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Yosemite Bolting


Original Post
John Clark · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 25

Hi,

I just started climbing in the valley last summer and I have started climbing some one star routes that obviously don't see much traffic, but should. On a few routes, the raps have been off of trees that present dangerous falls to access or aren't ideally rooted. While I'm all for the machismo of the valley, would it be a party foul to place rap bolts at the top of some of these routes to make rappelling safer and place less wear on trees?

Cheers

Nick Lozica · · Berkeley, California · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0

Play it safe and don't do it. 

King Tut · · Citrus Heights · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 420
John R Clark wrote:

Hi,

I just started climbing in the valley last summer and I have started climbing some one star routes that obviously don't see much traffic, but should. On a few routes, the raps have been off of trees that present dangerous falls to access or aren't ideally rooted. While I'm all for the machismo of the valley, would it be a party foul to place rap bolts at the top of some of these routes to make rappelling safer and place less wear on trees?

Cheers

Case by case basis that takes solid judgment and lots of experience.

Keep in mind whatever you do is going to be essentially a permanent change and the current situation as is, has been likely accepted by a large part of the community. This doesn't mean its right or ideal by any means (maybe people are just being lazy) but there may be factors you haven't considered.

I have advocated for separate rappel routes to avoid parties standing on trees as it eventually shortens their life or kills them. Walk offs can be dangerous (history of accidents) or cause catastrophic erosion etc etc...

Weighting a properly slung tree is not so much of a worry if the bark is not being destroyed.

But, for example, there were reports of bolts being placed at the top of Five and Dime to make it easier to rap and rig solo mini-trax lines rather than use the trees in the back...pure convenience. This is wrong and ultimately self-serving for someone that likely will not see the consequences over time.

My friend Barry Bates who put up that route left no bolts for a reason and there is zero need to make it more convenient. What you see over the last ~50 years of the route's life is that it gradually is becoming slicker and slicker...there is a finite life to every rock climb before it is a slimy POS.

So, keep in mind, inconveniences that limit traffic are actually a very good thing in such a popular place as Yosemite Valley. This may affect the route you have in mind.

John Clark · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 25

Thanks King Tut,

I'll keep those things in mind. I figured I would ask to get a better idea of the ethic and your reply answered those questions for me pretty well.

kevin deweese · · Oakland, Ca · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 350
John R Clark wrote:

I just started climbing in the valley last summer .....would it be a party foul to place rap bolts.

Literally, that's all we need from your post. 

Answer: Yes.

Yosemite is not an out of the way place and thus, there are many many many locals and old dads that have the breadth of experience with the routes, the ethics, and the LEOs/NPS that can properly answer this question on the case-by-case basis that should be undertaken. 

Don't worry about (re)bolting anchors until you've got a few more seasons under your belt. If you're truly worried about a specific place, get in contact with Clint Cummins or ASCA about that specific area and approach to replacing as this is really their wheelhouse. 

kevin deweese · · Oakland, Ca · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 350

And just in case you're not aware: No matter what you decide to do, HAND DRILLING ONLY. No matter how some of the shall-not-be-named-locals may act, a powerdrill is illegal in Yosemite and threatens access for everyone because some people feel like spending 30 seconds rather than 10 minutes is worth agitating the land managers.

mat · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 5

If the FA party is still around, ask them.

Tony L · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 436

Are there any specific routes/examples you had in mind?

Sons of Yesterday's rap route was recently moved out of concern for the life of the tree. There is precedent. It definitely is case by case. Safety of a tree is an important factor. There are many. (I would not start with reengineering something of that scale, even if it was not popular and the FA party was openly asking it to be moved.) In the case of Sons the FA party asked that the rap route be moved and it was done by a crew that has replaced hundreds/thousands of bolts.

A good starting point would be to scope out and put up a new line. Go find something new and put in an anchor if it's needed. That will get you the experience you'd want before re-engineering the descent off an existing line. Alternatively, talk to Clint or the ASCA folks - they'd probably welcome someone to help on a route rebolting - it'd be a great way to learn. ASCA has struck a very good balance. 

Tony Lewis · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 155

mat and Tony L give good advice....There is precedence for placing anchors where trees are used.  And learning to place bolts from Clint or anyone from the ASCA gang is great advice. You'll get all kinds of advice but mat's advice about getting the FA's consent is by far the most important and the ASCA sticks to that intent.  In my experience, it will be rare for the FA party to turn down a request to place anchors to help a tree.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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