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Tres Piedras (NM) Bolts, Ethics, Access Discussion
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By George Perkins
From Los Alamos, NM
May 10, 2008
a

I moved all the discussion of bolts, ethics, chopping and access issues and such to this Forum, off the main Tres Piedras page and the Clean Green Dream route page on Sept. 24, 2009.


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By Mike Howard
Administrator
Sep 24, 2007
RGG silhouette

This post was originally a comment in Clean Green Dream

Bruce added two more protection bolts to [Clean Green Dream] a couple of years ago and when he went back the following week to lead it again, they were chopped. He thought it might feel runout.


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By Anthony Stout
Administrator
From Albuquerque, NM
Sep 24, 2007
Whipping on Goliath

This post was originally a comment in Clean Green Dream

Amazing. The FA places bolts to their own route and they are chopped. Were they placed near the crack or something?

What can you do? It only takes one.....


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By Anthony Stout
Administrator
From Albuquerque, NM
Sep 25, 2007
Whipping on Goliath

This post was originally a comment in Clean Green Dream

I agree with you that one should not be that discouraged from this route, and also that the run-out is really not all that bad. The crux is well protected.

Chopping bolts is a touchy subject. You bring up excellent questions and some that could result in, I am sure, endless debate. Although it may be difficult to find who the first ascensionist is for a particular route, it seems that at least an attempt to find or contact them would be appropriate (and how do I know he did not? I don't), rather than acting on impulse and chopping bolts! This to me seems, as stated, quite self righteous. Though, it is still a great route as it is!


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By Mike Howard
Administrator
May 9, 2008
RGG silhouette

This post was originally a comment in Clean Green Dream

George,
Wild huh? I don't care who it is but I have to think if they are putting that sort of energy into chopping a FAist addition would they please upgrade some of the aging hardware in between. I'll pitch in for the gear if they want to email me.
Some of us were surprised to see that a new route put up last year on the mosaic wall was disappeared about 2 weeks later. Excellent reclamation too, not a hint of the holes. Perhaps the same posse. That route created a fair amount of discussion in the community and then poof, it was gone.
I like the idea of some party being so committed to the place and I fully support the efforts of folks working with the property owner/USFS but just wild to think I haven't a clue who it is...


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By Williampenner
From The 505
May 10, 2008
Beaver Mountain

This post was originally a comment in Clean Green Dream

Where was the new line put up on the Mosaic Wall last year? Clean Green Dream is runout where it is easy but not nearly as airy as Better Red Than Dead.

My understanding of the bolt ban is that it is voluntary rather than an official FS policy. Some bolts do need replacement, particularly the older routes on North Wall. Raise the Titanic could use some love, as the fixed pins have likely not been checked in years. Luckily most folks who step up to the route are not going to fall (you hope). The tree anchor on the 12 on the Mosaic Wall could also be replaced. That tree inspires little confidence for a TR anchor and I can't remember if you can get gear in to back it up.

This is not meant to denigrate the TP locals, but sometimes I think they also raise the specter of a bolt ban just to discourage out of town folks from doing the few remaining new routes. Taos climbers, feel free to tell me I am wrong and that the bolt ban is only due to access/private landowner concerns. If the ban is in effect, I would like to see it writing to understand what is prohibited.


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By Mike Howard
Administrator
May 10, 2008
RGG silhouette

This post was originally a comment in Clean Green Dream

William,
I was under the impression there is no bolting at TP, but I have seen no written "bolting ban" in place, rather a variety of local climbers have worked out tenuous access with a landowner and the USFS and have left the issue undiscussed. My understanding is that any activity (new routing or replacement) is frowned upon and may jeopardize access. There may be a process by which you can get USFS permit, but I have never heard of anyone going through that route. I know that both Dennis Jackson's and Jay Foley's books discuss the issues in the text. While no one I know has seen a written policy, I understand the consensus has been there is NO Bolting there now. This is directly from individuals who have spoken with the parties involved. Please respect this until someone who has talked to the USFS and the property owner has confirmed a permit process.
Cheers,
Mike
Edit: Please see the note at the top of this page (Private Property)


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By Williampenner
From The 505
May 11, 2008
Beaver Mountain

This post was originally a comment in Clean Green Dream

Mike,

That may be the case there is a real ban in place. Foley and Jackson are clear about the existence of a ban, just not clear about the nature and history of the ban or who is actually involved. So be it and I'll abide by it, although I still think my suggestion up-thread has some validity. Someone should coordinate with FS to replace the antique hardware on the older routes, as that is totally different than adding new bolts. I will donate my time and hardware if anyone pulls this idea together. Still, it is strange that those three adjacent routes on South Rock were bolted during the ban and there was no reaction.

I have seen visitorship increase over the years and last season it was crazy; it seems likely that more folks will be the eventual breaking point not a new or replaced bolt here or there. One day last year there must have been 30+ climbers and at least that many hikers. I do miss the weekends when you saw nobody, even in the prime season.


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By Mike Howard
Administrator
May 11, 2008
RGG silhouette

This post was originally a comment in Clean Green Dream

William and George,
Again, I'd like to say I don't have strong opinions about new routes at TP, or at least not enough to upset anyone else, but I will echo the words of the few FA'ists I have been fortunate to climb with and who's conviction toward quality has influenced my thinking on the subject. If it does happen, I hope it will be in a manner that is in accordance with the land managers' wishes and in the context of the tradition at TP. The new (worthy) route potential is limited on some of the walls and I would prefer it to be done with a respect for the surrounding routes history, style and quality to keep the "feel" of the place.

The thought of rap bolted, shiny-hangered, contrived routes that do not follow natural lines sprouting up a few feet away from and/or crowded in between the classics makes me shiver. Nothing worse than trying to climb a challenging trad-head-point classic and seeing a new shiny bolt three feet to the left on a line that the FAist chose to leave as a named toprope for years.

Going ground up, (hand) drilling from stances, pushing into the harder terrain that has been left for this GenX (or GenR) is a proud proposal. It is a craft that few practice but the rewards are immeasurable for the capable and the consequences severe for the over confident. I would like to leave those lines for the talented few. I have no doubt that experienced developers with an open canvas at TP could squeeze out a few more respectful classics, but a free for all leg lifting grid bolting of that beautiful rock will make me cry. Let's go bolt the gorge...there are miles of that schwag to grid bolt. There is just not enough pristine granite in the area to risk losing this special spot.

Kudos to Holthouse and all the others that had that vision and to the ones still to come that will blow our minds.

Respectfully,
Mike

edit: William, I just spoke with someone in the know. There is no written "Ban". It is a complex history and situation involving private and public property. Perhaps we will hear more about it in these pages in the coming days. Cheers


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By Williampenner
From The 505
May 11, 2008
Beaver Mountain

This post was originally a comment in Clean Green Dream

Mike,

I agree, new routes should respect the previous styles, if not better them when possible. TP is perfect for ground-up routes because of the stances and relatively easy hooking. I also agree that any routes that crowd established lines and create a grid are not desired by anyone. Like I said previously, increased numbers of folks at TP will destroy its character and jeopardize access more than a few respectful new routes.

It is important to state that previewing routes on TR or even rap-bolting is not a total enemy of the area as the FA team on Techweenie used the benefit of a TR preview. Your description of the bolting ban jives with what I had heard before. I think you can rest assured that there are no folks charging their drills waiting for the ban to be lifted.

If the ban is partially in place to keep the less talented hoards from grid-bolting the place, then I feel this is not the best way to approach the matter. In my opinion, the later generations of climbers have not heard the history of TP (or many other areas) and do not understand the ethics and style of the first ascensionists. The lack of good climbing history sections in guidebooks means this info is not passed on to those folks who get introduced to an area through a book, rather than through a older, knowledgeable partner. That is not meant to be a slam on guidebook authors, as I know they have to economize on space and are not paid what they should be for a generally thankless task (Thanks Jay and Dennis).

The early history of TP is still waiting to be told. Holthouse et al. left behind an amazing legacy that makes TP a special place to climb. Bruce's legacy is so enduring that I have never seen anyone do the lines in between Serpentine Crack and Holthouse in a Haulsack. I always want to try them but am waiting for the confluence of TP mojo and psyche because I would love to do them in the best style, ie, onsight.

Almost all the major formations are climbed out and do not need new lines. Other formations that lack routes do have some space, usually just one or two lines on a formation. An example of this is a route I put up some years back to the right of, and behind, the Alien. Nice shady spot when the rest of the areas are roasting, and fun climbing as well. Next time you are out there, climb it and let me know if it is incongruous with the other routes in the area.

This is a good discussion that is oddly shoehorned into Clean Green Dream.


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By Doug Couleur
Jul 3, 2008

This post was originally a comment in Clean Green Dream

I just found this web site today, and having not been to TP in several years, I am curious who the self proclaimed God Squad of TP is that is chopping bolts. Jay's book has a "unknown" route on North Wall that was chopped. That was my route, and no one ever even asked me what the style was. Besides, what is the "style" at TP?

Sometime in the mid eighties, someone surveyed the property lines. I recall being a little surprised at who owned what. It really doesn't matter, climbers just need to respect the rock, the surroundings, etc, and we will have the area to enjoy for a long time.


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By Mike Howard
Administrator
Jul 4, 2008
RGG silhouette

This post was originally a comment in Clean Green Dream

Welcome Doug,
I look forward to your contribution and helping us fill in the gaps.


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By Stuart Turner
Oct 9, 2008

This post was originally a comment in Tres Piedras

Why is there no information on the vast amounts of bouldering in the area. Plenty of it abounds. Furthermore, I have climbed a good number of the routes at TP and I love them too, but come on. Don't get stuck on discussions of runout 5.9. The place needs a face lift. Organize. You should be able to get a serious rebolting project going with the park service and the asses fund to reinstate some of these still state of the art test pieces. Think, the FA'er had a new bolt. Some reequipping of fixed pro is not "cheating", or "bad style". We have the same issues in North Carolina (did i forget to mention that I am from NC). If it is the relative safety of the route that makes it bad (old fixed gear) replace it in the same spot and have at it just the same as the first guy. Step it up.


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By Mike Howard
Administrator
May 5, 2009
RGG silhouette

This post was originally a comment in Clean Green Dream

Bruce led [CGD] today for the 30th anniversary. Full value classic for TP. He still feels that the protection bolts he added are needed and I feel we should respect this. I will look into a permit and let you know, but I have offered to help him and would prefer the discussion happens here and not on the rock. Please voice your opinion, anonymous or otherwise, we would like to hear it and respect it. Thanks.


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By Chris Wenker
From Santa Fe
May 11, 2009
Bandera

This post was originally a comment in Clean Green Dream

Re: retrobolting CGD by the FA.
[snip]
edit 9/20/09: OK, finally got on this one on lead. Not R rated, that I could see. No additional bolts needed, even for a nascent '5.9 climber' such as myself. With the current bolts, it would even be reasonable to lead this with just a set of nuts and slung 'heads. I hope it's left as it is.

This topic reminds me of a forum discussion at the Supertopo:
www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=825931
Although, please note that the title of that link in no way indicates that I am trying to ascribe, assume, or impune Mr. Holthouse's motivation for proposing addtional bolting work on CGD. I mainly thought the Supertopo discussion was interesting for introducing the idea of using specially painted hangers on retrobolt jobs :)


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By Mike Howard
Administrator
May 11, 2009
RGG silhouette

This post was originally a comment in Clean Green Dream

Hey Chris,
The photos show this route fairly well. Thanks for your interest. As far as painting new bolts pink, we would just camouflage them and one can note them on the topo.

Again, I want folks to understand that given land managers permission, I believe the FA has the final say. Of the few tenets of these "ethical" debates, I think respect for the person(s) that had the original vision and put in the effort is valid. What might frustrate this debate is that we all change with time, age, physiology...our needs and reasons why we climb may also change. One's interest in taking risk should change. Our amygdylia and ventral striatum should evolve.

Bruce expressed again a concern about a risk of hitting the big block at the base. Remember, this is a 5.9 and might put a reasonable 5.9 climber at risk of a fall with injuries (not death). I agree that the route is no more run out than the others and I do not speak for Bruce, but I know he doesn't want to change those other routes. He has again expressed a desire to place a couple extra bolts on his route, this is from the guy that started putting them up at TP in 1978. I get the sense he would like to keep leading this one. I offered to help and one aspect was to gather opinions and other points of view. Bruce is very open to that discussion. Please know, nothing is finalized. We said we would go back and lead it again before any thing changes.
Salud y Paz,
Mike.


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By Mike Howard
Administrator
May 11, 2009
RGG silhouette

This post was originally a comment in Clean Green Dream

Thanks George, I'll let you know if I can get a permit. If folks would do me the favor of documenting old hardware I got an offer from the Anchor Replacement Initiative/Climbing Mag to pony up some of the gear. I have somehow agreed to do work at Dead Cholla and John's as well so I am gathering photo's and lists if anyone has them. We should probably start a new forum thread if folks are interested.
Mike


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By Mike Howard
Administrator
May 12, 2009
RGG silhouette

This post was originally a comment in Clean Green Dream

Thanks Mark,
It is nice to hear the considered opinions of people who care about this climb and this special place. As you know, Bruce has a strong attachment to this route as well. I just offered to help and facilitating a discussion was the best thing I could do. There are no plans at the moment. I want to run up it a few more times with Bruce to hear him out again. I'll let you know. I do think that crux hanger needs an upgrade. I'll replace that next time we are there. Thanks for the input.
To everyone interested: Please lead it and let me know (email is fine).

Mike


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By Daniel Trugman
From Los Alamos, NM / Stanford, CA
May 12, 2009
Final steps up Blanca after a snowy traverse. <br /> <br />Photo by Jason Halladay.

This post was originally a comment in Clean Green Dream

I haven't lead CGD, but I did follow Mark on it and the gear truly seemed reasonable. I really don't lead much harder than 5.9 on gear and I wouldn't hesitate to take the sharp end on this one (in fact - it's top of the list next time I'm at TP).

Edit:{I led this climb yesterday and found it to be a rewarding but reasonably safe mental challenge. I think the fact that you have to make committing moves well above pro contributes to the beauty of this climb. I stand by what I say below.}

I for one would rather see CGD left in its current condition. Obviously, I will respect the FAs wishes with what he intends to do with the route. As George said, I think leaving CGD the way it is actually has the potential to keep TP leaders safe - if a person feels gripped on CGD, they will be hestitant to get on the harder mental testpieces, where they run a serious risk of getting hurt. It's the natural stepping stone from the well protected 5.8 climbs like Mama Jugs to the headier 5.10 climbs (Better Red Than Dead would be a good example, I presume, though I've never climbed it). CGD is in the middle in both difficulty and commitment.

The last thing we need is a prominent injury that could jeopardize access in addition to seriously harming the person in question. The only place I can imagine placing new bolts is that slight runout well above the chickenhead and the crux moves, which would eliminate the mental crux of the route (and therefore detract from the quality, IMO). I think believe a fall onto the chickenhead (or even the bolt) would be safe, but it would be exciting nonetheless.


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By Mike Howard
Administrator
May 13, 2009
RGG silhouette

This post was originally a comment in Clean Green Dream

I appreciate all the thoughtful comments and I will relay these concerns. The question remains whether a fall would likely cause significant injury. I see a potential that is certainly no greater than other routes at TP (higher grades). I hear the consensus, but is that fair to the 5.9 climber or the FA? I am not the one to decide that. If having a civil discussion here can avert a bolt war, we all benefit. I liken the creation of a route from the blank canvas of the rock as a work of art. Do a few brush strokes years after the piece has a following jeopardize it's integrity? I think we all have our own answers to that question.


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By tim naylor
Jul 9, 2009

This post was originally a comment in Tres Piedras

I agree with Stuart. Lets get some hard testpieces here. I just can't cliimb that hard


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By Williampenner
From The 505
Jul 16, 2009
Beaver Mountain

This post was originally a comment in Tres Piedras

Could you be more specific about what anchors were stolen or chopped at TP?


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By Mike Howard
Administrator
Jul 19, 2009
RGG silhouette

This post was originally a comment in Tres Piedras

What should we do? I have been asked by a couple of respected local climbing advocates to help find a solution before this becomes a problem affecting all climbers at TP. The current activity may change this and we all know what that could mean.

Certainly, new trad routes to natural or established anchors are the logical focus for new lines in this current environment. Go for it. If ANY new bolts are being placed (as replacements of old ones or - and I am not condoning this - new placements) they have to be adequately camouflaged with paint. A nice reference is found here

I think we mostly agree that respect for the first ascentionist's opinion is a widely accepted practice in our community. If there is any effort to retro-bolt, not just upgrade or re-bolt the hardware on an existing route, then the FA should be contacted. If unavailable, we need to have a dialogue and create consensus that will stand up to the opinions of the minority who wish to see NO change at TP.

I think everyone agrees, these issues must be settled within our own community or they will be settled from with-out. If the parties involved could come together and work this through I know we would all benefit from it. If you have a strong conviction about this, please make it available. Chopping the upgrades replacing aging hardware or scratching graffiti on signs in the parking lot leaves a lasting mark that can raise the concern of landmanagers and jeopardize access. Likewise, placing unpainted bolts up new lines is also a serious defacement of this special place. Extremism tends to ruin a community. A common ground with respect for each point of view is warranted. If anyone knows the parties involved and is willing to bring them to the table, I am willing to help mediate a solution. Please let me know.


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By Williampenner
From The 505
Jul 19, 2009
Beaver Mountain

This post was originally a comment in Tres Piedras

Mike,

Could you provide some greater detail on a couple things.

Which route was chopped and who are the locals and USFS folks you have been talking with? Was the bolt removal in response to some new route activity from this season?

Are there really many angry people up there who feel the need to remove hardware or is it just a few with legitimate (or otherwise) concerns?

If there is an issue with aging hardware, we should get together, replace all of the old mank and move on. You could likely upgrade every 1/4" bolt in one weekend with a few folks. I'll donate time and gear to the effort. While we are it we could retro-camouflage all the unpainted hangers on the older routes.

TP is changing, as are most crags, whether anyone likes it or not. More people show up than before and that makes the place feel different, with or without new bolts.

Anyway, many thanks for whatever info you can provide.

William


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By Mike Howard
Administrator
Jul 19, 2009
RGG silhouette

This post was originally a comment in Tres Piedras

William,
I'll help with what I can. I was asked by these parties to try to help sort out this issue without using their names. I respect this.
There is a small group of active locals, many of the same names you know. Some of them have replaced old hardware and some new bolts were added to old routes. Some new routes have been set. The chopping appears to have been indiscriminate and involved re-bolted, retro-bolted and new routes. Mostly the routes were on North Rock and two on Mosaic. The North Rock work was done in July 2008 and the Chopping probably occurred about May 2009.
As we have discussed, there is no documented "bolting ban" that I can find but the guides and the USFS do say new bolts are frowned upon and might risk access.
As far as who is chopping, one name has been suggested but there are no eyewitnesses or photos that I know of.
As for the few harder routes with aging hardware, one local LA climber has given us a list of work to do.

I pulled these two 1/4's with SMC hangers today from another area.  The one with the bolt came out like a nail in rotten wood,  the other broke off in my hand.
I pulled these two 1/4's with SMC hangers today from another area. The one with the bolt came out like a nail in rotten wood, the other broke off in my hand.

I pulled these two 1/4's with SMC hangers today from another area. These are contemporaries of those found at TP. The one with the bolt came out like a nail in rotten wood, the other broke off in my hand as I wiggled it.

B.H.  Placed around 1978-80
B.H. Placed around 1978-80

B.H. Placed around 1978-80. Horizontal SMC stamp problematic


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By Williampenner
From The 505
Jul 20, 2009
Beaver Mountain

This post was originally a comment in Tres Piedras

Too bad the local folks, choppers and objectors, don't step up and self-identify, but that is their deal.

Thanks for the update.

I am glad we've mostly avoided this in the Sandias. Our former chopper either quit climbing, moved away, or found another religious quest. Hopefully all three.


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