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Sign - Sign - everywhere a Sign (route length & info signage)
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By Casey Bernal
From Arvada, CO
Feb 11, 2010

The reopening of The Catslab and the suggestion of the use of Dog Tags (or other signage) has created a bit of controversy. The sign would be similar to the ones at: Little Eiger, First Flatiron, Third Flatiron and the Red Ledge rappel anchor in Eldo. These all provide information on rappel/lowering distance to reduce accidents or rescues.

Please use this forum to express facts and opinions on the use of these.


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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Feb 7, 2010
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Peak.

This post was originally a comment in Clear Creek Cat Slab to Reopen

A metal tag should warn climbers that a single 60 meter rope will not get you completely down lowering off or allow a toprope setup for the far left climb. Since someone has already died because of this, and the area is going to again attract new climbers, such a warning would be nice to have there.


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By Monty
From Golden, CO
Feb 8, 2010
Just a teaser

This post was originally a comment in Clear Creek Cat Slab to Reopen

The newer guidebook illustrates very well the length of climbs at Catslab, but tags on routes would certainly make a difference. Look at Little Eiger, everything there over 100ft has a dog tag, and I can't recall any accidents for this reason there.


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By Bruce Hildenbrand
Feb 8, 2010

This post was originally a comment in Clear Creek Cat Slab to Reopen

I vote No on tags. What ever happened to buying a guidebook or printing info off the Internet before going to a climbing area? I run into people all the time in Boulder Canyon roaming the rocks looking for places to climb without a guidebook. I don't think we should support this type of behavior.

Climbing is a dangerous sport and people need to come prepared for the routes they are climbing with some source of knowledge like a guidebook.

Bruce


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By A. Roberts
From Boulder, CO
Feb 9, 2010
Zenyatta

This post was originally a comment in Clear Creek Cat Slab to Reopen

It is a good idea to have checked out an area with a guidebook. But I would say bringing some common sense, and awareness, is even more important.


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By Casey Bernal
From Arvada, CO
Feb 9, 2010

This post was originally a comment in Clear Creek Cat Slab to Reopen

The dog tags seem to be minimally intrusive - they are hardly more of an eyesore than a bolt - and can serve as a good double safety check when you need it most.

Guidebooks should not be taken as "truth" and certainly not worshiped as a religious text. Misinterpreting the topo/text, author errors or coffee stains can all lead to dangerous misjudgments.

edited to add:
I am not implying that Darren's book has any errors - I haven't found any - just that guidebook authors in general aren't perfect with information. They all come with a disclaimer . . .


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By slim
Administrator
Feb 9, 2010
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

This post was originally a comment in Clear Creek Cat Slab to Reopen

What did people do before guidebooks? To say that people shouldn't wander around without guidebooks is like saying people shouldn't have left their cozy caves. Or Christopher Columbus shouldn't have left the coast of Portugal, etc. Weird response from an old guy.... How about just recommending that people use some sense when eyeing up a route that they don't know anything about?


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By Guy H.
From Fort Collins CO
Feb 9, 2010
Crux roof on Freeway...

This post was originally a comment in Clear Creek Cat Slab to Reopen

I think we should dumb down the sport climbing experience. This way the average sport climber will become confused when they enter your favorite trad area. They will most likely throw up their hands and turn around and leave. :)


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By Bruce Hildenbrand
Feb 9, 2010

This post was originally a comment in Clear Creek Cat Slab to Reopen

The reason I recommended people get some sort of guidebook is that I have long since given up hoping that people bring common sense to the crags. There should be *no* lowering accidents. I have a middle mark in my rope and when the leader tops out on a climb that is the first thing I look at. If you don't want to put a middle mark in your rope, then either put a knot in the end (takes about 5 seconds) or tie in (takes about 15 seconds).

Just because people want to avoid using good judgment or don't really comprehend the seriousness of rock climbing doesn't mean we should be littering our crags with tags. Where does the dumbing down end?

Bruce


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By Casey Bernal
From Arvada, CO
Feb 9, 2010

This post was originally a comment in Clear Creek Cat Slab to Reopen

I think it is kinda obvious that no one here is recommending dog tags for routes on any other crag - just Catslab was mentioned. Since this crag is a well known beginner moderate crag, it would seem most appropriate at THIS CRAG.

I was originally opposed to the use of dogtags (like at Little Eiger) - but that was before I saw them first hand. They are not more visually obtrusive than a bolt.

If people don't bring safe climbing practices to the crag - a guidebook will not save them - and a dogtag will not save them.

Also, I am not saying that Darren has any errors in his book (I certainly haven't found any), just that guidebook authors aren't always perfect with info. Darren's book seems to have very accurate rope/pitch lengths.


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By slim
Administrator
Feb 9, 2010
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

This post was originally a comment in Clear Creek Cat Slab to Reopen

Bruce, I see a bit better where you are coming from, which is actually pretty much where I am coming from.


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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Feb 10, 2010
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Peak.

This post was originally a comment in Clear Creek Cat Slab to Reopen

Mark, was this a rappel error then? It's been a while. Bruce, I used to feel that way but really, given the crowd this cliff has historically attracted I'd rather see a stamped metal plate either at the base or on the anchors. I'm only talking about something like the one on the summit of the First Flatiron or Red Ledge in Eldo above Green Spur. Just a note about the distance to the bottom.

As far as I'm concerned, anchors should not be placed where two ropes are required in sport climbing areas even if it's completely logical given the topography as it is in this case. An intermediate rappel station should always be set up for at least a half 60 meter rope to be adequate to rappel/toprope. It's worth it to keep the accidents to a minimum.


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By Darren Mabe
From Flagstaff, AZ
Feb 10, 2010
wham bam hand jam. Wrapping up the final moves of Twist of Fate, Oak Creek Canyon. <br /> <br />photo: Blake McCord

This post was originally a comment in Clear Creek Cat Slab to Reopen

Eventually 70m will/should become the new standard length.

(Hell, I wish 80m ropes were more readily available and at a decent price.)


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By Bruce Hildenbrand
Feb 11, 2010

This post was originally a comment in Clear Creek Cat Slab to Reopen

Putting some sort of information on a specific route is a very short-sided view/solution to a much bigger problem.

Once you start putting information either at the base or the top of a route to point out some sort of "information" then people will just assume that if a route doesn't have that sign or tag then they don't need to worry about things like using a longer rope or taking two ropes for a rappel. You are, in effect, dumbing down a dangerous situation.

The big picture view is to create an environment which requires all climbers to become self-reliant. This is the only solution that will work in the long term and applies to all climbers and climbing areas.

Saying such things as "this is just a beginner's area" or "this is just a sport climbing area" is a cop-out. Climbing is a dangerous pursuit and all participants need to be self-reliant. Building self reliance starts at these very areas where people are just learning how to climb.

Bruce


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By Casey Bernal
From Arvada, CO
Feb 11, 2010

My opinion is that they can be minimally intrusive, not more visible than a bolt, and should be used in popular areas with routes that exceed ~75' in length. This could provide a double safety check, but obviously would not prevent accidents. Safe climbing practices (knots in rope ends, harness&knot checks, route research, etc) are the only way to make climbing safer (although it will NEVER be "SAFE").

A recurring theme I see it the idea of "dumbing down the crag". Am I correct in recognizing that this idea is based on the assumption: people will become nonchalant about the safety aspect of climbing when provided route information while on a climb? Or possibly relying on this information will be posted elsewhere?

Has this assumption been proven with accidents or close-calls? If so, who is to blame: land managers, climbing organizations, climbing gyms, overconfident noobs, naive mentors, people-who-make-a-mistake? Has there ever been a link to the signage posted elsewhere and accidents? Have out-of-date guidebooks also been linked to accidents?

As a devil's advocate to this assumption, could one also not assume that it could serve as a good reminder to check rope&route length, reinforcing good habits?

I definitely have more questions than answers . . .


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By Mark Cushman
From Cumming, GA
Feb 11, 2010
Profiley Styley

I think the difference between the Flatirons/Red Ledge signage and the proposed dog tags at the start of a route are that they are DESCENT lengths, ones that you may not have climbed up to and may be unaware of the distance down. I don't think they can be compared to what is proposed because they serve a completely different purpose.

I think we can agree that lowering accidents can be avoided by either:

a) having the belayer tie in
b) tying a knot in the end
c) keeping track of the middle mark in the rope

With many new sport routes now requiring a 70m rope my vote is to NOT label the routes. We should do our part by educating new climbers about route lengths and safety techniques and not dumb down the sport with labels.


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By Darren Mabe
From Flagstaff, AZ
Feb 11, 2010
wham bam hand jam. Wrapping up the final moves of Twist of Fate, Oak Creek Canyon. <br /> <br />photo: Blake McCord

This post was originally a comment in Clear Creek Cat Slab to Reopen


You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

Dogtags would be fine, if people read them. And there could be nothing wrong with a small sign or something at the base saying "Climb at your own risk. These routes are at least 30 meters in length (100 feet). 70 meter rope recommended."

BUT, whether the information/warning is written in a guidebook, on dogtags, on a sign at the trailhead, flyers, or a ranger stationed at the base of the routes full time reciting "70m rope recommended", there could/will still be another accident. Climbing is dangerous. This has happened time and time again (recall Highwire, Canal Zone, Wall Nineties, Highlander, etc...). If a climber chooses not to pay attention, then they will proceed at risk. People will still drive drunk. People will still have unsafe sex. People will still run red lights.

Casey is right, guidebooks are just that... guides. But for this specific issue at Catslab, I feel the route lengths I noted in the book are accurate as well as the recommendation for a 70m rope. In fact, when I went back to run those routes again for the book research, I noted lengths on the lower-off, with draws in. A real and worst case scenario of how much rope length gets eaten up.

Oh and Mark, thanks for the plug on Creekside, psyched you enjoy the routes as much as I do. Speaking of, one needs a 70m rope for Guppy and Fishnchips! ;)

Darren Mabe


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By Mike Morin
From On the Road
Feb 11, 2010
Lincoln Lake

This post was originally a comment in Clear Creek Cat Slab to Reopen

I agree don't dumb down the crag. Do some research and tie a stopper knot.


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By Tom Hanson
Feb 11, 2010
Climber Drawing

Caveat Emptor.
Knot the end of your rope when rappelling.
Knot the end of your rope when belaying.
I don't want to sound heartless, but rapping or lowering off the end of your cord is how nature weeds out the dumb ones.


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By Brent Apgar
From Out of the Loop
Feb 11, 2010
Me and Spearhead

Just another opinion.
I believe that some sort of signage would, in the long run, be more beneficial than harmful. I wouldn't mind seeing some routes at local sport crags with a tag indicating required rope length, route name and grade.
I think that sometimes those of us that have been climbing for a decade or more tend to forget some of the loosely related climbing skills we've acquired over the years... such as reading guidebooks, or more directly things such as route finding.
Personally I would like to see some of these things in place more for selfish reasons. If there were some of these "public services" in place that helped re-enforce good habits and helped them to be even a little more safe and aware it might help prevent some accidents. I've been lucky enough to make it 13yrs w/ out seeing a serious injury/fatality while climbing and would very much like to keep it that way.

I won't argue that any of these precautions will stop accidents from happening. But as to the argument of reducing climbing to the lowest common denominator... it really appears that sometimes a segment of the climbing community is trying keep the sport from growing, which is about as futile as denying that the human body ages. Climbing is becoming more popular, I would rather embrace this, make it more safe for people to transition out of the gyms and create a bigger and more influential user group to create even more kick ass climbing opportunities than be unrealistic and fight this process.

There's always going to be places to climb that require a skill set that the majority of the climbing community is unwilling to dedicate the time to develop. As for the local sport climbing it can hardly be considered adventure climbing, so why not make it as safe and fun as possible?
BA


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By Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Feb 11, 2010
Bocan

It's a tough one...personal responsibility is pretty key in climbing, but at the same time I don't really care to see anybody die simply because they made a mistake on a climbing route. Yeah, it's a dangerous sport and no I don't think we should dumb down everything to make it safe, but not everyone has a 70m or a guide book. My friend has personally stopped several parties from rapping off the back of the First Flatiron. Without a guidebook who would know that you have to traverse 15ft climber's left. All they see are rappel anchors.


I think I have pretty decent eithics, but remember...

IT'S ONLY ROCK CLIMBING!!! Let's be safe and try to support each other.

And Tom....try to remember that if Nature weeds out the dumb ones, I'm sure some of your friends and family would get caught in that net. I know mine would!! It's not our call to decide who is "dumber" than us or "weaker". I'd end up clearing HWY 36 of everyone!!


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By Tom Hanson
Feb 11, 2010
Climber Drawing

Climbing areas should be fenced off and policed to prevent unauthorized access.
One could gain access only by presenting a license that shows they have taken the requisite courses and paid their fees in advance.
Every level of climbing grade should have its own certification.
One should not be allowed to attempt a 5.10c or test for the 5.10c certificate until they have completed the 5.10b course of study.
All climbers should undergo a complete background check and drug screen on a quarterly basis to keep their certification current.
All climbing must be supervised.
Anyone under the age of twenty-one must be accompanied by a parental guardian.
All routes must be equipped with half inch by six inch stainless steel bolts every five feet and these bolts can only be installed by licensed master bolt consultants.
Climbers intending to do a particular route should have to register for that route at least six weeks prior, in order for the local climbing committee to verify their qualifications.

Or, we can just leave it alone and keep it as the last bastion of hope for a sport that allows us to exercise one of the few freedoms left to us in a highly regulated society.


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By Tom Hanson
Feb 11, 2010
Climber Drawing

Scott wrote: "And Tom....try to remember that if Nature weeds out the dumb ones, I'm sure some of your friends and family would get caught in that net. I know mine would!! It's not our call to decide who is "dumber" than us or "weaker".

Yeah, you got me there. Intelligence must have very little to do with longevity in the sport, as evidenced by my thirty-nine years of participation.


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By Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Feb 11, 2010
Bocan

Tom Hanson wrote:
Scott wrote: "And Tom....try to remember that if Nature weeds out the dumb ones, I'm sure some of your friends and family would get caught in that net. I know mine would!! It's not our call to decide who is "dumber" than us or "weaker". Yeah, you got me there. Intelligence must have very little to do with longevity in the sport, as evidenced by my thirty-nine years of participation.


Yeah, I guess I lumped myself into the "smart ones" group...Not sure if I meant or have the right to do that!!


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By David Appelhans
From Lafayette
Feb 11, 2010
Imaginate

Don't put up tags.

Sport climbing should not be the same as gym climbing. It is not guaranteed safe and if you make a mistake it can kill you. Take your brake hand off the rope in a gym and your partner falls 35 feet onto a 6 in pad, probably still living. That isn't the case outside because sport climbing isn't gym climbing! We aren't creating the danger and choosing to weed out the "week" or "dumb", they are making their own choices.

People have to learn how to climb unsupervised and with their minds not just their arms. What better place to learn personal responsibility than at an "entry level" crag? It seems we certainly aren't expecting people to learn the basics at the gym, pretty soon we won't expect it at sport crags either.


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By Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Feb 11, 2010
Bocan

This is really one of those discussions that doesn't have a clear cut answer.

Not everyone should be driving, but do they? Yes..and even though they shouldn't be driving, they won't have their right to drive taken away. I guess even if this crag was made "safe" what about the others?

That being said, even if the signs are NOT added, they probably will be in a couple years after a few climber accidents.


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