In reply to
Well, thank God it was Kenton who was involved in this, and not someone who is less popular amongst the UKC community!!
Whilst I agree on some level with most of you that this is on a mountain far away that I'll probably never climb, this is extremely sad and most probably the thin end of a big fat wedge!!
Bolts on Mt Everest is very different from bolts on the Cosmiques Arete. Everest is far better known around the world and is the aspiration of far more people. It enjoys infinitely more singular status than the Cosmiques Arete because of the small fact that it is the highest mountain in the world. The routes on its flanks were attempted, failed and succeeded on by some of the best in the business throughout the last 8 decades of mountaineering history. So, which of the two better serves as the setting for a discussion on climbing ethics?
Yes, a bolted anchor and one fixed rope is less of an eyesore than tat and frozen ropes. Yes, the anchor is now safer. Yes, it is safer for sherpas and guides as well as paying clients.
No, the prettiness of the anchor was NOT a factor in this decision on a mountain that is littered with O2 cylinders, old ropes, tents and bodies (and more fool anyone who imagines it was). No, risk is part of climbing, and the fact that someone is a paying client SHOULD NOT change that fact.
Can you see the schism that commercialism brings into climbing? For myself, on the one hand I have no objection to guides and clients, but on the other it saddens me that the money side of the equation always wins out, and Everest is the greatest example of this in mountaineering. This is only the start. It sounds from this thread as though Mt Everest is already lost in the minds of most people on UKC. Okay then, whatever.
In the end, crap things happen because they grind us down and grind us down until we reach the stage where we say things like "who cares, it's not a mountain I'm ever likely to climb anyway". But it was a mountain that a lot of inspirational climbers thought was worth climbing at one time, and I'd be very surprised to hear any of them now say that they were happy with the way things have gone on the normal routes of Everest. But it's unavoidable, for sure.
Perhaps one of the interesting and difficult factors here is the character of someone like Kenton. He seems like a great guy, certainly nobody would doubt his ethics and ambitions as a climber in any way, and he's obviously one of the most popular of the top British climbers of the day. What's interesting there is that he is able to straddle a divide that most people have traditionally fallen clearly on one side or the other of. Kenton is able to coexist happily in the cutting edge world of climbing and the commercial guiding world. Somehow this seems to muddy the waters for a lot of people when they hear news like this.
All respect to Kenton for the seriousness with which he approaches the business of climbing hard alpine style, and also the job of helping paying customers to achieve their dreams and come back safely.
But before we all debate this bolt issue, could we perhaps try and imagine that instead of Kenton who is breaking the news to us, we have just heard that some unknown French guide has placed bolts on Everest (or some other scenario that might be less palatable to the UKC massive). That might lend a more balanced response. I don't think any of us would argue against the fact that the way a piece of information is packaged has an effect on the way we receive it.