Excessive Bolting at Willyabrup

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This topic contains 20 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  James T 14 years, 7 months ago.

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  • #1742 Reply


    New glue in carrot bolts have been added by persons unknown above the Hope/Dolphin Smiles wall.

    These bolts are totally unnecessary as ample natural anchors abound in this area. In addition the bolts are very poorly placed – one is on a detached boulder. If the bolt were placed just cm’s further across it would have been in a solid surface.

    It seems CALM and local adventure groups are bolting the cliff into submission in order to facilitate the low standards and spineless, responsibility avoiding bumblies.

    What is CAWA planning to do about this ?

    I doubt the CAWA ppl on a recent trip there even noticed the new bolts or the disgusting hand rope now polluting the cliff.

    #1743 Reply


    Neil, in answer to your query about the bolting at Wilyabrup – yes CAWA climbers are aware of the bolts and rope “hand rails” scattered around the place. I will raise your comment at the next committee meeting.


    #1744 Reply

    Ross Weiter

    CAWA is not some mythical monster Neil, it’s people. You don’t like it, what are YOU going to do about it, eh ?

    #1745 Reply


    I dunno. I can think of a few things, none of which are socially acceptable. Raising awareness about the issue is a start though…

    #1746 Reply


    Guys, I’ve been climbing in Perth on and off for years and have been increasingly concerned, even horrified by the growing macho-ism in the culture of the climbing fraternity in regards to bolting.

    Bolts should be placed to provide

    adequate protection to someone in the very likely prospect that they do fall.

    I cannot except the ‘macho ethic’ argument uttered by (usually very young, male and arrogant) climbers that ‘if you can’t climb it you shouldn’t be on it’. This simplistic and sneering logic presumes that no-one will EVER slip which begs the question, ‘if you are assuming perfection why have bolts at all if the climber is infallible’?

    No one is instantly able to climb grade 25’s a week after taking up climbing. All of us learn our skills on one grade until we feel confident enough to progress to a slightly harder grade, be that 16’s, 22’s or 28’s. Additionally, on trying that next grade, we may not get it right straight away and miss a hold or just plain get te sequence wrong. The protection needs to be placed in such a way that it will catch a fall before harm occurs.

    I have seen some bolted routes in the south-west with what I term ‘idiot’ leads. Doing the simple maths on a fall just below the clip point I found that some of the drops were factor 2 falls – a high enough force for catastrophic gear failure! Others had leads so run-out that a slip would have plummeted the climber onto ledges and smashed both ankles or impaled them on granite spires long before the slack took up.

    Someone is going to get seriously injured or even killed one day because of this testosterone fuelled male bravado. The climbing community faces the very real prospect that the state govt. will close not only that particular cliff but possibly many more to protect itself from lawsuits or as a knee-jerk response to public outcry.

    I urge you to look at distances between bolts not through the paradigm of whether ‘Fred Fantastic can do it one handed, blind-folded and in his sneakers so what’s the problem’, but from the more logical and pragmatic framework of ‘if ANY climber attempting this route for the first time falls, will they be caught before being seriously injured? This is nothing more than the same smart-thinking applied for industrial safety in the workplace – protect the worker in the case of the unimaginable.

    Outdate bolting ‘etiquette’ and ‘first ascent rights’ should never come before safety and as the responsible body, you should be enforcing this.

    Yours sincerely,

    Marc Lowe

    #1747 Reply



    Thank you for your input on bolting however please be aware that the comments placed on the CAWA web site are not necessarily those of CAWA members or CAWA. The message board is a forum for all climbers to put forward their comments and naturally there will be varying viewpoints, particularly with regards bolting.

    Bolting is a topical issue. The CAWA committee is looking at significantly upgrading the current CAWA bolting policy and we will be asking for comments from climbers at some stage in the near future.

    #1748 Reply



    You raise some interesting issues. If you think, the (I’ll use your word), “machismo”, is growing, you should look at some old magazines which refer to a time when bolting truly was an issue that seriously upset people. The “machismo”, is not growing in my opinion, but is decreasing particularly as there are people coming out of gyms with very high climbing skills, but not a lot of experience in placing natural gear or a thousand or two dollars worth of natural gear to place.

    Another point is some land managers get upset about bolts being installed obtrusively, particularly, as happens from time to time, they are installed completely without the landholders knowledge, or consent. Further more, if you climb on aboriginal land, you will most likely in this lifetime, never get permission to bolt. You can ususally with single pitch climbs, put a rope down with loops for protection. I’ve done this on aboriginal land too.

    I will agree there are some bolted climbs, which the person bolting has done so in a way that makes the climb more difficult than it could have been ie putting in bolts that can only be clipped from above or worse during crux moves. I also have problem with climbs that are toproped to death, then bolted so that people attempting to flash them, are faced with a much more serious undertaking, than the first ascenionist faced, who had the moves wired.

    However I totally disagree, with you lumping bolting in with the creation of industrial hazards, which is what I read into your statements. You don’t have to climb a particular climb if you feel it is unsafe, and as I said, if it is a single pitch, a rope with loops can be used for protection.

    As the words say, “Climbing is dangerous. If you chose to do it, you are taking on a choice which could result in an accident causing severe injury, up to and including death.”

    Chosing to do a particular climb does mean, “does mean”,!!! you accept those risks, and if don’t like a particular climb then definitely don’t do it.

    Have a good time,

    Take care of yourself,

    Safe climbing,



    #1749 Reply


    Increasing macho-ism ?

    Hardly. Care to point to some new route examples of this ?

    Hopefully CAWA is fully aware that bolting every climb so that ‘if ANY climber attempting this route for the first time falls… they will come to no harm’ is impractical, excessive, not done anywhere else in Australia and goes against CAWA’s bolting guidelines. If you want to find routes like this go indoor climbing. Climbing is a sport where risk management provides most of the challenge and when successful – the majority of the reward. Danger is inherent in the sport. Comments relating to industrial safety standards are irrelevant and short sighted.

    Dinah – ?? Be alert not alarmed ??

    Toc – Well said.

    #1750 Reply


    Not really macho-ism, but here’s two good, recent examples of suspect bolting.

    Shark Rock: The Redoubt

    I think it’s Smash and Grab, and Ground Zero. Both bolted, both with climb descriptions which include ground-out potential disclaimers?

    They’re not bad climbs (SnG ain’t so pretty – might’ve been me…).

    It may not be that the bolting was lazy.

    Maybe more climbs need disclaimers ;~).


    #1751 Reply


    Just some quick points:

    1. 95% of routes in WA can be toproped, ie. full enjoyment of climbing can be had without bolts. The risk is opurely optional.

    2. Bolted routes are mostly so short that they can be inspected in full, from the ground.

    3. The 2002 Perth Guide implemented the “X” and “R” risk grade system to warn punters who insist on leading inadequately protected climbs. These are meant to encompass inadequate bolting.

    4. Bolting standards have been and always will ultimately be in the hands of those doing the bolting. Those who would like to see well bolted routes should go out and bolt them, or help with replacing old and dodgy bolts.

    5. Climbing always required some courage, I have no problem with many routes being run out. Sometimes I like to test myself that way, mostly not. It’s a personal thing; if I don’t feel confident I toprope. Better a live turkey than a dead eagle…..


    #1752 Reply


    Just to get back to the first post about the bolting at the top of Hope buttress. I totally agree that such bolts are unnecessary. CALM did not put in these bolts. CALM bolts have tags on them showing they have been tested. The issue of these bolts has been brought up with the managing body CMAC. We are endeavouring to find out who is doing this bolting and these bolts will be removed/cut. I believe that this is the same person who cut the face and put crap bolts in at Gracetown Crag. It is up to all of us to keep an eye out and try to catch this person who is a complete menace in the South West.

    #1753 Reply


    With all the destruction in the world, you’d think that nature savvy climbers would have have more pressing issues than the intrusion of a few bolts into rock. How much rock was destroyed for the steel in your car? how much blasting is done for roads and quarries? how many have spoken out for this. lets please put things into perspective

    #1754 Reply

    Bob Gnarly

    Are you seriously implying that “more savvy climbers” should stop using cars, protest against road blasting and start saving the world ?

    Please lead the way, oh Deep & Enlightened One. I’m going bouldering (and pulling some wanky bolts, heh, heh….).

    #1755 Reply


    I wasnt implying that, my point was that it seems a little hipocritical to condemn bolting when there are much more destructive things going on. Although having said that, all previous posts had valid points so dont think im bagging you guys out.

    I personally dont have a problem with bolting though my problem lies inside bolting. come climbs that ive come across are dangerously bolted i.e. no protection for 5 mtrs then run out for another 4 or 5 after that. Wouldnt it be a sound idea to have protection at a safer distance – if you want more risk then miss a clip.

    #1756 Reply

    James T

    If you want less risk then top-rope.

    #1757 Reply


    Don’t be such a snob James! Not everyone is in this sport because they enjoy risking death. If you are into massive (and potentially deadly) runouts, go for it. I certainly won’t make fun of you for wanting to risk your life- don’t make fun of me for caring enough about mine to argue for route developers to bolt their climbs intelligently.

    Note that I didn’t say ‘over-bolt!’ I certainly wouldn’t condone the mass-bolting of crags like has happened at Gracetown recently. And I’m all for leaving trad lines unbolted, if I don’t have the guts to lead on trad gear, that’s my choice. But those of us who appreciate our fear shouldn’t just be left with toproping as you insinuate.

    Have I started a flame war between the trad climbers and sport climbers???

    #1758 Reply

    James T

    Bolts deface the rock and should be minimised. If bolts are so close together as not to add anything to the character of a climb then the only justification for having them is if the rock overhangs sufficiently to make top-roping unfeasible.

    The effort in over-bolting climbs would be better spent in putting in good top-rope anchors. What’s wrong with top-ropeing anyway.

    #1759 Reply


    Chalk also defaces rock, often more noticably than bolts!

    But James, being so cut and dry really isnt helping the debate. I can see that you’re into top ropes, many of the climbers on here arent.

    I agree with Di, trad routes shouldnt be bolted, except if it is runout.

    Just a thought to be debated. Should route makers have the right to bolt potentially dangerous (runout) routes?

    #1760 Reply


    “Should route makers have the right to… ?”

    It seems to me that it doesn’t matter what anybody writes on this message board ‘route makers’ bolt however they see fit. It’s not a case of them having a right to or not. There are guidelines and opinions but no rules and no police to enforce rules.

    Consequently, alot of this discussion is just hot air.

    If you have an opinion as to how to bolt, bolt your new climb in that style.

    If you don’t like how a climb has been bolted, don’t climb it.

    P.S. I’m not a route maker or a bolter. Are you?

    #1761 Reply


    Well by the sounds of it theres a bolting militia right here in WA!

    No im not a bolter, but like the rest of us here, am a crag user.

    #1762 Reply

    James T

    That’s not entirely how things are. Bolters are influenced to some degree by climbing ethics. We’ve seen from the Gracetown there are sufficient people prepared to remove bad bolts. It’s great that these things get discussed. It produces a consensus on what we’re all prepared to accept. The message board is very useful because it exposes everyone to the range of opinion that exists.

    The bolting debate is an extension of the fixed protection controversy that started long before the Yosemite piton scars of the sixties. Bolted sports climbing is still very new. Only having begun in earnest about 15 years ago. Bolts have inherited a lot of the debate. For a long time pre the nineties climbing was thought to be about overcoming “difficulties”. Some thought that putting a bolt ladder up any difficult section defeated the purpose of the activity. Others thought differently and bolts were used on aid climbs. Though aiding on a hand drilled dowel may be a different experience from hauling oneself up a thoroughly bolted sports climb. Ethical questions on bolts seem to follow two lines.

    first The relevance of bolts to the activity at hand, probably not much on well featured trad routes, probably indispensable on overhangs and roofs.

    second The size of the footprint left by the individual. A bolt imposes someone’s intentions on the rock and so influences the actions of those following. How desirable this is, one would think could only be determined case by case. Whatever else, bolts are man-made things put into the natural environment. Some may regard Maestri’s compressor, dangling on the side of Cerro Torre, as an historic icon, but it’s all really just scrap metal. One would hope where-ever bolts are used, they’d be used economically.

    An earlier question was whether bolts are always necessary. If one rejects the challenge of widely spaced bolts and the route is easily top-roped then why not spare the cliff and other climbers the sight of strings of shiny metal? It may give someone else the opportunity to climb the route in a completely different style, perhaps with sparsely placed bolts, perhaps with a little bit of natural gear.

    Fortunately all this is pretty widely understood. Thought not right now at Gracetown. In addition to the amazingly chipped and bolted route, holes have been drilled on two adjacent climbs, with the clear intention of placing additional bolts. Both Rosser creations, ‘Good Start’ at 20 has one bolt and natural gear. ‘Twist Up’ can be climbed as a natural 13 avoiding the face at the top. The top of the cliff is easily accessible and covered with CALM abseiling bolts, climbs are easily top-roped. What business anyone has in messing up the original climbs I can’t imagine. I support the gentleman who spoke out against the Gracetown bolts and agree with him that new bolts on these routes will be removed.

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