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Bolting Rap Anchors on Trad Climbs
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By Isaac8
May 16, 2011

I recently moved to Upper Pennisula, Michigan. There are climbing oppurtunities in the UP; however, they are limited. I have climbed at several of the "best" locations and for the most part had alot of fun.
I went to a traditional crag in the town of Palmer. There are maybe a dozen safe traditional lines and another half dozen R/X lines. I led almost all of the lines in a single day. At the top of several of the routes, I found myself wishing for rappel anchors. As I looked for a place to rig a rapel I noticed several chopped rapel anchors (poorly chopped ex. bolt still there but bent etc. I found one or two trees located away from the cliff to make a rappel, but they were the only ones for the entire cliffline, and the rope was still difficult to pull.
I want to drill several rappel stations for the cliff in safe and convinent locations. Furthermore, I would like to develop the cliff more to allow for some sport climbs and top rope accessibility. Given the limited amount of stone in the UP it is selfish for a few climbers to chop bolts because the area is "trad". The area should be developed to its full potential to encourage climbing in this area.
What ethical considerations may I be overlooking that are keeping this area under-developed?


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By Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
May 16, 2011
Bocan

Just a quick opinion on bolt ethics.

If you are a bolt smasher, your ethics are warped. Unless you are going to remove the bolts properly and at least attempt to repair the hole you are the bigger problem. LAME-O.


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By Ed Wright
May 16, 2011
Magic Ed

Fixed anchors at the top of short trad routes makes good sense to me but you really need to make contact with the locals to establish some ground rules before you go ahead.


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By john strand
From southern colo
May 16, 2011

we went through this in CT BITD. There is no answer if "locals" insist on a certain view.


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By sonvclimbing
From bolder city
May 16, 2011
cowboy over tower

It sounds like someone already tried to put in rap anchors and it didn't fly.

Is it possible to hike off? Dont be lazy.

The area was probably "trad" long before it got selfishly retro-bolted.

ethical consideration: Leave no trace, placing bolts doesn't develop an area. Why do areas need to be developed?

You don't need to encourage climbing it is not your job or responsibility.

It sounds as though this cliff could be easily top roped if your not happy with the way the cliff is.

However, I have never been to this place before so check with the local route setters, it might be a good idea to place some bolts up there.

Just some things to think about.


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By Fat Dad
From Los Angeles, CA
May 16, 2011

Isaac8 wrote:
Given the limited amount of stone in the UP it is selfish for a few climbers to chop bolts because the area is "trad". The area should be developed to its full potential to encourage climbing in this area. What ethical considerations may I be overlooking that are keeping this area under-developed?


Although I have some questions based on the above comments, let me commend for seeking out info first before drilling. I'm sure the prospect of developing some climbs seems interesting, but to flip your first comment, given the limited amount of stone in UP, is it equally selfish for a few climbers to bolt things that have been traditionally climbed without bolts?

Also, you describe the area as "under-developed." It sounds fully developed, just not bolted. It appears most of locals at least intended to keep it that way. Since this is Michigan we're talking about, I'm assuming that the cliff isn't very tall and that walking off is an easy option. The benefit of any bolts at the top would simply be to preserve the trees, which bear the brunt of the abuse. Is that the scenario, or am I missing something?


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
May 16, 2011
El Chorro

Adding bolted rap anchors is only acceptable when the other ways down are not practical/safe/allowed. The fact that you were able to go to a new area and do all of the routes in one day suggests that there is already a good descent for the crag.

I do agree that sport climbs should be allowed to be bolted, assuming that they take no gear and they don't crowd established lines. But if there are trad pitches that are doable in a reasonable amount of time without bolted anchors, there is no reason to change anything


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By Grover
May 16, 2011

Drill baby Drill, And God Bless America


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By Mike Anderson
From Dayton, OH
May 16, 2011

During my Air Force survival training an old crusty master sergeant told us a story that sounded a little far fetched...I don't know if it was true or not. He said that several years after the end of WWII, a man was found living on an uninhabited island. He was a Japanese soldier who had been left behind on the island, and had survived all that time. They said his survival equipment, especially his knife was in mint condition. The moral of his story being, take care of your gear and it will take care of you. The moral of my story is still coming. As the story goes, when they found the guy, he tried to defend his island from the rescuers because he had no idea the war had ended years ago.

THE WAR ENDED YEARS AGO!!!!

Nevertheless, in remote areas of this country, there are still people with (apparently) no internet access or other contact with the outside world that think the presence of rap anchors affects the quality of the experience or boldness of the route. Just like the Japanese soldier, they will defend these beliefs vigorously. My advice is to roll your eyes often and deal with it.


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By Tony B
From Around Boulder, CO
May 16, 2011
Got Milk? How about forearm pump? Tony leads "Alan Nelson's Bulging Belly" (5.10, X) on the Lost and Found Flatiron. Belayer is Mark Ruocco. Photo by Bill Wright, 10/06.

Isaac8 wrote:
I want to drill several rappel stations for the cliff in safe and convinent locations. Furthermore, I would like to develop the cliff more to allow for some sport climbs and top rope accessibility. Given the limited amount of stone in the UP it is selfish for a few climbers to chop bolts because the area is "trad". The area should be developed to its full potential to encourage climbing in this area. What ethical considerations may I be overlooking that are keeping this area under-developed?

Well Issac...

Start with the question of how many people is "I" and how many people is "a few climbers."

Then realize that however the last bolts there ended up is exactly how yours will unless there is a very strong consensus.

That's the $.02 worth of self actualization and pragmatism that I can offer you that is not specific to your area since it's not my home range.


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By Phil Lauffen
From The Bubble
May 17, 2011
RMNP skiing. Photo by Nodin de Saillan

Mike Anderson wrote:
During my Air Force survival training an old crusty master sergeant told us a story that sounded a little far fetched....


hahaha although I disagree with some of the points you are trying to make, good story!


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By e-m-p
May 17, 2011

1) You mentioned that you just moved to the UP. Have you met a lot of the local climbers? Seems like it'd be a lot easier to get explanations of the local ethics from them, rather than strangers on the Internet. You might want to stick your head in at Downwind Sports in Marquette. They're friendly folks and are likely to know most of the local climbers and crags and history.

2) What Tony said.

3) Even if there's not a strong ethic against placing bolts, you could rapidly generate one by moving into an area and drilling a whole bunch without getting to know all the locals. Especially in a place like the UP, where vertical rock is pretty scarce.


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By Keith H. North
From Englewood, CO
May 17, 2011
A short M4 climb in the School Room @ Ouray

First: I do not live in this area.


Second: I love having a bolted rap anchor at the top of a trad climb... it makes everything safer and more convenient. easier to get down, less destructive to a tree, you don't need to leave webbing and rap rings on trees ect.

It is really nice in eldo on some of the easy trad climbs especially when weather rolls in and a quick exit is needed :)

just my two cents...

also another cent, if you drill a hole and you don't use it with a hanger ect... DO NOT LEAVE IT, fill it and add the dirt to the glue to make it look real.


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
May 17, 2011
El Chorro

I think it's sad that so many of you have the view that you should just put anchors at the top of every pitch.

The only people who really know what is appropriate are the people who climb there regularly. Maybe the area would be better with more bolted anchors, but maybe not.

Take my two favorite areas for instance:

The New River Gorge has bolted anchors atop nearly all of the trad pitches. You can top out many of the climbs if you want, but it would then be hard to get down. There aren't many breaks in the cliff-lines, so walking down is tough. And having one central rap station per crag doesn't always work because once you're on top, it's hard to get back down over the lip safely, due to the steepness of the walls.

On the other hand, Moore's Wall in NC doesn't have bolted anchors at all. SOME climbs are under the central rap station, but that's it. But this is OK at Moore's. There are breaks in the cliff line where you can walk/climb down, or find safe rapp anchors where you can thread the rope at a stance, and not hanging over the top like you would have to at the New.


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By Tim McCabe
May 17, 2011

Ryan Williams wrote:
I think it's sad that so many of you have the view that you should just put anchors at the top of every pitch.


Welcome to the golden age of convenience climbing.

Mike Anderson wrote:
THE WAR ENDED YEARS AGO!!!!


Right and the tradies lost so feel free to turn the great outdoors into a climbing gym.

Keith H. North wrote:
First: I do not live in this area. Second: I love having a bolted rap anchor at the top of a trad climb... it makes everything safer and more convenient. easier to get down, less destructive to a tree, you don't need to leave webbing and rap rings on trees ect. It is really nice in eldo on some of the easy trad climbs especially when weather rolls in and a quick exit is needed :) just my two cents... also another cent, if you drill a hole and you don't use it with a hanger ect... DO NOT LEAVE IT, fill it and add the dirt to the glue to make it look real.


First off I don't live there either, and 10+ for the DO NOT LEAVE IT comment.

But clearly any place in the UP can not be compared to Eldo. The guy said he climbed everything in one day so it must be a small cliff and it couldn't have been that inconvenient.

To the OP next time you go look at it as a challenge to be more creative. Perhaps there are good ways to deal with the situation that wouldn't require the use of bolts. This might require that you bring an extra rope or a lot of long pieces of webbing. And if you do it right you shouldn't have to damage the environment.

Another challenge for you might be to repair the damage left by the previous bolt war.

But as has been stated the first thing to do is learn more about the locals and why things are the way they are.


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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Plymouth, NH
May 17, 2011
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.

Mike Anderson wrote:
During my Air Force survival training an old crusty master sergeant told us a story that sounded a little far fetched...I don't know if it was true or not. He said that several years after the end of WWII, a man was found living on an uninhabited island. He was a Japanese soldier who had been left behind on the island, and had survived all that time. They said his survival equipment, especially his knife was in mint condition. The moral of his story being, take care of your gear and it will take care of you. The moral of my story is still coming. As the story goes, when they found the guy, he tried to defend his island from the rescuers because he had no idea the war had ended years ago. THE WAR ENDED YEARS AGO!!!! Nevertheless, in remote areas of this country, there are still people with (apparently) no internet access or other contact with the outside world that think the presence of rap anchors affects the quality of the experience or boldness of the route. Just like the Japanese soldier, they will defend these beliefs vigorously. My advice is to roll your eyes often and deal with it.


This gets my vote as the best MP post EVER.


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By MJMobes
From The land of steady habits
May 17, 2011
modern man

rolling eyes and dealing with it only works for so long. these folks who insist on things never changing at their local crags remind me of the flat earthers who are still out there and spraying DDT all over themselves when they go in the woods cause it works best.

I'd say the best advice is just do what you believe to be right(and dont pull ropes from trees)


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By Clifford Mallory
From Casper WY
May 17, 2011
Sunrise front range ridge

Drill baby Drill, And God Bless America

>


I wish I could dance the good rock on brother.


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By Fat Dad
From Los Angeles, CA
May 17, 2011

mobley wrote:
rolling eyes and dealing with it only works for so long. these folks who insist on things never changing at their local crags remind me of the flat earthers who are still out there and spraying DDT all over themselves when they go in the woods cause it works best. I'd say the best advice is just do what you believe to be right(and dont pull ropes from trees)

Wow, this is just really bad. Wow.


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By sulli
From Lake Tahoe, Ca
May 17, 2011
Sulli on the Bliss Arete

sonvclimbing wrote:
placing bolts doesn't develop an area. Why do areas need to be developed?


Uhhhh.... So we can climb it? Why do you need gas in your car? So you can drive it... why do you need grease on your bike chain? so you can ride it... This "trad only, leave no trace" ethic is just stupid... picking up your garbage is one thing, placing a couple rap anchors in an inconspicuous spot, even painted to be camo'd... If you've got a problem with that then you're the one with the issues not the guy who wants a safe alternative to topping out and walking around.


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By P.K.
May 17, 2011

I am actually just curious on what you found the best areas to be, near Marquette or up on the Keewenaw? There is a small chance I might be in Michigan for a bit this summer and would try to climb some there if I can pull myself away from the lake. I know a new Marquette County guidebook has been published, do you know how complete it it? Also, have you checked out any of the stone in Ontario, north of Sault Ste. Marie, mayby near Agawa Canyon?


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By BHMBen
From The Deeper South
May 17, 2011
Post climb snack... <br /> <br />Photo is of Strappo Hughes, taken in the Yosemite Lodge parking lot in 1982 by Russ Walling.

sulli wrote:
Uhhhh.... So we can climb it? Why do you need gas in your car? So you can drive it... why do you need grease on your bike chain? so you can ride it... This "trad only, leave no trace" ethic is just stupid... picking up your garbage is one thing, placing a couple rap anchors in an inconspicuous spot, even painted to be camo'd... If you've got a problem with that then you're the one with the issues not the guy who wants a safe alternative to topping out and walking around.


I'll be that guy and you can keep being a convenience-junky....baller bouldering shots, BTW.

Beyond that....what Ryan Williams and Tony B said.


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By Cole Phinney
From Sheridan, Wy
May 17, 2011

sulli wrote:
If you've got a problem with that then you're the one with the issues not the guy who wants a safe alternative to topping out and walking around.

Safe Alternative?
www.mountainproject.com/v/arizona__new_mexico/i_removed_a_bo>>>

www.mountainproject.com/v/climbing_gear_discussion/psa_ancho>>>


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By Mike
From Phoenix
May 17, 2011
Doing the jump-across off The Mace.  I never get tired of this climb.  Photo by Wednesday Hugus.

sulli wrote:
Uhhhh.... So we can climb it?


Not to get all caught up in facts & reality & stuff, but you CAN climb it without bolts.

sulli wrote:
This "trad only, leave no trace" ethic is just stupid


Trad climbing and Leave No Trace are stupid??? And your statements sound so intelligent & open-minded.

sulli wrote:
If you've got a problem with that then you're the one with the issues not the guy who wants a safe alternative to topping out and walking around.


What is unsafe about topping out & walking down? Easy & lazy does not equal unsafe. In fact, I would guess that generally rappelling is overall LESS safe than walking off, though I have no statistics to back that up.


I echo many of the above sentiments: Talk to the locals. You could always go find your own sport cliff. Of course that may take some effort.

Good on you for asking around instead of just automatically drilling. I hope you take all the responses to heart, even those that I disagree with.


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By Paul Davidson
May 17, 2011

George Perkins wrote:
Isaac, one trick that is helpful at crags like that is to bring an extra rope (static is best) to extend an anchor from the trees set back a ways out toward the cliff edge. This makes pulling your lead rope easier.


+1

George Perkins wrote:
but as you say you recently moved to the area, I would suggest going along with local tradition and meeting more local climbers before adding hardware...


+2 - Moving into an area and deciding what the local ethics should be is a good way to lose out on potential sources of info and partners.
Obviously you're not that guy or you wouldn't have asked.

Blows my mind how many climbers can demand that all areas follow their ethics of convenience and then want to label anyone or any area who doesn't follow the clip and lower standard as anachronistic trads. As George said, there are all sorts of reasons that can apply to areas for not putting in fixed anchors. And to ignore those reasons can lead to unintended negative consequences, like closures. private land, land managers, etc...

So hook up with locals and discuss the issue. Besides, if the area is so limited you climbed it out in a day, why not walk down and make it last a bit longer. Enjoy the excercise, enjoy the views, examine the flora and fauna. Being mindful of the totality of the area might be a more rewarding experience for you.


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By Doug Hemken
Administrator
May 17, 2011
On Everleigh Club Crack.  Photo by Burt Lindquist.

Just take a second rope, set up a fixed rap line, and leave it there all day. All of the convenience, none of the agony.


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