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Trad vs. Mixed vs. "Sport/Trad"
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By RNclimber
From Riverside, Ca
May 6, 2014
Seconds before onsighting Gun Smoke V3, Joshua Tree bouldering

John Wilder wrote:
Again, 'traditional' rock climbing never excluded bolts from being used- even if they are used as the only points of protection. 'Sport' climbing, by definition, allows for the climber to ascend the rock without worry of being injured due to a fall. There are a fair number of routes out there where, despite being fully bolted, you would not want to fall on it. Walk on the Wild Side in Jtree comes to mind as a classic example of a fully bolted route that is most definitely NOT a sport route (unless you consider fall potentials of well over 100' a sport route). I'm surprised this has become a debate. Trad and Sport are fully separate definitions that clearly define what a route is. There is no middle ground between the two. Folks are hung up on whether or not there are bolts on a route and that's simply not at issue here. If it is safely bolted with a bolted anchor and safe to fall on at basically any point, it's a sport route. If its basically anything other than that, it's a trad route. Done.


Really good explanation and I understand your arguments. I haven't done walk on the wild side in JTree(bitch of a route to find), but ended up off route next to it...something like a 10a/b R rated route 100ft route with 6 bolts vs. the route we did 100ft with only 4 was definitely NOT a sport route. BUT what would you consider all the "sport" routes out there where most of the falling is pretty safe but have a really high 1st bolt where injury can definitely happen...ie routes in Smith Rocks. I've never been there but I've climbed in New River Gorge where some of the routes we did were definitely defined as sport routes but recommended to use a stick clip...Can someone argue that the safety of going to the 1st bolt will place the route R rated, and thus argue its a trad route?


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By Eric Sophiea
May 6, 2014
Licking the cat with googly-eyes.

You guys are killing my idealistic hopes for a simple consensus. :P

Fantastic thoughts on this, everyone! I guess it's more complicated than I had imagined... I sort of thought everyone would agree with me. ;)

However, this seems to highlight the point that the current designation is overly simplified and that it means very different things to different users.

For future posts, consider including how you think we can all best serve the MP community with route information. Is there a change to the format that MP could make? Should the Trad and Sport designations be eliminated entirely? Should there be checkboxes for the "Protection Type" (as JCM seemed to imply with his "Protection Type" categories)? Could we get an option to sort climbs by "Protection Type" rather than the Sport/Trad designation?

Suggest your solution! :)


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By Dan G0D5H411
From Colorado Springs, CO
May 6, 2014
Dan on Hurricane

John Wilder wrote:
Again, 'traditional' rock climbing never excluded bolts from being used- even if they are used as the only points of protection. 'Sport' climbing, by definition, allows for the climber to ascend the rock without worry of being injured due to a fall. There are a fair number of routes out there where, despite being fully bolted, you would not want to fall on it. Walk on the Wild Side in Jtree comes to mind as a classic example of a fully bolted route that is most definitely NOT a sport route (unless you consider fall potentials of well over 100' a sport route). I'm surprised this has become a debate. Trad and Sport are fully separate definitions that clearly define what a route is. There is no middle ground between the two. Folks are hung up on whether or not there are bolts on a route and that's simply not at issue here. If it is safely bolted with a bolted anchor and safe to fall on at basically any point, it's a sport route. If its basically anything other than that, it's a trad route. Done.


I'm curious as to why a runout bolted climb turns into a trad route rather than just a sport route that uses a higher safety rating (PG13, R, X). If the definition of a sport route is to ascend safely, you could make the argument that many continuous crack climbs with anchors at the top are even safer than most sport routes since you could literally place a piece of gear every 6 inches. Would they become sport routes? If not, then the fact that bolts are on the route does become the issue.


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By RNclimber
From Riverside, Ca
May 6, 2014
Seconds before onsighting Gun Smoke V3, Joshua Tree bouldering

my solution for any climber out there is to take all your info you read on the interwebs with a grain of salt. I've done routes where they described to bring a "standard" rack with doubles like Crimson, but when my buddy and I did it we placed like 2 pieces cause the route had SOOO much bolts. I've also done routes where a bolt or fixed piton was suppose to be there and BAM nothing, or the fixed piton was broken and un-clippable with no other protection around. I've always relied on guidebooks, beta on the route by the original poster and the comments by other climbers. I don't only rely on ready "sport" climb vs "trad" climb vs "mixed" and all those other options people click.


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By JoeS
May 6, 2014

I believe this is simple. Call the route whatever you like. As Jim, John, and JCM have already stated, just list the types of protection required (B,G,B/G, or none) and the safety rating (none,PG,R,or X). You could also add a section listing the types of gear required. These 2 pieces of information are all you need to know what gear you will need and whether the climbing is bold. Then you could remove all the terms like trad, sport, etc.

The only thing I would add is instead of chains I would call it fixed anchor or anchor. This is really a minor point, but there are now many fixed anchor types. For instance there are some climbs (hopefully not many) where the anchors are just regular hangers. Hence it's always a good idea to carry a couple of old biners to leave and lower from. Lastly it might make sense to list the protection required up in the top part of the route description.


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By John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
May 6, 2014

RNclimber wrote:
BUT what would you consider all the "sport" routes out there where most of the falling is pretty safe but have a really high 1st bolt where injury can definitely happen...ie routes in Smith Rocks. I've never been there but I've climbed in New River Gorge where some of the routes we did were definitely defined as sport routes but recommended to use a stick clip...Can someone argue that the safety of going to the 1st bolt will place the route R rated, and thus argue its a trad route?


They're sport routes that require a stick clip. Stick clips are considered standard equipment for sport climbers and route developers often equip the routes for the use of a stick clip. You're meant to go to the first bolt on TR, so no 'R' rating would be required.

As a side note, sport routes do not need safety designations- again, by definition, anything that is PG13, R, or X is a trad route. Sport routes are all 'G' rated.


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By Eric D
From Gnarnia
May 6, 2014
Born again on the last move of the Red Dihedral, high Sierras.

JoeS wrote:
I believe this is simple. Call the route whatever you like. As Jim, John, and JCM have already stated, just list the types of protection required (B,G,B/G, or none) and the safety rating (none,PG,R,or X).


Yup. Done. That is a good solution.


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By Christian
From Casa do Cacete
May 6, 2014
Ooops...

JoeS wrote:
The only thing I would add is instead of chains I would call it fixed anchor or anchor.


You mean "fixed anchor" or "gear anchor"?


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By Christian
From Casa do Cacete
May 6, 2014
Ooops...

What I really think is that MP should hire the honorable Mr. Rumsfeld as a consultant, and all routes should only have 3 fields: known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns.


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By Eric Sophiea
May 6, 2014
Licking the cat with googly-eyes.

Christian wrote:
What I really think is that MP should hire the honorable Mr. Rumsfeld as a consultant, and all routes should only have 3 fields: known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns.


Ha ha ha!!! That should cover it!


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By redlude97
May 6, 2014

Dan G0D5H411 wrote:
I'm curious as to why a runout bolted climb turns into a trad route rather than just a sport route that uses a higher safety rating (PG13, R, X). If the definition of a sport route is to ascend safely, you could make the argument that many continuous crack climbs with anchors at the top are even safer than most sport routes since you could literally place a piece of gear every 6 inches. Would they become sport routes? If not, then the fact that bolts are on the route does become the issue.

The difference historically and for many developers actually has to do with the method the bolts are placed and how the route is climbed on the FA. For it to truly be a trad route the bolts should be placed on lead and not rap bolted. This is actually why there are runouts because there aren't always good stances to drill, and why they are considered trad routes. Rap bolted routes shouldn't have those same limitations so artificial runouts shouldn't really be present in a good sport route.


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By Dan G0D5H411
From Colorado Springs, CO
May 6, 2014
Dan on Hurricane

redlude97 wrote:
The difference historically and for many developers actually has to do with the method the bolts are placed and how the route is climbed on the FA. For it to truly be a trad route the bolts should be placed on lead and not rap bolted. This is actually why there are runouts because there aren't always good stances to drill, and why they are considered trad routes. Rap bolted routes shouldn't have those same limitations so artificial runouts shouldn't really be present in a good sport route.


I agree that a good rap-bolted route "shouldn't" have arbitrary runouts but I can certainly think of a few that do! How would they be classified?

Take this hypothetical under consideration: A fairly featured face route is established grond up, on lead, but either there are enough features or the developer is strong enough to place bolts roughly every 6 feet. Would this still be considered a trad route? Any practical use of knowing whether a route is "sport" or "trad" seems to go out the door when simply limited to the history of the FA.

And work is slow today....


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By redlude97
May 6, 2014

Dan G0D5H411 wrote:
I agree that a good rap-bolted route "shouldn't" have arbitrary runouts but I can certainly think of a few that do! How would they be classified? Take this hypothetical under consideration: A fairly featured face route is established grond up, on lead, but either there are enough features or the developer is strong enough to place bolts roughly every 6 feet. Would this still be considered a trad route? Any practical use of knowing whether a route is "sport" or "trad" seems to go out the door when simply limited to the history of the FA. And work is slow today....

The first would still be a sport route, and the second would still be a trad route, if people had continued to use the origin of the terms. But alas things nowadays are muddled, and here we are with this discussion.


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By Eric Sophiea
May 6, 2014
Licking the cat with googly-eyes.

redlude97 wrote:
The difference historically and for many developers actually has to do with the method the bolts are placed and how the route is climbed on the FA. For it to truly be a trad route the bolts should be placed on lead and not rap bolted. This is actually why there are runouts because there aren't always good stances to drill, and why they are considered trad routes. Rap bolted routes shouldn't have those same limitations so artificial runouts shouldn't really be present in a good sport route.


Thank you, redlude97, for that concise and clear distinction. I tend to agree with you. However, we all seem to have a slightly different idea of what it means for a climb to be a Sport Route vs. a Trad Route. Because of this, it's becoming more clear that the Sport & Trad designations are inadequate as a means of sorting routes on MP for people looking for a certain style of climb. Ones man's sport route is another man's trad and everyone seems to agree that the combined designation "Sport/Trad" is not useful or meaningful.

I'm not sure that we, as users, are going to be able to overcome this issue.

I hope the MP landlords take it as a serious proposal to consider no longer making the Sport & Trad designations a highlighted part of the route description. Instead, perhaps adding checkboxes for the various types of protection in addition to the danger rating (PG/R/X). That way, anyone can search for fully bolted routes, see the runout/danger and make their choice without having to rely on some other person's definition of "Sport" or "Trad."

Hello? Landlords? What do you think?


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By RNclimber
From Riverside, Ca
May 6, 2014
Seconds before onsighting Gun Smoke V3, Joshua Tree bouldering

first we had SUVs and Sedans, now we have crossovers

why can't there be something in between sport and "trad"?


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By John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
May 6, 2014

RNclimber wrote:
first we had SUVs and Sedans, now we have crossovers why can't there be something in between sport and "trad"?


Why does there need to be? Modern climbers (gym climbers, mostly) seem to want this mix because they understand at a simple level that bolts = sport climbing. So, any bolts on a 'trad' climb don't make sense. This is because so many gyms and books have neglected educating newer climbers about the history of our sport- bolts, as most of us come to know, are anything but simple.

I think that if we took a moment to understand the nature of the route we are looking at and the intent of the FA in discovering/developing it, it would be very clear that it is either sport or trad, not both.

Also, for the record, all this talk of 'rap bolting' vs 'ground up' is malarky- how an FA created a route has nothing to do with what type of route they intended it to be. In years past, staunch traditionalists frowned on rap bolting (which probably gave rise to the term trad)- but these days, most hard sport climbs are established ground up. And many trad routes are discovered/developed via rappel. Those lines have long since blurred, imho. The definition of trad has changed as developers have changed their tactics- it no longer means 'ground up, on lead'- it's no longer a style of climbing, but rather a definition for a type of climb. Likewise for sport climbing- sport routes are not necessarily rap bolted just because they are sport routes.

While the style of how the route is created matters to the FA and a handful of folks who are interested in the history of a given route, most really don't care about the style in which a random route was created. Most climbers only care what kind of climb they are climbing- and imho, Trad usually means that there is a higher level of risk associated because you are more responsible for your own safety- either by managing your head during run-outs between gear/bolts or placing your own protection. Sport climbing means safe climbing protected by bolts without overly dangerous consequences if you fall on lead.


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By Eric Sophiea
May 6, 2014
Licking the cat with googly-eyes.

Congratualations, everyone! We've had nearly 70 thoughtful, and useful comments on this thread without crossing the "Rant and Rave" threshold. Seriously, I can't think of many other threads that have gotten this much genuine and thought-provoking attention without a shouting match developing.

I love a good spirited discussion. Let's keep the comments useful, relevant, and on topic, as they have been.

And remember, this discussion is in terms of the use of MP, not to define Sport and Trad for the climbing community at large.


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By Darren Mabe
From Flagstaff, AZ
May 6, 2014
wham bam hand jam. Wrapping up the final moves of Twist of Fate, Oak Creek Canyon. <br /> <br />photo: Blake McCord

sprad


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By NickMartel
From Tucson, Arizona
May 6, 2014

I have switched all routes I am responsible for over from "Trad" "Sport" to just "Trad" if removable protection is required for safe passage.


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By Darren Mabe
From Flagstaff, AZ
May 6, 2014
wham bam hand jam. Wrapping up the final moves of Twist of Fate, Oak Creek Canyon. <br /> <br />photo: Blake McCord

do removable bolts fall in the trad category or sport category?


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By Red
From Arizona
May 6, 2014
Cobra Kai

I'd say trad. Does it matter if the hole is hand or power drilled?


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By JoeS
May 6, 2014

In response to Christian's question, I was only trying to designate if there was a fixed anchor or not. When I said we should specify "fixed anchor or anchor" I was describing the same thing, "anchor" just being a shortened form for "fixed anchor". It was intended to distinguish between a situation where one could rap or lower back down to the start or not.

I have to admit to being surprised in all the interest as to whether one should call a certain climb sport or trad. It seems that if you have the information as to the gear you need and how risky the climbing is, why would you care? Maybe it's because I started climbing before the terms sport or trad existed and it was all just called climbing.


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By RNclimber
From Riverside, Ca
May 6, 2014
Seconds before onsighting Gun Smoke V3, Joshua Tree bouldering

John, you argued that "newer" climbers want this mix because they get confused. Couldn't someone much older in the game of our sport, or even climbers before their generation argue against what you define "trad" vs "sport"? Like what Joe said right before my post, he started climbing before any of these terms trad or sport even existed and just called it climbing...You said why do we have to add a new term for climbing? So why should we even call climbs trad or sport if climbers before us never even used these terms and just called it climbing?


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By John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
May 6, 2014

RNclimber wrote:
John, you argued that "newer" climbers want this mix because they get confused. Couldn't someone much older in the game of our sport, or even climbers before their generation argue against what you define "trad" vs "sport"? Like what Joe said right before my post, he started climbing before any of these terms trad or sport even existed and just called it climbing...You said why do we have to add a new term for climbing? So why should we even call climbs trad or sport if climbers before us never even used these terms and just called it climbing?


I see what you're trying to do with your questions, and thanks for making me think out my responses. I actually do think that older climbers will use the terms sport and trad because Sport Climbing is a new type of climbing- it literally sprang into existence 25-30 years ago and created its own niche in the climbing world. Trad climbing has become a catchall term to define everything that isnt sport climbing. And I do think these two basic terms are useful as they help the climber assess the risk associated with their chosen climb- and risk assessment and acceptance is a huge part of climbing.

The problem with adding terms imho, is that there haven't been any 'new' types of rock climbing created that require a new definition. Have there been new ways of looking at old styles, sure. But fundamentally, I don't believe anything has changed here other than a glut of newcomers to the sport being confused when they see a bolt on a route that isn't a sport climb.

I stand by my assertion- new climbers literally equate a protection bolt to being 'sport'. So, in their minds, if they see a bolt, a route is automatically 'part sport'. The problem is that 1) sport climbing has more to its definition than bolts and 2) trad climbing has had bolts involved for as long as climbing has been around. imho, newer climbers need to learn more than 'Sport climbing means clipping bolts, trad climbing means placing gear', even though that is a decent simple definition for someone on their first day.


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By RNclimber
From Riverside, Ca
May 6, 2014
Seconds before onsighting Gun Smoke V3, Joshua Tree bouldering

John Wilder wrote:
I see what you're trying to do with your questions, and thanks for making me think out my responses. I actually do think that older climbers will use the terms sport and trad because Sport Climbing is a new type of climbing- it literally sprang into existence 25-30 years ago and created its own niche in the climbing world. Trad climbing has become a catchall term to define everything that isnt sport climbing. And I do think these two basic terms are useful as they help the climber assess the risk associated with their chosen climb- and risk assessment and acceptance is a huge part of climbing. The problem with adding terms imho, is that there haven't been any 'new' types of rock climbing created that require a new definition. Have there been new ways of looking at old styles, sure. But fundamentally, I don't believe anything has changed here other than a glut of newcomers to the sport being confused when they see a bolt on a route that isn't a sport climb. I stand by my assertion- new climbers literally equate a protection bolt to being 'sport'. So, in their minds, if they see a bolt, a route is automatically 'part sport'. The problem is that 1) sport climbing has more to its definition than bolts and 2) trad climbing has had bolts involved for as long as climbing has been around. imho, newer climbers need to learn more than 'Sport climbing means clipping bolts, trad climbing means placing gear', even though that is a decent simple definition for someone on their first day.


Thanks for your honest opinions and inputs. I just like to stir up good discussions and always loved reading your responses because they're very thorough. I honestly believe the same way you do actually that there really is a pretty fine definition and even feeling to calling a route a "trad" route vs a "sport" route. I've done routes like Levitation 29 and Edgehogs in Tahquitz. While both have plenty of bolts and some pitches completely bolted, I would call both traditional routes. Even if a pitch or two on levitation are way way way to bolted.


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