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Why trad climbing?


Sky Cripp · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2018 · Points: 0

I love trad for a few reasons:
1. It seems to be the standard for "purity." No defacing the rock or bolting or leaving permanent gear behind (unless you like to overcam a lot).
2. It's so much more thoughtful. Sport climbing is clip draw > clip rope > climb above. Trad is asking yourself a series of questions: Rock quality > placement size > flared/not flared > walking? > extend or don't extend > does it need to be backed up > will this rock quality sustain a fall from what I think I see as my next opportunity for placement > etc.
3. Trad routes are just a shit ton of fun and IMO the best routes aren't bolted. If you limit yourself to sport, you'll never get the lead on Castleton Tower, Zeus Tower, The Nose, etc. 

Franck Vee · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 70
Sky Cripp wrote:2. It's so much more thoughtful. Sport climbing is clip draw > clip rope > climb above. Trad is asking yourself a series of questions: Rock quality > placement size > flared/not flared > walking? > extend or don't extend > does it need to be backed up > will this rock quality sustain a fall from what I think I see as my next opportunity for placement > etc.

I hear ya, as someone who do both but started out sport climbing. I think you're minimizing the amount of reflection one has to put into climbing sport route at your limit though - a lot of the thinking that doesn't go into placing gear goes instead to precise awareness of body positioning and finding clever beta to overcome whatever prevents you from sending your project.

That being said, I do agree with your assessment on climbs that are below on-sight level in sport, whereas trad climbing always keeps you thinking, pretty much regardless of difficulty level.....
Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175

climbing friend,

the climbing "trad" it allows you to be fat, old, physically inferior, and still "have fun" and impress the others

Alexander Blum · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 132
Sky Cripp wrote: I love trad for a few reasons:
1. It seems to be the standard for "purity." No defacing the rock or bolting or leaving permanent gear behind (unless you like to overcam a lot).
2. It's so much more thoughtful. Sport climbing is clip draw > clip rope > climb above. Trad is asking yourself a series of questions: Rock quality > placement size > flared/not flared > walking? > extend or don't extend > does it need to be backed up > will this rock quality sustain a fall from what I think I see as my next opportunity for placement > etc.
3. Trad routes are just a shit ton of fun and IMO the best routes aren't bolted. If you limit yourself to sport, you'll never get the lead on Castleton Tower, Zeus Tower, The Nose, etc. 

 To address your specific points:

1. Our sport is not particularly "pure". Establishing a new crack, or just one new route, usually involves some degree of destruction to the local habitat. The amount of damage is usually depend on things like rock quality and environment - bolts vs gear is just a minor influence. Removing lichen that's been on the rock for thousands of years or crowbarring off loose rock is a greater "defacement" than a bolt, IMO.

2. You're conflating 'recreational climbing' and 'sport climbing'. The latter is methodically redpointing climbs at your limit, and definitely requires a level of thoughtfulness on par with trad climbing. Hard trad and difficult sport probably require similar levels of "thoughtfulness". Moderate trad is fun and intellectually engaging, but doesn't engage my brain to anywhere near the degree that a sport project does.

3. If you limit yourself to trad, you will never experience the kind of AWESOME, athletic movement that appears around the 12c/d grade (unless you are a 12+ trad climber who has never ever sport climbed - a very rare breed).

They're both so different that trying to say one is better than the other is just silly.  I'll never understand why climbers feel the need to stake out these little sport, trad, boulder fiefdoms. It's ALL SO FUN, just go climb. Boulder when it's cold out, climb trad as much as you can, and sport climb when the weather is perfect and you're tired of being scared all the time.
doligo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2008 · Points: 269
Tim Stich wrote: I mainly clip bolts these days, and not at a very impressive level. But I like cragging, as I can get as many pitches in as I can handle in the limited time I have. Having a kid makes that a pretty OK trade-off. Plus, I just can't handle places like Eldo anymore on a daily basis. You have to be on your game there all of the time.

But as the years go by, I don't much remember those sport routes. I remember which ones were worth doing, but not how I felt about them in a deep sense. You remember your alpine rock ascents, though. You remember every one of them. You remember the soul sucking hikes in, and the hail pelting you in the middle of a pitch. You remember the stuck ropes, the cursing, the wishing you had not decided to go climbing that day. You remember pulling off the leads despite your lack of confidence. You remember smiling at your partner in the sun and taking a quick nap on the summit because you got up too damned early to do the route.

So, every summer I still get like to attempt some sort of alpine rock route. 

If I had such a good memory, I would never go back to climbing long routes.

Buck Rio · · MN · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0

I live in the Midwest. It really sucks for climbing, but within 4 hours driving time I can go to Devil's Lake, North Shore, Blue Mounds. Closer crags are awfull for the obvious reasons, crowds of n00bs.  All of these are in parks, so no bolting....so it is trad or nothing.

I annually have driven to the Needles in SD and Boulder/Estes to get some good climbing in. While the Monument has bolted lines, Custer/Sylvan Lake and the Spires are mostly bold routes if bolted, or trad, or mixed.  For years I didn't know there were totally bolted climbs. I was pretty excited at first, but grew tired of them....there isn't as much adventure as I like.

Melanie Concordia · · Silverthorne · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 10

I am fairly new to trad but I love it. Like others have said, it is so thoughtful, and there is so much to think about even before you leave the ground (what gear to rack up, how to rack your harness, where to put the first few placements). I have also found my progression in trad to be extremely satisfying. Not only can I get better at placing gear, but also picking the right piece on my first try, finding good stances to place, and making calls for how often to place and when to run it out. You can push the grade or push the gear, and I find both equally satisfying. The more trad partners I have the more I learn, whether it’s a new style anchor or a creative nut placement, and I can’t say the same about sport partners.

In sport, I find challenge in pushing grades, the style and my lead head. Ironically my lead head is way better when I’m trad climbing, which may or may not be because I am not yet leading very hard trad. Regardless, I find trad thrilling and satisfying in so many small ways, that it doesn’t matter much if I don’t lead a route clean. In sport if I don’t lead something clean I am a little sad about it because what’s there to achieve if not the send? Making more moves before falling? Sure.

Overall, I’m less motivated to push grades in sport, but for trad I look forward to every level-up and the new challenge it presents. Plus, leading trad has made me a way better sport climber. I’m better at finding rests and my repertoire is constantly expanding. I think my partners get sick of me joyously calling out bomber finger locks or hand jams on a sport route :P

Pete Spri · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 286

Because it gives me freedom to go to the top of a steep mountain... can't do that with bolts... or if so, very very few destinations.

LCC kid · · SLC · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 5

I love the problem solving that you have to apply to each pitch. Not just "how am I going to move my body through this series of holds?" rather, "how am I going to protect each section of this climb? What gear do I need? Should I extend this piece?" With trad climbing, even roadside/frontcountry routes can have an element of adventure.

USBRIT Ross · · Keswick Cumbria.UK · Joined Apr 2001 · Points: 21,526
Aleks Zebastian wrote: climbing friend,

the climbing "trad" it allows you to be fat, old, physically inferior, and still "have fun" and impress the others    

Your so right,   as long as you can stand the boredom of no more thoughts except the next clip.
cassondra long · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2008 · Points: 305

So I can go where no woman (or man)has gone before. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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