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Crag & Route Beta

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VIC Buffalo The Horn Environs (General) The Horn [ Horn Guide ] 

Topic Date User
Bolting at The Horn, Mount Buffalo 6-Mar-2013 At 3:01:44 PM singersmith
With all due respect to all parties, I'm taking the liberty of speaking freely for a final occasion.

I haven't kept up on the thread but having been there and climbed, inspected, photographed, and measured these are my final thoughts. I haven't done a whole lot of climbing in the last year or two, so all these bolts that were being talked about at The Horn didn't really make a lot of sense to me. Besides, I don't really see routes up there but features instead; I don't know the names of most. The fresh bolts on the face at the bottom sounded pretty bad because it they were so obviously superfluous, but I was willing to accept that the flake had broken on the LHV so I was holding off judgement until I had a look.

I'm mystified by what I saw up there. It's just astounding. I've invested too much time already, have other stuff to do, can't imagine that all of these bolts will remain anyway, and you shouldn't teach a pig how to sing but I had so many "WTF....?" moments up there that I'm going to bore you with some final details and be done with the issue.

On the walk to the summit I noticed that there is a gleaming rap anchor out to the right of The Pintle, next to the prominent natural horn. I don't remember a bolted anchor there but its pretty grotesque anyway; it's the one piece of hardware everybody can see from everywhere and seemed to reflect perfectly at any angle or time. Aside from why the horn can't be slung, if you're having a massive epic 20 meters from the tourist railing, I don't know why there would need to be a rap anchor there at all. Is it for TRing or lowering off bolted routes? Again, what's wrong with the leave no trace solution?

I chucked a rope off the top and headed for LHV. Got to the top of the route and there's a bolt with a rap ring at the edge of the ledge back down to the Pintle regular route. I want to be sure this is clear. Walking off to the climber's left is YDS 2nd class; it's not nearly exposed enough nor uses the hands to even be 3rd. This isn't isn't even on the Ewbank scale that bottoms out at 5.2. Off the right side of the boulder, where the bolt is, it is maybe four meters to the boulders. You can scoot, certainly anyone who just did the LHV can, with your back to the rock until your feet are maybe 1.5 meter off the boulder where you can jump or step on your partner who you just lowered down. You can simulrap one off each side. If you can't use the fixed natural anchor, and you can't tie a knot and put it in the crack, and you can't walk down 2nd class then somebody needs to pull you aside and tell you that you're in way over your head. Please don't get the idea that because you can put a cam in a crack (sometimes anyway; I'm getting there) that you're a traditional climber or that you know anything at all about the pursuit of climbing. How somebody could get the idea in their head that this a major problem that needs to be solved by them going up there and setting up a construction site boggles my mind. I'm sorry. I don't know how else to say it.
To do something like this tears the very heart and soul out of traditional climbing. Hundred of millions of years clashes with nature to sculpt these amazing features. Not all are aesthetic, not all allow free passage, and not all allow natural protection from ground to summit. You can walk away and it is like you were never there. When the next party comes they might imagine themselves doing a first ascent, or even practising for one in high mountains far away. A team might have an argument over what to climb and throw the guide book into the bushes and say, "Let's just each pick something that looks beautiful and try it." Maybe they'll climb better then they ever had because they weren't intimidated by numbers or words in a book and they just tried hard but inspired by a quest into the unknown. There would be no bolts sticking out of the rock anywhere to say, "Come this way, its safe here little child". When you add bolts like these you obviously can't imagine all the adventure and freedom that you rob from everyone else who will ever come along.

The bolt on LHV. Like I said, I rapped down to the flake, stood there (1" to 1 1/2" thick), looked around and couldn't find it. I just figured you'd stand on the flake and clip it, particularly since it's a ways to the next piece and the good crack is right there. It's 50 cm below the top and, in my opinion, the top coming off changed the available gear only by adding a horn to be slung if you're epicing. From the same stance you clip the bolt the closest slammer piece of gear (like rig a bigwall haul kind of slammer) is maybe 50 cm below your feet and is a yellow TCU. What I called a .75 Camalot before is a hair smaller and an orange TCU goes deep there; this piece would be at your left knee at is 1400 mm from the bolt itself. 8 inches below the orange TCU is a slammer #5 RP. These are of course both on the left side of the flake. On the right side the .75 goes in about 50cm below the bolt. Although the flake is thinner here I'd lead at my limit off of it although I wouldn't be keen to take an 80 footer through space onto it. Below is a larger (maybe #9) BD Stopper, which is a perfect passive piece for a flake like this; its 80 or 100 cm below the bolt. All in that's four pieces of gear with in 2 meters and if they were all in you could touch any of them from the same stance as you clip the bolt. This doesn't even count slinging the top of the flake which I did and the biner hangs exactly next to the bolt. Again, I wouldn't want to take a 100 footer on it but it's definitely legit gear if you're desperate for a piece here. Also, I'm extremely conservative with climbing gear because I don't trust it; if I say a piece is bomber it is definitely good for an average free climbing fall.

I'm not going to even try and rate the climbing to the top from here but if you just did the bottom of the route you should certainly be solid. From standing on the flake I walked to the top. Not even like Johnny Dawes floating up nonexistent edges on a cloud of ether but like I simply held my rope in my hand and walked up. I had to think about the first two holds to get it right the first time but I did. There's another piece of gear (probably a blue TCU) midway up that is decent.

I have photos of all the gear placements, FYI.

Summary/opinion/suggestion: If you get to that spot on LHV and can't do it without the bolt then you need to tell yourself that you're in over your head and be thankful that you have the skills to plug the rest of your rack in the crack and rap the 30 meters to the ground. If you can't build an anchor, then down climb or jump onto the last piece and lower to the belay. Get your partner to help rig a rap and continue to the ground. Once there, pull the rope and walk back to the top of the cliff (+/- 10 minutes). If you're now lacking the requisite equipment then tie the rope to the railing and check for climbers below. If there are climbers then ask them nicely to grab your gear. If not, toss rope, abseil to gear, remove gear, continue to the ground. Have partner remove rope from railing and meet you at the trail junction. If this looks dodgey then switch to buddy system and one of you remain in place until the other one arrives. If you succeeded in climbing the LHV without the bolt then first take a deep breath that you sailed those waters safely. If you get the idea that there needs to be a bolt there then you might need to sit down with a few more experienced climbers and have a discussion. If you go and actually place a bolt there, and at the top, somebody needs to stop you with words or the force required in ripping this crap out. It is just not cool to take a route that was zero holes from ground to summit and put the first two in it.

I'm new enough here that I'm not going to chop them. However, if I ended up standing there in the company of a qualified individual and they came up in conve

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