Another factor (sorry - it so obvious) is that one's particular strengths, skills and size will affect how "correct" the difficulty grade of a given climb feels.
Me: small hands, likes to stem, climb thin, technical stuff. I find climbs like Brunser Overhang, Perspective, etc. hard for the grade. But I know that is because I'm not terribly good at wide, burly stuff.
There has been the occasional use of R and X to designate dangerous climbs in NA, including Squamish. But there has not been consistent use. Readers of our guidebooks know that when "bold" and "tricky to protect" are used to describe routes, we read "R" or "X".
Overall, I'd answer the question "Is Squamish Soft" with "it depends".
-When I talk to climbers that are visiting Squamish, generally they are sending as hard or harder than they send at their home area (and other areas)
-When I talk to Squamish climbers that travel to other areas, generally they are sending easier or similar grades as they do in Squamish (personal experience agrees with this).
By this I would say Squamish grades are softer on average.
Doesn't really make a difference as, in the end, it's either hard for you or not. Give everything a try!
Yeah, it's not used in the UK, but seems pretty common in the States, I just wasn't sure why it's not here, when there are plenty of examples of bold routes.natsdad wrote:There has been the occasional use of R and X to designate dangerous climbs in NA, including Squamish. Steve
To qualify my earlier statement, for me Squamish feels soft for anything steep I guess, some of the vertical or steeper routes feel like a gift. For slabs, it's certainly not soft IMO and for cracks there seems to be more of a mix. Maybe that says more about me than Squamish, I don't really get slab climbing, it doesn't inspire me to fall off...
Why are some routes, despite being bolted in some fashion, very run out? I've been on a couple of routes here that were surprising, I had flashbacks to grit and Welsh slate. Examples of ones I've done:
Sunblessed. First bolt is way of the deck (8m?), its easy, but unlike a designer danger route, you'd damage yourself. If 10a was my upper limit and I wanted to tick Sunblessed, then I think the first pitch (5.7) would give me serious concern.
Merci Me. Is it bold because thats part of the 'Grand Wall exam'?
Banana Peel. I'm not much of a slab climber. I did this and its ~20m runout and it started spitting. Not happy. The fall would be huge and probably involve hitting trees in the break below.
Is the ethic to leave routes like this as they stand? If someone added bolts, would there be an outcry? (I have no intention of doing this BTW).
By leaving them protected in a similar fashion, we get a bit more of an idea of what the climb felt like for earlier climbers, in difficulty, and in head space. If all of those routes were retro-bolted to remove any chance of a nasty fall or having to be really on your game mentally, we would be left with outdoor gym climbing. Every route would be reduced to only it's physical difficulty, and nothing mental.
I agree there are oddities to this, like that first runout on Sunblessed, but overall it's nice for me to see what the past generation created. I like staring up a smooth slab at a bolt 50 feet distant and thinking "Dear God, they went for it and didn't even know what they were going to find up there". I also really like getting to that little scoop, knob or ledge, and knowing this was the exact stance so-and-so stood on to drill that bolt, while quivering on lead, 50 feet above their last bolt and their heckling belayer. That took some cahones.
Then in some cases, like White Lightning, they just decided not to put in any bolts at all At least not on the first pitch.scrubber wrote: Those high first bolts and big runouts often mean there wasn't a stance good enough to stop and swing a hammer at your drill for 20 min. Since bolting was such an arduous thing to undertake on lead, those willing to go for it would often push the route higher in hopes of a better stance and having fewer bolts to drill.
.... having to be really on your game mentally, we would be left with outdoor gym climbing. Every route would be reduced to only it's physical difficulty, and nothing mental.
After climbing it, I went to Murrin to get on something else and was so mentally drained that I could hardly even climb. Those old school climbs are exhausting for sure.
That for me is one of the draws for wanting to do those climbs. Take Genius Loci, which has got a lot of attention in our world lately. It was all bolted on lead, done from the ground up. Here we are, with our fancy equipment and guidebooks and topos, knowing exactly what we are getting ourselves into, and the first ascentionists went up with none of the above.
If you go to Supertopo, you can read Hamish's account of the whole venture. Some of the best climbing related media on there.
To bolt or not to bolt, that is the question in the UK, how you bolt is irrelevant because we lack the sort of venue where it becomes emotive. I don't think its just about the size of venue (thousand footers do exist in the UK), we don't really get crags with huge swathes of blank rock.
So these guys bolting on lead, I assume they have to sit on a shitty aid piece to be able to drill a hole, no? I'm trying to imagine how you could drill a bolt on a slab with nothing but friction to keep you in place...
Bare in mind that hand drilling with both hands free is a very different enterprise than holding a (heavy) power drill in one hand and firing in a bolt in less than a minute. Both are difficult, but lend themselves to different situations.
I once watched Hamish and John Rosholt take turns trying to put in a hard new face line near Genius Loci. Each time they would get to the high point, they would only be able to hold on long enough to get the hole another half inch deeper. They would then leave the power drill sticking out of the hole by it's bit and downclimb to the stance below it. When you can barely hold on, it's really hard to push hard enough on the drill to keep the hammer mechanism engaged, especially when trying to hold the 10 pound drill above your head. I've only done this on significantly easier terrain, and can attest to how challenging, and rewarding, it can be.
I always thought they just sat on their giant titanium balls.. Alas, bolting on lead is generally done from a stance and, if available, aid pieces.jonny2vests wrote:So these guys bolting on lead, I assume they have to sit on a shitty aid piece to be able to drill a hole, no? I'm trying to imagine how you could drill a bolt on a slab with nothing but friction to keep you in place...
RE: Sunblessed. I have no idea if it was bolted on lead or not but, I agree that first bolt is pretty damn high and was "exciting" to get to. Personally, I would put another bolt 4m off the deck. It's what the FA put up, though so, it remains. One would think the approach would prevent it from getting repeated and polished anyway .
RE: Adding bolts vs public outcry. Really, it depends on the route. If someone contacts the FA, presents their thoughts and the FA says go for it, no problems usually (generally one tries to gauge public opinion, as well). If no discussion happens and a bolt just appears (especially on a well known route), it gets gone pretty quick..
For the most part I think Squamish is a little soft with some exceptions. Old routes that don't get climbed much haven't kept up with inflation and can surprise. Routes with lots of stars also seem to be resistant to grade creep.
In 22 years of climbing in Squamish I don't think I have ever heard of a big fall on Banana Peel.
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