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By DesertDan
Jun 26, 2012
Scenting Beaver Tail
Being a climber of 25 years at Keyhole and since finding Mountain Project with new activity here thought it would be good to share some history.

The climbing at Keyhole has been of a traditional style since myself or anyone I know can remember. The rock is very featured and offers natural gear placements on every cliff, especially if you're creative. Although there are perhaps six routes total at Keyhole that rely solely on bolts, none would be considered a sport climb based on the run outs between bolts and lack of fixed anchors at the top. Most climbs use all natural gear or are mixed with bolts placed only when necessary, that is only when there is no reliable gear (or at least somewhat reliable). Although the routes at Keyhole are predominately safe, because of the run outs and sometimes tricky gear placements the area has the committing flavor of Joshua Tree or Tahquitz.

Ethics and style at Keyhole are like those from these long time traditional climbing areas. Climbs are established ground up, natural gear is used whenever possible, bolts are placed sparingly from stances or hooks, chipping has never been done. This style of climbing has served Keyhole well by helping keep route development slow and preserving the spicy flavor of the area. More importantly it reduces the impact on the limited resources here.

As climbers, having a low impact at Keyhole and keeping the visual signs of climbing to a minimum is very important to maintaining our privilege of climbing there. As beautiful and fun as climbing is at Keyhole, it is a secondary resource. The primary resource is the archeology and the rich heritage of petroglyphs and pictographs left by thousands of years of habitation by Native Americans. From the perspective of BLM, Keyhole is the crown jewel of Native American rock art in Southern Nevada. It is important that we respect this. If climbing at Keyhole were to be perceived by BLM as a threat to the rock art, climbing would cease or be severely limited. Not a single bolt has been placed in the Lower Canyon without BLM noticing it.

Many local climbers nowadays consider themselves among the caretakers of Keyhole. Picking up trash, removing fire rings inside the fence line, repairing the fence, educating visitors of the area etc. and preserving the character and tradition of climbing at Keyhole. To this end rappel placed bolts and retro bolting has never been condoned and will never be accepted. Occasionally over the years both have happened. Recently retro bolting and rappel placed bolts have been installed prolifically. The general consensus of local climbers is that this is bad for the long term privilege and character of climbing at Keyhole.

As an example of heavy handed bolting, 62 bolts were placed on four routes, including belays, on the South Keyhole Slabs. Approximately half of these bolts were placed within arms reach of natural protection. In the five+ decades of climbing prior to the arrival of the first ascent parties of these four routes, only about 50 bolts total had been placed in all of Keyhole Canyon including everything down to White Dream. The current estimation is that there are approximately 120-130 routes at Keyhole and those four rappel bolted routes alone more than doubled the number of bolts here.

The overall feeling of many of the locals is that all retro and rappel placed bolts should be removed and that it should be done in an effort to preserve the ethical and traditional style of climbing at Keyhole. And again, more importantly to preserve the privilege of climbing at Keyhole in the sense of trying to prevent a conflict between climbing and archeology.

As such, beginning with the South Keyhole Slabs this effort has commenced and all bolts from the routes Born Talking, Charlotte's Web, Red Shoes, and Shoshone Tears have been removed. The belay bolts were removed as well. All of these climbs are well established top ropes that use natural gear for anchors. The issue with these climbs is not the transition of a top rope to a lead. It is with the way they were established; on rappel, placing bolts in contrived locations from unnatural stances, bolts placed extremely close together (sometimes only 2-3ft apart), and next to natural gear placements.

Prior to pulling the bolts on these climbs we led them and were able to skip about half or more of the bolts on each route by using natural gear or walking past them. In one instance on Charlotte's Web, only clipping one of three bolts within reach of a single stance. Red Shoes was led entirely on natural gear in a PG fashion.

These are otherwise good routes, that if established ground up, using the available natural gear and without bolted top rope anchors, would be a welcome addition to Keyhole Climbing.

Keyhole has so far been free of the homogenization that sport and gym climbing has brought to many areas (Calico Hills, Mt. Charleston). It provides diversity and a facet of climbing that if not preserved will undoubtedly disappear. This is a big wide world with many lifetimes of first ascents still available. Within a 100 mile radius of Las Vegas are thousands of virgin cliffs with quality rock that can be developed from scratch in any style (Prim, Arrow Canyon). With so much available, there is room for everyone and every style. Please respect the long standing climbing style and ethics of Keyhole by not rap bolting, retro bolting, or over bolting. Less is more!

Dan Briley

Edit: All of the hangers, bolts, and chains have been dropped off at DRS and the OP (of the routes) has been notified. The bolt holes have also been patched.

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By R. Moran
From Moab , UT
Jun 26, 2012
REtro
Keyhole should be left as it was. Perhaps bringing the community back together for another Keyhole classic is in order. This would no doubt educate and shine some light on a often forgotten gem. Man I had some good times at the Keyhole Classic. Dan keep fighting the good fight.

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By DesertDan
Jun 26, 2012
Scenting Beaver Tail
Thanks for the support! Keyhole is a gem. But if the area is overrun with bolts and high impact climbing, my feeling from having worked for BLM and seeing their reactions to other sensitive areas is that climbing would be lost or greatly restricted. Also, the first full weekend this November (2,3,4) will be the Silver Anniversary of the Keyhole Classic. No climbing contest, just friends and climbers getting together. We would love to see you there. Eeeyaaa!

DesertDan

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By Jon O'Brien
From Nevada
Jun 27, 2012



i don't care for those grades but i've climbed keyhole a dozen times since they were installed and those routes were not hurting anyone. how can you not see that YOU are the negative response here? you're a crook for stealing people's work and for acting entitled to remove hardware where bolting is LEGAL. you claim SOME of their bolts were not needed but you removed their ENTIRE ROUTES?!?!?!


they're names are posted, i really hope you shipped all the hardware you STOLE from them back. you STOLE from your FELLOW climbers at an area where bolting is ALLOWED!!!

if BLM was concerned with climbing, ALL of the routes you LEFT bolted VIOLATE the law for bolting distance from petroglyphs and pictographs in a preservation area! your keen article promotes the bolts YOU like and claims others aren't allowed, where d-bags like you get your meter sticks is beyond me, it is freaking awesome that YOUR bolts are ok and the new bolts are not ok! what a joke! you removed entire routes that had nothing to do with you?!?!?!?!

meanwhile, they often have parties at keyhole where they pour gallons of lit gasoline down the rock face. THAT might be an issue worth fighting. Stealing, in the meantime, remains illegal.

keyhole is a pile, placing an ethic there strong enough to justify STEALING from your fellow climbers is a lie you have created in your head. comparing keyhole to taquitz and joshua tree? really?! you're off the reservation uncle sam! cuckoo for coco puffs!!!!

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By agd
Jun 27, 2012
alaska
Jon,,

Your post is unintelligible. Please try again.

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By Mark Mueller
From Flagstaff, AZ
Jun 27, 2012
Great quality rock on this one!
Jon, why did you redact your initial response for a more watered down post? I liked the first one, especially when you called DesertDan a "putz". haha

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By Jon O'Brien
From Nevada
Jun 27, 2012
62 bolts times apprx. 7 dollars per bolt/ hangar set up = CROOK!!!!!!


we got sonnie trotter of the desert here guys! this guy actually SENT those 5.6's and 5.7's sans bolts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! it was SO hardcore that he went up there and just yanked them bolts afterwards! climbing magazine, the alpinist, and rock and ice have formed one, new magazine to chronicle the efforts of this hardcore traditionalist, stay tuned for more adventures! next week he visits pre-schools and DOMINATES on the basketball court! you aren't even 5 ft. tall yet kid? well desert dan can DUNK!!!!!!!! nnnnnnngggghhhhhh!!!!!!!!!



concurrently (and not related), desert dan is selling 62 slightly used sport hangars at a discount!!!!!!!

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By Xavier Wasiak
From Las Vegas, NV
Jun 27, 2012
Self Portrait
DesertDan, you should have tried to open some dialogue first. Unless I missed something, you unilaterally decided to destroy somebody else's work because of an ethic that, popular or not, right or not, you espouse. I don't think anyone can doubt that you care about Keyhole and the ethic you and others practice there. I just think there was a better way for you to handle this. But whatever. Sometimes things get worse before they get better.

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By Doug Hemken
Administrator
Jun 27, 2012
On Everleigh Club Crack.  Photo by Burt Lindquist.
One wonders if the bolters made much effort to open a dialog with the existing user community?

One of the disadvantages of a strict trad/ leave no trace ethic is that it won't be obvious that there *IS* an existing user community ... which has implications for the effort to preserve any natural areas.

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By Rob Fielding
From Las Vegas, NV
Jun 27, 2012
Third pillar of dana descent.
62 Bolts?!?!?! Was there any remnants of a compressor in the area?

Are you friends with Hayden & Jason?

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By Mark Lewis
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Jun 27, 2012
JLP, another typical useless jerk-post...thanks for your excellent contribution to the community! Keep it up (we all know you will). Inflamatory barrages add nothing to the conversation and only illustrate something very intrinsic about your personality.

I agree with others who feel the bolt-chopping should have been approached in a different manner. These types of tactics only make things worse and could likely instigate a bolt war at Keyhole. Bolt war = everyone loses. There has to be more effective approaches to resolve these types of differences.

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By DesertDan
Jun 27, 2012
Scenting Beaver Tail
The routes in and of themselves are good climbs but the precedent this climbing style sets in this sensitive area is huge. When sport routes swept through Calico Hills and Mt. Charleston it definitely grabbed the Land Managers attention and the Las Vegas Climber Liaison Council was formed as a consequence. When sport climbing arrives in an area, it's kind of like being visited by the Borg. Sport climbing tends to take over and leaves little else. Although bolting is currently legal at Keyhole, the general consensus among the long time local Keyhole climbers is that rap bolting and placing bolts next to available natural gear will lead to a ban on bolts and/or climbing.

Jon:

All of the hangers, bolts, and chains have been dropped off at DRS and the OP (of the routes) has been notified. The bolt holes have also been patched.


Xavier/Mark:

Before pulling the bolts, an attempt to include the first ascent party in dialog and participation was made and declined. If dialog on the local ethics of the area had been attempted, likely this issue could have been avoided.




Patched bolt hole on Red Shoes next to natural gea...
Patched bolt hole on Red Shoes next to natural gear. One of many examples.


DesertDan

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By Mark Lewis
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Jun 27, 2012
Regardless of the varied opinions of what you did, it is apparent you were thorough - looks like attention to detail was paid when patching holes rather than some of the hack jobs I've run across before.

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By Jon O'Brien
From Nevada
Jun 27, 2012
very glad and relieved to hear you didn't steal the stuff... of course, 62 bolts have been destroyed forever... i hope the FA team didn't sacrifice TOO much over those installations they provided for everyone!


i don't think anyone has the right to chop anyone else's route in an area where bolting is legal, bolting a former top rope is considered progress and/or a gift by many.

i think chopping a 5.easy route is pretentious.

i think places like keyhole canyon are the EXACT types of places where bolting a bunch of 5.easy is appropriate and i fully support bolted routes because the ethic of the area shows there are bolts there already.

removing an entire route because a few of the bolts were misplaced is wrong.




if you disagreed with the FA team your actions are equal. the only difference is that the FA team created something and you destroyed something. the rest = just words, opinions, and perspectives we tell ourselves to justify imposing ourselves on each other. you're not upholding a law, just your opinion. the actions are clear: construction vs. destruction. that's all i see here. they created, you destroyed. i see zero liberation, protection, or stewardship. i just see someone justifying throwing the first punch in a stupid fight.

the mountains do not belong to you, they belong to all of us. EVEN retards that want to climb a bolted 5.6 on public lands. the atrocities i have seen at keyhole canyon from non-climbers makes taking down a few beginner routes completely ridiculous in my mind... i truly feel those climbs were harmless. stupid. but harmless.


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By s.price
From PS,CO
Jun 27, 2012
 Morning Dew ,self portrait
I've never climbed ay Keyhole but have found this discussion interesting.

Dan, as a climber of three decades I would say I am in about 80% agreement with your actions and applaude you making the effort to return the hangers. A stand has to be made sometimes. However,what about the bolts? Obviously these were destroyed upon removal.

Since you mention ethics numerous times it would seem to me you would understand that the ethical thing to do would be to pay the original bolter of these lines the money it cost him to purchase the bolts.

That would be ethical. So far what you have done is akin to returning one shoe to its rightful owner when you have the pair.

I probably would have chopped them as well.

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By Rob Fielding
From Las Vegas, NV
Jun 27, 2012
Third pillar of dana descent.
Desert Dan certainly doesn't own the "rock," but if he has put up many of the routes in the canyon and has been a long time local then I think he should certainly have some say. The fact that he put in his own effort/time to chop/patch the bolts shows something about his character. The keyhole canyon must mean something to him.

The rap bolted routes looked poorly constructed. There isn't any excuse for a poorly constructed rappelled route. It should be flawless/perfect.
If the bolts were not placed appropriately, what gives any reason to believe the route setters were efficient at placing the bolts?

I personally like areas that have a certain ethic. It makes traveling to different areas fun. For example, I enjoy Tuolumne for its bold run out slab routes. If you begin up a route, it generally isn't feasible to bail with out gear. Squamish has primarily bolted anchors as does Red Rock, makes you push your limits a little more given the fact that you can bail if need be.

I'm not in any way against rap bolting, if anything it is very unselfish. The route is generally set up for "the people," safe, well protected, and well though out bolt placement. Does it take away from the adventure as well as the wonderful history of the first ascent? Yeah, I think it does. It's all preference and opinion though.

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By John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
Jun 27, 2012
I find it odd that the only routes I even thought were climbable at keyhole the one time I visited there were the ones that Dan chopped. And those routes were mediocre at best. And poorly bolted.

I'm pretty anti-chopping, regardless of ethics involved, if there are no land issues to worry about. It'd be one thing if they were long established lead climbs completely reliant on gear, but they were top ropes. They were also in an area that frankly does not have, nor will it ever have, enough traffic to worry about any kind of land issues.

I appreciate that there are people that care about climbing areas and have developed and have pride in their ethics. However, I do think that battles need to be picked with care. This wasn't one of them worth starting, imho. If you're lucky, nothing will come of it. If you're not, the bolting and chopping of bolts will get the attention of the land managers and then the shit will really hit the fan.

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By Gravity Circus
Jun 27, 2012
Jon O'Brien wrote:
i hope the FA team didn't sacrifice TOO much over those installations they provided for everyone!

Jon O'Brien wrote:
the FA team created something and you destroyed something


The first known accent party of these (and many others at Keyhole through the mid 80's) was Stephanie and Michael Petrilak back in the late 70's and no bolts were placed at all. The climbers recently claiming these routes as first ascents are actually the retro bolting team and they are the ones doing the destroying.



Jon O'Brien wrote:
...62 bolts have been destroyed forever....

Jon O'Brien wrote:
...removing an entire route because a few of the bolts were misplaced is wrong....


Rappel placing 62 bolts that should have never been placed is wrong!



Jon O'Brien wrote:
bolting a former top rope is considered progress and/or a gift by many

As Dan clearly said:
DesertDan wrote:
The issue with these climbs is not the transition of a top rope to a lead. It is with the way they were established; on rappel, placing bolts in contrived locations from unnatural stances, bolts placed extremely close together (sometimes only 2-3ft apart), and next to natural gear placements..




I climbed these routes the first time in 1980 and a number of times since.
From my point of view, nice job cleaning up the bolt graffiti!
Keep up the good work.

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By R.S. Mills
Jun 27, 2012
Rob, I agree with you but have been confused with the overall thread here.

What gives that a traditional top-rope area, that has been climbed for decades, is now subject to bolting? Some here have referred to the Retro-Bolter as the First Ascensionist. In my 25+ years of climbing, I have never witnessed this behavior before. Ethics worldwide provide for the route established by the first climber to be kept in the overall condition that he/she left it in after the new route was established. Many times FAís will notate the need for fixed protection or bolts for following parties to reduce danger.

On this note: This is a top-rope area with natural gear options. If I am not mistaking, I see pin scars in the perfect crack below the patched-bolt-hole in Danís photo. This is ridiculous. I see here a newbie climber who just bought a bolt gun and thinks he is making kudos in the climbing world by placing hangers for his friends.

If this is not stopped you are going to see idiots like this bolting anything they want and the land owners/land managers are going to respond quite negatively Iím afraid. You mention Toulomne; how about a bolt lines up the Pothole Dome, or on the Hobbit Book? I know; how about Sunshine on the Drug Dome? Thatís spooky! Chicken Littleís a little scary, but Iíll bet no one would care if someone bolted Lampoon, it needs gear!!!

Come on guys and gals, give the true First Ascent Party their due. Climb in the established form which is befitting the community, the heritage and the spirit in with the climb was first put up!

How about a bolt-ladder up the Nose? Perhaps Super Crack could use some on that first difficult section below the crack? On second thought, people with little hands have a harder time with SC, do it all! Mad River Glen could use some more and certainly The Needles doesnít have enough! Devilís Lake, WI is in dire need too, hundreds of unbolted top-ropes there! Perhaps Acadia, top-ropes everywhere! High Exposure in the Gunks is super spooky without boltsÖ How about Micky Mouse Wall? Hard, top-ropeable and super spookyÖ definitely needs bolts, then I could climb it!

I catch anyone bolting a top-rope line in my neck of the woods; your ass will be going home in a gurney! Flat out! Dealing with land managers has been a huge task for the last 20 years and idiots like Jon Oís buddies can totally screw that up. Iíve placed bolts. Iíve set pins and Iíve cleaned routes. Iíve been well established in the climbing community for many years and I do not condone what I understand happened causing DesertDan to remove the bolt lines. I do condone DesertDanís actions and applaud what he has done and how he has done it.

To the young guns out there: Respect the rock you are on lads, or it may not be there in the future. Land Managers will see to that. We want you to perform at a higher level than we have. We want you to go further and to climb harder. We do not want to see climbing closed or disrespect placed upon those who came before you.

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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Jun 27, 2012
At the BRC
R.S. Mills wrote:
Ethics worldwide provide for the route established by the first climber to be kept in the overall condition that he/she left it in after the new route was established.

In the first place, I'm not sure this ethic is held worldwide. Regardless, in the US, typically the first ascent style is respected.
Unless the climb is repeated in better style, for example an aid route gets done free and any remaining aid gear is removed.
Some might argue that a bolted lead climb is better style than a top rope.
However, if the local tradition is ground-up, then IMHO the bolts ought to go in ground-up.
Mark

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By sonvclimbing
From bolder city
Jun 28, 2012
cowboy over tower
I have climbed hundreds of routes with desert Dan all across southern Nevada. If you want to get the local consensus on ethics regarding Keyhole Canyon you can talk to Dan. He has been climbing there probably more than anybody. You want to talk to the first ascensionist of a particular climb in the area, he can get ahold of them for you. He also would be the first person to give you a belay should you show up and need one.

Dustin Wilkinson

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By Morgan Patterson
Administrator
Jun 28, 2012
Topo - Cliffs in Green
Mark E Dixon wrote:
Some might argue that a bolted lead climb is better style than a top rope. However, if the local tradition is ground-up, then IMHO the bolts ought to go in ground-up. Mark


Ding ding ding...

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By Gravity Circus
Jun 28, 2012
+1 on that.

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By Justin.Trayford
Jun 28, 2012
Hate to be this guy

mountainproject.com/v/retro-bo...

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By sonvclimbing
From bolder city
Jun 29, 2012
cowboy over tower
Justin.Trayford wrote:



Actually, George created this topo to prevent retro bolting existing routes. All the routes in the topo are before my time and probably over 20 years old or so. I find his topo to be of excellent quality and very accurate.

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By Monkeytoes
Jun 29, 2012
I feel that 5.6 and 5.7 climbs are not challenging. I soloed half Red Shoes when I was five years old multiple times. I understand wanting to put bolts on the climb because it makes you feel safer to be climbing however when you can put natural gear in you are just as safe as long as you put it in correctly. This is a better alternative than making more holes in the rock which are wasted if they are not needed.

FLAG


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