Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Route Development: Choosing Your Choss

I have done a lot of reading concerning route development, cleaning and bolting.  Some people have asked me how I go about putting up new routes and such.  If you go on line to places such as Rock, you get many opinions and a lot of 'if you have to ask you shouldn't be doing it'.  I personally think that is a load of shit.  There are many things I have taught myself from the pages of a book that would have never happened if I waited for someone to show me.

The first thing is to choose your choss.  Most people put up routes in an area that is already developed.  If you do this, be sure to respect the style of route already existing in the area.  Don't put up a sport route in a trad area but don't feel bad about bolting near a crack if that is an established style for the area.

The Gunks in NY is a hard care trad area.  Only the park rangers are allowed to places bolts and these are usually only rap anchors.  In Europe, everything is bolted, including cracks.  A typical European rack is a set of draws.  

Newfoundland has a pleasant mix.  We have trad routes with just top bolts.  There are sport routes with rap anchors and then there are the mixed routes.  Mixed routes are the obvious combination of sport and trad.  A mixed route is bolted accept when there is a good place for pro.  It can also be a trad route with a couple of bolts in run out or difficult to protect places.  This is classic of Flat Rock.  There are not many spaces left in Flat Rock for new routes unless you want to develop over water.  If so, there is a shit load of potential.

An ideal place for development should have reasonable access to both the top and bottom.  This allow one to set up top anchors easily and you can walk away form the bottom.  Faces over water up the ante significantly.  You can't bail and walk away.  If you get injured, you have to climb out.  If it is multi-pitch over water... have fun!

The ideal face should be fairly clean with no or few ledges.  Vegetation is vary hard to clean off and it can always grow back.  The ledges where it grows can harbor loose rocks and debris. These ledges can also break bones if you land on them.  Liken can be difficult to clean off so the less the better.  If there is liken, wait until it is very dry, then it comes off pretty easy.  Avoid faces that have a run off.  They are always wet or stay wet longer than other faces.  They also tend to be heavily vegetated. 

Faces for sport climbing should be 100 feet or less.  A 60 meter climbing rope is 200 feet long so a route less than 100 feet allows for a direct lower.  Above 100 feet, you need to set up a rappel anchor somewhere in the middle to allow for lowering off.  Many sport route are set on the first 100 feet of huge mountains.  This is common in Red Rock, Nevada.

The face that we have recently found meets all of the above desirable characteristics.  I can't wait to get at it.

Future topics will likely include, picking a route, cleaning the face, choosing bolt placements, types of bolts, how to bolt and FA edicate.  

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