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Organ Mountains - Re-bolting
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By Dan Carter
From Las Cruces, NM
Jan 18, 2014
What do climbers think about re-bolting in the Organs?

I would like to start replacing some bolts on routes. A few have been replaced and with newer bolts, some of the old routes would be safer and much more enjoyable to climb. I'm proposing to place new bolts next to old, existing bolts or within the same bolt line if all of the old placements are not necessary, such as in bolt ladders. Also, some new rap bolts would be nice. Here are some of the routes that I would like to replace bolts on.

The Tooth:
-5.11 slab variation to the left of Tooth Fairy 1st pitch - 2 bolts. These placements are good but need new bolts.
-Slab variation to the right of Tooth Fairy 1st pitch, direct line to roof and first belay - there are 2 existing old bolts, I believe there use to be a 4 bolt ladder. Replace with 2-3 new bolts
-Tooth Extraction - one bolt on 3rd pitch
-Tooth or Consequences - 3rd bolt on 3rd pitch. 3 of the 4 bolts have been replaced already
-Install rap bolts in order to safely rappel with 60-70m rope
-Possibly replace the bolts on the 5.12 slab route on the left side of the formation
-Also, several new route variations exist if new bolts were installed. What about new route and bolt development?

Lesser Spire:

-West Face Route - Install 1-2 bolts on 1st pitch where a 4-5 bolt ladder exists

Gertch:
-Install rap anchors on south side of formation

North Rabbit Ear:
-Hand Jive: Replace existing bolts on route and possibly install new bolt if needed

Thoughts on future route development and bolting in the Organs? Any other bolts you know that need replacing?

Let's have a constructive discussion and plan to make these old routes safe and fun to climb. Also, if anyone is interested in helping me with this effort, please message me.

Thanks,
Dan

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By Meme Guy
From Land of Runout Slab
Jan 18, 2014
Meme guy
Retro bolting is for pussy ass bitches
Retro bolting is for pussy ass bitches

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By Chris Wenker
From Santa Fe
Jan 18, 2014
Bandera
D.
I'm very impressed that you took the time to inquire about your undertaking. This is a great example of using the interwebnetubes as a tool. A shining example.

That said, although I'm in-state, and I have climbed, some, in the Organs, I'm not versed in the subtleties of most those routes you list. So I have little 'weight' to throw around. But...

I'm kinda old-school, so, when you say:
I'm proposing to place new bolts next to old, existing bolts or within the same bolt line if all of the old placements are not necessary, such as in bolt ladders.

That "within the same * line" phrase give me pause.
IMHO, you should only replace, not add, bolts intended for leading. Free leading. Aid, I dunno, have no reference point

At descent stations, however, go for it! -- also with restraint.

Specifically I'd prefer that no-one create a new descent off Gertch, because the south walk-off gully is NBD ....until you get down to the two rap stations. If those stations are what you're talking about, then, yeah! Those need some modern loving.


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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Jan 18, 2014
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Pea...
Dan, you mean rebolting, not retrobolting. Rebolting is simply replacing old bolts with new ones in as close to the same placement as possible if the hole itself cannot be reused. Retrobolting implies adding bolts, and hence is generally frowned upon. I say generally because some bolt jobs were botched from the get go, but it's a case by case basis.

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By Marta Reece
Administrator
From Las Cruces, NM
Jan 18, 2014
On Rabbit Ears
There is a large number of very old and by now seriously dangerous bolts in need of replacement and what you are suggesting is much needed. The bolt on T or C in particular has caught a huge whipper and is in a bad way. The rap from Gertch needs help too.

On the Lesser Spire, without re-bolting, that route is almost sure to remain unused.

The only ones I would possibly question would be the addition of extra rap stations on the Tooth, particularly the one on the fourth pitch of the Tooth Fairy.

I would add Left Eyebrow and Science Friction to the list. Great climbs in great need of some TLC.

Thank you for offering to help.

Marta

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By Bruce Hildenbrand
Jan 18, 2014
Dan Carter wrote:
I'm proposing to place new bolts next to old, existing bolts or within the same bolt line if all of the old placements are not necessary, such as in bolt ladders.


Bottom line, if you don't know how to properly take out the old bolts then you aren't qualified to do any rebolting.

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By Dan Carter
From Las Cruces, NM
Jan 18, 2014
Thanks for all the replies. Feedback is what I wanted before starting this undertaking. Improper word use onmy part, I do mean re-bolting not retro bolting. Some of the bolt lines are were for aiding. However, these could easily be lead with new bolts and probably less bolts than the aid ladder required. Some of the aid bolts on the Tooth have already pulled out and I would not trust the ones on lesser spire even for aid. Most of the local climbers agree that the organ routes need some attention but aren't sure on the ethically correct way to proceed. I'm not sure who rebolted tooth or consequences but bolts are placed next to the old ones. This is what I have seen on many routes. I'll look into better ways of rebolting. Perhaps some more experienced bolters can help out with this project. Also, share this with any others that are interested in the organs and with those part of first ascent partys.Thanks again for all the input.

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By George Perkins
From Los Alamos, NM
Jan 19, 2014
I'm not a crusher; I just spray a lot.
Most of the Organs is a BLM wilderness study area. Please look into whether using a power drill, or even drilling bolts at all, is allowed. Please don't illegally power drill.

I would suggest that you prioritize, and start with those that are "more necessary" and "less controversial", and see how your motivation to hand drill granite stays.

edit: I'll also add that I've climbed 4 of those listed above by Dan and Marta. If legal, some 1:1 replacements/upgrades would be improvements, however, I don't feel as though the current situation of the bolts is so terrible that leaders relatively solid at the grades should be deterred from climbs like the main Tooth routes or Sugarloaf routes in their current state.

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By Dan Carter
From Las Cruces, NM
Jan 19, 2014
I had the same thoughts Greg. Pick the low hanging fruit first.

Here's a good read for those interested in this project:
safeclimbing.org/education/how...

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By Cultivating Mass
Jan 19, 2014
Leading on the only "fair means" rack.
Bruce Hildenbrand wrote:
Bottom line, if you don't know how to properly take out the old bolts then you aren't qualified to do any rebolting.


Or knowing the difference between rebolting and retrobolting. Sounds like you're proposing both and that sound like an invitation to come up to the Organs and bring Chopper Reid, if you take my meaning.

Mucking with established climbs is becoming a more popular pursuit for some reason. Maybe when some motivated local starts removing retrobolted installations the folly will be made apparent.

Planning on retrobolting with ASCA hardware, I assume?

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By Meme Guy
From Land of Runout Slab
Jan 19, 2014
Meme guy
Rebolting is acceptable if you know what you're doing. Retro bolting is never acceptable.

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By Bill Lawry
From New Mexico
Jan 19, 2014
The Organs are in great need for this ... have been for a long time. Dan/Marta - If you start a fund for the hardware, I will contribute.

I haven't been on very many of the routes mentioned. Some thoughts from memories mostly around 2012 ...

Gertch:
Agree with fixing up the existing hike/rap descent.

Left Eyebrow, Sugarloaf:
Agree, one of the upper pitches has 1/4 inch bolt(s) in a tricky area. And a higher anchor needs a 2nd modern bolt for the semi-hanging belay ... perhaps in place of one of the two 1/4 inch ones.

North Face, Sugarloaf:
The ring piton on the crux pitch needs a good supplement.

And I've heard from someone more experienced that the pair of pitons four or five pitches up are no good ... and folks may be using them to protect some of that famous run-out (I did). Maybe its time to consider doing something for them ... or decide the small crack should protect well enough (not sure) for the average person.

Shillelagh, The Wedge:

It has some old bolts/rivets on the crux pitch. To me, they looked obviously suspect and weren't needed with modern shoes & gear. I'd leave them as-is for the history.

Again, let us know if you set up a fund.

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By M Sprague
Administrator
From New England
Jan 19, 2014
Lichen head. Me, with my usual weatherbeaten, lich...
Meme Guy wrote:
. Retro bolting is never acceptable.


Not always true at all. Some FAs screw it up royally and recognize it afterwards. Times change as well as equipment. Leaving it a mess if they and the community think it should change is just silly. There are plenty of cases of moronic climbers or ones completely whacked out on coke and using bad judgement. Blind worship of those ascents is ridiculous. There just has to be a very good reason and strong consensus to alter something. It is worth placing a high bar to protect people's route creations, but it shouldn't be infinitely high.

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By Meme Guy
From Land of Runout Slab
Jan 19, 2014
Meme guy
M Sprague wrote:
Not always true at all. Some FAs screw it up royally and recognize it afterwards. Times change as well as equipment. Leaving it a mess if they and the community think it should change is just silly. There are plenty of cases of moronic climbers or ones completely whacked out on coke and using bad judgement. Blind worship of those ascents is ridiculous. There just has to be a very good reason and strong consensus to alter something. It is worth placing a high bar to protect people's route creations, but it shouldn't be infinitely high.


Unless the FA gives permission, ANY retro bolting is bull shit, even if the FA was high on meth and muffs it.

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By Marc Tarnosky
From El Paso, TX
Jan 19, 2014
Great idea. If you need help or funds, I'm in.

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By M Sprague
Administrator
From New England
Jan 19, 2014
Lichen head. Me, with my usual weatherbeaten, lich...
Meme Guy wrote:
Unless the FA gives permission, ANY retro bolting is bull shit, even if the FA was high on meth and muffs it.

Well, I doubt you could present a convincing argument for such absolutism, though the FA's wishes should certainly hold a lot of weight. A lot of times they can't even be found or are dead etc., at which time you have to use your and the community's collective wisdom.

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By Meme Guy
From Land of Runout Slab
Jan 19, 2014
Meme guy
100%
100%

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By the schmuck
From Albuquerque, NM
Jan 19, 2014
I'm not sure that some of the bolts in question should be pulled as they do have historical value, going back to Royal Robbins in the 1950s. That said, I would not hang my hat on some of them. Maybe in a situation like that, supplementing, not removing, the historical mank may be more appropriate.

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By Robert Cort
Jan 19, 2014
I'll throw in my 2cents: Dan, re-bolting is a great idea. In most cases, the FA's felt safe and likely were safe on those old bolts (and even some old pitons). That is the character of the climbing, and it is appropriate to retain that character. Unless there is historic significance to the old bolts, they should be removed and if possible existing holes re-used. If you ever get up on MRE, old bolt on 1st pitch is half coming out of it's hole (but it can be easily backed up with a cam), more importantly, rapping the route with a single rope requires use of an old two-bolt anchor that is questionable at best. Similarly, coming off the Spire requires use of an old two bolt anchor. In both cases, the bolts are 1/4", but appear solid, it's the hangers that worry me, they are thin, and rusty. Flexing under load is likely growing cracks. (just throwing more work at you Dan)

Bill Lawry wrote:
North Face, Sugarloaf: The ring piton on the crux pitch needs a good supplement. And I've heard from someone more experienced that the pair of pitons four or five pitches up are no good ... and folks may be using them to protect some of that famous run-out (I did). Maybe its time to consider doing something for them ... or decide the small crack should protect well enough (not sure) for the average person. Shillelagh, The Wedge: It has some old bolts/rivets on the crux pitch. To me, they looked obviously suspect and weren't needed with modern shoes & gear. I'd leave them as-is for the history. Again, let us know if you set up a fund.


My 2 cents on Sugarloaf: Agree with replacing the old ring piton with a bolt, it's hard to backup, and the piton is of unknown quality. The two pitons down lower don't worry me nearly as much, one can see that they are not rusted out below the surface, and the climbing there is much easier. The old 1/4" bolt with aluminum hanger on the next pitch would be higher priority to me, even though the climbing is pretty easy there too (it's the 1st pro after a long run-out, and the climbing gets noticeably steeper just above). Also, except for maybe the ring piton, I would prioritize the bolts on left eyebrow above the NF route.

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By Taylor J
From new mexico, new england
Jan 19, 2014
"Scott" at the tunnel
As far as I know using a power drill in the organs is not allowed, I would run this by someone who has been climbing in the area for a long time and I believe has done some developing in the organs, and see what they think such as John Hymer.... He is going to know more than anyone I know of about what's ok and not ok in the organs. I would ask him what he thinks before anyone.

Fun fact John has soloed sugar loaf in 2 hours and 45 minutes car to car, pretty awesome stuff!

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By Taylor J
From new mexico, new england
Jan 19, 2014
"Scott" at the tunnel
Also I live in the area and if any help is needed let me know, I know a few people who would be willing to help in the area as well but as said before I think running it by a long time local Is a good idea. I could get in touch with john if needed...

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By Bill Lawry
From New Mexico
Jan 19, 2014
Robert Cort wrote:
The two pitons down lower don't worry me nearly as much, one can see that they are not rusted out below the surface, and the climbing there is much easier. The old 1/4" bolt with aluminum hanger on the next pitch would be higher priority to me, even though the climbing is pretty easy there too (it's the 1st pro after a long run-out, and the climbing gets noticeably steeper just above).


I haven't seen the one with the aluminum hanger - haven't been that way.

Robert Cort wrote:
Also, except for maybe the ring piton, I would prioritize the bolts on left eyebrow above the NF route.


Agreed.

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By Dan Carter
From Las Cruces, NM
Jan 21, 2014
Thanks again for all the input. Sounds like we have a good list to look into a pool of resources for the project. If anyone is in the area and wants to climb or work on re bolting, send me a message.

There are plenty of old bolts to be left for historically purposes. Many can now be backed up with gear and do not need to be replaced. These will have to be dealt with on a case by case basis.

Taylor,
I know John. He is a machine! I've climbed with him and Dave Head (also done a lot of establishing in the Organs) a lot. I'll contact them, along with some other Organ route developers and FA's, and see what there thoughts are.

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By Karl Kiser
Jan 22, 2014
The Organ Mountains contain many old 1/4 inch bolts which should be replaced (30 to 50 years old). New gear would reduce the number to be replaced but most are necessary (no cracks). I would start with the popular routes (perhaps just these routes), use stainless gear and paint the bolts. There should be no power drilling (wilderness study area equals wilderness) and the good samaritans should employ good judgment.

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By Craig Childre
From Lubbock, Texas
Jan 22, 2014
Potrero Mexico, Sport Climbing Mecca.
I want to add my vote for the Left Eyebrow. I enjoyed leading the 6th pitch, but I would be completely surprised if that ancient bolt would hold any sort of fall, purely a mental pillow. I treated that section past the roof as a free solo, knowing that a fall most likely break something on me. Leaving me in a position that would difficult to perform a rescue. If I get knocked out, hope my partner has knows his escape belay and high angle rescue techniques.

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By Bill Lawry
From New Mexico
Jan 22, 2014
Craig Childre wrote:
... a fall most likely break something on me. Leaving me in a position that would difficult to perform a rescue. If I get knocked out, hope my partner has knows his escape belay and high angle rescue techniques.


Slacking off on your teleportation skills, eh? ;-)

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