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This topic contains 3 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Toc 14 years, 10 months ago.

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  • #1738 Reply


    Toc & Neil,

    RE: Indoor climbing skills

    Regardless of someone’s grade in a gym, it doesn’t justify bolting a lead so badly that factor 2 falls remain possible. At some point these people have to go outdoors and will want to try a natural lead. It shouldn’t be a step ladder, but by the same token it shouldn’t be terrifying either.

    RE: Land Managers/Private Land

    No one wants (or is suggesting) creating hand-rails for those with little or no ability: I dislike seeing bolts studded everywhere in a natural setting as much as the next person. Yet if due to terrain/lack of natural pro’ they are going to be used, do it properly and don’t sacrifice safety just for one less bolt on the face.

    RE: Run Outs & Safety

    Many climbers don’t mind run outs and/or feeling challenged on a face, but this is not the same as taking over-the-top risks on a sparsely bolted difficult climb with an excessive run out.

    One climb in the South-West has a 20m+ run-out before the next clip. My climbing partner at the time would have easily ripped out the anchors regardless of strength (20m fall on 20m of rope = factor 2) and fallen several stories onto the rock ledge and off further below had he slipped – regardless of whether he felt ‘safe’ or ‘brave’ or whatever that day. He had read the guide and on-sighted the climb as you suggest people should do, but it was just too badly bolted and he didn’t find out until it was too late. He couldn’t back-climb and he couldn’t hang around burning strength looking for elusive natural pro’ so he had to add more of a run out onto what was aleady an eye-bulging amount. He ignored the risk, but it’s me who would have had to lug his body out had he been slightly out-of form that day.

    RE: Single pitch rope with loops

    I agree that this is a good idea that works well on single pitches – one can use the loop(s) as a clip point or ignore them and climb past depending on the terrain, distance from last pro, potential fall hazards directly underneath (i.e. rock spikes) and how well you are climbing through.

    It’s the multi-pitch routes I’m thinking about where there is no easy access from the top. You have to go bottom up and are forced to use what’s there (see comment above). ‘Take another route’ one might say, but what happens if all routes end up being bolted in this same risky fashion?

    “Climbing is dangerous”

    ‘If you chose to do it, you are taking on a choice which could result in …death’.

    Parachuting is a risk as well, but its practitioners don’t go up in un-airworthy planes or with poorly packed or damaged parachutes. They take a risk but endeavour to manage it in a professional manner.

    Working with risk is not the same as blithely ignoring it and comments suggesting people who wish to climb in a responsible manner should somehow be condemned to climb indoors are a little patronising.

    This doesn’t have to be a polarised debate existing at both ends of the sprectrum, there is a managable middle ground.

    #1739 Reply



    Couldn’t agree more. However I don’t own the crags and we have to not only deal with our own climbing community with it’s wildly varying opinions and desires, but also the wider community and if bolting practises upset the mysterious “other people”, we can have access problems.

    So we have essentially 2 issues.

    1) Safe bolting. Seems obvious but if climbers start getting hurt because climbs are not safely bolted, land managers may start to worry about liability and deny access. Never mind the fact I don’t like climbers getting hurt.

    on the other hand

    2) If land managers find the “natural” environment of the cliff face studded with multiple lines of closely spaced, very obvious ringbolts, which some feel detract from their appreciation of the aesthetic beauty of the cliff, land managers may deny access, particularly if the bolts appeared without any consultation with the land manager.

    The issues of safety and access are in my opinion 2 of the main drivers in a debate about bolts, but we also need to consider the climbing “experience”. Many climbers don’t want bolts everywhere. Yes, we do sometimes run out climbs. Yes, we want areas of no bolts. Yes, some of us do want an element of risk in our sport.

    I hope there is room in the world for all of our various different desires for climbing and also hope that we can formulate a bolting policy that is sensible enough, and flexible enough, that it is acceptable to everyone, and we all get at least some of what we want.



    #1740 Reply



    One thing I should point out is this, a natural lead has no bolts. At any grade, leading on natural gear is a skill which has to be learned.

    It requires a significant outlay of money to aquire the necessary gear, and a significant outlay of time to learn how to use that gear, and it’s very, very satisfying.



    #1741 Reply


    Hi there Marc,

    Just rereading stuff. My last posting possibly would give the idea I don’t approve of bolts. Not so. Some times I even love ’em.

    However we really do need to get this right for all sorts of reasons, some of which you mentioned.



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