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New (big!) gym opening in Golden - Earthtreks
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By Doug Shepherd
Mar 7, 2014

I've been generally psyched on the gym, but last night I watched a bunch of employees incorrectly argue with a climber using a Gri-Gri 1 about what the proper way to use it was, even to the point of the climber actually having the Petzl printout of approved methods in his pocket because he was obviously tired of being harassed.

Meanwhile, I watched three other people consistently take their brake hand off the rope while lead belaying with a Gri-Gri 2 during the course of their argument. What is more dangerous there?

My friends and I have started talking to people about correct belay technique because the staff seems focused on cracking the whip on a subset of the climbers rather than enforcing the rules across the board.

Instead of harassing people about what technique is appropriate for a Gri-Gri 1 versus a Gri-Gri 2 and skipping the first clip (which is ridiculous, I can almost reach many of the first clips from the ground) the staff may want to focus on improving the mass of belay errors and better route setting to solve the clipping issues.


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By Travis24
Mar 7, 2014
lobbing in Independence Pass

I am the belayer mentioned in the above post. Yes I am tired of being lectured to and harassed about something I do correctly. I have seen others lectured at for belaying correctly as well.

This is a link to a Dead Point Magazine article. Paragraph 5 explains exactly how I belay. www.dpmclimbing.com/climbing-gear/view/grigri-2

I also have email correspondence between a Petzl Tech and myself in which the tech confirms that both the "new" pistol grip method and the "old" classic method are still considered safe and approved.

I am proficient in both methods of belaying but much prefer the classic technique. The employees I have been (sometimes rudely) lectured by seem to think that I should learn to belay by reading a poster on the wall and not trust my own good judgment and a method that has the approval of the manufacturer.


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By James Hicks
From Denver, CO
Mar 7, 2014
Rapping off of South Six Shooter.

JenH wrote:
Walls are rough, I've watched them Lysol the blood my roommate left on the wall. Patch of skin 4x5" bloody and abrated.


Would you prefer slick as glass? I love the uber sticky walls. But I also won't climb in shorts there.


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By reboot
From Westminster, CO
Mar 7, 2014

James Hicks wrote:
I love the uber sticky walls.

Just exactly what do you like about it? The only purpose I can think of is it makes the holds harder to spin.


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By John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
Mar 7, 2014

Travis24 wrote:
I am the belayer mentioned in the above post. Yes I am tired of being lectured to and harassed about something I do correctly. I have seen others lectured at for belaying correctly as well. This is a link to a Dead Point Magazine article. Paragraph 5 explains exactly how I belay. www.dpmclimbing.com/climbing-gear/view/grigri-2 I also have email correspondence between a Petzl Tech and myself in which the tech confirms that both the "new" pistol grip method and the "old" classic method are still considered safe and approved. I am proficient in both methods of belaying but much prefer the classic technique. The employees I have been (sometimes rudely) lectured by seem to think that I should learn to belay by reading a poster on the wall and not trust my own good judgment and a method that has the approval of the manufacturer.


I remember getting lectured at Planet Granite for not using the old 'Pinch and Slide' method for the ATC (i had just returned from my AMGA rock instructor course and was using the newer BUS method, something I had always used).

At first I was pissed. Then I just shrugged. It's their facility, not mine. If I want to play, I have to follow the rules. It's not a statement about your abilities or knowledge, it's simply their way of making it easy for them to police possible dangers. A single belay method means that anyone doing something different is easy to spot.

Remember, every rule in any climbing gym is designed around the lowest common denominator- which means the general public.

You can not like it all you want, but at the end of the day, it's a private business that can and does enforce its posted rules. You can either play by them or you can go elsewhere. The market forces will take care of the rest.


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By JCM
From Henderson, NV
Mar 7, 2014

John Wilder wrote:
A single belay method means that anyone doing something different is easy to spot.


This may be true, and it is also easier to have a strict policy in place that is enforced across the board, rather than asking the desk minions to use discretion in enforcement.

Still, it seems like a lot of the complaints here are about rabid (and rude) "letter of the law" enforcement, instead of a focus on dealing with genuinely incorrect/unsafe behavior. It seems like there are a lot instances where very highly experienced/solid/safe climbers get accosted over silly technicalities, for things that are no less safe than the "official" method, when the employees really should be spending more of their time dealing with the obviously sketchy gumby types.


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By Doug Shepherd
Mar 7, 2014

John Wilder wrote:
I remember getting lectured at Planet Granite for not using the old 'Pinch and Slide' method for the ATC (i had just returned from my AMGA rock instructor course and was using the newer BUS method, something I had always used). At first I was pissed. Then I just shrugged. It's their facility, not mine. If I want to play, I have to follow the rules. It's not a statement about your abilities or knowledge, it's simply their way of making it easy for them to police possible dangers. A single belay method means that anyone doing something different is easy to spot. Remember, every rule in any climbing gym is designed around the lowest common denominator- which means the general public. You can not like it all you want, but at the end of the day, it's a private business that can and does enforce its posted rules. You can either play by them or you can go elsewhere. The market forces will take care of the rest.


Hi John!

I totally agree with you. That said, the enforcement of the rules is entirely sporadic and definitely asymmetrically distributed among the customers. This has become much worse over the last few weeks since they had a draw break, which is totally on them in my opinion.

Last night after the discussion mentioned above, I watched staff members observe people belaying without their brake hand on both the Gri-Gri and tube-style device and NOT say anything. What's the point of having rules for safety if they are not being enforced except when staff members want to hassle a selective portion of the customer base?


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By Kai Huang
From Thornton, CO
Mar 7, 2014

John Wilder wrote:
It's not a statement about your abilities or knowledge, it's simply their way of making it easy for them to police possible dangers. A single belay method means that anyone doing something different is easy to spot. Remember, every rule in any climbing gym is designed around the lowest common denominator- which means the general public.



By that logic, everyone should tie in with figure 8 and never bowline or other knots? By that logic, everyone can only use gri gri or atc and no other devices? I agree that the rules should be made for the lowest common denominator. However, if a climbing gym staff can't acknowledge there are other correct and safe belay methods, I don't think that person is competent enough to stroll around the gym correcting others.


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By reboot
From Westminster, CO
Mar 7, 2014

John Wilder wrote:
It's not a statement about your abilities or knowledge, it's simply their way of making it easy for them to police possible dangers.

No, it's a statement they haven't dealt with an experienced climbing population. This kind of BS just doesn't fly around here. If they insist, they'll find out soon enough they are not in Maryland anymore, say some time late fall.


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By RB81
Mar 7, 2014

There's that saying, "One person ruins it for the rest of the group"...that is kind of what operating a climbing gym is like. You have to make ultra conservitive rules sometimes because somebody has been hurt, usually due to bad choices on their part. So a blanket statement like "No Skipping Clips" have to be implemented, like it or not. I agree that there are a lot of draws close together, and in most cases skipping a clip(like the first one) would not raise the climbers risk of injury...But what if( enter the scary lead fall scenario of your choice) happens? That's what gym managment needs to account for... the crazy stuff that happenes every once in a while. Does it affect community as a whole? Yes, but as one of you said earlier, their house their rules. You have to play by house rules if you want to play there. I have to say I'd take folks complaining about getting cuts and pulled in the first draw more,than having broken backs and bones sticking out of there skin once every ten years.

Is it a pain in the ass to be resistricted because of the mistakes of other...yes! But you have choices. 1- Skip clips and get yelled at. You know it's going to happen so why are you complaining?! 2-suck it up and clip all the draws. Atleast you'll be able to climb in peace. 3-Climb outside 4-Go to another gym.
5-Make a petition to have the 2cd clip be made the first clip, have people sign it, and give it to managment. If they shoot you down, there is nothing else you can do, and you tried

Hey it could be worse, it could be like Jersey years ago when the STATE mandated that you HAD to belay with the gym's grigri that was mounted to the floor.


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By RB81
Mar 7, 2014

reboot wrote:
No, it's a statement they haven't dealt with an experienced climbing population. This kind of BS just doesn't fly around here. If they insist, they'll find out soon enough they are not in Maryland anymore, say some time late fall.

But Reboot... are you still climbing there? If so, wouldn't that mean that the "BS" is flying around there? Beacuse you're still giving money to a place you obviously have disagreements with. Sounds like the gym is winning out on that front.


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By csproul
From Rancho Cordova, CA
Mar 7, 2014
Summit of Wolf's Head with Pingora in the background

Kai Huang wrote:
By that logic, everyone should tie in with figure 8 and never bowline or other knots? By that logic, everyone can only use gri gri or atc and no other devices? I agree that the rules should be made for the lowest common denominator. However, if a climbing gym staff can't acknowledge there are other correct and safe belay methods, I don't think that person is competent enough to stroll around the gym correcting others.

There are gyms that do precisely that; require figure 8's only and a particular belay device. In fact, I'd wager that most gyms are not ok with bowlines.

I may not agree with it, but it does happen.


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By John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
Mar 7, 2014

Kai Huang wrote:
By that logic, everyone should tie in with figure 8 and never bowline or other knots? By that logic, everyone can only use gri gri or atc and no other devices? I agree that the rules should be made for the lowest common denominator. However, if a climbing gym staff can't acknowledge there are other correct and safe belay methods, I don't think that person is competent enough to stroll around the gym correcting others.


Yes. Both of your examples are hard and fast rules at the gym I climb and work in. And it sucks to be the guy who has to go and tell one of my friends and partners that they cannot tie in with a bowline (even though I can check one) and they cannot use a Cinch, Smart, ATC, etc. But I do it because its a rule and my co-workers cannot identify a bowline, nor do many know how to use devices other than the grigri.

Most importantly- our insurance requires us to follow our own rules. If god forbid any accident occurred and any rule wasn't followed- then our insurance wouldn't cover it and the gym would go out of business.

Again, market forces will prevail. If its that big of a deal in Golden, Earthtreks will feel the loss of customers and work with its insurance company to change its policies accordingly.


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By Derek Lawrence
From Bailey
Mar 7, 2014
Cocaine Corner

An update... I've been in contact with the powers that be at corporate. My contact was concerning skipping the first bolt and I did not address the belay-style issue. As far as the first bolt is concerned, corporate has been receptive and has stated to me that they will be changing their policy regarding the first bolt for the Golden ET only (the first bolts at the MD gyms are apparently higher). This may take a little time to get communicated to the staff but it is progress in the right direction.


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By Travis24
Mar 7, 2014
lobbing in Independence Pass

RB81 wrote:
But Reboot... are you still climbing there? If so, wouldn't that mean that the "BS" is flying around there? Beacuse you're still giving money to a place you obviously have disagreements with. Sounds like the gym is winning out on that front.


It would seem that Reboot is referring to when Movement will be opening up a new gym in Denver this coming fall. Many people will be making decisions on which facility best suits them.

Of course we appreciate the hard work of the ET staff and management to provide a gym that Front Range climbers can utilize. We appreciate that ET management seems open to our input as they transition from primarily an East Coast operation to dealing with a different clientele here in Colorado.

One thing we don't appreciate is the mentality that staff should lecture about things that seasoned/experienced climbers are doing correctly. Again, management seems to be very open to input and hopefully things will level out.


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By reboot
From Westminster, CO
Mar 7, 2014

RB81 wrote:
But Reboot... are you still climbing there? If so, wouldn't that mean that the "BS" is flying around there? Beacuse you're still giving money to a place you obviously have disagreements with. Sounds like the gym is winning out on that front.

I don't know why I'm responding to a shill, but no, I went there once and haven't been back. That it happens to be less conveniently located for me and cost more doesn't help either. I have plenty of friends climbing there though. But other than the ones that actually live in Golden, everyone else I know who go there now are waiting for Movement Denver to open.

New facility, and ET certainly has the best in the front range right now, draws the initial crowd. The new Movement probably won't be as large as ET, though I'm sure it'll have a lot more terrain tailored to the more experience crowd. But I am finding out, especially after having visited a number of other high profile gyms in the US, facility is only one part of what makes a good climbing gym.


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By Doug Shepherd
Mar 7, 2014

John Wilder wrote:
Most importantly- our insurance requires us to follow our own rules. If god forbid any accident occurred and any rule wasn't followed- then our insurance wouldn't cover it and the gym would go out of business.


So if the management is receptive to relaxing the first draw rule, then it must not be written in stone for the their insurance, right? I imagine it couldn't be such a fast change if the insurance evaluation had to be re-done to change the rules.


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By John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
Mar 7, 2014

Doug Shepherd wrote:
So if the management is receptive to relaxing the first draw rule, then it must not be written in stone for the their insurance, right? I imagine it couldn't be such a fast change if the insurance evaluation had to be re-done to change the rules.


I would suspect its written in a way that lets them change it (i.e, climbers cannot be above X number of feet without being clipped in). We have a similar policy at our gym and allow climbers to skip the first clip, but not the second.


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By RB81
Mar 7, 2014

Doug Shepherd wrote:
So if the management is receptive to relaxing the first draw rule, then it must not be written in stone for the their insurance, right? I imagine it couldn't be such a fast change if the insurance evaluation had to be re-done to change the rules.

Every insurance policy is different, and if it is able to be changed, my assumption would be that it isn't in the insurance policy. My other assumption is that the first draw was placed by the wall builders a little lower than they thought when the padding obviously wasn't there, small mistake. It's good to hear that they are responding.


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By Doug Shepherd
Mar 7, 2014

John Wilder wrote:
I would suspect its written in a way that lets them change it (i.e, climbers cannot be above X number of feet without being clipped in). We have a similar policy at our gym and allow climbers to skip the first clip, but not the second.


Right. So my bet is that they have flexibility in a lot of these policies and that they should be acting reasonably towards the clientele at the gym versus harassing a subset.

I'm as psyched as anybody to have a good gym that we can use in Denver and overall have a very positive opinion of the facility. However, I find the power-tripping asymmetric application of the rules by the on the floor staff pretty silly and fairly frustrating when actually dangerous situations are being actively ignored.


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By John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
Mar 7, 2014

I think that up until recently, no one who climbed in a gym would sue it (or at least very few) as they are all kinda home grown and most people would not think that any gym owner would be worth suing. That, and so far, waivers have held up in court.

Companies like Earth Treks, Planet Granite, Central Rock, Touchstone, etc are changing that mindset and bringing in massive numbers of new people to the sport. It is obvious that these facilities have money, which means that people are going to be more likely to sue. Even if they aren't, facilities like these have lawyers that are going to be on them to enforce rules much more than older school facilities.


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By Bill Wa
Mar 7, 2014

Custom jewelry.
Custom jewelry.

Our guiding business will also be a part of custom jewelry business. So any barter options for a day pass for two persons?
I did. That is a good idea actually. I don't think I'm that good yet. Anyway, you guys should check out Tuscon gem and mineral show next year. Your wife would probably enjoy it being an artist. Also in Big Sur there is a jade festival in the middle of summer. Supposed to be pretty epic too. I do enjoy that kind of stuff :)


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By Tom-o Sapien
From World's largest trailer park
Mar 8, 2014
Conky and I confront Patrick Swayze

Bill Wa wrote:
Our guiding business will also be a part of custom jewelry business. So any barter options for a day pass for two persons?

Did you make the jewelry Billenor? Or did Ginger?
Either way this shows some talent.
You should try Etsy as an online source of income. My wife does quite well with her photos and embroidered products.


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By mark felber
From Wheat Ridge, CO
Mar 8, 2014

John Wilder wrote:
I think that up until recently, no one who climbed in a gym would sue it (or at least very few) as they are all kinda home grown and most people would not think that any gym owner would be worth suing. That, and so far, waivers have held up in court. Companies like Earth Treks, Planet Granite, Central Rock, Touchstone, etc are changing that mindset and bringing in massive numbers of new people to the sport. It is obvious that these facilities have money, which means that people are going to be more likely to sue. Even if they aren't, facilities like these have lawyers that are going to be on them to enforce rules much more than older school facilities.


People who climb in a gym might not sue, but their health care provider certainly will if they think they can recoup some of their expenses that way. Likewise, an uninsured or underinsured climber who has been injured will have a strong motivation to sue anybody to try and recover some of their medical expenses. A home grown gym might not be worth using, but that gym's insurance company certainly will be worth suing.


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By reboot
From Westminster, CO
Mar 8, 2014

JLP wrote:
With the insurance/liability issue so often quoted, I'm surprised the Front Range gyms haven't been bankrupt, condemned and burned to the ground by now.

I'm with JLP on this. I hear a lot of postulation, but nobody has any numbers on how the policies affect insurance/liability. All the front range gyms has had tons of accidents over the years (even if you've never heard of them) and they are all standing, and the well operated ones are thriving & expanding. I can BS unless somebody has numbers.


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