Red tagging – opinions

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Milky 1 year, 8 months ago.

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  • #156160 Reply

    Michael J

    I’ve seen some stuff around lately relating to developing and first ascents…

    I have a philosophical question – is it really a climbers right to tag off a climb as their own proj. I’ve seen arguments like they cleaned the route or smth…but really those arguments don’t make any sense to me? surely an FA is worthless without others the opportunity to try it. And unless you specifically own the land where a route is how can you take offence at any one just jumping on a bit of rock that looks cool?

    sure its one thing to say – props to whoever cleaned it. But my climbing it doesn’t stop them from doing so… only from doing it first maybe which seems a bit arbitrary.

    And if it is a matter of respecting the person/peeps that did clean it then what defines how long you would then wait. Is it a case of looking at the economics of it – x hours searching + cleaning a route = y months where people will give you room to work it?

    Most arguments for the practice of tagging off routes seem fundamentally flawed and I was hoping to get views from other climbers.

    quite curious for opinions on this – spent a few hours talking about it…

    #156164 Reply

    B

    Interesting question…Probably lots of different views on this, but I’ll throw in my two cents.

    It’s a long standing ethic that if a climb has a red tag then you stay off it as it’s a closed project. If ethics aren’t taken into account then where do we draw the line around how we conduct ourselves?

    The first question I would ask from someone raising this topic is whether or not they have cleaned and equipped a new route? There is a lot of effort and expense in doing so, not to mention the vision in being able to spot the line in the first place.

    There’s also the aspect of respect and rewarding the effort for new route development. Given the small scene in Perth there’s probably on two or three degrees of separation between climbers. Taking someone else’s project without their permission will most likely lead to some conflict. How would you feel if you were the person that equipped the route?

    Another potentially aspect is if the route isn’t ready yet, i.e. glue hasn’t set or potentially a problem with where the clipping positions are that need further changes, etc. Maybe not as likely if you go to the same crag all the time, but still something to consider.

    Things do get more murky if there is an abundance of red tagged climbs (especially by the same person/group) or if the project has been left standing a very long time. Once again these are probably subjective depending on the location and the local climbers, however this isn’t a problem we run into very often in Perth. In other locals, this is normally handled by mounting pressure from others climbers will motivate the person who equipped the route to either get it done or else open it up.

    I’m sure there are plenty of articles and forum posts about this issue internationally, but here’s one from Chris Sharma from a little while back.
    http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=54494

    There is something special about FA’s, maybe it’s an ego thing, but let’s face it without FA’s there would be a lot less established climbs around.

    At the same time I have also known very generous route developers who have given away FA’s to others or opened up the projects but at the end of the day it’s their choice and their reasoning behind doing so.

    If this topic inspires people to go out and sink some bolts usual disclaimer about bolting applies…i.e. make sure you know what you are doing so that you don’t endanger your life (and/or others).

    #156166 Reply

    Bob Gnarly

    Well Michael J, how would you feel about shagging another man’s wife?
    Is it a man’s right to claim a woman as his own partner? You’ve seen arguments like they pursued and married her or smth…but do those arguments make any sense to you? Surely an FA is worthless without others the opportunity to try it. And unless you specifically own that person where a root is how can you take offence at any one just jumping on a bit of ass that looks cool?
    Sure its one thing to say – props to whoever found her. But your rooting doesn’t stop others from doing so… only from doing it first maybe which seems a bit arbitrary.
    And if it is a matter of respecting the person/peeps that did it then what defines how long you would then wait. Is it a case of looking at the economics of it – x hours searching + cleaning a root = y months where people will give you room to work it?
    Most arguments for the practice of tagging off women seem fundamentally flawed and you could get views from others.
    You stud.

    #156167 Reply

    .

    There’s no competition here for improvement, if you set a climb then you are guaranteed first ascent cos no one else gets the opportunity.

    The women reference is ridiculous, there’s not first ascent so the climb is still single.

    #156168 Reply

    Zeeter Pang

    If someone had the vision to see a line, clean it and bolt it, I believe they deserve the respect and time to have a good crack at the first ascent. I guess maybe this is a bit different for bouldering where there is no red tape and no effort bolting? I don’t know but if I knew someone had found this boulder and has been projecting it, I’d personally find myself another boulder to play on.

    It’s definitely an interesting question that makes you think …. what’s so important about an First Ascent?

    For me it comes down to ethics; both climbing and your own.

    #156169 Reply

    Ross Weiter

    I recon if people put in the $100 or so it takes to put up a ringbolted or similar 1 pitch route plus 1-2 days of cleaning time (in quarries), they deserve to enjoy the fruit of their own money and labour. That means bagging the FA and getting their name in a guidebook.

    This may seem very selfish at first glance but……basically most (not all) of the world runs on self-interest and in the course of that lots of good stuff happens: bakers don’t bake the bread because they want to feed the world but because they want to make money for themselves, right? In the course of that selfishness, the world gets bread to eat. There was an old economist called Adam Smith who was the first to grasp this concept.

    Route development is the same. The reason for Perth having hundreds of bolted climbs is that individuals have spent tens of thousands of their own dollars and thousands of hours of their own time, and as a “thank you” for that, the rest of us are happy to wait. I trust this helps.

    #156170 Reply

    Michael J

    Cheers for all the interesting and thoughtful responses.

    B – cheers for the link and I’ll definitely have a search around for articles on the matter. I understand that there must be a lot of effort in terms of searching for areas, cleaning, bolting, walk ins etc. For me it comes down to the issue I raised of ‘ownership’ and there being a lack of objective x time/resources invested give y privileges longitudinally.
    In terms of the ethics point you raised – I feel that falls into a slippery slope fallacy. Ethics are already a subjective and ambiguous thing and mean different things to different interpreters. I raise the question more to question the ethical principle itself rather than to say ‘lets break the ethical ruling’ (ie I’m saying that the ethical principle itself should not exist and therefore breaking it is meaningless – rather than we should be breaking it which may then lead to issues of throwing the ethical system to the dogs. It’s an application of equal rigour to all ethical principles).
    Interesting point about a route not being ready for public climbing – not something I had thought about and something I’ll definitely need to do some reading on.

    Bob – The analogy is redundant because a relationship involves consent in both directions (ie there are two sentient parties mutually agreeing to be together or what-have-you). Whereas a rock has no sentience and doesn’t give or withhold consent to be climbed. Even after investing a lot of time into chasing a woman/man it is still her/his right to say no. Whereas a route doesn’t have that capacity.

    . – “The women reference is ridiculous, there’s not first ascent so the climb is still single.” and even with an FA the first asscentionist would then open the route up. Whereas with a relationship you’d hope the FA leads to the closing off not the other way around.

    Zeeter – Absolutely. If there is a project I probably wouldn’t jump on it without having permission – but less because of the ethics of it and more at this time I’d rather not step on toes and make my own life more difficult. The question was a philosophical one 🙂
    You could argue almost equal work could go into a boulder though – especially in the hills around perth. Bush bashing can be trying, boulders arguably harder to find than cliff faces from a practical viewpoint, cleaning off the problem etc.

    Ross – I agree with you that people are predominantly driven by self interest and that ultimately all humans are driven (even those who are seemingly altruistic) by this. My question is still then an economic one – how does y effort/resources/time equate to x return. If the return is time to work on the proj then it makes sense. But here treating the FA as the commodity doesn’t really work too well. It has the same ethical issues as patent trolls. I.e. a climb may remain a project for a long time if only the developer jumps on it – is there are cut off for how long we respect that projecting commodity bought through the x hours/etc. Or is it like a patent where the right should be rescinded after a certain period of inactivity on the route?
    I’m all for reward for monetary/time/effort investment into a route – but I don’t feel the FA should be that return on investment? I agree – full credit to the developer for finding/cleaning/equipping the route in a guidebooks etc.
    Selfishness is fine, but not to the extent of overall loss to the community. I wonder how game theory could be applied in this situation…

    On that note – I’d actually be interested in applying a stats analysis to routes in perth – number of routes, number of FAs, number of hours + cost. Also maybe a grade distribution by location etc. I haven’t ever encountered proper stats/economic analysis in climbing and would be very interested in seeing one?

    Again – cheers for the input. Both interesting and insightful – many things to look up and think about!

    #156172 Reply

    Ross Weiter

    The payoff is a time period to do the FA. Normally this is 1 to 2 years. This allows for injuries and other personal circumstances…. This is selfishness but the baker has the right to get paid for his bread. In the long term this is a gain to climbing community not loss. I agree that it is route developer who should be credited not the FA as in most cases the RD puts in far more effort. But this is a tradition from old days when all routes were trad, route develpment was minimal and all effort was in the FA. The cookie still crumbles like that.

    #156173 Reply

    Proffesor Wombat

    It’s about respect for the established ethic and the community. Those doing new routes deserve a more than fair chance to do the FA. If their routes got stolen by the bottom feeders then they would stop doing them leading to less and less new stuff.

    If people are so motivated for the new route go and put the effort in to find one yourself. Don’t steal it !! It’s the lack of vision and motivation from the punters that stops the growth of the sport…. Not all the greedy FA hunters hogging new lines with pink tape !!!!

    #156175 Reply

    Michael J

    Cheers Ross – that makes more sense! 😀

    Prof Wombat – blind respect for ethic in a community with out scrutiny is worthless so I disagree with your first statement as a premise. Again I say I’d be interested in analysing the stats to see if it is true that “If their routes got stolen by the bottom feeders then they would stop doing them leading to less and less new stuff.”

    I suppose my flaw is trying to find logical consistency in an amorphous ethical mess…?

    #156217 Reply

    Neil

    I don’t wish to further the champagne level farnarkling going on in this thread. But I will politely ask, in my own “selfish” interests, please stay off any routes with red or pink tape.

    Also, for slightly more holistic reasons, please stay off any unknown or unpublished routes. Perth bolters normally publish their routes ASAP after doing them. If you find a line of unknown bolts, I would suggest it is prudent to stay off it for safety reasons. You never know if the bolts have been installed correctly, checked by the bolter, loweroff installed, temporary bolts removed, glue set correctly, loose rock removed etc etc Or if the red tape has simply fallen away or been stolen. I once abandoned “Scoot Scoot Bandicoot” at Statham’s Quarry when it was 95% bolted when a microwave sized, falling block with a razor edge sliced open my leg. 12 stitches later I would have been pretty disappointed had someone decided to appropriate that route because I somehow forgot to put red tape on it during my one legged escape to the hospital…..

    If you have a question about a line of unknown bolts, ask it. Perth is super small and it is pretty easy to find out the background. 90% of new routes are done by just two or three drills…..

    #156326 Reply

    Michael J

    Cheers for that @Neil. The safety thing is an interesting one – and a good point. I would conjecture that even if something is published it could still be poorly bolted or unsafe (rock is not a static medium) and ultimately it is the case of the climber being conscious of the risk they are taking. Maybe there is a marginal return…

    On the pink/red tape statement “But I will politely ask, in my own “selfish” interests, please stay off any routes with red or pink tape.” I never said I wanted to or was going to jump on those routes. I am asking for the underlying philosophy or reasoning behind that. As someone who sounds like you’ve done some development could you give some insight? would you stand by the statement “If their routes got stolen by the bottom feeders then they would stop doing them leading to less and less new stuff” – if so, why? Like I said earlier – I’m asking out of a pursuit of logical consistency – not actually wanting to go out there and look for stuff with redtags on it and “appropriate” it…

    #156533 Reply

    Milky

    Just to add some historical perspective. Australia’s most infamous first ascent of a route which was a project in progress by another climber was the first ascent of Ozymandias. At the time Australia’s tallest potential clean aid route. At a time when clean ground up first ascents were the most highly regarded climbing accomplishment. The climb was an elegant 270m route thought to be unclimbable that had stood unclimbed for many years. The story goes that John Ewbank had made a numerous assaults on it over multiple summer climbing seasons, putting together more and more pitches with each assault essentially sieging the route with various partners. The following summer season one of those who had been his partner returned with another climber stronger than himself and climbed the route for the first time in its entirety. Without the work and vision of John Ewbank the route would likely have stood for much longer unclimbed until someone with john’s vision and ability came along. The accolades of those first ascentionists were spread across the front page of the Melbourne Age with the words “We did it”. Well no they didn’t and the climbing community of the day knew it and responded accordingly. It is this period where the “protection of projects” comes. When the style in which a route was climbed was of much greater import than the grade. I don’t think this helps to answer the question, thought it might be of interest. The ethics of sport climbing are different. It is common today to put up routes on an abseil line and/or practice the route on top rope making it impossible for the first ascensionist to onsite the route.

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