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China Doll ethics


Original Post
strclmbr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 0

I just checked out the new issues of R&I and Climbing and read about the recent FFA of the extended version of China Doll by Mike Patz at 5.14a R. Pretty sick. What struck me about these mag pieces is the seeming advocacy by the author for the chopping of the pitch 1 bolts and removal of the intermediate anchor. (For more background on China Doll, see the mags or the appropriate websites for R&I and Climbing)

Brian Kimball even goes so far as to compare the bolts and intermediate anchor to rape. Besides his obvious lack of perspective, I really don't think Brian, or even Mike (who rightly takes a much less holier-than-thou stance) has the ethical high ground to make the call here. After all, they both used the bolts and intermediate anchor to first send pitch 1 trad before moving on to the harder extension. Pretty hypocritical to utilize that fixed gear, wire the route, and then call for their removal later (see the sprayfest surrounding the much more pedestrian Clear Creek classic Anarchitect).

I think the bolts/intermediate anchor should stay until someone completes a ground-up, no bolts, no TR preview, all free ascent of the full China Doll. The person that does that should decide whether they stay or go. Any thoughts?

[Full disclosure: Since its FFA as a trad pitch, I have aspired to the 13c pitch 1. The 14a bit is out of my league, so I have a vested interest in at least the intermediate anchor remaining.]

Ken Cangi · · Eldorado Springs, CO · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 585

This is obviously a subjective topic, although the fact remains that the FA was done on the bolts. It's not as though no one knew about the area, so there was plenty of opportunity for someone to have done the FA on gear. They didn't, and Bob Horan probably seized the opportunity to create the route in a style consummate with his climbing ability at the time.

Too much time has passed, and ascents have been done on the bolts, so I don't believe - for more reasons than just that - that Mike Patz or Brian Kimball would be justified in chopping the bolts - especially after using them in any way to help with the most recent ascent.

If you chop the bolts, then you basically dismiss the efforts of those who free climbed the route on bolts. Most of the people who have freed it live in the area, so they and Bob should be asked how they feel about making it a trad route. I think they "at least" deserve that consideration. If they feel strongly that the bolts should stay, then I think the right thing for Patz and Kimball to do would be to respect that decision, be happy with the recent, personal achievement, and move on.

Brad Brandewie · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2001 · Points: 2,845

Well said Ken.

caughtinside · · Oakland CA · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 1,450

I read that article yesteday and thought it was kind of bullshit, an attempt to stir up controversy concerning, big surprise, bolts.

So anytime someone frees a hard bolted crack, are we going to see it reported in the mags,and then debate whether it needs to be chopped? The compressor, china doll, etc. Although, I guess Star Walls crack didn't get mentioned for the chop when it got done on gear.

IMO a cool ascent tainted by some lame pot stirring. Erm, not that I would ever be guilty of that.

Kevin Stricker · · Evergreen, CO · Joined Oct 2002 · Points: 575

You can see Bob Horan's comments on the topic here:
rockandice.com/inthemag.php…

jack roberts · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2002 · Points: 0

Could not have said it any better Ken. The bolts should stay.

Jack

strclmbr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 0
Ken Cangi wrote: If you chop the bolts, then you basically dismiss the efforts of those who free climbed the route on bolts.
Not only that, but wouldn't you be dismissing your own efforts if you chopped.

Lets for arguments sake say that Brian eventually sends and then chops all bolts and the middle anchor. He would never have the chance of doing the route in the "better" style that everyone else must now pursue. He would, in essence, be saying that the manner in which he sent the route was in poor style.
Mike Anderson · · Colorado Springs, CO · Joined Nov 2004 · Points: 3,130

I agree with the consensus so far. You can't have it both ways...if the FA is the authority on adding bolts (not that I totally agree with that), they are the authority on chopping bolts.

Further, I agree it's hypocritical to chop bolts you used, even if only to rehearse for the eventual redpoint.

We had similar discussion in Salt Lake about bolted cracks, and though some of these routes have been led on gear, the so far await bolt-free, from begining to end, ascents.

Kevin Stricker · · Evergreen, CO · Joined Oct 2002 · Points: 575

Interestingly enough Bob Horan originally attempted the route with pro and found the line too committing to continue. He went back later and added the bolts, first the rap anchor then the lead bolts. That was an accepted style in the 80's in Boulder Canyon. It does not change the fact that this is arguably the most beautiful natural line in Boulder Canyon, marred by unnecessary bolts.
I think it goes without saying that now days most people feel that protectable natural lines should not be bolted. So why do we lower our standards in regards to a pre-existing route? Just because the FA team were not up to the challenge?
Our sport is not fixed in place, it evolves through the abilities and vision of each successive generation. As our cliffs are a limited resource, does it not make sense that our climbs should evolve with us?

Erik Pohlman · · Westminster, CO · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 4,135

In the case of China Doll, the bolts are already there. That means this is not a debate on environmental ethics as much as a debate on style, as the holes are already there. To me, then, it would seem like a very elitist thing to do to chop the bolts. If someone wants to do the climb in better style, they can skip the bolts.

I'm not all for bolts, especially when they are by a protectable crack, In this case, they are already there, so maybe they should stay. On the other hand, if this was a debate about bolting a "virgin" climb, I would probably be against bolting it if it was protectable with gear, even though I will probably never be able to climb 5.14 trad. It would be something to aspire to do.

Erik Pohlman

slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,107

i think that calling china doll a route that can be protected entirely on gear is getting into the grey area a bit. you could potentially say that about ANY route, when it comes down to it. horan has put up hard routes, scary routes, and hard scary routes. it seems that he did what he did using his best judgement, and taking into consideration the appropriate ethics of the time. also, there may have been some advances in gear since then that could have made a difference.

my opinion on using the bolts to hammer a route into submission, and then clamor about chopping them is that it is pretty lame. you should be proud of the accomplishment, but also let the route stand as a symbol of the era in which it was created. now if it was a sport bolted perfect handcrack, that would be another story...

Mike Lane · · Centennial, CO · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 905

I think that Mr. Patz should provide a new name for his version of the route. Then the bolted line China Doll remains, but also coexists with "natural line X".
Two routes occupying the same point of space-time.

Kevin Stricker · · Evergreen, CO · Joined Oct 2002 · Points: 575

CHINA DOLL: A BRIEF HISTORY OF A REMARKABLE CRACK

BY: BOB HORAN

I actually started working China Doll in the late 80's, with a friend from Santa Barbara, we workrd the route in traditional style, falling of the crux, at one point I hang dogged it to the top, free climbing all the moves, the gear felt marginal. At that point I gave up on the redpoint.

Sounds like he thought it was too committing to me.

Kevin Stricker · · Evergreen, CO · Joined Oct 2002 · Points: 575

Big words there Jason. I am not criticizing, just stating the facts. I don't think you know me, but maybe you should do your homework before opening your trap. Also name calling on the internet is so childish, if you have a problem with what I am saying why not look me up and say it to my face?

I think that Bob Horan was a visionary, and some of his routes from the 80's are still projects to me. I am sure that given the advances in protection in the last 20 years the climb is now much safer. That does not change the fact that bolting cracks is bad style, and always has been in the US. If you decide to determine a route unprotectable by natural means and use bolts to protect it you should expect that when climbed naturally the bolts may be removed.

The question is why do we have such an issue with this? Don't we all want to see our sport continue to evolve? Why do we get so attached to how things were done, vs how they could be done. Have we lost our concept of ethics in the race for difficulty, or does style still matter.

In 20 years when those bolts on China Doll need to be replaced will they just be left as relics on the rock for our children to laugh at as they climb past placing natural pro? Do we leave unnecessary hardware in the rock as museum pieces or do we attempt to keep our stone in as natural of a state as possible to protect the resource for future generations.

Ken Cangi · · Eldorado Springs, CO · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 585
Kevin Stricker wrote:Big words there Jason. I am not criticizing, just stating the facts. I don't think you know me, but maybe you should do your homework before opening your trap. Also name calling on the internet is so childish, if you have a problem with what I am saying why not look me up and say it to my face?
Responding to Jason's comment with a threat is just as childish, and it has nothing to do with the topic.

Kevin Stricker wrote:I think that Bob Horan was a visionary, and some of his routes from the 80's are still projects to me. I am sure that given the advances in protection in the last 20 years the climb is now much safer. That does not change the fact that bolting cracks is considered bad style, and always has been in the US.
Bolting cracks is considered bad style, but China Doll is not a crack. I have been on the route, and it is a flaring, discontinuous, double dihedral seam, separated by thin face sections. Please argue your case based on the facts. I think it's pretty safe to say that "no one" would seriously consider bolting a route like Sphinx Crack, because it is indeed a crack climb.

Kevin Stricker wrote:In 20 years when those bolts on China Doll need to be replaced will they just be left as relics on the rock for our children to laugh at as they climb past placing natural pro? Do we leave unnecessary hardware in the rock as museum pieces or do we attempt to keep our stone in as natural of a state as possible to protect the resource for future generations.
Unless you are clairvoyant, you have no way of knowing what people will be thinking twenty years from now, so your statement is, at best, conjecture. The bolts may or may not be necessary for someone in the future, although they were for everyone, including Patz, who has been on the route so far. Twenty years ago a very small percentage of climbers were able to climb 5.13. That is still true today - especially if you include leading at that grade on gear. I am pretty confident that 5.14 trad climbing will still be the realm of an elite few, decades from now.

Your ethic/premise does not represent the majority of climbers. You are entitled to it, although you might consider that it is hypocritical if you aren't willing to forgo the use of bolts yourself. By your standard, all rock should be kept in its natural state if there is a possibility that someone might be able to free it sans bolts. Alex Huber free-soloed 8b+. Does that mean that the bolts on that route should be chopped so that 99% of the climbers climbing at that grade will have no access to it?

You said that Bob Horan did routes that you still aspire to. By that, I will assume that you are far from possessing the ability to free climb China Doll , let alone do it ground up on gear. Consequently, I believe that you are arguing out of your league. Your idea that China Doll is a crack climb is proof enough that you don't possess - or at least aren't presenting - the requisite facts to support your argument.

Your desire to preserve the rock is admirable, although it needs to be tempered by reason if you want it to have any real value.
slevin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,001

Didn't Kyle Copeland aid the first ascent of China Doll?

Climbers sure concoct bizarre scenarios:
Climber 1 nails thin desperate aid route with no bolts;
Climber 2 topropes thin desperate aid route free, then bolts it for the redpoint;
Climber 3 (with better gear) leads thin desperate free route all-gear and chops the bolts.

I suggest that if the bolts are chopped then China Doll should revert to an aid climb and we can start all over again.

(P.S. I applaud any and all ascents of China Doll.)

Kevin Stricker · · Evergreen, CO · Joined Oct 2002 · Points: 575

So Ken, please tell me how you are more entitled to your opinion than I am? Because I choose to focus on alpine routes and big walls vs crag in Boulder Canyon? I have seen China Doll, but you are right I have not climbed it. Saying it is not a crack is laughable, if it was a face climb how was it aided on the FA without bolts?

Anyways you and Bob are right, I am just hypothesizing of a potential future. Although considering 5.14d was first climbed 16 years ago and we only have a handfull of 5.15 routes in the world currently I think it is safe to say that more people are focusing on style and this trend will continue. To me ethics is about what you say and style is about what you do. If either of you wish to enlighten me about the "correct" use of these terms it would be appreciated.

Also what I said to Jason was not a threat, just a comment that if he wants to call me names then let's have a beer and talk about it in person. Funny how some people are so attached to their version of the truth that they are unwilling to even listen to another's point of view.

As for China Doll, to be honest I am not very attached to it's outcome. My opinion is more based on a traditional perspective, that naturally protected features should not be bolted.

Ken Cangi · · Eldorado Springs, CO · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 585
Kevin Stricker wrote:So Ken, please tell me how you are more entitled to your opinion than I am?
I can't tell you that because it isn't true, nor did I ever suggest that it was. I said this:

Ken Cangi wrote:Your desire to preserve the rock is admirable, although it needs to be tempered by reason if you want it to have any real value.
and:

Ken Cangi wrote:You said that Bob Horan did routes that you still aspire to. By that, I will assume that you are far from possessing the ability to free climb China Doll , let alone do it ground up on gear. Consequently, I believe that you are arguing out of your league.
Tell me where in those sentences I in any way suggested that I am more entitled to an opinion than you.

Kevin Stricker wrote: Funny how some people are so attached to their version of the truth that they are unwilling to even listen to another's point of view.
Good point. You might listen a little more carefully to what I actually said to you, because it sounds like you heard your own version of it.

Kevin Stricker wrote:Also what I said to Jason was not a threat, just a comment that if he wants to call me names then let's have a beer and talk about it in person.
Actually, what you said was:

Kevin Stricker wrote:Big words there Jason. I am not criticizing, just stating the facts. I don't think you know me, but maybe you should do your homework before opening your trap. Also name calling on the internet is so childish, if you have a problem with what I am saying why not look me up and say it to my face?
Yep. That would inspire me to meet you for beers - with a football helmet.

Kevin Stricker wrote: Saying it is not a crack is laughable, if it was a face climb how was it aided on the FA without bolts?
Why do you keep putting words in my mouth? I never said that it was a face climb. I said this:

Ken Cangi wrote:it is a flaring, discontinuous, double dihedral seam, separated by thin face sections.
Kevin Stricker wrote:As for China Doll, to be honest I am not very attached to it's outcome. My opinion is more based on a traditional perspective, that naturally protected features should not be bolted.
Again, it's admirable that you want to preserve all potentially natural lines, but, so far, all you have offered is a simplistic solution to a complex situation. There are too many variables involved - personal taste, cultural evolution, changing trends, practicality, etc..

I can appreciate your traditional roots. I came up in this sport in a very traditional area of New England. I was doing hard, scary routes ground up and on gear decades ago. I still fight to preserve the routes that were done in that style. Read some of my posts in the Salt Lake forums. That is my personal taste, although I try not to be too rigid. I admit that it is hard sometimes, but it is necessary not to get too attached to one way of thinking. That is what I meant by tempering your arguments with reason. It was not a slight toward you.

Anyway, I think Patz deserves big kudos for his effort. I also hope that the bolts are there when I'm back in shape, because I'll be psyched to redpoint the first pitch on the bolts, or at least give it my best shot. Climbing is all about the personal experience, after all.

KC
Kevin Stricker · · Evergreen, CO · Joined Oct 2002 · Points: 575
Ken Cangi wrote: Bolting cracks is considered bad style, but China Doll is not a crack.
Hmm...Maybe we have a different definition of a crack, but any seam that takes natural gear would be a crack to me.

Ken Cangi wrote: By that, I will assume that you are far from possessing the ability to free climb China Doll , let alone do it ground up on gear. Consequently, I believe that you are arguing out of your league. Your idea that China Doll is a crack climb is proof enough that you don't possess - or at least aren't presenting - the requisite facts to support your argument.
Sure sounds like you are questioning my opinion to me.

Ken, it seems to me that maybe your viewpoint on this topic is biased by your desire to climb China Doll with bolts. Otherwise how can you say you support traditional ethics then go on to say you support the rap bolting of a previously led trad climb? Seems like you are talking out of both sides of your mouth. I am guessing the only chance you have of climbing this route is in it's current state, hence your defense for the bolts being left in.
Ken Cangi · · Eldorado Springs, CO · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 585
Kevin Stricker wrote:Sure sounds like you are questioning my opinion to me.
Questioning your opinion and saying that I am more entitled to one than you are two entirely different animals.

Kevin Stricker wrote:Ken, it seems to me that maybe your viewpoint on this topic is biased by your desire to climb China Doll with bolts. Otherwise how can you say you support traditional ethics then go on to say you support the rap bolting of a previously led trad climb? Seems like you are talking out of both sides of your mouth. I am guessing the only chance you have of climbing this route is in it's current state, hence your defense for the bolts being left in.
I was waiting for you to go there.

I climbed full-time in this town for seven years, before I moved, and I'm pretty sure that I was strong enough to do that pitch. It wasn't that important to me at the time, nor is it now. My plate is full at the moment, and doing one pitch of China Doll is somewhere at the bottom of my list of priorities. I can also name at least ten routes on my hit list that will get attention before I even start thinking about that pitch.

I already made it clear why I think the bolts should stay, and I assure you that my reasons have nothing to do with personal motivation.
Brian Kimball · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2007 · Points: 270

Strclmbr...you have REALLY gone WAY out of your way to put a lot of words in my mouth, I think I know who you are...have I done something to offend you? Before you go calling me "hypocritical, holier-than-thou and accuse me of having lack of perspective" I humbly encourage you to get your facts straight and ask you where all these offensive words towards me are coming from?
I never said the intermediate anchors should be chopped, I don't know where you come up with that. You accuse me of using the bolts to lead the 13c section prior to my traditional ascent! This is FAR from the TRUTH, how do you know anyways...were you there when after rapping in and only one TR attempt to scope the moves I lead the route using only gear and the intermediate anchor? It puzzles me as to why you seem care so much about MY chosen style. Enough so that you would find time in your day to go out of your way to make up these lies and slander about someones "RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES" and the style they chose to do them in. I have no choice but to be flattered by your concern for me, so I sincerely thank you for your attempt in enlightening me on my so called hypocrisy and clear lack of prospective!
Personally I think the route should have never been bolted with the exception of the intermediate and extended lowering and top roping stations.
China Doll, in many peoples opinion is the most beautiful natural line in Boulder Canyon and it takes perfectly acceptable gear, right? I simply do not understand the need to lead this route using the bolts...I mean why not just TR it and call it good if you find it to dangerous or the gear to sparse, but to add bolts especially right next to a solid gear placements, I do not understand. I am NOT criticizing anyone who chooses to lead this route using these bolts, that is there choice and who am I to force my ethics upon them. Do I think that the bolts should be chopped with the exception of the two anchor stations, YES YES YES. I have several reasons for my opinion. Will I EVER CHOP THE BOLTS MYSELF?...NO NO NO NO NO! Do I think we should come to a community consensus and that the bolts should be removed, SURE! Why not? I still don't see the need to lead ANY traditionally protected gear route on bolts, ESPECIALLY a BEAUTIFUL TEST PIECE such as China Doll. Like I said if you can not lead the route on the gear then just TR it free and call it good. People should not go bolting up all the beautiful rock in the world just because they think they need to lead it for it to "count" as a free ascent or whatever.
5.13c crack climbing is supposed to be hard and a little scary that is what makes it fun and challenging. I think that we should all set a standard and make an example of this standard before the next generation of climbers feels it necessary to go bolting up ALL of our traditionally protected climbs.
Does it mean that because someone cannot afford ten .75 BD Cams and they really want to make a "redpoint" ascent of Tricks are for Kids in Indian Creek that they should just bolt it up and take away from the esthetics of this beautiful line??? THE ROCK ONLY HAS ONE CHANCE.
I think this China Doll debate is a great one because it brings up some good questions for the future of the recreational sport of outdoor rock climbing. Like I said I am not going to push my ethics on anyone else by chopping China Doll and neither is Mike Patz. In turn I would hope that next time people don't push there need to lead a line like this on "the rock" and "everyone else" who wants to enjoy routes such as China Doll in there natural state.

Love and Peace

Brian

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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