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Rap Stations at descent trees on Stately Pleasure Dome


rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 526
Tony Lewis wrote: rgold.  I appreciate the comment because I do feel like I try to get a consensus.  This topic was hashed out online on a different forum about 4-5 years ago with, I thought, the majority thinking that in obvious cases, bolts were a good answer.  And as I said, I've spoken with many at Stately.  It's already been noted that  reality and  hope can be  two very different things and the new culture may not do what some wish.  I consider myself to be a traditionalist.  I walk off.  I try to carry that mantel but I can't be blind to what I see. And I have educated and continue to do so. But some here are still trying to go with an ethical debate from the climbers view and not, I feel, an environmental one and are coming from the armchair instead of out in the field. It seems to me that some are more worried about the changing climbing culture (fine) but aren't really  addressing what, as you say is coming, but what I see as already here.

So let's talk ethics.  Trees are the original convenience anchors.  They have been used by you and I, the 19th century out-doorsman, the baddass, those in trouble, the beginner and every other type of climber you can name.  That guidebook supports that tradition, which is just as traditional as walking off, ground-up, no bolted cracks, etc.  So why are rap/top rope anchors on traditional walk offs  (like Black Angel, all the climbs on the Western Front and on and on)  now  acceptable?  And why is it better to keep putting in bolts and rap anchors on new routes so we can go up, but not put in those so we can go down to save a tree?

 Ofcourse I don't think bolts should be placed by every piece of vegetation but  when someone, obviously not knowing her history, points to supporting convenience rap anchors that were placed by the same person that put the sport route up that you allude to (which overuns a very traditional climb, and yet was allowed by the pitchfork and torch gang to still exist) - because she can downclimb slabs on Stately but can't on Daff Dome-  are better then ones used to protect trees on a historic descent,  well the irony is just to much.  Hobo Greg asks how we decide what is reasonable.  The answer is very clear to me.  The convenience anchors on Daff are made of metal, the ones on Stately are made of trees.  So, yes, I think it is wrong to continue the tradition of using trees as convenience anchors.  And yes, I think that you will not stop climbers from using them unless they have an alternative.

An excellent and thoughtful response, with a lot more detail than the original post.   I still believe, no doubt naively, that national organizations like the AAC and the Access Fund could take a more active role in environmental climber education, although the Access Fund in particular is now making substantial efforts in this direction. Guidebook authors could also be more sensitive to environmental questions, warning people away from "destructive" descents and giving good instructions for walk-offs when the option exists.  I don't think I've ever seen the admonition, "don't do any of the climbs on this feature if you aren't comfortable on third-class descents."  

The days in which climbers were already environmentalists are gone, as are the days when climbers were even outdoorspeople, so the need for some kind of orientation is critical.  Meanwhile, the "white knight" phenomenon is still a real problem with no good solution, as the placing of bolts presents  a highly asymmetric fait accompli that many reasonable souls don't want to get involved in correcting.

Mobes Mobesely · · MDI · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 865
Colonel Mustard wrote:

By far the best response.

Props to the OP for standing up and saying why. 

I can see the counter-argument too, of course, up to the point where it points to the deevolution of everything good and great in the world. Sheesh!

I'm about to quit climbing, bolts and bolters have ruined the adventure. Now get the fuck off my lawn!

Hobo Greg · · My Van · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 175
rgold wrote:

How indeed.  It used to be that one sought local consensus, but that was when there was an identifiable and accessible group of locals, something that may be harder to find nowadays.  A very unfortunate current phenomenon is that a self-appointed knight in shining armor rides in and does what they proclaim is best without consulting anyone other than a few friends with similar attitudes.  (I'm not saying this is Tony; I have no idea what local consensus he may or may not have sought.)

The end result is that the least competent climbers will be the ones who, by their actions---conditioned by an inability to descend easy rock---will, with the help of those self-appointed knights, determine where bolted rappel lines go.  Expect to see a whole lot in the years ahead.

I might add that if the locals are ok with a bolted sport route up Stately PD, they can't possibly be surprised when at least some of the users of that route find it necessary to rap back down, using whatever anchors they can find.

You walk off and call yourself a traditionalist? Not by Paul Preuss' standards. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_…(climber)#Beginnings_of_an_ethics_of_pure_style

"Ropes were acceptable for belaying as long as the leader could and would climb the pitch up and down free solo (and feel comfortable about doing so)."

My point here is that ethics are personal. What is comfy walkoff for us might be scary for others, just like whatever way Alex Honnold gets down might scare me and you, despite us being comfy walkoffers. So who is to decide? Just because a group of "locals" says so? I for one offer up no answers, because my ethics are mine alone. At the end of the day does it really fucking matter that theres a few more bolts up there, invisible to any tourist?
Tony Lobay · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 493

Trees killed by climbers can have profound impact on the community. It's worth sacrificing a little bit of our trad pride to protect them. Don't give other groups that are not friendly to climbers extra ammunition to restrict us with the line - "climbers kill trees, birds, etc..."

After climbing up the first pitch of Swan Slab Gully with my 6 year old kid, I came upon a very grumpy Euro who wanted to rap the pitch. He proceeded to wrap his rope around the tree to set up the rap (there were no slings, he was not going to leave one). I very kindly asked him to please not do that. It cuts the bark, kills the tree. He said "it's no big deal". No, I explained that it does matter and that in Yosemite we don't do that. I let him rap, then slid the rope off without him pulling.  My point -> some folks don't give a crap about your "ethics", they are going to do whatever they want, in the most easy scenario, trees be damned.

Pick one:
Option 1: add bolts to save the trees.
Option 2: don't add bolts, people who could care less about your ethics rap off the trees, trees die.

Fat Dad · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 60
Tony Lobay wrote: Pick one:
Option 1: add bolts to save the trees.
Option 2: don't add bolts, people who could care less about your ethics rap off the trees, trees die.

This was the point I was trying to make earlier.  I don't like extra bolts, particularly when there are other options available.  However, given that people will continue to beat up trees than walk, I see less harm in a bolt (particularly if you've clipped a number of them getting to the top) then in killing a tree.

Harumpfster Boondoggle · · Between yesterday and today. · Joined Apr 2018 · Points: 65

I mean, its good to have these debates as it prevents the spread of unneeded bolts like wildfire, it truly does.

Any bolt should have deep forethought behind it and if it withstands debate and a test of time its good on the steward.

But Boltway should still be chopped....hmmm I could put the hangers to better use...:P

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,535
Tony Lobay wrote: Trees killed by climbers can have profound impact on the community. It's worth sacrificing a little bit of our trad pride to protect them. Don't give other groups that are not friendly to climbers extra ammunition to restrict us with the line - "climbers kill trees, birds, etc..."

After climbing up the first pitch of Swan Slab Gully with my 6 year old kid, I came upon a very grumpy Euro who wanted to rap the pitch. He proceeded to wrap his rope around the tree to set up the rap (there were no slings, he was not going to leave one). I very kindly asked him to please not do that. It cuts the bark, kills the tree. He said "it's no big deal". No, I explained that it does matter and that in Yosemite we don't do that. I let him rap, then slid the rope off without him pulling.  My point -> some folks don't give a crap about your "ethics", they are going to do whatever they want, in the most easy scenario, trees be damned.

Pick one:
Option 1: add bolts to save the trees.
Option 2: don't add bolts, people who could care less about your ethics rap off the trees, trees die.

This, 100%. People are going to do what they feel they need to for them in that moment. Our feels about it are neither here nor there when it comes to the impact.

I'm fine with the bolts- I thought that descent was terrifying and I've been down my share of scary descents over the years. 

Mobes Mobesely · · MDI · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 865
Tony Lobay wrote: Trees killed by climbers can have profound impact on the community. It's worth sacrificing a little bit of our trad pride to protect them. 

Pick one:
Option 1: add bolts to save the trees.
Option 2: don't add bolts, people who could care less about your ethics rap off the trees, trees die.

Obviously option 2 is more traditional.

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 526
Hobo Greg wrote: My point here is that ethics are personal. What is comfy walkoff for us might be scary for others, just like whatever way Alex Honnold gets down might scare me and you, despite us being comfy walkoffers. So who is to decide? Just because a group of "locals" says so? I for one offer up no answers, because my ethics are mine alone. At the end of the day does it really fucking matter that theres a few more bolts up there, invisible to any tourist?

So Greg, the first question would be is there anything you would consider over the line?  Because your "I have no answers...ethics are mine alone...does it really fucking matter...," taken at face value, say that absolutely anything goes.  Anything!  Are you really ok with that?

Here's why I think laissez-faire is deep problem: all climbing, including the most redpoint-intensive sport climbing, absolutely depends on voluntary renunciation of available means.  The endeavor is basically defined by what climbers will not allow themselves to do.  What has made this work so far is tradition (some think this is a nasty word), enforced by community consensus.  And by "tradition enforced by community consensus" I do not mean a static preservation of the status quo in perpetuity.  I mean the continual tension between the desires and demands of a younger generation that wants its own achievements and an older generation that doesn't want to see the essence of the sport as they understand lost in the pursuit of new feats.  The younger generations keep things moving forward, and the older generations keep the brakes on so the entire show doesn't go off the rails.  Neither "side" wins their arguments, the sport itself opens up for ever more amazing feats, while not descending into utter banality.

I've been involved in various bolting controversies since the early 1980's.  In some sense we won the original one, but ever since then I expect to "lose" and mostly have "lost."  That's ok, because my days in the forefront (if indeed I ever had such days) are long gone, and at this point my hope is to get folks to think as clearly as possible about what they are doing, why exactly they are doing it, and most especially where all of it is headed.  I've been around long enough to see short-term "solutions" turn into long-term problems.  Make sure that the specific good you think you are doing doesn't become something you realize, too late, is unfortunate in the long run.
Josh Janes · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2001 · Points: 8,910
Tony Lewis wrote: ...I forgot to mention, If anonymously removed, I will replace.  I'm up there almost every weekend.  I drive a white Chevy Silverado with a pop top camper and am usually at the base of Stately late afternoons going for a swim.  Always open to communication.......

I don't know... instead of single-handedly waging a bolt war by going up there replacing the bolts each weekend, perhaps each weekend you could just cut the tat off the trees, re-cairn the descent, and educate parties in the parking lot about how to properly walk down from Stately Pleasure Dome. It'd be a win-win for the trees, traditionalists, and noobs alike. You could be a legend.

Hobo Greg · · My Van · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 175
rgold wrote:

So Greg, the first question would be is there anything you would consider over the line?  Because your "I have no answers...ethics are mine alone...does it really fucking matter...," taken at face value, say that absolutely anything goes.  Anything!  Are you really ok with that?



As usual you make a lot of well thought out points. I’m against things that harm the environment, and I don’t think bolting is one of those things. I’m not for the convenience anchors, I do the daff walkoff, but I also recognize, for a sport that is mostly contrived, that having staunch ethics that you try and impress upon others, when people could be hurt or killed, seems a little silly. Maybe I just haven’t been involved in the game for long enough to see it another way.
Mobes Mobesely · · MDI · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 865
Josh Janes wrote:

I don't know... instead of single-handedly waging a bolt war by going up there replacing the bolts each weekend, perhaps each weekend you could just cut the tat off the trees, re-cairn the descent, and educate parties in the parking lot about how to properly walk down from Stately Pleasure Dome. It'd be a win-win for the trees, traditionalists, and noobs alike. You could be a legend.

Like you don't clip and rap off bolts daily. Stop.please.

Josh Janes · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2001 · Points: 8,910

Mobes, you missed the point if you think I'm complaining about bolts. Honestly, I don't mind these anchors. It saddens me that they're needed, but ultimately I think it was a fine call to install them. And I think the OP installing them unilaterally was fine too. Of course, I wish more of an attempt at education first would have been made (maybe by updating the SPD area page, the route pages, and the guidebooks, with explicit instructions on how to get down. And maybe by starting a thread on how to walk down and thus mitigate the damage to the trees) - but maybe I missed that part. If the trees, after all of that, were still seeing damage, then by all means, do what is necessary to preserve them.

If there's anything that gives me pause it was not that the bolts were installed but that the OP posted about it - and especially the antagonistic post script about going up and replacing them if anyone chops them - as if that, or the positive feedback he's received, is going to stop some wacko bolt chopper. More likely, posting about it will only hasten the deed and reduce the time before they get chopped. IMO, the very best outcome we can hope for from this entire thread is that some noob will read it and elect to walk off instead of rapping. Anyway, the point of my post was not anti-bolt, but rather (a rather poor attempt at) humor.

Mobes Mobesely · · MDI · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 865
Josh Janes wrote: Mobes, you missed the point if you think I'm complaining about bolts. Honestly, I don't mind these anchors. It saddens me that they're needed, but ultimately I think it was a fine call to install them. And I think the OP installing them unilaterally was fine too. Of course, I wish more of an attempt at education first would have been made (maybe by updating the SPD area page, the route pages, and the guidebooks, with explicit instructions on how to get down. And maybe by starting a thread on how to walk down and thus mitigate the damage to the trees) - but maybe I missed that part. If the trees, after all of that, were still seeing damage, then by all means, do what is necessary to preserve them.

If there's anything that gives me pause it was not that the bolts were installed but that the OP posted about it - and especially the antagonistic post script about going up and replacing them if anyone chops them - as if that, or the positive feedback he's received, is going to stop some wacko bolt chopper. More likely, posting about it will only hasten the deed and reduce the time before they get chopped. IMO, the very best outcome we can hope for from this entire thread is that some noob will read it and elect to walk off instead of rapping. Anyway, the point of my post was not anti-bolt, but rather (a rather poor attempt at) humor.

Sounded a bit preachy to me, that's the internet for you eh?

Mobes Mobesely · · MDI · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 865

Living in the bolt hating capital of the world for years will take the humor out of this discussion quick. I'd go farther than the OP and threaten even more bolts in more special "trad" spots personally.

Josh Janes · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2001 · Points: 8,910
Mobes Mobesely wrote: Living in the bolt hating capital of the world for years will take the humor out of this discussion quick. I'd go farther than the OP and threaten even more bolts in more special "trad" spots personally.

Ha! I don't know, I think you still got it!

ToDoubleD Whitney · · Aptos, CA · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 30

Just some thoughts from a mediocre climber. I followed a very experienced friend up South Crack. He showed me the rap station and told me he was gonna walk down, but if I really wanted I could rap. Looking at the damaged tree I didn’t want to contribute to that, but had also never walked down something that steep. If he hadn’t been there I would’ve rapped, but figured “fuck it. If he can I can.” I’m glad I did. Both for the sake of the tree and for my own benefit, not to mention the jokes he’d be making at my expense... Anyway, the bolts seem like a good idea to me to mitigate the damage to the tree. I’m sure there will be plenty of people that wouldn’t walk down and just use the tree until it’s dead. Face it. Public lands are public and the trouble with that is you have no control over other people’s actions. I’ll never use the rap station, but many will. 

Degaine · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2007 · Points: 0

I'm confused, people actually rap off Stately Pleasure Dome?

phylp · · Upland · Joined May 2015 · Points: 617

Seeing someone like John Wilder saying the descent was terrifying, seeing someone else say they have never walked down something something that steep in their lives, makes me think people are not doing the descent I always do.
We’re talking about the line indicted in the topo, right?

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,535
phylp wrote: Seeing someone like John Wilder saying the descent was terrifying, seeing someone else say they have never walked down something something that steep in their lives, makes me think people are not doing the descent I always do.
We’re talking about the line indicted in the topo, right?

Yup, that's the line we took. My wife still laughs when we talk about that descent. She thinks it's a stroll, but I'm like, no way I'm walking down that. I will say the roles are often reversed in red rock- she thinks alot of the descents here are terrifying and I'm just bounding along thinking nothing of it. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Northern California
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