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An Open Letter to Dan Briley
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Nov 25, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: beck on limestone
Dan Briley's un-edited private message to me: 11/22/2015 9:06 PM

The following message was sent from Mountain Project user DesertDan to Thomas Beck using the MP "Contact User" feature.
-------------------------
Hello Thomas!

It's been awhile since we last spoke and I hope all is well with you.

Russ said he recently met with you to discuss new bolts showing up at Keyhole and I also saw that you posted bolts missing on White Dream Slab. Bolt removal is part of the continuing effort to clean up Keyhole. Please know that this is done without animosity and we're all bummed that we didn't run into each other when you first came out. Maybe we could've avoided this whole scenario.

You're not the only one who has gotten shit for bolting at Keyhole. It's not personal, just upholding the standards that keep Keyhole, Keyhole. Several members of Team Keyhole have felt that same scrutiny at one time or another and have had to remove their own bolts, including me.

We find pulling bolts to be distasteful and don't like doing it but rap bolting or bolting by gear placements at Keyhole is more distasteful and adding bolts to existing climbs is the most distasteful. So, when faced with a choice among these three, the first option is the one we go with.

I'd be happy to make sure that you get all the hardware collected if you join us in the cleanup effort and they of course go to you if you pull them first. If not, collected hardware will be donated to people replacing old/bad bolts on routes in Red Rock and beyond.

All of the routes on the South Front Slabs were existing long before the bolts were added, so those bolts had to be removed. Climbers have been setting top ropes up from the ledge where the chains were added since before the 70s so those had to go, but the TRs can still be set up. All a person needs is a rope and a rack.

Most of the climbs at White Dream were existing as well so those are in the process of removal. There are some bolts that are not on a known route. They look rapped in, but if they were established on lead then there's no reason for us to do anything with them. Without more info, we have to make our best guess on which climbs were rap bolted.

You clearly care for Keyhole and have spent so much time and energy there. Again, this is not personal, and I wish we would've met earlier.

Speaking of time and energy, I made it out to the Highlands wall and saw all of the work that you've put into there. That's an awesome dike and the area has tremendous potential. I'm working on a guidebook for Keyhole and surrounding crags, including the Highlands. I know you put routes up there and would like to include your climbs in our book. I would appreciate any information that you could share on this area, climbs, rating, dates, FA party, etc. For the record, only Keyhole and Knob Hill are held to the Keyhole standard and ethics, so please don't feel like this would lead to the pulling of your bolts. The purpose for asking is for posterity, to record history, and to share this great place with other climbers.

On anther note, I saw that you posted the Universal Wall and that you're still working on the page. I did a couple climbs there a long while ago and would like to post them. Do you have a plan to post areas besides Sesame Street on the wall? There weren't any other established climbs on the wall when we climbed there so I don't know what the other areas are called. We climbed the gray swath between the rotten looking white roofs on the left half of the wall. If this needs to go in a specific area, please let me know. If not I'll just put them up on the main Universal Wall page.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and hope that we can have some future conversations. It would be nice to move forward amicably. If not, C'est la vie! Tomorrow we climb!

Dan Briley
-------------------------
An Open Letter to Dan Briley

In response to your latest message, which took a morally superior and condescending tone demanding contrition, Dan, I am afraid you will have to be disappointed. At best, we can agree to disagree.

With an active climbing career spanning 45 years, there is nothing, I feel I need to justify to you.

Late 1970's, I began new routing and some of my lines are in guidebooks; I never sought the limelight. I was there, climbing, in Yosemite, Taquitz and Joshua Tree during the bolt wars and have friendships with climbers on both sides of the conflicts.

Now, I have neither the time, energy or interest in another bolt war or endless debate about style and ethics. It's likely this posting will stir up a shit storm. However, what was done by you, Dan Briley at Keyhole Canyon was and is wrong and unjustifiable.

Don't misunderstand me, I am not personally attacking you; only your actions and proposed actions in this singular particular instance. I think integrity, style and ethics are important, cause my training is old school. Climbers should never cease to revisit these issues. And we, as a climbing community, should never forget or rewrite our common history as we move forward on the shoulder's of our predecessors. But I believe, we should also recognize our sport or avocation or art is constantly evolving and embrace that evolution.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Dan Briley has committed an egregious act against the climbing community. Focused on a small and trivial area of sport development at an obscure crag, he has removed easy access to documented beginner climbs. He has knowingly and deliberately destroyed established easier routes and created an environment where a less experienced climber could find themselves committed beyond their ability.

Now, as you see in his message to me, he intends to continue to destroy access to established and documented 5.7 and 5.8 multi-pitch routes and partially completed projects. Furthermore his threatened actions, if carried out, as he has already begun to do, have the potential to create a much more serious climbing environment and could result in a much more serious injuries for an unprepared climbing party.

The Keyhole slabs have zero or minimal foot access and were newby user friendly. The routes at the White Dream Area are an easy short approach. Now the potential exists for a beginning climber who has previously climbed these routes or read the descriptions but not the comments to go there and find themselves on an erstwhile sport crag or multi-pitch mixed line, suddenly led out with only down-climbing as an exit option.

This might not be too serious on a 90 ft. crag with some scrambling down-climbing descent on either side. However 90 ft up over an overhang or 2 pitches up around a corner where you can't see the belay and you find Dan Briley has removed the bolted belay anchor??? that is more serious.

This is why I need to speak out publicly.

Here is a link to one thread:
mountainproject.com/v/the-keyh...

You'll see that people come down of various sides of the issue. I am far from suggesting the ground up ethic should be discarded and rap bolting, top down or sport climbing rules become an acceptable new standard at the Keyhole. If you search the term retro-bolt on MP or Supertopo there are many pages of discussion.

What I am pointing out, concerning only these 5 easy routes (made for wet behind the ears climbers), regardless of your ethics, is a now potentially dangerous zone has been created for inexperienced climbers. Now Dan wants to repeat his actions on three easy mixed multi-pitch climbs at White Dream area.

Back in 2012 Dan Briley (Desert Dan on MP) removed all the fixed protection and chain anchors from Charlotte's Web, Red Shoes, I Did It My Way (a top rope route), Born Talking, Shoshone Tears. Dan Briley did contact me privately at that time, accusing me of rap bolting and demanding I defend my actions. I told him he had no idea what I could bolt on lead and I had no intention of submitting to his inquisition. Subsequently, in August, the hottest month of the year in Southern Nevada, Dan removed the bolts on these five sport lines.. Dan did return my hangers and studs from the 5 part Rawls to me by dropping them off at Desert Rock Sport, Las Vegas. Though I did not condone his actions, I was willing to let the matter lie. From witness experience I know how these things play out.

When confronted by the climbing community on Mountain Project Dan Briley changed his reasoning, his story and deleted his posts several times. Even now, his attempts to rewrite history have not gone unnoticed.

Subsequently on Mountain Project, Dan Briley has written of some concerns. He objected to the Las Vegas Climber Meetup members congregating below 5 adjacent easy climbs. First off, in terms of visitor impact....the place is not so easy to find and you can tear up your car getting there. But if you have interest there's minimal information in 2 guidebooks and the government prints several brochures and has data on government websites to get you to Keyhole.
Those front slabs are outside and away from the fencing erected by the BLM; you don't drive off established roads to get there and the approach is “belay of the bumper” short. Because of the topography you could enter the canyon proper and never realize a group of climbers were nearby...unless they were very noisy. The area has no petroglyphs, unlike some of the bolted lines inside the canyon. The damage on those slabs is spalling from bullets and evidence of some core drilling.
Trash, fire rings and crushed vegetation at the Keyhole is ubiquitous and it's impact varies from year to year.

Most climbers would agree, one of worst ethical sins is to bolt over somebody's established route. So I was bothered and questioned myself when Dan Briley accused me of bolting over established top-ropes. Apparently he assumed I would not undertake due diligence. I had already looked at the terrain, searching for old pin scars, evidence of scuffing, flake break back, lichen removal, lack of exfoliation...anything which would indicate a prior ascent; nothing. If you do a directed search for Keyhole climbs there are no search results prior to 2007. If you do a casual search nothing shows prior to descriptions and photos going up on Mountain Project.

Those sport climbs Dan took the bolts off of were established several years before I posted on MP. Claiming “everyone” knew this was a top rope area or claiming you soloed something after the fact is like blaming someone for stealing your flat screen TV cause “everyone knew when you left your front door wide open while grocery shopping” your stuff was to be left alone.
If you don't document it somewhere public it certainly doesn't exist in today's culture and that practice of documenting first ascents, even top rope routes, has been respected in every climbing area for more years than I can count back to. However if you don't document it where it can be found, then you risk someone going over your work.

In 2004 or 2005 I got curious enough to find my way into the Keyhole.
We walked back to check things out and saw several nice lines, those north facing dihedrals and found some bolts. It was pretty cold and shady inside; we came back out and I led a 3 bolt wonder where a climber had just spray painted the rock to camouflage his hangers. If he knew anything about the Keyhole, guess he didn't like our flavor because he didn't spend any time with us.

After that my partner and I began to look at the slabs to the south. I led an easy 5.6 crack and found a piece of static line around an erratic on top. That's when the potential of this very small area became apparent. It's completely separate and isolated from the harder, more serious routes and bouldering inside the canyon. It's really a great beginner area, a great instruction area, a good spot to take your family and friends, church group or the boy scouts. There was little chance of a proliferated grid bolted wall because the terrain sloped to low angle on both perimeters and there we established lines with rusty old Leepers left and right. With the exception of Charlotte's Web (a mixed line) and Red Shoes (which crosses some horizontals and one potential placement higher) none of these five removed routes touched or came near a protect-able crack; if you touched a crack you are off route.

With friends from Las Vegas Climbing and Bouldering Meet Up, I began to develop the routes Dan removed. As Dan admits, the terrain nowhere is more difficult than 5.8. At the time, none of these climbers owned a rack of wires and cams and none could climb more than 5.9 on a good day. That was the caliber of the protection.

While developing, we were there many weekends and some weekdays during the season for two years. Then we climbed there during the season on and off for the next 3 years. These routes didn't just become routes in a few days. They were developed slowly. Other parties were in that area occasionally, invited to lead or follow the lines and uniform consensus was the development was good. I never saw Dan Briley or any of his colleagues there that introduced themselves to me. He has never seen me bolt so he doesn't know what I can stance from.

But that is not really my point. The point is Dan Briley has created a dangerous condition, destroyed beginning climber access and is immune to reasoning on the issue in the manner of any Luke 4:5...i.e. “Who is God going to hate today?”

Now, as he has stated, he intends to remove bolts on established multi-pitch routes which he determines are rap bolted. These routes at the White Dream area were done ground up. I've found it is just not possible to reason with someone who embraces and justifies destruction for righteousness.

What's gonna happen? It is easier to destroy than create.

All I ask is Dan Briley (Desert Dan) take responsibility for his actions and post his name, address, email and phone number and the contact addresses, names and phone numbers of Team Keyhole on his Mountain Project profile so any motivated liability attorney will be able to find him.
Thomas Beck
From Las Vegas, Nevada
Joined Feb 5, 2006
1,048 points
Nov 25, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: beck on limestone
This posting is duplicated in the Keyhole Canyon comments section. Thomas Beck
From Las Vegas, Nevada
Joined Feb 5, 2006
1,048 points
Nov 26, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Scenting Beaver Tail
Hello Thomas!

Happy Thanksgiving! Thanks for getting back to me.

I guess we will have to agree to disagree. When I see things like a bolt going in next to an existing piton (like what happened on Gracie Slick Roof), or existing bolts (like at White Dream Slab), or next to cracks and other places where natural gear could have been used instead, or not talking to a single local first, I don't see that as taking due diligence.

Beginners aren't catered to in any other area that focuses on trad climbing. Why should Keyhole be any different? Keyhole has many routes that are as beginner-friendly as those of the Romper Room Wall at Red Rocks. Generations of climbers have successfully started out at Keyhole with no climbing knowledge, myself included. If people are getting sandbagged out there, then the route descriptions need to be updated. I added conditions reports to many of them already.

The main Keyhole page on MP explains the climbing flavor out there pretty clearly. I'm not alone in following the local ethics, I just happen to be the person who reached out to you first.

I genuinely apologize if you took my letter to sound morally superior or condescending. As I stated before, I appreciate that you've put so much time and energy into the area. It's just unfortunate that those efforts were mostly put in over the top of existing climbs.

If you change your mind about sharing info on the Highlands routes, I'd still love to include that in the upcoming guidebook. Also, let me know about your preferences for those Universal Wall climbs I mentioned.

Glad to hear those other routes I asked about were established on lead. That'll save some work.

Thanks!

Dan Briley
DesertDan
From Arvada, Co
Joined Apr 23, 2012
2,191 points
Nov 27, 2015
"I genuinely apologize if you took my letter to sound morally superior or condescending.

Glad to hear those other routes I asked about were established on lead. That'll save some work. Thanks! Dan Briley"
Because you're morally obligated to rip hardware out if the person who placed it wasn't risking a 20 foot whipper to do so? Maybe you and I have different definitions for condescending.

One person in this thread is upset at another for making climbs safer and more accessible.
Jer
Joined Aug 31, 2015
56 points
Nov 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: girl40
Jer wrote:
One person in this thread is upset at another for making climbs safer and more accessible.


I'd say from what I just read above that one person is upset at another for retrobolting and bolting next to cracks.
Healyje
From PDX
Joined Jan 31, 2006
226 points
Nov 27, 2015
Healyje wrote:
I'd say from what I just read above that one person is upset at another for retrobolting and bolting next to cracks.


And for taking down bolts that weren't put up on lead.

For sure, there should be no bolts next to places for clean pro.

But chopping bolts for not putting them up on lead? That's an entirely different discussion.
Eric Thompson
From Mountlake Terrace wa
Joined Mar 19, 2012
29 points
Nov 27, 2015
Eric Thompson wrote:
And for taking down bolts that weren't put up on lead. For sure, there should be no bolts next to places for clean pro. But chopping bolts for not putting them up on lead? That's an entirely different discussion.

As long as they weren't put up while using a grigri....
Matt Wilson
From Vermont, USA
Joined May 15, 2010
261 points
Nov 27, 2015
Healyje wrote:
I'd say from what I just read above that one person is upset at another for retrobolting and bolting next to cracks.

Retrobolting is a pretty retarded thing to get upset over. People have different ability levels which means we have different needs for protection. Just because Lynn Hill or some other badass was able to climb some 5.8 without bolts doesn't mean anything to me. I just want to have fun and be safe.
Jer
Joined Aug 31, 2015
56 points
Administrator
Nov 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Mastigouche
Jer wrote:
Retrobolting is a pretty retarded thing to get upset over. People have different ability levels which means we have different needs for protection. Just because Lynn Hill or some other badass was able to climb some 5.8 without bolts doesn't mean anything to me. I just want to have fun and be safe.


Retro-Bolting mixed or trad lines is dumbing down climbing to the lowest denominator. There's a question of keeping an heritage for future generations.
Luc
From Montreal, Quebec
Joined Nov 27, 2006
8,841 points
Nov 27, 2015
I'm under the impression that it was adding bolts to poorly protected routes. This is the purpose of bolts imo. Could you be specific about something in the heritage that couldn't be preserved in print or video? Jer
Joined Aug 31, 2015
56 points
Nov 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: 1
Jer wrote:
Retrobolting is a pretty retarded thing to get upset over. People have different ability levels which means we have different needs for protection. Just because Lynn Hill or some other badass was able to climb some 5.8 without bolts doesn't mean anything to me. I just want to have fun and be safe.

If you just wanna have fun and be safe that is fine, Stay inside, only top rope what you can down climb, or take up some other form of recreation.

some people want more out of the experience.
Michael Schneider
Joined Apr 24, 2014
500 points
Nov 27, 2015
Michael Schneider wrote:
If you just wanna have fun and be safe that is fine, Stay inside, only top rope what you can down climb, or take up some other form of recreation. some people want more out of the experience.

Could you be specific as to how bolting poorly protected routes takes away from your experience? Skip the bolt if you want to risk injury?
Jer
Joined Aug 31, 2015
56 points
Nov 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Cold day at Smug's
I know, right? Different people have different abilities. I can't climb that 5.12 I really want to do, so we should just chip in an extra hold to get me past the crux. After all, that's what holds are for. You can skip it if you think it will detract from your experience. csproul
From Davis, CA
Joined Dec 3, 2009
355 points
Nov 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: 1
csproul
2 hours ago
Rock Climbing (Photo: Cold day at Smug's!)
I know, right? Different people have different abilities. I can't climb that 5.12 I really want to do, so we should just chip in an extra hold to get me past the crux. After all, that's what holds are for. You can skip it if you think it will detract from your experience

??? cSproul You Devil !,

that was sarcasm - and this 'jer' may not get that.
After all, he sees it as black and white - just don't clip them boltz,
Nothing is taken away from your experience then ? Right?

where you and I first learned the 1st rule of climbing is; Do not Fall,
(Don't let go, you will fall. came latter when learning to lead)
Michael Schneider
Joined Apr 24, 2014
500 points
Nov 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: 1
Jer wrote:
Could you be specific as to how bolting poorly protected routes takes away from your experience? Skip the bolt if you want to risk injury?

sure, Im willing bro,
Let me try to explain how the learning experience is changed by knowing the outcome of an activity.
Changed By supplying a safe out, a way off that is, a given. No risk taken beyond the Physical challenge.




I am ,as usual, having trouble communicating...

To understand that climbing follows a learning curve,
and that to gain from every experience is what makes up the curve...

That seems like a place to start.

Learning to climb safely should include the ability to see more than a line of boltz.

The boltz detract by protecting & showing WHERE to go.

Can You Imagine how it feels - Going climbing by finding a Cliff.
Heading off to go to see if you can climb It ? NO Guide Book. NO Information at all ?

If every crack and slab gets bolted to ensure a safe trip up and down,
Many of us who have climbed for decades Know what will be lost.


There are now bolted Anchors all over the place, a nod to the fact that Modern ways;
Retro-Bolting and ultimate Beta; hand held guides that show holds, updated comments on web sites and the like, are here and not going to go away.

For me, personally I love the easy outs and non-commitment, that a string of well meaning and perfectly placed bolts provide, & that reduce the risks. Making Top Roping seem like a waste of time.


At this time, when we are all gym climbers, it needs to be re-enforced that Climbing and the skills that are needed to pursue hard more far a-field climbs, are skills that are built up , accumulated over time; years not just 5or 8 but decades and that is what makes Climbing so worthy of (a wasteful) pastime.
Michael Schneider
Joined Apr 24, 2014
500 points
Administrator
Nov 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Mastigouche
Hey, might be an analogy, bolting everything is like playing that new video game only in "Godmode" with no way to play it like it was meant to be.
Pretty boring...
Luc
From Montreal, Quebec
Joined Nov 27, 2006
8,841 points
Nov 27, 2015
Andre H.
From Boulder
Joined Nov 8, 2012
16 points
Nov 27, 2015
Luc wrote:
Hey, might be an analogy, bolting everything is like playing that new video game only in "Godmode" with no way to play it like it was meant to be. Pretty boring...

That doesn't make sense. It's still free climbing so you have to do the moves. Again, I'm not saying I want a bolt latter on a splitter just 1 or 2 in the 20 feet between. There's been no reason given ITT why any 5.8 should have risk of serious injury if someone is willing to buy and install the hardware.
Jer
Joined Aug 31, 2015
56 points
Nov 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: girl40
Jer wrote:
There's been no reason given ITT why any 5.8 should have risk of serious injury if someone is willing to buy and install the hardware.


Hard to say which is sadder, that you think this or that you don't know why it's just so incredibly wrong.
Healyje
From PDX
Joined Jan 31, 2006
226 points
Nov 27, 2015
Healyje wrote:
Hard to say which is sadder, that you think this or that you don't know why it's just so incredibly wrong.

thanks for your contribution. Feel free to repeat the reason for me. or did you just post to inform me that you know something I don't?
Jer
Joined Aug 31, 2015
56 points
Nov 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Toofast
Jer,

Adding fixed protection changes the mental challenge of a route. If a climb has tricky or limited protection, the climber must climb more skillfully to complete it.

Csproul used the analogy that adding bolts to climbs is like chiseling handholds on climbs. For example, let's say that someone chiseled a 5.12 route and turned it into a 5.10. Doing so would change the physical challenge of the route, and I think that someone who has been training hard to do that route might be reasonably upset.

I believe that mentally-challenging routes are just as valuable as physically- challenging routes. In both cases, the climber needs to become stronger and more skilled to complete them.

I like both R-rated routes and PG-rated routes; I also like 5.8 routes and 5.12 routes. Variety is a good thing in my opinion as it has allowed me to have a lot of routes to choose from as I have progressed as a climber.

Some of my best experiences as a climber have been the result of setting a goal to do a climb that I felt would be particularly demanding (mentally or physically), training for it, attempting it, and ultimately succeeding.
Geir
From Tucson, AZ
Joined Jun 7, 2006
3,358 points
Nov 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Cold day at Smug's
Jer wrote:
thanks for your contribution. Feel free to repeat the reason for me. or did you just post to inform me that you know something I don't?

Are you trolling or do you really not understand the appeal involved in taking what protection comes to you whether it is enough to keep you safe or not? Do you really not understand the mental challenge that comes with runnout climbing? And that the "just don't clip it" argument amounts to having a failsafe that completely removes the commitment of that challenge?

Not all climbs should be this way, and (relatively) safe climbs and sport climbs are fun too and make it more reasonable for people to push their climbing skills. But there is a place for natural climbs as well even if they are not completely safe. If you can't see that, I feel sorry for you as you're missing out on a large part of what makes climbing what it is for many people.

Or maybe you do get it and are just trolling...who knows.
csproul
From Davis, CA
Joined Dec 3, 2009
355 points
Nov 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Nearing the end of Thank God Ledge.
Jer wrote:
Could you be specific as to how bolting poorly protected routes takes away from your experience? Skip the bolt if you want to risk injury?



Maybe the most pathetic post I've ever read on MP.
Jeff G.
From Fort Collins
Joined Feb 26, 2006
1,022 points
Nov 27, 2015
Geir wrote:
Jer, Adding fixed protection changes the mental challenge of a route. If a climb has tricky or limited protection, the climber must climb more skillfully to complete it. Csproul used the analogy that adding bolts to climbs is like chiseling handholds on climbs. For example, let's say that someone chiseled a 5.12 route and turned it into a 5.10. Doing so would change the physical challenge of the route, and I think that someone who has been training hard to do that route might be reasonably upset.

I disagree with the analogy because we're talking about safety. I don't see why I should care about your mental challenge more than the safety of the public. you can't train to not hit the ground on an unprotected fall like you can train to do harder moves.
Jer
Joined Aug 31, 2015
56 points
Nov 27, 2015
Jeff G. wrote:
Maybe the most pathetic post I've ever read on MP.

Well, that convinces me...
Jer
Joined Aug 31, 2015
56 points
Nov 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Cold day at Smug's
Jer wrote:
I disagree with the analogy because we're talking about safety. I don't see why I should care about your mental challenge more than the safety of the public. you can't train to not hit the ground on an unprotected fall like you can train to do harder moves.

Sure you can. Train to climb hard enough that you simply are unlikely to fall when you can't afford to. Train your mind to keep calm and climb to best of you ability even when the fear creeps up on you in the "no fall zone". It's incredibly short sighted of you dismiss the mental challenge that so many people find appealing just because you don't value it. If you want purely physical challenge, stick to sport climbing venues (from the look of your profile, it seems that what you mostly do anyway). But don't assume that others don't enjoy the risk management that comes with more natural climbing.

The "public" has no obligation to climb more risky routes, or to climb at all for that matter.
csproul
From Davis, CA
Joined Dec 3, 2009
355 points


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