/ Sport Climbing Vs. Bolt Clipping

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Olli-C - on 14 Aug 2013
Just read this article by Andrew Bishrat, Editor at Large for Rock and Ice Magazine. The article explains how sport climbing is long term projecting and anything else is just bolt clipping. I can understand how he believes the process of long term projecting is good and very fullfilling, but what I cannot understand is his insistence that it is 'better' than all other forms. I mean is Ondra's 9a+ onsight really just bolt clipping?

A surprising amount of people seem to have agreed with this strangely narrow minded view.
Howard J - on 14 Aug 2013
In reply to Olli-C: That's not actually what he's saying, if you read his replies to the comments he says:

"This is just one essay about sport climbing; it's not about other genres of climbing. I know that we're accustomed to debating the merits and demerits of each discipline relative to each other, searching for some kind of ultimate superlative that can be definitively drawn from that inquiry. This is just my own essay about why I enjoy doing one particular aspect of all the many forms of climbing, of which I also happen to enjoy and do it all. Not everything needs to affirm itself by putting something else down; it can just stand alone"

I can see where he's coming from, and by his logic someone who onsights a 9a+ isn't pushing themselves to the maximum.

My own take on this is that it puts the "sport" above the climbing. If the essence is to constantly explore and push at your mental and physical personal limits, exactly the same effect can be achieved through other sports - climbing just happens to be his choice of activity. Personally, I'm motivated by quite different things but that's just my opinion, and this is his.
Michael Gordon - on 15 Aug 2013
In reply to Howard J:
> (In reply to Olli-C)
> I can see where he's coming from, and by his logic someone who onsights a 9a+ isn't pushing themselves to the maximum.

Really? I wonder what Ondra's opinion might be?

Howard J - on 15 Aug 2013
In reply to Michael Gordon:

His point is that if you can onsight 9a+ you should be able to redpoint something even harder. I agree it seems to put no value on achieving an onsight.
jkarran - on 15 Aug 2013
In reply to Olli-C:

Makes perfect sense to me. I don't see him disparaging anyone, he's just explaining rather well the joy he finds in hard sport.

Wiley Coyote2 - on 15 Aug 2013
In reply to Olli-C:

Personally I'm delighted with his distinction. I have always been a 'bolt clipper' lacking the application, the ambition and the boredom threshold to keep hurling myself at the same bit of rock for hours on end. Now when people tell me I am not sport climbing properly I shall tell them that is because I'm a bolt clipper and go merrily on my way.
Quiddity - on 15 Aug 2013
In reply to Olli-C:

You are reading too much into the focus on redpointing. His main point is this:

> Most think sport climbing is all about biceps and gains in finger strength, and while that’s true up to a point, it’s has never been the reason anyone has ever crossed the finish line on a meaningful (hard) redpoint. It always comes down to nakedly facing the things about your nature that hold you back and finding the means needed to temporarily overcome them. Yes, learn the moves, get strong enough to do them, become fit enough to link them. But then, the real challenge, the real reason to be a sport climber, is to go through the painstaking process of untying all your debilitating mental knots.

> But when you do cross that line, you feel true freedom that comes from understanding there is no such thing as impossible. The route that once felt hard, now on the redpoint feels uncannily easy. In that moment, your limits expand and explode further away from you. And what choice do you now have but to continue chasing that elusive periphery?

Which he is totally right about, which is why the popular distinction between sport as 'physical' and trad as 'mental' misses the point.

You could also write the article around the difference between sport style onsighting, which is about attempting routes so close to your limit you are coping with the mental weight of failing on 95% of attempts, for the 5% of times when you pull it out of the bag - as totally distinct from 'bolt clipping' which is mostly choosing routes within your limit so the risk of failure is minimal.
GridNorth - on 15 Aug 2013
In reply to Olli-C: I haven't read the article but I would agree that there is a difference between climbing on bolts and "sports climbing". I do the former and would probably give up climbing before doing the latter which to me is mostly about practicing moves you can't do until you can. Personally I would rather watch paint drying but each to his own.
john arran - on 15 Aug 2013
In reply to Olli-C:

Going for a jog around the block and training for a road race are the same thing and yet people who do the two will put very different things in and get very different things out of them. It's the same with sport climbing. Just because the greatest fulfilment often seems to come from training hard and trying hard to achieve an eventual goal (whether this be redpoint or onsight) doesn't mean jogging is a completely different pursuit.

I also often wonder why such a big distinction is usually drawn between sport and trad anyway, since a great many people treat bolts as convenient bomber bits of gear they're never going to fall on anyway as it's the falling itself they're scared of rather than any associated risk of injury.

It's all just climbing and it's what you put into it that really makes the difference, rather than the type of gear you use or the duration of the challenge.
Jamie B - on 15 Aug 2013
In reply to Olli-C:

Bolt-clipping is what is going on on all the F4s and F5s that people are demanding. People tend to climb them in a risk-averse, almost "trad" style, ie never falling off and staying well within their comfort zones. Ironic really..
Jon Stewart - on 15 Aug 2013
In reply to Quiddity:
> (In reply to Olli-C)

> Which he is totally right about, which is why the popular distinction between sport as 'physical' and trad as 'mental' misses the point.

Indeed it does, both by ignoring the mental skills needed for sport as you say, and the physical side of trad - getting pumped placing gear and then having to do hard moves above it is not just a 'mental' challenge.

In all these daft threads about sport and trad, people are usually presenting a case from the perspective of a very specific type of climbing that they're into. Personally, I'm guilty of equating trad with the specific sort of trad I'm into: classic sea-cliffs, bold grit (I don't like well-protected grit cracks - too hard!), and mountain routes in the low E grades. In reality, it's all a sliding scale with long bolted routes on the big mountains that have more in common with trad than sport, and people into headpointing hard protected trad routes where it is much more like sport.

The relaxed, sunny bolt-clipping beloved of a couple of our continental contributors is its own thing, and one which the UK doesn't really cater for (and never will).

Olli-C - on 15 Aug 2013
In reply to Olli-C: Hmmm I guess I miss interpreted it a little but I personally wouldn't class short term projecting as bolt clipping, although I do agree on how the comfort zone cruising is bolt clipping.

I also get his explanation and obvious enthusiasm for the mental battles of long term projecting, the main thing that got me (although obviously not the main point of the article) was how he took such a broad term 'sport climbing' and narrowed down the definition. I understand his points and cant fault them or his enthusiasm its just his naming of it - petty i suppose.

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