17 Down Under:
17 DOWN UNDER. "A celebration of moderate grade climbing in Victoria". 184 pages. 285 images. Father & son team, Steve & John Morris, embark on a journey to climb and photograph 50 of the best rock climbs in Victoria, grade 17 & under. Inc bookmark $50.00
Touch-Type* 25m 19
A rap in and climb out affair which is effectively a direct finish to the second pitch of Touchstone. It offers pleasant wall climbing with the final tenuous moves being the crux. Rap to the ledge and follow the second pitch of Touchstone until it veers L. Continue directly up wall past two bolts.
Mark Wood, Allan McCulloch, Paul Deacon, Simon Mentz ’08.
Touchstone Right Hand Variant Finish (17) takes the thin seam to the right of Touch-Type.
Touchstone** 60m 14 provides 2 pitches of climbing at a fairly consistent grade - Lockwood, Dewhirst and Baxter in 1974.
Echo Crag can be considered a remote part of Arapiles and is sheer, beautiful and stands out from the surrounding area. Viewed from afar, Touchstone provides an obvious line of weakness up the face, provides a pure traditional climbing line, and required a great deal of effort for the approach/walk off adding to the atmosphere of the climb and climbing experience.
Touch-Type, the new addition to the face, has placed two new bolts on this face. Touch-Type follows pitch 2 of Touchstone for half its length (12m), then provides grade 14-17 climbing for 8m or so, then provides only a couple of body lengths of grade 19 climbing prior to the top out. The climb is well protected, besides the last 5m, with protection available just prior to the top out.
In my opinion, Touch-Type is a very contrived line (re-read the route description), at best provides 5m or so of climbing at the grade, and does not warrant the star. In my opinion, the addition of the two bolts diminishes the aesthetics of the older classic neighbouring traditional climb, diminishes the aesthetics of the entire face and traditional climbing experience. Protection may even be available to the far left or right. My climbing partner suggested that the first ascentionists could have stood on each others shoulders to place the bolts and top out, and they all should of given it star, but I’m not so sure.
The second issue that has been presented with this new addition are the two new raps stations (P1 and P2 of Touchstone), a further degradation to the traditional atmosphere. I understand the complicated issues such as erosion that are presented, but the area has well trodden paths and a rap station above the adjacent Mr Buffalo and Honeycomb. I’ll be the first to admit the access to this climb can be time consuming, but definitely not dangerous or out of reach.
So now we have the addition of 6 new bolts on this Touchstone face, which further adds to the increasing pressure in an area blessed with Traditional climbing values.
I do not want to ignite another debate regarding trad/mixed/sport climbing but what are others thoughts on this stella classic line and the associated issues?
What consultation with the climbing community was conducted prior to the placement of these two bolts on Touch-Type?
What consultation with the climbing community was conducted prior to the placement of these four bolts for the two rap anchors?
What is the preferred method of consultation?
Do we really want to go and bolt up all our unclimbable or unprotected faces and then provide easy access to all areas, or, can we leave it for others to look up and wonder?
Your concerns are legitimate although personally I don't share the same fondness for Touchstone that you obviously have. I always thought that the access and descent seriously detracted from the climb. You could argue that Touchstone did have a certain charm due to the lack of development in the area, but it never had the 'out-there' feeling you get on similar graded routes in the Grampians, or on Lamplighter for example.
In my opinion the rap stations make the climb much less of a hassle and a far more appealing proposition.
As for Touch-Type... it might only have a few metres of climbing at grade 19, but it climbs surprisingly well. The climb tackles the middle of an attractive wall, doesn't feel contrived, the moves keep you thinking, and the bolts don't interfere with neighbouring routes. The bolts are neccessary as decent natural protection isn't available.
Echo Crag's recent developments now means that the cliff offers a number of enjoyable climbs, particularly at grades 19 to 21. You can spend a day there and do lots of worthwhile climbing rather than spending most of your time walking up and down cliffs simply to do one or two routes.
As for consultation with the climbing community, the four people who established Touch-Type and placed the anchors have almost 90 years combined experience. All of us constantly interact and seek the opinion of other climbers (three of us live in Natimuk) and yours is the first complaint I have heard about the route. However I am also aware that the rap station above Honeycomb was removed by someone who felt it was uneccessary.
I share similar views regarding some of the other recent 'developments' at Arapiles so I sympathise with your outlook. It should be pointed out that there are plenty of other potential new routes I've spotted that I have chosen not to climb or bolt because I thought they would detract from the aesthetics of the cliff and/or neighbouring routes. However I will stand by my opinion that Touch-Type and its neighbours are worthwhile additions.
On 23/03/2009 simey wrote:
>As for consultation with the climbing community, the four people who established
>Touch-Type and placed the anchors have almost 90 years combined experience.
>All of us constantly interact and seek the opinion of other climbers (three
>of us live in Natimuk) and yours is the first complaint I have heard about
I recall you receiving similar feedback on at least one other occasion.
And while we are all standing around, I'll stand by my opinion that it is a direct finish to Touchstone, and not a new route.
And if you are going to rap in and climb out, then there are heaps of options for trad belays (Note the big bollard a couple of meters back from the top set of bolts, and the ability of countless parties to put an anchor in at the belay above pitch 1) that can be taken out after you are finished with them. Araps is generally a trad crag, so it is fair to assume that if you there to any of the three variations of Touchstone, then you'll have some trad gear with you.. So there is no need for at least 4 of the bolts that were added.
Which leaves the two bolts added to the direct finish. My opinion is one would have been plenty; but then what do I know, I only have 27 years experience.
.......I also recall Simey giving me a hard time about a 10m long route that Hero and I have done, which is a completely independent line, has no bolts, and is located about 20m away from the top of Touchstone. Apparently that route is crap (Bernard gets a bullet 18 – free T-shirt to whoever does the second ascent), while the addition of an 8m variant finish needs 6 bolts. But what do Hero and I know, we've only got 62 years combined experience.
I hadn't really registered Touch-Type. Given that it's another variant finish to Touchstone it doesn't really warrant being called a new route.
As to the need for the rap anchors I used to just carry two ropes, which is no hassle as I usually climb on doubles and, whack in a couple of cams and rap down. I'm not too fussed about one rap anchor because I think that area is preferable to approach from above to reduce erosion, but are two really necessary?
A free T-Shirt for 2nd ascent of Bernard Gets A Bullet? I need another T-Shirt but at that lofty grade I might have to go into training.
Our personal thoughts on Touchstone, or how it compares to other climbs is irrelevant. The issue of whether the approach is difficult or how many climbs you can get done in the area in a day is something we can all debate.
The point is that Touchstone has been climbed for generations as a pure traditional climb. The fact is now there are bolts en route which negates the need to build a traditional anchor(s) if you do choose to belay from these positions. If you don’t choose to belay from the major ledge you now may as well just clip the new anchor with a quickdraw on the way through!
Yes, the rap stations do make access/decent a lot easier, but that is what bolted anchors tend to do…..…make things easier. There is a bitumen road to the bottom of the crag, how easy shall we make it.
Yes, Touch-Type does only have a few metres of climbing at the grade, yes I was surprised and yes the wall was attractive….. and yes my argument is that these bolts do interfere with neighbouring routes, and the ethics and atmosphere of Arapiles. Touch-Type follows a neighbouring route for half its length, has a suggested rap in (it’s hardly the Verdun Gorge), a few metres of climbing at the grade, (1m per bolt?), already lies between a variant…….if it looks contrived, if it feels contrived….and if there is no decent protection for a new route in a traditional climbing area….that says something to me.
The fact that 3 of the first ascentionists live at Natimuk and have 90 years experience is besides the point, but maybe less time should be spent drilling and more time searching cars on the way through for such contraband. (I live in Fitzroy and have been top roping at Werribee for 3 months).
I have no doubt that some of us have spotted plenty of new routes at Arapiles, as so have I, we all deserve a pat on the back for not bolting up all the blank rock.
I wish we were just debating our opinions but unfortunately the rock has already been chipped and drilled. I wasn’t looking for sympathy, more so I was asking that the first ascentionists remove all of their antiquated ironmongery.
On 24/03/2009 robertsonja wrote:
>I wish we were just debating our opinions but unfortunately the rock has already been chipped and drilled. I wasn’t looking for sympathy, more so I was asking that the first ascentionists remove all of their antiquated ironmongery.
I'm afraid all you are going to get is my sympathy. I'm not saying your opinion is wrong, but my opinion is that that Touch-Type is worthwhile so I won't be rushing up there to remove the bolts.
I have a few questions for you though...
You refer to chipping and drilling... what chipping?
You refer to Touchstone as a stella classic line... since when did a long traverse to gain a short crackline followed by a second pitch that originally traversed to an easy arete, but is now more commonly climbed up the wall, become a stella classic line?
How do you feel about the rap anchors eliminating the need to rig natural belays on the Watchtower Faces, Muldoon, Collision Course, Tannin, Cecilia, Squeakeasy, Voodoo, Chinese Algebra, King Rat, Skydiver, to name just a few. Or don't they count?
Since when did a climb have to be comparable to a route in the Verdon Gorge to have rap anchors installed?
How is Touch-Type contrived when you can't reach into neighbouring climbs or use nearby holds to make the climbing easier?
On 24/03/2009 Eduardo Slabofvic wrote:
>And while we are all standing around, I'll stand by my opinion that it
>is a direct finish to Touchstone, and not a new route.
I agree that Touch-Type is a direct finish to Touchstone. That is exactly what we say in the guidebook. We chose to give it a different name because it feels like a very different route, just like Final Departure isn't called Station to Station Direct Finish and Ergonomics isnt called Strolling Right Hand Variant with Right Hand Variant Start and Right Hand Variant Finish.
>.......I also recall Simey giving me a hard time about a 10m long route that Hero and I have done, which is a completely independent line, has no bolts, and is located about 20m away from the top of Touchstone. Apparently that route is crap (Bernard gets a bullet 18 – free T-shirt to whoever does the second ascent), while the addition of an 8m variant finish needs 6 bolts. But what do Hero and I know, we've only got 62 years combined experience.
My wardrobe is lacking, so I hopefully I can nab the second ascent of Bernard Gets a Bullet. Do you have a shirt in my size?
On 25/03/2009 hero wrote:
> Stephen R. Covey
As in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People?
I was given that book once...which makes me think - Mint copy for sale anyone? Never opened.
Back to the original topic, I always thought Arapiles had enough routes for a lifetime of climbing. It now appears that 90 years between 4 people have proved that theory wrong.
Really, I don't think the bolts in TouchType are the end of the world. I reckon Mr Buffalo is a much more worthless piece of mank for its addition of 2 bolts to the cliff. That whole area is chockers with bolts now - rap stations above honeycomb, the retrobolted and well worth it Jesus Built my hotrod, high dive gully, golden echo, taste of honey ledge, kachoong, in phase, not to mention the sport crag that is myteries gully these days. For a remote area of arapiles, seems well trodden, bolted and accessible. I did walk up to Touchstone the 1st time I did it in 91 and I can't remember it adding to the experience. Since then, I've walked in past Kachoong, a track that is suffering erosion as it was the common access to most of the area. I'm a fan of the rap stations because they are making a huge difference to erosion. The one above Touchstone also means you can rap down to the 1st ledge (below the corner) and do all the good climbing on Touchstone in 1 pitch. That initial diaganol is mossy and pretty mank for a bumbly 14 leader to lead.
Eduardo, were you threatening our delightful mayor or my cat? Simey bagged out my last new route too and it had 2 pitches to it. I don't think anyone's taken up my encouragement to jump on it either. Arete and roof crack left of the 2nd pitch of Oceanoid everyone, 22, go for your lives.
On 25/03/2009 Wendy wrote:
>Really, I don't think the bolts in TouchType are the end of the world.
> I reckon Mr Buffalo is a much more worthless piece of mank for its addition
>of 2 bolts to the cliff.
Also Mr Buffalo is probably a retro-bolt of another route :
From Argus June 1998
Adapter 27m 22 Rappel down to small ledge 3m under the third belay of The Leaden Echo. From this climb straight up brushed slab to cave. Traverse 3m to right and finish up. Flexible friends and wires. Be careful with bees. Patrik Alseby (summer 97-98)
On 25/03/09 Wendy wrote:
>The one above Touchstone also means you can rap down to the 1st ledge (below the corner) and do all the good climbing on Touchstone in 1 pitch. That initial diaganol is mossy and pretty mank for a bumbly 14 leader to lead.
You could do that, but it would be a shame not to tick Touchstone. I wouldn't call the diagonal mossy and manky, I'd call it a bit balancy, a bit delicate, and a bit character-building for a bumbly grade 14 leader. When successfully negotiated, she or he could have a quiet smile and consider themself a bit less bumbly.
>You could do that, but it would be a shame not to tick Touchstone. I wouldn't
>call the diagonal mossy and manky, I'd call it a bit balancy, a bit delicate,
>and a bit character-building for a bumbly grade 14 leader. When successfully
>negotiated, she or he could have a quiet smile and consider themself a
>bit less bumbly.
I didn't remember it being mank from when I first did it, but when I went back to it last year, it was grotty and mossy and didn't compare to the rest of the route. Also, the gear is fiddly and as it rises slowly on it's way left, there's a risk of hitting the ground if you nuff it up for the whole diaganol and then you get to pull into even more moss. Wheras the rest of the route is clean and well protected.
On 25/03/2009 Wendy wrote:
>Really, I don't think the bolts in TouchType are the end of the world.
No, not the end of the world, just the end of the tiny bit of rock that got drilled out and will never ever ever
I'm O.K. with there being a rap route to the bottom, but isn't one enough? How much traffic does this area
I managed to the routes in this area on a top rope prior to the bolts appearing, which says to me that
natural belays are available. The bolts are in now, so it's too late. Chopping them is just going to make
the people that put them in in the first place get cranky and drill more holes. But maybe; just maybe, the
people putting the bolts in might like to have a look around to see if trad anchors are available. Arapiles
has always been about only putting bolts in when natural gear is not available.
Does your route go straight up from the belay, or do you mean left of the chimney bit? Do I get a T-shirt or
any other kind of encouragment?
I'm always puzzled by all the bolted right hand variant finishes to Henry Bolte Gully. The obvious way to do the gully is to go straight up it but all these people get hung up on having to follow the bolts on the right wall, not mentioning those who descend the line to then climb out one of the varients.
I've never been to Eco crag but wouldn't of rungs done a much better job than a rap station?