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Author Topic: Debolting Thin Air  (Read 2878 times)

bayard

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Debolting Thin Air
« on: October 05, 2003, 06:19:26 PM »

Today I removed four bolts from Thin Air on Cathedral Ledge; two from the second pitch traverse and the two bolt anchor at the top of the third pitch, all retrobolts.  There is still a two bolt rappel anchor at the end of the second pitch traverse.

The consensus reached last night by an almost unamimous vote at the bolting meeting/slide show dubbed "The Age Before Beauty Tour" was to "maintain the charactor and integrity of established routes".  I hope the removal of bolts from Thin Air is accepted by this community as an example of our commitment to the stewardship of Cathedral and Whitehorse Ledges, and their history.  I encourage this community to stand behind further such action as it agreed upon in an open forum.

Bayard Russell
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stonearc

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Re: Debolting Thin Air
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2003, 09:11:11 PM »

I happen to be out guiding thin air today with two clients as Bayard was debolting. I approached the traverse pitch from a more natural perspective and found the low line one takes more enjoyable, very well protected, and safer for seconds  This classic line is a far better line without the bolts.Thanks Bayard for taking the initiative.
Alain Comeau
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DH

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Re: Debolting Thin Air
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2003, 08:01:56 AM »

Good for you Bayard.  Eliminating the exceptions gets rid of the grey area surrounding the bolting thing.  Restoring all climbs (not including Rumney) to their FA character will clearify what the ethics really are.  Good to see that someone is taking the initiative, and has the sack to stand behind their actions.  

I learned a lot from Saturday night and now understand better what the hell the 'rules' are in the valley.  North Conway should be restored to a place that challenges climbers who are dedicated and prepared to climb routes in clean style.  

I like the notion brought up by Henry Barber of adopting an ethic similar to that on Gritstone in the North of England.  Even on mixed routes like Josh said, no bolts.  This is exciting stuff.  Maybe if more people start restoring routes like this, we won't need to talk about a committee again.  We can settle these disputes in a pub over a few pints.  

This will also address the overcrowding trend at the crag. Not that it has affected me lately, I've been bouldering at Pawtuckaway for the last few months, kind of sad not to be on the long classics up there but climbing is climbing and I'm still sore today, woohooo.  
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rpdoucette

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Re: Debolting Thin Air
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2003, 09:29:17 AM »

Never liked the bolts on the thin air traverse anyway.

I didnt make the meeting on friday, but look forward to someone putting together some notes on what was discussed.  

I am all for avoiding/eliminating unnecessary bolts.  But if first ascent style is all that matters, then I think that is a bit narrow-minded.  There is more to a good route than doing it in the style of the first ascentionist.  Maybe the first ascentionist ran it out because it was raining, or dark, or he had to take a sh--t, not because it was the thing to do...but we could argue about this all day.  Ever see a bunch of hard climbing french guys sitting around arguing about such things?  Never happens.  They just go out and outclimb us...
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SCUD

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Re: Debolting Thin Air
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2003, 10:54:28 AM »

Bayard: You are to be commended for your actions. Ideally, all climbers should leave no trace of their path either ascending or descending. Those doing FA's should aspire to that same goal as well. Since I am the founding member, I am proud to confer upon you honorable membership in The Society for the Protection of **THIN AIR** together with all rights, privileges, etc..
    +++  Off Belay -  Joe Cote +++
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radair

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Re: Debolting Thin Air
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2003, 05:02:40 PM »

Removal of these bolts will undoubtedly piss a few people off, but here's how I see it: If Ray D'Arcy could do this route in the 1950s with goldline rope, soft iron pitons, and stiff boots, modern climbers with dynamic ropes, camming devices and sticky rubber ought to have no problems.

Taking out the fixed belay will certainly cut down on the more recent phenomenon of rapping the route.

I think it's very impressive that young climbers like Bayard & Dana Drummond have the conviction to take this issue into their own hands. I was appalled at the news that someone added a bolt to the 4th pitch of the Direct-Direct. That WAS one of the airiest moves on the cliff and it's a bummer that someone couldn't deal with it (as Steve Arsenault did in 1967 and countless others since then).

Rob Adair
« Last Edit: October 17, 2003, 06:10:28 PM by radair »
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haircity

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Re: Debolting Thin Air
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2003, 06:33:34 PM »

Well, I don't think the "concensus" was "unanimous", but barring the endless rathole of arguements, I guess this was (and always has been) the prevalent thinking. Perahps if that was the case, we should have just had a longer slide show.

Really, anyone who brought up any dissenting opinion at that forum was doomed from the start. So hearing alternate opinions was interseting, showed diversity but in the end it was really windowdressing.

Anyway, it's good to see people with conviction. Unecessary bolts are just that. I have enough high-tech gear, so I shouldn't bitch. For the most part, if they're classic routes they still suck-up pro and have good anchors.

On one hand you have the Rifles and the Rumneys of the world and then on the other you have the Needles and North Conways.

So I guess all us weekend posers better start bouldering more to raise ourselves to the appropriate levels

Fred Keith
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tradmanclimbz

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Re: Debolting Thin Air
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2003, 06:44:47 PM »

One needs to be carefull that when one sets out to hunt monsters that one does not turn into one. I  am all for leaving rts as they are and not adding bolts but I don't see the point in chopping every belay and running arround like a bunch of funamentalist  fanatics. Have towle and explosives will travel may soon translate into have chisle will travel. next thing you know some kid that is a wannabe oldtimer is going to be out there at the crag handing out citations for useing sticky rubber and cams.  On that note maby next time I head over to NC I will bring my aid rack and hammer and do a little bit of traditional nailing on the prow. Those dam newcomers are are a bunch of punks for free climbing that thang without  using pins :P take a look at the history of the sport and you will see that most often, massive bolt choppings and spanish inquisitions cause more harm than good to the area that they occure in. As for gritstone climbing. the weather over there sucks, it is a stinking little island with a bunch of crazey bleeding buggers and if thats what you want, be my guest,buy a fu@$ing plane ticket   8)
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Admin Al

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Re: Debolting Thin Air
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2003, 08:01:30 PM »

well a lot of us, who went to 8+ meetings on the topic as well as Saturday nite, thought that the understanding was that routes that are in the guidebook(s) were going to be left alone - for obvious reasons. Brad White and I went over & climbed the 1st 2 pitches of T/A this afternoon. I have no real problem with there being no bolts on the traverse. that said, when it's wet, as it was today, it's definitely trickier going low than going high. of course you can get in lots of good gear as you go, and the second has lots of protection. however, I think that taking down the belay is a bit over the top and's gonna cause some real problems in the summer when there are multiple parties on the route (guided or otherwise).

I would also hope that if people are going to chop bolts, they woud do a better job of covering it up. when I replace bolts I go to a lot of trouble to bring up some rock chips that I use to blend with the epoxy to make it look like it was always there.

Al
« Last Edit: October 07, 2003, 06:33:30 AM by admin »
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tradmanclimbz

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Re: Debolting Thin Air
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2003, 04:59:35 AM »

If you guys are going to start a mass bolt chopping frenzey you just better get used to the idea of some scarred rock. Once the chisels start making their holy presence known it usualy gets ugly in a big way.  Should be pretty interesting up there the next sunny weekend  when 3 different guide services are stacked up on thin air with their clients while some gumby takes an hour to put together a belay. Oh well, i guess you reap what you sowe. ::)  As for over crowding at the craggs, the bolts don't cause the crowds. the crowds are a direct result of the commericialization of the sport.   The gyms and climbing schools are pumping out new climbers at a record pace. The inevitable result of many people in the north conway area as well as the rest of the world makeing their living off of the sport is overcrowding at the craggs and all the enviornmental and access issues that go allong with overcrowding.  Maby you should start a witch hunt for the guides, Burn a few of them for corrupting your sacred clifs with newbies ::) Chopping rap stations  and belays is not a very productive method of preserving your local resorce.  The added traffic on the north end decent trail will certainly make an allready serious erosion issue critical :o You guys get together in a bar, tip a few back and cry about the good old days and now we have a freaking unregulated crusade of vigilante walk on water bolt choppers to deal with.  Nice fu$#ing work ::)
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Re: Debolting Thin Air
« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2003, 05:13:12 AM »

Congratulations to Bayard, you have a lot of support in the community.
When the first of the two bolts on the traverse was drilled it was totally self-serving... to make guiding the traverse easier. It removed some of the intimidating exposure for the second and the guide didn't have to deal with stuck nuts. The second bolt was the "insidious creep" that's been much discussed.These two bolts were the best examples of what we don't want to see in the future. Thin Air is a great climb and better now that it's been cleaned up.

Chris Noonan
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slobmonster

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Re: Debolting Thin Air
« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2003, 06:47:26 AM »

Let the games begin.

So Thin Air and its re-retro-unbolting is fine and dandy, and perhaps shouldn't cause too much consternation.  A line in the sand, if you will, or a message, or an example.  Of what?  Exactly what was the non-unanimous (and argued) "consensus" the other night?  

It was my impression --inform me if I have it wrong-- that 'we' want to keep the routes as they are.  Great.  But the model for that tradition hs been bastardized each and every way possible for going on four generations of climbers.  Some bolts we don't seem to mind, and for sometimes good reasons other bolts make us seethe.  

Certain bolts next to cracks... go chop.  Some immediately, and others twenty years after they were drilled (...and then re-drilled.  oy vey).  Other bolts next to cracks, well let 'em be.  Old pins in scars, well let's leave these ones, they're still good gear.  Other old pins, well lets take these out and leave nice wee pinkie jams.  

You name it, we have an example and a precedent that you can go take to justify whatever it is you want to do.

This will just be a debacle, without any decorum, very quickly.  The meeting the other night could have been a discussion... but it was not.  It was all about stumping and volume, and that's why I did not feel comfortable "voting."  The voices courageous enough to stand up and suggest something different were very quickly silenced by loud, angry, drunken ones.  Great.
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t-rad

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Re: Debolting Thin Air
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2003, 06:52:33 AM »

I'm very pleased to hear that some form of concensus has been reached among the North country's influential climbers to clean up the cliffs and hopefully reverse this tide of thoughtless bolting.

adam t
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radair

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Re: Debolting Thin Air
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2003, 06:57:31 AM »

Quote
Let the games begin.

... The meeting the other night could have been a discussion... but it was not.  It was all about stumping and volume, and that's why I did not feel comfortable "voting."  The voices courageous enough to stand up and suggest something different were very quickly silenced by loud, angry, drunken ones.  Great.


Hmm, what meeting did you attend? It was not a discussion? Loud, angry, drunken voices? Your perspective is far different from mine - sure, there were some differing opinions, but I don't believe your version is what most people who were there will remember. In fact, I think it was a very good discussion that will have people thinking about the issues for some time.
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A_Manning

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Re: Debolting Thin Air
« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2003, 07:31:09 AM »

A line in the sand has been drawn, but where is it exaclty. The un-unanimous opinion in the room Saturday night was rather dubious, as Fred and slobmonster point out. Instead of a discussion you saw a presentation on why all the "new" bolts should be removed from the old climbs (my viewpoint from the back of the room). And on day-one we see bolts being chopped.

Great, now someone please go back and remove all the new anchor bolts placed in the last year by MSR, which were not installed by the first ascensionist. Oh, wait, those are good bolts-don't replace those-they were put in to protect trees and increase safety on the cliff. Then what were the anchor bolts on Thin Air?

Conclusion - don't confuse self-rule with no-rule! The meeting was lopsided to say the least, but some good points were brought up by "outsiders" and should be pondered by the powers-that-be. What is wrong with a "committee" to oversee the re-placement or removal of bolts on the existing climbs?

Example - I am new to the valley, I go up to an obscure crag in the woods, spot a dirty line, clean the lichen and spider webs, throw in a couple of bolts to span the face between cracks, and call it a day. A week later I hear that someone is pissed off that I bolted their "old" climb. Now, someone goes out and chops my bolts without a discussion just because they can...

Some ood for thought, just keep it clean...by the way, that was a true story  :o
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