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DBB at the top of pitch1 Nefertiti (trad.1st climbed 1968). What on earth for? Dragging up college students on outdoor education classes?

Are all trad. routes going to be hit by steel?

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22 Comments

  1. I think I still have a piton hammer somewhere if you need something to bash it with Phil. Grey power!

    1. In response to the questions:

      • What on earth for? So a safe anchor is easier for beginning climbers to set up. As it was, a good safe belay was very difficult to establish. It also make the route more suitable for guiding.
      • Dragging up college students on outdoor education classes? And why shouldn't college students have this sort of experience? Not all students have the fortunate circumstance of having a parent that is a climber. Using the word "dragging" is a red herring. There are guidelines for the number of students that can be taken on a lead climb. I think the maximum is three. So no, not "classes" but very small, select groups of individuals that the leader might want to give a richer or more varied experience than they would get in a "class".
      • Are all trad. routes going to be hit by steel? In a word, NO.
  2. I think Phil has a good point. And i note there is no explanation for these bolts. Sure its a tricky place to build an anchor but thats climbing. I would also suggest that the first ascentionists should have been asked given it changes the nature of the route.

    whats the story?

  3. Be interesting to see how much traffic increases on the route!

    I dont subscribe to the whole FA ownership thing. Its just silly ego's In my opinion. Did the first person to drive up the mountain get consulted to extend the climbers carpark? How long does this ownership last, should i name an heir to the route in my will? People that get to do the FA of classic routes should feel lucky they got the chance, often its just the luck of being in a certain generation!

    I guess i just hope the community as a whole can maintain areas for the enjoyment of all without fearing change or playing the australian "we've always done it this way, why change" argument.

    1. I havent climbed Nefartiti with the new bolts but it is hard to believe they are desirable. Putting abseil anchors in the middle of trad routes should really be discussed with people. Putting the question on a website probably does not get a representative opinion but its a start. Ultimately, if the person bolting does not feel like they need to "get permission", they should get ready to have their bolts chopped "without permission", perhaps on other routes as well.... This kind of thing is how ridiculous bolting wars get started.

      I have heard this argument from Simon about "FA ownership" before and I enjoy the idea of "non-ownership" of rock. However, I do not agree that the style of first ascents count for nothing, as he seems to be implying here. I also dont think this argument is even relevant in this case because its not just about the FA its also about how the route has been climbed for over 40 years. Many times their is a good reason why "We've always done it this way". Its called consensus. Their is obviously no consensus on the new bolts. They should never have been put in. Here is a quote about bolting written around the same time as the FA of Nefertiti:

      "Writing this last chapter has been difficult and painful. It involves do's and don'ts, obligations and responsibilities. Most climbers are individuals who love freedom — they climb because it makes them feel free. We may expect then, that having others suggest how they ought to climb will rub wrong. There used to be so few climbers that it didn't matter where one drove a piton, there wasn't a worry about demolishing the rock. Now things are different. There are so many of us, and there will be more. A simple equation exists between freedom and numbers: the more people the less freedom. If we are to retain the beauties of the sport, the fine edge, the challenge, we must consider our style of climbing; and if we are not to mutilate and destroy the routes, we must eliminate the heavy handed use of pitons and bolts."    --- Royal Robbins, Basic Rockcraft, 1971.

      1. Alex talked to quite a few people who have climbed on the Organ Pipes for a long time before installing the bolts (and removing dangerous loose blocks and a lot of vegetation) at the end of the first pitch.

        Dave James says "Sure its a tricky place to build an anchor but thats climbing". At grade 14, Nefertiti is one of the few lower grade, quality routes on the Pipes for beginning climbers to  have a go at. There's a good chance that some of them will fall off, so it makes sense that a good solid anchor can be found to protect the belayer in case her/his second does come plummeting off. It also provides neophite leaders a more relaxed - and reassuring - option for feeling that they can safely bring up their second.

        Another reason for putting in the bolts is that it makes it a more suitable climb for guiding clients. Again, there are few quality multi-pitch routes on the Pipes where a guide can comfortably take beginners on. The addition of these bolts makes Nefertiti much more appropriate, especially in the case of perhaps having to bail after the first pitch - say if it were to start raining, for example.

        I'm not sure that Simon is saying that FA's count for nothing, just that they don't count for everything. In terms of the first ascensionists, unfortunately Philip had an accident shortly after doing this route and was no longer unable to climb. John doesn't climb much any more and I don't think he's been near the Organ Pipes for decades, but I will email him and ask him what he thinks and will post his reply. In fact, I'll copy and paste this response in an email.

        It would be interesting to see know how many ascents Nefertiti has had in the last 10 or even 20 years, with the greater emphasis on sport climbing these days. That data is, of course, impossible to obtain. However, I think it's likely that the route will get more ascents now that the scrub has been cleaned, loose rock kicked off and the bolts installed. Hopefully, those who have reasonably questioned the installation of the bolts will get on the route - with an open mind and preferably trying to see the belay spot through the eyes of a beginning leader - and see what they think. And hopefully all the lurkers out there who keep watch on this thread will also get on it and do the same so we can develop a greater number of points of view on this one. 

        I am a great admirer of Royal Robbins' general philosophy, and wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment: "If we are to retain the beauties of the sport, the fine edge, the challenge, we must consider our style of climbing; and if we are not to mutilate and destroy the routes, we must eliminate the heavy handed use of pitons and bolts." 

        No bolts have been placed on pitches, the challenge for anyone climbing at or around the grade is still there. I'd argue that the route has not been mutilated or destroyed; nor could you say the approach has been "heavy-handed" (a bolted belay station at the end of all pitches would be heavy-handed) but that it has been made safer for a novice climbing team to undertake (protecting both the belayer and the second) and more appropriate for guiding. Of course, there is no compunction for anyone to use said bolts if they want to do the route in its original style. (That's actually more possible now that it's been cleaned of some of the vegetation that wasn't there when the first ascent was made.)

        Let's hope that, as word spreads about the work being done to clear routes of vegetation that has grown up with the mountain rebounding from the devastation of the '67 fires, loose rock is removed. With rappel and, where deemed appropriate, belay stations added some of the old classics that have fallen into disuse will probably become more popular, spreading the load of climbers more evenly across the mountain. 

        1. I just received this reply from John Moore:

          Hi Doug,
          I'm glad someone is paying attention to one of my old routes and making it safer and more accessible for people to climb.  I have always been in favour of solid bolt belays and more so now.  As long as it doesn't deface the rock and is not right next to a bomb proof runner I have no problem with it.
          Very best wishes
          John Moore

          Comments?

          1. Thanks for that Doug, i appreciate that u got in touch with John. I just think its the very least one can do and as u have shown, its not that hard to do .

        2. Doug, I feel really patronised when u suggest i simply don't have to use th bolts to get the original experience. Their installation creates a situation where it is contrived for climbers to not use them! If the climb is in its inherent state then a climber simply has to do their best technically and psychologically. If a coroners report asks why bolts weren't used then its pretty dumb. But if the coroners report says  it was simply an occasional consequence and accident of engaging in a dangerous activity then thats just the nature of things.
           I'll use those bolts next time i do the route. I'll feel safer for sure but they won't make me more satisfied with the experience. Nefertiti just lost a bit of character. Mediocrity creeping in.

          The first time (1995) i climbed Nefertiti was terrifying and we rapped off in part because each of us were too scared to step off the ledge back into the chimney from the first belay. I learnt something that day and it has been a defining experience and reflective point since. I want future young climbers to have that possibility-now contrived.
          If we remove all high impact fall potential from easy/popular beginner routes (which seems the idea behind this) should a young climber really be learning about fall consequences stepping off the belay on something harder when the climbing is more dependent on technical ability? If we presume that young climbers have actually managed to get themselves up the first pitch and still have no idea about the dangers of climbing then i think  a warning note on thesarvo and word of mouth is an adequate and organic way to make the scenario safer without de-wilding the crag.

          If u know anyone that is leading on natural gear and is likely to fall off a grade 14... do them a serious favor and tell them to do just a little more time following/toproping, not doing so is suboptimal mentoring in my view.

          I'd be sad if these arguments for safety were a guise for making the Pipes commercial guiding friendlier. It makes it very difficult for me to consider donating cash to CCT if funds are used for extraaneous purposes that are designed for commercial profit. Bringing commercial interests into crag maintenance is a conflict in my view and a tragedy. I don't mind people guiding commercially there, i might even do it myself someday but making a series of non-essential modifications for the purpose seems  damaging and a touch selfish.

          No. They don't benefit everybody.

    2. I don't think its about ownership, more about respect or consideration for the generations who's shoulders we stand on and also generations  after us.  As you would know, there is a significant personal experience that goes with 'doing' a first ascent. It can be a reflection of the times, a reflection of the climber, a creative work, a work of inspiration and spirit, or maybe even an embarrassment. Surely first ascentionisst of today care about whether or not new climbs are subsequently modified by retro bolting or or bolt removal? With the addition of a few more bolts Jakes proud route 'freedom' could be a great introduction to aid climbing-  safe and accessible to all...

      In the absence of cultural standards or cultural expectations then anything goes and we can't question anything we think is wrong because someone else thinks its right. Sure change is inevitable but it needs steering to avoid a collision with mediocrity. Hence in some cases i'm cool with bolts, or anchor modifications, or installation, but in others, not so cool.  My issue is primarily not with maintenance of the crag but development. Erosion of the more essential organ pipes experience of the more essential climbing experience, the addition of superfluous infrastructure that is effectively permanent, generally unattractive and implies dependency and paternalism. Yeah i know i'm waxing lyrical but i mean it and i feel it.

      In the case of Nefertiti i'm mostly concerned that the route has been bubble wrapped at the expense  of a more genuine Pipes experience. Similar for the anchors to make it supposedly safer or easier to climb skyrocket. In the case of the latter a self regulating system has been eliminated ie climbers capable of climbing skyrocket are also capable of safely descending to the old anchors. i also don't see what whats wrong with making a natural anchor, rapping and collecting it when finished? not in vogue? Its always been an option and most people rap in rap out anyways.

      1. Well said Dave. Seems you southern boys are dealing with the slippery slope. No such problems on Ben Lomond - there is no ambiguity there. Leave the old routes alone.

  4. The CCT didn't fund these anchors. What it does do is create a list of potential new-anchors and puts them here on the Pipes anchors list. This is a working list of issues that have been identified, and the question raised to allow for comment. The Nefertiti bolts weren't on this list, hence nothing to do with the CCT.

    On a personal level tho, I still struggle with the notion that the bolts ruin the experience. You must think the same thing of Blue Meridian? Where i can recount my own story of fear, poor route finding decisions and general bumbliness that I learnt heaps from, but wouldn't have if i knew the bolts weren't there, and it was a shitty anchor. Do you really wish to hold back the next generation? Must all routes be horror-shows? Perhaps we should be installing loose rocks in the routes too, to give the adventure of a FA. I realise that's a nonsense statement, but if you wish to impose your experience of fear while mimicking the all-important FA, wouldn't that make sense? To those that somehow come up with the notion style doesn't matter, styles everything. But possessive ego, hmmmm....

    If you really are struggling on grade 14, I bet that you'd still be very engage on all the climbing of the route. If you cruise that grade surely you'd appreciated a comfy place to sit and belay? I guess not. Lets remember its only two bolts on a ledge, not a via ferrata. If mediocity and enjoyment push ego out the back door, I'm all for it! As for modification of my routes, I'll agree their not all perfect, if people will enjoy it more with extra bits of stainless then hey that's not a bad thing.

    1. Simon i think u misunderstand where i am coming from. I don't think these bolts ruin the experience. I think (and said) that they degrade the experience. From one that is more wild and charismatic to one that is more domesticated and confined. If Nefertiti had some bloody history of accidents because of the tricky belay then i might be less offended by their installation. But as far as i know there is none. It seems to me now that they were installed to make the route commercial guiding ready and for the conveinience based laziness often associated. 

      We are lucky and priveledged that Nature, the indigenous community and the general populus allow us to climb on the pipes. Climbers don't own the cliff but it does make sense we consider ourselves stewards of the crag. I believe stewardship should mean that installation of artificial anchors should be modest and reserved and i think the dbb on nefertiti is extravagant and degrading (i'd say similar for the extra dbb anchor at the top of skyrocket). Note i don't say this from black and white position of bolts versus no bolts, trad versus sport or old versus new. No-one has those views anymore. More i say these things because i think these bolts are unjustified and despite suggestions, don't serve either the crag environment or the climbing community. Note for example that i haven't said anything negative  about the bolts at the top of Slow Combustion. They at least make a bit more sense and are much closer to representing a modest and reserved approach to bolt installation on the pipes. 

      Its not just two bolts on a ledge (its 3 actually). Its what those bolts mean- that anyone can modify routes or install bolts anywhere they want on some percieved risk/safety analysis or for guiding conveinience. If thats ok then why not a bolt to protect the base of subterfuge? the crux of precarious? I'm not particularly opposed to a well conceived sport route on the pipes (its not a bolt free crag) but we do increasingly see them squeezed in, ("quite a bit harder if you don't use the edge of Roast Chicken") as if it doesn't affect surrounding routes or it doesn't matter. When every conceivable line is bolted then next is the variants. At some point bushwalkers and naturalists will be complaing about the heavyhanded use of bolts on the organ pipes or perhaps we ourselves will note its not quite as pretty as it used to be. The climbing equivalent of urban sprawl.  Two fine Peter Dombrovski photos of the organ pipes now have DBB in them.

      It won't be long before someone IS selling us a via ferrata- is it really such a bad thing? no-one ever climbs that route anyway! we need more things for beginners! it will be the economic salvation of tasmania! embrace change!

  5. Personally i think its made a great route even better.  Why should all the hard routes only get anchors!  We lack routes in the lower grades that are quality and safe. 

    Also i think its probably closer to 16! So here we go another debate

      

    1. FYI, Nefertiti is presently graded 15 in the current guide, not 14. Descent is usually via the rap station on Suicide Sadness, another innovation since the route was first done.... plus ca change.

      1. Ha yes! i can't say i ever really thought it was 14 on any of the times i climbed it. The 1991 guidebook is imprinted on my neurons.

  6. Chuckle. How thoughtful of Gerry to drop by and give us all a good laugh. Thanks Gerry!

  7. I talked to Alex Wilson from the TCIA/TAFE Outdoor Group. He says he didn't put the bolts in for guiding purposes. As far as I could tell, his main reason for putting them in was because some beginners find it difficult to build an anchor there. He specifically said they were not lowers off. He said that Phil R. Tony M, Al A., etc. were all quite happy with the bolts.

    He also stated that if anyone wants to remove the bolts he placed on Nefertiti then they should remove the bolts on Blue Meridian and Sky Rocket. Alex is using the existence of the questionable anchors in Blue Meridian to justify installing more dodgy bolts. His tongue in cheek suggestion of chopping the anchors on Blue Meridian and Sky Rocket should be seriously considered. This is the problem with ignoring questionable bolts. Where does it end? It should stop here.

    I think the bolts should be removed. This route has been climbed countless times without bolts for the last forty years. Alex put these bolts in specifically to replace existing gear placements. This is absolutely no different then placing a bolt on a section of the route deemed “run out” and “unsafe” for beginners. The exact same logic could be used to stick an anchor at the top of the first pitch of Sky Rocket or add bolts to any other established route. If you can't retrobolt skyrocket, you can't retrobolt Nefertiti. Of course, every route is subjective. Many factors come into play when deciding to add a bolt. I agree with Royal Robbins and don't want to tell people what to do. Obviously, I don’t think Mt Wellington should be “bolt free” like Ben Lomond. But Nefertiti has been climbed and enjoyed by many people without bolts for forty years and should stay that way.

    As far as "holding back the next generation" from rock climbing: If a person wants to go rock climbing, they must learn the skills to rise to the challenge. Lowering established routes to a perception of the current level of mediocrity is a disgrace. This not only screws old school climbers from enjoying classics, it creates a new level of lameness in an already fat and fluffy world.

    The fact that a lot of moderate routes don’t have bolts is not a choice made by egotistical beard strokers. The rock usually allows for gear placements at this grade. Figuring out the gear on a route, including the anchor, is one of the biggest challenges in trad climbing. If people today with modern trad gear can't at least try to lift their game enough to climb routes that forty years ago were protected safely with home-made chocks, they should find another sport.

    The primary concern of most climbers should not be to molly coddle people who want to engage in the so-called extreme sport of rock climbing© while having the risk managed by professionals. However, this is exactly the primary concern of professional guides. I don't think its a coincidence that many of those in favor of these bolts are guides.

    Also I’m not making any personal attacks here. At the end of the day its just a couple bolts. I am pointing out Alex's professional position in light of retro bolting trad routes in order to see where he is coming from. That was the opening question in this thread. He's a good dude and is just trying to make the cliff more friendly. I am only pointing out some problems I see. cheers

    1. Phil Robinson AUTHOR

      Well said John and Dave. It's a tame world. Perhaps we should all stick to tiddlywinks.

  8. I can't really be bothered wading too deep into this debate. However, often it seems that those that are opposed to a particular view are often more vocal than those that agree. Therefore as someone who will probably use the bolts, and appreciate them, I thought I should pipe up. I don't see a problem with the DBB and I agree with the points that Garry, Simon and Doug have expressed.

  9. Why would anyone want to guide people up Nefertiti anyways....much better routes on the pipes for the grade.

    1. interesting point campbell. Nefertiti has always been a good route and still is. Personally i don't think its is a good route for taking beginners up because of the style of climbing required. If the beginners have done a fairbit of climbing before then it is an appropriate route. For commercial guiding it depends on the market and clientele. If clients wanting a "fun day of climbing on the pipes" have never been climbing before then they could be in for  rude shock.