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By sanz
From Raleigh, NC
Dec 5, 2013
One of my first trad leads, on Ooga Chocka at Crowder's Mountain.

Debate over rap bolting at the bald turns into debate over Kantian ethics. MP, you can still surprise me


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By Kingk
Dec 5, 2013

Ryan Williams wrote:
Forgive me for being the dumb one, but who says the outcome is "favorable?"


Well, no one specifically, and maybe that’s the point that I’m missing in forming my opinion. If the outcome is not favorable then I agree the route should not have been put in, but then the debate is whether the route should be there or not, not whether it should have been rap bolted.

My question above of “what is the objection” is sincere. I truly do not understand. If the route is not wanted, regardless of how/who put it up, than I think it’s up to the locals to try to reach a consensus on what to do with it.


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By MJMobes
From The land of steady habits
Dec 5, 2013
modern man

Kingk wrote:
Well, no one specifically, and maybe that’s the point that I’m missing in forming my opinion. If the outcome is not favorable then I agree the route should not have been put in, but then the debate is whether the route should be there or not, not whether it should have been rap bolted. My question above of “what is the objection” is sincere. I truly do not understand. If the route is not wanted, regardless of how/who put it up, than I think it’s up to the locals to try to reach a consensus on what to do with it.


tar and feather them of course, the stocks is an option too.


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By Peter Jackson
From Rumney, NH
Dec 6, 2013
Just in case the two big belay anchors aren't obvious enough for you, here is where to find the belay station.

Kingk wrote:
I find that is usually the strategy of someone that is more interested in being right at all cost than someone who is attempting to think through the issue in a balanced manner.


I don't want to be right at all costs, nor did I intend to start an argument over semantics. Mea cupla. Let's bury that hatchet.

In the world of climbing, in all of the literature, and in all of the forums, etc, you respect local tradition. This is a universal norm, and that norm is followed no matter what other choices you use to determine ethical behavior.

This is irrespective of whether you believe the ends justify the means (therefore you accept rappel bolting since you get a safer route) or whether you believe that certain behaviors are inherently wrong (therefore everything must go ground up on the FA). We probably subscribe to similar ethics. I believe that in establishing new routes, the ends justify the means. I would rather have a new, safely bolted, aesthetic route instead of a ground-up, awkwardly protected route with ledge fall potential.

That is why I live in New England, where this is the accepted practice. When I visit NC, I follow their rules, because the universal norm states that local tradition trumps my own personal code of ethics. If the local norms say that a certain style is off limits for new routes, then that rule stands and I climb in a certain style.

Since I don't personally object to the rap-bolted 5.7 slab route, it's something of an exercise to imagine why there would be an objection, but I would imagine "You've stolen a first ascent from someone more bold, skilled, or fearless than you" might be an argument. Stealing is immoral, after all, right?

I hope that makes my points a little more clear.


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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
Dec 6, 2013
Stabby

Peter Jackson wrote:
Stealing is immoral, after all, right?

Unless you are the government.

As for the ground-up 'ethics' in NC, never been there so I am curious:
  • Hand tap only?
  • Or are power drills OK as long as you start from the ground?
  • Do you all prefer 1/4" hit pins over 3/8" as a sign of manliness?
  • Hook hanging OK?
  • What bout temporary bolts or removeables, as long as you started from the ground?
  • What if you climbed up from the ground to bolt, but did so on a tree-anchored toprope?
  • Can you weight the rope?


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By David Barbour
From Longmont, CO
Dec 6, 2013

Mike Lane wrote:
Unless you are the government. As for the ground-up 'ethics' in NC, never been there so I am curious: * Hand tap only? * Or are power drills OK as long as you start from the ground? * Do you all prefer 1/4" hit pins over 3/8" as a sign of manliness? * Hook hanging OK? * What bout temporary bolts or removeables, as long as you started from the ground? * What if you climbed up from the ground to bolt, but did so on a tree-anchored toprope? * Can you weight the rope?


ignorance + sarcasm is not a good combination


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By TomCaldwell
From Clemson, S.C.
Dec 6, 2013
Me on One Pitch Wonder at Whitesides.  Photo credits to Kyle Jones and his lucky anti-rain jacket.

As for the ground-up 'ethics' in NC, never been there so I am curious: * Hand tap only? No, unless it is a wilderness area. * Or are power drills OK as long as you start from the ground? yes, see above. * Do you all prefer 1/4" hit pins over 3/8" as a sign of manliness? No, don't be facetious. 3/8" ss hanger and bolt preferred in granite and quarzite. Glue-in's in Crowder's choss, but no FA potential there. * Hook hanging OK? Yes, ground-up aid is acceptable. * What bout temporary bolts or removeables, as long as you started from the ground? Temp bolts are fine as long as extra holes aren't drilled. * What if you climbed up from the ground to bolt, but did so on a tree-anchored toprope? Tree limbs being the first piece of pro is common. * Can you weight the rope? Typically if you weight the rope you are supposed to return to the ground, although it has become less common.

JCM, ego was the only factor in the John's Rock incident which is what I was referring to.


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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Dec 6, 2013
Bucky

David Barbour wrote:
ignorance + sarcasm is not a good combination


Though Mike seems to be adding a little sarcasm, I think he is far from ignorant about bolting.


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By Br'er Rabbit
From The Briar Patch
Dec 6, 2013
'Bred en bawn in a brier-patch, Brer Fox--bred en bawn in a brier-patch!'

Mike Lane wrote:
Unless you are the government. As for the ground-up 'ethics' in NC, never been there so I am curious: * Hand tap only? * Or are power drills OK as long as you start from the ground? * Do you all prefer 1/4" hit pins over 3/8" as a sign of manliness? * Hook hanging OK? * What bout temporary bolts or removeables, as long as you started from the ground? * What if you climbed up from the ground to bolt, but did so on a tree-anchored toprope? * Can you weight the rope?


I'll try to do this for you in the interest of furthering this entertainment. Disclaimer: These are only my observances of FA bolting practices in North Carolina, as adhered to by those who support the ground up technique.

  • Hand tap only? Most typically lead with drill or tag it up these days. There remain many hand drilled bolts that remain, but power drills are the modern way.
  • Or are power drills OK as long as you start from the ground? This.
  • Do you all prefer 1/4" hit pins over 3/8" as a sign of manliness? Putting in crappy fixed pro isn't very manly.
  • Hook hanging OK? Generally only on real steep terrain (reference pic above). Typically, bolts get drilled from stances in NC.
  • What bout temporary bolts or removeables, as long as you started from the ground? Not common at all..
  • What if you climbed up from the ground to bolt, but did so on a tree-anchored toprope? Depends on how many baby peregrines were harmed in the process.
  • Can you weight the rope? I'd say this is fair means if you are installing a bolt or fighting a new line to the top.


Edit: Tom beat me to it, but I'll leave my take on it.

We all know Mike is joking, BTW, but he has a point in there, I think.


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By David Barbour
From Longmont, CO
Dec 6, 2013

J. Albers wrote:
Though Mike seems to be adding a little sarcasm, I think he is far from ignorant about bolting.


bolting? maybe not. climbing practices in NC? definitely. maybe it's more light-hearted than how i interpreted it, though.


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By Br'er Rabbit
From The Briar Patch
Dec 6, 2013
'Bred en bawn in a brier-patch, Brer Fox--bred en bawn in a brier-patch!'

David Barbour wrote:
bolting? maybe not. climbing practices in NC? definitely. maybe it's more light-hearted than how i interpreted it, though.


This is not trench warfare.


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By Peter Jackson
From Rumney, NH
Dec 6, 2013
Just in case the two big belay anchors aren't obvious enough for you, here is where to find the belay station.

BHMBen wrote:
We all know Mike is joking, BTW, but he has a point in there, I think.


Mike Lane wrote:
As for the ground-up 'ethics' in NC, never been there so I am curious


I'm sure there *is* a point in there, beyond simply comparing his own ethical norms to the ones in NC and declaring his own superior through sarcasm. :-)

I fully support sarcasm and ridicule, by the way. Just don't use it as justification to rappel bolt a route in a ground up area. :D


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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Dec 6, 2013
Bucky

David Barbour wrote:
bolting? maybe not. climbing practices in NC? definitely. maybe it's more light-hearted than how i interpreted it, though.


I think you guys were perhaps missing Mike's point (correct me if I am wrong here Mike). By asking all of those somewhat vague, yet weirdly specific questions, I think that he was pointing out the relative absurdity of the tiny minutia that define 'okay' FA tactics.


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By Peter Jackson
From Rumney, NH
Dec 6, 2013
Just in case the two big belay anchors aren't obvious enough for you, here is where to find the belay station.

J. Albers wrote:
I think you guys were perhaps missing Mike's point (correct me if I am wrong here Mike). By asking all of those somewhat vague, yet weirdly specific questions, I think that he was pointing out the relative absurdity of the tiny minutia that define 'okay' FA tactics.


I hardly think those who find rap-bolting distasteful would call it a minute detail. They don't consider it fair-means.


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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Dec 6, 2013
Bucky

Peter Jackson wrote:
I hardly think those who find rap-bolting distasteful would call it a minute detail. They don't consider it fair-means.


Missed the point again. The point is that if you ask 30 different climbers to define 'fair-means', then you will get close to 30 different answers. To some folks hanging from a hook and drilling with a Bulldog is not fair-means. TR pre-inspection? That's a paddling. Greater than 4 bolts in a hundred feet? Tar and feather!! The absurd part is that when you say 'this is okay', but 'that is not', you end up with a relatively arbitrary set of rules. Get it?


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By David Barbour
From Longmont, CO
Dec 6, 2013

J. Albers wrote:
I think you guys were perhaps missing Mike's point (correct me if I am wrong here Mike). By asking all of those somewhat vague, yet weirdly specific questions, I think that he was pointing out the relative absurdity of the tiny minutia that define 'okay' FA tactics.


The tiny minutia in Mike's post can all be lumped into broader norms and regulations.

Haven't seen anyone respond to Nathan Brown's post here:

"One is that when there are a premium of FA's to be done at a given cliff, especially an area with a traditional approach (as with the Cereal Wall), when someone comes along and does a line top-down they essentially rob would-be ground-up ascents from ever getting a chance (to either start or finish). This has happened in the past and (rightfully so) pisses people off. Since most top-down routes can be done very fast they can also tend to be overdone -- in the sense of a bunch of routes in short time. This was not the case in this particular instance, but is something worth noting.

In this instance it is likely more of an issue of "Fair Weather Friend" being accidentally retro-bolted over an already existing "line". However, I'm doubtful that's the only retro job on that wall."

You could clearly make the argument that keeping a wall clean from a slew of bolts is also arbitrary, but by that argument, so is keeping graffiti off rocks.


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By Peter Jackson
From Rumney, NH
Dec 6, 2013
Just in case the two big belay anchors aren't obvious enough for you, here is where to find the belay station.

J. Albers wrote:
Missed the point again. The point is that if you ask 30 different climbers to define 'fair-means', then you will get close to 30 different answers. To some folks hanging from a hook and drilling with a Bulldog is not fair-means. TR pre-inspection? That's a paddling. Greater than 4 bolts in a hundred feet? Tar and feather!! The absurd part is that when you say 'this is okay', but 'that is not', you end up with a relatively arbitrary set of rules. Get it?


Yes, I get it. I didn't miss your point.

The rules are not arbitrary. They do vary from place-to-place, which is why you see 30 different descriptions of what is and is not OK. What seems arbitrary to you from your seat in Colorado may not seem arbitrary to a 30 year veteran in NC.

The one common thread you'll see, though, is that in all cases, people advise checking with the local route developers before drilling holes.

This is at odds with an "anything goes" attitude that shirks the local rules. What happens when some guy with a drill starts retro-bolting runout trad lines just to make them safer without asking the FA first? Minute detail? Arbitrary?


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By David Barbour
From Longmont, CO
Dec 6, 2013

Also, given that there IS reasoning (as shown by Nathan and others itt) behind the ground up norm in NC, calling it arbitrary is disingenuous.


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By the schmuck
From Albuquerque, NM
Dec 6, 2013

Let me get this straight. In NC, it is ground up ascents only, which is fair enough. But, other non-negotiable elements are as follows: Hooks and direct aid are okay only if the terrain is significantly overhanging, otherwise you can only bolt from natural stances; and if you weigh the rope/gear at any point during your FA, you are expected to return to the ground, and start over. Is yo-yo okay, or do you have to pull the rope as well? Rough standards for FAs, and it almost sounds like a jury of your peers may be required to witness the creation of each new route.

I do have one question however. If NC climbing is this steeped in traditionalism, and if there is no room for evolution of style, then why accept power drills? There were no power drills until the late 80s, so if the only acceptable way to put up routes is the way they always were, then there is no room for mechanized equipment. Actually, it may just be easier to adopt the Connecticut standard of no bolts at all.


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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Dec 6, 2013
Bucky

Peter Jackson wrote:
The rules are not arbitrary. They do vary from place-to-place,


Yes, the rules are actually pretty arbitrary when you really sit down and try and justify each and every rule...especially if you try to make sense of the rules relative to one another. Do I really need to lay down some examples of how the this would work? (go ahead, take some of my examples above and try and explain why some of those methods are okay, but not others....good luck).

Moreover, the rules don't just vary place-to-place, but they vary at any given crag. And that was part of my point. It is a near certainty that you could not get the locals at any crag to agree on what is acceptable. Sh*t, even at a crag like Rumney that has far less complicated ethos involved you can't get people to agree on what is okay. Fixed draws ring a bell?


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By David Barbour
From Longmont, CO
Dec 6, 2013

"Hooks and direct aid are okay only if the terrain is significantly overhanging, otherwise you can only bolt from natural stances"

No, hook wherever you want. It just makes sense to avoid it when possible so you don't break holds. If you have a good stance to drill from, use it.

"if you weigh the rope/gear at any point during your FA, you are expected to return to the ground, and start over"

Nobody said that.

"if there is no room for evolution of style"

Or that.


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By Peter Jackson
From Rumney, NH
Dec 6, 2013
Just in case the two big belay anchors aren't obvious enough for you, here is where to find the belay station.

J. Albers wrote:
Sh*t, even at a crag like Rumney that has far less complicated ethos involved you can't get people to agree on what is okay. Fixed draws ring a bell?


Fixed draws *do* come to mind. Rest assured, the locals are working it out with the USFS, within the existing rules and norms. And I can guarantee you that we will not take your opinion into account when making the rules.

So are you saying I'm in the clear to come out to Colorado and start retrobolting hard trad lines, since there is some precedent for that in other areas of the country?


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By Peter Jackson
From Rumney, NH
Dec 6, 2013
Just in case the two big belay anchors aren't obvious enough for you, here is where to find the belay station.

J. Albers wrote:
Yes, the rules are actually pretty arbitrary when you really sit down and try and justify each and every rule...especially if you try to make sense of the rules relative to one another.


Nobody said we have to have one set of universal rules that all make sense when considered in aggregate. Local variations are expected. When you disregard them because they don't make sense in some other context where they were not intended to apply, then you put at-risk all rules everywhere where they are established.


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By the schmuck
From Albuquerque, NM
Dec 6, 2013

Well, this is from Tom: "Can you weight the rope? Typically if you weight the rope you are supposed to return to the ground, although it has become less common."

And then there is this: "Hook hanging OK? Generally only on real steep terrain (reference pic above). Typically, bolts get drilled from stances in NC."

So, two responses from two different locals say that the style is hooks only on "real steep terrain," ie. overhanging, and if you weigh the rope, you return to the ground. all I am saing is that if one is absolutist, then it makes sense to be absolutely absolutist.

I am not arguing about the validity of style...I've done great and terrible routes bolted ground up and top down. I'm just a little miffed by the arbitrary nature and inconsistent individual understanding of the style espoused.


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By TomCaldwell
From Clemson, S.C.
Dec 6, 2013
Me on One Pitch Wonder at Whitesides.  Photo credits to Kyle Jones and his lucky anti-rain jacket.

the schmuck wrote:
I do have one question however. If NC climbing is this steeped in traditionalism, and if there is no room for evolution of style, then why accept power drills? There were no power drills until the late 80s, so if the only acceptable way to put up routes is the way they always were, then there is no room for mechanized equipment. Actually, it may just be easier to adopt the Connecticut standard of no bolts at all.


Like David said, nobody said that there isn't room for evolution in style. Obviously it has evolved, but it won't evolve into top-down being accepted overnight. I hope that it will never be accepted on a 5.7 slab. There is a good reason to use power-drills over hand-drills. They drill better holes. Which means the bolt will last longer, fewer bolts will have to replaced, less damage to the resource, they can also be easily placed much higher than a hand-drilled bolt.


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