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#29782 - 06/05/07 04:12 PM Re: MA Access Success [Re: pedestrian]
nerdom Offline
Pooh-Bah *

Registered: 09/07/01
Posts: 2483
Loc: Davis Sq., MA
 Originally Posted By: pedestrian
If you want hypocrisy, try this on for size:

Of course, we're used to this kind of hand-wringing in the sport of rock climbing, where two factions have been battling for decades over the issue of bolting, a common practice in which bolts are drilled into the rock to serve as permanent protection. Of course, we're not used to seeing the battle rage so fervently in the mind of one individual. Meet Ken Nichols, who's working toward a new, cleaner brand of climbing. The longtime king of bolting on the East Coast and author of the popular Traprock: Rock Climbing in Central Connecticut, Nichols put up many of the most popular routes in the 1970s and later mapped them. But recently Nichols was overcome by guilt. In a Dr. Frankenstein God-what-have-I-done moment, his self-loathing brought him to a kind of conversion. Again, technology is the evil genie that must be rebottled. The new method: Nichols no longer clips in to the bolts. Instead, he simply tosses a skyhook onto a ledge above him and starts climbing, hoping the hook will hold if he takes a fall. As he moves upward, he chops at the same bolts he once installed, a practice that can often leave a different kind of blight-golf-ball-size pock marks in the stone. Meanwhile, in what is becoming a serious problem, local climbers are still using his book. And they're finding out well above terra firma that his life-supporting bolts are no more.

Precisely. I have it on good authority, from a Ragged local who also happened to put up a few of the Gunks' harder lines, that Nichols led all the chopped climbs with the bolts back in the day. The bolts that have been chopped, on Vanishing Point, for example (where he also chopped HOLDS, reportedly to downgrade the route so people wouldn't be so keen to lead it), were few and far between, and were in place when the Ragged Mountain Foundation purchased the property. The deal was that no new fixed pro was allowed, but all existing fixed pro could be maintained and replaced when necessary. As much as I sympathize with a no-bolt ethic, Nichols' actions just go too far, in my eyes anyway. I don't want to start the bolt/no bolt debate here, but I do see a logical problem with allowing people to illegally bolt/retrobolt, and then say that chopping those bolts is vandalism. But that's not the case here. The bolts were already in place, and apparently the community conscensus was that they should remain.
we're all living proof that nothing lasts

#33052 - 09/12/07 03:15 PM Re: MA Access Success [Re: MarcC]
Daniel Offline

Registered: 05/23/01
Posts: 1515
For those who are interested, Ken Nichols pled guilty at his July 16 arraignment. Under the plea agreement, he has to pay $249.99 in restitution, will be under probation for two years, must not enter 5 western MA crags, and must not chop another bolt anywhere.

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