|J-Crack Slab Area
This route is a perfect example of where, how, and why not to rap-bolt a route. As a top-rope, its somewhat fun, and worth doing to hone your slab technique.
The route is not particularly well-bolted; set so close to the perfect crack of Endless Crack that escape would be possible at almost any point and a couple of the bolts could be clipped by someone leading the crack; furthermore, the rock quality of the first half is poor, with crumbly edges for the hardest moves (we broke several in one TR session). As Lumpy is largely a traditional area, it seems that rap-bolted routes should be placed with considerably more sensitivity (not to mention good bolt work!).
The route is found just right of a large gully, which lies right of J-Crack and Femp. Endless Crack is the obvious clean crack which begins and ends in the slab on the left; Pizza Face is squeezed in just right of this. To top-rope, lead either Mission Impossible or Endless Crack, and clip the top bolt (or more, if desired) as a directional. Note that from the anchor atop Mission Impossible, a 60m rope does not reach the ground, so both the climber and belayer must begin from ledge just above the ground (its easy for the belayer to then downclimb after the climber ascends 10 feet to a good stance).
The route has an upper pitch (after following Endless Crack for a pitch) of reportedly much better quality and position, though still run-out, but this pitch has come to be known as a separate route called Kite Slab.
6 QD, and a larger Friend or two for a wide 5.7 crack if desired. Mostly this route is top-roped (60m rope!) by leading either the first pitch of Endless Crack (5.9) or Mission Impossible (5.10a) up to a fixed sling anchor (bring extra carabiners).
|By Mike Sofranko|
Aug 1, 2001
Easy there Charles... Try to not judge the actions of others in the past by standards and values of today. This route went in when bolting ethics were just being worked out in this country. Most of the other bolted Lumpy faces are from a similar time period - what about Mike Caldwell's early bolted routes, and other routes like Skid You Not and Heavenly Journey?
Of course the route is dated, it probably is too close to Endless Crack, and no one is going to lead it. Maybe we should frame the debate around these facts (?) and talk about whether the bolts should be replaced, removed, or ignored?
|By Charles Vernon|
From: Tucson, AZ
Aug 2, 2001
I don't know...you make it sound like it was bolted in the Middle Ages. Bolt ethics are very much still being worked out in this country, and I'd argue that people are a lot more accepting now. You should read Scott Kimball's opinion of this route (also of one of Mike Caldwell's) in his 1986 guidebook--it's a stronger (and more eloquent) condemnation that mine.
I think it'd be great if some areas could be preserved for traditional climbing, but obviously the majority of climbers do not agree with this, so there really isn't much I can do. But the reason I think this route is such a tragedy (relative to climbing ethics) is because by comparison, everything else that goes in seems so benign!
Btw-Skid You Not and Heavenly Journey are "death" routes (as originally climbed)--I don't see where they fit into the debate?
|By Mike Sofranko|
Aug 3, 2001
Basically Charles, I agree with your message, just not your delivery. I tried to address your delivery in my first message, so now I will address some of your points.
When considering the history of sport climbing in the USA, this roue WAS bolted in the Middle Ages. I consider that rather generous, I'd be tempted to say it was bolted in Ancient Times.
I haven't read Kimball's comments, but you make it sound like you are just rehashing (and watering down) some of his objections to the route, 15 years after the fact. The beauty of the web in general and this site in particular is that we can go beyond just restating someone's old opinion about an old route and make the debate more fluid. It can be a vehicle to help reach a community consensus about climbing issues.
I don't share your apinion that 'the majority of climbers' don't want to preserve traditional areas. I don't see a proliferation of bolted faces at Lumpy, and of the few there, CotAMariner is the only one that I see climbed on a regular basis. The power drill restrictions and past choppings undoubtedly keep it in check, as well as the fact that folks want to climb steep juggy sport routes, not friction/edging slabs.
As for me bringing up SYN and HJ, your first objection to Pizza Face was that there are runouts, thus it was bolted poorly. My point is that 'runout' is a pretty relative term. Also, it seems kind of silly to critisize someone for using 1/4 inch bolts in the mid 80s. Everyone did back then!
We know what you think about the quality of the route. Given that the bolts should certainly NOT be used (time bombs): Should the bolts be replaced, removed, or ignored?
|By Charles Vernon|
From: Tucson, AZ
Aug 3, 2001
Mike, I don't think you do agree with my message. And since I feel that way, I'm compelled to answer some of your points.
1)I don't like the historical analogy we've been using. You talk as though so much has changed as far as bolting ethics. It hasn't--the only thing that's changed is that people have become much, much more accepting of any and all kinds of bolted routes. Sure, you still hear people complain about things like heavily manufactured routes now and then, and occasionally you even hear a peep from someone concerned about grid-bolting, but the bar has been significantly lowered (that's one of the things, IMO, that makes Pizza Face even more egregious). When Birds of Fire was rap-bolted on Chiefshead in the late 80s, many people threatened to chop it. Now, it's everybody's favorite route, and people (including primarily trads, as I've discovered from long experience) look at you real funny if you even so much as question it. Tommy Caldwell just climbed a bolted 5.13 on the Diamond, one of the greatest and most stacked cliffs for pure traditional climbing (ratty fixed pins on the first 3 pitches of D7 aside) in the world, and everyone thinks its wonderful. When I mention to people that I summited last time I climbed the Diamond, instead of taking the rap route, they look at me as though I were crazy. No, let me rephrase that--they look as though they don't even know what I'm talking about. (Heck, read the new addition for Black Dagger--it doesn't even mention that it's possible to continue finishing the actual Diamond to Table Ledge, let alone summiting). It used to be that when you climbed in the mountains, you actually had to undergo a complete mountain experience (which doesn't, IMO, by any means necessarily include summiting, but it does mean that you should at least have to find a proper mountain descent). Which leads me to my next point...
2) The majority of climbers most definitely do not have a strong desire to preserve some areas for traditional climbing--either that, or they have a pretty weak idea of what "preserve" should mean. There's not a proliferation of bolted faces at Lumpy if you're thinking in terms of an explosion, but there's definitely a steady creep. The guidebooks writers all admonish us that, concerning new bolted routes, "only the very best lines should be developed". Trouble is, that's meaningless when anyone can go and bolt a route--I know plenty of otherwise perfectly reasonable people who lose all sense of objectivity when it comes to FAs. At best, those kind of statements are taken with "reasonably good" sustituted for "very best". But it does not therefore follow that we should bolt every stretch of reasonably good rock! Look around (I've climbed more at Lumpy than anywhere, so I get ample opportunity)-- there's a good half dozen on the Pear, well more than a dozen on the Book, etc., and more being added every year. A lot of the new routes are hard (by today's standards--5.11-5.13 range), but that invites a different kind of traffic. Maybe you weren't up at Lumpy earlier this year when two local climbers, (who never sport climb, incidentally) left a fixed rope for two weeks on El Camino Real--a retro and rappel bolted 5.12 crack (early 90s). Noted alpinist and traditional climber Topher Donahue commented several years back in a magazine article that, after his lead-bolted route on Sundance Buttress was chopped, he decided to bolt other routes on rappel, so that he'd waste less of his time if it happened again. It hasn't.
3) To me, Kimball's message IS important to restate. Actually, what I should have done is just quoted him directly--that would have been more eloquent, and I think made it clear that more than anything else, I'm expressing frustration. Your ideal of the on-line climbing community sounds great, but I don't think it's worthwhile to discuss whether the bolts should be replaced, removed, or ignored. Clearly they shouldn't be replaced; by even thinking about removing them, you risk being sniffed out as a bolt chopper (about the nastiest thing one can be called in today's climbing community); and they're so obvious, you can't ignore them.
4) Returning to Pizza Face, I admit that it was silly of me to criticize the use of 1/4 in. bolts, as that was the standard of the day. But it makes no sense to compare the route to Heavenly Journey (which has no bolts, other than a 2-bolt anchor--the 2 bolts you can clip on P2 are part of a neighboring, runout, rap-bolted Mike Caldwell route), et al. If you're going to rap-bolt a route, it's just plain silly not to make the bolts reasonably close. (As far as bolting routes right next to perfect cracks, or on crumbly rock, I don't think anything needs to be said). In all honesty, the fact that you ask me the question, to me reinforces my feeling that the majority of climbers do not particularly care to preserve certain areas for traditional climbing.
I'd add only that I hope I haven't offended anyone by these comments, but I'm sure that many people will be offended. Please try to take them in context (mostly in the context of my frustration!). I respect the opinions of people who feel that bolted routes have a place in Rocky Mountain National Park, which is certainly one of the greatest venues for traditional climbing in the world--I can't help it, as almost everyone I know, including practically all of my climbing partners, feels that way, and nearly all of them are good and reasonable people. I've got nothing against rap-bolting in general, but I think my point at bottom is that in the mountains--perhaps one should consider conforming to what they grudgingly offer, instead of imposing our own will to develop.
"Lumpy Ridge could have a thousand such routes manufactured from the top down. Are the rocks to become pegboards to hold our bolt hangers? They do not deserve that fate. A certain reverence and sense of preservation must be given to these wild and irreplaceable environments."--Scott Kimball, from his 1986 guidebook
|By Mike Sofranko|
Aug 13, 2001
Well, I've playing devil's advocate enough. Here's what I think:
- The top bolt should be replaced with some modern climbing hardware to protect the traverse on Endless Crack. (The bottom bolt has already been replaced.)
- I also think that the remaining old worthless bolts should be pulled and the holes marked in such a way (very discretely) that if someone is interested in rebolting the line they will be able to use the original holes. I view this as litter removal, much the same if I remove some ratty slings from someone's old bail anchor.
- These thin bolted faces bore me. (Maybe I'd feel differently if I could climb them, but I doubt it.) Lumpy has enough climbs like this, and doesn't need anymore. I'd be perfectly happy if Lumpy had ZERO such routes. Much like the face to the right of George's Tree, Pizza Face is a perfect TR route.
- Whether something was rap bolted or bolted on the lead doesn't matter to me. Once the bolts are in, they're in. Is the route quality? Are the bolts quality? That's what matters to me.
- Lumpy is a world class cragging area, and new routes going in should reflect this fact. People putting in new routes aren't likely to be influenced by criticism of a 15+ year old route.
|By Malcolm Daly|
From: Boulder, CO
Sep 30, 2001
OK OK, I guess it's time to jump in here and tell the story of Pizza Face. First of all, that was my nickname in High School becaue I had some acne for a while. Nothing major but it was enough to earn me a nickname for it. It all started out as an expedition to climb Kite Slab, that wonderful face perched up high that didn't have any face routes on it. When we got to the base, my partner, Jim Brink, looked at the slab to the right of Endless Crack and said, "let's try it". He was able to climb it on a top rope so we sat down and had the "BOLT" discussion.
The situation at the time was this: Bolted face routes were going in right and left up there. The current standard was either "Skid You Not", put up by Aaron Walters and Billy Westbay (RIP) or "Labor of Lust" put up by Bill Wylie, Scott Kimball and Randy Joseph. By today's standards, both were runnout death routes, with more in common with Bachar-Yerian than with current sport routes. Think back: At that time, there was nothing even called a sport route, let alone a sport climb. There were bolted face routes and there were gear routes. Because this pre-dated sport climbing and power drills, the method of installation was an ethical concern. The norm was quarter inchers for pitch pro and 3/8" for belays. The most ethical way to place bolts was to start from the belay and climb until you found a place where you could stand and drill. If you were chicken, you'd hang a hook over the end of the bit, up against the rock, once the drill bit in a little, and you could take some weight off your feet. Next in the hierarchy was to find a hook placement and drill from there. That's why some bolt placements don't make sense. Waaaaay down the ladder, and almost unthinkable at that time, was to drill from rappel. "Labor of Lust" was led from the ground up, the bolts placed from stances or while hanging on hooks. "Skid You Not" was TR'd and then drilled from rappel, at the time a heinous assault on ethics, but since it was Westbay who did it, and it was .11c, we all wrote it off to pushing the envelope.
So that was the landscape when Brink and I had our "BOLT" talk. We knew we could climb it, it was a well-defined line, admittedly squeezed, but, hell, we thought, "the Book really needs a face climb". So we set up a top rope, and Jim bolted it while he climbed it again. At that time we put in four bolts, the lowest one being the second one you see today. The edges were crumbly then, but edges on new rock are frequently crumbly and seem to clean up with traffic. Either we were wrong then or the route doesn't get much traffic.
The third pitch, Kite Slab was mine. I climbed up about 40-50 feet on 10-ish climbing (Somebody help me out here. It seemed like a long way above the belay. How far up is that first bolt?), and found a sketchy stance and started drilling. 30 minutes of tapping to get a 1" hole done and when I was banging in the split-nail, it bent down (I never was a good carpenter.), leaving a bad bolt stud. Fuck. I was 50 feet above the belay with no gear in and no possibility of getting gear other than a bolt. I hung a wired nut over the stud, clipped it and began another hole, still refusing to hang on the rope because I thought I was ethically pure. I didn't trust the bent over bolt much either. I drilled another hole next to it and began to tap in a button-head. These are weird bolts: You've got to put the stud through the hole on the hanger before you bang the stud in so It's a pain. The bolt rattles and the hanger gets in the way of the hammer. Ding, ding, ding with a rising tone; they sound just like a good pin going in. And then it happened again. I had it almost all the way in and the stud bent over. I stared stupidly at the hanger which was covering up the bad stud and cursed the fact that I was such a shitty carpenter.
I looked in my bolt bag and counted only two studs left. I looked up at 60-70 feet of slab left to climb and did the math. I had to go on what was in, even if that left me with guaranteed 30-foot runnouts. I clipped a runner into the two funky bolts, equalized them and took off. The climbing was teriffic_steep 10+ to 11- edgy, balancey face climbing that in another 15 or 20 led to another place to drill. Got a good one in here and could breathe again. One more bolt about 20 feet higher and I cruised to the roofs and some good natural pro. Then about 50 feet to the top.
I came back by myself the next day with a big hammer, a crow bar and more bolts to clean up the mess. I rapped down and chopped the bent stud, crow-barred the bad bolt and re-drilled the hole and placed a good bolt (As good as ____ gets anyway.) at the base of Kite Slab. That was before the days when we thought about filling in holes and camouflage glue, so there's a stud you can see there below the surface of the rock.
Brink and I came back the next week to climb it clean all the way through. Brink got to lead the first pitch and was able to do it with only one slip. I followed clean and got Kite Slab. It went clean for me and we enjoyed the top for a while. Later that fall I came back and led the first pitch clean. Back at the base we established the crime scene. Jim felt like the first pitch needed another bolt at the bottom to 'define' it better, and make it a clean, all face lead. The first bolt was about 20 feet off the ground and since no-one had thought of the stick-clip idea yet, something was needed. Jim argued that requiring the leader to put in a cam up high on Endless Crack then traversing over to the first bolt ruined the beautiful line. I wasn't so sure but after 45 minutes of discussion about whether to do it or not, and soliciting the advice of a passing climber who thought it needed another bolt, Jim went ahead and put it in.
For better or worse, that's the story. Am I proud if it? As a route I don't know. Since it shares the second pitch with Endless Crack there are only two pitches of new climbing. Kite Slab is the most memorable pitch I've ever led. I'll never forget the pain in my toes while standing on 10b edges drilling the first bolt. I'll never forget the commitment I had to dig for in order to keep going that day. And I'll never forget the terrific climbing up there on that slab. The first pitch feels a bit less clean. It feels engineered, practiced and over-thought. What to do, whether to do it, and how to do it were all questions for both of us, leaving a slightly bitter taste after it was done. I get pissed when the guidebooks report Pizza Face as a one pitch route, leaving out what is possibly one of the best face pitches on Lumpy. But perhaps that's just a reaction to a schizzo route that has two distinct faces (NPI).
I don't think the route deserves the stink-bomb award. The climbing is good, waaaaay hard, and the position, especially Kite Slab, is terrific. Did we make mistakes? Sure, and I'd go back and correct if I could. Be careful about judging. The ethical landscape was changing every day (At that time Wilford wouldn't use Friends because of his ethically pure beliefs.) and it didn't just evolve in a stright line. It jumped back and forth, made advances in some way, lost it's purity in others. Every time a new route went in, the ethical envelope was stretched.
Sorry about the length but it's not an easy story to tell quickly.
|By Mike Sofranko|
Oct 9, 2001
Thank you, Malcolm! What a cool (and fascinating) little history lesson! This is the kind of thing that makes this site so valuable, IMO. Thanks again.
|By Malcolm Daly|
From: Boulder, CO
Apr 18, 2002
I got a call from Scott Kimball last night (4/17/20002) asking if he and some other locals could "fix" Pizza Face. He proposed that they re-drill Kite Slab and put in good bolts (great idea) and possible add another on the face to creat a safer and hopefully more popular face route. I thought this was a good idea and also suggested they add one or two bolts between the belay and my first bolt. This would leave around 100' of climbing with 5 bolts. I'd hate to see it turned into a sport route with a bolt every six feet but think good traditional spacing wpild leave a great pitch of bolted face climbing, not sport climbing.
Then he asked if they could chop the first pitch. Wow! What a refreshing change after all the recent BS going in in Boulder Canyon. My first reaction was that he should call Jim Brink, the guy who actually saw the face and drilled it. Remember, this was back in the days when climbers were called partners and each first ascent actually listed two people! My opinion is that I think it would be an OK thing to do. Recent reports are that the edges are all crumbling and that the route is basically , or will shortly be, unclimbable. If that's true (I haven't been up there for a few years.) then chopping it is warranted. If it was climbable, I'd recommend just getting rid of the first bolt since there's a crack a few feet away.
Apr 25, 2002
Malcolm, I really enjoyed reading your history of Pizza Face, thanks. I replaced the first bolt on Pizza Face two years ago because it protects a dicey slab move into the first pitch of Endless Crack (the old bolt came out with my nut tool). Whatever happens to the first pitch of Pizza Face I'd like to offer my opinion that the first bolt be left in place. I certainly wouldn't advocate adding bolts to existing climbs but in this case people have been using the bolt to protect the start of Endless Crack for years and it protects against a 20' ground fall from a dicey 5.9 slab move. Thanks for your consideration.
|By justin dubois|
From: Estes Park
May 19, 2002
Here's my two cents if anyone cares.... I think a route should be left in the condition of it's first ascent. Just because the Kite Slab is runout, does not mean it should be altered to bring to anyone's level. Especially when it was bolted ground-up in such pure style. I really like the idea of saving that stuff until you can do it, it really gives you somthing to work toward. Now when Malcolm so boldly set out to lead that thing, he probably thought the bolts he was placing were safe, assuming that, I think the bolts could be updated to three-eigths, with none added or moved and the original nature of the route would not be changed. I backed off the Kite slab just this morning, but I like to think that someday I would have balls to do it.
|By S. Kimball|
Jun 29, 2002
Whoo Kids... Hurley/Rearick put the 1st bolt in on their mid 1970s Endless Crack.SK.
|By Nate A|
From: Estes Park, CO
Apr 22, 2003
Recently led this awe inspiring kite slab pitch. Linked it up with Fender Bender for a great slab day. We ended up traversing in to the first bolt, approx. 30' up to the second with what felt like 10b/c climbing. The second bolt is where Malcolm had the epic bolting experience, two studs, an empty hole and the bolt. From here it is approx. 35'-40' up and left to the third bolt. Attempted to go direct, but climbing seemed 5.11ish, ended up traversing over underneath the last bolt and climbing up, 5.10c at the traverse and 5.9+ above. The rock above the last bolt isn't the greatest. Was thinking of rebolting the existing bolts, adding one midway between the second and third, and another below the first for a direct start? Even with a total of five bolts this climb will still deserve a vs rating.
|By Nate A|
From: Estes Park, CO
Oct 26, 2004
Replaced the three 1/4'' bolts on the Kite slab on 10-20-04, all were left in the original positions.
|By Malcolm Daly|
From: Boulder, CO
Jun 29, 2005
I was up there last week and the three bolts that linked the first pitch of Pizza Face have been chopped so, in some weird way, Pizza Face doesn't exist any more. Perhaps we should let the [route] R.I.P. and just call the route Kite Slab after the one beautiful pitch up there. Mal