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Community Question: Adjusting Ethics for Access
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By Mike Morin
From On the Road
Nov 15, 2012
Lincoln Lake
Completely hypothetical, but it's something I've wondered about when exploring the idea of securing recreation access to climbing sites that are on private property.

Would you support adding top anchors and possibly retro bolts for lead protection, to climbs that had previosly been closed due to private property issues if it meant permanent public access could be secured. Is there a criteria for which those otherwise opposed would waiver? What if the crag would primarily cater to beginners but for the fact that most of the routes were X rated?

I would greatly appreciate your constructive thoughts.

FLAG
By JCM
From Seattle, WA
Nov 15, 2012
Interesting inversion of the usual situation. We more commonly see the scenario that the addition of bolts or other hardware makes land managers mad, thereby bolts threaten access. The closure of Roadside Crag, at the Red, comes to mind. In this question, you are proposing that access to the hypothetical crag would open if and only if some additional bolts are added?

This seems like a fairly reasonable concession for access issues to me. And it isn't totally hypothetical either; there are many cases in which bolts are added to keep land owners happy. Here are a few examples:

At the Smoke Bluffs (Squamish), the routes top out right next to some clifftop houses, so there are bolt anchors at the top of most (all?) of the routes to minimize the amount of time climbers spend milling around at the clifftop; just clip the bolts and lower off, so you don't bother the neighbors.

At Crawdad Canyon (UT), which is a privately owned park, the owners are wary of trad climbing due to risk/liability issues. As a result, everything (straight-in cracks included) is bolted.

At MANY crags, rap anchors (bolts) are added to prevent climbers from trampling the fragile clifftop environment when topping out and walking off. This keeps land managers happy.

In all of these cases, I wouldn't call it "Access at any cost"; this makes measures sound crazy-drastic. "At any cost" brings to mind espionage, torture, and the sacrifing of firstborns. Instead I would call those bolt-additions "totally reasonable concessions to make land owners and managers happy".

FLAG
By Mike Morin
From On the Road
Nov 16, 2012
Lincoln Lake
A fair point, the original title was probably a bit dramatic. Thanks for your examples of places that this has occurred.

FLAG
By Buff Johnson
Nov 16, 2012
smiley face
Mike, I would just get a conservation plan done with the private owner, it's their land, then ask forgiveness from the community after you get access opened.

The problem is that the more the owner is involved with the anchor process, the more accountable they will be for an accident. No matter how updated the anchoring becomes or how much you try to make a route safer than being alltogether unprotected, climbing is still dangerous.

Nothing will really prevent an accident victim, an insurance agency, or fire district from filing a suit if an accident happens even if the owner is totally hands-off. Maybe the owner won't be held liable (& might be able go back and collect damages for the suit itself), but the hassle of dealing with and defending a suit in the first place is usually what ends up being an access problem.

FLAG


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