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#48764 - 10/17/09 03:11 PM Re: Time for e climbing ethics debate [Re: camhead]
MarcC Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/10/00
Posts: 3532
Originally Posted By: camhead
First off, Jstan, thanks for your comments on the early ascents of KC; I really was curious to know how much fixed gear left over from aid ascents was on it, since, obviously many other established free climbs were put up using aid-era pins....However, I do think that it is interesting that no recent ascents I know of have placed their own gear.

My partner and I did it on aid a few years after Bragg freed it. IIRC, there were 2 fixed pins and at least one stopper in the roof, but all were well before the lip. In fact, because of the way the rock instantly cuts back, getting over the lip was the aid crux.
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#48768 - 10/17/09 05:21 PM Re: Time for e climbing ethics debate [Re: MarcC]
TrappDyke Offline
journeyman

Registered: 06/10/09
Posts: 80
Camhead. Good work on KC. Your suspicions are correct. No one places all their own gear on KC for two reasons. One is,as you know, it makes it way harder, the other is visiting climbers who actually do the route have no incentive to skip the fixed gear.It would be cool to clean the fixed wires after your done. Someday someone should pull the crummy pins at the lip too.


Edited by TrappDyke (10/17/09 05:23 PM)

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#48770 - 10/18/09 01:24 AM Re: Time for e climbing ethics debate [Re: TrappDyke]
jstan Offline
stranger

Registered: 12/17/06
Posts: 22
Jannette:
I have found hit men are actually getting cheaper these days.

But seriously we went through a time when ego was getting involved with climbing and people were pulling pins. A person died as a result.

After one has climbed awhile the point becomes one of trying not to set the risks that others feel they have to take. The down side is just too large. Furthermore doing this flies directly in the face of what climbing is.

We do have a responsibility for each other.

Someday we may reach a point where people come to agreement as to how to manage protection.

When that agreement has been fashioned I can see coming a time when carefully chosen routes can be restored to their original condition.

It will be a very exciting rebirth.

But only after the consensus has been solidly put in place.


Edited by jstan (10/18/09 01:29 AM)

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#48775 - 10/18/09 04:38 AM Re: Time for e climbing ethics debate [Re: jstan]
rg@ofmc Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 12/25/99
Posts: 2471
Loc: Poughkeepsie, NY
Originally Posted By: jstan

But seriously we went through a time when ego was getting involved with climbing and people were pulling pins. A person died as a result.

After one has climbed awhile the point becomes one of trying not to set the risks that others feel they have to take. The down side is just too large. Furthermore doing this flies directly in the face of what climbing is.

We do have a responsibility for each other.

Someday we may reach a point where people come to agreement as to how to manage protection.

When that agreement has been fashioned I can see coming a time when carefully chosen routes can be restored to their original condition.

It will be a very exciting rebirth.

But only after the consensus has been solidly put in place.


John, I don't remember the incident you are speaking of. Care to refresh a failing memory?

In any case, I think some of what you are saying refers to a historical situation at the beginning of "clean climbing," when nuts were just coming into use and were simply not up to the task of protecting many situations. Perhaps the push to "climb clean" in those days did influence people to advance into difficult ground with some very blunt tools. But technology has marched on, and the contemporary climber, armed with a rack many times the size of the original stopper and hexentric collections, now enjoys protection possibilities that would have been utterly unimaginable to any previous generation.

As for setting risks others feel obliged to take, that certainly sounds like a bad thing, but I think the realities may be both more subtle and more complicated.

First, although all climbing involves voluntarily encountering risks, there is no agreement on what constitutes acceptable risk. What risks, then, are those we should not be "setting?" If we agree that such and such a situation has an acceptable level of risk and someone gets killed there, have we failed in our responsibility to that person?

An experienced climber was recently killed in a ground fall from the first pitch of Three Pines. I wouldn't be surprised if there might have been a low fixed piton at some point back in the day, now removed. Does that removal now constitute a failure of responsibility?

Or consider this: there is a fixed pin over ceiling on the second pitch of MF. It is in a crack that will take a perfect cam placement. People clip that pin without backing it up and then fall on it. They have no idea how good that pin is. Wouldn't the responsible thing be to remove that pin---it certainly isn't necessary there---so that leaders would have to place good verifiable protection instead of blindly clipping something they cannot judge?

The problem is that all climbing involves the voluntary renunciation of some of the means at our disposal. It is now possible to put a bolt every ten feet on every climb. There will, over time, be many fatalities that could have been avoided if we had only done this. Are we thus responsible for all these tragedies?

I find the idea that some group of people is responsible for some other group's safety highly problematic. It seems to me to come from, and make perfect sense in, a sport-climbing context, where the creator of the route has a responsibility to bolt it so that it is safe. But in traditional climbing we are dealing with The Creator rather than a creator. Nature has already made the safety decisions by providing or denying opportunities for traditional protection, and no one is "entitled" to any specific level of risk reduction. For example, a poorly protected 5.7 climb may not be doable by climbers whose leading limit is 5.7. Are such leaders "entitled" to more protection? Is it a failure of communal repsonsibility to provide it for them?

A year or so ago, Dick and I removed an extremely dangerous piton from the upper part of the first pitch of Pas de Deux. This pin was regularly clipped, without backup, by almost everyone I ever saw go up there. I can flat out guarantee it wouldn't have held even a short fall. The people clipping that pin were climbing under a dangerous illusion.

We didn't replace the pin. The crack seemed to channel water and we guessed another rusted time bomb would be the result. Moreover, you could get a small cam in there. And furthermore, there was a solid placement for a medium-sized cam a few feet up and left. We thought the combination of opportunities was in keeping with the nature of traditional climbing and was, in reality, a far safer option than the pin had been.

Well, there were a few (not very many) complaints. Some people said they didn't normally carry a cam that small. Others apparently never looked around when the terrible pin was there to see if there might be alternate placements, and still didn't look around after the pin was gone. And so they said the route had been made more dangerous, an astonishing claim really considering how dangerous it had been with the rotten pin.

I have to say these attitudes really took me by surprise. If someone gets to a place where feel they need protection, and they don't have the piece needed for that spot, then either they back off (not at all hard to do at this spot on Pas de Deux), they look around for alternate placements (in this case available), or they decide to make the next part of the climb an exercise in their skill and control with full realization that they have chosen to take this particular risk.

Is someone forcing them to go on? Are they laboring under some kind of unholy social pressure? Are Dick and I responsible if they take a giant whipper, responsible for their decision not to retreat when they didn't have an appropriate piece, responsible when they failed to look for other placements, responsible when they misjudged the difficulties ahead and their own abilities and forged on unprotected? Do climbers have any of their own responsibilities for their choices? Are their mistakes and human failures somehow a consequence of my or Dick's egotism?

I recently had the privilege of climbing with one of our local masters. We were on unknown ground on a new route. He made a bunch of 5.9 and 5.10 moves and got to a spot where he needed a piece he didn't have with him. So he reversed all those moves (without weighting the rope), came back to the ground, got the piece he needed, went back up, placed the piece, made the hardest moves on the route, and continued to the top.

Perhaps a deeper question has to do with what trad climbing is or isn't. Is the current restriction on placing new fixed protection simply a Mohonk Preserve rule, or is there some sense that traditional climbing, as opposed to sport climbing, is about dealing with what nature has provided, rather than modifying nature for our own amusement and edification? Is trad climbing now defined as sport climbing on gear?

Even more to the point, consider the case of fixed protection that cannot be replaced by today's modern gear. Does the current existence of that fixed protection confer some "right," in perpetuity, on future climbers to enjoy the protection that was historically present, or should the climb be allowed to revert to its natural state, waiting until future gear innovations perhaps make it once again "protectable?" Why exactly are we "entitled" to some level of risk reduction just because it was available in the past, especially in view of the fact that the risks in question are utterly voluntary?

Don't get me wrong---I'm not arguing that fixed gear should be removed, nor am I arguing that failing fixed gear should never be replaced. But I am asking whether the assumptions of entitlement that accompany these discussions are inviolable articles of faith in the climbing community, or whether, as I think, they are open to question and interpretation.



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#48782 - 10/18/09 06:45 PM Re: Time for e climbing ethics debate [Re: camhead]
RangerRob Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/06/00
Posts: 3765
Loc: Ulster County, NY
Camhead how do you that no recent ascents have placed their own gear? Do you have trailcam on the route watching people? Just because someone hasn't posted here about it doesn't mean it hasn't been done.

I've been on the route many times before you tried it. I haven't tried it free yet, but you can be assured that when I do I will try to place my own gear. Will I clip the pins? Yes.

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#48784 - 10/18/09 07:07 PM Re: Time for e climbing ethics debate [Re: RangerRob]
RangerRob Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/06/00
Posts: 3765
Loc: Ulster County, NY
Sorry, got cut off there.

Anyway, it's cool that you nabbed your ascent of Kansas City. You do it any way you feel is good for you, and I don't judge how anyone else climbs. The point of the thread was knowing the local ethic. If I went to The Red and was able to leave draws in place for a send of a route, maybe I would. But, I would certainly ask someone there first if that was cool to do.

I like how you had to throw a number in there to replace the word armchair, as if 5.8 isn't worthy enough to warrant having an opinion. Very classy.

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#48787 - 10/18/09 07:58 PM Re: Time for e climbing ethics debate [Re: RangerRob]
jstan Offline
stranger

Registered: 12/17/06
Posts: 22
Richard:
All good points in a very difficult area. But there was some pin removal going on part way through the change and I think it would be worrisome if it were to become a problem now.

You and I were both there for the carry out. It was not forgettable.

Afterwards I went up on that climb and found all the fixed protection was gone.

I don't have any answers to the question of whether there is a better way of doing things. But that experience defintitely sensitized me to what can happen when someone decides to act generally and unilaterally.

As for pins rusting I would not counsel using cadmium plated pins such as I made. Rain is sufficiently acidic to remove traces of the cadmium and leave it on the rock. There are probably not many of mine left at this late date.


Edited by jstan (10/18/09 09:22 PM)

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#48789 - 10/18/09 09:41 PM Re: Time for e climbing ethics debate [Re: jstan]
chip Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/06/01
Posts: 2676
Loc: Sittin' Pretty in Fat City
Rich, you once again beautifully summarize the debate and possible ramifications of trends. It seems to me that almost all of us began climbing ignorant to varying degrees of many aspects of the game. Unfortunately or not, the excellent detail of Dick's guides does convey some sense of what to expect on a given climb. We may debate the grade or level of protection but I am assured that a G rated climb is unlikely to force me into a do or die situation unless I climb off route or don't pay enough attention to pro. That puts the responsibility on me, where I like it.
As I see it, a day of sport at any grade is infinitely less memorable and satisfying than any trad route I have ever experienced, because of the adventure. there have been many books written on the subject, but I know that I reqire some level of adventure/risk and might have quit climbing long ago otherwise.

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#48816 - 10/19/09 08:21 PM Re: Time for e climbing ethics debate [Re: camhead]
GOclimb Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/26/01
Posts: 2361
Loc: Boston
First of all, congrats on the send. What a cool roof, you must've been psyched!

Second:
Quote:
I do think that Rangerrob and all the other armchair ethicists have been slacking, however, because all that fixed gear was still on the route. Some selfish litterbug aid climber deprived me of a true trad ascent, and I cried the real tears all night.


What gear do you mean? I've only been on the route once - I aided it, oh, around five or six years ago. I can say pretty confidently that every nut, cam, and ballnut I clipped were ones that I placed, and I removed. None were fixed. As for pins, I don't recall what there was in situ, but if they were there, they were very few, and didn't do much either to get me out the roof, or over the lip (the aid crux).

GO

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#48883 - 10/21/09 10:35 PM Re: Time for e climbing ethics debate [Re: GOclimb]
andrew Offline

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/15/99
Posts: 1816
Loc: Denver, CO
Somebody get Eddie away from the bar and tell him there is free gear on Kansas City. Free gear should be the magic words to get him out of retirement.
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