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Unsorted Routes:

Unrelenting Nines 

YDS: 5.11c/d French: 7a Ewbanks: 24 UIAA: VIII ZA: 25 British: E4 6a

Type:  Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 50'
Original:  YDS: 5.11c/d French: 7a Ewbanks: 24 UIAA: VIII ZA: 25 British: E4 6a [details]
FA: ???
Page Views: 3,183
Submitted By: Scott Beguin on Nov 9, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (19)
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James digs his fingers in at the top of the laybac...


Start with thin balancy boulder moves up to a bomber jug and then continue up a two sided overhanging finger crack to a good hand ledge. The crack then turns to a single crack that starts with hands and then into strenuous fingers to a powerful lieback directional switch (crux) to more thin fingers out the top. Mega classic!


This is the obvious overhanging splitter on the south end of the wall.


A #4 Camalot for the bottom after the boulder moves, a good selection of stoppers and some small to medium Aliens for the rest. A #2 Camalot is good to protect the hand section before the crux.

Photos of Unrelenting Nines Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Keep your eyes peeled for the Dachshund skeleton g...
Keep your eyes peeled for the Dachshund skeleton g...
Rock Climbing Photo: Chopped bolts at the top of U9s, photo taken 8/1/0...
BETA PHOTO: Chopped bolts at the top of U9s, photo taken 8/1/0...
Rock Climbing Photo: Jason Halladay on the unrelenting part.
Jason Halladay on the unrelenting part.
Rock Climbing Photo: Jason and Allison on Unrelenting Nines.
Jason and Allison on Unrelenting Nines.
Rock Climbing Photo: On lead of U9s with pre-placed gear.
On lead of U9s with pre-placed gear.
Rock Climbing Photo: Marino heading up the Nines on TR.
Marino heading up the Nines on TR.
Rock Climbing Photo: Starting at the Y-shaped feature at the bottom of ...
BETA PHOTO: Starting at the Y-shaped feature at the bottom of ...

Comments on Unrelenting Nines Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Nov 9, 2015
By Brian Quiter
From: Oakland, CA
Aug 13, 2008

As the beta photo shows, there are now 2 bolts atop the crack for anchors and lowering. Thanks 'Mad Bolter'!
By Daniel Trugman
From: La Jolla, CA
Jul 31, 2009
rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c

The anchor bolts have been chopped once again on Unrelenting Nines. It would be nice if the person responsible would step up and voice his or her concerns to the community at large. I think you will find that those in favor of the bolts (which as far as I can tell, is a commanding majority) would have a much greater respect for you and your concerns if you were vocal about them. I have no respect for a person who refuses to defend his or her actions.

These bolts were well below the line of sight of any hiker, and if anything, the remains of your hasty chopping job made the rock even more of an eyesore than before.

You force us to guess about your motives and intentions, which will inevitably lead to misinterpretation.

This climbing community is very much focused on consensus agreements, and we will listen to what you have to say if you give us the chance. The bolts will likely be replaced if you continue to hide in the comfort of anonymity. Please give us the chance to hear what you have to say.

Daniel Trugman
By scotthsu
From: Los Alamos, NM
Jul 31, 2009

I do not know if he is the responsible "bolt-chopper" on this route, but Chuck C. gave a short presentation at the June meeting of the Los Alamos Mountaineers with a plea that is consistent with Sec. E of the 2004 revised Los Alamos Climbing Area agreement, which reads "Anchors should not be placed at the top of climbs that are easily and safely set with traditional gear." For those that missed the presentation, Chuck used several short video clips to show that in each instance multiple traditional gear pieces can be placed within a few feet of anchor bolts in a matter of seconds. With these video clips, Chuck proved that in these cases the community agreement is being violated. Chuck tells me that he has not received any feedback since giving his public presentation.

On this particular route, I cannot recall whether anchors can be "easily and safely set with traditional gear," but (edit: see George's comment below). I think the crux of the matter is whether the "commanding majority" in favor of anchor bolting desires it out of convenience. Chuck's point is that this should not be the reason for anchor bolting. I think the local climbing community ought to grapple with this point so that we can all move beyond this present bolt war. Furthermore, if the community agreement is being violated, there really is no point to having the agreement. We either need to abide by the agreement or come up with a re-wording of the agreement that both sides can accept.
By Daniel Trugman
From: La Jolla, CA
Jul 31, 2009
rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c

My comments were based on Chuck saying that he did not chop these. He has been fairly vocal about his concerns, but did not take responsibility for the recent choppings of BHJ and U9s. I believe him and thus the perpetrator remains anonymous.

It comes down to what your definition of an "easy and safe" gear anchor is. I personally think that we need to call yet another meeting to clarify this ambiguous statement.

I certainly would (and did) climb on the anchor George built last night, but I'll bet some people would not. Anchoring in blocks and boulders is not ideal, and there would be catastrophic consequences if the boulders came loose. To me, tying off trees is no longer an option. I do not wish to contribute to their demise, even if they do make sturdy anchors in some situations.

The bolts also allow those who do not own trad gear to get a taste of White Rock's crack climbing in a top-roping environment. I'm not saying this is valid justification for bolting anchors. It is, however, a consideration that we should keep in mind, particularly those of us who own gear to set an anchor and take it for granted.
By Darien Raistrick
Aug 1, 2009

Why should bolt anchors be placed for the convenience of climbers who are not yet committed enough to the sport to acquire gear? There are already sport cliffs in White Rock...why cannot the Old New Place, the Playground, Big Enchilada, (at least), remain traditional cliffs for the local traditionalists? To lead a route at the ONP and find two hideous bolts staring you in the face at the top makes me sick with anguish.
By William Penner
From: The 505
Aug 2, 2009

Hideous bolts, sick with anguish? Pretty funny stuff. I think the white rock agreement to split trad/sport areas seems to be working fine. The only legitimate argument for fixed anchors at one of the trad areas is if the tree died that was the anchor or if the rock became suspect. I've never liked some of the anchors you can build atop some of the white rock cliffs--too fractured for my taste, but you could always back up with a tree assuming it wasn't killed by the bark beetle. Viable compromises are hard to acheive and shouldn't be discarded lightly. That said, it might be time to revisit the agreement if it no longer works. I hope the LA folks can work it out.
By Minesh Bacrania
Aug 2, 2009

Here's the anguish-inducing hideousness I found up there on 8/1/2009:

I'd rather see a couple of bolts up there than this mess.
By scotthsu
From: Los Alamos, NM
Aug 2, 2009

George, I agree that Chuck's offer to teach trad gear placement could easily be interpreted to be condescending, but I do not think he intended it that way.

Daniel, I agree that another meeting is needed to clarify the community agreement, preferably with both sides present. Compromise will clearly be required.

The present state of matters is unsustainable, both from the perspective of the rock and the wallets of those (such as Jason) putting up the anchors.
By Daniel Trugman
From: La Jolla, CA
Aug 2, 2009
rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c

Darien, I can see your point about the presence of bolts detracting from your experience. But if these bolts were chopped because of aesthetic purposes, wouldn't the chopper have made an effort to clean up the rock? The so-called "defenders of stone" are doing quick smash and grab jobs on the bolted anchors, leaving ugly bolt studs hanging out of the rock.

As has been proposed before, I suggest both parties stop placing/removing bolts until we talk this through.
By William Penner
From: The 505
Aug 3, 2009

Nice post Mark with some thoughtful opinions and questions raised, particularly the point about bolt choppers remaining anonymous. I think chopping bolts without fessing up to the act is cowardly; if you are committed enough to destroy the gear you should be committed enough to defend your actions.

With all due respect for your wife and her friends, I am not sure that we should always add bolt anchors for (their) convenience. Self-reliance and the possibility of harm are integral to climbing, so the convenience/safety argument taken to its extreme would get rid of some of the best things about climbing and reduce run-out trad routes to clip-ups. Stated more simply, climbing is not just a sport even though many would like it to be. I like the idea that skilled climbers can do things other folks can't, which I realize is elitist and would leave out certain folks, potentially including your wife--so be it. I have placed, and likely will place, convenience anchors so I guess I am a hypocrite on this point.

Of course, the White Rock agreement tried to have both approaches live as equals--each with cliffs that followed certain rules. Even if all of White Rock's top-rope contingent said they want bolted anchors at the trad crags, I am not sure it is a good idea to capitulate to the masses. I don't have a dog in the fight either way. I can see the logic of bolted anchors and the argument against them, I am just glad to see people's honest opinions being voiced. If the LA folks meet to discuss this, would they inform the rest of the NM climbers about the meeting ahead of time so they could attend?

By Terry J. Miller
From: La Villita, NM
May 6, 2012

I have been out of climbing for nearly twenty years and now am back. When I saw the chopped disaster at the top I wondered "Why?". The exit is a ledge not a "blank face". Slings work. This area was considered too short for "real" leads hence the top-rope designation. I understand that rock gym leads are short( I climb there too) and most truly difficult leads are not sustained. This does not give licencse to those that follow the FA's to modify the climb to there personal standards. If it is not possible for a climber to duplicate the FA, then bring your climbing up to that level. Please do not pull the rock down to your level. Future generations will just be punished for your lack of finesse, ability and talent. I flailed many, many times on this route in 1990 while regrowing both big toe nails that I bashed off mogul skiing in Taos. Think about it if you have climbed this route. TJM
By Jason Halladay
From: Los Alamos, NM
May 6, 2012
rating: 5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a

Terry J. Miller wrote:
I have been out of climbing for nearly twenty years and now am back. When I saw the chopped disaster at the top I wondered "Why?". The exit is a ledge not a "blank face". Slings work. This area was considered too short for "real" leads hence the top-rope designation. I understand that rock gym leads are short( I climb there too) and most truly difficult leads are not sustained. This does not give licencse to those that follow the FA's to modify the climb to there personal standards. If it is not possible for a climber to duplicate the FA, then bring your climbing up to that level. Please do not pull the rock down to your level. Future generations will just be punished for your lack of finesse, ability and talent. I flailed many, many times on this route in 1990 while regrowing both big toe nails that I bashed off mogul skiing in Taos. Think about it if you have climbed this route. TJM

Terry J. Miller from Photo wrote:
You had to be standing on the ledge to place those bolts above, below and beside the cracks. I like bolts that make sense and these just do not. Grow stronger mentally and try to remember you have better shoes, nutrition, gear and sports physiology on your side. We geezers just had beer, pot and Lycra(hideous). I have no left ACL, torn right rotator cuff, BPPV(Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo), bad eyes and still smoke cigarettes. What's your excuse or explanation?

Welcome back to climbing Terry. The sport of climbing has grown and changed a bit as it evolved and you'll likely encounter many more bolts all over the country than existed in 1992. However, you'll also find that as much as the sport has changed, many things remain the same. The feeling and spirit of climbing, and its effect on one's soul, still persists. And, generally speaking, climbers still don't bolt cracks or routes that protect well on gear. This ethic and feeling is still alive and well, thankfully.

So you ask, "Why?" I'll take a stab at the explanation, as I see it. The bolts you are talking about are anchor bolts. I did place them, four years ago, while standing on the ledge above the route, twice. The second time I placed them, I did my best to conceal the ugly cutting and patching mess the anonymous bolt remover left that, ironically, was much more an eyesore than the two brown hangers and bolts I had placed. I placed these anchor bolts after climbing around White Rock and Los Alamos for about ten years and frequently hearing the sentiment from other local climbers that anchor bolts would be much appreciated and useful.

Fixed-anchor bolts, by definition, do not alter the difficulty of free climbing the route. The fixed anchor, at the top of the route, merely allows for safe and convenient anchoring after completing the climb. The bolts are not on the climbing route itself so no one is bringing the route down to a different level nor altering the character of the route. As you noted, it's a decent ledge above the route. The ledge marks the end of the route. The anchor bolts are placed in rock above and off the route. The presence of the anchors bolts does absolutely nothing to diminish the climber's experience on the route. I can say this because I have led the route many times--it's still damn hard and committing and extremely rewarding to top out onto the ledge having placed my own protection up the entire route.

As to the "why" regarding the mess you saw, I can't fully explain the motivation behind that. I feel it's pretty clear there is current and on-going support for fixed anchors around White Rock yet a couple folks, probably long-time climbers like yourself with an anti-bolts anywhere sentiment, continued to anonymously remove the fixed anchor bolts. I feel so strongly about this perceived community-supported need and desire for fixed anchors that I continue to go back and replace the fixed anchors.

When it comes down to it, it's my opinion the argument against fixed anchors is pretty silly and a waste of all of our emotion and energy. The only people that ever see those anchor bolts are us climbers--an extremely small number of people--maybe one percent of Los Alamos and White Rock's total population. The other 99 percent don't know about them, see them or care about them. I find it terribly ironic so much emotion and energy is spent on this topic when there are so many other meaningful and important things we can all be spending our time on.

To put this in perspective, in your comment you mentioned you were skiing moguls at Taos. I'll make the assumption you were riding the lifts at the ski area. How is riding a lift up a mountain, then skiing clear-cut and bull-dozed runs down to a fancy lodge acceptable use of land (and rock) when you find two 3-inch by 3/8-inch bolts with hangers placed on a ledge, above a route, offensive? That simply doesn't make sense to me.

To wrap up my long tirade (thanks for reading this far!), you may also be interested in this lengthy and informative Mountain Project forum thread from 2009 about fixed anchors in Los Alamos and White Rock.
By George Perkins
From: The Dungeon, NM
Nov 9, 2015
rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

Climbed Unrelenting Nines again last week. The missing hanger on the right anchor bolt was replaced, but this bolt is loose and should not be fully trusted. As a back-up to the left bolt, it's probably ok. Considering the contentiousness of bolts at White Rock trad areas, maybe it shouldn't be replaced out of courtesy to the values of the a few long-time local WR climbers, maybe it should since a majority appreciate them, I don't know.. If anyone is going to fix things, my suggestion is to put the anchor below the lip, rather than near its current location on the ledge. Unless you bring a good length of cord, there can be a lot of rope drag over lip, with the anchor in its current location. (edit 4/2016).

Best crack at White Rock. I don't care about that bolt-ethics stuff above any more, whether there should or shouldn't be any here, just creates bad feelings and distracts one from the good parts of climbing as Jason says above.. but here's some somewhat pertinent stuff I thought was interesting:

Terry's post above mentions "aiming to duplicate the FA". This is interesting since the FA history of this climb has been sort of lost, even though the climb is relatively well known as the most continuously overhanging crack at White Rock. I recently asked Bob D' about the FA of this climb, as a follow-up to a recent discussion with longtime local hardman Peter Gram about it and other FAs at White Rock's trad cliffs. From what I gathered from those guys, the FA (implied to be on lead) was most likely Mike Roybal in the mid-1970s, which would have been without cams (Bob led it in '77, and Ken Sims also worked on it in about that era, and it was led regularly in the 80s. It takes good stoppers, but would be quite harder without cams, especially for wimpy Dungeon-rats like me! Peter, who climbed here since the early/mid-80s, said that even back then they didn't know who had led it first. Roybal was apparently a bit reclusive and modest. Most of the 70s climbs done by the LA Mountaineers at WR were done on TR, and most of the harder lines may not have been led until the 80s, when some in Peter's crowd of 20-somethings and teenagers did many of them up to mid-5.12, including those with marginal gear or runouts, in various styles (sometimes with preplaced gear, or headpoint, etc.). In any case, many of us from over the years just don't agree with the idea that "This area is too short for "real" leads", and have had some really rewarding experiences leading at WR, especially this climb!!! (A lot of people just want to TR and that's fine too.) In short, it would be really interesting to hear more about this FA and some of the other early FA and FA/leads at White Rock, especially those that would have been much harder if led without cams. This local history is somewhat nebulous, though some is documented in the guidebooks and through the LA Mountaineers:

Be careful with those small cams on this, and back them up to the extent that you can without getting too pumped. The gear is good, but this climb has a history of people pulling gear out and even "breaking" small cams on it. I fell and pulled a piece once, and I've heard of at least 3 similar stories.

If you only climb one crack at WR, do this one! I climb it almost every time I come to the Playground (a handful of times each year) and it never gets old! At risk of further narcissism, here's a link to some photos and a brief write-up:

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