the mountain.
Since then we have had a gymnastic aspect introduced into "climbing" i.e. indoor walls and bouldering. Sport is another new aspect. Bolts should only be used when trad cannot do the route, such as caves, blank walls or when a trad climber really runs out of protection. It should never be used because it makes a trad route easier for that climber.
I have just been asked by a climber to add this. What is the difference between bolting and putting up ladders and fixed ropes on Everest?
He's got more to add but my missus demands that I help her and stop this silly climbing stuff.
> What is the difference between bolting and putting up ladders and fixed ropes on Everest?
Is the punch-line forthcoming?
Has it? Its turned out a lot better than I thought it would.
Well that's us told.
One is to protect free climbers, the other is to protect walkers? As me one about Sport.
Well that's us told.
>> Yes it is isn't it, Glad you've got the message.
I take it you're ok with placing pegs though?
They were actually just talking about all routes, in France they new routed with bolts mainly it seemed although they were active alpinists too. But I've always taken that to be how french grades should work - when you clip the chain or collapse panting over the top of the cliff having made a clean ascent of the pitch - be it sport of trad - then you 'know' what grade it is. Likewise if you do a pitch on a top rope as Robert suggested you might not know as accurately what grade it is, because the grade is for a clean, led ascent.
I guess in the UK because British grades work pretty well for trad (although it's interesting to see how many hard grit types give french grades as well to lines) there's little need to use French grades for trad but it seems to be happening more and more elsewhere.
The analogy with Everest makes no sense - ladders on Everest are there to remove technical difficulty , bolted routes lead us to increase technically difficulty, a rather fundamental difference.
Personally I do both. I like trad, but will admit to getting more done on sport days.
Funny you should say that, Jonny. I totally agree. Most of the climbers I've thus far met in person do a bit of everything but have a preference of style.
I didn't mean to insinuate that climbers choose singular styles. If I gave that impression, I apologise.
Online? Yeah, sometimes I think I spend too long online and my experience of forums in my other hobby have perhaps made me a little....defensive....in my approach on forums :)
As I said to Jonny, yep, totally agree with that from experience. Hence my confusion which brings me to your last reply.
I see where you're coming from on the limited resource but until I get to climb more routes both trad and sport I'm not really going to get the idea that bolts would potentially prevent a route being used as a trad line. DEFINITELY a case where my lack of outdoor experience colours my view. Totally happy to meet anyone willing to correct my view on the crag :)
People evolved from apes. So I would argue that climbing is as fundamental to humans as walking and it began with trees rather than mountains.
A good analogy is to think about walking along the kerb, a few inches off the road. If that same curb was now put 20 foot up in the air, it would be the same thing, wouldn't it?
No - it would be completely different. Putting bolts into a route changes something very fundamental about that route - it would be impossible to ignore the bolts, just as it would be impossible to ignore the extra height of the kerb...
Glad you are here to sort it out :P
Actually I disagree with this - a lack of protection, or the route being too hard, is NOT a reason to allow bolting. In the future, protection will (presumably) be better than today, as will the climbers. If we bolt today based on current standard, we might end up bolting all the future E12s at Stanage or whatever.
Bolting is only OK when it is OK; this doesn't reduce down to a simple set of rules.
PS actually Stanage is a bad example since in 20 years time we will probably all be bouldering the whole crag on magic boulder pads anyway! :)
French grades for trad routes are a nightmare. Neither one thing nor the other. As useless as the YDS.
But the first thing you ask another British climber is whether its 6b as in E1 or 6b as in E3 or whatever. The fact that this is a very good question to ask shows how useless the French grade is. Same goes for YDS.
Thanks for the analogy. I get where you're going with that but I'm one of those people who would be able to see the high and low kerbs as the same thing.
I guess the psychology of the line may change at that. I suppose it's a question of the specific climber being able to look past the presence of the bolts or whether the presence of the bolts is enough for the climber to think 'sport route' or not. Still, what do I know? Only two trad leads does not equal enough experience to neccessarily know.
of course, it occurs to me that what I'm not taking into account is the routefinding aspect of trad. The presence of bolts might detract from that part of the experience at least. The bolts would give an artificial indicator of the line, I suppose.
The main thing that bolts remove from the trad experience is the element of commitment, and the importance of the decisions that you're taking. Deciding to start up a trad route near your limit is accepting a certain level of risk and taking a step into the unknown, particularly if the route is badly protected or you can't see how well protected it is. You might also be slimming down your rack and not bothering with some of the gear - gambling that the small chance of it coming in handy isn't worth the extra weight you're carrying. Having to think seriously about all these decisions makes for an immensely satisfying and memorable experience when you go for it and it works and you make it up.
Having bolts on the route - even if you intend to place gear instead of clipping them - removes most of the significance from the decision, since you know you've got an easy bailout option if you want it, and correspondingly detracts from the satisfaction.
Essentially, climbing on bolts rather than gear is like playing poker for matchsticks rather than money - it can be fun, but it's a totally different experience. Attempting a bolted line on trad gear is like playing for money but being allowed to switch to matchsticks and get their original stake back if you start losing.
So are you just as happy to solo a route as you are to lead it?
Yes - you do tend to end up looking for the next bolt, rather than at the rock itself. Also, bolted routes on the whole tend to be up and down, whereas trad routes follow natural lines, so can go all over the place, through caves, round corners, across gaps from one wall to a different one... It's great when you suddenly realise that the route goes somewhere really unexpected!
You simply can't understand it without the experience of trad climbing on committing routes at your limit.
I climbed a route at my limit yesterday, and it was really really hard (it was at my limit). The gear was so-so and at times very hard to place. If there was a bolt within reach I would have clipped it and completely ruined my experience. As it was, I struggled slowly on up the ever-shitter holds and tinier and tinier gear until I reach easy ground at the top with a sense of elation.
I was in some degree of danger (not much, but that's how it feels when you're on crap holds 10ft above a tiny wire). Not clipping an available bolt would be utterly perverse and stupid, and you could only do it if you weren't at your limit, close to falling off and possible injury. But the experience of committing to the route and fighting through the hard, bold crux (which went on for ages!) was immensely satisfying. Bolt it, and no one can have that experience.
Eliminate routes with contrived danger are absolute rubbish, they offer a pointless, unsatisfying experience where you constantly do battle with the question of whether or not cop out. It's just not worthwhile climbing. Commitment and genuine, not silly or contrived decision making are such a huge element of the trad experience. Do some and find out!
Good analogy, except that the potential prize money is also reduced from pounds to pence.
It's only good if you agree with the comparison. I couldn't be bothered to play poker for anything other than money, it's only the gambling with money that makes it interesting. I can be bothered to sport climb because the climbing is exciting and interesting enough on bolts without the extra complexity of placing gear etc.
Some people do play poker for matchsticks and have fun, though. In any case, I don't think that undermines the point of the analogy, which was that if you're playing for money but with the option of switching back to matchsticks then you might as well have been playing for matchsticks to start with.
Maybe you simply prefer to play poker with matchsticks. Nothing wrong with that.
I'm sure the analogy works for some, but not for others. Shouldn't an analogy be more objective? I don't really see the need for an analogy anyway.
I prefer to trad climb at the moment, if that's what you're referring to.
How is it not objective? It's objectively true that some people play poker for matchsticks and some people play it for cash. It's also objectively true that some climbing is mostly about physical and technical challenge while other climbing involves more of an element of risk-management and commitment. Which of those groups you or I personally fall into or which style of climbing we prefer is irrelevant.
And it seems to be needed because every time people on here talk about bolting a route versus climbing it on gear, someone with very little trad experience will crop up and say "but surely you could just not clip the bolts!"
Well in that case you prefer to play with cash, as the analogy describes. You didn't really make it clear what climbing you prefered.
You might also play with matchsticks and cash an equal amount of times. It doesn't break the analogy.
It's not objective because if I didn't climb, and wanted to understand the difference between trad and sport, I would conclude from your analogy that trad can be exciting, because of the risk involved, and sport is pointless, because it's fundamentally boring without real risk. That is my subjective view of playing poker for cash vs matchsticks. However, it isn't my view of trad vs sport.
I don't find playing poker with matchsticks boring, but it's true some might see it that way... oh wait, thats fitting the analogy again. Sorry.
What about people who prefer to sport climb, but who prefer to play poker for cash?
You don't have to like both activities, that doesn't detract from the analogy.
It's like explaining to someone "it's just like riding a bike" and then them replying "I don't like cycling, I'll pass". Doesn't really matter to the structure of the analogy, you may not enjoy playing poker for cash yet choose to trad climb, there is no contradiction here. Enjoying one activity that is riskier in some circumstances does not mean that you engage in every riskier activity, that's not what the analogy is trying to show. You're effectively missing the point.
The idea is that if you choose to engage in a risky activity or more exciting activity, the whole thing becomes absurd if you are given a very easy 'out' of that activity, I.E you are about to lose the game of poker but you have the option to revert to playing with matchsticks at any time. That particular game (for the motive of playing for cash) is effectively pointless.
Not sure I can put it clearer than I have already, sorry.
Have a read of the above post. I think you are struggling to understand, you don't have to like playing with cash and trad climbing. Just as you don't drive without a seatbelt just because you trad climb. I've explained the analogy. It doesn't make any judgement on the liking of disliking of a game to see the futility of playing for cash in such a scenario. You don't even have to enjoy playing poker at all to see the purpose of the analogy.
Hope this helps.
Playing poker for cash when you can switch to matchsticks is totally pointless. It would be fun to try to trad climb a hard bolted route, leaving the bolts there 'just in case'.
It's not totally pointless. You are still playing a game of poker regardless (this is analogous to the climbing).
The 'just in case' part is the reverting to matchsticks, it might still be fun, as it might still be fun to play poker with cash for a while then revert to matchsticks if you are losing, but if you are playing for the risk element it is fairly pointless. Just as many would argue that it is pointless to trad climb a bolted route, and very few do. Consider leading indian face with a rope hanging down with a carabiner attached, at any time you can clip this carabiner. This might be fun. But you are not trad climbing Indian face, just as you are not playing poker for the stakes element but you are still climbing, and you are still playing poker, all the same.
I think the two cases are pretty analogous. Fun to try to play a high stakes game of poker, leaving the matchstick exchange option there 'just in case' you start losing.
It's pointless to me, or maybe worse than pointless, I could be climbing. :)
They're analogous to you, and many others, I'm sure.
That's true. Why play poker at all when there's climbing to be done :).
Weirdly, I'm HAPPIER soloing a route at the moment.
For example, last night I was at Hobson Moor Quarry. I soloed a couple of easy routes without thinking whereas on Saturday I was at Den Lane struggling to put in the final piece of gear on a shorter (but slightly harder VS) route. Had to retreat on that one as my wrist wasn't holding out while I placed the protection. On Sunday I Solo'd all the diffs, Vdiffs and HVDs at my first visit to Windgather plus a Severe for good measure. Admittedly I'm only soloing VDiff/easy Severe but still, even I find that strange.
For me, the act of stopping, selecting and protecting and then moving on is far more strenuous than simply blasting up the face on a route that's well within my grade. Nature of my medical issue and maybe my own psychology, I suppose.
Now, push that to the top reaches of my grade and things are a little different ;) Where's that bloody protection??!! :D
You're probably spot on there, Jon.
I intend to, sir - I intend to :)
One step at a time though. Haven't even suffered my first fall on indoor sport leads yet. Frankly, dreading that first big one (but I suppose most of us that came late to the game do).
Greener than grass and clearly not trying hard enough :)
It's OK. Climbing can be all about hanging on, rather than falling off if you prefer it that way. It's your own personal choice. I prefer to cling on for dear life - all this falling practice stuff feel so.... modern to me.
"Climbing isn't about holding on. It's about letting go."
Great quote and so true.
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