Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bolting Ethics

Candy is nasty! I know this because I am her daddy. She used to be kind and forgiving but now she is just rude and aloof. What a b!tch. By the way, I am not talking about my wife.

Candy is a route I set on Main Face about 5 years ago. It was the first moderate (5.7) sport climb in that area. It allowed fairly easy access to the top of other route. Over the last two years, there has been a lot of erosion at the base. Five to 10 feet of rock have been washed away by winter storm action. The first bolt on Candy is now around 20 feet off the deck. Not safe!!

Now, I have put my effort into developing another area for a number of reason. Candy is the only route I have put up in the Flat Rock Area. I am going to retro-bolt the route to make it safe, but by ethics, that is the only route I can touch. For those of you who are
unfamiliar with the ethics of developing, they are basically the unwritten for an area when putting up or maintaining routes. For example, the Gunks in New York State is a hard core trad area where only the people who are allowed to place bolts are the park rangers. The opposite would be Rumney, New Hampshire where sport climbing runs supreme and even long cracks are bolted. Obviously a different philosophy. This is the basis of "bolt wars" where a guy bolts a crack and a hard core trad climber comes by later and chops all the bolts...bad blood!
To help avoid this kind of conflict, developers should respect the local ethic and the general ethics in regards to bolting.
If a person puts up a route, the assumption is that it was done in a certain spirit with a lot of thought and effort. They are the 'author' of that route. It may have meant to be run out in places to keep it spicy...who knows. If the author wants to change it later, that is their prerogative. But if you want to put in a bolt or two, you need to check with the author and get their permission (to avoid bad blood).
Flatrock currently has a lot of routes that could use a bolt or two to make them safe. Throwing in bolts haphazardly could create friction within the community. The people with the FA's (author) of the routes that need a bolt should be contacted before it is placed.
To make a long story short, I can fix up Candy but I won't retro-bolt any other route unless their is some sort of consent. I hope to get to it in the next week or two.


Phil Stennett said...

How about we actually put together a list of routes that need a new bolt or two and look at getting the permission... or if the FA can't be found a general consensus from the community.

I'm all for ethics... probably more so than anyone around here... but with the changing nature of Flatrock if we don't do something we'll end up with nothing safe left to climb.

Now, obviously for the FA it's up to them what to add, but if we have to take a consensus I would definitely say that nothing should be added anywhere except the start of routes that have become dangerous since they were put up... if it's in the middle of the route it's almost definitely spicy by design.

First one I'll throw out there:

Paging Don Keidik (FA. Leo van Ulden) needs probably 2 bolts at the start... and he shouldn't be too hard to contact!!

Noel O'Regan said...

There are several ways of approaching retro-bolting. I like the idea of consensus. The problem is that we do not have an organization to hold a meeting to get a consensus. I have thought about developing a climbing club in the past. It failed miserably. I don't have the time or interest to spearhead a new climbing organization. I would certainly support it.

We could always attempt to get consensus via this blog, I seem to get a number of reader. What do you think?

Phil Stennett said...

Through the blog would certainly be a good start, but I don't think we can rely only on that. It's not like it's a huge community anyway, I'm pretty sure we could get the Flatrock regulars together pretty easily and figure something out.

Would be good to figure out everything that needs to be done first though, rather than having to do it several times!

Noel O'Regan said...

I dub you Chair of the Flat Rock Retro-bolting committee. First you need to outline your Vision Statement and then your Mission Statement. Identify who will be sitting members of your committee then complete your needs assessment. Once the needs assessment is complete, develop an action plan to be completed by the end of June.
In other words, we should get a few of us together for beers and figure this shit out. You da man!

Phil Stennett said...

Haha, well next time I'm down there I'll stroll along and see which routes are the worst. I think you're onto something with beer though... I think some kind of BBQ and a few beers could entice people into a meeting... I'll see what I can do ;)