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Los Alamos & White Rock (NM) bolting agreement
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By scotthsu
From Los Alamos, NM
Oct 1, 2009

Due to repeated recent boltings and choppings at a few White Rock climbing areas, it appears necessary to re-visit the community agreement for a possible revision. This forum thread is a start for collecting opinions from as many people, who care about this issue, as possible. Thank you.

Edit: As Jason Halladay points out below (thanks Jason!), you can get caught up on the situation by reading this thread.

Edit #2: It has been correctly brought to my attention that since I am trying to play the role of a moderator both in this discussion as well as possibly coming up with a new bolting agreement, that I ought to disclose where I stand on the issue and whether I have particular ties to any of the primary characters involved in the debate. One of the reasons I decided to take this role upon myself (trust me, I'd rather be climbing as well!) is because I am friendly with the well-known primary bolter (Jason Halladay) as well as an anti-bolter (Chuck Calef) who came forward publicly with a plea against bolting at the June meeting/slideshow of the Los Alamos Mountaineers. I have had the opportunity for extensive discussions with both of them and feel like I understand their positions better than most people. Thus, I felt like I was in a unique position to help move this debate forward, whereas in the recent past, attempts at a truce failed. I care enough about the local climbing (which is an incredible treasure and asset for our community) that I felt obligated to at least try to bring the different sides together for another attempt at a "truce." Other than being friendly with Jason and Chuck, as well as many of the people posting in this thread, I do not have any special climbing relationships with any of these people to disclose, and thus I believe I am not motivated by any personal biases. My own opinion on the matter is pretty neutral, as I think anchor bolts at the trad areas are a good practical solution to many of the ecology/safety/convenience concerns, but I also wouldn't mind seeing some established crags in White Rock remain completely bolt-free. Personal beliefs aside, my main goal is to move the community past the present bout of bolting and chopping.


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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Oct 1, 2009
Bucky

Wow. Scott, which crags has this been going on at? Are the mountaineers doing the chopping? I lived in NM on and off for 5 years and the dungeon and white rocks were my local crags. I always had mixed feelings about the bolting agreement with the mountaineers, but simply let my feelings slide. I would love to voice my opinion, but I would like to hear some details about what was bolted/retro-bolted and what was chopped. Thanks.


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By scotthsu
From Los Alamos, NM
Oct 1, 2009

J. Albers wrote:
I would love to voice my opinion, but I would like to hear some details about what was bolted/retro-bolted and what was chopped. Thanks.


Thanks for writing. The recent bolting/chopping conflicts have centered around anchor bolts at the top of climbs at previously agreed upon "trad" areas such as Old New Place and the Playground. (The 2004 revision to the 1989 community bolting agreement allows for anchor bolting at the "trad areas" but with overly subjective language.) Furthermore, I believe the choppers (acting independently, not through the LA Mountaineers) weren't even aware of the written agreement until quite recently.

I should clarify that the position of the Los Alamos Mountaineers is to remain neutral in this matter. However, the club is interested in using its influence to help facilitate a resolution that is community-based.


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By Devin C.
Oct 1, 2009

The link you posted does not seem to be working for me.

If you are speaking in reference to anchor bolts at the playground being chopped I have talked to a few people that feel that the playground is "their" backyard crag that they have climbed at since the 70's and it has always been understood no bolts! I have read the bolting agreement and it states that top rope anchor bolts are OK at the playground if adequate protection is not available. I have brought this to said parties attention and they felt that since they had done it, there was adequate protection and therefore no bolts allowed.

I'm also pretty sure that said party is very reluctant to participate in an open dialog of this issue with the other members of the climbing community.

I'm not much of a purist in any sense of the word so bolted top rope anchors do not bother me very much. I do not live in the area for 9 months of the year so I will probably not be able to participate in community meetings, but I will try to inform as many people (including said party) of any meetings to discuss this issue and hope that some resolution can be agreed upon by the majority of the users.

wow, that was more than I wanted to write


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By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From Los Alamos, NM
Oct 1, 2009
Climbing at the Belvedere crag near Nago with a great view of the northern end of Lake Garda and the town of Torbole sul Garda below. June 2013.

First, it should be stressed that this deals only with anchor bolts being removed and chopped. New bolted lines are not being established in areas where they are "not allowed" (per the community agreement ).

Thanks for taking on a hard role here, Scott. A number of us local climbers here feel very worn out about the subject because we've all voiced our opinions ad nauseam and it's perceived that nothing changes so many are just taking the "fuck it" attitude and not participating in the conversation. After all, it's easier to do nothing and just complain to your friends about it. Further, the actual person(s) doing the chopping has not taken responsibility for his/her actions which makes this all the more frustrating--You can't reason or communicate with an unknown person. So, again, thanks--I know it's not an easy job.

Those interested in the topic can get a bit caught up with what's happened in the past 1.5 years and get a feel of the viewpoints held by a number of us by reading this thread.


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By DisturbingThePeace
From Albuquerque, NM
Oct 1, 2009
PBR Time at the Creek

Devin C. wrote:
If you are speaking in reference to anchor bolts at the playground being chopped I have talked to a few people that feel that the playground is "their" backyard crag that they have climbed at since the 70's and it has always been understood no bolts! I have read the bolting agreement and it states that top rope anchor bolts are OK at the playground if adequate protection is not available. I have brought this to said parties attention and they felt that since they had done it, there was adequate protection and therefore no bolts allowed. I'm also pretty sure that said party is very reluctant to participate in an open dialog of this issue with the other members of the climbing community.


If these people are going to chop anchor bolts put in with a community consensus then they should man up about it and take responsibility for their actions. Just because they have been climbing there for the past 10-30-50 years doesn't mean that they own the rock. It shows cowardice if you won't stand up for your actions. That said if it is possible to build a safe anchor in solid rock at the tops of these climbs then by the original agreements there shouldn't be bolts added.

I imagine that a large part of this disagreement is what constitutes a solid anchor in solid rock. The tops of these cliffs are a collection of large boulders making it difficult to tell what is solid rock and what isn't. Now that the trees are dying off the issue gets even more complicated.

It is the rock and the climbing community that loses out over climber's egos.
Chopped bolts at the top of U9s, photo taken 8/1/09
Chopped bolts at the top of U9s, photo taken 8/1/09


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By scotthsu
From Los Alamos, NM
Oct 1, 2009

DisturbingThePeace wrote:
It is the rock and the climbing community that loses out over climber's egos.


Thanks for your comment. I'd like to point out a couple things as this thread starts heating up.

1. The exact language of the 2004 revision to the climbing agreement reads: "Anchors should not be placed at the top of climbs that are easily and safely set with traditional gear." The problem is that this is a subjective statement. Furthermore, I think that most climbers would agree that there are many routes, now with anchor bolts, that can be "easily and safely set with traditional gear." Thus, I believe that the present climbing agreement (2004) is being violated, and therefore it needs to be addressed; otherwise, we may as well not have an "agreement."

2. I have not personally spoken to all of the (very few) bolters and choppers at the center of the present conflict, nor do I know for certain who the choppers are, but the two people with whom I am working on this are not in it for their egos. They are both highly accomplished and passionate climbers who have a deep desire to preserve the natural beauty and ecology of our local climbing areas. They do, however, have a disagreement over the "ethics" of how this should be achieved. Note that the following pertains only to the agreed-upon "trad areas" noted in the bolting agreement (ONP, NNP, Playground, Y). The pro-anchor-bolting person adopts a pragmatic approach in that he believes that by providing good anchor bolts, people will refrain from anchoring off dying trees and eroding the cliff-tops by walking back and forth between the trees and the cliff-edge. The anti-anchor-bolting person believes that instead of putting in anchor bolts, we ought to encourage (and teach) local climbers to use trad gear to set anchors and to do a better job of persuading our fellow local climbers to adhere to "leave no trace" ethics. Both people have valid points.


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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Oct 1, 2009
Bucky

sheesh. Looking at that picture, I think that regardless of whether chopping the bolts was right or wrong, at least the chopper could have done a respectable job with chopping and patching. What an ugly f'ing hatchet job.


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By DisturbingThePeace
From Albuquerque, NM
Oct 1, 2009
PBR Time at the Creek

scotthsu wrote:
2. I have not personally spoken to all of the (very few) bolters and choppers at the center of the present conflict, but the two people with whom I am working on this are not in it for their egos. They are both highly accomplished and passionate climbers who have a deep desire to preserve the natural beauty and ecology of our local climbing areas. They do, however, have a disagreement over the "ethics" of how this should be achieved.


I fully agree with point #1, anchors, pro-placement, and rock quality are all very subjective areas. It seems that it would be difficult / impossible to reach a conclusion to what "Anchors are easily and safely set with traditional gear".

I don't see how bolting and the subsequent chopping of the bolts does anything to preserve the natural beauty and ecology of the local climbing areas. On the chopper's side I can't see how is actions aren't influenced by ego of him wanting other climbers to climb in the same style. Leave no trace ethics (in regards of camo'd anchor bolts) are far outweighed by chalk, trampled brush, and trails. Unless this person fully believes that bolts are the devil and it ruins their climbing experience, or that the whole place is going to become grid bolted once anchor bolts are allowed, why not keep the anchor bolts. It seems the only reason the person chopped them was to prove a point.

Anyways, I only climb at White Rock a few times a year so it doesn't really matter to me one way or another. I hope you guys can come to a consensus that reduces ground impact, reduces impact to the remaining live trees, and eliminates future botched chop jobs.


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By Steve DiMarino
From Los Alamos, NM
Oct 1, 2009

I was taking a "fuck it" attitude until Jason called me out. So I will leave a comment.

You can't minimize the climber's environmental impact if you are wrapping trees with slings and walking back and forth along the cliff tops because you need to recover your trad gear. Placing camouflaged bolted anchors is a good common sense way to protect the cliff tops and the trees without any loss of the natural look of the rock. Nobody is forcing anyone to clip the bolts. You can build an anchor if you'd like. I have put bolts in where a tree anchor is available just to protect the tree from years of abuse. These are not in White Rock so don't worry about hacking them off by next weekend.
Also I should say that every route that I have ever seen or known to be chopped, the chopper, likely a self-righteous zealot, is really nothing but a big chickenshit that works in the shadows. If they are so noble, where in the hell are they?


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By scotthsu
From Los Alamos, NM
Oct 1, 2009

I fully understand the strong feelings that this incites in people, but with all the name-calling and the thinly veiled threats in the thread from last year, how can anybody expect the choppers to come forward? Let's give this a chance.


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By Zack Baker
Oct 1, 2009

Thinking that the choppers are self-righteous is all fine and dandy, but, remember, it's very possible that the chopper thinks that he/she is following the LA Bolting Agreement to the letter and the spirit. The key phrase in the agreement "easily and safely", which is very subjective. Both choppers and bolters may believe they are following the Bolting Agreement based on their opinion of "easy and safe".

As Scott said, keeping the name calling to a low roar will help us keep a civil discourse. As for the choppers being chickenshit, I can think of one bolt in particular that I would not admit to drilling even if you had a photograph of me with pipecleaners stuck in my pocket.


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By Steve DiMarino
From Los Alamos, NM
Oct 1, 2009

I'm not threatening at all, just stating what I believe is fact, sorry, don't be so sensitive.
We had a chopping problem at El Cajon Mountain in San Diego Ca. We did a bolted route that had the top 5 bolts chopped. The person leading it was leading at their limit 20 feet above the last bolt and realized that the rest were gone....And in South Dakota Rushmore area, where replacement bolts of the old 1/4 inch were chopped. Not one of these bolts were chopped in broad daylight on a weekend. They were done while people were at work. Call it what you will. Sorry if I offended...


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By Darien Raistrick
Oct 1, 2009

Just to weigh in with my opinion....there are perfect cracks for gear placement at the Old New Place, for example. Bolts are completely unnecessary here. I've climbed at the Playground, the ONP, Big Enchilada and Potrillo for 20 years and have always been able to set anchors in rock. It just feels so unfair to me that a couple of climbers have taken away the traditional cliffs by putting in totally unnecessary bolt anchors. Sport climbers have many cliffs already in Los Alamos (White Rock)... Just let us trad climbers have a few that have no man-made additions!


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By Darien Raistrick
Oct 2, 2009

The cliffs do not belong to the climbers.There are many Los Alamosans who would prefer to see the cliffs bolt-free. I do climb past the anchor bolts to place my own gear...and I still think they shouldn't be there. (By the way, I spent hours some years ago trying to camouflage some of the worst graffiti at Kimberly.....not that it did much good. And I kind of enjoy reading the tire messages.)


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By Darien Raistrick
Oct 2, 2009

Oh yes, I also clean up the roadside trash on the 3-mile section of road from the back gate up to the top of the hill....


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By Josh Smith
Oct 2, 2009

I sort of feel like I said my piece last time this came around, but I'll weigh in again because this is an important topic. A bit of history: I believe I was the first one to put anchors in at the Playground (Five years ago? It was two or three sets of well disguised enviro anchors). I did so because I thought that the then-recently-revised bolting agreement and top anchors at other areas represented a sea change. Top anchors seemed like a great idea to me for many of the reasons already stated eloquently by George and Jason. I've never thought that full-on sport climbing should or would be introduced there, and I think it's a fallacy to assume that bolted faces would follow bolted anchors.

After my anchors were chopped (and those at the other areas), I met with some long-time climbers from the anti-bolting camp (I can't remember now if the meeting was associated with the club or not) and talked to some other local folks. The differences between the two camps seem to me to be either fundamental or visceral (and maybe in some cases both). The fundamental reasoning was preservationist, "there are places where bolts don't belong," and the visceral was, "there were no anchors there when I started climbing there, so there never should be." I respect the preservationist reason but not the visceral one. The folks I talked to were largely from the preservationist camp. I never did find out who did the chopping or what their basic reasoning was, but I suspect it wasn't preservationist at its heart because of the way it was performed.

Regardless, based on that experience, I have to say that I think this will be a very tough nut and that the discussion that takes place here should be undertaken with as much mutual respect as we can muster. If I think someone is yelling at me, I dig in my heels, and I know other folks are the same, regardless of which side of this particular fence they sit on.

I've got my fingers crossed that we can get a little further towards consensus this time.


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By Devin Shunk
Oct 2, 2009

Darien Raistrick wrote:
The cliffs do not belong to the climbers.There are many Los Alamosans who would prefer to see the cliffs bolt-free. I do climb past the anchor bolts to place my own gear...and I still think they shouldn't be there. (By the way, I spent hours some years ago trying to camouflage some of the worst graffiti at Kimberly.....not that it did much good. And I kind of enjoy reading the tire messages.)



Really? The Los Alamosans would prefer to see the cliffs bolt free? Do you have some unbiased survey results that indicate this?

Good for you for being "uber-trad" and not using bolts. I have trad gear, but if there are bolts there, I am going to use them (if they are good). Having bolt anchors does NOT "take away" traditional cliffs. Sure, maybe it will introduce some non-trad climbers to the cliff. Then you won't have exclusive rights to climbing there just because you are a "trad climber". WHO CARES? Give up the ego.

+1 for bolt anchors.


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By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From Los Alamos, NM
Oct 2, 2009
Climbing at the Belvedere crag near Nago with a great view of the northern end of Lake Garda and the town of Torbole sul Garda below. June 2013.

I'm really pleased to see a good bit of people voicing their opinions here and it's staying civil and calm which is much more conducive to an open discourse. Please, keep it up.

I've stated my views on this many times to just about everyone in the area that will listen but I'm glad to state it again because I feel strongly about this topic. Obviously, I'm very much in favor of the anchor bolts in White Rock Canyon—I've placed a good number of them with help from many different local climbers. Contrary to what I've heard from the few folks I've talked to that do not appreciate the bolts, I'm not acting on my own accord with my own agenda. I can quite literally name at least 20 different area climbers that have encouraged me to place the anchors, helped me with the work, or contributed money/hardware for the effort. So really it's not at all a personal agenda. I respect the fact that none of us own the rock and therefore believe that a democratic “vote” of sorts is the best we can do. With that in mind, I truly believe the majority here is in favor of the anchor bolts . For some they appreciate the convenience. For others it's a safety issue and for some, like myself, it's mostly an ecology and reduction-in-impact issue.

I appreciate the precedence and appropriateness of the original LAM bolting agreement but also believe it is out-dated and needs to be revised to include the topic of impact. Whether we like it or not, the sport of climbing has grown exponentially in years since 1989 and even 2004. There are more of us getting out there to climb which adds to the impact and stress we're placing on the areas we climb. Looking ahead, I anticipate the sport to continue to grow in numbers. We as climbers need to realize this and do what we can now, before it's too late, to reduce our impact and to give back to the climbing areas we so much love. We need to get over our egos and flex our ethics a bit to take this into account.

The “leave no trace” ethos, an ideal I fully appreciate, that is being ironically enforced by those chopping the anchor bolts needs some realistic interpretation. We can never leave absolutely no trace—only minimize our presence. I know drilling a hole in rock with a power drill and pounding some stainless steel in the hole certainly doesn't come across as leaving no trace but the discreet anchor bolts do a more realistic and effective job of reducing our impact in the long term. This issue is not new and has been expressed and debated at areas such as Paradise Forks, AZ (which also happens to be a basalt area with a long history.)

I've heard the argument that the bolts are unsightly and reduce the visual pleasure of these areas for not just climbers but hikers and walkers. I don't see much, if any, validity in this point. The houses, backyards and barking dogs ~75 yards away from most of the cliff tops are far more distracting and obvious than the bolts. For anyone that has not personally been to see these anchors, I can assure you that because they are painted to match the color of the rock and are placed over the cliff edge, you're not likely to see them unless you're looking very hard for them. Certainly the non-climbers walking by these areas will not notice these bolts. However, the non-climbers are very likely to see static ropes slung around blocks and trees or the gear anchor setup using a cordelette or slings. In short, the bolt anchors reduce the visual impact to non-climbers allowing us climbers to maintain a lower profile. Maintaining a lower profile is always good—as a lot of people don't understand climbers and think the sport is dangerous. The less attention we call to ourselves the better. I do not believe Darien's statement that , “There are many Los Alamosans who would prefer to see the cliffs bolt-free.” This topic is obviously emotional for a few of us but I'd venture to guess that at least 90 percent of the non-climbing community around here doesn't care at all about the bolts. They won't see them and even if they did they'd be likely to say, “oh yeah, those are the bolts the climbers use like Sylvester Stallone shot into the rock in that movie Cliffhanger.”

I mentioned safety as well. The topic has at least a couple different aspects that I'd like to point out. First, I've talked to a number of climbers that either don't own gear, know how to place it or simply don't trust it. These are people who are not going to try to learn the craft for those very reasons. For them the perception is that the bolt anchors equate to safety. Not only that but there are rocks and blocks that have been used either as tie-off points or as one side of of a crack where gear has been placed that have moved or pulled out entirely. I've seen this personally. There's a block at the top of Unrelenting Nines at the Playground that is often used as part of an anchor that, if you look closely, is not attached anywhere—it's just sitting block. Granted, it's huge and heavy and not likely to pull down but it scares me thinking about that when someone's climbing it with their anchor using that block.

Also, I've placed anchors on the big ledge about 10 feet down at the Playground. My reasoning for this is the loose rocks on the ledges are veritable missiles ready to land on someone's head below while the person rigging the anchor up there is walking around futzing with static rope and gear. Additionally, less time spent at the cliff edge is a reduction in exposure to falling. Clipping (or unclipping the bolts at the end of the night) takes far less time and reduces the person's exposure to falling.

This is a plea to please think practically and long term. If you're the person that has been chopping the anchor bolts, please stop. As the one that has put in almost all of the new anchor bolts in White Rock Canyon, how about a truce between you and I? I won't place anymore anchor bolts and you won't chop any more. If we can do this, maybe it'll set a fine example of collaboration and no one else will install any more anchors while no one else chops any more. I know I won't get an answer from you because you've stayed anonymous for well over a year now so let's just let our actions speak for ourselves. Then we can all work towards a more well-worded LAM bolting agreement. What do you say (or do)?


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By Allison Fritz
From Los Alamos, New Mexico
Oct 2, 2009
Smith Rock

I've basically been staying out of this discussion because I'm only a sport leader but I've found some of the points made by the anti-bolt climbers a bit weak and short-sighted.

Bolted anchors do not constitute a sport route. The trad areas remain trad areas even with bolted anchors. I doubt there is anyone around that would stand for placing lead protection bolts on say, Beginner Hand Jam, and there's not a sport climber around that would lead that route just because there are anchor bolts at the top of the route.

I think the degradation of the soil, trees and vegetation around the cliff top areas is much greater when climbers are required to setup anchors using trees, blocks and cracks at the top of the routes. A couple of painted bolts and hangers over the edge of the cliff in non-living rock reduces this impact on the environment at the cliff top.

Also, to be really honest, the bolt anchors open up more opportunity for me to climb more cracks because I don't have the interest in buying protection and learning to place it. I'm definitely not alone this area and know this doesn't sound legitimate to some people but it's the truth. This helps get more people out to experience some climbing that they may not otherwise do. And I'm all for that.

I really what Alex Honnold says about climbing at the end of this video.


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By Williampenner
From The 505
Oct 2, 2009
Beaver Mountain

Allison Fritz wrote:
Also, to be really honest, the bolt anchors open up more opportunity for me to climb more cracks because I don't have the interest in buying protection and learning to place it. I'm definitely not alone this area and know this doesn't sound legitimate to some people but it's the truth. This helps get more people out to experience some climbing that they may not otherwise do.


Allison, thanks for your honesty on this issue.

This opinion makes me think that no bolts should go in as I am glad some places won't be accessible to some folks unwilling to commit. I've said it before in relation to this issue, climbing is more than a sport and requires certain skills and the attitude that you are responsible for yourself. Allison, I am not trying to be overly harsh as I appreciate how you had the courage to speak your mind. I should point out that the trees atop the cliffs in White Rock mean you don't need any special gear other than some slings or extra rope to TR cracks right now.

I don't have enough connection to White Rock crags to care whether discrete bolted anchors are placed atop certain routes at the traditionally no-bolt areas. I can see the argument both ways and if it were my local cliff I would probably argue for the anchors because I hate yokels walking around atop the cliffs and knocking rocks down on climbers below (a situation we all have experienced) and I have never loved the jumbled choss atop most White Rock cliffs. To be honest, after the bolts were placed I would mostly love the convenience. Call me a philistine, but the cliff-top environment does not seem a pressing concern given the dog trails and houses.

In summary, the most compelling argument for and against the bolts is convenience and safety. Easy bolt anchors bring out folks who self-admittedly do not want to learn how to place gear and who may get hurt with no means of rescuing themselves. Easy bolt anchors also allow the rest of us with traditional skills to get more routes in and do it a safer fashion without folks knocking rocks on us or potentially crap anchors in loose, cliff-top blocks.

I just wish we had Paradise Forks in NM and were talking about that.


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By Crisco Jackass
From Grand Junction, CO
Oct 2, 2009

+1 for bolted anchors

My reasoning is irrelevant if this is presumed a democracy.


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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Oct 2, 2009
Bucky

I have a couple of observations, as well as a few questions for folks like Darien.

First, let me say that I don't mean to offend anyone here, but this whole discussion seems a bit absurd, mostly because I think there are arguments being made that simply don't make a lot of sense. It seems like there are some pretty pragmatic and obvious solutions.

Top rope anchors that use trees, especially in the New Mexican desert, are not okay. No matter how careful you are, repeated use damages the trees, and in most cases causes undue erosion. Now, if trees were being used as anchors, than I am going to guess that the gear anchor situation was not great. In this case, either use bolted anchors or don't climb this route.

For those routes that do have good gear anchors, I think its reasonable that there shouldn't be bolted anchors. If you are competent with placing gear, it should take you all of two minutes to set an equalized anchor, and I don't think convenience is a good reason to have bolts. Does this mean that you need to check on the anchor setup before you top-rope on someone else's anchor? Sure. Places like Devils Lake in Wisconsin have existed like this without fixed anchors for decades and it works just fine. If you can't stand the inconvenience, go sport climbing.

The argument that it is hard to come to a consensus on whether 'good gear' exists for top ropes anchors is pretty weak. Let me give you an example. The Valley has one of the most bolt intolerant bunch of locals I have ever been around. Yet there DO exist bolted anchors on classic trad lines because its a pretty easy evaluation process. Can you get three pieces of good gear? If the answer is no, then a bolted anchor is probably a good choice. I refuse to believe that there is a large variation within the general climbing community on what constitutes 'good gear'.

Further, I have to admit, I find the whole 'trad' areas versus 'sport' areas distinction in WR to be one of stupidest distinctions in any area I have ever been. Can someone please explain to me why trad and sport routes cannot exist next to each other? And no, tradition is not a good argument, otherwise next time you come to the Valley, I better see you climbing with bongs, hand made pins and hip belays on hemp ropes.

Darien, when you complain about bolts 'taking away' your trad area, this makes no sense, and further, I don't feel that bad about it. Why? Because the flip side of the coin is that you have taken away 'sport' areas as well. For example, Portrillo has several routes that had their hangers removed because they area was deemed a trad area. Does that mean that the crack climbs at the Overlook are off limits to trad climbers? Please explain to me (and I mean this honestly and without contempt) why it was SOOO important that there be absolutely no bolted climbs at the trad areas?

I would echo what others have said about the chopper(s). I don't think this has anything to do with protecting an area. This is about self righteous ideology. Further, I don't know why people don't call out the choppers and let their names be known. If they are willing to do the deed, then own up to it.

In conclusion. This seems pretty simple. If there is gear to be had, then no bolts. If there is no good gear or ONLY trees for anchors, put a pair of bolts in.


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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Oct 2, 2009
Bucky

William brought up a couple of good points.

One, placing gear. If you are new to climbing and either don't own gear to build anchors or are not competent to do so, bummer. Buy some gear and learn how. Climbing is in somme ways an apprenticeship. You take it slow, build up your rack and skills, and progress through the grades. You wouldn't expect someone to climb multi pitch trad in the mountains without owning and knowing how to use gear, and cragging should be no different.

Loose rocks at the top of the cliff. I have definitely almost been seriously injured by people setting top ropes at WR by knocking rocks down. If there is that much loose stuff at the top, then YOU SHOULDN"T BE SETTING A TOP ROPE!!! Lead it or don't do it. I don't see how putting bolts in alleviates the problem of dropping rocks unless you are putting the gear in crap rock, in which case, its shitty gear and there should either be bolts or don't climb the route.

Convenience. I don't see how this is a good reason for bolts. Bolts are ALWAYS more convenient than gear anchors. Does this mean there should be bolted anchors at the belays on the Casual Route on the Diamond? No, and I would side with the anti-bolt folks on this point.

Cheers.


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By scotthsu
From Los Alamos, NM
Oct 2, 2009

Thanks to everyone for posting so far, and thanks for keeping it civil and constructive.

I've encouraged more of the anti-anchor-bolting people to speak up and to post on this thread, and I hope they will do so over the next several days.

I also wanted to quote Williampenner from a comment he made on the Unrelenting Nines route page at the Playground: "I think the white rock agreement to split trad/sport areas seems to be working fine... Viable compromises are hard to achieve and shouldn't be discarded lightly. That said, it might be time to revisit the agreement if it no longer works. I hope the LA folks can work it out."

It is true that there appeared to be an "equilibrium" that was working prior to the 2004 revision that allowed anchor bolting at the "trad areas." As people continue to engage on this thread, I'd like to ask you to think about what specific changes you'd like to see in a new bolting agreement, while keeping in mind Williampenner's wise admonition that "viable compromises are hard to achieve and shouldn't be discarded lightly." I hope Jason's offer above of a "truce" will be seriously considered by the choppers. Although it is a compromise that isn't perfect in anyone's book, it is simple and it would be effective. And it would put an end to the present bolt war.

Although we are free to call into question any and all parts of the existing bolting agreement, I'd really like to stay focused on the crux of the problem: anchor bolting at the "trad areas." Should we support Jason's proposed "truce"? Should we continue to allow new anchor bolting at these areas? Should we remove existing anchor bolts at these areas? If there are other specific points in the existing agreement that you really want to change, what are they?


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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Oct 2, 2009
Bucky

How about people begin by answering a few basic questions first.

1) Are there climbs that DO NOT have good natural protection (trees don't count as anchors)? Climbs that do not have good natural protection INCLUDE those where the gear would need to be placed in suspect rock.

2) In the instances where there is NO good natural gear, would you be ok with bolts ONLY in those situations?

3) Do you think it is okay to have "convenience" top rope bolts at the top of trad climb, regardless of the availability of natural gear?

Here would be my answers.

1) yes, there are climbs without good gear.
2) yes, but only under these specific circumstances.
3) no, convenience is not a good reason...no bolts in those situations.


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