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Bolting a Climb
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By Josh Olson
From madison, wisconsin
May 26, 2010
Looking at a 5.7 crack with Nick

When is it ok to bolt a climb? I recently cleaned a line up on top rope, and I'm like two moves from sending. I have already thought where I would like the bolts, and I have done immense research into bolting. My question is, when is it time to bolt a climb? Should the climb be seconded before I bolt it? Should I wait until I have it wired? Oh, and don't worry tradsters, its not on a crack.


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By Langlois
From NYC
May 26, 2010

Where is this climb...


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By mschlocker
From San Diego, CA
May 26, 2010
Me climbing in La Jolla.

Just do it if the route is good. Of course, if you don't think you'll ever lead it or be able to lead it then don't do it.

When I wanted to put my first bolted route in I did a lot of asking around and all I heard was no, no, no. Now I know why. Bolters want to keep FAs to themselves. I did it anyway and now I have bunch of really fun routes people can go and try because I put the effort in.

On the other hand, I have seen somebody put in a route just to put in a route. The thing will never be sent and in fact he never even gave it a go on lead. Don't be that guy.


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By Greg Barnes
May 26, 2010
Hanging out with Karin on the summit of Warlock Needle. Photo by Josh Janes.

If you have to ask here, don't bolt.

If you're going to do it anyway, don't ask here, ask your local climbing buddies, climbing organizations, etc.

And before doing anything make sure you know precisely what the rules are at the land you are planning on doing your bolting. No excuses for not knowing - do your homework and know the deal. Hopefully you knew all the rules before you did any cleaning! You can affect access at your local areas by your actions - be smart about it.


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By Evan1984
May 26, 2010

The answer to when is it okay is either "never" or "after a lot of thought".

Never bolt a climb if it is illegal in the area, against common ethic in the area, you lack landowner permission, you lack the skill, it is going to attract negative attention from other user groups, or the route is not worth it.

It sounds like you've got a good head on your shoulder. I'd say talk to some local climbers and get their opinion. Give it a lot of thought. Decide whether there is potential to lead on gear.

Bolting is such a locality specific issue, a bunch of us spewing our opinion on the web is not worth nearly as much as one experienced local's opinion.

Cheers,
Evan


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By matt snider
From Flagstaff AZ.
May 26, 2010

Josh Olson wrote:
When is it ok to bolt a climb? I recently cleaned a line up on top rope, and I'm like two moves from sending. I have already thought where I would like the bolts, and I have done immense research into bolting. My question is, when is it time to bolt a climb? Should the climb be seconded before I bolt it? Should I wait until I have it wired? Oh, and don't worry tradsters, its not on a crack.

Josh, If the route is at hill billy hollow I would contact Jay Knower or Ron Long or James Shroeder, they have extensive beta on bolting there, and could help you evaluate your decision. Look them up on this site.


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By Josh Olson
From madison, wisconsin
May 26, 2010
Looking at a 5.7 crack with Nick

It's not at the hollow or any other established crag. My biggest problem is the lack of other climbers in the area. I have gotten permission on some land in the middle of nowhere. It started with anchors, and now I've gotten permission to put a sport route, but I don't want to regret it. Thanks for the input everyone!


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By Sam Lightner, Jr.
From Lander, WY
May 26, 2010
The Shield

I once asked the same question of myself and I didn't do it. Go with what Greg Barnes said. That is the honest truth. A lot of wisdom simply comes from years and years of climbing... wisdom you cannot get from the internet.


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By Sam Lightner, Jr.
From Lander, WY
May 26, 2010
The Shield

Shit, I sound like such an old fart. My feeling is that routes are often established because we have t means but not the history of why it should be done. If its in a new area, with no climbers having been there, and the land owner or manager is okay with it (and it won't upset the general public), then perhaps its okay... Hey, you found a plum. But if any of those are violated, or if you aren't sure, you should get more people involved than just yourself.

And that said, good for you for asking. Its a big responsebility.

Sam

Ps Use stainless.


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By Zappatista
May 26, 2010
Book me, officer.

I think it's been said, just don't put up a shitty route. We have shitty routes going up daily around Red Rock, it seems. There are big lines that climb like scrambly, oak-choked sand dunes, with tons of traversing to avoid actual climbing. As far as sport routes go, don't be that dipshit who puts up the World's Shiniest Hangers somewhere that creates an eyesore and expect someone else to clean up after you.

Everyone's got their own ethic. Mine is this:

1.Don't bother to name and report a route so shite that it's highly likely someone else climbed it before and didn't deem it worthy of bringing to the light of day. If it's a lame line after climbing it, let the next guy go thru the same process and make himself look like the dummy, naming it something important-sounding and it being less fun than getting rained off. Don't attach your name and reputation (or lack thearof) to something wack. Let someone else do a crappy "first ascent", too.

2. Use good hardware. I can't tell you how many shitty, bad hardware store bolts I see on a regular basis out here. Even if the route is good, if you're putting up lines with homemade hangers and redheads, you're doing a disservice to everyone and ruining Greg Barnes' elbows.

3. Know what the fuck you are doing. Most people really, really don't. Do you know what galvanic corrosion is, and what causes it? Can you look at a bolt that's in the rock and tell from the markings whether it's stainless or carbon steel? Have you placed a bunch of practice bolts in your backyard or similarly under-the radar spots and are sure you're on the right track? Do you have a climbing mentor who's put up a few dozen routes and can remind you not to drill at some fuctup angle and ruin the placement or other first-timer errors? Ruining this climb b/c you're new and ignorant is gonna be a bummer if it goes down that way..

4. Does the route NEED to go up? One more or less sport route ain't changing history for the most part (see Turbo Trad forum for an example), but if your route is way off the beaten path, has stood inviolate for centuries, and has been a fun TR, maybe that's all it's going to need to be, y'know? If you'd led it ground-up, it'd be a different deal by some folks' standards, but really, you've dialed this on TR, so if it's very likely to get five ascents by your buddies in the next decade or so, maybe it's better to drop the hardware money into a road trip fund to climb somewhere sweet, unlike forgotten choss nuggets deep in the forest.

I think a first ascent on a piece of beautiful rock is a great experience that I'd never deprive anyone of. There are a lot of variables to consider, so I'll conclude by saying this:

Don't lose your virginity to an ugly broad. Make it count. -K


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By Tom R
From Denver, CO
May 26, 2010
self portrait

Killis Howard wrote:
Don't lose your virginity to an ugly broad. Make it count. -K

Well said.


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By mschlocker
From San Diego, CA
May 27, 2010
Me climbing in La Jolla.

See what I mean. The same guys telling you not to put in routes are people that in fact have done it themselves. Once you throw it in, you open yourself up to criticism good and bad so "Make it count".


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By Sam Lightner, Jr.
From Lander, WY
May 27, 2010
The Shield

On second thought, anyone with enough sense of responsibility to actually ask this question of others is gonna do it right. Go for it... my advice would be to spend the money initially on stainless steel bolts and hangers so it doesn't have to be replaced. Even the driest crags in the country, like Moab and Owens River Gorge, have rust problems. Do it right once and its there forever with no extra holes.


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By John Keller
May 27, 2010

- NEVER EVER bolt a route that can be protected by trad gear.
- Then ONLY bolt the portions of the route that can't be protected by trad gear.


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By androo.daveass
From Portland
May 27, 2010
Working out the moves on Momma's Boy

Having learned to climb in Wisconsin, I would say that you should be very reserved with your bolting. To most of the climbing community in WI, toproping and/or headpointing are more respected forms of ascent than the redpoint of a sport route-- especially true if the route can be easily toproped.

However, if this truly is a new crag, and you are the only climber cleaning routes there, you are the primary developer and the one who will determine the future ethics of the crag/area.

Some important questions to consider:
-Will anyone else ever climb this?
-Will bolting this (and/or other routes) endanger access for climbers?
-Is there a possibility of area become too popular for it's own good (thereby endangering access)?
-If the route is easily toproped is it worth the money and permanent damage to the rock to bolt it?
-Is this route significant enough to break from the general ethics of the greater climbing community?
-Do I know how to correctly and safely evaluate rock and install bolts?
-If I install bolts, will they be safe for many years to come?
-Do I have enough experience climbing to accurately evaluate and answer these questions?

I would say, based entirely on the fact that you are asking on the internet, that you do not have enough experience with these matters.


Note: I have no personal issue with bolting rock. I have bolted over 30 sport routes and done many other FAs with mixed gear and bolts.

Edit to add: The fact that in your OP you refer to being close to 'sending' on toprope should tell you that toperoping counts as an ascent to you, and no further alteration of the rock is necessary.


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By Wade T
From Corvallis, OR
May 27, 2010

I just don't understand why people want to bolt and lead a climb that can be top-roped. I really can't get my head around it.

When I started climbing, we actually preferred top-roping when we could. It's a more free style, like bouldering. Less gear, more movement, harder climbing because of safer falling.

I like what Killis said, "Everyone's got their own ethic." Make it good.


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By Chris Hayes
May 27, 2010
goats

Wade T
24 minutes ago

I just don't understand why people want to bolt and lead a climb that can be top-roped. I really can't get my head around it.



Is that a Jim Ebert quote?


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By John Maguire
From Boulder, CO
May 27, 2010
Bastille Crack Final Pitch

Wade T wrote:
I just don't understand why people want to bolt and lead a climb that can be top-roped. I really can't get my head around it. When I started climbing, we actually preferred top-roping when we could. It's a more free style, like bouldering. Less gear, more movement, harder climbing because of safer falling. I like what Killis said, "Everyone's got their own ethic." Make it good.


Hahahaha that's awesome.


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By Blake Cash
May 27, 2010

Killis Howard wrote:
4. Does the route NEED to go up? One more or less sport route ain't changing history for the most part (see Turbo Trad forum for an example), but if your route is way off the beaten path, has stood inviolate for centuries, and has been a fun TR, maybe that's all it's going to need to be, y'know? If you'd led it ground-up, it'd be a different deal by some folks' standards, but really, you've dialed this on TR, so if it's very likely to get five ascents by your buddies in the next decade or so, maybe it's better to drop the hardware money into a road trip fund to climb somewhere sweet, unlike forgotten choss nuggets deep in the forest. I think a first ascent on a piece of beautiful rock is a great experience that I'd never deprive anyone of. There are a lot of variables to consider, so I'll conclude by saying this: Don't lose your virginity to an ugly broad. Make it count. -K




Does any route ever NEED to go up? It's rock climbing, not one route, sport, trad, alpine, etc. is so important to the future of this world that it NEEDS to go up. One more or less trad route isn't changing the world either...

If you're psyched man, bolt the thing. Who cares if a thousand people climb it or if 5 people climb it? If you're having the fun, then you're the one who's ahead of the curve. It's rock climbing and it's not important.

With that being said, quality control is something to keep in mind. But the fun of it all is first and foremost.


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