Friday, March 15, 2013

Trees Versus Bolts

Just saw this remarkable thread on Mountain Project about rap anchor bolts being chopped for a descent off a formation at Red Rocks.


 One individual commented " Commercial bolting in RR is a problem. Locals taking care of the situation is exactly what should have happened. We shouldn't be worrying about some trees that will never last as long as the rock, regardless if the rope threads the same. Slings last a long time in the desert compared to the most other wet parts of the country. The only people this could be an eye sore is to climbers which should be used to seeing slings on trees. To clean it up, feel free to cut it off and add your own."

 Setting aside the obvious problems in the individual comment above, I wonder how many climbers are still locked in the old-school mindset that "natural" rappel anchors on popular routes are somehow preferable to solid permanent camouflaged bolted ones. Having rapped off plenty of crappy old webbing back in the day, I want to say good riddance to that attitude. Better to avoid trampling vegetation and killing trees, even if some climbers disdain this kind of bolting as "convenience anchors." Maybe after the 20th or 30th ascent of the route, convenience overrides further impact on the cliff's ecosystem?


Luke said...

I don't think people will ever agree, so there will be bolt "wars".

This comment from that thread sums up my opinion.

"I'm constantly amazed by these hardcore people in Red Rock. Feeding your rope through rap rings attached to a tree by slings and rappelling is sooooo superior to feeding your rope through rap rings attached to bolts and rappelling.

That is just hardcore descending. I hope to be such a hardcore descender someday!"

Patrick Mulligan said...

Everyone is going to have an opinion on it one way or another. However, you may not realize that this descent gets done hundreds of times a year and has been done so without killing that particular tree for the last 30 years. Its also in an area designated as wilderness where there is a current bolt ban (that has not kept hundreds of belay anchor bolts and bolted routes from appearing during the ban).

There is a climbing plan for Red Rock that allows the use of bolts in certain circumstances but retrobolting is currently illegal. To add two more bolts to an area that simply doesn't need it definitely doesn't help the "cause".

Red Rock is a wild and beautiful place but it also is an area where many have developed a casual attitude for bolting. This has some potential to screw us climbers in the long term, and the locals responsible for removing the bolts did the right thing.