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5:20:05 PM
I heard the newish?? 34 was actually chiped?? is this true?

6:18:52 PM
Aparently Bens brother Lee attempted the route and found an extra hold making the crux easir possibly lowering the grade of the route. As a result the F.A aparently knocked off the 'new found hold'.

This is all hear say and i think it may be bullshit, but who knows...


7:28:04 PM
nice one joe, stir up some more controversy!! lol

But, yeah, i heard the same thing, and that the scar left can actually be seen from the ground......not good
8:08:22 PM
so people are always complaining about "lowering a route to your ability" what happens when u raise it to your ability?

10:25:38 PM
is this in reference to mechanical animals at boronia point? why don't we just ask ben what happened?

10:32:07 PM
Yes, that is the route joe is refering too.
Untill i hear otherwise, this story is just scandelous gossip.

10:33:56 PM
On 10/03/2004 joemor wrote:
>so people are always complaining about "lowering a route to your ability"
>what happens when u raise it to your ability?

The story goes - and Simon Carter might want to chip in on this - that a number of people were trying the project, using the 'offending' holds. Ben did the route using his sequence and then went back and hammered off the other holds to force repeat ascentionists to use his sequence.

It's such a childish thing to do, but I suppose when you look at how artificial so many Blueies routes are, it's hardly going to make any difference.

Still, I wonder when sponsors of elite climbers are going to take a stand. If Brand X tells some strong young waif that they'll pay him $1000 for every new route over grade 33 that he puts up, you're putting the climber in situation where he'll be tempted to do the wrong thing. If the climber knows that his or her sponsor demands ethically sound conduct, he might be more inclined to do the right thing. Or at least be sneakier about chipping stuff. But let's face it, no sponsor is going to take a stand.

Money talks, and it's persistent.



This post was brought to you by Gordon's Gin and Schweppes tonic water.
7:23:50 AM
I have to defend the Blueies climbing here..... most of the climbs are not "artificial", as tmarsh has said. Reinforced holds are seen on the odd climb, but chipping is not, even though there is the odd exception (just like at arapiles).
It is common, though for a lot of modern climbs to be fully bolted, including bolts near natural placements (which are less frequent and poorer than in the Gramps or Araps).
Reinforcement of holds is occasionally a necessity with the softer rock in the Blue mountains, and does not entail creation of new holds, just prevention of old ones breaking off. Done well, it is difficult to see, with the glue placed behind flakes, and soon coated in chalk!
There are some cases when the glue reinforcement is quite obvious though.
Ben's case of knocking off some holds is a different case, and does not happen often in the mountains. Certainly I can't see the rock scar from the is about 20 metres up!
Anyway, it wouldn't be the first case of controversial alteration of the hardest climb in australia! (think Punks in the Gym).
When I last talked to Lee, neither he nor his brother were sponsored, though perhaps that has changed now!

10:11:31 AM
You obviulsy havn't been to the 'right' crags then. I certainly have climbed on numerous chipped and glued routes in the bluies. I think the practice of deliberate removal of holds AFTER the first ascent is what is the big controversy. When preparing new routes i constanlty pull and lightly hammer off loose holds to make a clean climb. This sort of preperation is vital when doing new routes in the Blue Mtsn as the rock is not of the greatest quality. Removing the holds to 'force a sequence' on Mechanical Animals does seem ego driven to me.

10:33:22 AM
Being an avid new router in and around Sydney, I will say parctically ALL new routes Ive put up have had holds fall off them. I climb lower grades lower so if a hold comes off, I normally have a few backups, so have never reinforced any. The blueys is not a haven for reinforcing holds, chipping etc etc, anyone whos says that really has not idea. Sure there are instances of it, (most form a long time ago in the ethical dark ages), but certainly not more prevalent than any area in Australia with the same amount of history.

If the incident mentioned in this forum did happen...its pretty petty. I agree there is nothing more frustratiing than putting up a new route, working it, getting the sequence wired and finally summitting...only to have the next ascentionist go up it and grab a "jug" you missed lowering you route a few grades. Its not the fact my route just got easier, its just the fact I worked so hard and probably didnt have kinda feel dumb. I certainly wouldnt knock off the offending hold though.

12:14:33 PM
yeh i agree with ya neil and rod-
if the hold had been knocked off while he was cleaning it before the FA (though it was an open project so i dont think he cleaned it anyway??) then i wouldnt have a problem (assuming it was a dodgy loose hold or something -not for the sole sake of removing the easier sequence).

however, also the fact that its a big media thing- he would have done the FA and gotten all excited that hed put up the hardesrt route in the knocking off the jug and not allowing an easier sequence to be attempted he ensured that his route would not be downgraded,
it seems like a case of just saving face.
when you look at it objectively it was the wrong thing to do, though i (unfortunately) cant definately say i wouldnt have done the same in his situation
Steve M
1:27:08 PM
If there is an easier sequence, that is the climb. If you want to manufacture hard climbs set one in the gym.

How good is it to live in NSW 1 1/2 hours to thousands of great climbs :-)

6:17:04 PM
I'm not for a minute saying that all the routes in the bluies are chipped, but that many routes of a high standard that go up there are 'cleaned' to get rid of loose rock and then have key holds reinforced with glue. The decision as to what gets 'cleaned' off and what gets 'reinforced' is one which, in my view, is inherently artificial.

I don't say it's wrong, or that it's as bad as flat out chipping a route, but you can't argue that it's necessarily a pure style of putting up a route.


9:40:51 PM
ZAP Crag in the blueys was only developed since 2000, it has some glue in holds on a few climbs as low as grade 20. Still awsome climbing...

1:53:08 AM
yeah, apparently his brother was trying a sequence with reachier moves that he couldn't (or chose not to) use. so he chipped them off.

yeah sure its dodgy, but i think its pretty funny too :)
11:37:18 AM
On 12/03/2004 anthonyk wrote:
>yeah, apparently his brother was trying a sequence with reachier moves
>that he couldn't (or chose not to) use. so he chipped them off.
>yeah sure its dodgy, but i think its pretty funny too :)

Pretty funny? Dude, you have no idea.
12:29:48 PM
OK, obviously FACTS are what’s needed then. First of all I’ve got to say that I am already sick to death of this issue. Sure, I can “chip in” to help ensure people get their information straight, but is not my job to (further) waste my time clearing this up.

One of the things that annoys me most about this whole thing, is that as soon as the topic is raised then the whole of Blue Mtns climbing is suddenly tarred by the same brush. Please understand that this is pretty much an isolated incident we’re talking about. And the vast majority of all the climbers I’ve spoken to about this up here are outraged and/or dismayed by what has happened. This discussion (about the “34?”) isn’t really about cleaning off of loose holds, or reinforcing holds, we are talking very specifically about chipping off holds to enforce sequences. I still think Joes first two questions are the most interesting and pertinent, and they still haven’t been fully answered:
1) Did it happen?
2) What happens when you raise a route to your ability? Which I guess also means; what are the implications?

1) Did it happen?
That Ben climbed the route, that the route is extremely hard, and that the ascent was a fantastic achievement, I believe, are facts.

The following I also believe to be facts (based on several first-hand eye-witness accounts from climbers at the crag, and also confirmed by Ben’s belayer, and two other climbers who had been attempting the route, and also having seen the holds up close myself — so you see, I’ve got pretty good reason to believe this also to be fact):

What apparently happened is this. Some weeks after said ascent Ben returned to the route and SMASHED OFF two holds from the crux with a hammer. One of these is a footer (apparently this was a largish piece of rock however this is of lesser significance to this discussion, and its scar may or may not be visible from the ground - as I referred to elsewhere). The other hold, a very small edge, is VERY SIGNIFICANT to this discussion (and to those few climbers who had also being attempting the route using it).

As Phil_Nev said, this hold was found and incorporated into Lee’s (and Garth’s) sequences. And I’ve been (reliably) told that using this hold would have very likely lead to the route being downgraded.

Have you all got this? Do you understand the significance of this? We are talking about a tiny-weenie piece of rock, BUT we are also talking about a new grade being claimed for the sport. I don’t wish to insult anyone, but no-one really cares much about whether a route is 23 or 24, but add 10 grades and it becomes a whole lot more significant.

And that is why I think Joe’s question re implications is so interesting.

12:30:24 PM
2) Implications?
First of all, you need to understand that the grade of 34 is just what has been claimed, it isn’t confirmed, in fact getting confirmation is now rather more problematic… Until the grade of this route — as well as Grey Area, Spartacus, and Flower Power (routes graded 33 but which may well be harder) — is confirmed, then I think any claims that MA is definately Australia’s “first 34” might possibly end up a little, well, premature. None of these routes have had enough repeat ascents (if any) for anyone to be really sure of their grades at this time.

And whether a taller climber using Ben’s sequence would have down-graded MA anyway, well, we don’t know at this time.

Secondly, you have to decide if chipping holds and enforcing sequences (made to fit routes) are generally accepted ethics. Sorry, no fence sitters on this one. It is either A) accepted, or, B) not accepted. If the answer is A, then that of course makes it a fine example that others can then turn to (if that’s what the climbing community wants). But if the answer is B, not acceptable, then, well, what do we make of that?

Here’s a hint: There are some pretty strong and interesting arguments to be had which kinda suggest that if it’s not an accept ethic, then the ascent isn’t valid, at least not technically. For sure Ben had made a valid ascent, and that lasted for a few weeks there, but now, as a result of what happened subsequently, well, he might as well as taken a hang on the fourth bolt.

Anyone want to go and tell Ben that? No, didn’t think so. However that is what some of the most highly respected climbers who I have spoken to about this issue have said (that the ascent now isn’t valid). And I agree. Of course none of us want to be the bearer of such bad news. Unfortunately though, someone has to stand up for the ethical standards of our sport, or they’ll be “chipped way”, so to speak. And furthermore, I think we owe it to ALL the other extremely strong and extremely talented climbers out there to point this stuff out, otherwise we simply aren’t being fair to them. Certainly Ben hasn’t been fair to them.

The sad thing is a great achievement has been tarnished by the FA’ionists own actions simply because some people (perhaps including some other climbers who might have encouraged or assisted in this) simply aren’t “up to speed” on climbing ethics and the implications thereof.

In conclusion, if I sound pissed-off by the chipping, I am. It’s bull-shit. So far the way this has been reported elsewhere is completely misleading. If I sound annoyed that it has caused me to waste my time, I am – I really am. I would much rather spend my time promoting the POSITIVE aspects of climbing. So if something positive can somehow come out of this then I will be relieved. If anyone out there thinks again before chipping of holds to enforce sequences, then that will be a good thing – both for the sport and for that climber. But please, don’t anyone try and tell me you’re advancing the standards of the sport, when simply, you’re not. I think most of us know better.

I’ve had my spray. Now let’s hear what you folks have to say about all this.

Simon Carter

12:31:11 PM
Further reading:
1) See the editorial of Climbing Magazine #225. If someone wants to transcribe the last paragraph of the first column, and first para of the second column, then perhaps there are some out there in cyber-space who might find that, er, interesting.

2) You know, much of the above info has already been in the public forum for months (surprised this took so long to reach Chockstone…):

The incident in question enters the discussion at bottom of page 2, however I highly recommend reading the entire tread from the beginning as that also helps explain the significance of this and ethics in general.

1:08:24 PM
Thanks for the clarification and interesting points you raise Onsight.

You say if it was a 23/4 nobody would care (too much).
Are not the ethical issues the same? (even though MA is cutting edge grade).

If the chipping incorporated a 'safety' angle would people think differently? (hard to combine the 2 concepts I know, but I am referring to the philosophy here).

It would be good to get resolution of these matters, otherwise they will haunt us when 35, 36 etc goes up.

For my humble 'tuppence worth' the ethics are the same if I was to put up a new G13/14.
If I trundled a 'deathblock' off the new route to make it safe, I doubt I would be criticised too much over it.
If I chipped it to make it easier (or harder) I would rightfully expect to be criticised for my action by the climbing community, (no matter my standing within that community).

Maybe anthonyk thought it was funny in the 'sandbagging' sense??

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