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New pitons on Watch Tower
9:04:40 PM
Bloody hell, this thing’s growing like the blob …

I guess you’ve all worked out I’m an old fashioned girl by now, so no great surprises coming up …

Snow Blind – maybe natural deterioration of placements is an OK reason for gear in a route deteriorating and we don’t need to replace it? Should we expect that every route is made/kept safe for the masses? I was never keen about falling on that piton anyway. Having said that, I do reckon if you are putting up a sport route, then you are taking on responsibility for equipping it safely, because you are telling people you’ve provided protection for the climb.

VCC policy – doesn’t sound the infamous pitons follow it … I prefer them to bolting the belay though

Simon – thanks for reminding me I don’t like that bolt in Bygone either!! Plenty of well protected 11s out there for beginners and the guide book provided adequate warning. Red Parrot Chasm is a stunner of an 11, and almost safe to lead armed with a big cam and 2 rp … both guidebooks warn people about it, please don’t go piton it on me …. I’ve never looked at Taste sensation, but you can guess my opinion. But you know all those other delights open to you after investing in big gear to protect Watchtower – electra, driftwood, 5 fingered mary …

Warnings in guidebooks – bloody fine idea

Old manky gear – love the stuff! Particlarly when you’re not expecting it, it’s always entertaining to come across – leave the stuff there to marvel at and be happy you’ve got modern gear!

Kieren – love ya toys! I’ll be round to borrow them shortly! Lou took my big gear up to do GWO and none of it was big enough! I also did Watchtower as my first 16, with 4 of us, a mere 15 years ago. I feel like a young un again now! The fixed gear was pretty similar, just a bit older … being an impoverished student at the time, I had no brackets or big gear. Clipped the bolts with wires and the biggest gear I could borrow was a 12 hex – don’t think they’ve made them for a while! It didn’t go in anywhere around the 3rd belay and I have no idea what I used, but we decided my 2nd should lead through to the top, so I was the only poor sod who had to hang out there. Bloody amazed I survived my youth sometimes …

Relocating the bolt – well, at least we aren’t hanging around on lead trying to place it! Go Simon’s “messy” solution, it won’t be the only time in your climbing life you need to fudge around a bit for belays.
9:18:52 PM
My comments were not intended as a cheap shot. Your experience sounds like a truly memorable day and a great effort on your behalf. But I suspect that you wouldn't recommend Watchtower Crack as a lead for someone who has never been on anything harder than 13.

My comments were a reflection of the fact that for many climbers in their early days (myself included), ignorance is bliss. Fortunately most of us survive those early years, but sometimes I look back at some of my ascents back then and think, 'What the hell was I thinking?'

I'm sorry you misinterpreted my comments.
9:56:27 PM
Simey, It was an over-reaction on my part but I didn't edit it fast enough.
Digging out some old photos of that ascent, I actually belayed out on the arete and used the peg as a runner only.
At this distance in time I won't claim that I realised the risks of belaying on a single peg - most likely I was looking for the shade of the overhang.
10:04:28 PM
Your comments sound fine in theory but don't stack up in reality.

As for the bolt I added to Bygone (11). Well in Lou's guide it was graded 13, given one star and had in the description "...the top of half of the route has no runners".

I don't ever recall any climber saying, "Wow, a dangerous grade 13, close to camp... just what I want!"

In fact Bygone was rarely done. And unfortunately there are not that many quality routes of that grade compared to the higher grades.

My actions weren't based on, "Gee, I have a bolt drill, what can I retro-bolt today". They were decisions made when I wrote the Selected Guide and checked out virtually every route at Arapiles. I was very aware of how some good routes were being ignored because of the lack of one well placed bolt.

What gets me is that someone can bolt the hell out of a worthless new route squeezed between some natural lines and not be criticised for it - despite the fact that it looks ugly, doesn't fit in with the general style of climbs at the Mount and will probably only be climbed once every couple of years.

I honestly feel that we can slow down on the new route development and take a look at the wealth of routes that are already established. Let's use a bit of discretion and make good lines and good climbs really great climbing experiences. I don't want to turn them into boring consumer routes, but I don't think they need to be annoying and ridiculously dangerous either.
10:16:09 PM
As for One Day Hero...
I suppose you favour genocide as well. Providing we have a few photos and a bit of written history you don't care what gets eliminated along the way.
10:19:51 PM
Gee, I knew if I became a registered user on Chockstone, I would start wasting too much time on this site!


12:10:39 AM
Simon its all downhill from here mate :)

7:21:31 AM
On 8/02/2005 simey wrote:
>I honestly feel that we can slow down on the new route development and
>take a look at the wealth of routes that are already established. Let's
>use a bit of discretion and make good lines and good climbs really great
>climbing experiences. I don't want to turn them into boring consumer routes,
>but I don't think they need to be annoying and ridiculously dangerous either.

That is a great concept Simey... and it rings very true for Arapiles.

Phil Box
9:55:48 AM
I don`t wish to make any sort of comparison between Kangaroo Point in the centre of Brisvegas and Arapilies but there has been some activity of late to make some of the extremely dangerous easy routes consumer friendly. Guess what, the routes are now seeing regular parties of climbers using them and welcoming the additional bolts. Before, these climbs maybe were lucky to get one ascent a year, more likely to have only ever received a second ascent.

Sure KP is a pile but hey its an indoor outdoor gym on a quarried cliff. The same ethical arguements are occurring though. I think it is necessary that the issues are aired from time to time. It helps first ascentionistes become aware of what needs to happen for future generations to enjoy what they are putting up. It seems to me that an extremely poorly equipped easy grade climb is a bit of an ego stroke, circle jerking, knob polishing effort on the part of the FFAist. I`m thinking of some of the death routes in Girrawheen, one or two bolts on a fifty metre slab and yet when the climbing gets hard on another route by the same FFAist there will be a plethora of bolts to keep it safe for that person to climb at his limit.

Hmmm, sorry, thread drift. Back to the topic. I can`t remember what I did on that particular belay on Watchtower crack but I had plenty of big gear with me so I was not particularly perturbed by the prospect of building any belay on the route. I was however concerned for my life when up under the roof and staring out at the glass smooth polished from a million climbing shoes face that I had to negotiate to get past the roof. I could just about see my face off how polished that rock has become. How many budding leaders have flailed their feet over that face to make it soooo polished.

Way fun route, I loooooove cracks. If the whole thing did not have fixed gear I would not be concerned but then others may not have the big gear rack that I have.
10:01:02 AM
Hey Simey, you should know I don't think you're a bolt maniac! But I have always thought there was an abundance of great, well protected, easy routes at the mount. Way too many to think of listing ... And that I agree there's some worthless bolted non-lines going up at the mount.

10:09:35 AM
I have read this thread with interest and it is quite easy to see both points of view.
One thing i would say is; If Simon had not admitted to "the changes made" i wonder how much "heavier" people's opinions would be ?
I think from past posts on this forum that had Simon not admitted to this all sorts of abuse would have been fired at "the piton placer".
I think one of the main points is that if changes are well thought out, made by experienced people, with a high level of experience at the crag in question, then there can be no "real arguement" rather a difference in opinion.
I have not been at Araps for about 5 years but from what i can gather on this forum changes that have been recently made at Araps are pretty much 50 / 50, some have been good some bad ......... thats life.
Well done Simon for backing up your actions under your own name.
11:02:43 AM
On 9/02/2005 Wendy wrote
> I have always thought there was an abundance of great, well protected, easy routes at the mount.

Well there is in comparison to other crags, but a quick tally of climbs in Arapiles Select Guide reveals that there are...

20 climbs at grade 11
73 climbs at grade 18
85 climbs at grade 23

It's okay for you Wendy, because you climb in the low 20s. Not only do you have an incredible number of routes at the grades you want to climb, but you can also enjoy the easier ones as well. Unfortunately it doesn't work the other way around.

If you are only climbing up to grade 11 it doesn't take long to exhaust the routes available to you.
11:34:45 AM
I should say that when I have modified protection on a route, it is generally on climbs that have fallen off the radar. That means a lot of climbers don't even know the route exists or they don't aspire to do them in their dangerous state.

My actions on Watchtower Crack were an unusual departure from that. Watchtower Crack has always seen a lot of traffic and that certainly adds weight to the argument that it should have been left as is. However I really feel that the circumstances surrounding that particular belay on that particular climb needed addressing and I didn't feel my actions were too out of keeping with the route.

I'm all in favour of retaining the adventurous or dangerous element of climbs where that is integral to the climbs character.
richie cunningham
11:49:34 AM
On 8/02/2005 Wendy wrote
>Should we expect that every route is made/kept safe for the masses?

Are you clinging onto memories of the fixed peg as being "bold" ?

20 odd years ago that pin was probably bomber. Its ridiculous that the rules seem to change for each generation. Some of the best routes going round are covered in crap that people are too precious about replacing for nostalgic reasons. Bunderleer is probably the best example of this.

One Day Hero
3:37:23 PM
Nice one, googly eyes!
Nah, not so big on genocide, a few of my people tried that back in the old country recently and it hasn't worked out too well for them. I think I lean a bit more towards the Euro approach though; no first ascent details in crag guides, all projects are open, no gunning for glory on some piece of shit which you just happened to find first, and then claim ownership over for all eternity.
4:15:46 PM
On 9/02/2005 One Day Hero wrote
>I lean a bit more towards the Euro approach though; no first ascent details in crag guides, all projects are open, no gunning for glory on some piece of shit which you just happened to find first, and then claim ownership over for all eternity.

That's why sport climbing in Europe starts to feel pretty similar after a while... like eating at McDonalds. Recall the name of the climb? No. Recall anything about the route's history? No. Was there anything particularly memorable about the climb? Ummm, it had some nice moves on it.

As for you comments about first ascenionists claiming ownership for eternity... well I agree with you... they shouldn't. That's why I'm all in favour of seeing some routes modified in a way that will suit the crag and suit the climbers likely to try it. But that doesn't mean eradicating every ounce of history in a route along the way.
5:01:38 PM
Hi Simey

>Well there is in comparison to other crags, but a quick tally of climbs
>in Arapiles Select Guide reveals that there are...
>20 climbs at grade 11
>73 climbs at grade 18
>85 climbs at grade 23

There's another guide to Arapiles, it was put out by someone called Shepherd and in it are ...

42 climbs at grade 11
167 climbs at grade 18
163 climbs at grade 23

It looks as if you left out over half the grade 11s, less than half the grade 18s and about half the grade 23s from the select guide. This would indicate, to me, that aren't as many good "easy" climbs at Arapiles as there are middle and harder climbs. The grades 18 and 23 are almost equal in number and poor old grade 11 is about 25% of their numbers. Does this mean 'all' grade 11s should be re-worked to achieve parity with the 'bigger' numbers? How do you increase the number of grade 11s? Chip bigger holds on some of the grade 18s ... we could take 4 of them down to grade 11 and that would leave the number of grade 18s = the number of grade 23s. But is equality in numbers the way to go? I don't think so, something like Bygone, graded 11 and with no gear in the top half then becomes the plaything of somebody climbing 13/14 and who wants to try something run-out but still within their capabilities.

Have you ever done Softcentre (15) around in Campbell's Kingdom? It's graded 15 but the climbing is no harder than 13 because there's a 10m runout section in it that gives it its grade. Does it need to be bolted to make it attractive to the punters? Why? To increase the number of climbs graded 13 'safer' and available to the masses?

Anyway, this is getting a long way away from the extra pegs on Watchtower Crack. Back in the good old days, when I last did it (20+ years ago), I don't think I was aware of Fall Factor 2 falls, I did have had a set of WC rigid Friends and probably a tube chock (which I didn't use). I think I can remember clipping the fixed gear, all of it, peg and the droopy bolts. [I also found the last pitch to be "easy" as I was seconding and had led the previous pitch. Maybe it was because I'd already clipped the bolts that I found the last pitch easy, I dunno.]

But all things considered, I don't have a problem with you putting in the extra pegs, it is not going to radically alter the experience for anyone that repeats the climb, but as for the bolt on Bygone ...
5:37:56 PM
I'll get back to you on that one BA... I've gotta go to footy training.

6:38:23 AM
Hey Simon,
just to continue the diversion a little longer.
I noticed in your Gramps guide, the write ups are a bit longer but there are very few low grade climbs. I know the Gramps is a massive climbing area and that plenty of good climbs wouldn't fit into a single guide. Any reason why its so heavy on the higher grades. I haven't counted up numbers at each grade so maybe its a false impression but if you had any particular thoughts I'd be interested to hear them.
PS I love your guides - the writeups, topos and layout are excellent.

The Blond Gecko
11:30:28 AM
I well remember my first (and so far only) outing on Watchtower Crack. Despite the fact that I was regularly leading 18-19 at the time, it's probably the most terrified I've ever been on a climb. This was for a variety of reasons, not the least being that the largest gear I had with me was a #10 hex. By the time I reached the little mini-roof, that hex was about 3 metres below me, sitting lengthways across the crack on a couple of vague, almost indistinguishable bulges, and another 3 metres or so above the manky carrot.
Anyway, I reach the little overlap, desperately searching for some relatively solid gear, and am delighted to find a big chockstone sitting back in the crack. So, I set myself up with a solid foot-jam below me, and a dodgy-feeling arm-bar (possibly the worst combination I can think of for fear-factor), and go searching for my slings. Guess what? They're slung over the shoulder of the arm that is currently the only thing keeping me from what I can all too easily imagine - a 6m+ inverted fall onto a dodgy hex which, even if it holds, is going to pendulum me straight into a crack almost wide enough to fit me. About 5 minutes of sheer, mind-numbing terror ensued, complete with elvising, sweating and a fair bit of quiet cursing, while I desperately struggled to remove a sling and get it over that stone while never removing my left arm from that crack. All within view of a couple of other MUMC guys on Brolga.
Of course, the fact that I was able to keep that position for five minutes suggests that the stance was quite a bit better than it felt at the time, and the move over that glassy section turned out a lot easier than it looked, but by that stage I was in no condition to think rationally. In that frame of mind, it never even occurred to me that there was a solid belay to be found there. I ran it out to the top (actually, almost to the top - 50m rope) and squeezed myself into the crack on rope stretch where I was able to put together a bomproof belay.

My own tale of a mini-epic... my personal opinion: those pitons would be a damn good thing for all those idiots who, like me, decide to attack the climb under-prepared because "it's only a 16."

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