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Recently I repeated some of the harder crack climbs in Tasmania and even added a 27 at Ben Lommond.  After climbing the Grand Adjudicator 27 at the star factory, placing the gear on lead, I really started questioning the validity of certain tactics used in claiming the first free ascent of a route.  Nick Hancock had originally hammered in a bunch of pitons to climb this “scary and unprotectable” crack. Thankfully the pins have all been pulled out and it took a 19 year old local kid, Alex Lewis, to show Hancock how to climb the route properly. That is, by placing the gear on lead. Hancock has already been dragged over the coals for the pitons in Adjudicator; I am bringing it up again because every time someone repeats this route properly they will think back to his pathetic effort. Do the first ascentionists of other cracks want the same disgrace as Handcock?

In the USA , and everywhere else I can think of, these all gear, hard single pitch routes have ALL been done by placing the gear on lead. It’s not even a question. The only question was, “How can we place the gear easier?” On Cobra Crack 5.14 an aspiring leader velcroed the crux piece of gear to his harness. The eventual first ascentionist held the piece in his mouth! When Beth Rodden climbed Meltdown 5.14, possibly the hardest crack in the world she duct taped the gear to her harness for easier placeing.

Back to Tassie, we have Hancock hammering pins on a 5.12 on what is actually a well protected gear route. And most of the other hard cracks, all only 5.12s are being done with preplaced gear.  Its a shame when we look to the USA as a leader in ethics of any sort! And since I’m on trad ethics, Ben Lommond comes to mind.

The abseil bolts have been chopped in keeping in line with the Ben as a bastion of trad climbing in Australia. The idea is by having the Ben as a “no bolts” zone, it keeps wankers from putting up poxy sport routes. However, there is only one person I know who would use the existence of abseil bolts as an excuse to bolt sport routes at Ben Lommond. It’s the same twisted ethic (or lack thereof) that justified hammering pitons in the Adjudicator. 

Most of the hard trad routes going up now at Ben Lommond require a 100 metre abseil from the top or an extra 1.5 hour (or more!) approach from the hut.  These new routes are worth climbing, but the access is the same for the existing routes which are AWESOME! Im talking about 35mm dream, Warswar 81, Powerdive Eliminate, etc. My vote is for Abseil bolts to reach these routes. What is more “trad”? Rapping in on a 100 metre static to top rope into submission a single pitch in the middle of the cliff, then “lead” it with preplaced gear and then jug out on the fixed line? Or having proper abseil points so that visitors and locals alike can actually get to the base of these routes then onsight climb out?

In summary, the trad ethic in Tassie needs to be upheld by climbing the new “hard” trad pitches by placing gear. This is a no brainer in my opinion.  Second, bolted abseils in Ben Lommond absolutely, in no way justifies bolted sport routes. Many climbing areas have bolted abseils and a strong no bolting ethic for routes, Indian Creek, etc.  I believe the vast majority of climbers in Tassie agree that bolts do not belong on routes in Ben Lommond, but there needs to be bolted abseils. Climbing first ascent routes with pre-placed gear is way worse practice than having bolted abseils in Ben Lommond.

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9 Comments

  1. oh jeez, here we go...

  2. it would be indeed much easier to save my old good friend Duncan next time from an horrible and dramatic death. I'm pretty keen as well to remove the scree from the mountain ?

  3. First of all, it's Ben Lomond, not Ben Lommond. Secondly, there is no obvious connection between Nick Hancock's (perhaps ill-advised) antics versus Alex Lewis's stellar example and the bolted abseil stations issue on the Ben. They are totally unrelated, especially as you want to distinguish so categorically between a "trad bastion" in Ben Lomond and other crags. Thirdly, aren't you one of Narcowitz's Ranters, who decreed that no bolts shall ever adorn Ben Lomond? If not, my apologies. It would be wonderful for you to go up on the Ben and re-install the useful bolted abseil stations that were ripped out, and perhaps even add more. There are a number of good reasons for their existence. Funny though, how you have suddenly decided to voice your opinion now, just because a few harder routes are starting to appear that you might like to climb. That is perhaps the least valid justification that I can think of.

  4. Just to clarify, Johns opinions are his, and i have no beef with Nick or anyone for that matter. I dont want my name associated with this pointless thread.

  5. Pull your head in John. Have you contacted Nick personally to discuss? Why slander his name on an internet forum? So you've put up one hard new route, congratulations. Lets not forget how many crags and routes Nick's developed and how much he has added. We've all f*&ked up and made mistakes, i've got a list longer than my arm. How about we just try and think rationally, be reasonable and work towards a strong community. seeing threads like this does deeply sadden me that internal rifts can be created through us climbers.

    @jon can we get this thread deleted? no good will come of this...

    “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” - Edmund Hillary

  6. Just because a few moderate routes have been put up at the ben, i dont really see the point to add some rap stations to access them.  Like Doug said id rather the old ones go back in.  As for Nicks routes, He has added a lot to this state, remember if it wasnt for guys like him you would not have them to climb in the first place.

    And finally good point Lewis, bruce  and young this is a pointless thread

    garry

  7. BTW, no matter how you construct it, this debate has nothing to do withethics and all to do with style. You can forget about the notion of right and wrong in this debate; nor do Nackerblitz's decrees count as rules in anyone's wildest imagination apart from the extremely unbalanced portion of our climbing "community". Until Gerry Narcowitz and his small band of malcontents can begin to consider - rather than dismiss out of hand - the notion that abseil bolts on Ben Lomond are acceptable, then this is indeed a worthless thread.  

  8. Oh yes some more rabble :)

    I agree Ben Lomend, sorry Doug "Lomond" ;) would be a much happier place with abseil bolts and this thread might show Gerry that people are still discussing the chopping the original bolts.

    Funny i was talking to some tourists the other day with Gerry's "Climb Tasmania" guide who had some trouble finding the abseil bolts and eventually had to walk off....

    Re hard cracks, aren't a lot of these hard cracks able to be freed because of the pin scars that now take gear? Every crack is different bit hard to compare ethics between crags.

  9. I think CJ's rant may have been outdone...

    http://www.chockstone.org/Forum/Forum.asp?Action=DisplayTopic&ForumID=1&MessageID=95151&Replies=11&PagePos=0&Sort=#newpost

    My two-cents-worth is that this doesn't strike me as a worthless thread at all, albeit that the original post is vindictive and convoluted. I think it's great to hear that the climbing community is accepting of the fact that styles change as the years go by. And I get a nice warm fuzzy feeling when I read about how other climbers want to work towards a strong climbing community. So I think some good has come out of this thread.

    Thanks for putting up all those routes around the state Nick :)