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Why not put bolts vs pitons in Gunks?


Original Post
B. L. · · New York, NY · Joined May 2015 · Points: 54

Considering many routes rely somewhat on old pitons for hard to protect parts of a climb, I don't understand why there is opposition to adding the occasional bolt in place of it. I'm not talking about turning it into a sport climbing area, just in place of the old pitons here and there. Areas like Red Rock do that.

Can anyone offer some insight?

Brandon S · · Weehawken, NJ · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 1

Isn't this already the case? There are accepted bolts on Never Never Land and Carbs & Caffeine among others.  Maybe the main difference between Red Rock and the Gunks, is in the Gunks there is a process for adding a bolt and its ultimately up to the Mohonk Preserve who are the only ones who have the right to bolt (in the Trapps at least).

Edit: If you feel strongly about a specific need, feel free to go to the meeting in two days and make your case http://gunksclimbers.org/gcc-events/.

Lena chita · · OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 746

It boils down to "because it is so": e.i. local rules, traditions, and slippery slope argument.

B. L. · · New York, NY · Joined May 2015 · Points: 54
Brandon S wrote: Isn't this already the case? There are accepted bolts on Never Never Land and Carbs & Caffeine among others.  Maybe the main difference between Red Rock and the Gunks, is in the Gunks there is a process for adding a bolt and its ultimately up to the Mohonk Preserve who are the only ones who have the right to bolt (in the Trapps at least). 

I know there are 3 on Sente - didn't know about the others - but they are extremely rare. Every climb I've done there so far just has pitons. Was looking at Farewell to arms and there's a bunch of 'the piton has gone to dust', there's a new piton, oh - it's gone, it's back etc :/ Just seems a bolt would make sense. I assume locals are for some reason opposed? but was hoping to hear the rational to try and understand - I just don't get it.

Brandon S · · Weehawken, NJ · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 1

The current pitons are grandfathered in, so thats the rational.  The Preserve isnt randomnly hammering in new pitons, those have been there for decades.  If they pull, they won't necessarily be replaced and in most cases they dont need to.  The Gunks is filled with unecessary pitons from the pre-cam age in horizontals that take bomber cams (i.e. MF and Feast of Fools).

Also, I think to have a productive conversation on this you really need to talk about specific routes/pitons.

B. L. · · New York, NY · Joined May 2015 · Points: 54
Brandon S wrote: I think to have a productive conversation on this you really need to talk about specific routes/pitons.

Ok - let's take Thin Slabs Direct. I haven't done it but was reading up on it while considering. So apparently maybe 1 of the 3 pitons may hold (I know it's all guesswork) and it's a good idea to back them up. I almost always back up the pitons anyway tbh.. but if it's a pumpy notoriously sandbagged route, why not just have a bolt or two instead of pitons no one trusts?

I think you really provided your perspective - there are grandfathered in. Maybe that's it, but I think they do get replaced sometimes don't they? Didn't Son of Easy O & Sixish get new ones as an anchor? I know there is an anchor initiative and people are working hard putting bolts in at many of the anchors.. just wondering the thought about extending it to pitons on route - but now I see there have been some put in on the routes you mention which is good.

Gunks Apps · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 235

There is a process in place for adding new bolted anchors but not for adding new protection bolts.

I think the rationale is this for rusted and dangerous pitons...

1. The piton gets replaced with a piton
2. The piton doesn’t get replaced because now a cam placement is available
3. The piton snaps near the eye and cannot be removed or replaced the route is now rated R or X

My personal feeling is that this works well. For example a bolt on Thin Slabs direct would certainly make it safer but it would completely change the character of the route for the worse. There are plenty of well protected routes in the same grade.

As mentioned above, the best way to get involved and have your opinions heard is to attend the GCC meetings. 

Rob D. · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined May 2011 · Points: 30
Gunks Apps wrote: My personal feeling is that this works well. For example a bolt on Thin Slabs direct would certainly make it safer but it would completely change the character of the route for the worse. There are plenty of well protected routes in the same grade.

I agree with this and think it's an important one to pass on.  There are plenty of 5.7's on the preserve, a few even within spitting distance of Thin Slabs, and the reason Thin Slabs stands out and is a classic is because of the nature of the climb.  The climbing is fun, the setting is good, but really, the reason you climb it isn't to test your physical abilities, but to check your mental ones.   As a reasonably young climber I am happy that routes like these have preserved their character through the years and would hate to see them turned into another well protected 5.7 under a roof.  

B. L. · · New York, NY · Joined May 2015 · Points: 54
Gunks Apps wrote: There is a process in place for adding new bolted anchors but not for adding new protection bolts.

I think the rationale is this for rusted and dangerous pitons...

1. The piton gets replaced with a piton
2. The piton doesn’t get replaced because now a cam placement is available
3. The piton snaps near the eye and cannot be removed or replaced the route is now rated R or X

My personal feeling is that this works well. For example a bolt on Thin Slabs direct would certainly make it safer but it would completely change the character of the route for the worse. There are plenty of well protected routes in the same grade.

As mentioned above, the best way to get involved and have your opinions heard is to attend the GCC meetings. 

This makes sense and I think I understand better now. I know you for one put a lot of time and effort into the area which we all benefit from - so thanks man!

Everett · · Nevada · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 25
B. L. wrote:

This makes sense and I think I understand better now. I know you for one put a lot of time and effort into the area which we all benefit from - so thanks man!

This is the best god damn retrobolt conversation I've ever seen.


<3
neils · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 20

I had a question, possibly tangential...I'm a gunks climber - never thought to ask this - does anyone (maybe the GCC) ever remove old pitons preemptively...in a situation where the piton is in a spot that might be the only or best spot for pro...before it snaps...or just because it is questionable?  So rather than bolting the piton is removed to allow for a safe, clean placement?

I have not climbed thin slabs direct...yet...but I recall being told that in key spots the only...or best gear has old questionable pins in it (as noted above) - could they be pulled to allow for legit gear placements?

neils · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 20
neils wrote: I had a question, possibly tangential...I'm a gunks climber - never thought to ask this - does anyone (maybe the GCC) ever remove old pitons preemptively...in a situation where the piton is in a spot that might be the only or best spot for pro...before it snaps...or just because it is questionable?  So rather than bolting the piton is removed to allow for a safe, clean placement?

I have not climbed thin slabs direct...yet...but I recall being told that in key spots the only...or best gear has old questionable pins in it (as noted above) - could they be pulled to allow for legit gear placements?

of course - as noted above by someone else - perhaps you don't want thin slabs direct (or whatever climb may be in question) to be well protected - maybe doing the climb on the manky pins is part of its charm - i don't know - i have no opinion on it, but i at least see the point of view - i guess everyone is willing to take whatever level of real or perceived risk they want.  sorry if that was a slight hijack.

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Gunks Apps wrote: For example a bolt on Thin Slabs direct would certainly make it safer but it would completely change the character of the route for the worse. There are plenty of well protected routes in the same grade.
I've always had a problem with this rationale, both in the Gunks and New Hampshire, the two trad bastions where it seems to be most prevalent.
When the climb was first done, those pins were safe and solid protection. Only after decades of neglect, rust, and freeze/thaw cycles have they become the sketch-fest they are now. If they blow on a fall this weekend, the leader is exposed to serious injury or death - something the FFA never faced. Thus the question is really to restore the route to its original FFA condition - whether by pins, bolts, or modern gear* that can fit where the pins were - or allow it to move into R/X territory.

*: it's been 30+ years since I've done the route (and thought the pins were crap then) so I don't recall at all any alternative protection possibilities.

Aside: has anyone here done the A3 variation out the thin crack in the roof from about midway on the traverse?
Brian · · North Kingstown, RI · Joined Sep 2001 · Points: 720

I think a lot of it has to do with pitons are charmingly old school like the Gunks and bolts are newfangled sport climbing thingees.  There have been some pitons placed there fairly recently like this eyesore that is used to facilitate top-roping on Son of Easy O (even though that may not have been its intent).

.  

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Brian wrote: I think a lot of it has to do with pitons are charmingly old school like the Gunks and bolts are newfangled sport climbing thingees.  

Perhaps. Recall that the majority - if not all - protection bolts, like the ones mentioned up thread (Never Never Land, Sente, Keep On Struttin', et al) were placed at the time of the FA. There was even a bolt at the crux of Moonlight at one time, placed by the FA party.

Brian · · North Kingstown, RI · Joined Sep 2001 · Points: 720
Marc801 C wrote:

Perhaps. Recall that the majority - if not all - protection bolts, like the ones mentioned up thread (Never Never Land, Sente, Keep On Struttin', et al) were placed at the time of the FA. There was even a bolt at the crux of Moonlight at one time, placed by the FA party.

True.  But there have been probably hundreds of bolts placed in the past ten years on all of the bolted rappels that have been added.  So why not replace pitons with bolts?  Old bolts have been replaced with new bolts, for example on Wonderland and I believe Sente. The policy that only pitons can replace pitons is strange.  How about that mess of pitions added on Son of Easy O?  That is new (past 5 years or so) so why not use bolts instead of pitons?  They are clearly safer/stronger.  

Chris Reyes · · Montclair, NJ · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 40
Marc801 C wrote: I've always had a problem with this rationale, both in the Gunks and New Hampshire, the two trad bastions where it seems to be most prevalent.
When the climb was first done, those pins were safe and solid protection. Only after decades of neglect, rust, and freeze/thaw cycles have they become the sketch-fest they are now. If they blow on a fall this weekend, the leader is exposed to serious injury or death - something the FFA never faced. Thus the question is really to restore the route to its original FFA condition - whether by pins, bolts, or modern gear* that can fit where the pins were - or allow it to move into R/X territory.

*: it's been 30+ years since I've done the route (and thought the pins were crap then) so I don't recall at all any alternative protection possibilities.

Aside: has anyone here done the A3 variation out the thin crack in the roof from about midway on the traverse?

It's been a while but I remember being able to get decent pro along the traverse. The very last pin (that bent ring piton) was backed up pretty well by a black totem (and not much else iirc). I remember watching the follower ahead of us fall at the end of the traverse and struggle getting back on - I'm assuming they found something or that ratty pin is in better shape than it looks.

I'm racking my brain but I'm coming up short with any pitons that I felt needed to be backed up that I couldn't. I generally don't clip them at all if I can get gear in. Granted it's been a bit and I haven't gotten on anything harder than 10b there.
Gunks Apps · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 235
Marc801 C wrote: When the climb was first done, those pins were safe and solid protection.

*: it's been 30+ years since I've done the route (and thought the pins were crap then) so I don't recall at all any alternative protection possibilities.

This isn't really a good counter to the premise of your argument, but the early climbers had the benefit of clipping newly driven un-rusted pitons but on the other hand pretty much everything else they had sucked...ropes, biners, cams (lack of), shoes, harnesses etc...

There is a cam just below the start of the traverse, then a small not so great cam after that, and just past halfway there is a great cam, but it's above the hand rail so some people don't see it. So it's still safe for someone solid in the grade.
Gunks Apps · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 235
Brian wrote: I think a lot of it has to do with pitons are charmingly old school like the Gunks and bolts are newfangled sport climbing thingees.  There have been some pitons placed there fairly recently like this eyesore that is used to facilitate top-roping on Son of Easy O (even though that may not have been its intent).

.  

I agree, it's an eyesore, but that anchor was a replacement of this...

and because the top-out had become an eroded gully. It's not visible in the photo, but it is sloped downward. Rocks would frequently get knocked down by parties that went to the top.