Chipping and gluing in quarries

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This topic contains 21 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Glenn 14 years, 5 months ago.

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  • #1763 Reply


    I think it is timely to have a discussion on the subject of Chipping, Drilling holds and Gluing on of holds (CDG) in the quarries. As an occasional route developer, my aim is to find out what Perth climbers want (and see how this aligns with my personal ethics).

    DEFINITIONS: By chipping I mean making the climbing either possible or easier, as opoposed to removing loose rocks for safety. By gluing I mean gluing on foreigh bodies, i.e. rocks, resin holds and similar to make the climb possible or easier, not reinforcing existing holds to preserve the route’s original character.

    BACKGROUND: Traditionally, CDG had been sneered at, as the ethic has been that people should bring their skills up to the level of the climb rather than bringing the climb down to the level of their skill. And if they could not do it even with training, it was felt better left to someone more talented or future generations. Here are some counter-arguments: (1) Quarries are excavated anyway, there is nothing “natural” about them (2) What if the route can never be climbed without CDG, eg. noone will ever go up a vertical pane of glass. (3) The people putting up the climbs are spending time and money, hence they should set the ethics.

    So the questions I have are:

    (a) Would you (regularly) climb a route that is fully chipped and glued, i.e. every hold is artifical ? If not, how much is your personal maximum (if any).

    (b) Are you happy to see glued on (or bolted on) gym-style resin holds on rock ? As in the route L of Shield of Achilles in Mt Quarry which has several resin holds. The point being that drilling and chipping looks more “natural”.

    (c) Do you think DGC is OK outside of the quarries ? How much – only one hold per route or any number of holds ?

    I obviously have personal opinions on this (and they are not necessarily black&white or what you deduce may be implied in the above questions), but would like other people’s. Because the quarries are ours.

    #1764 Reply


    Hi Ross,

    If I was good enough I probably would play on such a line.

    It could be argued that quarries are no less natural than other rock in that it’s just chance that the faces are the way they are from being quarried and that it’s just chance that lines are created over millenia of erosive forces.

    But there are 2 points I’d like to make.

    1. No way should we suggest that we could do this outsides of quarries, except maybe to glue something in place that would be pulled off while being climbed on. I think we could create serious access problems by taking any other attitude.

    2. Only climbs at the cutting edge should be created in this way. I know you climb better than me, but you and I should not be doing this. There is enough out there for us. So it’s sports climbs only and serious, serious grades.



    #1765 Reply



    1) I would only climb on a route with glued/chipped holds as a novelty i.e. once-off climb not to be repeated. If a climber needs this sort of climbing route then my advice is “go to the gym”.

    2) I do not like the visual impact of glued/bolted holds even in a quarry. The rock is “real” or natural despite the fact that it has had some human interference.

    3) Routes like this (DGC) outside of quarries – NO. Never.

    Footnote: Faces of quarries and natural crags are not formed by chance. Rocks will break/shear along natural lines of weakness. I would think that even rocks that are blasted open will still preferentially break along these lines of weakness.

    #1766 Reply


    I personally do not agree with chipping of either natural rock or quarried rock. Whilst there are some very good manufactured climbs in both Mountain Quarry and Stathams Quarry I would hate to see this practice spread beyond the confines of these 2 venues.

    #1767 Reply


    want to climb on glued on holds? stay in the gym

    #1768 Reply


    my grandma also puts up new routes she doesnt climb them just abseils down drills bolt holes and places bolts she has recently put up 2 grade 42 climbs.

    #1769 Reply


    Hey Ross,

    Were you expecting to open this little nest? Just want to point out one more thing I forgot earlier. Actually, the quarries aren’t ours. We just use them.

    By the way I’m looking forward to one day maybe next year, being able to lead that new climb of yours. I’ll have to improve heaps though. Has it got a name yet?


    #1770 Reply

    John Knight

    Personally I’m pretty much entirely against it in most circumstances. However, if the place is *completely* bare and many people from the active climbing community agree on creating a ‘manufactured’ outdoor area for the general public on an otherwise unusable surface, sure. 🙂

    #1771 Reply


    Whats wrong with leaving gaps? We don’t have to climb every blank bit of rock. Sometimes less is more.

    #1772 Reply


    Coming along nicely…more opinions please. Try to make them useful though instead of showing us how very clever you are…

    I would like to compile these answers for the Western Climber: if any contributors have a problem with their comments being printed please let me know and I will not quote them.

    #1773 Reply


    I’d have to agree with Bjorn, sometimes less is more.

    However, if one must – I see no problem with gluing, chipping and bolting holds in quarries – providing the creator uses a bit of style. The grade should not matter either. Whether it’s a 29 or a 9 the ethics are still the same. No point bringing a route down to a lower level if it can provide a challenge to someone more talented e.g. Logan’s lines at Barrington. However, if nothing happens to them then I see no reason why the can’t be chipped to provide fun for a larger user group.

    Some of the other punters here who say “no” to quarry chipping should note that some of Perth’s best routes wouldn’t exist without chipped or glued holds… Urban Ethics, Star Wars, Hang Ten, Sweet Pea etc. The experience of climbing these routes can hardly be replicated in a gym !

    Perhaps a more interesting issue is glue reinforced holds on natural faces… of which there are many around Perth 🙂

    As for DGC outside of quarries… well, there’s always a place for it. WA has more natural rock routes with DGC than most people are aware of. I’m not condoning it. But I’m not foolish enough to dismiss the idea either.

    Remember – for non climbers there is absolutely no distinction between chipping and bolting. In fact many consider bolting to be far more offensive than chipping natural rock.

    #1774 Reply


    Climber X puts up a new route in M*^$#%*n Quarry. He puts a lot of time and effort into cleaning and bolting the line but there are a couple of sections that are way beyond his ability so out comes the 4lb lump hammer and chisel and he creates a couple of extra holds just big enough to guarantee success. The route is good, infact it is so good that climber Y, a well known vulture on the new route scene decides after a bit of top rope inspection that he can climb the route without recourse to the chipped holds so he finds the hardest setting cement glue (Hilti or Ramset I cant remember which )and fills them in before reclimbing the line and claiming the first ‘free’ ascent. Are climber Y’s actions acceptable?

    #1775 Reply


    I think Bjorn may have a strong point here. Why should I turn a good grade, say, 25 into an 18 basically to get my name on a route. If that’s where I’m at, I should go and find some unclimbed 18s and do them or improve my own climbing. That argument actually does it for me. No DCG anywhere. I won’t do it ever.

    Cheers guys,


    #1776 Reply


    Why put 3 bolts when you can do it with 1…. or none.

    #1777 Reply


    Bjorn, this is tough….essentially the way I see it Climber X showed disrespect for the route (ie unmodified and climbable rock) while Climber Y showed direspect for Climber X (ie respecting style of first ascent). Climber X should have left the climb for someone more talented. Climber Y should have got there earlier and climbed it in better style. Which is more important ? I say Climber X, people are more important than quarried rock. But on natural rock I would go the other way on the grounds of discouraging chipping – here nature and style are more important than hurting someones feelings.

    #1778 Reply



    I have an opinion on your question and this will I hope open a discussion on bolting ethics.

    A redpoint first ascent on one bolt with no prior knowledge, ie get someone else to put the bolt in and then lead it yourself, without rapping down and checking it out, then no problems, one bolt not three. But who does that? To toprope something, til you’re sure of it, then to underbolt it, is not fair to some one else who wants to redpoint the climb. This point of view leads inexorably to the conclusion that underbolting or bolting so that a climber is in the middle of a crux move when clipping, ie dangerous bolting, is just not on.

    So in my opinion unless the first ascensionist did it on lead, underbolted or dangerously bolted climbs

    are simply not fair, particularly, when the climb is well below the first ascionsionist’s ability. A case in point, Fear And Loathing at Churchman’s is a dangerous lead, being a solo, but it was done on sight. Out of respect I will tope rope it or put down loops.

    On the other hand, too many bolts is also a problem

    As for Ross’s hypothetical climbers x and y, climber y may have no respect for climber x, but climber x has no respect for anyone, and maybe doesn’t deserve respect for his/her actions anyway. Respect can’t be demanded, only earned, and if climber x’s actions don’t earn respect, why respect those actions.

    That’s my opinion anyway.


    #1779 Reply

    John Knight

    Climber X has shown the disrespect in the first place and should face the consequences of such actions, it’s a fairly major thing to do, so any actions after that are fairly reasonable in my opinion.

    #1780 Reply


    I have climbed for more than a few years now, and while I’m the first to admit there are far better climbers out there than I am, I would never, have never and have no respect for those that ‘carve’ their own route out of the rock.

    If you can’t do it- accept it- work harder or leave it! Someone else probably will. As for climbing panes of glass- well I have seen several climbers who I swear have suction caps on their finger tips- so just because you or me don’t have the ability doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t.

    the only time I can consider DGC as acceptable is fixing a route that has a loose or broken hold- sometimes though it can make the climb better- Collie climbs are a great example.

    Idiots that go out and find bare rock, chip it and-in my mind masacre it (quarry or not)just to get their first accent shouldn’t be climbing- they have no respect for other climbers, no respect for the rock and bring the sport into disrepute.

    Erratic bolting can be just as bad- remember people- only bolt to make the climb safer. Seems like sports climbing has taken over and people have forgotten the true art of trad! Maybe I’m an opinionated bitch but hey- these are my thoughts!

    #1781 Reply

    steve d

    An interesting discussion. In general I am not against creative reconstructions in quarries (in moderation) where the faces have been created by humans anyway, but on natural rock, which is a scarce resource and renews very slowly, I say never.

    In a way it comes to motives – is is being done to create a new route that will benefit all climbers, or is it done to enlarge an ego and get the persons name against a climb.

    A question on Ross’s example of X’s new route, and the section he/she could not climb. Rather than chipping, why not aid that section. This has been dome in the US and over the years other climbers have free climbed aid sections, leaving the original rock intact.

    Regarding resin holds – I see enough of them in the gym.

    #1782 Reply


    Why do we keep persisting with the idea that quarry faces are not natural rock??? It is rock, it is not made of plastic or chip board.

    Humans have creating accelerated weathering where the rock has been blasted open no dount opening along preferential lines of weakness that were already in the rock. They are rock faces that are now subject to more natural (slow) weathering patterns.

    To say “it is only a quarry, we can do what we like” is no excuse for people to create further damage.

    The more I hear about this subject the more I agree with the comment that we should leave the hard bits to someone who can do it without glueing and chipping. Steve’s comment on aiding tough sections is a fair one – this leaves the route open for someone else to complete unaided, later.

    Keep the “unnatural rock” environment in the gyms!

    #1783 Reply


    It seems we are moving into two totally sepparate issues..that of DGC and that of bolting.

    ok they both affect and modify the rock..

    but to DGC is to change the rock in a fashion that allows the climber to clomb a peice of rock that they wounld not have been able to do otherwise.

    while in my opinion (for what its worth) bolting should be used to make a climb safe for those who wish to climb.

    Those responsible for bolting have a responsibility to bolt in a manner that provides a “safe” route (ie not underbolted) and not to bolt excessively, utilising natural protection where possible.

    Personally if i was able i would probably climb DGC climbs in the quarries that have already been done but dont condone the actions (why waste the rock if the action of chippiing, gluing or drilling has already been taken)

    DGC should not take place…but it has and will continue to be done. at the very least it should be limited to the current quarry locations that it has taken place at.

    as for bolting…those that do so, do it in a responsible manner and bolt for the saftely of the climbing population not the few mega climbers around.

    #1784 Reply


    FYI: A few weekends ago my wife and I saw Climber X chipping (and bolting) a route at Mountain Quarry (with a hammer drill). A scouting group were nearby and watched on.

    This event made me think about our postings.

    Now I must tell you I am mining engineer and have probably damaged more rock than most (with blasting, drilling scaling etc…) It is therefore strange that I find the practice of chipping offensive. In terms of scale, the volume of damaged rock in chipping is very small. The final product is usually not even visible from the ground. However for me, chipping seems to contravene some deep moral or ethical “value” in a way I am yet to fully comprehend….something for me to contemplate further. I wonder if non climbers have these reactions, or is it a product of a climbers diseased mind? This leads to my next point.

    Perhaps there is an argument for the abolishment of chipping on the grounds of access issues, in particular public perceptions of climbing?

    My concern is that non-climbers, especially policy makers, might view the practice of chipping at quarries as normal climbing behaviour (why would they not?), thus degrading their perception of climbing as an environmentally sustainable practice.

    After all, there is a strong trend away from chipping at natural cliffs as access issues become more prevalent. It would be interesting to get the views of non-climbers.

    It is also worth noting that some quarries are viewed as historically or culturally significant. This could make chipping offensive to some groups, especially in old quarries.

    Finally, surely if we must chip (or bolt) at all it should be discretely with sensitivity to other climbers/persons.

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