/ Sport Climbing Ethics

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Climbing last night at a recently developed and opened "super-slab" venue. http://on.fb.me/1lBHCok We did one of the classic with lots of friction padding and micro crimping. I nearly got it on my first go, but popped off one hold and lost balance. Carried on after that and got to the top but found the run out to anchor terrifying. You must be three or four metres above the last bolt, and there is the only thing approaching a foot ledge on the route between you and the last bolt. so I had visions of not just slithering down the slab for 8 metres but catching my feet on the ledge and being pitched forward. When my friend was having his go, I got him to put a 60 cm sling on the top anchor and quickdraw on that, when I went back up on my first 'redpoint' effort, this considerably tamed the top run out and made the final clipping of the anchors mentally much easier.

If extending the slings on bolts acceptable, is ok to put a sling on the top anchor? I still did the moves to the last holds and clipped the anchor, I just wasn't as terrified doing it!
1poundSOCKS - on 03 Jul 2014
In reply to TobyA:

Acceptable to who? Fine with me. :)
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

You'll do. Just bang a little hammer now like a real judge would. :)
jon on 03 Jul 2014
In reply to TobyA:

Absolutely! The longer the better!
rocky57 - on 03 Jul 2014
In reply to TobyA:

You climbed it.
andrewmcleod - on 03 Jul 2014
In reply to TobyA:

Would you have considered it 'cheating' if there had been a few extra bolts? Would you have considered those extra bolts to have changed the grade of the route?

Sounds like a reasonable thing to do on a badly bolted route to me.
HeMa on 03 Jul 2014
In reply to TobyA:

I would be a bit harsh on myself with that kind of thind... but then again, sport clipping for me is starting from the bottom and placing everything on lead ('cept perhaps pre-clip the 1st bolt with a cheatstick).

This means that you need to get something like a Kong Panic:
http://www.iafstore.com/eu/kong/panic-codp23694

I now Sari loves her Panic.
Quiddity - on 03 Jul 2014
In reply to TobyA:
Yes, hanging slings off bolts to extend clips or create new ones is fair game.

Edit: whoops, just re-read the question properly. Yes extending the anchor is also fine but you need to climb to the anchor and clip it to take the tick. Also in my personal view I count 'clipping the anchor' to include clipping a single QD on it but not an extender or chain of QDs.
Post edited at 13:37
ex0 - on 03 Jul 2014
In reply to TobyA:
I don't think I'd give myself a tick for that. Unless there was a mistake when bolting the only time I've encountered runouts like you describe is where there's a section of easy stuff that didn't need a bolt. I'd consider it part of the route.

But then I don't consider cheatsticks fair game either so take from that what you will.
Post edited at 13:20
In reply to HeMa:

Oh that looks fun! On my first go I actually did the moves up on to the upper slab and with a bit of desperation got a QD onto the anchor and clipped that. The move was nicer on my clean ascent when not so scared!
In reply to ex0:
> But then I don't consider cheatsticks fair game either so take from that what you will.

I thought right up to the top level these days it was considered perfectly valid - maybe even sensible - to have the first two bolts pre-clipped? Isn't there one of the mega hard sports routes in New Hampshire (the Fly is it?) which is only two bolts long but people still think pre-clipping them both is fine?

> Unless there was a mistake when bolting the only time I've encountered runouts like you describe is where there's a section of easy stuff that didn't need a bolt.

The granite seems incredibly hard to drill here so even though the national climbing association provides bolts, lower offs and glue to people developing crags, bolts tend to be a bit more spaced that I've seen on routes of the same standard in the UK, France and Spain. My friends have had trouble bolting single short routes in one session because they were draining their drill battery after making just a handful of holes!
Post edited at 13:46
MG - on 03 Jul 2014
In reply to TobyA:

which is only two bolts long but people still think pre-clipping them both is fine?

(I've only ever climbed about 5 bolted routes, so apologies for the ignorance.). Does the extra kudos of climbing and clipping everything rather than top-roping sports routes come about simply from the extra effort involved in actually doing the clips, or is the accepting risk of hurting yourself meant to be part of it too?
Rampikino - on 03 Jul 2014
In reply to TobyA:

To quote Shakespeare:

"To thine own self be true."

Ultimately if you are being honest with yourself about what you have or have not climbed then you don't really need to worry about what anybody else thinks.

I have a hand-written logbook (have done for 22 years) where I write down all my climbs. If I have rested or struggled or "cheated" then I will say so. For my hardest climbs I have a personal scoring system as to just how perfectly I climbed the route and (above a certain grade) all my lead ascents will be subjected to this grading. This is to encourage me and me alone.

At the end of the day, did you enjoy the route and does it inspire you to climb more, learn more, develop more?
AlanLittle - on 03 Jul 2014
In reply to TobyA:

Definitely legit.

Bolting a sport route in a way that leaves real risk is irresponsible and stupid.

Quiddity - on 03 Jul 2014
In reply to MG:

As I understand it, The Fly is a pretty extreme case which seems to be better known for the dubious preclipping practice than for the route itself! So I wouldn't extrapolate too much from that one case tbh.

> (I've only ever climbed about 5 bolted routes, so apologies for the ignorance.). Does the extra kudos of climbing and clipping everything rather than top-roping sports routes come about simply from the extra effort involved in actually doing the clips, or is the accepting risk of hurting yourself meant to be part of it too?

You need to do routes clean on lead to get the tick because that is the (only) rule of redpointing. The 'effort' of clipping is usually fairly incidental to the difficulty and where it is not, it is considered acceptable to extend or skip clips to make them easier, to my knowledge there is more kudos to be gained in skipping clips on the crux than there is in clipping everything. The risk of hurting yourself or injury is not meant to be part of the game so a certain amount of preclipping 2nd bolts goes on to remove the risk of hitting the floor, although it is a bit of a grey area.
MG - on 03 Jul 2014
In reply to Quiddity:


> You need to do routes clean on lead to get the tick because that is the (only) rule of redpointing. The 'effort' of clipping is usually fairly incidental to the difficulty and where it is not, it is considered acceptable to extend or skip clips to make them easier, to my knowledge there is more kudos to be gained in skipping clips on the crux than there is in clipping everything. The risk of hurting yourself or injury is not meant to be part of the game so a certain amount of preclipping 2nd bolts goes on to remove the risk of hitting the floor, although it is a bit of a grey area.

That's kind of what I thought, and it makes sense, except why in this case is clipping deemed better than simply top-roping? Is it just a hang-over from trad-climbing?

Quiddity - on 03 Jul 2014
In reply to MG:

> That's kind of what I thought, and it makes sense, except why in this case is clipping deemed better than simply top-roping? Is it just a hang-over from trad-climbing?

Because doing it on lead is part of the rules. This is 'Games Climbers Play' stuff. It may be arbitrary but there it is.
MG - on 03 Jul 2014
In reply to Quiddity:

Fair enough.
Quiddity - on 03 Jul 2014
In reply to MG:

Also, extending one bolt to make the clip easier on a long redpoint is different from top-roping the entire route, in the same way that knowing that a number 2 wire protects the crux is different to getting an entire move by move breakdown from your mate and having the all the gear pre-racked in order on your harness, on a flash of a trad route. The difference is one of degree, not absolutes.
HakanT on 03 Jul 2014
In reply to TobyA:

Did you chip holds or harm any small animals? No? Then it's all good.
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In reply to Quiddity:

> As I understand it, The Fly is a pretty extreme case which seems to be better known for the dubious preclipping practice than for the route itself!

Isn't Hubble similar? ;-)
Quiddity - on 03 Jul 2014
In reply to TobyA:

back under your bridge! :-)
In reply to Quiddity:

And Violent New Breed? Ok, going back under my bridge now...
The Pylon King on 03 Jul 2014
In reply to HeMa:

> I would be a bit harsh on myself with that kind of thind... but then again, sport clipping for me is starting from the bottom and placing everything on lead ('cept perhaps pre-clip the 1st bolt with a cheatstick).

> This means that you need to get something like a Kong Panic:


> I now Sari loves her Panic.

Wow thats a bloody con!!!!!!
HeMa on 03 Jul 2014
In reply to AlanLittle:

It's not unsafe, even though it might feel that you fall on a hudge ledge... it really isn't the case.

All the routes are super safe and very well bolted. That said, the route Toby is askin' does indeed have a lovely spicy ending.

After takin' quite a few falls on a nearby route, I can honestly state that there is pretty much no change of hitting the "ledge" as if you fall, you actually fall (it's a slab, but not that slabby).
DaCat - on 05 Jul 2014
In reply to HeMa:

> It's not unsafe, even though it might feel that you fall on a hudge ledge... it really isn't the case.

> All the routes are super safe and very well bolted. That said, the route Toby is askin' does indeed have a lovely spicy ending.

> After takin' quite a few falls on a nearby route, I can honestly state that there is pretty much no change of hitting the "ledge" as if you fall, you actually fall (it's a slab, but not that slabby).

The thing is, you have to know how to take a fall on a slab because those things can be like cheese graters. I live in slab land http:http://www.gdargaud.net/Climbing/Ecrins.html#Ecrins... big multi pitch slabs that test both your stamina and your foot work. I see a hell of a lot of badly grazed hands and knees and even bleeding nipples!
In reply to DaCat:

This slab is like marble, super smooth. Grades would be easier if it was rougher as it isn't steep at all.
DaCat - on 05 Jul 2014
In reply to TobyA:

> This slab is like marble, super smooth. Grades would be easier if it was rougher as it isn't steep at all.

Even better. Great place to learn how to correctly fall on a slab. All mistakes forgiven by the marble smooth rock ;)

stp - on 06 Jul 2014
In reply to TobyA:

The justification for extending bolts with slings is that the bolts are in the wrong place to begin with. Ideally bolts are placed where it is easiest to clip them and with that ideal the rock still dictates to some extent where bolts should and should not go: they should be next to good holds or semi-rests etc..

Extending bolts to avoid runouts is quite a different reason of course. Some routes are bolted in such a way as to make them runout or scary. That is the point of the route. There are plenty of routes bolted like this abroad for instance. Taken to its logical conclusion you could extend every bolt with a short and a long draw on and make it so you never actually climb above a bolt. Personally I'd consider that cheating: it's destroying part of the character of the route.

In the case you describe though it does sound like a badly bolted route. Creating a runout bolt route where you're gonna hit a ledge if you fall off seems like a stupid idea to me, but perhaps more likely just a bit of an oversight. So if the route really should have an extra bolt in it but you don't have the time/ tools to add it then extending the anchor as a quick fix for your ascent is perfectly justified. When the route is rebolted some time in the future hopefully a better job will be made of it.
Michael Gordon - on 06 Jul 2014
In reply to stp:

> Ideally bolts are placed where it is easiest to clip them

and where they will best protect the climber. So while for example you'd often have one just above a ledge (where it can be easily clipped), the next one shouldn't be too far above that either or you'll be hitting the ledge.

stp - on 07 Jul 2014
In reply to TobyA:

I think to understand and appreciate the ethic its good to see how such practices have come about. Sport climbing of course originated in Europe where there is simply vast amounts of rock. A lot of the time the people who bolt the routes don't even climb them first and most routes aren't at the cutting edge and are just there to be enjoyed. So bolting is a kind of public service or community driven affair, done for the good of everyone.

In that vein no one would bolt a route so that you're going to hit a ledge if if you fall off some hard moves. That would be considered bad bolting and what would the point be?
stonemaster - on 07 Jul 2014
In reply to TobyA:

No ethical problem with that. And well done.
LeeWood - on 07 Jul 2014
In reply to TobyA:

Anyone else done Kashba 6c+ at Sella - Costa Blanca? I was fortunate to be 2nd man up but suffered considerable mental stress b4 clipping the anchor qdraws; I like to pat the bolt/anchor b4 clipping normally.

To me its simply about honesty. You do what you do and if you don't try to kid yourself or others then all is straight. On Kashba I note that I didn't have the balls to get up there b4 clipping. Or was I just being sensible? in all events I finished without a plummet so it was evident that I could have done it anyway.
HeMa on 07 Jul 2014
In reply to TobyA:

Just to re-state, what I already wrote earlier. The bolting is a bit heady, as in feels scary. There is also a tiny ledge (nor really, slopin' 10cm shelf more like it) below. The fall from moves above the ledge would not really end on the ledge, but further down. It's a slab, but not that slabby.

I know this, because I climbed the route Toby is talkin' about a few weeks back (clean OS, no draws in place or anything). And also spent some time clockin' frequent flyer miles from a nearby route (same angle and all, albeit not with a "ledge" but equally sized scoop).

Besides, the top is easy on the route.
AlanLittle - on 07 Jul 2014
In reply to Michael Gordon:
> So while for example you'd often have one just above a ledge (where it can be easily clipped), the next one shouldn't be too far above that either or you'll be hitting the ledge.

I've never bolted anything myself, but I suspect one sometimes has to make quite tricky choices.

For example in my local area the routes often have a few metres of easy scrambling, then a ledge, then the start of the real climbing. The first bolt is often one move off the ledge, especially for the short, thus causing complaints about the clip being too high/scary. Whereas if it were easy to reach standing on the ledge, it would also be easy to fall off just above it and hit the ledge. Either way somebody winges.

Then there was a route I was on a couple of weeks ago where the crux was off a big pedestal with the bolt at navel height, more or less guaranteeing that anybody who falls off gets seriously hurt. That is just blatantly irresponsible and stupid.
Post edited at 14:03
stp - on 07 Jul 2014
In reply to AlanLittle:

> I suspect one sometimes has to make quite tricky choices.

You'd think so but whenever I climb in Europe the bolting almost always seems absolutely spot on. They do a really good job. In Britain there still seem to be cock ups all over the place. I guess British climbers don't have as much experience bolting or don't take as much care.

Just a few weeks ago I was climbing a route in Portland and the crux of the route was clipping the second bolt. You had to climb a different and harder sequence to get to the bolt which could have been avoided if the bolt had just been further right. I've never come across a route like that in Europe.
In reply to stp:

> You'd think so but whenever I climb in Europe the bolting almost always seems absolutely spot on.

I suspect by "Europe" you mean France and Spain? As I live in "Europe" and the bolting here can be quite sporting - not always but enough to make sport climbing more scary than trad cracks for me at least! As I said before my mate did some routes here with his own drill. He claimed that he could easily bolt 40 mtr pitches and their lower-offs in his (near) native Blue Mountains with one battery; but had trouble doing four bolts and lower off for a typical little Finnish route. I don't know if certain types of granite are worse than others for bolting, but people do seem to have to put lots of effort in here. I guess limestone, like Bluey sandstone, is considerably easier to drill.
HeMa on 07 Jul 2014
In reply to TobyA:

> but had trouble doing four bolts and lower off for a typical little Finnish route.

Simon must have had a really good drill, as normally you're lucky if you can get 3 or 4 holes... never mind 6.

AlanLittle - on 07 Jul 2014
In reply to stp:

I was actually referring to the Frankenjura, where there is a local tradition of rather sparse bolting. I don't think this is particularly big or clever, but it doesn't bother me that much except when it descends into genuine danger,
In reply to HeMa:

> Simon must have had a really good drill, as normally you're lucky if you can get 3 or 4 holes... never mind 6.

:) Well I remember him and Jody taking spare batteries when they bolted the Blackadder wall routes at Jaanankallio! Probably none of those routes are more than 3 bolts to the chain, so you're almost certainly right. I saw Petteri's pics from Askola suggesting the same issue when bolting the slab. Finnish granite appears to have more sisu than the Finnish bolters, or at least than their drills! ;)
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Kevster - on 07 Jul 2014
In reply to TobyA:

Have you all come across a "holiday tick"?

You can claim a route using a holiday tick if you feel you'd get it clean next time, but don't want to waste the time and effort on a subsequent clean attempt. Seems wrong on your local crag, yet on holiday, seems perfectly sane.
jon_gill1 - on 07 Jul 2014
In reply to TobyA:

I've climbed routes in Sardinia that have 7m runouts at 6c,well scary!but la demande in Verdon is even scarier with huge run outs and no way of protecting with trad gear!
stp - on 08 Jul 2014
In reply to TobyA:

For me there is a very clear distinction between sparse bolting (runout routes) and bad bolting. France has quite a tradition of the former. Edlinger often bolted his routes with big runouts on them. The Verdon, Ceuse, and Gorges du Tarn all have their fair share of scary routes where 60 foot fall potential is not uncommon. There seems quite a lot of misguided opinion on UKC about sport climbing in the sport vs trad debates. Some sport routes are damn scary leads.

Bad bolting is not necessarily run out. Its just putting the bolts in the wrong place where they're hard to clip or perhaps putting them where the first ascentionist can clip at full reach but anyone shorter cannot. Bolting routes so that you hit a ledge and break your ankles when you fall off also falls into the bad bolting category for me. It seems pointless - unlike a trad route where the rock defines the danger.
jkarran - on 08 Jul 2014
In reply to TobyA:

Do what you're comfortable with. I'll quite happily use long slings to put the bolts where I want or need them to be for a redpoint go, that includes adding a clip below the chains if it helps.

jk

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