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Route Chopping at Bozeman Pass
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By Joe Manlove
Jul 11, 2013
It came to my attention today that a climber visiting from Washington took it upon himself to chop a pair of local warm-ups.

Dave Stephens of Spokane Washington has admitted in the comments on 'Fat Man' to removing bolt hangers from that route. In a phone conversation with a gym employee he also alluded to removing hangers from 'Fright Train'.

This is not some grey area booty issue, this guy took down established sport routes and stole the hardware.

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By Leigh Ann Spokas
From Bozeman, MT
Jul 11, 2013
There's a rumor of a broken bolt . . . photo please.

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By Kevin Macartney
From Bozeman, MT
Jul 11, 2013
Mushroom People 5.10c Red Rocks, Nevada
Ethan and I are planning on heading out there tomorrow to assess the damage.

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By Nick Stayner
From Billings, MT
Jul 11, 2013
Nick Stayner near the crux. Ryan Minton photo.
Based on multiple accounts from Ethan & others, the guy seems absolutely psychotic... hope he gets the help he needs!

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By Emoney
Jul 11, 2013
Yup, this is amazing that this guy came and decided upon himself that the climbs where unsafe.

I bet what actually happened is his ego was hurt because fat man and fright train were tooo hard. Then he decided well i cant climb these so lets remove the hangers and hammer in the bolts!!

Wow lame, but it will be fixed!!

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By Alex Herbert
From Bozeman, MT
Jul 11, 2013
The Moss Cave, Sinks Canyon, WY
It appeared that two or three of the bolts on Fatman had been removed, with one stud visible. The first bolt and some of the upper bolts were still remaining.

The bolts on Fright Train were not quite as fortunate as those on Fatman. The studs had been pounded in on all but the last bolt, who's condition should be under question as Stephens reported trying to remove it. The anchors appeared to remain intact, but should probably be checked as well.

While the hangers and bolts certainly weren't fresh steel by any means, I hadn't noticed anything overly alarming while climbing Fright Train the previous week. Especially something warranting their immediate removal. A spot of rust on some bolts or a loose hanger at the most, but I've certainly seen and even clipped into much worse.

I don't know how they do it in Washington, but around here you don't go to a locals crag and chop bolts on classic routes with out consulting the climbers who established them or the local stewards of the climbing area. Concern over the safety of the hardware is a legitimate one, especially at a crag established in the late '80s, but Stephens you have absolutely no right to be the one to make the call to desecrate routes at our climbing area. You could have taken a different and much more considerate approach and alerted the local climbers before taking action of your own. In a small community like ours, word spreads quickly and your concerns would have promptly fallen upon keen ears that would see to the REPLACEMENT of any bad bolts. Chopping bolts without question only to later berate a local gym staff member about their condition isn't welcome in our community, Stephens, and neither are you.

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By Ian Cavanaugh
Jul 11, 2013
This is ridiculous! i cant believe that would happen! Im all for replacing old hardware and taking care of an area for the safety of others but simply removing hangers and destroying the studs is not the way to go about it. Visitors to an area have no business doing this without first properly coordinating with locals as to the situation. Hope the routes are salvageable. good luck boys, climb hard

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By M Sprague
Administrator
From New England
Jul 11, 2013
Lichen head. Me, with my usual weatherbeaten, lichen covered look from scrubbing a new route.
Crazy old folks!

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By pdyess
Jul 11, 2013
Love it! Have fun redrilling those suckers. BTW, I think you can get cams in the pockets.

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By Maren Fitzer
Jul 11, 2013
This is awful. I hope someone finds this jerk!

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By Jeff J
From Bozeman
Jul 11, 2013
I have been climbing Fat man for at least 15 years.
As of a few weeks ago the bolts were still is plenty good shape,
So this kind of act was just plan vandilism. I a bit pissed I was hoping to jump on the fat man wall this Friday.

Good luck with fixing the routs guys I hope that the dammage is not too bad. I would hate to have a clasic like these destroyed.

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By Bud Martin
From Bozeman, MT
Jul 11, 2013
If you need bolts/hangers/drill let me know.

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By TKrock
Jul 11, 2013
Posted earlier on Fatman page:

All,

Someone just sent me this link and I can't believe I'm commenting in one of these forums. They do, however, provide an effective way to communicate and inform people.

It appears that Mr. Stephens acts were mindless and, like many climbers these days, he has no knowledge or respect for the potential historical significance of a climb. Fatman and Fright Train were two of the earliest routes done at Bozeman Pass. They were originally done a quarter century ago. Their character and bolting style, reflects an age when the very first power drill was used by a Bozeman climber. We were just emerging from decades of drilling on lead with a hand drill and not yet accustomed to blasting in a bolt every five feet. Nonetheless the bolt placements on these climbs were well thought out and the climbs seemed safe enough. If 25 year old bolts are still being used on these routes, perhaps it is time to think about replacing them. In doing so, please respect and try to maintain the original character of the route. Contacting the first-ascentionist might also be a good idea.

Climbing styles and attitudes change or evolve with time, giving our sport a rich and interesting history. The next time you're about to selfishly bash in a bolt, let your dog burrow at the base of a climb, or attach a perma-draw to an established route, stop and consider the thoughts and efforts of climbers that came before you and those that will climb there in the future. Hopefully you'll change your mind.

Happy Climbing

TK

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By Rando Smi
Jul 11, 2013
Thanks for the post TK. Food for thought for all climbers everywhere. This was an unfortunate event that could have been easily avoided with a little communication. Thanks to Joe, Kevin, and Peder who are heading up as I type this to reestablish these classic routes.

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By Joe Manlove
Jul 11, 2013
I'm headed out in an hour to replace the hangers and chopped bolts, I'll be adding pictures of the damage this evening. It should be noted that Kevin, Peder, and I are doing this out of the anger in our hearts and the money in our pockets.

Dear Mr. Stephens, the smcc would greatly appreciate a donation to cover the hangers you stole.

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By James Ellwood
From Bozeman, MT
Jul 11, 2013
Finish on second pitch.
Thank you Joe, Kevin and Peder. And anyone else that's helping undo the damage done. I would like to help donate $ for hardware and beer for the time spent if needed!

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By TKrock
Jul 11, 2013
Thanks Joe, Kevin and Peder. I trust you'll do a good job. I'd cover the cost, but I already did that 25 years ago. Perhaps Mr. Stephens can redeem his foolish act by ponying up for the cost. SMCC does have replacement anchors for this type of thing.

TK

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By Ben LaFrance
Jul 12, 2013
New bolts on Fatman and Fright Train look awesome. Big thank you to Joe, Peder, and Kevin for getting these classics back up and running so fast.

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By grk10vq
Administrator
Jul 12, 2013
. . .
Seriously, thanks Joe, Kevin and Peder, I'm sure this was tough work.
How ironic would it be if somebody, someday just decided that David's
routes were unsafe?

The Gulcher
24 Dollars A Day

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By Joe Manlove
Jul 12, 2013
I've just completed replacing the bolts that were chopped. My opinion is that at most one of the bolts chopped was in need of replacement. None of the bolts on 'Fright Train' needed to be replaced.

The final tally was two bolts chopped and three hangers stolen from 'Fat Man' and five bolts chopped with hangers stolen from 'Fright Train'. Pictures will follow.

Also, thanks tom for the confidence. The bolts are essentially where they were, the furthest a bolt had to be moved was about six inches owing to rock quality.

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By Nick Stayner
From Billings, MT
Jul 12, 2013
Nick Stayner near the crux. Ryan Minton photo.
Thanks for the work guys! The sport climbing masses of Bozeman will appreciate it for many years to come.

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By Joe Manlove
Jul 12, 2013
These are the photos I took of the bolts that were chopped on 'Fat Man', they appear to have been solid albeit old bolts. It should be noted that the bolts removed were #2, #3, and #4. This means that the first bolt which I understand was added without permission of the first ascensionist remains. Had it been chopped I would not have replaced it. (Please don't go chop it, the decision to leave it was made after it was added.)

Fat Man #2.
Fat Man #2.


Fat Man #3.
Fat Man #3.


Fat Man #4.
Fat Man #4.



The following are my photos of the bolts which were on 'Fright Train'. All the bolts except the last one were chopped. I replaced all the bolts including the last one out of a concern for consistency. No bolts were added to either route, all new bolts are within 6 inches of the old bolts. I tried to move them towards their respective clipping holds so as not to put them out of reach. The anchors were not replaced.

Fright Train #1.
Fright Train #1.


Fright Train #2.
Fright Train #2.


Fright Train #3 and replacement.
Fright Train #3 and replacement.


Fright Train #4.
Fright Train #4.


Fright Train #5.
Fright Train #5.


As you can see from the photo of bolt #5, these bolts were a bit rusty (also 25 years old), but they were otherwise in excellent condition. It took considerable effort on my part to shear off the remaining stud on 'Fat Man' and bolt #5 on Fright Train which I replaced. Several people came up to the crag to visit while we were rebolting, it was especially nice of Jeff J to bring us beers.

Having seen this first hand it is my considered opinion that the bolts which were removed were more likely the result of a sore ego rather than a legitimate safety concern. If you'd like to chip in for hangers you can make a donation at Spire to the SMCC, extra funds will be used to replace bolts that actually need it.

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By TKrock
Jul 13, 2013
Thank you Joe and others for the information and for replacing the bolts. While he most likely removed the bolts due to a lack of cajones, scruples, and brains, let's also thank Mr. Stephens for providing the impetus to replace a few bolts.

Judging from depth of corrosion visible in Joe's pictures, I'd say there was little wrong with the shear strength of these bolts. A little known secret about bolts: You can shear off or seriously damage most bolts used for rock climbing by over-tightening them (i.e. using too much torque). This is done quite easily by using a six inch (or longer) wrench and applying to much force when tightening them. Read the specs on most bolts and see for yourself. This does not preclude that our climbing bolts lack the necessary strength for holding a typical fall. If installed properly, these 3/8 bolts should hold have a 2000 to 6000 PSI shear strength (straight down load, as on a vertical wall). To prevent spinning hangers, we should all be using some sort of lock-nut or lock-tite goop to keep nuts from loosening.

But wait, Mr. Stephens is not off the hook. There's a lot of difference between a spinning hanger, the result of a loose nut, and bolt stud that cannot withstand the shear stress caused by a falling climber. He should have simply tightened the nuts or listened to his inner weenie and found something else to climb.

Thanks again guys,

TK

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