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Documenting is Developing

Original Post
Frank Black · · Yonkers, NY · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 843

Most climbers have an innate understanding that bolting should be done thoughtfully. You can't un-drill a hole.

It's a somewhat smaller group of climbers that understands how posting a new area to Mountain Project has a much bigger impact than placing a bolt.

I'm a big fan of this site - I think it provides an unmatched service to the climbing community. I've added my fair share of routes - to areas where climbing is an explicitly permitted activity. I'll continue to do so. But I think more could be done to increase awareness that the impact of posting often far outweighs that of drilling.

PWZ · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 0

Accusations of gatekeeping, whimpers about "the community deserves to know", routes probably aren't even safely bolted enough. 

Noah Betz · · Beattyville, KY · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 26

I’ll go farther- telling anyone is developing. Every person you let in on a “super secret crag” who “totally won’t tell anyone” has a chance of letting it slip. The more people in the know, well it just becomes a numbers game at that point. I think it speaks more to the temporal nature of life- rock faces are extremely easy to find with publicly available, free GIS data. Best to enjoy the tranquility while you can, because your really cool secret crag coords will leak, I guarantee it. 

Kevin DeWeese · · @failfalling - Oakland, Ca · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 981
Frank Black wrote:

Most climbers have an innate understanding that bolting should be done thoughtfully. You can't un-drill a hole.

It's a somewhat smaller group of climbers that understands how posting a new area to Mountain Project has a much bigger impact than placing a bolt.

I'm a big fan of this site - I think it provides an unmatched service to the climbing community. I've added my fair share of routes - to areas where climbing is an explicitly permitted activity. I'll continue to do so. But I think more could be done to increase awareness that the impact of posting often far outweighs that of drilling.

I don't think that the intended audience would be open to said perspective. 

ilya f · · santa rosa, california · Joined Jan 2021 · Points: 0

existing is developing

Tal M · · Denver, CO · Joined Dec 2018 · Points: 1,524

I disagree with the responsibility to post routes, at least immediately, for a number of reasons - some objective and some subjective.

For subjective reasons: The community that relies heavily on MP for all of their information on climbing largely sucks. It just does. There's so many sources of information out there and solely relying on MP shows a lack of natural curiosity and passion for an area - or a lack of experience and lack of knowledge about what other resources exist out there. The former is often going to tend towards more highly trafficked climbs, as is the latter - both of which are the most susceptible to risk associated with new and/or low trafficked areas. 

Beyond the risk, it's pretty fucking annoying as a developer to have folks come on here and complain and nitpick about everything about a new route. There's just a general ignorance about what goes on with development as well as what risks and expectations should exist around new areas in the modern climbing community. How many folks go to the crag with a wrench in their bag, much less a brush for cleaning things up? I'm not advocating for FAs leaving routes in a dogshit state and passing the buck to some other sucker to clean it - but I am super aware of the fact that developers will often have blind spots about exactly what needs to be cleaned on a route and what might be an inconsequential hold they couldn't imagine using to them might be a critical hold to you. You see time and time again on MP where people will comment complaining about that hold not being cleaned by the FA instead of just brushing it themselves. Or the lack of understanding that low-traffic routes are likely to have dirt and lichen and grunge accumulate on them again, or freeze-thaw cycles to loosen up holds that weren't previously loose. Keeping things close to the vest make it so you can ensure only folks aware of those risks/detriments are climbing there, and that anybody who finds it on their own doesn't know to direct their complaints to you.

For objective reasons: In addition to the above, there's also the idea that if development is still happening, it's logistically easier and much safer to keep developing without folks potentially hanging out underneath you. Potential access concerns due to folks treating the area poorly are reduced. Climbs have more consistent development standards (e.g. you don't have someone come doing a 2 bolt route where you normally would put in 6 or vice versa - consistent risk and safety, consistent fixed hardware materials and camo, consistent anchor set ups). You can set up sustainable trail systems before they get too much traffic, staging areas, etc.

In general, I think there's a very good reason why places like Staunton will let typically open a crag for development before they open an official trail to it or publish any of the information for it - it's a great idea. I do think documentation of development is important, but personally I wish that was happening through small, local guidebooks more often and that they're generally just available at local shops. That's the path that I'm taking as it feels like the best mix of making sure folks can enjoy the area and that all of the work isn't wasted, while also keeping it away from the lowest common denominator climber until the area has had enough traffic to be a fit for them.

Cherokee Nunes · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2015 · Points: 0

Documenting is not developing. Documenting is an invitation; to the world, in the case of MP.

bryans · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 442
Tal M wrote:

I disagree with the responsibility to post routes, at least immediately, for a number of reasons - some objective and some subjective.

For subjective reasons: The community that relies heavily on MP for all of their information on climbing largely sucks. It just does. There's so many sources of information out there and solely relying on MP shows a lack of natural curiosity and passion for an area - or a lack of experience and lack of knowledge about what other resources exist out there. The former is often going to tend towards more highly trafficked climbs, as is the latter - both of which are the most susceptible to risk associated with new and/or low trafficked areas. 

Beyond the risk, it's pretty fucking annoying as a developer to have folks come on here and complain and nitpick about everything about a new route. There's just a general ignorance about what goes on with development as well as what risks and expectations should exist around new areas in the modern climbing community. How many folks go to the crag with a wrench in their bag, much less a brush for cleaning things up? I'm not advocating for FAs leaving routes in a dogshit state and passing the buck to some other sucker to clean it - but I am super aware of the fact that developers will often have blind spots about exactly what needs to be cleaned on a route and what might be an inconsequential hold they couldn't imagine using to them might be a critical hold to you. You see time and time again on MP where people will comment complaining about that hold not being cleaned by the FA instead of just brushing it themselves. Or the lack of understanding that low-traffic routes are likely to have dirt and lichen and grunge accumulate on them again, or freeze-thaw cycles to loosen up holds that weren't previously loose. Keeping things close to the vest make it so you can ensure only folks aware of those risks/detriments are climbing there, and that anybody who finds it on their own doesn't know to direct their complaints to you.

For objective reasons: In addition to the above, there's also the idea that if development is still happening, it's logistically easier and much safer to keep developing without folks potentially hanging out underneath you. Potential access concerns due to folks treating the area poorly are reduced. Climbs have more consistent development standards (e.g. you don't have someone come doing a 2 bolt route where you normally would put in 6 or vice versa - consistent risk and safety, consistent fixed hardware materials and camo, consistent anchor set ups). You can set up sustainable trail systems before they get too much traffic, staging areas, etc.

In general, I think there's a very good reason why places like Staunton will let typically open a crag for development before they open an official trail to it or publish any of the information for it - it's a great idea. I do think documentation of development is important, but personally I wish that was happening through small, local guidebooks more often and that they're generally just available at local shops. That's the path that I'm taking as it feels like the best mix of making sure folks can enjoy the area and that all of the work isn't wasted, while also keeping it away from the lowest common denominator climber until the area has had enough traffic to be a fit for them.

Make way, developer coming through! :) Just referencing your past comments in other threads where you mock developers for always announcing themselves as such. (I do it too, btw)

"The community" should consider any route posted on MP a bonus. It's that simple. You get what you pay for. If MP doesn't do a great job for your local area, buy the guide(s). If you go on a road trip, rely on MP at your peril or else buy the guide(s). And remember that you are in charge of keeping yourself safe. If a route looks loose, dirty, rarely done, act accordingly. It's ok to back off or bail or take a hard pass and move on to another. What you choose not to climb is an unsung part of being a climber in it for the long haul, and not just the send.

Natalie Blackburn · · Oakland, CA · Joined Aug 2021 · Points: 148
Tal M wrote:

For objective reasons: In addition to the above, there's also the idea that if development is still happening, it's logistically easier and much safer to keep developing without folks potentially hanging out underneath you. Potential access concerns due to folks treating the area poorly are reduced. Climbs have more consistent development standards (e.g. you don't have someone come doing a 2 bolt route where you normally would put in 6 or vice versa - consistent risk and safety, consistent fixed hardware materials and camo, consistent anchor set ups). You can set up sustainable trail systems before they get too much traffic, staging areas, etc.

This is the biggest part to me. Having consistency throughout a crag is nice. I means there aren't likely to be surprise runouts or other weirdness for folks showing up for the first time. The quality is all the same, etc.

Frank Black · · Yonkers, NY · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 843
Kevin DeWeese wrote:

I don't think that the intended audience would be open to said perspective. 

I mostly agree, but I think there's a subset that might be receptive.

ilya f wrote:

existing is developing

Fair enough, so let me try to push this from vague and theoretical to something actionable - I can't buy a pair of socks online without checking a box that I'm 100% really and completely sure about it - shouldn't this site have some sort of boilerplate language, upon adding an area, to make sure that the contributor has considered the impact their addition could have?

PWZ · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 0
Natalie Blackburn wrote:

This is the biggest part to me. Having consistency throughout a crag is nice. I means there aren't likely to be surprise runouts or other weirdness for folks showing up for the first time. The quality is all the same, etc.

Sounds...bland

Petsfed 00 · · Snohomish, WA · Joined Mar 2002 · Points: 989
Cherokee Nunes wrote:

Documenting is not developing. Documenting is an invitation; to the world, in the case of MP.

This is closer to my sense of it.

Documenting it is (as others have said) an end to the (hopefully benevolent) dictatorship of the developers. If they haven't built a trail, or finalized the descent path, this can be disastrous to the crag.

It should be viewed as the very last step of development. So make sure you don't throw the meat on the bun until the person on the grill says it's ready. You might not like what you get.

Natalie Blackburn · · Oakland, CA · Joined Aug 2021 · Points: 148
PWZ wrote:

Sounds...bland

I mean, that's basically what you expect at a modern sport crag though, right? No big surprises? If you want not that, I'd suggest you go trad climbing, or do some alpine suff.

PWZ · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 0
Natalie Blackburn wrote:

I mean, that's basically what you expect at a modern sport crag though, right? No big surprises? If you want not that, I'd suggest you go trad climbing, or do some alpine suff.

Was this sport climbing specific? 

Nathan Sullivan · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Sep 2018 · Points: 0
PWZ wrote:

Accusations of gatekeeping, whimpers about "the community deserves to know", routes probably aren't even safely bolted enough. 

This mentality is the definition of gatekeeping.

I go to well documented crags all the time. They are not crowded, unless it's Eldo or something, but even then you can find something to climb since there is so much. I do not understand the reasoning behind the anti-documenting thing. Maybe don't document things on private land or with other access issues, but otherwise "information wants to be free" so climbers are gonna climb.

That said, leaving an in-development area undocumented makes sense, since it just isn't ready yet.

philip bone · · sonora · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 0

Wow! Weird; Yosemite is not fully developed yet.

PWZ · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 0
Nathan Sullivan wrote:

This mentality is the definition of gatekeeping.

And? 

Tal M · · Denver, CO · Joined Dec 2018 · Points: 1,524
philip bone wrote:

Wow! Weird; Yosemite is not fully developed yet.

Yosemite also isn’t a crag - I can’t think of a single largely developed area on the whole that doesn’t have documentation via a local guidebook, MP, or something else. Just because you can’t find a copy on Amazon or something doesn’t mean the local scene isn’t highly tuned into it.

Benton Hodges · · Jackson, WY · Joined Jul 2018 · Points: 645
Nathan Sullivan wrote:

Maybe don't document things on private land or with other access issues...

What about just not climbing or bolting on private land without permission/land with access issues? Not every rock face and cliff band needs to be ascended and claimed as an FA.

Nathan Sullivan · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Sep 2018 · Points: 0
Benton Hodges wrote:

What about just not climbing or bolting on private land without permission/land with access issues? Not every rock face and cliff band needs to be ascended and claimed as an FA.

Well, yeah, that too.

Will C · · AZ · Joined May 2021 · Points: 43
PWZ wrote:

And? 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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