Bolting a TR, would you do it and why?


Original Post
Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,175

This comes from a local discussion regarding a retrobolted TR for lead. It was bolted with the permission of the FA, so no controversy there. The bolter says they did it to add to the area, which is fair enough but bolting an existing line is obviously different from bolting a brand new line.

What would be your motivation for doing this and how do you justify it?

Will B · · Halifax, NS · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 0

It adds to the area, as it's a new lead climb. Top roping is one thing, but it seems like a logical addition to make it a sport route, if it's not a designated trad route so that there is the ability to lead climb it.

You can always still top rope it..

Kyle Elliott · · Everett, WA · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 375

If its a popular route,  good quality, and/or doesn't complicate neighboring routes then bolting seems like a reasonable option. 

Ken Noyce · · Layton, UT · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 2,067

I can see arguments both ways, but in general, I don't consider a TR to be a valid FA, therefor, bolting it would be acceptable in my book.  This is with the obvious caveats that it's not a squeeze job and won't affect surrounding traditional routes.   

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

Did the original line have a bolted anchor, or was it natural anchors?  Were there pro options to lead it on gear?  What are the local ethics?

knowbuddy Buddy · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 225

I didn’t realize you could get a legit fa on a top rope...

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,175
Ted Pinson wrote:

Did the original line have a bolted anchor, or was it natural anchors?  Were there pro options to lead it on gear?  What are the local ethics?

It had a bolted anchor for an adjacent route. Yes, some pro for the first two bolts. Local ethics are ground up bolting, no exceptions.

However, it's not about this route specifically. Maybe people think it's ok to bolt a TR but what is the rationale?

Ken Noyce · · Layton, UT · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 2,067
Tradiban wrote:

It had a bolted anchor for an adjacent route. Yes, some pro for the first two bolts. Local ethics are ground up bolting, no exceptions.

However, it's not about this route specifically. Maybe people think it's ok to bolt a TR but what is the rationale?

Possible Rationale (obviously all situationaly dependent):

1. It can allow for more people to climb at the same time (could also be solved by adding a separate anchor in some cases).

2. It can facilitate climbing the route without first climbing an adjacent route to reach the anchors.

3. Many people prefer to lead over TRing.  Having a TR bolted allows the route to be lead without stopping it from being TR'd (or taking away from the commitment factor as bolting a trad route would do).

4. It can reduce crowding at the crag due to all three points above.

I'm sure there are others as well, but I personally feel that there can be very valid reasons to bolt a route that was previously TR only.  There are also many routes that should be left as TRs, as with everything in climbing, it just depends.

Jon Frisby · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 100

Agree with Ken Noyce here. A TR is not a legitimate FA (not that it matters, but from the perspective of the FA having any sort of authority on whether to bolt). The biggest reason for not bolting is safety (soft rock, etc.) or squeeze

s.price · · PS,CO · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 1,348

When I started climbing in Piedra Canyon there were 3 bolted lines and 2 TR anchors in place. The people who set these were no longer in the area or no longer climbed.

At the time the motivated climbers in the area were basically my wife and I. We would TR any wall that looked good from trees and natural pro. Eventually we added anchors to most of these walls. Piedra is super easy to set up TR's. The canyon stayed this way for a few years. Then the local climbing community started to grow and interest was expressed in bolting these lines. Many of those expressing interest had no bolting experience. Since I did I wanted a hand in how this was handled so jumped right in. I care deeply for the canyon and felt my input was valuable and would lead to responsible development. For the most part it has. 

So we bolted most of those lines that were originally TR's. I would have been fine with them staying as TR's but am fine with them being bolted as well. We bolted the TR's that had been set before us as well. One with permission and one without. They are now very popular climbs. 

Bolting the canyon for lead is a double edged sword. I doubt most would give it a second thought if it had been left as TR only. For the most part I would still have the canyon to myself and a few locals. But I also think it is very cool to see people from different areas come here and enjoy/struggle on what we have provided for the larger community. Case specific I know but that was my rationale.

Dave Kos · · Temecula, CA · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 55

Rename the thread:

Claiming a first ascent after TR, would you do it and why?

Billcoe · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 655

It's area dependant. I've wouldn't do it but have had a couple of routes I FA'ed which I've left as topropes bolted. I know it annoys the shit out of some folks, but not me. In these cases, newer, less skilled climbers can more safety clip the bolts and then toprope the trad climbs we put up. If folks don't like it, don't clip the bolts. One FA partner got yoinked once cause he thought the bolters were simply trying to get their name in the book, and that it dumbs down climbing. I figure if it keeps some random noobie out of the dirt due to a zipper fall on a gear route, it's a good thing. Buddies response to that thought was something like "they can keep the hell off of the route and work their way up the grades like we did".  


We didn't find any middle ground and disagree on this issue, but I note he left the bolts alone. 

Billcoe · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 655
Jon Frisby wrote:

Agree with Ken Noyce here. A TR is not a legitimate FA (not that it matters, but from the perspective of the FA having any sort of authority on whether to bolt). The biggest reason for not bolting is safety (soft rock, etc.) or squeeze

A toprope first ascent is as legitimate as any other first ascent. (not that it matters I suppose). 

Tim Lutz · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 5

TR is more LNT

Jon Frisby · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 100
Tim Lutz wrote:

TR is more LNT

So is not climbing, period

Jon Frisby · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 100
Billcoe wrote:

A toprope first ascent is as legitimate as any other first ascent. (not that it matters I suppose). 

For purposes of respecting FA ethic, I disagree. 

s.price · · PS,CO · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 1,348
Tom Thomas wrote:

It funny this came up.. I will not mention any names but, I'm currently dealing with a climber who goes around claiming FA's that were done from AGE 12 I shit you not.. This climber basically says he or she top roped or free-soloed everything within 60 miles for the FA.. Every time someone mentions a new place he says oh yeah I forgot I was there 30 yrs ago and top roped it or soloed it first.. and if you make it a sport route or a trad climb on gear he or she says they soloed that climb 30yrs ago for the FA.. This climber has no proof -  no living witness.. Even if you have photographs of the area before and after showing the cracks full of dirt and trees that you personally spent weeks digging out.. How should I deal with this climber..?  I feel like totally busting this climber for all to see and hear.. However these areas have access issues plus I would like to keep them on the DL.. Advice?

Ignore them.

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,175
Tom Thomas wrote:

It funny this came up.. I will not mention any names but, I'm currently dealing with a climber who goes around claiming FA's that were done from AGE 12 I shit you not.. This climber basically says he or she top roped or free-soloed everything within 60 miles for the FA.. Every time someone mentions a new place he says oh yeah I forgot I was there 30 yrs ago and top roped it or soloed it first.. and if you make it a sport route or a trad climb on gear he or she says they soloed that climb 30yrs ago for the FA.. This climber has no proof -  no living witness.. Even if you have photographs of the area before and after showing the cracks full of dirt and trees that you personally spent weeks digging out.. How should I deal with this climber..?  I feel like totally busting this climber for all to see and hear.. However these areas have access issues plus I would like to keep them on the DL.. Advice?

Beat them up and take the milk money.

BigB · · Red Rock, NV · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 340
Tom Thomas wrote:

It funny this came up.. I will not mention any names but, I'm currently dealing with a climber who goes around claiming FA's that were done from AGE 12 I shit you not.. This climber basically says he or she top roped or free-soloed everything within 60 miles for the FA.. Every time someone mentions a new place he says oh yeah I forgot I was there 30 yrs ago and top roped it or soloed it first.. and if you make it a sport route or a trad climb on gear he or she says they soloed that climb 30yrs ago for the FA.. This climber has no proof -  no living witness.. Even if you have photographs of the area before and after showing the cracks full of dirt and trees that you personally spent weeks digging out.. How should I deal with this climber..?  I feel like totally busting this climber for all to see and hear.. However these areas have access issues plus I would like to keep them on the DL.. Advice?

you should have saved this for its own thread....coulda went paaaaages

Ken Noyce · · Layton, UT · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 2,067
Tom Thomas wrote:

It funny this came up.. I will not mention any names but, I'm currently dealing with a climber who goes around claiming FA's that were done from AGE 12 I shit you not.. This climber basically says he or she top roped or free-soloed everything within 60 miles for the FA.. Every time someone mentions a new place he says oh yeah I forgot I was there 30 yrs ago and top roped it or soloed it first.. and if you make it a sport route or a trad climb on gear he or she says they soloed that climb 30yrs ago for the FA.. This climber has no proof -  no living witness.. Even if you have photographs of the area before and after showing the cracks full of dirt and trees that you personally spent weeks digging out.. How should I deal with this climber..?  I feel like totally busting this climber for all to see and hear.. However these areas have access issues plus I would like to keep them on the DL.. Advice?

Not to mention any names, but Ken Nicholes?

Jon Frisby · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 100

haha Ken doesn't give a shit if he FAd something in deciding whether to chop it

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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