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Are sport climbs of a more moderate grade desirable?
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By Rick Miske
From Orem, UT
Jan 10, 2008
Self Portrait from the Pika Glacier in Alaska (Little Switzerland). May 2009

Shumin Wu wrote:
if you are a "lifer" (ie you call yourself a climber), you'll find a way. Speaking of elitism, I think what a lot of people conveniently forget is how much the elite sacrifice for what they love to do. Sure, some are much more talented climbers than others, but out of the ones I know, I've never heard the ones who dedicate to climbing complain about it.


True, thanks.

My way = enjoy the lower level climbs I do - whether for the simple accomplishment of it, or the beautiful approach, or the view, or the thrill of exposure, companionship or whatever.

IMHO:

Elite = climb at an exemplary level, in whatever your chosen means of climbing is - ice, rock (sport/trad/aid), alpine, whatever.

Elitist = telling others what they can and can't climb (or do) simply because you feel that in some way or other you are better than them (climb higher grade, make more money, more miles on the treadmill, drive a new subaru, whatever...)

There may be some crossover between the two, but it isn't necessarily so.

I've met a few really great sponsored climbers (elite?) who are totally open minded to just having fun climbing with me.
I've met a few gym rats (elitists) who wouldn't even want me belaying them.


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By caughtinside
From Oakland CA
Jan 10, 2008

1j1 wrote:
So, following your logic Caughtinside, its not cool to provide ramps or elevators for people who are unable to walk, because it is unreasonable to have the personal circumstances of a few, dictate that we have some sort of universal accessibility!! Wow, you are a true humanitarian! This sport and this life are not exclusive to you, and every person has a right to enjoy these gifts. Pray you and your loved ones never have to feel excluded from an activity because someone tells you they don't feel like it should be accessible to you. As far as not trying to be a jerk, you failed miserably! Try harder next time.. Because its only fun when its hard.. right?


Well that is a pretty amusing extrapolation of what I said, and it isn't how I feel at all. Climbing is still accessible, it's called toproping. YOu don't even have to have hands to toprope slab. All I'm saying is that we don't need to change every activity so that people have a chance to enjoy it. There are ways to enjoy it without changing it. No need to bring the ADA into this.

A couple people really seem to take issue with my 'climbing is fun becuse it's hard' bit. Well, hard is relative, although I probably shouldn't have put that in there at all, due to the inevitable cries of 'elitism' that were sure to follow.

I eagerly await another emotion laden tirade!


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By katja
Jan 10, 2008

Hey "Caughtinside"

I recently got to climb with Joe Kinder and Chris Linder. While it is true that they had a special route in hell (5.14) on their minds, they did enjoy the 5.7 I was working. I asked Joe if he thought these "easy" routes were lame or dumb or NOT FUN etc because they weren't hard and he said no. He talked about the beauty of climbing and how it shouldn't matter the rating or how "hard" something is--climbing isn't about being hard.
I also got to climb with Whitney Boland, who also enjoyed helping me up a 5.6. Surely being a sponsored pro climber and hanging out at a crag of nothing harder then 5.10 must have sucked. NOT! These three climbers enjoy climbing--any level, any area. They mentioned how pretty the area was.

IF climbing for you is fun because its hard--thats pretty sad. Climbing for other people is fun because they get to be outside, with friends, pushing their bodies to do new things, learning, growing. Climbing is NOT just about sending a 5.13, but its also about sending a V0 on the third try, or having lunch mid pitch on a 5.6 while watching the birds fly.

IF climbing for you is fun because its hard-- then why the crap should YOU care what is done to a 5.4 route...you surely wouldn't be caught dead climbing THAT, would you?

Get off your elitist high horse buddy and let others enjoy the sport too.


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By Tavis Ricksecker
From Bishop, ca
Jan 10, 2008
Church of the Lost and Found, Left. Summer 2013

So... I totally agree that everyone has the right to enjoy the sport of rock climbing.

However, I really don't understand what the 'pro-easy-sport' camp is saying in this thread... That people should put up easy sport climbs so that those just getting into climbing OR those with physical disadvantages can successfully lead/redpoint sport routes? Because everyone is entitled to a route that they can lead regardless of their ability?

Perhaps I misunderstood, but if that truly is your standpoint than I might suggest considering the alternatives to MORE BOLTS, some of which have already been suggested in this thread:

1. Learn to place gear, and lead easy trad routes instead. There are gobs and gobs of them out there, especially at Red Rocks.

2. If you're not up to leading on gear, follow someone else who leads trad routes at the level you are able to follow. This is how people have learned to climb for decades.

2. If you don't know anyone who leads on gear, learn to setup toprope anchors off of gear, and toprope trad routes.

4. Find friends who lead sport above your leading level, and have them set up topropes for you on sport routes.

5. Sack up and try to lead a safe route that you think is over your head in terms of difficulty. If its safe, the only danger is of embarassment. But you MIGHT just make it to those anchors! Think of how excited you will be.

Any of these options seem to me like they would be more effective and/or easier solutions to your problem than:

1. Buying a drill and learning to establish sport routes.

2. Pestering those with drills to establish new sport routes just for you.

Not trying to be elitist. We all start with some level of ability, and most people don't start leading right away when they start climbing. Why now the sudden emphasis on "everyone must lead"?


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By caughtinside
From Oakland CA
Jan 10, 2008

katja wrote:
Hey "Caughtinside" I recently got to climb with Joe Kinder and Chris Linder. While it is true that they had a special route in hell (5.14) on their minds, they did enjoy the 5.7 I was working. I asked Joe if he thought these "easy" routes were lame or dumb or NOT FUN etc because they weren't hard and he said no. He talked about the beauty of climbing and how it shouldn't matter the rating or how "hard" something is--climbing isn't about being hard. I also got to climb with Whitney Boland, who also enjoyed helping me up a 5.6. Surely being a sponsored pro climber and hanging out at a crag of nothing harder then 5.10 must have sucked. NOT! These three climbers enjoy climbing--any level, any area. They mentioned how pretty the area was. IF climbing for you is fun because its hard--thats pretty sad. Climbing for other people is fun because they get to be outside, with friends, pushing their bodies to do new things, learning, growing. Climbing is NOT just about sending a 5.13, but its also about sending a V0 on the third try, or having lunch mid pitch on a 5.6 while watching the birds fly. IF climbing for you is fun because its hard-- then why the crap should YOU care what is done to a 5.4 route...you surely wouldn't be caught dead climbing THAT, would you? Get off your elitist high horse buddy and let others enjoy the sport too.


hey katja,

I'm somewhat flattered that my comments have made me an elitist. Truth be told, my climbing ability is nothing special.

If people want to bag on me because I really enjoy the challenge of routes that are difficult for me, they're welcome to it. There's still the learning, growing, and enjoying time with friends in the outdoors you mention in the climbing I do. Sometimes it's a moderate route a long ways from the road, sometimes it's trying to redpoint a route that's hard for me, toprope flailing on something it will take me years to send, leading a less skilled friend up a route that's dead easy for me, etc.

That said, if I only did climbs that posed no challenge to me, I think I'd get bored with that before too long. If you think that's sad, well, I guess it must be sad.

But this thread is about moderate sport routes and bolting them. Is there an entitlement to these routes? We all know that most sport bolting is probably done by people who lead .10 and often higher. Are they obligated to bolt a lot of 5.6s? If not, who will do it?

I've bolted probably 5 sport routes under 5.10. I probably won't bolt any more at that level, none of them are terrific climbs, and one, a 5.6 that a pal and I bolted for beginning leaders, actually got chopped because it pissed off some true elitists. I just feel at this point, if I'm going to spend my time and $ putting up a route, it'll probably be something I'm more psyched to climb. If it is truly a great line that will go sub .10, sure. But the lines that truly appeal to me are more difficult.

Everyone chooses the path they want to follow, and that's great. But if it leads to retrobolting established climbs just so that more climbers can lead them, well I don't think that's acceptable. Much in the same way paving a road to the top of half dome is unacceptable.

And I know you're going to hate this, but the truth is, the more energy and effort I put in to climbing, the more I enjoy it. Sometimes this means pure numbers difficulty, but sometimes it's doing a new style for me, like aid.

I don't really understand the mentality that goes into a lot of these 'elitist' or 'numbers chaser' accusations, but whatever. I'm sorry for getting this thread off track by saying 'climbing is supposed to be hard' and distracting from the point of the thread, especially since others have expressed my view/opinion more eloquently.


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By Jim Gloeckler
From Denver, Colo.
Jan 10, 2008

Tavis

If you would have read from page 1, it would be apparent that those of us with physical disadvantages are not asking others to do anything for us. Tom Hanson has offered to do this himself, in what I believe is his own way of contributing nicely to the climbing community. It's also not only a novice thing. Many of us older climbers have had our day when difficulty was the thing to aspire to, and yes we have done all of the easier trad routes, most of them classics; but now it's time to be able to go out and really kick back and enjoy without really pushing it to a point close to any nasty fall. Afterall we don't heal as well either and thats a disadvantage that you too will realize. If Tom wants to put up a few routes that I can do; I say yahoo!


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By John J. Glime
From Salt Lake City, UT
Jan 10, 2008
...

caughtinside wrote:
But if it leads to retrobolting established climbs just so that more climbers can lead them, well I don't think that's acceptable.


No one is saying retrobolt. Atleast I sure hope their not. People should know better than that.

Hell, I am going to have to bring my drill down to Red Rocks, just think how many "first ascents" I could get if I started bolting 5.4 terrain! Wahoo!


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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Jan 10, 2008
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Peak.

Rick Miske wrote:
Normally when I mention my various injuries, weaknesses, and willingness to forever climb < 5.12 routes to climbers they suggest I take up golf or some other non-sport, since there is no future in climbing at that level.


Other people have said that to you? Well, those people aren't fucking climbers in my opinion! Ego-heads is all. And when people talk about a future in it, that's just them projecting their expectations and goals. And that aint the same as what you are trying to do, which is to stay in the game at the level you can enjoy without being blown out or in constant pain from what it sounds like.


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By camhead
From Vandalia, Appalachia
Jan 11, 2008
You stay away from mah pig!

In my personal experience, I have noticed that, ironically, sport crag has LESS gumbies flailing around on climbs than trad. The reason is that in sport, you almost always have to be able to do at least 5.6 moves in order to clip the chains.

Not so at many trad crags, especially out east, where weakmos can get their brand new rack and pay an entry fee of 5.4 or less! I have witnessed overweight weekend warriors utterly sketched, pumped out, and whipping on blocky, less than vertical easy terrrain.

If anyone here has climbed at the Gunks, imagine that place with only climbs 5.8 or harder! 3/4 of the crowds would disappear, and probably 3/4 of the accidents would not happen.

Obviously, more easy bolted lines would attract even more people, and arguably with even more lax attitudes towards style and ethics than the fattest trad gumby. Not to mention the obvious danger of someone whipping on a less than vertical easy route.



Also, as a sidenote, I think it is ironic that Stewart Green in one breath talked about bolting more easy climbs for beginners at RRC, and in the next mentioned the exhileration of bolting a runout, easy climb on lead. Runout easy climbs are not for beginners, at least not beginners with gym-sport-bred style.


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By Darren in Vegas
From Las Vegas, NV
Jan 11, 2008
Skiing around.

In this database there are 36 sport routes 5.8 and under located at red rock. there are probably more in the guidebook. I think we're covered here in LV.

I would agree with caughtinside, that the beauty of pursuing things worthwhile is that they make you reach beyond your potoential (in other words you try things hard for you to rise to a new level).

It is my opinion some beginner routes are necessary, but in my opinion 5.10a is a beginner sport route. This may be elitist, but it is how I feel about sport climbing.

This thread reminds me of my job as a teacher, when people can't rise to the occasion, we as a society just lower the bar instead.


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By Jim Gloeckler
From Denver, Colo.
Jan 11, 2008

Camhead

Maybe we should close access to any climb under 5.8 at the gunks so that we don't have as many folks out there risking a possible accident. This would allow folks like yourself to only encounter experienced people at the crags. Somehow making for a better climbing environment. Of coarse that would mean closing over 500 CLASSIC ROUTES. Talk about a Gumby!!

Darren

5.8 climbers are not allowed as many routes as 5.10 climbers? Why not? Are you afraid that you might not get noticed in the masses? Also go and do the last pitch of topographic oceans on the dome in the splatte (10a-approx. 110' with 12 bolts), and tell me how many beginners would get up that! Pretty intense slab for a beginner route!!


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By Buff Johnson
Jan 11, 2008
smiley face

Jim, with Topo, you're comparing a multi-pitch protected slab climb to a sport crag. The Spires are anything but an urban sport crag park. I thought .10b was fair, though; good climb, too.

Darren also - looking at Red Rock and thinking urban sport crag isn't a good comparison to what Tom is asking about.

Given an urban sport crag environment & proximity and ease of access by a population, is it warranted to offer moderate grades to those that just want to get out for a few hours to enjoy their park?

I'd say yes, they have as much right as anyone to enjoy their park. So, what is the best way to conserve the area given the impact? It depends on the area, but fixed protection shouldn't be ruled out arbitrarily.


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By Darren in Vegas
From Las Vegas, NV
Jan 11, 2008
Skiing around.

To me there is a difference between a beginning climber and a beginning sport climber.
When I began climbing I was the "Top Rope King" of the Bridge Buttress at the New River Gorge. I recognized that in order to lead routes I needed to get my ability level to match the routes. I did this for two years before I could climb 5.10a, hardly a standout performance. My first sport lead outside was a 10b, and I quaked my way up it, like a beginning sport climber would.

I am merely saying a 5.8 climber is not a sport climber.
This is not an ego thing for me, my opinion merely reflects the prevailing attitude of the community in which i learned to climb. It reflects that I took it upon myself to rise to the level of sport climbs that were available, not bring sport climbing down to an easier level so that I could participate.

Climbing is not about how I look to you or others, but whether I honestly pushed myself as hard as I could, and I feel like this is the spirit climbing needs. When much of American society would rather "push the easy button" I choose climbing for the exact opposite reason. I am not saying I need to climb harder than you, I am saying I need to climb harder than me.

I am also not saying don't bolt anything, that is your business if it is legal. I am expressing my opinion that easy bolted routes are counter to my personal philosophy that climbing allows me to express my desire to better myself.

Mark - I am not sure I understand your comment about RR and urban areas, please explain further.

I am sorry if I make people angry with my attitude, it is not meant to be offensive.


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By Jim Gloeckler
From Denver, Colo.
Jan 11, 2008

Mark:

The last pitch of topo as so many know is bolted like a 5.10 sport climb, I just used it as an example to show that all bolted 5.10 routes (even closley bolted) are not beginner routes!!

Darren:

Care must be taken when saying who is what type of climber! Growing up in the sport a long time ago, I thought that one wasn't a true climber unless he/she had the ability to climb routes like the nose or the naked edge. Now that I'm older, I realize that many folks are climbers who cannot even come close to those goals. If they climb for a portion of their lives and LOVE IT; then in my mind they are a climber. If they then choose to go do a sport route, they would be sport climbing which in turn would make them sport climbers. I guess you equate difficulty with sport climbing. I decide that by how far the bolts are spaced. More than about 12' spacing between bolts makes a bolted route, not a sport route in my view.


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By Rick Miske
From Orem, UT
Jan 11, 2008
Self Portrait from the Pika Glacier in Alaska (Little Switzerland). May 2009

Kinda like running a 4-minute mile.

Hundreds of people do it, and I guess the rest of us could if we just commit, apply effort, get educated, pay our dues, maybe find a mentor to drag us along behind them as they do it, and then we get to join the club.

In the meantime, should we be allowed on tracks? or should we stick to the treadmills in the gym? maybe the traditional way - on sidewalks, till we work our skills up?

And what if we somehow realize we're only gumbies, whiners, losers or some other derogatory term, and discover we'll never ever run a 4-minute mile? Should we be told by the milers that we should just play golf or watch WWE forever like we were born to do?

Or should we rebel somehow and keep running, for health or fun or masochism or whatever?

Would we ask the 4-minute crowd to create new track for us? Probably not.
If we have the time, money and resources to make our own track, would/could/should we? Probably.
Would we slip into the track when they're not around and run? Probably.
Is it likely there will be friction? Now and then.

But if we're all realistic about the size of the track, and times when there will be less friction, and try to act like gentlemen, I think we can make it work.

Just stepping into a different context for a second for a breath of fresh air and to maybe spark some awareness of "the other side" to those who can't see it from their lofty perches.


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By camhead
From Vandalia, Appalachia
Jan 11, 2008
You stay away from mah pig!

Jim, I'm sorry if you mistook my post as more elitist than I intended. I was using the case of the gunks as merely an example of what happens when you have very easy routes at an accessible, urban crag, and as a further example that this applies just as much to trad as to sport.

I still hold to my statement that sport climbing (i.e. routes that are BOLTED for SAFETY) does not need to cater to lower levels any more than it already does. Learn the basic skills on TR, thee gym, or even trad. This will keep the sport more uncluttered, and result in fewer idiots hurting themselves.

Please tell me if you think I am wrong in this.


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By Jim Gloeckler
From Denver, Colo.
Jan 11, 2008

Camhead:

I think I understand what the basic problem is. Most climbs under 5.8 are way less than vertical and therefore not easy to make into sport climbs. Lets just call them bolted routes, not sport routes. This will take care of most of this misunderstanding. I agree the sport doesn't need closely bolted climbs 5.7 and under, just more bolted routes of lesser difficulty so more folks can do more instead of just repeating the same routes. Maybe I'm just greedy! Also an idiot will screw themselves up no matter what, possibly even on the approach, which has almost nothing to do with sport or trad. Idiots get areas closed by trashing it out, or parking where their not supposed to, or climbing in closed areas, not the beginners IMHO.


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By Jeff Fiedler
Jan 11, 2008

Darren:

I'm not offended by your attitude that you take pride in you pushing yourself for two years to get to the point of leading 10a and better. That's great, and I respect your ability and dedication.

But its hard not to be offended by the projection that anyone else who can't lead 10a after a year or two of climbing is not trying, just taking the American lazy way out and pushing the easy button. I just don't think that's a realistic assessment of the normal range of athletic ability.

I don't for a minute claim I'm pushing my climbing as hard as I possibly could. But I'm almost 40 years old; I'm 6-2 and a bit over 200 in my birthday suite. That's what I weighed when I was 21, when I trained about 20 hours a week playing competitive rugby. Sure, I could lose weight, but I could also easily weigh 220 (I know, because I did 3 years ago.)

I also have a full time job that requires working late sometimes and regular travel. I have other interests in life besides climbing, and friends and family who don't climb who I like to spend some time with. So I'm doing well to get to the gym 2 days a week, and climb outside once a week. And exercise enough to be in, in my humble opinion, good weekend warrior shape. (And for background I've been climbing regularly since 98.)

And with all that, leading something like Lumina at Shelf Road is just NOT pushing the easy button for me. Its just not, even though its "only" a 9 or 8 or even 7 in some folks' judgement. It may be easy for the people you climb with. But it IS offensively elitist to say that 10a is some obvious threshold for being a climber.

And, camhead, it is also offensive to assume that someone who can't lead 10a needs to go learn "basic skills" and is an "idiot" who will hurt themselves. Give me a break. There are lots of people who can climb 10a who are freakin' idiots with no safety skills and terrible technique.

So, I'm sorry to clutter up your climbing areas with my weak attitude, lame ability, and complete lack of respect for the purity of the true sport of climbing. But get over yourselves.


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By Sam Benedict
From Denver, CO
Jan 11, 2008
.

'Are sport climbs of a more moderate grade desirable?'
....
Yes! if they are really F-in' cool, and do not accept natural gear. I don't wish to sound like an elitist (because I am nowhere close to elite), but seeing a pretty piece of rock spattered with bolts kind of grosses me out (not that I don't still clip them). I feel that only lines of exceptional quality should be bolted, regardless of the grade. the rest should be left alone. Slapping up less than awesome sport routes just so beginners will have something to lead is lame.
When I started leading I was terrified of everything and not very strong, but I really wanted to lead more and become a real climber, but there just weren't that many 5.6's around; so had to get stronger (mostly mentally). This period of mental growth was what made me begin to love climbing, and IMO is the truest spirit of climbing. Stepping up to the plate with sweaty palms and shaky legs, tapping into courage you never knew you had and tackling uncertainty head on is what climbing is all about, regardless of the grade or style.


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By katja
Jan 11, 2008

WAY TO GO JEFF!

Congrats on climbing so often each week. Congrats for being active. Congrats for loving to climb, but also having a life outside of the sport.

You spoke for many of us on this board.

My vote: bolt whatever you want to bolt and if you think its a lame route, then ignore it and stay away from it. I ignore your "cool" stuff, so you can ignore mine!


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By Jim Gloeckler
From Denver, Colo.
Jan 11, 2008

I'm just about to give up on this issue, due to the fact that we just can't answer the question asked without bringing up the "beginner" word. What does it take to make one realize that not only beginners; but experienced climbers will enjoy these routes if they only allow themselves to. I guess it goes to the saying: You can take a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Reading the entire thread must be out of the question too, since I keep seeing the same non-relivent comments comming up.


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By Tom Hanson
Jan 11, 2008
Climber Drawing

Rating / Approx Number of Routes
5.6 / 1
5.8 / 1
5.9 / 5
5.10 / 37
5.11 / 46
5.12 / 27
5.13 / 2
The above ratings are from the original post, slightly over a year ago.
It is funny that the 5.6 is the most often led route in the canyon.
This leads me to believe that if a 5.5 was installed, it would replace the 5.6 as the most popular.
To those who have responded with what could be considered elitist comments, what does this tell you?
I do, however, understand where you are coming from with your opinions and I respect your valid views.
I greatly appreciate everyones feedback, regardless of whether it was pro or con.
I'm off to the canyon to work a new line I've spotted (on tr).
Nope, it's likely a twelve. Sigh.


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By caughtinside
From Oakland CA
Jan 11, 2008

I don't think it is a question of beginners but of commitment. Why should anyone who has at least some level of commitment really respect the opinion of someone who has none when it comes to climbing resources? You climb 4 days a year so you're entitled to a dozen bolted .7s so you can lead?

Yes I am sure some people will think that is totally elitist. But I'd bet more would agree. I've got a job and a life too. So do 98% of climbers despite the high profile of dirtbags. You can either make time or you can't but don't complain about how busy you are or how much you weigh. That's your problem.

Flame on


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By Sam Benedict
From Denver, CO
Jan 11, 2008
.

katja wrote:
My vote: bolt whatever you want to bolt and if you think its a lame route, then ignore it and stay away from it. I ignore your "cool" stuff, so you can ignore mine!


NOOOO!!!??
DO NOT BOLT WHATEVER YOU WANT! That is NOT cool, and it is that type of selfish and inconsiderate mentality that gives sport climbing in general a bad name.
- If the route takes gear (even if it's a little run) - DON'T BOLT
- If the route is less than fabulous - DON'T BOLT
- If some one has, or may have already, climbed it - DON'T BOLT
Remember, bolting PERMANENTLY alters the resource that IS our sport. It's like giving the rock a tattoo, a decision worth putting some thought into, and something you don't want to turn out totally lame.

Happy climbing :)


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By Jim Gloeckler
From Denver, Colo.
Jan 11, 2008

caughtinside:

Most climbers that would appreciate Tom Hanson's efforts of putting up a few more moderates are not concerened about your respect. Others commitment levels vary as in every sport and may or may not come into play on this issue. Nobody has said anything about being entitled to anything in this entire thread; or being too busy for that matter! Try to be more understanding, we are not asking for anything. It was offered as a way to give back to the climbing community. To be more specific, the Castlewood Canyon climbing community.


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