Do ‘First Ascentionists’ have any rights?

Look at this photo carefully….stonemastersSee anything special? Is there anything ‘mythical’ about it? Did the men in this photo have super natural powers that allowed them to effortlessly float up sketchy routes with only a handful of home-made gear, or worse, a rack filled with failed inventions like this:

lowe camYup… Think of those next time you’re Elvis leg kicks in as you try to place that bomber X4 on some 5.5 at the Gunks. The truth is, climbers in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s weren’t the fearless bad asses that our generation is lead to believe. They just didn’t know any better, and ignorance doesn’t make you a hero.

We’ve all seen that silver haired, cantankerous, ‘vintage’ climber at the base of some classic 5.fun route at the crag spewing outrageous comments that somehow the new-school climbers have ruined the honourable pursuit of rock climbing. Like we have no respect for what climbing used to be.

What climbing used to be?? This is what climbing used to be:old climbersClimbers from ‘back-in-the-day’ would pound in pitons, yard on gear, pull on branches, and at the end of the day, name and grade their ascent. Today, many of these routes exist as ‘classics’ with 1 or 2 bolts, (1/4 inchers), rusted out to shit, a few corroded pitons, and holds that have either broken off, or become polished from over-use. So logically, someone should upgrade the route to the 21st century, right? Remove the crap gear, retro bolt it with stainless steel, and put up a fun, safe route, right?

This is where people go nuts… Ask this question on Mountain Project, and you’ll get the typical response..

“If you can’t climb the route as the FA did, either get stronger, or find another route to do and leave the 5.6 R/X routes for the big boys!”

This is climbing’s most egregious obstacle. We think we owe it to the first ascentionists somehow, as if they deserve respect for their gorilla tactics on the rock. Routes with runouts should be protected safely. Routes with pitons should see them removed, and replaced by bolts. 5.6 routes should exist for 5.6 climbers, not 5.13 climbers who work up enough courage to get on an R/X route that’s well below their free solo level, and then spray about it to their other 5.13 climber buddys.

Unless the FA owns the cliff where he/she put up their first ascent, they should have no say in what style someone can or cannot climb a route. The great thing about a bolt is, you can choose to not clip it. If you want to climb a route in the style of an FA, find out what shoes they were wearing, if they used chalk or not. Were they drunk? Did they used a hemp or nylon rope? Try to match the conditions exactly. If it was raining, wait for a rainy day. If they clipped only 1 bolt, 60 feet off the deck, feel free to skip the first 8 bolts that I put in, and relive the glory days. Sit around the camp fire at night, and bask in your awesomeness. I however, warmed up on the route, clipped all 16 bolts, and lowered off the Fixe Draco sport anchors, because it’s my goddamn right to do so.

 

Wes.

 

 

 

 

 

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50 thoughts on “Do ‘First Ascentionists’ have any rights?

  1. That is always his response, “do you even climb?” what a joke! The Wesley, your blog is funny, good thing you are joking because if you were serious you would be offending the entire climbing community with your ignorance.

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  2. I don’t agree with you and no they don’t own the route, but neither do you. There are plenty of well equipped sport routes out there with 16 bolts, one every 5 feet, for you to do. Let’s preserve the vision and boldness of our pioneers for the future.

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      • You insult people on your own lame blog. No The Wesley you are the one who does not get it. Please learn some respect for the greats that climbed before you. And if you are the 13 climber you claim to be, lead The Phoenix in Yosemite, I would love to see that flail! STAY IN THE GYM! bub.

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      • “have respect for the greats” lolol…. you old timers need to learn your place: climbing in a world where 5.9 was the hardest thing in the world… get real.

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      • well you can insult me without even knowing who I am or what i climb. It is often thought that people bully others to try and make up for their own inadequacies.
        I hope you fair well with that attitude in life…

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      • Not sure the phoenix is a good example seeing as the thing was chipped. Guess those ethics only apply if you are putting in bolts but not a cranky trad climber?

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  3. I see your point;……and each generation seemed to give the generation before them the middle finger;………climbing, like all things,……changes, progresses, morphs, mutates……….I do a lot of FAs, and I like “my “routes to be respected and keep in the vision that I had when I did the FA. But then;…..do we have to respect the drunk knucklehead who put in the bolts in all the wrong places?….or the dude who top roped a climb 10 times before he rap bolted a route?…or the 5.12 climber who established the 5.9 run out route for “all” to enjoy………yeah;..right..
    Climbers are kooks;…and not all FAs are done correctly, responsibly, safely, or even in a way that pleased the FA party!……it’s a slipperly slope. I think many climbers are pissed that many “classic” routes were done “old school”…..and are dangerous and today’s climbers are sort of held “hostage” by the style of the FA party from “back in the day”. I’m an old man. Today’s young climbers will have to figure this one out………it’s gonna be a prickly subject….

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  4. You’re slipping, Wes. unfortunately a fair number of people hold the view you’ve expressed, and they express it seriously, but in the same terms, making your usually clever irony invisible here. C’mon, you can do better.

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  5. Do you realize who those guys are in your photo? One of them may just save your life in Yosemite. Hint Hint.
    You are so frigging lame! Live in your own hero fantasies and learn some respect. Wow you can climb 12 on plastic and on over bolted sport routes? WOW. Brag on mister because you seem to know everything.
    I really hope no new climbers listen to you. Judging from your posts you seem to have a huge head and very little experience. A combination that gets people hurt in the real climbing world. Good luck lad.

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  6. *guerilla*

    Discussions like this make me feel like I just got a bonus for being a trad climber. If you put bolts in a well protected trad route, you’re a coward and a douchebag. If you but them in a poorly protected route, you’re a coward and a douchebag. My occasional foray on bolts is usually on Yosemite slab and I don’t see Mr. Wes making up stories about doing any hand-drilling on lead anytime soon. I don’t give a crap about whatever bullshit local crag he’s climbing at and neither does anyone else who’s capable of climbing actual classics. It’s all pretty clear from where I sit.

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    • The instructors at my local gym have told me that most trad guys can barely climb 5.9 on a good day! You guys should ditch all that old trad crap, get in the gym, and do something hard for a change.

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    • Where do you draw the line? Climb a crack on lead while pounding in pitons… hard… climb same crack with hexes… easier…. climb same crack with cams… even easier… climb same crack with bolts… even easier…
      It’s just a natural progression, and dinosaurs like you dont see the meteor coming.

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  7. Wow! Drilling on lead! Hardcore! Bro did u know I drilled yo hoe on lead? Haha!

    Listen up, Wes is the new generation. K? All y’all dumb ass old climbers better put your erectile disfunction plauged cocks away, foenem get gravy on the north face of the Eiger a5 route bitches! We climbed it, bolt gun, bolts, no pitons. U think you hardcore? Check out my blog niggas

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  8. Wow! Cowboys and cowgirls! Why hate on a super rad and sick guy? I would like to see you all climb like me. I can climb wi4 m8. I crush in the alpine. South face of mount temple. Very hardcore!!!back off arm chair mountaineers!!!

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  9. So I was climbing Snake Dike with my home made gear like you taught me and I thought the run outs were too scary. So I said screw the style of the first ascent and reto bolted the shit out of that route, Man I place a bolt every five feet! I know I’m not as rad as you but some day, if I keep reading your blog, I may stand in your shadow, humbly. Oh yeah and I finally told my mommy that I am a climber! Thanks to you THEWESTLY!

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  10. Yes! Even on well-bolted routes I don’t hesitate to add more bolts if the existing ones are out of my reach from the easiest clipping stance. Wes has a few inches on me, so I’ll be retro-bolting his retro-bolted routes soon!

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  11. It doesn’t take a genius to see Wes is a writer specializing in satire. Get over yourselves and read this blog the way its supposed to be read, as a humorous poke at overly debated climbing ethics.
    Great post, gave me a laugh!

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  12. I don’t think you quite understand what climbing actually was back in the 70’s to the 90’s. I think you need to consider who is the one being ignorant. Look at the first ascent of El Cap, they were pushing the limits of climbing, with stove legs. There were no Big Bros or #6 Camelot’s. They were pioneering, there was no other information for them to be ignorant towards; you are being ignorant. Telling people to buy USED solid stem friends. Do you even know how they are used? You are acting like a prime example of how the new generation of climbers is being ignorant and has blatant disregard for safety or logic. You are ignoring the last 60 years of trial and error, book definition of ignorance. If you are too sacred to get on a run out 5.8 then don’t get on it. Besides honoring the first ascentsist, retro bolting is a slippery slope when it comes to access. Bolds are supposed to be replaced one for one in 99.9% of places that are within wilderness. You retro bolting a stupid 5.8 could ruin access to an area. Are you going to be the one that gets Joshua Tree closed because you feel like Black Tide is run out and you don’t have the guts to climb it. You need to look at why the route was climbed in that style and why the route has not been retro bolted already. Climbing is A LOT different that your mind perceives it to be.

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    • It’s people like you who are ruining climbing… What if golf clubs were still made out of wood? What if basketball players were all still white guys from Harvard? What if cars still went 20 mph, had no seat belts, and ran on steam? The fact is…. history belongs in history books. We can all read about the Wright brothers, but we want to fly in the new Air Bus. Climbing is no different… sure, it’s great the way they did it back in the day, but this is now. And now, we want safe climbs, well protected, and using these fancy new contraptions and doo-hickeys called power drills. Maybe you’ve heard of them?

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      • How old are you? Look, I’m 18; I have grown up around climbing all my life. I grew up climbing outside, not some gym rat looking to clip draws every 5 feet. I have watched the new generation of climbers come into climbing and make deadly mistakes out of pure ignorance. You are being hypocritical, remember your article “Gear…on a budget!” where you tell climbers to buy used solid stem friends? USED! Do you know how to use a solid stem friend? It is totally different than a flex stem. We need climbers that are safer, not safer routes. A safe route is of no benefit if you don’t climb it safely. Just like seat belts do no good if you don’t use them or titanium golf clubs if you have no form. Tito Traversa died because he did not check his gear. Even if there was a bolt every 2 feet he still would have died. I think you may want to consider looking at the whole scope of climbing.

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      • The Westley, your above response proves that you are a true douche. Ruin climbing by respecting history and style? Little man. please stay in the gym.

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      • Word. You ROCK Wesley!!!! Here’s a gear tip – I’m using air tools for bolting now because they just work better; I hang a cylinder of nitrogen off a top rope to make it easier. Also, I find that if I blast music real loud no one hangs around and I don’t get shit from the old timers.

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      • It’s crazy how bent out of shape these old folks get when there is music being enjoyed at their sacred stomping grounds where they have every route ruthlessly wired. Go climb somewhere else for crying out loud. It’s a big bad world out there

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  13. Did you go climbing or something? I’m finding it pretty hard to procrastinate here without any new posts and may need to get off my computer and go climb something myself, thank you!

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    • I’m giving up on living vicariously through Wesley and going to the rock gym too. Maybe he will be there cranking on some sick new lines spraying about his latest adventure. Toodles internet tough guys and gals, see you when the next depression sinks in and I can’t break out of this here interweb of false hopes and dreams.

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      • You all actually enjoy this lame crap posted by Wesley. He is just a nobody gym climber that spreads crappy techniques and lame opinions to naïve noobs. I’m glad some are getting off their fat butts and going climbing. Actually go do anything besides read this junk show. This blog is perfect for posers and well assholes like myself that enjoy talking smack! Carry on.

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      • @Purist. Wesley lame???? Noobs???? What means this word? Wesley is THE MAN telling it like it is and should be. If you can’t stand the heat of his pure flame then get off the stove!!! Words to live by if you’re REALLY a climber like Wesley: “If you push it hard enough it WILL fall over”. Them’s rock climbing words with meaning and soul. Bolt it!!!!!! Then bolt it again!!!!!

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      • Really, Purist, think a bit and go with the flow. All things are not constrained; sometimes the snail can fly higher than the hawk (or enjoy it more).

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  14. Wesley, thank you for your perspective. I’m a relatively new climber (2.5 years in), and I find myself wanting a voice in climbing media that reflects my personal feelings. Glad you are here for the next generation, the generation that is going to take it to the next level!

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