Another Bolt War…

So I recently found a route at one of my local climbing areas that I believed was unclimbed. It was a beautiful route, so I decided to set up an anchor and rappel the route and clean it. I tried to send it on top rope, and felt like it would be an amazing addition to the climbs at the cliff. I came back the next day and put in bolts to make this climb accessible for everybody to enjoy it. When I was finished I lowered back down to the ground and was confronted by 2 very angry older climbers. They had told me that I was wrong to put bolts on this route because it had been climbed before and the person who climbed it first didn’t put any bolts in, so nobody can.

How was I supposed to know that this was climbed by somebody else? There were no anchors at the top, no bolts, and its was dirty and full of loose rocks. I felt like I was adding to the routes at the cliff, but these climbers were very frustrated and confrontational. I decided I’d better leave.

I think that it is unfair for someone else to say how a route should be climbed. I like my route, and I’m hoping others will get to enjoy it as well.

I named it, “Rock Climbing Life” 5.8+, in honour of this blog!

23 thoughts on “Another Bolt War…

  1. Is this a troll? I sure hope so.
    For those that do not recognize this as a troll:
    First: If this route could be climbed as a gear lead route, then you shoukd never consider putting in bolts? You rob trad climbers of the opportunity to test their route finding and route protection skills, and worse, bolts are an ugly eyesore that takes away from the outdoor experience and forever alters the rock. Bolts should only be added as a last resort to provide LIFE SAVING protection and ONLY on a part of the route where NO OTHER natural features could possibly be used.
    . Second: You should always make every, exhaustive, effort to discover if the route had been climbed before, especially at a crag with other existing routes.

    Third Not every piece of climable rock needs to be bolted, This is a judgement call that weighs the benefit of adding another route verse another blight on mother nature. Some routes are worthy, some just are not…

    Fourth: If your sauce is to weak to lead it on gear, then be satisfied with top roping it. Try it with a BIG bunch of slack if you desire a bit more thrill.

    Sorry to ruin your troll, but some idiots might read this and think you are serious, and believe this is actually an acceptable thing to do….


  2. Not so much a bolting war, as a bolting genocide. Don’t bolt existing routes or they will get chopped, and you will be out of time and money that could have been spent on something else, like a set of nuts or a cam.

    This post expresses the same attitude that I commonly hear from climbers who are brought up climbing indoors: namely, that climbing routes are to be established for consumption by the masses. Hemmingway once said that there are only three sports: race car driving, bull fighting, and climbing, the rest are only games. What this means is that sport involves a sense of adventure, a sense of the unknown, and danger. It is through a participant’s skill and bravery that great achievements are made in sport.

    By reducing outside climbing to the same experience that people get in a gym, you rob sportsmen and women of the potential adventure that rock climbing can offer. Instead, you have only created a commodity, and while this may be marketable, it is most assuredly cowardly, selfish, and lame. The climbing I was brought up in was all about unlocking the magic and taking risk, about mastering the physical and psychological difficulties through power and grace. This is a beautiful thing, but this experience is threatened by young, short-sighted, consumer-oriented, or inexperienced climbers such as yourself.

    Perhaps you should concentrate on putting up new routes in a way that pushes the sport forward, and gives young climbers something to aspire to, and doesn’t just cater to their inexperience and inadequate ability. Regardless, you should chop the route, because it will likely be removed, and this way you will at least get to keep the hardware. If you desire a sport that caters to your lack of courage or ability, try golf or bowling.


  3. What you fail to realize is that the histories of climbing in areas are related to the climbing ethics of that area.These ethics are formed by many people who come to a consensus on how they and future climbers should proceed with the area’s development. These ethics evolved to include land mangers and owners so these area could stay open for all to enjoy. It is really no different than driving, you don’t follow the rules of the road and you may get to meet and irate cop who now gives you a ticket. But we as climbers are in danger of much more, loosing an entire climbing area based on the actions of one person who thinks the local ethics need to be challenged. If you want to challenge these local ethics then join the groups that manage them. Climbers are not the outsider rebels that we once were.
    BTW, your earlier comment about not taking vaccines was off the mark, as it is a relatively knew phenomenon, born out of an ignorance of historically verified facts, making it sound like you’d be the type to reject vaccines 😉


  4. Right on Wes! Just because some old geriatric ran it out in the day does not make its style set in stone. This is your time and your record of history is your row of bolts proudly claiming its legacy. Old dude should have painted route name and grade if he really sent.

    Remember, climbing is hard so why knott bolt


    • Can’t agree more.
      Frustrates me when areas that go in touched for 10 years 15 years have a so alled ethic about them and a history. Yes I appreciate history but what I appreciate way more is that the people doing the work go tithe effort to record there work. No record? Then if someone else comes along and does something in a different style then there is no reason you can complain.
      I think anyone developing new routes puts in a lot of effort. It takes time and money.
      I come from a family of climbers so I can appreciate how things were climbed but that doesn’t mean every new route should be climbed in the style as the old days or we would be sending on hemp ropes?


      • How can you be so arrogant. These route setters are the pioneers that created routes for everybody to use. They are respected in a manner where the route and name are considered their property. If they climbed it without any bolts, then it means that it’s climbable without bolts. That’s the way it was designed to be climbed. Putting bolts in not only ruins the experience of climbing the route, but just shows your complete disregard for these pioneers.

        Why go through all of the trouble of bolting when it does absolutely nothing but forever damage the rock and just makes it harder for people to develop their skills.

        And drilling bolts into the rock can sometimes be more dangerous than putting in trad gear. The people who eventually use those bolts have no idea whether it was put in properly or not. And if the bolts fail, you are completely responsible. Whereas with trad gear, the lead climber knows if the piece they place in is either bomber or sketchy. If you put in a piece of gear that fails, it is your fault only.


  5. Ok I have a few issues with your comments.
    Firstly who’ve you seen or climbed the route in question?

    Secondly do you know if there is any record of it other then two old bumbly climber having a go at the bolter?

    How is bolting what the OP thought was a new line disregarding said pioneers of climbing? If there is no record of the climb then where are the pioneers?

    Don’t forget people the people out there bolting new routes are often the ones taking the time and spending their own money to replace fixed protection on existing climbs that you have so much respect for.

    I kind of see the fight between sport climbers and trad climbers like the start of snowboarding at ski resorts. It’s progression and it happens if you like it or not.

    Get your hacksaw out and go lead it as said pioneers and cut the bolts if it’s such a problem.

    To the OP of this blog. Keep on bolting. You will have 100 people who bag out your routes and 1 person who says good job mate. Listen to that one person because more often then not the other 100 are the people who couldn’t be bothered to put in the time, effort money and thought that goes into what your doing. Bolt for yourself to climb a line you want to climb and don’t bolt for others because I’m damn sure the pioneers didn’t go “let’s climb this line so that some guy can do it again in the same style in 40 years”


  6. Please, this isn’t a fight between trad climbers and bolters, it’s a fight between the worst generation- the offspring of the greatest generation- and the millennials/gen X’ers. You’ve robbed us of our lives and limbs through your senseless endless wars, you’ve robbed us of a decent education by inflating costs beyond all reason for your cushy pathetic administrative sinecures, and you’ve robbed us of financial peace of mind by indebting us for your foolish governmental spending whims. We say no, enough, this is our line, our rock, our style, and our bolts.


      • I can’t be the only one who finds this extremely ironic. It was those people that climbed using hemp ropes that started the clean climbing movement in the 60’s-70’s. Discouraging the use of pitons and promote using chocks and the newly invented SLCD. Thus, the method of trad climbing was created.

        So technically, those that believe we should bolt every single route out there because it is “new” are actually promoting the old school ways of climbing by leaving fixed protection.

        In addition, those who believe in bolting tend to say “look into the future” or “put the past behind” don’t believe that they want to forever damage the rock at our climbing areas leading to a questionable future of the sport of climbing.


  7. I love all the people who say their ethic is the only one allowed at this crag or that crag. Most crags are public domain and belong to nobody. Don’t shove your ethic down my throat. I’ve done many first ascents usually ground up when possible placing bolts on lead when necessary Anyone who does ground up ascents will eventually run into heinous runnouts when they wish to God they had a bolt or two to protect themselves. Yes you should try to find out if a line has been done before bolting. That being said if you are going to spend the time to clean bolt when nobody else is doing it more power to you. If it’s a good line people will enjoy it. By the way the people who think bolts are unsightly and Mar the rock are the same people who think you should carry your shit out of the woods.


  8. What about routes that never get repeated because they’re death routes? There are quite a few out there that have never been repeated, should they get bolted do the choppers have to carry their bolt cutters up there on gear? What happens when the FA dies? It’s going to happen, a lot of these FAs are about to pop their clogs and then no one will be able to decide whether routes are allowed to be bolted or not.
    I understand the ethic, it makes the routes a lot easier to climb if you’re not scared to death of your nut popping out so gumbyer climbers can climb the route on bolts. But stil, no one actually wants to die.


    • I think my biggest problem with the “ethic” and what people refer to as old school and what not is the times have changed. People are taking less risk and the world does move on. Certainly think the death routes out should stay there for the test of time. There are some epics but the worthless ones that fall off the radar what happens to them?

      I find it interesting the response from the few FA climbers I’ve spoken to directly about replacing bolts on there lines and more often then not they mention adding a bolt or two because having today’s drills and things they would have done it in different style. Then there are the ones who don’t want the bolts replaced at all…

      There will always be a thin line that’s crossed on both sides and will always be this debate.


  9. I believe route grades should be changed from numerical (5.8, 5.9, etc.) to pretty pictures or maybe colored dots! Rating a route with unicorns, hearts, stars, and rainbows would make me feel better about my climbing abilities. Using a numerical grading system reminds me too much of my short comings academically therefor I project this negativity onto climbing. Falling on a double heart/star+ would make me love myself again.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Haters always hate true visionaries, don’t let that discourage u from putting up properly equipped routes. Thanks for all u do for the climbing community!


  11. there´s plenty of rock to go around. It would probably be better if you do the walking investment and find an wall without existing routes and set them up as you see fit. That way you get the respect of being the route setter and no one can ague with you why you bolted or why you didn’t. You found it, you set up what you needed and climbed the thing. But do the walk, the route-setters from the old days did a lot of walking and looking for their walls. We need to keep that in mind. They ventured out into the unknown, we need to do the same. Find your wall and bolt the hell out of it if you like.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s