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When does trad become sport?
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By Eric Engberg
Apr 3, 2013
This thread has gone on a long time without someone mentioning the Bachar-Yerian...

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By wivanoff
Apr 4, 2013
High Exposure
Sport and Trad have less to do with the route and more to do with your mindset

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By Jake Jones
From Richmond, VA
Apr 4, 2013
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after a day of cragging.
EricSchmidt wrote:
Why are you such a know it all about EVERYTHING... It really is annoying to read and I cant believe I am the only one who feels this way. You lead 5.8 trad yet are the expert on everything??


LMAO. Jesus schmidthead, why does everything piss you off? This is you:

Unbelieeeevable!
Unbelieeeevable!


"Who the FUCK does this guy think he is? Only climbs 5.8s on gear, yet purports to know that traditional lines are established ground up??? WTF!!!! Only climbs 5.8s on gear, and 'supposedly' knows that fixed gear may not always be trustworthy!?!! Agreed with what another poster had to say??? Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?!?!? THAT'S IT!! I'm gonna put this asshole knowitall in his place!!!"

That's basically what you're saying right? I would wager my entire next paycheck that was your exact thought process.

Makes perfect sense.

Just out of curiousity, do you masturbate? Ever?

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By The Stoned Master
Administrator
From Pennsylvania
Apr 4, 2013
Day Lily.
Jake Jones says: Just out of curiousity, do you masturbate? Ever?

You never ask me these questions Jake...

The Gunks back in the day might as well have been a sport crag, so, so many pitons to clip. I have no idea where this conversation is at so that's my 2 cents.

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By mattm
From TX
Apr 4, 2013
Grande Grotto
Jake Jones wrote:
In the traditional distinction of the two, "traditional" vs. "sport" refers to how the line was established. There are "traditional" lines with entire pitches protected by nothing but bolts that were put in on lead, from the ground up. "Sport" routes are generally not established that way.


Not true. There are TONS of climbs in the PNW that were cleaned and prepped on rappel that nearly all would consider "trad". There are also climbs that were bolted on lead that most would call "sport". While some hold very strongly to the "ground up, onsight" mantra, I don't agree with such a narrow definition.

Also, keep in mind that the whole "trad" vs "sport" distinction is somewhat artificial - In my mind there is "Sport Climbing" and EVERYTHING ELSE. Everything else is what existed before TRUE sport climbing entered the scene. You didn't call it "Trad", it just was climbing, gear, all bolts, whatever.

Sport climbing, for me, is a route that has nearly all "risk" eliminated through the use of "reliable" fixed protection so that the challenge is almost completely physical. This is almost exclusively the realm of bolts but other forms CAN fall into that category in certain cases (Pins, fixed nuts etc). Fixed gear on alpine rock doesn't eliminate risk (although is COULD lessen it) You still have exposure, length etc etc to add to the challenge.

People get way to hung up on "trad" vs "sport". Not sure why. Frankly, I think many new to the game are looking for a way to differentiate themselves from the "lesser masses" in sport climbing. My advice, as well as others above, is don't worry about it and climb what YOU like.

I like it all.

The only time I might get more worked up about it is when you have the classic sport climbing threatening to invade the "everything else" climbing at every turn. But that's a whole other can of worms...

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By TWK
Apr 4, 2013
mattm wrote:
You didn't call it "Trad", it just was climbing, gear, all bolts, whatever.


I find this comment very insightful. I got completely out of climbing for about 15 years and was kayaking and mountain biking. When I began to return to climbing, things had changed, and I found that what I had always considered to just be "climbing" was now called "trad", and there was something else called "sport".

I had thought that all climbing was in a sense "sport", as was kayaking and mtn biking.

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By Colonel Mustard
From Reno, NV
Apr 4, 2013
Colonel Mustard
Metolius PAS. Yup. That's the tell-tale clue.

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By Rajiv Ayyangar
From Portland, ME
Apr 4, 2013
Cut! Sadly my flash attempt met with dismal pump-failure two bolts later.
Let's look at a couple options for Sport vs. Trad definitions:

1) Gear-Based
Sport = bolts. Trad = removeable protection, placed on lead (i.e. Climbtech removeable bolts don't count). Anything with bolts that requires removeable pro is mixed.

Commentary: While these definitions are usually true, there are clearly examples that don't seem to fit. For example, Redpointing a route at Indian Creek where you've been given the beta, the gear beta, and the route it ticked to all hell... well that just doesn't seem to fit the bill for trad climbing. Likewise, runout bolted routes, like the Bachar-Yerian, especially when they were done ground up on lead, doesn't seem to fit the popular conception of "Sport climbing."

2) Style-based
If you are redpointing something, and taking whippers safely, it's probably sport-climbing. If you are doing it ground-up onsight, it's probably trad.

Commentary: This seems even worse than the first definition because it counts all sport onsights as trad climbing.

3) Ethics-based
If the route was rap-bolted, it's a sport climb. If it was established ground-up, onsight (by the old definition that doesn't require you to flash it in order to call it "on-sight"), then even if you used bolts (e.g. Bachar-Yerian), it's a trad climb.

Commentary: John Bachar himself put forward this definition (Ground-up Onsight) as the essence of Trad, in a thread on SuperTopo. Clearly you can project a climb that was established as a trad climb, thus approaching it like a sport route. This creates the messy dichotomy of how the route was established vs. how you approach it. If I onsight a sport route, ground-up, is it a trad ascent? Absurd! If I redpoint a trad route, is it a sport ascent? Probably not.

4) Defining a Spectrum

If you are using removeable protection, placed on lead, and you are approaching a route ground-up, onsight (again, using the old definition where you might try a route many times but still call it onsight), then you are probably climbing trad. (If you are rehearsing it on toprope, whipping and hangdogging, rapping down to examine/clean it, or using other sport-y tactics, you are in some weird mishmash of trad and sport (sprad?). If you get beta on gear placements, one might say you aren't committing to the full trad experience. Are you still a trad climber? Sure. Why not. If you rehearse a sport route on bolts, then free it, are you climbing trad? Eh... probably not, in the common sense. "Greenpointing" is it's own thing. Does danger define trad? It's not necessary, but often is a not-unwelcome addition that adds to the experience, whereas a die-hard sport climber would see danger as a nuisance that distracts from the experience of hard movement.

If you are clipping bolts, or better, pre-placed draws, on lead, and you feel safe to take whippers, then you are probably climbing sport. If you are often in a no-fall situation, or if the route feels dangerously run-out (not just scarily run-out), then you are not really climbing a "sport" route. A better term might be adventure-sport, or trad-like sport. At its essence, sport climbing is about safely pushing the limits of difficulty. As soon as you add other factors that increase consequence and commitment, you're doing something else (some would argue... something more).

Clearly there's a lot that doesn't fit into either of these categories. Sporty trad, traddy sport, Indian Creek Trad, adventure sport... there is so much variety of experience available to us, determined by both the ethics of the route and our choice of style. We should be grateful for that and not try to reduce it to a simple dichotomy.




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By Rajiv Ayyangar
From Portland, ME
Apr 4, 2013
Cut! Sadly my flash attempt met with dismal pump-failure two bolts later.
5) Values-based

Another way of thinking about the dichotomy is to outline the values that each type of climbing holds paramount. Most of us identify with values on both sides of the spectrum (hence why so many climbers climb both trad and sport), but often we tend to prefer one to the other.

Trad Values:
The adventure that comes with onsighting and controlling danger (via improvised protection).
The ground-up onsight style, and the experience that tends to accompany ascents that play by those rules (another way of saying "adventure").
Gaining the skills to climb routes that have not been climbed before (and so definitely don't have nice rap-placed bolts). Again... more "adventure".
Oh, and you probably should like crack climbing.

Sport Values:
The difficulty and quality of movement is paramount, and anything that distracts from that should be minimized where possible. This is why, all things being equal, sport climbers would prefer to pinkpoint routes.
The freedom to push one's limits safely. The point of bolts is to allow you to climb routes where you might fall at any time, and feel comfortable focusing on the movement. Hence why sportos gravitate towards steep climbs and unobstructed falls.
Redpointing is an important part of most sport climbers' experience. Or, put another way, if you like redpointing routes at your limit, you probably prefer to take repeated whippers on bolts than to have to fuss with gear on each attempt, and clean the gear after each fall. The culture of limit repointing is something that mostly exists within the context of sport-climbing.
The goal is difficulty. Sure there are adventurers who sport climb, but generally speaking, adventure is not something sport climbing promises more of as you get better. Harder routes are, if anything, safer than easier routes (due to extreme angles). Thus sport climbing is the perfect fit for those who value difficulty over adventure.

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By bearbreeder
Apr 4, 2013
dont overthink it

if you climb enough it doesnt matter ...

theres tons of "trad" climbs here in squamish where you are SAFER than on the equivalent moderate sport climb ... you can have the equivalent of a moving top rope, where on sport you must make the next bolt

if you climb "hard" (whatever that is for you) trad ... youll be redpointing ... multiple attempts and whippers ... most people start projecting and redpointing stuff out here into the 11s, 12s, etc ... if they climb trad at their limit

as to "adventure" ... plenty of adventurous multipitch "sport" in the rockies ... and the people walking around with new shiny racks on easy trad climbs here in the bluffs are very "adventurous" cragging 5 min away from the sbucks

;)

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By JCM
From Seattle, WA
Apr 4, 2013
Rajiv Ayyangar wrote:
5) Values-based Another way of thinking about the dichotomy is to outline the values that each type of climbing holds paramount. Most of us identify with values on both sides of the spectrum (hence why so many climbers climb both trad and sport), but often we tend to prefer one to the other. Trad Values: The adventure that comes with onsighting and controlling danger (via improvised protection). The ground-up onsight style, and the experience that tends to accompany ascents that play by those rules (another way of saying "adventure"). Gaining the skills to climb routes that have not been climbed before (and so definitely don't have nice rap-placed bolts). Again... more "adventure". Oh, and you probably should like crack climbing. Sport Values: The difficulty and quality of movement is paramount, and anything that distracts from that should be minimized where possible. This is why, all things being equal, sport climbers would prefer to pinkpoint routes. The freedom to push one's limits safely. The point of bolts is to allow you to climb routes where you might fall at any time, and feel comfortable focusing on the movement. Hence why sportos gravitate towards steep climbs and unobstructed falls. Redpointing is an important part of most sport climbers' experience. Or, put another way, if you like redpointing routes at your limit, you probably prefer to take repeated whippers on bolts than to have to fuss with gear on each attempt, and clean the gear after each fall. The culture of limit repointing is something that mostly exists within the context of sport-climbing. The goal is difficulty. Sure there are adventurers who sport climb, but generally speaking, adventure is not something sport climbing promises more of as you get better. Harder routes are, if anything, safer than easier routes (due to extreme angles). Thus sport climbing is the perfect fit for those who value difficulty over adventure.



This is the essence of it. Well put.

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By Cale Hoopes
From Sammamish, WA
Apr 4, 2013
Profile Icon
Seriously are we having this discussion?

Fricken eh.

Placing gear = trad

Clipping bolts = sport

Ok?

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By Ian Stewart
Apr 4, 2013
bearbreeder wrote:
if yr scared shitless its trad .... if yr willing to whip all day and think youll walk away its sport ... thats my definition ;)


That seems to fit pretty well for me.

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By Skat B
From Down Rodeo
Apr 4, 2013
St George
Skip the bolts, pitons, and just place gear. Run that bad boy out! If you're still tempted then chop the bolts off.

  • btw in Big Cottonwood Canyon at the S-Curve crag there is a route called "S-Curve Overhang" that's an .11c (It's that route next to "Dog Eat Dog" .13d). I heard it has pitons on it but I plan on using gear instead. Has anyone else climbed this route? Just curious of what size of cams I need to bring!

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By Jon Zucco
From Denver, CO
Apr 4, 2013
yaak crack Red Rock Canyon, NV
What's in a name? Just climb it dummy. For your health!

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