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"The bolting issue continues..."


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From: Larry King (23 July 1996)

Subject: Sport Climbing Run Amok

Your editorial in Mountain Online Vol.1, No.2 was greatly appreciated.

Here in Oregon sport climbers have grid-bolted the local lava caves, creating a cave conservation nightmare and prompting the online appearance of the appropriately named "Central Oregon Shame Page"

The web page is fairly self-explanatory. There have been a number of articles written about this in the caving literature and in Oregon broadcast and print media. The spectre of "cave climbing" as the latest cutting edge adrenaline sport continues to play havoc with the "Leave No Trace" ethic practiced by the cave exploration community.

The American climbing press has imposed something of a "media blackout" on the subject, I suspect because it reflects poorly on trends in climbing. Communication between cavers and climbers has been characterized by open hostility, and lately the most effective cave conservation efforts have been taking place strictly behind the scenes.

Please let me know if you have any further interest in this subject, and again, thank you for taking such a responsible environmental stance.


Larry King
From: Karin Cronje (9 July 1996)

Subject: Bolting

I found the editorial comments on bolting interesting. It seems that there it still a lot of controversy regarding bolting.

In South Africa it seems we have sorted this problem out to a great extent. The current bolting ethic consists of a few basic rules: (1) The decision by owner of the property is final. (2) Bolting is largely kept out of pristine wilderness areas. (3) Exceptions to rule 2 could be the placement of rap anchors where safety and environmental impact is a major concern. Such be the case where multitudes of slings are left behind on the tops of mountain peaks and rock climbs that are not accessible by retrieval routes. (4) Only lines that can not safely be protected by means of removable gear are bolted. These four rules are kept to by most climbers and it seems to be working.

There are other issues that are not resolved yet such as the question of replacing rusted pitons. Possible answers include replace by another peg, protect by natural gear or replace with a bolt. Route sculpturing has occured over here but has met with stiff resistance.

In my opinion controlled bolting can only be good for climbing. Bolting, although mostly without electric drills, has been used on big walls for many years. So why now view it in a negative light? Some of these bolted high grade routes would have been aided anyway, if it was not free climbed with bolted protection.

My six pence.

Karin Cronje (Ntaba Mountaineering)

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