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Astro Turkey - Replacing Missing Pin with Bolt


Original Post
Monty · · Golden, CO · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 3,194

I am looking to get community feedback about replacing the missing pin on Astro Turkey with a bolt.  

I climbed Astro Turkey yesterday, it had been 8 or 9 years since I last climbed it and unfortunately, the pin that protects the crux has fallen out leaving only a less than inspiring #2 rp.  The funny thing is, this pin appears to be the only pin on the whole route that is actually necessary.  All of the other pins can be bypassed with excellent protection.

I would like to restore the route back to the original safety rating (PG-13) and I wanted to get your input about what to do.  Research has shown that replacing a pin with a pin is not a sustainable practice, so I would like to place a bolt near the old pin placement.  I don’t believe that this will alter the “experience of the climb” as there is plenty of PG-13 moments elsewhere on the climb.

Anyone who knows me understands how important the Cathedral Spires are to me and I am not trying to alter the experience that someone has while climbing up there.  I simply wish to restore the safety of a route back to where it was at the time of the FA.


WadeM · · Golden, Co · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 320

I'd say bolt it. I trust your judgement 

Bruce Hildenbrand · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2003 · Points: 1,130

it is too bad that both members of the FA party have passed and way before their time!  Given this fact, I think it is important for others who have done the route to weigh in with their thoughts and then go from there.

Darren Mabe · · Flagstaff, AZ · Joined Dec 2002 · Points: 3,830

Pins are dinosaurs 

Monty · · Golden, CO · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 3,194
Bruce Hildenbrand wrote:

it is too bad that both members of the FA party have passed and way before their time!  Given this fact, I think it is important for others who have done the route to weigh in with their thoughts and then go from there.

Oh no - how sad!  Thanks for letting me know Bruce.

Josh Janes · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2001 · Points: 8,815

My opinion on pins in general:

I would like for pins to NEVER be replaced with pins. Or placed to begin with.

Whether or not you need to replace a pin with a bolt requires careful consideration and varies case by case.

I trust your judgement.

Glenn Schuler · · Monument, Co. · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 1,320

If anyone would know the best course of action, it would be you Monty. I've never done the route but a piton is not the best choice in my opinion. +1 on placing a bolt instead of a pin.

slevin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,001

Yes. 

Mr. Stevens · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 1,287

I vote for a bolt.  All of the routes I've done of yours have been very thoughtful and respectful of the area ethics.  

climberz · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2007 · Points: 90

Bolt please. 

Trust your judgment. 

Nick Schlichtman · · Golden, CO · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 105

I agree with you, restoring a route means putting it back to the same safety of the FA. When the pin was first placed it was likely bomber. However, over time becomes more unsafe and therefore not in the same state as the FA. 

So by logic, putting a bolt as close to the placement of the pin as possible not only restores a route, but ensure it stays as similar to the FA for as long as possible. Bolt it Dave! 

I'd be happy to go up there with you to do the job if our schedules line up. 

Monty · · Golden, CO · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 3,194

Thanks for the input everyone!  I have obtained a permit to install the bolt and will try to do so this week.

grabski · · N California · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 105

My goodness. Upon reading the title never would I have thought this thread would turn out so civil. Imagine if the route was in eldo.

Nice job everyone. Maybe there's hope for humanity after all.

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

The idea that placing a bolt is " better" than a pin is just short sighted.  Consider how much better small cams have gotten in just the last 10 years.  Once a bolt is placed it will be there in some form for eternity.  I think the pin should be replaced and I am willing to supply the pin and place it if need be.  We should all try to avoid the placement of bolts on trad routes unless all other options have been exhausted.

Dirt Squirrel · · Golden , co · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 50
Kevin Stricker wrote:

The idea that placing a bolt is " better" than a pin is just short sighted.  Consider how much better small cams have gotten in just the last 10 years.  Once a bolt is placed it will be there in some form for eternity.  I think the pin should be replaced and I am willing to supply the pin and place it if need be.  We should all try to avoid the placement of bolts on trad routes unless all other options have been exhausted.

Wouldn’t a glue in, properly installed, probably last waaay beyond anything else? Don’t pins damage the rock as well? 

Tony B · · Around Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 23,283

I think that the pin is less "Readable" and less sustainable, for both the hardware and for the rock.
We've already chatted about this, but lest the impression be that all opinions were expressed here, here is what I said before:
If it merits replaecment, then a bolt is preferred.
The upper pins can sit and be replaced with 'nothing' eventually, as they are superfluous.  There is good pro on both sides of them.

mike schlauch · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2004 · Points: 265

No offense Monty as I know you put alot of energy into the Cathedral Spires, but I agree with Kevin.  The growing mentality that "pins are bad" and that it's OK to replace them with a bolt is a slippery slope.  It's a trad area where bolts and pins were placed on lead.  It's also a trad area that requires good nutting skills and often times you have to run it out above the gear.  Or bail from a nut if you aren't ready for the runout.  IMO, Trad areas need to be preserved as such.  The pin on Mississippi Half Step that used to protect the crux is gone, that move is more spicy than it used to be, but it's still safe enough if you hang in there and place the gear. If there isn't good gear on Astro Turkey at this spot, replace it with a pin that has surely caught many falls before.  Eventually the pin replacement will create an RP placement and we can avoid the permanent bolt. 

It's interesting to me that no one really asked how far the last piece of good gear is below that pin.  Climbing is dangerous and some routes are more dangerous than others. That's what guide books are for.  Instead of bringing the route down to a safer level, skills can be raised to deal with the potential danger.  Placing a bolt could also cause the leader to skip the gear placements and punch it toward the new bolt....causing another potential danger.  A bolt will permanently alter the original "feel" of leading Astro Turkey.   

Cheers and thanks for bringing this topic up for discussion on the web.

Monty · · Golden, CO · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 3,194
mike schlauch wrote:

If there isn't good gear on Astro Turkey at this spot, replace it with a pin that has surely caught many falls before.  Eventually the pin replacement will create an RP placement and we can avoid the permanent bolt. 

Mike and Kevin, I appreciate your opinions and the work you two have done on the Front Range. Respectfully though, I struggle to see how placing a pin and potentially widening the crack is a better solution.  Both options permanently alter the rock, but at least placing a bolt doesn't create another hold to stuff our fingers into. If you are going to hammer something in, why not make it a bolt that can be replaced (using the same hole) or patched in the future basically erasing it's existence.

Nick Schlichtman · · Golden, CO · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 105


Fwiw, I was on the route next door while Dave was on it and was able to swing over to look at the gear, and would agree with his assessment.


The feel of the route would be best preserved by replacing the pin, I agree. And I think that keeping the feel of a route is very important. However, My thought process regarding bolt for pin is more concerned that the continual replacement of a pin, overtime, will affect the climbable features. Which I personally see as much more of a bummer. As Mike mentioned, eventually that placement will give way to some type of hand placed gear. Not only will that occur, but it potentially creates a new hold as this cycle continues. An example I can think of is the first pitch of the Naked Edge. That used to be a very different free climb before pitons were hammered in and out of that corner creating good locks. I know this an extreme example, with a different history. But only offering it as a starting point for my thought process. I am all for naturally protected routes, however if we must rely on the continued falling out and replacement of a pin to eventual create a placement are we really preserving anything? I view bolt for pin, in this particular instance, as a way to stop the process mentioned above and preserve the climbable features of this pitch.

Nick Schlichtman · · Golden, CO · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 105

Oh...he beat me to it, while I was writing a novel 

Josh Janes · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2001 · Points: 8,815
Monty wrote:

Mike and Kevin, I appreciate your opinions and the work you two have done on the Front Range. Respectfully though, I struggle to see how placing a pin and potentially widening the crack is a better solution.  Both options permanently alter the rock, but at least placing a bolt doesn't create another hold to stuff our fingers into. If you are going to hammer something in, why not make it a bolt that can be replaced (using the same hole) or patched in the future basically erasing it's existence.

Exactly! Kevin, I have the utmost respect for you as a climber and am grateful for all the hard work you've done for the community, so don't take this the wrong way because I say it in as good-natured a way as possible: Your comment that replacing a pin with a bolt is "short sighted" made me chuckle because that's probably exactly how I'd describe replacing a pin with another pin!

A properly installed bolt is probably equivalently reliable as well as an equivalent eyesore to a pin, but a bolt, unlike a pin, can be replaced again and again, or erased altogether, without further damage to the rock beyond the initial hole. It also has the distinct advantage that the damage (of a bolt hole) is not to features that are climbed but to some blank spot of rock nearby. A pin, on the other hand, can quickly become unreliable and creates irreversible damage to the actual climbable features (usually a crack). Pins have the advantage that they are cheap, simple, and can be installed easily on the fly with minimal tools - for this reason I understand their historical use and their use in alpinism, but I feel they have no place in modern rock climbing.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Colorado
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