Walk the Line (submitted as Attractive Hazard)
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Well, here we have another long route to add to the recent explosion of new routing on the walls around The Ribbon as well as downstream. Has it been climbed
before? Proably, but the public documentation is nonexistent. At any rate there is now just barely enough gear that maybe it will get climbed often enough that it will not drift back into obscurity.
In 2012 there have been almost a half dozen new routes. This particular route in this local genre of "chossinerring" should/could have more ice than many of the other new routes. It is also unique in that the ascensionists invested in bomber rap anchors. The rock quality in the first three pitches is pretty good (for the area) and gets worse up high, but as a general rule if the climbing is hard, the rock is pretty good as well as the protection.
From the horizontal trail at base of wall, follow the gully up 40 feet to the start of the real climbing. There is a wet start and a dry start. If you are lucky and there is ice, you will see a mossy start covered in a bit of ice, M5.
If it's dry, choose the dry start ten feet to the left, in the decomposing yellow cake with the intermittent crack. It takes small cams and perhaps a tied off ice tool, D5. This first step in the first pitch is 30 feet. At its top is a horizontal crack on left wall. You are now deep in the gully and only halfway up pitch one. If you belay here, you can enjoy a nice seated belay to watch your partner climb the (low) crux of the route at M6. Follow the crack on the right hand side of the gully. When the gully narrows a bit, the left wall will have better gear. Look for three bolt anchor up right. This bomber stance might be in the line of fire. On the first ascent of the first pitch, in early December of 2011, the author was at the very steepest part of the pitch, which overhangs a little, when, as reported by belayer Frank Robertson, an avalanche came down and nearly ripped him from the wall. If he had been 15 feet higher at the choke point of the gully....
Frank said the avalanche was 5 feet high as it came through the choke point.
Step left off stance and head up steepening gully. If wet, it could have ice and snow top to bottom,WI4 or perhaps detatched and nearly unprotectable as Noah McKelvin found it in January 2012, that might be M5. If really dry, you get a knifeblade and one bolt, M5 or D5 or 5.9 and loose. 140 feet. The anchor at the top of this pitch is one of our early ones and our favorite, as it's a rock bollard, two strands of 10.5 backed up by one bolt...a nice, old school touch. Keep an eye out for the handy work of our 4 legged friends!
This pitch has enough bolts to keep you out of the easier gully to the left. The rock is the best on the whole route, though very compact. You can add to the fixed gear with your own cams and knifeblades. If it's wet, it's still unlikely to have much real ice, but maybe you will get lucky, M4. Dry, it's 5.6, 55 meters. There is a three bolt chain and tree anchor on the right at a stance out of the line of fire.
Climb easy, low angle gully, M3 if wet. Dry it's 5.0
50 meters. There is a three bolt belay/rap here; however, after nearly being struck by rockfall on several occasions, there is another safer anchor at same height just 30 feet left. It's on the edge of the gully. It has one lonely bolt and a nice crack that takes a mid-size cam or two. If it's wet, you might have to dig for this.
This is the psycho crux. This has been led by Eric Wellborn and Garrett Riegan with little or no gear. Garrett had a large foot hold disintegrate under him, nearly sending him for a ride. We have since added two bolts. If it's wet, maybe it will be all be frozen together, M4 R. If it's dry, it is 5.8 R, watch out for exploding holds. Look carefully for those two bolts they are on the right side of the gully. The anchor is 55 meters up on left wall of gully. It has three bolts and chain.
In January of 2012, Eric Wellborn and Noah were stopped here. After banging several knife blades in to the rotten rock to build an anchor, Eric Wellborn climbed 20 feet to the get another pin in at the base of the detached ice dagger covering overhanging, mossy, very rotten rock. After pulling off a chunk of rotten rock, he took a 30 foot whipper. Noah sensible decided to avoid the same possible fate even though the climbing for both of them is well within their capabilities.
When Garrett, Frank, and I equipped the route, we did the route ground up. Garrett lead pitchs 4 through 8 onsight without anything but a bad cam or nut here or there. He soloed all of pitch 6, but that was in the summer in rock shoes after drinking way too much coffee and Red Bull. On another trip up the wall to hang more chain (chain, quick links and bolts are really heavy), I led pitch 6 and drilled two bolts on lead without hooks in my La Sportive Exum Ridges. If wet, this pitch is WI4-5 M6 R. If dry, it's 5.9 R. The anchor at the top of pitch 6 is in the far left corner out of the line of fire. 55 meters
Follow gully up and right over yet another step. Keep an eye out for two bolts, one in middle of pitch out right and another on left wall 25 feet below three bolt anchor which is below a shallow outcrop of rock. If wet, this could be snow or ice, M3 R. If dry, it is 5.5 R, 55 meters.
Climb up to trees. Go up one more step of steep rock, though it could be avalanche prone snow. If wet, it is M3 R or steep snow. If dry, it is 5.6 R. There is no fixed gear. Belay and rap from trees.
The approach is the same as for The Ribbon. Follow the base of the buttress into the trees and go about 100 feet. It's the first deep gully one encounters.
Rap the route.
The anchors are established; however, this is a long gully system in bad rock. So, whenever possible, belay as if something will come down. A Bird Brain Blvd rack should do: cams, knifeblades, spectre hooks, long slings, short screws if it's winter, and 60 meter double ropes.
The last anchor is whatever tree you want. The rock is so bad that we used stainless steel 3/8" x 3.5". We used chain as the forest dwellers love to line their nests with hypo-allergenic, quick drying nylon.
The route received its name as a corruption of a legal term, wherein an attractive and dangerous situation has been created and (usually) children fall victim to it. We felt that there was some great adventure climbing to be done here but that the rock quality was so bad that the route would languish in obscurity if we did not create bomber anchors and reluctantly added just enough bolts to lure the climber (child) upwards. The third pitch has more bolts than any other and has steep, M4 climbing on good rock. It has these bolts to encourage one to stay out of the easy gully just to the left that parrells
AH for the first 3 pitches. We even found a knifeblade on the third pitch in that easier gully on one of our early summer foreys up the wall.
|Photos of Walk the Line (submitted as Attractive Hazard) Slideshow
Frank Robertson on approach, with Attractive Hazar...
Wet start of first pitch. Dry start is 10 feet to...
Start of second step of first pitch. This is the c...
Looking down from top of first pitch.
Top of first step in first pitch.
Looking up start of of second pitch.
Noah McKelvin on 2nd pitch, photo by Eric Wellborn...
Close up of 1st 2nd and 3rd pitch.
Photo by Mike ...
Simul-rapping the first step of the first pitch. T...
Garrett on first step of first pitch, D5.
Garrett starting crux of route. Second step of fir...
Eric Wright starting 2nd pitch.
Eric Wright second pitch.
Garrett starting pitch 3.
Top of pitch 4.
Eric leading pitch 5.
I am passing what is left o...
Garrett leading pitch 6. The crux of the upper hal...
Eric Wellborn's boot and Noah McKelvin belaying pi...
Garrett belaying at the top of pitch 6.
Top of pitch 6. Garrett warm, happy, and getting c...
Half way through pitch 7. One more to go and we ar...
BETA PHOTO: Eduardo Ibañez starting the second pitch of Attrac...
BETA PHOTO: Eduardo Ibañez leading the fifth pitch. We found a...
BETA PHOTO: This is where we found those explosive holds we re...
BETA PHOTO: Belaying from top of pitch 7 looking down, Santiag...
BETA PHOTO: There was a lot of snow accumulation at the top an...
The crew from left to right: Santiago Ibañez, myse...
Crux of second pitch.
Photo by Garrett R.
First step in first pitch as well as approach gull...
Don Carlos et sus comentarios.
Early May after melt thaw cycle:
Top of third pit...
Entire first pitch, with wet start. Our fixed rope...
Upper left gully is AH. The gully to the right is ...
In early October.
Ice rock and snow top to bottom. Perfec...
Grover Price sitting on the rock bollard belay. To...
Crux of pitch six. Looks pretty easy now. So much ...
Wet start pitch 1.
In the spring, this is complete...
Garrett following pitch 5.
Finally the snice is f...
Top of pitch five.
Nov. 3, 2013.
Next three pitche...
Grover Price, pitch 3.
Nov. 3, 2013.
The "ice" is usually too poor or non-existent to t...
Early Nov. 2013.
Garrett starting pitch 3.
Grove Price photo.
Eric Wright starting pitch 5. Nov. 2013.
One of the bolted anchors on top of pitch two. Jus...
Another 3 bolt anchor with several meters of heavy...
|Comments on Walk the Line (submitted as Attractive Hazard)
|By Bryan Gilmore|
From: Your Mama
Jan 14, 2013
I admire your hunger for chossaneering, yet I am confused by the copious use of bolts. I believe this line was first done about 20 years ago and again (all but the last few meters) last season without any bolts - probably a few times in between too. Bolts on this wall are largely unwelcome and provide little more than a false sense of security.
|By Eric Wright|
From: Telluride CO.
Jan 15, 2013
You pose some excellent questions which I will attempt to answer.
I started ice climbing in the San Juans in 1979. Since that time, none of my partners nor I have seen, read or heard of anyone climbing this route. There is no who,what, where or when associated with that gully/chimney. We thought it was high time somebody got up there and put a route up. Ideally something that our friends in the ice climbing community would want to repeat.
Your new route is half as long, and as you point out, you have "stout trees" to rap off. There are very few trees even near this route. We wanted people to return down the route so that they are not tempted to rap The Ribbon as people now do after Bird Brain Blvd. There have been several close calls from that.
The other party from last winter, retreated 3 pitches from the top having failed to surmount the last crux. There is no evidence of prior passage. There are very few bolts. This is a R route. If you climb it in snowed up winter conditions with a bit of ice here and there. It will could be R/X. As the ice will almost never be thick enough to take decent screws. The sparse rock pro is hard to find under snow. And the few intermediate bolts between anchors are hard to find too.
We would not like to see this wall covered with bolted sport routes any more than you. I think that is the heart of your concerns, and after you have climbed this route, we think you will agree that this is not a sport route. It's not even a PG route, but to create a repeatable route out of this particular part of this choss pile we elected to add a small number of bolts.
It's always hard to figure out just how much gear to add or subtract.
We have struggled with this. In the end, we chose to add what we did. Every new router has to make their own discisions. The one area we would not compromise on is that of the anchors. As that prolific authority Mark Twight writes in his well regarded book Extreme Alpinism, "the anchors have to be bomber".
We hope you can respect our creation just as we respect yours.
We hope you and many others will one day enjoy this contribution to our ice climbing community. Namaste
|By erik wellborn|
From: manitou springs
Jan 27, 2013
Well, I thought our Spectre/ tied off shrub on the 5th pitch was a "bomber" anchor. Just to clarify, Noah and I led all but the last 20 ft. of difficult climbing on-sight without bolts. A nasty fall and a bruised shoulder stopped us at that point.
Not sure if I could've led that last bit without a bolt, but to paraphrase Reinhold Messner, that would've been the murder of the impossible and that simply goes against my personal values regarding climbing in the mountains.
But...live and let live, I'll let greater minds than me argue the ethics of it all.
|By Eric Wright|
From: Telluride CO.
Jan 28, 2013
Dear Eric Wellborn.
Glad you are back safe from your Euro ice climbing trip. How's that bank balence now!
Just to clarify. I have owned and used 3 Spectre hooks since they appeared in the mid '90s. Your "hook" was a pecker with a wire swage. Garrett is probably standing on it right now. He is a house painter just like us. I am sure I can get it back if you want it, brotherhood of the trades and all that. Offer him a job painting for your painting company he is very good, as are you.
The "shrub" was a pine seedling with a circumference comparable to ones pinky. The baby angle was flexy, but good and I hope still there. That anchor you made was right in the line of fire from all the exploding holds one has to pull on to climb the crux of that pitch, not to mention avalanches and rockfall in general from the four pitches of climbing left to do.
Thank you for your generous words acknowledging the right of coexistence. Mind you, I am not promoting sport routes on the dark side of the valley by any stretch of the imagination. Frank, Garrett and I would be very disapproving of that genre of development. We are promoting routes. Remember if you will, when Frank and I started working on this route Thanksgiving weekend of 2011. You were making yet another lap on BBB, I believe. The Ribbon and the magnificent Bird Brain Blvd were the only routes getting climbed on that wall. There might have been other routes, but they rested quietly unvisited. Ignored. We thought we might at least see if we could get something to happen over there.
The sunny side of the valley had seen many new routes go up. We thought it was kind of embarrassing, in that with such a big crag and so little climbed, after so many years something ought to be done. We had no way of knowing that soon after we completed our project. That Steve House, Hydan Kennedy,Eric Wellborn, Noah McKelven, Phil Wortman, Beagle and Jim Turner would put up several new routes, on a series of walls that had seen nothing new in a generation. As to the question of style of development, always a thorny issue, we watched what our friends had been doing in the Ouray valley then modified that ethic to what we as new routers, thought might balance risk with interest. Our first goal was to create something that would get climbed and at the same time not dumb the route down so much that it would be a forgettable experience, if you will indulge me in a food metaphor. Something along the lines of eating raw kale not a (sport climbing) cookie, but not a route like Steve and Hydan's (Japanese puffer fish) Desperado. In short a route that might get some traffic on it. Hopefully dare we say, along the lines of BBB, which is now getting quite a bit.
This route is more of a choss pile though, much harder to protect up high. Perhaps one day a team will enchain, BBB, the Ribbon, and AH all in one day. Now that would be a big day on the hill, that combined with a walk back to Ouray and we might have a Eigerwand like level of work. You better than most could speak to that having climbed the Eigerwand in the '90s.
|By erik wellborn|
From: manitou springs
Jan 28, 2013
Eric, the bank balance is zero. Again. Time to find another house to remodel, again. The Spectre /pecker hook thingy is Noah's.
|By Steve House|
Nov 30, 2013
This is a convoluted story, and I'll do my best to make it clear.
Unfortunately Walk the Line was mis-marked in Jack Roberts' Colorado Ice guidebook. I am 110% sure that "Attractive Hazard" is actually Jeff Lowe's Walk the Line. I discussed this with Jack Roberts one week before his untimely death, and he admitted he was completely unsure of where Walk the Line had gone and Jeff didn't provide any info, so he picked something he thought might have ice up once-upon-a-time. I also asked Jeff Lowe in January 2013 when he was in Ouray for Ice Fest about Walk the Line, and he couldn't remember where the route went, except to say "Left of the Ribbon, in a gully." I shared this information with Erik during the winter of '12-'13, and he admitted he had no idea this had been Walk the Line. Fair enough, as the guidebook was wrong.
I bring this up now as in November 2013 Walk the Line has again come in as a (thin) ice route, most likely similar the conditions Jeff climbed it in. It's in excellent shape and is a great route.
As to the issue of anchors and trees, I have rappelled this entire gully twice on trees and once the lower half the gully (coming off of Goodnight Irene) on the bolts. There are plenty of trees to be found on the buttress to the climber's left of the Walk the Line gully. To walk off this route (as Lowe most probably did, that's what most people did then) would be a slog but doable and good training to boot.
I think it's up to the community as to what comes next. My personal preference would be that the bolts be removed and the route be restored to its original state as envisioned and executed by one of the greatest pioneers of climbing, Jeff Lowe.
Unfortunately "Attractive Hazard" was climbed, and bolts added, without a clear history of the gully. No one's fault; this is an unusual set of circumstances. That said, I am not one to take matters into my own hands without a consensus. I would like to remove the bolts on Walk the Line (and I know Bryan Gilmore and Andres Marin, long-time local climbers agree). I personally would do this only with the permission of those that put them in and a consensus of the local San Juan climbing community to which I myself am a newcomer. I believe we owe it to Jeff Lowe and to the history and standard of climbing on this side of the valley to restore this route to being a serious trad outing as it was first climbed. We also owe ourselves and one another respect and dialogue.
I hope this history clears up some of the confusion and that we can all get on with our climbing.
New note 12/8/13: Two points I want to add to my comment before this escalates to becoming a forum about bolts:
1.) We have a long standing tradition (ethic) in climbing of honoring the tactics used on the first ascent of a route. These bolts offer us an unusual circumstance as they were placed without prior knowledge of the FA. Hence, the lack of blame here. But, by OUR tradition, the bolts should come out. Simple as that. We all seem to agree that Jeff Lowe climbed this line without the bolts, and this solves the question. By this test, there is no need for further discussion. Bolts have their place, this is not anti-bolt quest. This is about honoring the first ascentionist's vision. Even (especially!) when it was 20-30 years ahead of its time.
2.) There are lots of safe anchoring and rappelling possibilities on this route without these bolts. If you haven't climbed this route, please refrain from voicing an opinion on this. I myself have placed bolted anchors at almost all of the belays on all of the new routes I've developed or am developing on this wall for the reason that the belayer has to be safe from rockfall from the leader and most anchoring possibilities are in the cracks, in the gut of the route(s). When I climbed Walk the Line post-bolts I actually chose to belay off of gear INSTEAD of the bolts in one instance, because I felt the location of the bolted anchor put the belayer in a position that was exposed to rockfall. Just because there are bolts are not necessarily safer than gear.
And slightly off-topic now. I think it is important NOT to have the bolted anchors so as to allow less experienced climbers to learn how to find and construct trad anchors in difficult situations on less committing routes. Safe anchors are paramount, of course. I myself have built anchors with 8 pieces in them. Yet if future generations only climb routes that have ultra-safe 3-bolt anchors every 50 meters, how will they know what to do when they get to the big hills? Please remember that the paradigm of rock climbing, pulling the hardest move, does not apply to alpine climbing where the hardest move is surviving, which includes building good anchors in bad situations.
|By erik wellborn|
From: manitou springs
Dec 2, 2013
Crazy idea in the age of internet forums and what-not, but perhaps all concerned parties could meet face to face and discuss things over a beer?
|By Steve House|
Dec 4, 2013
Good idea, Eric. Or go climbing. My email is email@example.com.
|By Eric Wright|
From: Telluride CO.
Dec 5, 2013
Drinking and climbing together sounds better than using the Internet to communicate.
From: CO / NM
4 days ago
The climb has seen more ascents this season than in the last 30 years put together and is subsequently cleaning up and becoming safer. It's also spreading the increase in climbers out between more routes, causing a higher chance for parties to get on something rather than mostly getting shut down if The Ribbon or BBB is occupied. Bolted anchors like those on The Ribbon help people get off routes fast also allowing multiple parties to climb the routes on the same day. The problem is the ever increasing quantities of people climbing, the problem is not with the routes. I've got a ridiculous amount of respect for Steve and Eric Wellborn, but my vote would be to keep the bolts. I'd definitely go for a beer or out climbing. I'm be in Ouray all winter.
|By Jason Nelson 1|
From: Salt Lake City, Utah
3 days ago
Since the route was more or less "lost and forgotten" for the past 20 years, I would say give it some time before anyone rushes to remove bolts. Give it some time and see what (if any) consensus forms. Maybe it will be lost and forgotten again and whomever's time was intended on removing the bolts could be spent doing other things. Or, maybe the ice will continue to flow on this thing in the years to come and the bolts will be unnecessary and not missed.
Regardless, I would say leave the anchors. If they are removed, they will likely just be replaced (if the route continues to get climbed) with other fixed garbage (fixed specters, webbing, etc...) which would be more of a degradation/eyesore.
Sorry, you've gotten wrapped up in this situation, Eric Wright. It seems clear you put in a lot of work and energy into this route. This kind of stuff can really divide a community. Let's not let this happen.
|By Rolf Kelly|
3 days ago
My vote...keep the bolts and especially the anchors. The anchors are a safety issue. I have not climbed the route as of yet, but I did try the other weekend, someone was on it. 20 bolts on a 1000ft wall (9 intermediate bolts) is not ridiculous IMO. If you are so bold...just don't clip them. I think if you went around and asked people who are aspiring mixed climbers a majority would vote to keep the bolts until they got strong enough to climb it comfortably without them. Then they would vote to remove the bolts to keep the crowds away. Quite the paradox. An unintended benefit of more crowds is that it drives top climbers to develop more lines.
|By Frank Robertson|
2 days ago
Appreciate comments on lack of definitive reference here and the need for a respectful discussion.
If Jack was completely unsure and Jeff could not remember, would like to understand why you are 110% sure. All I've ever heard of Walk the Line led me to look at the two grooves on the wall above the first gully (just) left of the Ribbon.
Does anyone know if Jeff had a partner on it? Had anyone else done it before the current situation got us thinking about where it is?
Given that several folks who have climbed here a long time thought they were on a new line and saw no evidence of previous passage while pushing past each others' high points, the questions are worthy of further exploration.
If it is determined that we unknowingly put AH on top of a forgotten prior ascent by such an icon I'd be right with you restoring it (speaking only for myself). If not we have an adventurous new route that mere mortals can do. Though Eric and I had already decided a few of the bolts are not useful, it is early to say that we all agree on much else.
Looking forward to that further discussion when we can get together - how does the Brewery after climbing 12/22 sound?
|By Mike Walley|
From: Louisville, CO
1 day ago
It seems unnessary to chop any bolts to a route that may never have done before. Did Jeff Lowe say exactly where his climb went all of those years ago? Maybe now people will do it. It doesn’t seem over-bolted to me. I may do it now but wouldn’t without bolts on it.
From: Vail, CO
15 hours ago
When Erik and I got on it a couple years ago in super dry conditions sans bolts, the anchors were descent on the climb. Doing it without any bolts is totally possible. Never too dangerous. My opinion is that they are overkill. I think the bolts should be saved for the other side of the road. Once you cross the river, I believe that side has a history of boldness. We shouldn't bring the serious level down just so more people can climb it. Wait till you're ready, and then get after it. I think the bolts take out the adventure of all the Peckers/KB you would place. I understand Eric's motives for bolting it, and he is a nice guy, but my vote is for them to go. Keep it the way Jeff Lowe left it. Half the fun is getting creative making the anchor in the choss :) but what does it matter what my opinion is..... It's sort of like bolting a climb in a area that has a strong history in ground up, runout trad just so more people can climb there. Train till you're ready. Let's not lower the climb to our standards. Not giving Eric trouble for what he did. Maybe climbing is the best way to solve this...or in court? :)
|By phil wortmann|
From: Colorado Springs, Co.
10 hours ago
Well said, Noah. My hope is that bolts are used sparingly if at all on the Dark Side. Being scared but overcoming that fear is part of the adventure for me. Maybe I'm just a sicko like that crazy kid Noah.