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Are sport climbs of a more moderate grade desirable?
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Jan 11, 2008
Church of the Lost and Found, Left. Summer 2013
Sam Benedict wrote:
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.


Despite the WWF avatar, this is a smart man. :) Couldn't agree more. I don't object to easier bolted lines, so long as they have some redeeming value. Could it be that many striking lines are of higher difficulty? Perhaps an inspiration for us all to climb and improve. Another contrived squeeze job of whatever difficulty is the last thing any area needs.
Tavis Ricksecker
From Bishop, ca
Joined Dec 30, 2006
3,922 points
Jan 12, 2008
Tom Hanson wrote:
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.


Well, since you asked, it tells me there are a lot of beginners and climbers who lead lower graded climbs.

But this is hardly earth shattering news, you can go to any trad area with a similar route distribution and the story is the same. I climb at lover's leap quite a bit, and the most popular lead is probably the 5.3. Jtree is the same way, the easier routes see the crowds. It even has a newer guide book JUST for climbs under 5.9.

I guess I'd have to say I'm against adding a route just for the sake of achieving one of a desired grade. IF it's a good looking line, by all means bolt it. But if it is a junky blocky ledge to ledge style thing, a zero star route by most standards, I guess I would consider that subtraction by addition.
caughtinside
From Oakland CA
Joined Nov 21, 2006
1,898 points
Administrator
Jan 12, 2008
There's more than one use for an Ice Hammer. Lake ...
Here's my ten cents...

Each crag has a local ethic, some crags require only natural attempts at pro, some are bolted. I think the one general protection code which can co-exist with all variations of local protection ethics is that an already existing climb should be left in the condition of its first ascent. Climbers are then welcome to attempt it or leave it alone until they feel comfortable attempting it - regardless of the grade. First ascents can be put up using the local code regardless of the grade. Sewing up 5.4's? If local ethic say yes then I suppose it's okay - but it sounds like murder of the possible to me.

Of course if the climb is overprotected from its first ascent then historical precedence suggests that it may be okay to pare it down a bit! But this generally happens when someone places a piton(s) or bolt(s) at a no piton or bolt area.

Sorry, but climbing has a long hard apprenticeship, and there are no real shortcuts. We wouldn't want any new people to think that there are - for the sake of the sport.
Chris Owen
From Big Bear Lake
Joined Jan 1, 2002
9,233 points
Administrator
Jan 12, 2008
There's more than one use for an Ice Hammer. Lake ...
John Langston wrote:
Moderate means in the middle doesn't it? So why are you talking about 5.5 to 5.7? 5.10 is moderate by all standards in sport climbing. That word is getting misused so much that it's losing its meaning.


That's almost a subject for a new post....or has it already been posted?
Chris Owen
From Big Bear Lake
Joined Jan 1, 2002
9,233 points
Jan 12, 2008
John Langston wrote:
Moderate means in the middle doesn't it? So why are you talking about 5.5 to 5.7? 5.10 is moderate by all standards in sport climbing. That word is getting misused so much that it's losing its meaning.


Well the title of the thread is about 'more moderate grades' which I think means more moderate than moderate. We can't say 'easy' as it might lead to cries of elitism or damage some egos.
caughtinside
From Oakland CA
Joined Nov 21, 2006
1,898 points
Jan 12, 2008
Stabby
I think it is pretty safe to state that the realm of moderates pretty much ends at 5.9; hence the letter grades starting up at 5.10. Easy is a matter of perspective.

There are some intrinsic geologic factors at work here:
1. Most Sport Climbing terrain exists because it was too unprotectable for the years and years that Trad was the only option. For the most part, steepness was a big factor with that.

2. As a general rule, Sport Climbing areas are usually at least vertical.
(Red Rock Canyon Open Space is an exception to that rule, as it is a sport climbing on slabs area.)

3. Just think how big the holds would have to be for Vertical Stone to be 5.5, 5.6. That is almost unimaginable. The holds would have to be incut, closely spaced ladder rungs - (again, we're talking vertical stone here).

4. Therefore, at all of our traditional sport crags, the opportunities for this kind of route are very few and far between; if they exist at all.

That leaves us with actually searching for 5.5 - 5.6 terrain that isn't already a climb someone did in the past 75 years, even if it was soloed or sparsely protected; but at the same time a worthy line. Such terrain, if it exists, may be rarer than 5.15 testpieces.
Mike Lane
From Centennial, CO
Joined Jan 21, 2006
839 points
Jan 12, 2008
Mike Lane wrote:
4. Therefore, at all of our traditional sport crags, the opportunities for this kind of route are very few and far between; if they exist at all.

"Traditional sport crags". Good stuff.
Richard Radcliffe
From Louisville, CO
Joined Apr 28, 2006
268 points
Jan 12, 2008
Stabby
Ooof...
Kinda got lost in alliteration there.
Sort of like this:

"I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some ... people out there in our nation don't have maps and uh, I believe that our, ah, education like such as in South Africa, and, uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uh, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., or should help South Africa, it should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future, for our children."

But in my defense, I've got sport climbs at Castlewood that will be 20 years old this year. By traditional sport climb area, I meant that we all pretty much know what to expect when we go to one, and that if you can't climb harder than 5.8 you're probably not going to find much. But that has more to do with the rock than people's egos.
Mike Lane
From Centennial, CO
Joined Jan 21, 2006
839 points
Jan 13, 2008
3rd Flatiron
Tom, I agree with your observation. I think part of the problem is that we had so many chopping threats early on. We bolted well enough so we could dog a route into submission. But we also made sure that the bolts were spaced far enough apart, then when any of our critics tried to onsight, they would likely be publicly humiliated. So I'm rebolting some of my oldest routes, especially the moderates.

Some examples of the rare areas where my family and friends can jump on fun routes all day are Maple, The Trestles (exit 38), Owens River Gorge, Clark Canyon, Sport Park, and Castle Rock SP, Idaho. We've recently been working hard to make our home crag as good.

A few days ago, up by Deck Chairs, a climber asked me if there were any routes at Golden Cliffs that were not run out. Since I'd just spent the past forty days upgrading, it was my reward to show him some worth being proud of.

I posted a few of ours upgrades and some older ones on Mountain Proj:

mountainproject.com/v/colorado...

mountainproject.com/v/colorado...

mountainproject.com/v/colorado...
Ken Trout
From Golden, CO
Joined Dec 21, 2001
5,755 points
Administrator
Jan 13, 2008
Grip strength training, Nevada style.
Ken,
I like your list of "fun" areas where a group with diverse abilities can all be out leading routes. I would add Holcolmb Valley to the list and Vantage/Frenchman's to the list as well. Both of these areas have a wealth of more moderate climbs that are steep and aesthetic.
Rick Shull
From Arcata, CA & Dyer,NV
Joined Sep 7, 2006
2,997 points
Jan 14, 2008
Starting the fourth class downclimb.  Photo by Ted...
Rick Shull wrote:
I would add Holcolmb Valley to the list and Vantage/Frenchman's to the list as well.


That's a good point, The Feathers area at Vantage has close to twenty bolted routes from 5.5 up to 5.10d, with most in the 5.6 to 5.9 range.
Peter Spindloe
From North Vancouver, BC
Joined Jan 15, 2001
3,554 points
Jan 16, 2008
self
Ken Trout wrote:
We've recently been working hard to make our home crag as good. A few days ago, up by Deck Chairs, a climber asked me if there were any routes at Golden Cliffs that were not run out. Since I'd just spent the past forty days upgrading, it was my reward to show him some worth being proud of.


Ken, you and Tom are to be commended for all your work at the local Denver crags. I'd say you both have quite a lot to be proud of. This is one of those classic cases of the many benefitting from the efforts of the very few.

In response to Tom's original question, I think the obvious answer is yes, more accessable moderate sport routes would definitely be used by the climbing community, especially those of us who are leading at the moderate grades, working up to more difficult climbs, but find the gym environment tiresome. I think it would also take some of the pressure off the classics, spreading the crowds out more.

If there was an effort to do additional development on moderate sport routes at Castlewood or Table, I'd definitely be interested in supporting with time and/or $$.
Will Bluster
From Elizabeth, CO
Joined Jan 16, 2008
13 points
Mar 5, 2008
Which way again?
I proudly climb moderates with friends who are less experienced than me and want to dip a toe in the water. I proudly climb moderates with other double digit bros, because it's an inspiring way to spend the day, and I don't often trip over someone's lawnchair or weight my pack down with trash on the way out. I proudly climb moderates because there are hundreds of good ones in this area, and it's like yet another beautiful woman among thousands-I can't help but look and think, what would THAT be like?

I climb moderates because they're doable in my skate shoes. I climb moderates because the 'ard routes around here are often dusty, sandy, etc, and take actual "work." (Cleaning was never much of a fun activity IN my house, much less elsewhere.) I climb moderates to see how little protection I can make do with. I climb moderates to sew it up on "rest days."

I go out and do the tourist thing on Prince of Darkness, Eagle Dance, and Unimpeachable Groping because it's a different flavor to sample, even if it does get old quickly. I go out and scrabble up the *OLD* old guidebook routes because there's something to be said for chossaneering.

The bottom line is this: Everyone that's posted, including the ones I wouldn't piss on if they were on fire (that's you, sweetheart-love and kisses) and the rather well-spoken ones (nice, Jeff) has a point with some validity. I can spray about my 5.12 onsights just as well as I laugh about the epic on the 5.4, and I sincerely hope that means I'm finding some balance in my old age, or at least that I'm not a likely candidate for the washed up in my 20s club. I just want to throw in my 8cents that if someone goes out and bolts some huge, candy-easy line in the canyons, I'll climb it, too. No one's saying there's any chance of it eclipsing Levitation and bringing down the whole house of cards-it's just another option to get out and remember why life is worth living on a sunny day. Doesn't sound so bad to me.
Cunning Linguist
Joined Feb 15, 2007
2,478 points
Administrator
Sep 14, 2009
getting to the last jug before the top out
I must admit that i havent read through the entire long thread but i wanted to point out that there are sport crags with TONS of well equipt moderates which are bolted and maintained by strong climbers... Im fairly local at Rumney NH and there are great sport climbs from 5.3 to 5.15... ive run it to the strongest of strong climbers running a lap on a super moderate just cause the movement is fun... As a guide and instructor this hlelps me greatly when im teaching a lead class, the climber can focus on the hardware while fairly relaxed... A big thanks goes out to those who donate the time and hardware to putting these routes up... lee hansche
From goffstown, nh
Joined Jan 10, 2007
18,649 points
Jan 30, 2010
Darren Snipes wrote:
When I first started climbing sport climbing started at 5.10 and even those were really considered warm ups for the "real" sport climbs. I have a hard time thinking of anything less as sport climbing.


Agreed.

John J. Glime wrote:
For the sake of argument, aren't you guys just being elitest?


I have always failed to see why elitism is a bad thing.
Arnold Braker
From golden, co
Joined Jun 28, 2007
289 points
Jan 30, 2010
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008
AGree that the focus of sport climbs is intensity and extreme face climbing moves in places trad climbs would have aided or bolted past due to no cracks for 'pro. Thus due to the nature of the climbs and the main interest of those setting the routes, there are few to none in the easy-moderate range anywhere. And it's not their responsibility to create them. It would be nice to have some easy ones, but then again if the route is in lower grades it might be easily trad lead too. Thus the complaint about useless bolts next to an easy trad crack. A conundrum woven in a riddle it is. Easy slab sport seems to be it. But a really nice comfy 5.4 climb with a roof move would be nice for new aporties to work out the quickdraws on for a start. Wish there were more of them, especially for newbies who come and occupy the easiest 5.9 they can find for hours on end as a dozen go for it. Woodchuck ATC
Joined Nov 29, 2007
3,090 points
Jan 30, 2010
First summit of First Flatiron
Arnold Braker wrote:
I have always failed to see why elitism is a bad thing.


I have failed to see why being a moderate or beginner is bad and not feeling sketched out on a climb at any level is a bad thing.

Tom, to address your initial question, yes I do think that more *QUALITY* moderate lines would be well traveled and MUCH appreciated.

Everybody has to start leading somewhere. This isn't a competition to see who's more of a badass than the other guy. There is a desire for bolted lines in the 5.6 - 5.9 range that aren't run out. I know lots of people disagree with me but I see NO reason for a sport climb to be runout at any level. If a bolt is skipped because there is natural pro that's one thing, but running it out because its easy seems a bit ridiculous to me, think about the majority of who's leading that, not people who are comfortable at the grade. And personally, I'd rather somebody like Tom, with his years of experience and decision making, to be bolting these lines rather than Jimmy New-Fry doing it because he wants another climb at his grade.

RRC is one of my favorites because it has diversity when I take new friends or when I want to push myself in the same day, which is the reason I don't care much for the Wood and am intimidated by Devil's Head.

Your work is and certainly will be appreciated Tom (and others) and if you are looking for some $$ or some help I know plenty who would be willing to pitch in!
Derek W
Joined Jun 27, 2008
38 points
Jan 31, 2010
Stabby
Wehling: it is ironic that Devils Head is intimidating to you; yet you live at its base. I can understand it though, as up until now the median grade up there has to be .11C or D. Its probably ok to mention now there is a new section of the mountain that will be described in Tod's revised guidebook coming out soon. The walk is much easier, and there are dozens of true moderate sport routes. In fact, several are are under 5.8
Nuff said for now, its been a secret for several years.
Mike Lane
From Centennial, CO
Joined Jan 21, 2006
839 points
Jan 31, 2010
First summit of First Flatiron
How is it ironic? I enjoy climbing up there when I've got my shit together. I'm just saying I'd probably spend more time if there were a few more of what I'd consider "warm-up climbs" before jumping straight to my limit. I don't expect anybody to put up these lines for me nor am I asking anybody to. Just saying that I would be thankful. Derek W
Joined Jun 27, 2008
38 points
Jan 31, 2010
fall foliage 5.7+ slab
There are quite a few bolted moderates at Rumney that see alot of use. The nice thing about it is it keeps the gumbies off of the harder routes. Tparis
From Pottersville,New York
Joined Jan 19, 2007
277 points
Jan 31, 2010
I think that the reason sport climbs tend to be a higher grade is due to the original purpose of bolting routes: to push the physical limit safely. So, "sport climbing" in a way implies more physically difficult routes.

The purpose of sport was not to provide a training ground for burgeoning climbers.

Although I am appreciative of those who take the time to bolt lower grades, I understand that it is no one's obligation to bolt for anyone other than themselves(but in consideration of ethics of course).

No one is entitled to routes of an accesible grade. I don't think that newer climbers appreciate the effort and exspense of drilling and bolting a good route. This is usually done on someones own free time.

Perhaps, if you want more routes of a specific grade, you can offer your labor or money to an experienced bolter. Expecting them to just do it so you have something to play on and invite more people to crowd a crag is a little silly, IMHO.

Evan
Evan1984
Joined Aug 15, 2007
77 points
Jan 31, 2010
Stabby
Wehling wrote:
How is it ironic? I enjoy climbing up there when I've got my shit together. I'm just saying I'd probably spend more time if there were a few more of what I'd consider "warm-up climbs" before jumping straight to my limit. I don't expect anybody to put up these lines for me nor am I asking anybody to. Just saying that I would be thankful.

The new area will suit you just fine then, as aside from all the easy ones, there's a ton of .10's too; and also a lot of routes from hard .11 to .13 A or B; and they are mostly adjacent to each other. The easier routes are not typical of what we think of with easier grades. They are close to vertical face climbing without a bunch of blocky ledges or some fissure making it a protectable scramble.
Mike Lane
From Centennial, CO
Joined Jan 21, 2006
839 points


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