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Anchors: Do they belong or do they not belong?
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By Badfoot
Sep 13, 2010
Dihedral #1, sitting at belay on top of first pitch.

I have a question I'd like discussed or explained, please. I prefer trad over sport climbing, but find that once I get to the top, the problems begin. Why? Because it's hard to get down. Now, I'm not your average climber. I have no feeling in my right foot except pain from serious nerve damage. So by the time I get to the top of a multi-pitch climb, my foot hurts so bad all I can do is try to get down as fast as possible without puking. For me, fixed rap anchors mean that I can keep climbing because I can get down quickly, safely, and even sans shoe on my right foot. I can continue to do something that I love because of those few fixed anchors out there. I don't have the privilege or capacity to downclimb, walk-off as other climbers do. I don't want to give up the sport, or switch to simply sport climbing. To me, the rap anchors are a saving grace. Without them, I couldn't climb to the top of routes. So, my question is, what is the issue with having one set of rap anchors to rap climbs? Not all of us climb to be the best. We climb because we refuse to give up something we love so much. Thanks!


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By jack roberts
Sep 13, 2010

So, are you advocating that every climb have its own individual set of rap anchors?


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By Badfoot
Sep 13, 2010
Dihedral #1, sitting at belay on top of first pitch.

NO! NO! Not at all. More like, 1 set per area. Giving access to those of us who have issues. And not taking down established rap anchors, as is being discussed in some areas.


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By BenCooper
From Chicago, IL
Sep 13, 2010
Washer Woman and Monster Tower.

Badfoot -
You pose a good question.

First, there are many crags that have what you want/need. Many areas have an established ethic that includes the placement of permanent rap anchors at the top of traditionally protected climbs. Truly, there are a ton of them out there. Where do you live/climb?

But, there are just as many crags that don't. There will always be climbing areas that require walk-offs or difficult down-climbs, for example, numerous areas in Joshua Tree that don't have anchor bolts at the tops of crags. The question then becomes, do we change the established ethic of these areas to support all-access climbing? Do we begin to make concessions for certain people or groups simply because they love to climb and these concessions will make it easier for them? I think the answer is a firm 'NO'. Before anybody beats me up for this, let me explain.

While I empathize with your injury, I do not believe that it should serve as a reason to make climbing more accessible. You are already doing a pretty good job getting up the climbs, so if it's simply time that is an issue in getting off the climb, I'm not sure what to tell you. Your foot's injured, it hurts, it will likely hurt every time you climb. Will a bolted rap anchor atop every crag solve that? I mean, shoot, every time I climb an off-width, I nearly puke and pass out, but that doesn't mean I need bolts at the top of it (although I've never turned down a good bolt!).

So, it seems that the walk off is the main detractor to your climbing. Well...that sucks. I really mean that. I guess my best advice is to stick to the climbs that have anchors nearby.

Hope you keep climbing. Don't throw out trad just yet!


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By Buff Johnson
Sep 13, 2010
smiley face

Try to figure what is the best way to maintain the natural resource and safety balance so as to lessen the impact of climber travel.

Sometimes the answer is fixed pro, sometimes it's a foot path, sometimes it's bail gear.


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By John Maguire
From Boulder, CO
Sep 13, 2010
Bastille Crack Final Pitch

Mark Nelson wrote:
Try to figure what is the best way to maintain the natural resource and safety balance so as to lessen the impact of climber travel. Sometimes the answer is fixed pro, sometimes it's a foot path, sometimes it's bail gear.


+1


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By Shawn Mitchell
From Broomfield
Sep 13, 2010
Splitter Jams on the Israel/Palestine Security Wall.

Mark Nelson wrote:
Try to figure what is the best way to maintain the natural resource and safety balance so as to lessen the impact of climber travel. Sometimes the answer is fixed pro, sometimes it's a foot path, sometimes it's bail gear.

Thoughtful and reasonable, Mark. But you could have offered that without considering the issues in Badfoot's (hmmm-signed up today; maybe an interesting troll?) post. Should personal abilities/limitations that are different from the norm be a factor in the analysis you suggest? That's the interesting question malpie poses.


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By Cindy
From Golden, CO
Sep 13, 2010

I feel your pain. I've got severe arthritis in both knees now and some walkoffs for my favorite trad routes are impossible for me to do. There are many routes I've dreamt of doing and it may never happen because I don't have a reasonable way back down.

However, I agree with Mark's comment. It's sort of the leave as little trace as we can option. I research and focus on everything that is an option with raps and shorter, flatter approachs, etc that meet my needs.

Best of luck in finding many great routes to your liking. I don't know where you're located but that might be an interesting thread for suggestions.


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By Tim C
From Lakewood, CO
Sep 14, 2010
Grahh! There be a human in my Throne!

I feel that all climbs/areas are different and that is a good thing. Some areas have bolts at the top others are walk offs. It all adds to the flavor of each area and makes them unique. There are plenty of every type of climb out there. Best not to make them all the same I say.


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By Badfoot
Sep 14, 2010
Dihedral #1, sitting at belay on top of first pitch.

Thanks for the posts. I agree with all that's being said. My biggest concern is there's discussion of removing rap anchors from Taylor Canyon, where I learned to climb. Constant discussion about bolts/anchors at Turkey Rock (which I don't believe should be bolted at all), and a discussion about what to put where at Elevenmile (which has anchors, it seems, at the top of every climb in places like The River Wall). All access climbing would be terrible, but I don't see a need to eliminate existing/established rap anchors.

I'd love to have some suggestions on what to climb that's easy to get off/down. I'm in the Colorado Springs area. Thanks!


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By Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Sep 14, 2010
Bocan

The climbing style that I've always admired has been more of the old school Kor/Robbins/Barber type ethics, but I have to admit the massive concern over a few bolts here and there is seeming more silly as time goes on.

Now I of course don't believe in grid bolting, chipping, glueing holds, bolting protectable lines etc. but when two painted bolts placed sporatically across a crag cause an uproar...well jeez...

I'm totally with protecting the rock for future generations and no / limited trace, but in the grand sceme of things this is soooo small!! We just had how many millions of gallons of oil dumped in the ocean, and we act like some well placed bolts is going to ruin our legacy. I DO understand that it's wise to watch the doors we open as there are folks with limited intelligence and restraint, but this is such a small issue, it's not even a drop in the bucket. Hell it's not even a micro-drop.

Maybe we should concentrate on more effective methods of stewardship than worrying about a rap anchor. Pick up some trash, get out there and do trail maintainence, volunteer for an organization. Quite often only other climbers will see these anchors anyways.

It just seems the 100% pure ethics debate is a little silly sometimes. Flame on...


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By Shawn Mitchell
From Broomfield
Sep 14, 2010
Splitter Jams on the Israel/Palestine Security Wall.

+1 Nicely expressed, Scott.


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By BenCooper
From Chicago, IL
Sep 14, 2010
Washer Woman and Monster Tower.

Agreed. Well put Scott.


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By jack roberts
Sep 14, 2010

I think that the climbing community has to be very careful about what it condones regarding fixed anchors. The activity of rock climbing is so mainstream now and still so unorganized that the population at large feels that just about anything should be allowed and anyone can do whatever he or she likes. The Boulder community of climbers lost control of maintaining ethics years ago (with the exception of Eldorado Canyon) and it's been a battle ever since. As I see it the main problem with placing bolts is that some people do not restrict themselves or control where and how many bolts are placed. If one set of anchors gets placed on a crag to better facilitate rappelling then another set will get placed on the other side and soon we have bolts everywhere. Look at Cascade Crag or Tonnerre Towers and any number of other BLDR CYN crags and you will see what I mean.

It's an illusion to say that we have to practice "leave no trace" ethics because as community of climbers we have made a huge environmental impact and are well beyond being invisible. But it still doesn't hurt to try and instill that ethic into new and older climbers and practice that ethic anyway . Personally I think it's probably OK to have a single rappel descent route on most crags but not more than that. The challenge of climbing doesn't have to be reduced so much that all the inconvenience (the complete challenge or approach, ascent and descent etc) is reduced to the lowest common denominator in order for many people to participate. I don't want to see paved trails to all the cliffs. For many an important part of the challenge of climbing involved rising to the occasion of getting up and down from the route using our own power.

There are cliffs I don't visit because my partners have bad knees and can only go so far before they collapse. Instead we just choose cliffs that are more convenient and within our walking distance. This doesn't diminish the climbing experience it just means we don't climb everywhere. And we shouldn't.

The limited resources we have need to be protected for future generations of climbers. The placement of one bolted anchor on a virgin cliff always leads to more bolts and more anchors and more trail erosion. Bolts are what made climbing so accessible to the general public and their indiscriminate placement is what created the problems we now face. By controlling how accessible and convenient climbing is for everyone we control the future of the sport and reduce problems later on. An ongoing debate on ethics is necessary and healthy. For without one we stand to lose more than what we gain.


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By Choss Chasin'
From Torrance, CA
Sep 14, 2010
Black Mountain

First off, that sucks about your foot. In my opinion I believe bolts should be placed where other typical means of descent are either extremely dangerous or impossible. My advice to you Badfoot would be to climb with a partner that is willing to clean and walk off. That way you can rap down and they can walk off. You mention getting down multi pitch climbs as a problem. Now the only way to rap down a multi pitch w/o the need to leave gear is to bolt up and chain every belay station, which, would be a bit much.

We all have limitations (I can't highball boulder much any more because falling to the ground makes my right leg want to explode) but we do our best to circumvent these issues without changing the status quo. Again sorry to hear about your bum foot.

P.S. I don't agree with the removal of bolt anchors as long as they are not a nuisance to other non-climbers; I hate seeing the stupid holes left in the rock from the removal (even when "filled"). Those holes are uglier than the bolts themselves and they just multiply as bolt wars rage on.


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By willeslinger
From Golden, Colorado
Sep 29, 2010
I was pretty bummed when they didn't greenlight my "Bourne Identity" style reboot of The Eiger Sanction. This was from the rough draft's first act.

I'm a big fan of rap anchors in certain situations. Growing up in Chattanooga, I learned to climb by top-roping off of rap bolts at Sunset rock. Almost every other climber I know started by top-roping at Sunset. Having those rap bolts doesn't just protect trees and make trad climbing easier, it also provides an awesome opportunity for beginners to learn to climb at an amazing area.

And if you don't like the bolts? Well, they're only on a few of the routes, so you can easily ignore them if you'd like to.


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