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Bolted Slab routes - trad, or sport?


Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
M Sprague wrote: Language evolves or it becomes an outdated tool.
True enough. However in this case there is no need for it to evolve, especially when based on misunderstanding.
Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Ted Pinson wrote: There are holds. That ain't no slab!
Alas the definition of "slab" is becoming as murky and incorrect as "bolts=sport"
Brian L. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 90
Marc801 wrote: True enough. However in this case there is no need for it to evolve, especially when based on misunderstanding.
Seems like there two school of thought here:

Old School: Definition based on FA tactic's. My take away from this thread has been that basically Trad = Ground Up FA, potentially run out if bolts are added. Sport = bolted on rap, then FA. Basically defining FA style, which is fine, but doesn't say much about the route. This definition doesn't provide much "beta" on the route. Of course I know there are ground up FA's of sport routes, so maybe that's incorrect. In that case is it only classified after it's been bolted? Is it the FA parties choice? Could I ground up bolt a route, that well protected, and call it trad?

The argument here seems to stem from: all sport routes are bolted, but not all bolted routes are sport. So how do you distinguish?

The next definition seems to address this:

New School: Route definition based on how the climb is protected. When talking about this it's important to include the "Mixed" definition. Basically: Sport = well bolted. Trad = gear only. Mixed = somewhere in the middle. This seems to be a very practical definition for understanding what to bring to the crag - it's a convenience definition, vs a style definition. All the "exceptions" to the new school sport/trad definitions presented in this thread would basically fall in the "Mixed" category.

FWIW, based on the limited guide books I've seen, the "New School" definition seems to be what's used to classify routes today.
Russ Keane · · Asheville, NC · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 170

"At times, I was mildly concerned whether my GriGri would stay cinched up while I fumbled around with the tool bag"

Why not tie a knot? Was that entire post a sarcastic way of poking fun at people who bolt on rappel. And over-bolt. I am confused...

the schmuck · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 115

No, not quite. I can think of one particular route I got on a long time ago, which is pretty much a featureless friction slab, so no pro at all, and is protected in 80 feet by two rusted 1/4 inch bolts. It was horrible, and most definitely not a sport route under any new or old school definition.

By the way, there are plenty of legit sport routes bolted ground up. Sport is a bit of a subjective term, but it has to do with how well and how frequently the bolts actually protect the climber.

Brian L. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 90
the schmuck wrote:No, not quite. I can think of one particular route I got on a long time ago, which is pretty much a featureless friction slab, so no pro at all, and is protected in 80 feet by two rusted 1/4 inch bolts. It was horrible, and most definitely not a sport route under any new or old school definition.


Wouldn't that be "mixed", by the definition I posted above? And R or X rated.

the schmuck wrote:By the way, there are plenty of legit sport routes bolted ground up. Sport is a bit of a subjective term, but it has to do with how well and how frequently the bolts actually protect the climber.
Adjusted my definition. I was having the same thought.
Healyje · · PDX · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 456
the schmuck wrote:Sport is a bit of a subjective term, but it has to do with how well and how frequently the bolts actually protect the climber.
Old school: Sport has to do with the tactics, i.e. dogging. The bolts were an entirely secondary objection to the whole notion.
the schmuck · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 115

No, it would not be mixed. In MP world, mixed means bolts & gear, & there is no gear at all on this thing. In the normal world, mixed means rock & ice.

the schmuck · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 115

I also do not disagree with what Healy said.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 210

Yeah, Mixed is a problematic term and doesn't apply to most bolted slab climbs (the nature of the rock makes pro minimal to non-existent).
An X-rated ";mixed"; climb is a pointless joke. Either it's X-rated and local ethic dictates ";grow a pair,"; or you add a bolt where it's needed to make it not X.

doligo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2008 · Points: 269
Mike Lane wrote:Close? Are you kidding? Just try to balance on 9+ crystals and clip with a bolt at your knee. The stress is unbearable.
Not as terrifying as Edge of Time (which MP classifies as 5.9 "Sport") in Estes, with a bolt under your foot with a real potential of a nasty groundfall. Turns out it's not a sport climb (people normally protect that move with a small cam) and not a 5.9 either...
Brian L. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 90
the schmuck wrote:No, it would not be mixed. In MP world, mixed means bolts & gear, & there is no gear at all on this thing. In the normal world, mixed means rock & ice.
Yeah, I suppose the hangup really is thinking trad = gear, which really, with a good definition of "sport", everything else just becomes trad, and you need to be prepared for anything (or have good beta).

"Mixed" (in the term we've been discussing, not mixed rock/ice) is just turning a R or X route into a safer route. And conveniently letting you know you will clip bolts too.
Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Brian L. wrote: Seems like there two school of thought here: Old School: Definition based on FA tactic's. My take away from this thread has been that basically Trad = Ground Up FA, potentially run out if bolts are added. Sport = bolted on rap, then FA. Basically defining FA style, which is fine, but doesn't say much about the route. This definition doesn't provide much "beta" on the route. Of course I know there are ground up FA's of sport routes, so maybe that's incorrect. In that case is it only classified after it's been bolted? Is it the FA parties choice? Could I ground up bolt a route, that well protected, and call it trad? The argument here seems to stem from: all sport routes are bolted, but not all bolted routes are sport. So how do you distinguish? The next definition seems to address this: New School: Route definition based on how the climb is protected. When talking about this it's important to include the "Mixed" definition. Basically: Sport = well bolted. Trad = gear only. Mixed = somewhere in the middle. This seems to be a very practical definition for understanding what to bring to the crag - it's a convenience definition, vs a style definition. All the "exceptions" to the new school sport/trad definitions presented in this thread would basically fall in the "Mixed" category. FWIW, based on the limited guide books I've seen, the "New School" definition seems to be what's used to classify routes today.
I want to know a few things about pro on a route when I look at it in a guidebook (on-line, an app, or printed):
1. Do I need to bring trad gear (minus the pitons)?
2. Will I be facing likely injury or death if I fall - either at the crux or on easier ground?
3. If I need trad gear, do I need an odd size or doubles of anything?

3a - extra credit: will I be gripped out of my mind? ;-)

Recognizing that there are exceptions for specific routes: Plumb Line at Skaha is a 9 or 10 bolt sport route but a 1.5" cam is sure nice to have between bolts 8 & 9. There's a sport 11a at City of Rocks (I forget the name) that really needs a #4 cam to keep you off the ground if you blow the 10d moves on the way to the 3rd(?) bolt.

Using style of FA - rap or ground up - to define it as sport vs trad fails at this just as much as all bolts = sport. Thus I really think any definition or redefinition needs to take risk into account.
Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 210

IMO there should be no "mixed" term (in the context of trad/sport). If any gear is needed, it's trad.

David Lyons · · Forest Falls, CA · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 110

runout bolt-protected routes without placement options are a way of showing manliness and courage. Old routes put up in this style are constantly held to be superior in some aspect - if it's not dangerous, it's just wimpy climbing.

IMHO, I call bullshit. As much fun as runout bolt routes are, I find it's just another pissing contest that turns what could be a fun outing into a nerve-wracking experience for plenty of people who want to enjoy climbing without broken bones or worse.

I understand the old way of GU FA's, but bolts are cheap today, and drills are fast. I laud any old bold masters who aren't too arrogant to allow or install additional pro to turn X's into PG's or G's on their routes.

David Gibbs · · Ottawa, ON · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 2
David Lyons wrote: I understand the old way of GU FA's, but bolts are cheap today, and drills are fast.
Unless you're somewhere like a US national park where power drills are forbidden, and all bolts have to be hand-drilled. Then drills aren't nearly so fast.
Tofu Brain · · Denver · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 45
Mike Lane wrote: I broke convention when I bolted this slab. I chose to push boundaries and rap down instead of the common mundane ground up style. It wasn't easy. At times, I was mildly concerned whether my GriGri would stay cinched up while I fumbled around with the tool bag. Hanging up there I also had to fight the unnerving thought that someone might stop and break into my truck. The worst part was dealing with all the falcon egg yolks on my shoes from kicking the nest off the ledge. This sport isn't for sissies......
This is why I only TR, those runouts on that route are terrifying.
USBRIT Ross · · Keswick Cumbria.UK · Joined Apr 2001 · Points: 21,791
David Lyons wrote:runout bolt-protected routes without placement options are a way of showing manliness and courage. Old routes put up in this style are constantly held to be superior in some aspect - if it's not dangerous, it's just wimpy climbing. IMHO, I call bullshit. As much fun as runout bolt routes are, I find it's just another pissing contest that turns what could be a fun outing into a nerve-wracking experience for plenty of people who want to enjoy climbing without broken bones or worse. I understand the old way of GU FA's, but bolts are cheap today, and drills are fast. I laud any old bold masters who aren't too arrogant to allow or install additional pro to turn X's into PG's or G's on their routes.
Yes agree times have change .. Sport Climbing is now one of the safest sports in the world.Far less dangerous than Soccer ,Football,Rugby,Cycling,Boxing ,Paragliding and of course driving etc etc ... Its a sport that 8 year old kids can indulge and in many cases out climb adults ...Your spot on as when rock climbing started they only had a hemp rope... the main rule was the leader never falls...yes again your right they had to have courage ...actually that was what made traditional rock climbing unique.
Healyje · · PDX · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 456
David Lyons wrote:runout bolt-protected routes without placement options are a way of showing manliness and courage. Old routes put up in this style are constantly held to be superior in some aspect - if it's not dangerous, it's just wimpy climbing. IMHO, I call bullshit.
That would be a huge mischaracterization. In most cases it had more to do with stanced hand-drilling on lead and wanting to spend at least some of the time climbing rather than drilling which is all you'd be doing if you bolted to 'modern' standards. There were also folks who weren't particularly comfortable stance drilling and for them it was often less scary and sketch to just climb on hoping for a better stance from which to drill. There are the odd exceptions to that, but most of the time it was about the drilling and what a pain in the ass it was.

David Lyons wrote:As much fun as runout bolt routes are, I find it's just another pissing contest that turns what could be a fun outing into a nerve-wracking experience for plenty of people who want to enjoy climbing without broken bones or worse.
There were and usually are other things to climb...

David Lyons wrote: I understand the old way of GU FA's, but bolts are cheap today, and drills are fast.
Yet you still mischaracterize the routes and reason they are the way they are? Not sure I get that.

David Lyons wrote:I laud any old bold masters who aren't too arrogant to allow or install additional pro to turn X's into PG's or G's on their routes.
Gotta say, as much as I'm old school about things and respect FA's, but I'm of mind that when a route has had years of ascents by numerous folks, then it takes on cred and standing of its own even the FA shouldn't be able to override except on rare circumstances.

USBRIT wrote:Yes agree times have change .. Sport Climbing is now one of the safest sports in the world. Far less dangerous than Soccer, Football, Rugby, Cycling, Boxing , Paragliding and of course driving etc etc.
It was safer than all those even bitd, I'd rather take my chances with a runout than a running back any day of the week.

USBRIT wrote:You're spot on as when rock climbing started they only had a hemp rope.
Yeah, but in the US most of those routes were put up in the 60's / 70's and they weren't on hemp ropes, but rather nylon ones such as goldline, woven MSRs, or early kermantle ropes. Here's a pic of the double-braided MSR that came out in '69. We called them 'MSR knot specials' because that's what they tended to do. If they got nicked they'd also get huge hairballs that we'd duct tape down and use them until all the duct tape made it hard to pull it through the biners. Not our fav, but for poor college students they were way cheaper than actual kermantle ropes.



USBRIT wrote:you're right, they had to have courage...actually that was what made traditional rock climbing unique.
I don't think any of us thought of it as particularly courageous or unique at the time, it was just what climbing was - sure there were bold and runout routes you had to get psyched up for, but it was part of the deal if you wanted to do those FAs
doligo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2008 · Points: 269
David Lyons wrote:runout bolt-protected routes without placement options are a way of showing manliness and courage. Old routes put up in this style are constantly held to be superior in some aspect - if it's not dangerous, it's just wimpy climbing. IMHO, I call bullshit. As much fun as runout bolt routes are, I find it's just another pissing contest that turns what could be a fun outing into a nerve-wracking experience for plenty of people who want to enjoy climbing without broken bones or worse. I understand the old way of GU FA's, but bolts are cheap today, and drills are fast. I laud any old bold masters who aren't too arrogant to allow or install additional pro to turn X's into PG's or G's on their routes.
My former roommate, who quit climbing before first 5.11s were established says "It's not climbing unless you are willing to face the consequences" (and by consequences he means even death). To him even having a gear at your ankle is "top roping". So I kind of agree with you in a sense that with modern gear, huge dangerous runouts are sort of unnecessary. They are thrilling and give you a great satisfaction after you pull through them, but later on if you are honest to yourself, you may admit that you could've died or get seriously hurt and realize that it was pretty stupid. At the same time, I probably don't want to rob others from experiencing the same thrills I had when climbing old school routes.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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