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Vanishing Flakes 

YDS: 5.11a French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c

   
Type:  Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 80'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.11- French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c [details]
FA: Archer, Wells, Eaton
Page Views: 3,186
Submitted By: EricT on Feb 5, 2006

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (33)
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Joe working up to the pin on Vanishing Flakes

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Description 

On the left side of the main wall is a blank face with a fixed pin and a bolt. 20' of delicate slab climbing leads to a more moderate (5.5) trad finish.


Protection 

There are now two nice bolts at the top. The piton is ~40 years old, but has recently held falls. Who knows, maybe you'll be the lucky one who gets a souvenir. Frequently toproped by climbing up the 5.5 to the right.


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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jan 15, 2015
By Matthew Fienup
Administrator
From: Ventura, CA
Jul 9, 2007
rating: 5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

According to the late Reese Martin (as of 1999), "The fixed pin is now rock solid. Clip it and you're in fat city."

Glued in perhaps?

UPDATE: I looked very closely at the piton and there is definitely what appears to be capsule-style glue around the hole where the piton penetrates the rock.


The bottom 15 feet of this route is very height dependent. Shorter climbers will find it very hard to move between the various positive holds.
By andy patterson
Administrator
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Jan 2, 2008

Well, it seems this crowd-pleaser slab climb is still living up to its name: the holds just keep vanishing. I climbed it this last weekend and noticed a conspicuous lack of certain holds, particularly the "rest" hold (diagonal rail/crimp to the left of the bad pocket) about 8 or 9 feet up. Is the climb now harder? It was for me, but that's only because my traditional sequence was botched due to the lack of the hold. I'd appreciate some outside consensus other than my narrow, chagrined perspective.
By Dan Hehnke
Jan 2, 2010

I agree with Andy that this could be a bit harder now. I used to climb it quite a bit between 2001-2005 or so and remember one better hold at the start, and possibly one other hold 9 ft. up or so. Though it still seems if you nail the right sequence it's right in the low/mid 11 range. Such a fun climb.
By Richard Shore
Jan 17, 2011
rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c

Holds continue to vanish... But still so much fun
By Joseph Stover
From: Batesville, AR
May 23, 2011
rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c

The friction on this route was amazing yesterday. Maybe a slightly cool, damp day aids the stickiness... Even though the holds are few, there are many different variations that exist. Foot placement and balance is key.

I think going slightly right of the piton without moving too far left is standard, but I found going nearly directly above the piton to be a bit less strenuous.
By Matthew Fienup
Administrator
From: Ventura, CA
Dec 29, 2014
rating: 5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

It's a very sad day in Santa Barbara.

Someone has sport-bolted Vanishing Flakes. There is a new lower bolt (not far from the route's fixed pin), a new bolt above the original route's second clip and a sport anchor for lowering off half-way up the wall.

This is sacrilege. Vanishing Flakes is one of Santa Barbara's truly classic leads.

I am sure that the new bolts will not remain, but I strongly encourage Santa Barbara climbers to register their opinions here. I desperately hope that this is not the start of a trend at San Ysidro and other area crags.

Stay tuned for photos.
By Alex Bury
From: Ojai, CA
Dec 29, 2014

I was pretty blown away when I arrived at the cliff this morning. A classic trad line, defiled.

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By Jeff Mahoney
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Dec 30, 2014

This is what local climbing has devolved to? Sad fucking day.
By John Robles
Dec 30, 2014

Not good.
By andy patterson
Administrator
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Dec 31, 2014

When bolting new routes in Santa Barbara, I hope climbers follow the following criteria:

1) Respect the integrity of existing routes
2) Use discretion
3) Use your head

Bolting will always be controversial on some level, but in my opinion, this act of retro-bolting Vanishing Flakes doesn't follow the above criteria. The pin on VF was always quite solid (see Matthew Fienup's entry) and even if it wasn't, this route demands some historical respect. I mean, this is SAN YSIDRO for crying out loud. It's the closest thing we local climbers have to a museum.

But for the sake of civility, let's step back and think about this issue, well, civilly.

First of all, does this mean new routes should never go up at SY or SB? No. New routes HAVE gone up and I climb them with pleasure. When I bolt a new route, I get very self-conscious about what people will think about me. Will they like the route? Will climbers rant about my bolt-placement? Will someone think I'm a chump and chop half my bolts? It's exceptionally hard to bolt routes, and not just because of the time, expense, and energy. Climbers love to sit back and criticize, so if you choose to bolt, you choose notoriety, both good and bad.

A recent example: Fun In The Sun, 5.8 R.

Matthew and I replaced all the old bolts on this historic route in a one-to-one manner, doing our best to preserve the tradition of the route while making sure the hardware was substantial enough to hold a fall (before our arrival, the bolts were super rusty 1/4" diameter bolts that were drilled 1/4" deep). Should we have done this? Or should we have left the existing hardware? Matthew and I would argue that we were doing a service to the community, but I could see how someone might balk at our actions and get angry.

In regards to Vanishing Flakes, my non-cynical self hopes that someone not familiar with local ethics and history showed up, looked at the pin, deemed it un-safe, then added a bolt out of a perceived act of generosity to the climbing community. Sure, I'm bummed and disagree, but I can at least see why someone might have acted in this manner.

My cynical self thinks someone just got scared of leading this route, acted rashly, and disrespected the bold and vibrant traditions of the San Ysidro climbing community. To the extent that Santa Barbara is a climbing-democracy, I hereby cast my vote to remove the new bolt. To whoever placed the new bolt: I won't call you names and issue death-threats, but I will politely disagree with what you did.

I encourage the climbing community to cast their votes. Civilly, please.
By Bob Banks
Dec 31, 2014

I encourage the climbing community to cast their votes. Civilly, please.

Hmmm....no, thanks.

Whoever did this needs to be waterboarded with buffalo sperm, period. Luckily, shit like this (unlike graffitti/chiseling) is easily erased.
By andy patterson
Administrator
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Dec 31, 2014

Heh, heh.

Bob, impressively stated.

If anyone is planning on going up to remove the bolt, let me know. I can A) contribute tools and/or B) heat up the offending hardware in my forge, press it in to a gnarled ball of corrupted steel in my 200 Ton Hydraulic Press, and hang it on the sign at the trailhead as a warning to would-be offenders. Seriously. I can make that happen.
By Matthew Fienup
Administrator
From: Ventura, CA
Dec 31, 2014
rating: 5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

Replacing aging bolts one-to-one has been controversial for all of the 16+ years that I have been climbing in Santa Barbara. Where it has been done, it has generally been done with great discretion. And still the practice has had its detractors.

In the case of a classic route like Fun in the Sun, I'm happy to engage in this debate. Obviously, I think that adding solid bolts to each of the original placements is worthwhile in order to open this route to more ascents. I also understand that some people disagree.

There is nothing controversial about adding bolts to an existing route without the FA's approval. It's unacceptable in any climbing area. Period.

I know that there are some who have proposed adding bolts to the classic 2-pitch line Face Lift. I think that we need to draw the line very indelibly. Adding lead bolts is unacceptable.
By Jon Hartmann
From: Ojai, CA
Dec 31, 2014

1 more vote to chop the offending bolts, and 1 more vote if you count Chuck Ethics opinion. I've clipped that pin many times and always felt safe. If I didn't want the run outs, I would have climbed something different. Climbing is a privilege, not a right.
Chuck Ethics...this seats taken.
Chuck Ethics...this seats taken.
By Jan Roestel
Dec 31, 2014
rating: 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b

Buffalo Sperm, Buffalo Sperm! That is some serious bukkake...

I vote to remove the "additional" hardware. I also vote for a local, non-online forum to discuss things such as hardware replacement, retro-bolting, crag cleanups, and other general stewardship items over beers. Ideas?
By Menzo baird
Jan 1, 2015

I lead this climb back when the pin was still drive up into the flake. Some time between 1987 and 1992 the pin was pulled and replaced in a drilled hole. leaving the climb with much of the original flavor, but safer. The original pin and bolts are placed where they should be to keep a leader from hiding the ground.

Adding bolt to this SB classic is defacements and equivalent to tagging in my opinion.

Please whoever removes these bolts be very careful so as to not deface the rock even further.

By todays standards Vanishing Flakes would not even have bolts, It would be a hi-ball boulder problem just like the one to the right of this route.

Young William lies between Vanishing Flakes and the corner boulder problem, and was lead by Ted Striker.
By andy patterson
Administrator
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Jan 1, 2015

Jan,

I concur: I'd like to convene with other climbers to address everything you mentioned—particularly the beer topic. In all reality, there's not that many of us who put up new routes, so it might be a small gathering, but I would enjoy hearing other's perspectives. My shop is just around the corner from American Ale, Joe's Cafe, and I always enjoy the Brewhouse. Weirdest menu in SB! If any of you folks are interested, call or text me at 805-729-8146. My email is andy@sbforge.com.

Menzo,

Thanks for the history. I love, love, love that stuff. I totally agree about the bouldery nature of Vanishing Flakes and Young William. Kids these days climb much higher stuff sans protection.
By Phil Requist
Jan 2, 2015

The idiot that added the bolts probably won't be at the meeting, and most attendees will agree on obvious stuff like don't add bolts to existing lines - so I'm not sure how much will be accomplished. I do think that replacing old bolts with new hardware can eliminate the initial thought that someone might have to fix-up an old route, and then takes it too far by adding other bolts. So to those that really care about the old, historic routes, keeping them up-to-date proactively might help future incidents like this. But maybe not, there are a lot of idiots out there. Also, I doubt it would be very hard to figure out who drilled these bolts. The two-part clay-like epoxy works well for filling in old bolt holes, btw.
By Matthew Fienup
Administrator
From: Ventura, CA
Jan 4, 2015
rating: 5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

The route's lone bolt was replaced 2-3 years ago. The 5/16-inch stud was replaced with a bomber 12mm stainless sleeve bolt. The bolts in question looked like these.

Clearly, updating the aging hardware did not dissuade the idiot.
By Phil Requist
Jan 4, 2015

To whoever wants to remove the bolts... Clearly, it will be easy if they overdrilled the depth, simply push the sleeve in and cover with a bit of glue. If they didn't, an angle grinder with a cutting disc works perfect and can be done without scarring the rock. I have one if someone wants to borrow it; I'm sure Andy does too. Too often, chopping bolts is poorly done and destroys the rock even more.
By Matthew Fienup
Administrator
From: Ventura, CA
Jan 14, 2015
rating: 5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

Crazy, crazy. The bolts added to VF are hardware-store variety 3/8" externally-threaded sleeve bolts. These are only 1/4" in diameter where the hanger loads the bolt. It would be much safer to clip the drilled piton. The midway anchor consists of 3/8" cold shuts (not even the 1/2-inchers that we used to see at Wheeler Gorge and elsewhere). These beauties have been shown to have a 74% variation in breaking strength.

The mad bolter didn't even make the route safer to climb...


UPDATE:
As of January 14, the new (sketchy) hardware has been removed.
By Richard Shore
Jan 14, 2015
rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c

Thanks, Matt, for your time and effort in restoring this historic ground-up route. Hopefully the rock isnt too badly scarred from this whole ordeal.
By andy patterson
Administrator
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Jan 15, 2015

Yes! Thanks for the time and effort. And you restored the route on the same day Tommy and Kevin topped out the Dawn Wall!
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