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New pitons on Watch Tower

1:03:27 PM
>but gotta say i was pretty happy with those pitons
>a couple of weeks back when sticky was wobbling about whilst trying to
>clip the bolt on P4. and i found the climb was still a classic experience
>despite me not being quite trad enough to boycott the pitons

Simey's two posts have summed it up very well - the belay IMHO is a prime candiadate for a factor two fall, given the location of the bolt on P4 is about a foot or so out of reach from a good stance. If that bolt was in a lower place, the old belay setup would be a lot safer for leading off. I can't think of any other belay like that - skink has heaps of good gear immediately from the belay.

Call me scared if you want, though I notice no one's said that about Simon !! :-)

richie cunningham
2:01:26 PM
>It doesn't have the pin anymore - this is what I have a problem with.

so you would be happy if the piton was bashed back in, and the ringbolt was removed??

a guy decked off it, popped the piton and levered a flake off with all the other manky gear in the process. Pitons are not a long term solution. Red rain wall is a sad example of pitons ruining a brilliant wall.

2:28:33 PM

>so you would be happy if the piton was bashed back in, and the ringbolt
>was removed??

Had I been reequipping the climb, I'd have put another piton in. That's how the climb was established, those are the conditions you accept when you lead it.
>a guy decked off it, popped the piton and levered a flake off with all
>the other manky gear in the process.

So? No one made him lead it. It was his judgement call that he could lead the climb given the gear available. The outcome of underestimating or something going wrong was ugly. This was not unobvious from the ground. Changing the fixed gear in routes sets a precedent that I'm not happy with. Top rope the route if you don't feel happy leading it. Memory tells me there's another discussion going on about top roping ....

Pitons are not a long term solution.
> Red rain wall is a sad example of pitons ruining a brilliant wall.
I'm not a big fan of pitons either, but I also don't want to see them replaced by bolts willy nilly.
richie cunningham
2:44:14 PM
On 7/02/2005 Wendy wrote:

>Had I been reequipping the climb, I'd have put another piton in. That's
>how the climb was established, those are the conditions you accept when
>you lead it.

I could use the same argument about using large cams on watchtower crack.. History shouldn't take precedence over common sense though ?

2:55:38 PM
>On 7/02/2005 Wendy wrote:
>>Had I been reequipping the climb, I'd have put another piton in. That's
>>how the climb was established, those are the conditions you accept when
>>you lead it.

Madness i tell ya! The crack the piton was in doesn't exist anymore. It exploded with most of the other trad placements. I led the route prior to the ringbolt when the piton was still in place. It was well protected and not death (i thought at the time - not knowing how dodgy the flake was!). I added the ringbolt to this route to return the condition of the climb to its original status as a safeish 23.

A few years back the VCC spent more than a year of research and meetings to create a bolting policy document which stated that...

5.5 When a piton is intentionally removed it should be replaced with a fixed hanger or ringbolt.
5.6 If a piton is unintentionally removed then it should not be replaced if good natural protection is available. Where good natural protection is not available a fixed hanger or ringbolt should replace the piton. Old pitons should not be reused once they fall out.
5.7 Piton scars should not be filled. Often natural protection can be placed in the scars so that the rock isn't damaged any further.

To view the entire policy go here...

Snowblind was rebolted with this policy as a guiding principle.

4:34:22 PM
On 6/02/2005 simey wrote:
>Wendy… I understand that you carry No 5 Camalots and a selection of Big
>Bros as standard gear on your rack. That is commendable, but I don’t feel
>that I should invest in those items purely to rig the third belay on Watchtower

Isn't that exactly the trad/Arapiles ethic though? If you need to place some gear to make a safe belay/lead any climb, you buy/borrow/booty it and up it goes with you. Where's the gear lust? ;)

If the FA - or perhaps anyone at all - can do it without fixing metal permanently to rock, I should too.

I was under the impression that the only exceptions to this general consensus is for cases when not adding bolts will have a larger impact on the environment around the climb.

4:51:16 PM
I have never done Watchtower Crack, in part because of the reputation it has, and in part because I have only ever been to Araps for 2 one week periods. It is definitely on my ticklist. Recently a friend came back from there and I actually asked him about the fiddly belay and he mentioned the three pitons and was grateful for them being there.

What do people think about writing up specific gear requirements for safely protecting a crucial part of a climb (esp the belays)? I mean if the only way (and I mean only way) of setting up a SAFE belay on a given climb is with say a #5 cam, 3 RP and rusty piton then is it appropriate for that to be said in the guide so that climbers are prepared? I know that RPs and Araps go hand in hand for a lot of climbs but taking a #5 cam isn't. I know of quite a few people that haul a rack up a 10 metre climb with enough gear to solo aid El Cap - how does that compare to a person who has a more modest financial investment? How does having all that gear also keep within the spirit of the first ascent?

The reason I am posting this here is that if the guide was EVEN MORE specific about the belay on Watchtower Crack (I know that it does mention the small gear required) then it could do away with the need to place more semi-fixed gear (pitons). If the guide were to say that it is a dangerous belay to take a fall on then (but safe to bring up a second) it would be more obvious. I think the fact that this thread has gone on for so long is sufficient evidence to suggest that the setup for the belay is not straight-forward or not adequate. I mean how many of you people out there have taken a factor 2 on that belay? Did it hold? I am guessing we only have a one-sided argument at this stage. I know that this sounds all like dumbing down climbing but isn't that what we are talking about any way?

Grade 25 slab climbers will always say no no too much gear... Grade 15 novices will always advocate more safety on a solid 16 climb. The balance can only be guided by a set of ethics, and I realise that this is not black and white.


BTW I am in no way meaning to bag the guide (selected climbs) - I think that it is awesome and inspirational as well.
5:27:47 PM
On 4/02/2005 Wendy wrote:
Kieran, do you have a tube
>big enough for Power without Glory and Genuine wage Overhang?
I have the original tubes for GWO. I'm not sure whether these are any good for PWG. I can also lend you hexes for the hex stack on GWO but you might want to use a cam instead.

6:49:21 PM
I'm having a bit of trouble working this one out....

On 5/02/2005 simey wrote:
>The reason I placed pitons and not bolts is purely to stay in keeping
>with the historic element of route.

> I love doing Watchtower Crack and wondering what it must
>have been like for the first ascenionists to be drilling on lead in the
>places they did.

It's too late to bitch and moan about the pitons on Watchtower Crack, so i'm not going to. its futile because whats done is done, move on. What gets me, is that the route is a 3 star classic, which has been done probably hundreds of times by people from all around the world of varying climbing abilites. Obviously there has never been issues with the belay in the past, otherwise it would have been addressed earlier. But in going AGAINST the historic element of the route (ie, how it was originally ascended) more protection was added in the form of pitons, where natural protection has sufficed for every other party that has done the route in the past.

>I feel my actions are very considered and don't alter the climb in any
>significant way. I would argue that the Arapiles Bolting Fairies and others
>have destroyed a lot more of the history and character inherent in many
>of the Arapiles classics. For example, Cassandra (18) could have had just
>a few bolts replaced and the old aid bolts left as testament to a bygone

Did i read right? That you think that the actions of another group making various Arapiles classics safer as destructive to the histoy of the routes? Your prepared to state that you think that leaving old aid bolts on a route to retain historic quality as ok, even though they were obviously replaced as they were dangerous, and that the history and character of routes seem to take precedence over safety. Yet Watchtower Crack has some of the best history and character of a route I have done at Araps yet. And it was safe enough not to warrant any earlier actions to make it safer. The aim of the Nati Bolting Fairies and Safer Cliffs Australia is, as i see it, to make dangerous routes from the past, in terms of their bolts, and not always that they are bold leads, safer to climb. Not to take routes with average protection and go against the way in which it was originally climbed, and make them safer.

How can it be, that on one hand, you think that a group of people rebolting dangerous routes to make them safer as destroying a routes history, while on the other you find that taking a perfectly safe and super classic route, with loads of history, and banging in extra fixed gear, as ok.

and your
>amazed to see that people have found this act so despicable
8:09:03 PM
Just because nobody had fixed up the belay in the past doesn’t necessarily mean it was “safe”. Obviously Simey wasn’t doing this for himself, and given he went to the trouble of fixing it would kinda suggest that in his assessment it wasn’t particularly safe. I think it’s commendable that after identifying a potential problem Simey actually bothered to do something about it, found a reasonable solution, and that he also considered trying to retain the historical vibe to some degree (could say that’s a bonus).

Goodonya Simey.
8:40:49 PM
Knowing that Simon was responsible begins to make some sense of it to me. I couldn't think of who would have done it but I know that Simon has been concerned about the safety of this belay for some time.
That said, I still disagree with his actions and regard them as unnecessary and do not make the belay any safer in the long term.
The problem with that belay has always been that there was a peg there, usually a good peg, and a lot of people just clipped it and quickly gave up the hunt for further anchors.
What I can guarantee now is that every party will just clip the pegs regardless of whether they are good, as I expect they are now, or poor , as they will become after a few years of the rock expanding and contracting. I don't know how long it will take but it will happen.
It's impossible to stop people doing dumb things, like relying on a single belay peg, but it's pretty sad when the space to exercise our climbing judgement is taken away on such a classic climb.
12:59:06 AM
On 7/02/2005 alrob wrote:
>I'm having a bit of trouble working this one out....

All I can say alrob is "Don't bother, you are a dipstick".

Your gross generalisations show no real understanding of the issues.

Your comments about Watchtower Crack being perfectly safe are a bit out of keeping with many of the postings on this topic.

As for your comments that Cassandra must have been dangerous and that the Arapiles Bolting Fairies did the right thing... In my opinion, Cassandra had so many goddamn bolts in it, that it was never dangerous. The chances of stripping the whole pitch were never likely.

This is my point about re-equipping routes at Arapiles. I feel it shows a lack of imagination to rip out every old fixed piece and replace everything with fixed rings or hangers. For example, Slopin Sleazin (28) had some wonderfully imaginative pieces of fixed mank courtesy of Claw. I don't think anyone (including Claw) would worry about a few bolts being replaced to stop you from dying. But why pull out everything else? Leave that stuff in... it adds character and its useful for dogging. Providing there is something solid below to stop you hitting the deck, what is the problem if some old piece fails?

Likewise, if a first ascenionist has equipped something poorly through laziness or misjudgment, wouldn't common sense dictate that adding a piece might enhance the climbing experience (even though other climbers might have repeated it in its dangerous or annoying state).

My actions on Watchtower Crack were because a worse case scenario involved death for climber and belayer.

Although there are climbs where such seriousness might be part of the appeal, I don't think Watchtower Crack fits that category. As it stands it is still a terrific adventure route and my actions won't alter the fact that plenty of terrified leaders will still wobble their way nervously up the start of that final pitch.

1:45:50 AM
Not withstanding my previous posts, Simey is one of the guys I'd've let past the gate with said hammer :)
Learning who'd placed those pegs instantly made me question my previous thoughts on the issue. I won't say it's right, but I was previously thinking in terms of 'poor ignorant tourist who simply didn't consider that randomn pegging is just not cool'.

Unneccesary bolting/pegs suck. This includes when such pieces are necessitated because people who shouldn't be on the route are. As said before, this should be addressed in some way so people don't get seriously hurt (with fixed gear, route-bouncers ("Not in those shoes, mate"), or whatever).

I've also since been thinking about the value of 'ethics/ethos of the first ascentionist'. Maxots points out in another thread, and Simey hints here that the first ascentionist doesn't always do things right, or that things can be improved upon.
I don't always want to do things the way the FA was done, nor do I think it should be imposed on others to do so either.

Yeah, Simey obviously wasn't spending his pins on himself in this case, and should be commended for trying to make the wall a safer and happier place. It's stirred a lot of discontent though.
Interesting one to muse on.

Now who wants the Conch?

7:00:59 AM
This belay has always been a bit of a novelty. But a dodgy novelty. I don't carry tubes and mega cams as standard on my rack. I know few people that even own them let alone carry them all the time. If you don't have these, you end up with a couple of opposing no. 2 rps and a bodgy rusted knife blade. The guide probably overdoes the warning about the seriousness of the climb but does not mention big gear for this belay. If it did, then maybe the new gear would be unwarrented. This is the sort of climb that every visitor from interstate and overseas will jump on without the opportunity to research. It is a pity to see a crack like that with 3 pitons but I will be greatful next time I climb it.

8:18:13 AM
>Maxots points out in another thread, and Simey hints here that the first ascentionist doesn't always do things right, or that things can be improved upon.

I probably did say something along those lines, but which thread do you mean ?

> All I can say alrob is "Don't bother, you are a dipstick"

Simon, until now all your arguments have been intelligent and well thought out. I didn't join this debate as I have never even been to araps, let alone on said climb. However watching this debate has been very interesting, as yours seems not a mindless act but a very calculated effort to make a classic climb safer for others. This response makes you look silly ! keep up the real debate!

8:30:13 AM
Just out of interest ......

counting up the 'for' and 'against' arguments, there seems to be about 7 or 8 people both for and against and a couple of undecided. (I probably double counted a few people)

8:57:34 AM
Re: Cassandra et al, I agree with Simey about retaining the character/history of climbs.
You can still be safe without ripping all the gear and replacing it, Old fixed gear has historical value. Let's be proud of our climbing heritage, but let us also move forward.
Re: Adding pitons, a very tricky situation, we all know pitons are not long term but also who would want to add bolts to such heritage? Whether anything should have been done, maybe it should not have. But by all accounts it has not changed the character of the climb except to shore up a belay which as Kieran says is likely to act like blinkers for other gear placements. At the end of the day has the retro-pinning caused damage to the climbing? Sounds like it hasn't. As far as setting a precedent it most certainly has. There will be those that will use this act as liscence to do as they pleaae without thought or consequence. However I do believe that Simey's intentions were good and thoughtful and as long as this act is taken in context.......

9:45:31 AM
On 8/02/2005 climbau wrote:
we all know pitons are not
>long term but also who would want to add bolts to such heritage?

Out of curiosity and not trying to shit stir, if you are going to add fixed gear to a route, wouldn't it be worth doing it with something that's more long term and reliable like a couple bolts? I don't really know anything about the history of the climb, so if pitons are more appropriate somehow, please tell me. It just seems a bit strange to me, especially if you're talking about the risk of people being in over their heads on this climb.

10:27:27 AM
On 8/02/2005 maxots wrote:

>>On 8/02/2005 simey wrote:
>> All I can say alrob is "Don't bother, you are a dipstick"

This response makes you look silly !
>keep up the real debate!


isn't this about people 'becoming lazy' and not looking for other means of protection through the placing of gear such as wires cams etc. Earlier posts suggest that there is the availability of natural protection. Simon mentioned earlier about not investing in items to rig a belay, it would seem if that is the case,... then why not put a bolt in?

On 8/02/2005 cheesehead wrote:
>Maxots points out in another thread, and Simey hints
>here that the first ascentionist doesn't always do things right, or that
>things can be improved upon.
>I don't always want to do things the way the FA was done, nor do I think
>it should be imposed on others to do so either.

I see this as a good argument from the "historical aspects" point of view. Just because thats the way it was, doesn't mean to say thats the way it has to be. I'm not advocating bolting everything as that debate is well documented. I do question though whether there is a need for for pieces in situ to remind us of how it was done back in the day, and if they are there does that change or have an impact on how someone feels about the climb.

10:51:23 AM
>On 8/02/2005 cheesehead wrote:
>>I don't always want to do things the way the FA was done, nor do I think
>>it should be imposed on others to do so either.

.....................Mechanical Animals................. :)

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