June 22, 2008

summer life

Summer time is here! We've changed out gang sessions from the gym to Heise Rock on Monday and Wednesdays. After climbing we end up on the front porch doing rounds of "pull up till failure" on the Wood Grips hang board! It's getting pretty awesome and has been lasting till almost midnight! Heather is rockin' it with 9 pull ups on her first set and is only reducing a total of 5 in a set of 5. Pretty good if you think about a lady cranking out max pull ups till failure without resting! We've also really enjoyed the crowd this year. I think last Wednesday we had nearly 15 people getting the total melt down!

Matt and Jerry at the Yellow Cake Wall
Many years ago i had the opportunity to spend an evening with Todd Skinner, Paul Piana, and a few others from Lander, Wyoming. The topic centered around much of the new development that had taken place at the Wild Iris. I sat there in awe of my hero's gleaning and absorbing their wisdom as they discussed various aspects of opening sport routes. To me, these guys wrote the book on establishing quality sport climbs. That night was something special for me.

A few years ago i picked up an old copy of Paul Piana's guide to the Wild Iris. The intro is classic Todd and Paul wisdom and reminded me of that night with those guys. Just the other day I came across that old guidebook heavily marked up with my various exploits at the Iris. I re-read the intro and was once again moved by the words, so i thought I'd share a portion of their views on establishing routes. Here goes:

Chad Alldredge on-sighting Chapstick 5.12a
More and more people are climbing. More people are establishing new climbs. This increased activity coupled with increased environmental awareness makes it imperative that all of us equate “good style” with a first ascencionist's end product. How the route is established (ground up, rap bolted, manufactured, etc) should be of lesser concern. How valid the line, the logic of placement and longevity of the fixed protection and anchors, the quality of movement… all of these are important. Remember, the game is sport climbing… which means any run-out is contrived and out of place. “Better a few bolts too many, than one too few” is what I always say [Paul Piana]. We have seen competent 5.11 leaders establish dangerous 5.9 and 5.10 sport climbs to demonstrate how bold they are… And competent 5.12 leader’s top-rope a climb of this grade, until they are able to contrive a long or dangerous fall into their rehearsed climb. To me, this is unfair to the on-sight climber and especially unfair to the climbers wishing to enjoy the same protection on a .9 which may be their on-sight limit, as the .12 climber would expect to find on a climb of .12 grade. Stealing from the enjoyment and safety of others to prove one’s boldness actually proves the reverse, no? Do it right the first time and for all time.

Shaken not Stirred 5.12a (flash)
Sometimes the best answer is a series of closely spaced bolts. Remember, sport climbing isn’t alpine climbing, where boldness and risk are desirable part of the game… in sport climbing, danger is largely contrived.

Pretty good food for thought i think. I've always been one to open routes with others in mind. Protecting the route with the purpose of providing the best protection so the climber can focus on the movement and nothing else is whats important to me. On many routes I've equipped, i personally would or could do without certain bolt placements, but this is often due to rehearsed movement from working out the intended route and would likely result in a route others would feel to be under equipped.

We all have different motivations for taking the time and putting forth the effort, not to mention the financial aspect, in establishing sport routes. I just hope that the routes I've put the effort into would be something my hero's would think quality in end result and a worthwhile route for anyone who wants to try them.