Friday, September 21, 2012

Lolo East Fork New Routes and Guide

We're psyched to have just received word of a new sector of routes located near Lolo Hot Springs on the East Fork road. This is the road you access the Heap from. The routes include bolted sport and a selection of cracks.

This all comes courtesy of Conor D. (one of the main Rattler Style Wall developers). Conor has written it all up in a cool e-guide with great graphics downloadable here. We've also placed the link in the Guides and Topos side bar to the right.

The smoke and unseasonable heat means it's still Lolo climbing season. So go to the East Fork Crags and CHECK IT OUT!!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Broad Church

Climbing is a broad church– the value and significance given to climbing varies a great deal from one person to another. -UIAA

In a comment on our March 26, 2012 blog, "Bolts," local Missoula climber Dean Towarnicki worried "what the Bitterroot will become when everyone has a power drill and they are rap bolting everything." It is unlikely that this will be a concern in the Bitterroot any time soon, given the near infinite quantity of rock compared to the minuscule number of people putting up routes. While not an immediate problem in rock rich, but lightly populated Montana, it is a real conflict in densely populated Europe. In some places in Europe climbers have literally bolted everything.

At the bottom of this post are links to two documents produced by the UIAA that address the conflict over bolting in Europe. These are measured statements, supported by some of the most accomplished individuals in modern climbing, including Chris Bonington, Yvon Chouinard and Alex Huber. They are well worth reading. While there seems to be little real conflict in North American between traditional climbing and sport climbing, that could change in one generation, if the current ethic of coexistence and respect is not passed on.

In North America, bolting cracks, retro bolting, and bolt chopping are isolated problems. After some initial conflicts in the 1980’s, sport climbs have largely co-existed with traditional climbs without real conflict. For example: Yosemite, Red Rocks, Smith Rocks, Red River Gorge, New River Gorge, Lake Louise and the Bitterroot all have many great traditional and sport climbs for climbers to enjoy at all levels. In North America the pragmatic and pluralistic climbing ethic of coexistence and respect seems to be well established. If we were to try and distill that ethic it might come down to just two norms:

1. Climbers should aim at coexistence. Don’t bolt traditional climbs or chop sport climbs.

2. Climbers should aim at mutual respect.  Given the availability of natural protection, it may be difficult to decide if a climb is traditional, mixed or sport--any route can theoretically be climbed with an X rating, and, of course, any line can be bolted. Climbers should be respectful of the choices made by the first ascensionist. It follows that one should not retro bolt or chop bolts without the permission of the first ascensionist.

These norms seem to be accepted common sense in the Bitterroot/Missoula climbing scene. Nevertheless, Dean's comments are appreciated for provoking thought and discussion on these issues. Ethics discussions are healthy for identifying and resolving problems, as a lot of climbing ethics falls into a gray area. Andrew Bisharat commented in a recent issue of Rock & Ice that "aside from not lying, not being a dick, and not trashing the environment, most of climbing ethics falls into a gray area." However, climbing ethics debates are sometimes less about an ethical gray area and more about climbers’ egos. Most good climbers these days enjoy playing all sorts of climbing games: gym climbing, bouldering, sport climbing, adventure climbing.  All of these games are fun and worth the time and effort. It is wrongheaded and arrogant for a climber to claim the moral high ground because he or she prefers one climbing game to another. They are, after all, just games.

As Rock & Ice's Jeff Jackson noted in a recent blog post, each move climbers take toward judgment and dogma worship moves us further from the fundamental reasons we climb: "It’s all good to adopt ethics and beliefs--until they start to make you miserable, hateful, insufferable and dangerous. We’re living in a time of disunion where people are not only slagged off by haters but shot down in cold blood. So when you find yourself hardening around some belief about the way the world should be--whether it is the proper way to climb or how to correctly worship God--try taking a bigger perspective.  The work of a lifetime is not to justify your beliefs and blame others, but to wake up to the reality of wonders and realize the great freedom of not knowing."

UIAA Documents

UIAA Mountaineering Commission To Bolt Or Not To Be
UIAA Policy on the Preservation of Natural Rock for Adventure Climbing