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Fall 2012 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? Probably, 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.
Pitch 1. 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.
Pitch 2. 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, with two separate strands of 10.5 backed up by one bolt...a nice, old school touch. The bolt keeps the ropes from being buried in the snow. Important for those climbing the route in the dead of winter. Keep an eye out for the handy work of our 4 legged friends as the little buggers line their nests with nylon filament.
Pitch 3. This pitch has enough bolts to keep you out of the easier gully to the left. Or the even easier variation to the right that Steve House told us Jeff indicated on a photo topo Jeff had chosen.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. Pitch three has three options. The obvious straight up groove in front of you or the easier gulleys to the left and right. We rapped down the whole route in early June and the route runs with water and it goes down the center of the three options. Which of course is where the water that comes all the way from the top of the wall goes. Jeff Lowe told Steve House that he avoided this very steep waterfall variation (directissima) by climbing the right hand variation, which is a broken up ledge and tree filled scramble without any ice.
Pitch 4. 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.
Pitch 5. 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.
Pitch 6. 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
Pitch 7. 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.
Pitch 8. 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 Snow Blind Friend, Walk the Line? (submitted as Attractive Hazard) Slideshow
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.
Dear Brian, 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
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.
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.
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.
Drinking and climbing together sounds better than using the Internet to communicate. As to the pins that have been recently "found" at the end of Dec. 2013: We attempted to fix two on pitch one which appear to be gone. Pitch 3 has a very old pre-World War II pin at the belay which belongs to Frank, which we placed on a early trip up wall before we busted our asses carrying SS Fixe bolts, plated chain, quicklinks, electric drill, spare battery packs, etc., up the wall to create anchors that would last 20+ years, unlike the time bombs so many people place these days. Pitch 5 has a flexy baby angle placed by Eric Wellborn on left side of gully just off the belay. It's what is left of his anchor. Pitch 6 has a fixed pin left by Eric Wellborn right next to the current anchor. Perhaps there is one left in rock from Erik Wellborn's whipper, but we never saw it. There were no fixed pins, tat, scratch marks, etc. before our first foray onto wall Thanksgiving of 2011.
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.
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.
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 From: Ridgway, CO Dec 10, 2013 rating: 5.9+5c17VI17E1 5a WI4+ M6 Steep Snow X
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 Walkin' 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.
Apparently all we know at this point is that Jeff went up a gully on the buttress left of the Ribbon. It is early to say that we all agree on much else.
EDIT as of early February: There is an answer! See Walk Irene / more to come....
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.
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? :)
Well said, Noah. My hope is that bolts are used sparingly if at all on the Dark Side.
By Frank Robertson From: Ridgway, CO Dec 17, 2013 rating: 5.9+5c17VI17E1 5a WI4+ M6 Steep Snow X
For those in town this weekend and interested, we'll be at the Ouray Brewery after climbing Sunday (6:00pm 12/22) - sorry, Eric, have family dinner; you'll need to come down before your headlamp battery dies....
We also placed an old straight pin (US Army Ames vertical) in the rock ledge under the third belay before we got the permanent anchors in. Another of my relics, which I'd love to get back if anyone can get it out....
I just climbed the upper 5 pitches of the route via a traverse from P3 (sort of) on Goodnight Irene on 12/31/13. It is a great climb in the conditions found there this year. The BELAY bolts were certainly appreciated; however, I found no need for the protection bolts since there was enough ice to get purchase. I was only able to place four short screws and mostly on the just the last few pitches, but the ice did give good purchase. I found two vintage (old style and very rusted) pins (one below the anchor in the trees and one off left of the "psycho crux") and would guess they were put in long before 2011. I'm pretty confident that this is Walk the Line, mis-marked in Jack Robert's book (no surprise there). It is understandable that the party placing all the bolts felt they may have been on virgin terrain, but I think this is unlikely. I would also agree with others that the use of bolts for protection be used very sparingly, if at all. There are plenty enough on the routes across the street. As I said, the anchors were appreciated, though, the copious use of chains seems a bit out of character here. I'm curious as to why so much chain (multiple 2-3 foot sections) was used to make the anchors? No doubt this was a lot of work hauling it up there, but perhaps there could be a more elegant solution (swaged cable: Finger of Fate)? I know that the chains will last a long time, but I guess they certainly take away from the alpine aesthetic of the that wall. I would be in favor of an effort to clean the route up some and restore the protection to the conditions found on the first ascent by J Lowe. At any rate, the route is fantastic (this season) and should get more traffic. It is far better than BBB right now and has some great, thought provoking moves. We started on GNI and then traversed into it by mistake. The start to GNI is also quite good. Only one pitch was completely dry in the conditions we found. I look forward to going back to do the first few pitches, as well.
Hi Vince, if the pin at the "psycho crux" is a rusted knifeblade, then it's probably from our attempt in 2011. We welded the piton in place after taking a big whip on it, good times! Not sure about the other one. I do recall leaving a angle near some trees for a belay though. I've been told my gear is pretty vintage, so it would kinda make sense.
I've been fairly reluctant to post my opinion regarding Walk the Line/ Attractive Hazard. Frankly, internet forums suck. I prefer to discuss my opinions in person, preferably over ultima margs at the BT. Phil and Noah are good friends, solid partners, and the kind of lads I want beside me when things get rough, whether on the climb or in a bar afterwards. Although I've never climbed with him, Eric Wright seems like an all-around good guy who just wanted to make a reasonable, semi-safe route on the dark side.
So, for those of you still reading, here's my two cents. Personally, I don't think bolts really belong on trad mixed lines. Or, they should be used sparingly. Either grow a pair or back off and try another day. As it was, we backed off on our attempt. Technically I fell off, but I digress.
But if I'm completely honest about why I climb, it boils down to one word: FREEDOM. So much of modern life and society is filled with arbitrary chickenshit rules about how to behave, so called morality, what you can or cannot do, etc. For me, the mountains are all about being true to myself and my own values with no imposed rules and controls from some higher authority.
Honestly there's a helluva a lot of choss around Ouray. If Eric wants to make a accessible more convenient route for the safety first, Go-Pro crowd, who am I to judge? There are plenty of scary trad routes like Desperado, Dirty Minds, Tasty Talks, etc. to scare myself silly on. Or better yet, create a new line. The chossabilities are endless....
And Noah, Phil? What say we give Desperado another go? I'll belay.
EDIT: One thing I do want to clarify. Im basing my opinion on this being a unclimbed line. If Jeff Lowe did make the FA, then I think his style and opinion regarding the bolts should be observed. Not so much about rules then, and more about respect.
Whatever this thing is called, which seems to me at this point to be Snow Blind Friend or Walk The Line according to Mr. House.... I climbed it 1/23/14 with Keith Phelps. The climbing was great. I am not a local, but I'm gonna add my two cents on the retrobolting regardless. We found the protection bolts to be useless and off the natural line aside from the ones on pitch 3 which you could reach out and clip from the rock runnel; however, you could tap in a pecker or the likes and avoid clipping them on this pitch as well. As for the comment from the AH author saying (for pitch 3) "the bolts keep you out of the easier climbing to the left"..., this seems just straight ridiculous and extremely contrived... as did the use and placement of the bolts everywhere else on the route as they were way out of reach of the natural line, which we climbed all onsight without clipping a single one. The natural line on pitch 5 is so far away from the first bolt it was useless. The last bolt on pitch 5 is well after the hard climbing and therefore also useless and just unneeded altogether. We climbed this entire pitch with the two fixed pins, two small BD Peckers and a Spectre. It was 99% ice free, and we used a mix of drytooling and gloved free climbing. We found this to be a bold intricate pitch and is what we went up there for in the first place. Pitch 1 was also very dry, and we found to be hard but with ample natural pro. Pitch 6 was in quite well from what I can tell, and we were well away from the bolts and on ice, so no sense in those either. So that being said for the protection bolts.... I'm pretty sure you can tell where we stand there....
As for the anchors... we did use these with reluctance but also feel that they should be removed as well as it takes away from the committing nature of the climb and also the technique to build tricky gear belays. At this point, I think it's clear to say that this route was indeed climbed by Jeff Lowe and retrobolting of such a line is just plain shameful. Not trying to be a jerk, but it is what it is, and it is debauchery of a bold ground up line done decades ago by a legend. I get that you guys thought you were doing a new route, but it is clear now that you did not. The descent can easily be done by heading left from the top of the wall and rapping off trees just like BBB. Cut and dry... this route needs brought back to its original state. Now I'm sure someone might say, "Well, you climbed it when it was "in condition" therefore you didn't need the bolts".... Well that is the idea isn't it?? I'm sure that's what Jeff did.... My point being that just because something isn't formed up all the way... it doesn't give the right to pull out the drill to make it climbable in less than an ideal state. Wait for it to come in or have the stones to climb it dry the way it is (was) period. To be perfectly honest, I really don't see what is so hard to understand here about what should be done at this point and how to move forward on this matter.... Either way, I also first handedly understand that it took massive effort for you boys to go up and add all that shiny hardware, but even if it was a new route, I'd still say the pro bolts are all in the wrong places and should've been painted regardless, but it's not a new route...and therefore you are in the wrong on this one. So to those who did add the hardware.... I'd be glad to help take it down and buy you a round of beers in good effort nonetheless and in sake of keeping the peace of good commune. Cheers.
By Frank Robertson From: Ridgway, CO Feb 10, 2014 rating: 5.9+5c17VI17E1 5a WI4+ M6 Steep Snow X
So it turns out that this is not Walkin’ the Line but Snowblind Friend, which was also first done by Jeff Lowe 30+ years ago but never documented beyond a mention of the name without any route info in his San Juan Dragons essay for Jack’s Roberts second edition of Colorado Ice. No mention in the first edition.
We appreciate Steve House getting this sorted, pointing out the guidebook errors and reminding folks that we thought Attractive Hazard / Walking the Choss / Erik and Noah’s Little Adventure / Jeanne’s Night Out was a new route when we and Erik Wellborn and Noah M. were pushing it up and, very definitely, when we equipped it.
In the conversation to untangle this complex of routes, Steve tells us that Jeff’s feeling was that the bolts for protection, while climbing, should be removed but that the anchor bolts should stay. We will of course respect Jeff's wishes and we appreciate his permission to leave the anchors.
Steve also verified that Jeff’s first ascent took the broken corner to the right of the rock groove on pitch 3 that both we and Erik/Noah chose in our ascents (see photo in Walk Irene).
This route is truly adventurous even with just enough protection to keep the party from ripping off the mountain in the event of an avalanche down one of the snow chutes, which might be moderate climbing but sit above big steps, or if someone pushing into the dark side at his or her limit takes a long fall. I was jazzed enough 30 feet above the bolts on Pitch 3 and can’t imagine being 50 above a knifeblade in one of those tiny cracks, Erik…
Even with the bolts, which were in some cases placed for thin ice that comes and goes like on pitch 5 (well right of the exploding choss you climb when it’s dry), there is still plenty of R/X territory here. I’d argue that the bolt on Pitch 2 is exactly where you need it and it is really hard to get anything else when the ice is too thin or detached for screws but covers the scant natural pro potential.
We will be removing the bolts between the anchors and replacing the chains with material more consistent with the tradition in which Jeff did this great route all those years ago. To those who have expressed their opinions with respect, very much the same to you, and thanks. Enjoy what we have together rediscovered!
Well said, Frank. I'm thankful for the climbing community we all are involved in. And I'm glad there was never a bunch of fighting over this issue. Once again, I admire your guys efforts you put into this route. That had to be a ton of work. Nice meeting you guys a few weeks ago. I'm sure our paths will cross soon. Cheers!
By Frank Robertson From: Ridgway, CO Apr 11, 2014 rating: 5.9+5c17VI17E1 5a WI4+ M6 Steep Snow X
Headed up Saturday April 19 to begin removing the bolts between anchors and replacing the chains; stashed rig up top but too much fire hanging to go down it. Watched the Ribbon run almost continuously for 20 minutes on the way out. Later....
All the 100 year, shiny plated chain has been removed. There is one anchor that is partially in the waterfall that has skinny, camouflaged chain and stainless steel bolts. The rest of the anchors now have rope instead of chain to a single power point with a mallion. Feel free to augment this with your own tat. Anchors still have three points of contact, which is important considering how bad the rock is.
By Frank Robertson From: Ridgway, CO Jun 18, 2014 rating: 5.9+5c17VI17E1 5a WI4+ M6 Steep Snow X
Thanks to Eric and Garrett for also cleaning all but one of the bolts between anchors. Will have to go back once more for the spinner on pitch 2.