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Getting Along on Popular Multi-Pitch Climbs


Mike A. Lewis · · Estes Park, CO · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 1,540

George and Rich, agreed. The First Flatiron in Boulder has a plethora of options and I see folks waiting in line behind each other to go up the Standard Route. With a larger rack at my disposal, I have often ventured left or right of the main line and found many quality lines. With that said, there are certain routes without any options around at the same grade or close, and they were a long hike in.

J. Albers · · Colorado · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 1,793
Boissal wrote: Maybe if you edit your comments under Stolen Chimney and the S Face of the Six Shooter there will be no evidence left of how much of an arrogant entitled shit you are? Here, lemme save those before you go all Orwell with the edit button. Get over yourself dude, you're just a guide...
Doh! Well, that bit of perspective made me laugh. I guess now maybe I don't feel so bad about some of the original comments grouping Mike into the guide-as-D-bag class. Well anyway, now at least I'm clear on the fact that there is a strict clock limit for how long you are allowed to enjoy a summit. Get off my lawn, I'm trying to guide here!!
Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Mike A. Lewis wrote:Yeah - hard to win here. First of all, many of those original replies to my post were far more rude than my original post, and though they didn't agree with my tone or some of the things I said, they could have said so in much more mature ways like some of the other replies - so if they look bad, not my fault. But that's why I started off the revision with a caveat about the revision and some of the comments not having relevance. They can delete their replies if they want. I also wanted the revision to be the first thing folks see because this post is not about who's right or wrong in relation to HOW I wrote the post, but rather about the content - which some of the initial commenters got without me having to rewrite the original post.
Yep.
Not your fault at all, and make others do extra work so they don't look as foolish as you.
By your lame edit of the OP you even made the whole point of Goldstone's post irrelevant.

Looks like we're going to have to go back to the old RC.com practice of quoting for historical accuracy before an OP with a sense of entitlement edits history into whatever makes them look good.
Mike A. Lewis · · Estes Park, CO · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 1,540

Wow - you guys are so quick to fight and create conflict. I stand behind each of those comments on those routes. Guides and climbers experienced in using double rope systems know how to move 3 folks through a route faster than many people (that you'd find on moderate routes) moving in groups of two. I was on Ancient Art recently and three guys had a drone up there. The transition from one guy to leave the belay to get on top, fly the drone up for videos and get back down was about 40 minutes each. So this one group of 3 guys were on the final pitch for more than 2 hours. Meanwhile, others waited and piled up thinking that surely these guys were going to be coming down at any second.

I saw a similar thing on this route a couple of years ago. A group of college students decided to go as a group of about 8. One guy lead, all the others followed - about half of which had climbed probably less than 5 times. They only had a few ropes and were throwing ropes back down to those below to tie in to climb the pitch. They did each pitch one at a time. Almost all of the other groups that day left, or they got in a couple pitches and rapped back down. Maybe if they read my comment on the route before going, they will approach it with a different mindset - one that sets them up for success as well as all the other folks who want to climb the route that day.

Tell me why it feels so encroaching to encourage newer climbers on popular routes to try their best to keep their flow going so others can do the same, as well as to keep their group sizes smaller (or belay multiple climbers at once) to facilitate such things? I am perplexed that anyone would have an issue with this.

As popular as climbing is becoming (the rate of people moving to Colorado right now is crazy, and I am sure it is happening in other towns with access to outdoor resources) those who have climbed for a while have learned to adapt to the times with all the above mentioned suggestions (getting up earlier, taking a larger rack to get on other routes, choosing more obscure routes, etc.). We can all adapt further by continuing to be considerate of others by not getting on routes we shouldn't be on on busy days, and by keeping our climbing as efficient as we can.

I was in Chamonix this past summer and watched 6 parties line up for a classic on the Aiguille du Midi (I was doing something else). I've never seen so many teams get through a 4-pitch route like those people did. They were all in teams of two. They all moved smoothly through the pitches with only moments of pausing to figure out a move. I'm not saying the Europeans have it figured out by any means - it just happened to be what I observed that day. With that said, the U.S. is not far behind in having the numbers of folks wanting to climb classic routes that Europe has.

reboot · · . · Joined Jul 2006 · Points: 125
J. Albers wrote: Get off my lawn, I'm trying to guide here!!
I know nobody explicitly said this. But here's the thing that irritates me about that kind of attitude:

A guide may be working (off of public land no less), but the client is not. And more likely than not, that's a client w/ no business on the route if not guided. On the other hand, you have the rest of the climbers, many of them working stiffs that earned their precious time off through hard work AND spent some of the said time off actually becoming competent at their hobby. So how should a guided party have any semblance of priority over the non-guided climbers?
Josh Janes · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2001 · Points: 8,522
Mike A. Lewis wrote:Tell me why it feels so encroaching to encourage newer climbers...?
It's not... it's the delivery.

For example: the "unless you're a guide" verbiage you've used. I AM a guide and it sounds pretentious to me! Not only that, but also it's not even accurate. Case in point: My partner and I attempted to climb your popular classic Ancient Art route last year and had to race a local Moab guide to the base of the route from the parking lot. No big deal except her five (!) clients couldn't keep up with her! Eventually, and appropriately, she conceded to us. The rain started falling as we were racking up, increasing to a downpour on the party ledge atop the chimney, and because we all know how fragile that formation is, we ultimately made the call to save it for another day and descend. As we hiked out I was disappointed to see that the guide was continuing to ferry her clients up to the summit one after another in the pouring rain. Oh, I'm sure that she, like the impoverished African poacher hunting the rhinoceros to extinction, was only trying to feed her starving family, but my point in relaying this story is that we guides are not above making questionable judgement calls, being inconsiderate, etc etc.

Anyway, I think your message is to be open to learning and considerate of others no matter what your experience level might be (a message I wholeheartedly agree with), but like I said in my other post to this thread it's a bit lost in the delivery - even the edited version. Since intent can so easily be lost in print, perhaps the best way to share your wisdom is in person? At the very least you could inject it with a lot of humor (preferably self-depricating) to offset your "professional guide-man" tone. Regardless, a surefire way to upset people is with a list of Do's and Don't's.
Mike A. Lewis · · Estes Park, CO · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 1,540

Ewan and Reboot - I really appreciate your well-thought out frustrations. I totally get your points. I wonder if it is worth a different/new forum post about guiding and climbing and where there meet and where they don't. Until then, I have a few things to share about it:

I totally agree about large guided parties on popular routes - I hate it. I think regions have varying ethics, but in the Boulder area, you can't get away with that - the locals will call you out on it. I feel guilty if I slow other parties down because I am making a dumb decision (whether I am guiding or climbing personally). Many of the locals here respect the guides and most of us get along well. Many locals learned to climb from a guided course, or took an Avy course with us, or upped their game with a movement skills private day.

I also really loath taking up an entire toprope area for a large group. There are certain areas around Boulder that the locals all know as the group climbing sites - and if you go there, you go knowing that you will be sharing the cliff with a guided group, a church group, a climbing club, or even a large group of college students. I try to avoid large group climbing at all costs - though one group we work with is a cancer survivors group - and it is very fulfilling to see these people climb for the first time.

Here are a few things to say about "working stiffs" and "clients." In my opinion, there isn't much difference, but a little. Many parties I see climbing out there include one very competent climber and his or her girlfriend or boyfriend. Or, a very experienced climber who is taking a very inexperienced climber on their first multi-pitch or even their tenth. In many ways, these people are guiding and getting guided, they're just not getting paid for it or paying for it (well, not with money - often they get taken out for a beer or dinner - nice tip!). So in that regard, whether guided or not, you have an experienced person and an inexperienced person in each group. All four are having fun. As a guide, I am a climber first. I might be getting paid, but I am there to climb and have fun with my partner for the day.

Many of the clients I climb with have become my friends and we have climbed in many places and multiple countries. Some of these folks have had bad experiences with hooking up with random climbers and have been dropped, or they live in remote places and don't have a means of meeting other climbers, or they have very inconsistent work schedules and they need to be able to call last minute to be able to get out for a climb. These are all working stiffs. Many of these people have kids, very busy careers, and wives or husbands that won't let them go out and climb with anyone other than a guide because they want the probabilities stacked in their favor of their partner coming home that night. Some do not want to lead but are strong climbers and want to climb good routes at their level on the one day they have off in two weeks.

Many clients didn't start climbing until later in life. There is a time when many of us were in our teens and twenties and we had higher risk tolerances and were willing to take the chances necessary to become strong climbers. I spent a week in the hospital when I was 22! As we get older, we tend to back off a little, but we may still be strong climbers - so sometimes those are my clients - they don't want to lead at their limit, but they want to climb at their limit. And others are the folks who started late and missed that youthful time of putting one's life at higher risk. Many of these people are still climbers. They live in Kansas City and read every single magazine out there, make a plan for a vacation and save up every dime to hire a guide who can take them climbing and teach them some things along the way. They look forward to it all year!

Personally, I can't remember the last time I was in someone else's way on a day of guiding, or slowed someone else down more than any other competent team. I don't want to be "that guy" so much that I work everything out so that my partner and I are not in that position. I do the same thing when not guiding.

In the end, I am a climber and my client is a climber and we are going out climbing. Me getting paid for it, doesn't change much in my mind. On my days off, I often take my partner or my beginner friends out climbing and do many of the same routes I do with my clients.

With that said, I am sure that some of you have had bad experiences with guides as have I - one on the Grand Teton this summer - I had to tell him to back off and chill out - that there was no where for him to go because there was another group in front of me. I and many of you have also had many negative experiences with other non-guide climbers. They TR right through the rappel rings, they walk up and jump in front of you at the base of a climb, they get off route and drop rocks on our heads, and so on. We're all going climbing and both guides and non-guides can be real jerks sometimes, or simply make a mistake.

Mike A. Lewis · · Estes Park, CO · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 1,540

Reboot - to answer your question directly - I don't believe a guide has a right to a route over anyone else. I'm not sure if you got that from me or from other people/guides in your home area.

Josh J - you took a partial quote from me and used it out of context - I said that unless you are a guide or an experienced climber who knows how to use guiding techniques... Also, I think there are some really inconsiderate guides out there, just as there are some really inconsiderate recreational climbers. Egos cross the lines, as well as inexperience. If you read in my posts, you will see that I said no matter guide or rec climber, keeping the partner teams small is ideal - and that guides and experienced climbers know how to manage a party of three well where newer climbers move better in parties of two.

Russ Keane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 150

Dear Lord, the climbing world has become just like the 2016 US Election....

Josh Janes · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2001 · Points: 8,522

Mike, did you make your original post (and other comments to various route pages) to vent about your frustrations or to genuinely help people? Assuming the latter, I was just trying to explain how those posts have come across to myself and others in this thread - my intent wasn't to take your quotes out of context. It would be sufficient and arguably more effective to simply say "experienced climbers" (a group that hopefully includes the subset "guides") - that way you're not going to immediately alienate people who don't like guides/guiding while simultaneously risking sounding like you're somehow better by the very nature of being a guide. My 2 cents as a bad ass motherfucking climber and pro guide.

Kent Richards · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 83
Ewan wrote:It appears to me, as an outsider, that they have made up for their inexperience with their money.
Why is that a problem? Some people have less time and more money, and they choose to prioritize their time by paying someone to lead them where they want to go.

Do you fix your own car, or do you pay someone else to do it? Do you write your own software, or pay someone else to write it for you? Etc, etc.
Mike A. Lewis · · Estes Park, CO · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 1,540

Josh, in all honesty, until I put this post on MP, I had no idea that there was such a rift between some climbers and their feelings about guides. Where I live, at least in my day to day, that rift doesn't exist. I haven't had a run-in with a recreational climber in... I can't even remember when. I get along really well with the folks out at the cliff, as do my colleagues. We all work very hard to create harmony. So, I don't see any reason why to hide the reality that guides are out there doing their thing. However, your point about simply saying "experienced climbers" is taken.

Z Winters · · Mazama, Washington · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 207

Rock climbing is so damn fun!!! Remember that? Lots of hostility here. That's too bad. Hey everyone, don't forget to not take yourself too seriously.

Here are a couple professional guides that know how to have fun.
youtube.com/watch?v=LE61cvE…

Next time you're on a cluster of a route and you're thinking about being grumpy, remember: Daddy don't like that. And yes, Will Stanhope is your daddy. And your guide's daddy. ;)

The Blueprint Part Dank · · FEMA Region VIII · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 460
Russ Keane wrote:Dear Lord, the climbing world has become just like the 2016 US Election....
PLEASE DON'T TAKE THIS TOO SERIOUSLY
Creed Archibald · · Salt Lake City, UT · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 868
Zachary Winters wrote:Rock climbing is so damn fun!!! Remember that? Lots of hostility here. That's too bad. Hey everyone, don't forget to not take yourself too seriously. Here are a couple professional guides that know how to have fun. youtube.com/watch?v=LE61cvE… Next time you're on a cluster of a route and you're thinking about being grumpy, remember: Daddy don't like that. And yes, Will Stanhope is your daddy. And your guide's daddy. ;)
As a guide, I question some of Will's placements. Seriously though ... Nice share! That was the best thing to come out of this thread.
The Blueprint Part Dank · · FEMA Region VIII · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 460

So much to unpack here.

Mike A. Lewis wrote:Yeah - hard to win here.
Welcome to the internet.

Mike A. Lewis wrote:First of all, many of those original replies to my post were far more rude than my original post.
See #1

Mike A. Lewis wrote:they could have said so in much more mature ways
So... you're being pretty hard on these trolls as you say... but, by completely changing your OP's tone, haven't you basically admitted that you didn't make your original point in the most mature way possible either?

Mike A. Lewis wrote:"But that's why I started off the revision with a caveat about the revision"
Did the channel just change to a Congressional Sub-Committee hearing?

Mike A. Lewis wrote:I also wanted the revision to be the first thing folks see because this post is not about who's right or wrong in relation to HOW I wrote the post, but rather about the content - which some of the initial [commenters] got without me having to rewrite the original post.
Like, for real dude, is this CSPAN now? That's a really good example of a fairly common political trope, deflecting a conversation one dislikes by belittling the "distasteful" topic as a distraction from "the real issues!"
rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 525

I was a little surprised at the anti-guiding sentiment. Sure, there are Guides Behaving Badly, but the range of transgressions I've seen from guides doesn't come anywhere near what ordinary climbers can dream up for our communal delight.

I was introduced to climbing by the Exum guides in 1957, and have now spent 60 years climbing (including my own guiding stint while in grad school). The debt I owe my guides, may they rest in peace (Glenn Exum, Dick Pownall, Jake Breitenbach, Barry Corbet), now laden with 60 years of accrued interest, is beyond computation---the fees I paid are a pittance compared to the benefits (I was tempted to say blessings) that flowed from their teaching. To paraphrase Gaston Rebuffat on the subject, they opened the gates to the garden and pointed the way to what lay beyond.

I don't think I am all that unusual in that regard, a guide is first and foremost a teacher, and although teachers may not reach many of their students, they usually have a profound effect on a few, and that effect illuminate's the guide's life, transforms the client, and makes the enterprise far more than a business transaction.

I might add that those same guides who somehow ruined your day are the ones that show up in a terrible storm, risking their lives and their livelihood to get your sorry ass off the mountain after you've screwed up.

As I mentioned, I did some guiding while in grad school, during a time when the primary qualification was the ability to make it to a stationary store and have business cards printed---so feel free to sneer at my qualifications. Even so, I am here to testify that ordinary climbers have no idea what guides go through on a daily basis---no effin' idea. Y'all need to walk a few miles in guide's approach shoes before calling them out on stuff.

Which, as I said in the beginning, does not mean that there aren't guides acting like assholes. It is basically a people business, and someone whose primary interest is in his or her own climbing and not in facilitating the dreams and accomplishments of others is likely to be perpetually frustrated and disappointed, which is not a good foundation for the exercise of common decency. And frankly, I believe guides' commercial interests can lead them down paths that are harmful to climbing. (The Everest picture is one example, but there can be adverse effects all the way down to cragging venues.) But by and large, they perform a public service, change lives for a few people, and surely do not deserve the kind of generic condemnation that has been expressed here.

Adamant D · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 5

I've met Mike Lewis a couple times in different contexts, and while I don't know him well enough to call him a friend, I have always found him to be genuine, helpful and open. While the tone of the original post was (apparently) unfortunate (I never saw it), the important aspects of the post resonate with me as I've experienced (and likely been guilty of) some of the points he outlines.

While Mike apparently wrote an internet post hastily and with frustration, he has apologized for the tone and has not lashed out at those folks making needlessly aggressive comments. Make a mistake, own it, apologize, learn from it. What other solution is there?

On the bright side, 5+ pages of ranting will likely encourage many folks to check out the thread. Hopefully a few of them will read the first post and consider the points made.

The Blueprint Part Dank · · FEMA Region VIII · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 460
Mike A. Lewis wrote:Josh J - you took a partial quote from me and used it out of context
I have to, at this point, assume that you have run for public office before.

---In all seriousness, let me know if you feel like I am doing that at any point and we'll talk about why you think so, I am super open to being wrong about something if your reason why is convincing and bears up to logical scrutiny.*

*edited to add:
The Blueprint Part Dank · · FEMA Region VIII · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 460
Adamant D wrote:While Mike apparently wrote an internet post hastily and with frustration.
No! An internet post written hastily and out of frustration?!? You've gotta be joshin' me! That's unbelievable!

Adamant D wrote:he has apologized for the tone and has not lashed out at those folks making needlessly aggressive comments. Make a mistake, own it, apologize, learn from it.
Right... But, my point is that I don't think that he has totally owned it. Mike's blame for the negativity in the thread hasn't really been "owned". His meaning was "misunderstood" theirs was "negative".... so on and so forth. Again, it's another fairly common trope in public discourse... but it's common because it works fairly well (as we see here...)
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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