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Chockstone Forum - Trip Reports

Tells Us About Your Latest Trip!

 Page 1 of 5. Messages 1 to 20 | 21 to 40 | 41 to 60 | 61 to 80 | 81 to 82
Author
TR: Alive in a Bitter Sea (Katoomba Cliffs)
PThomson
5-Dec-2016
10:27:03 AM
G'day all,

In my latest Blog Update at The Climbing Obscurist I've included a TR about my journey to tick Alive in a Bitter Sea (90m 25 R/X) at Katoomba Cliffs.

From the page, just scroll down (past a section about some new routing I did at Sublime Point East Face) to find the section on Alive in a Bitter Sea.

The Climbing Obscurist: Swansong Part 1 - Journey to a Bitter Sea

I've had some mixed feedback about my approach to tick this route (I fully disclose my tactics in the blog) which is very much a headpoint, though I placed all the trad gear on the Send, so this TR may or may not be a good read depending on your stance on headpointed routes.

Enjoy.

- Paul T


pmonks
5-Dec-2016
12:46:46 PM
Love your writing Paul, and especially love that you rebolted it like-for-like. It would have been "easy" to turn this into yet another multi-pitch Blueys consumer sport route, but that would have completely destroyed the experience for those who are capable of pushing the boat out into waters like those.
mitch46and2
5-Dec-2016
5:33:39 PM
Nice one.

Always thoroughly enjoy your blog updates. Occasionally i will go back thru and re read for some inspiration. Keep up the adventures and living fully. Cheers for taking the time to write it up!
PThomson
6-Dec-2016
7:08:22 AM
Thanks for reading and the feedback, guys.

Glad to know that the blog gets 4 reads (including me, and my dad). =P

I just found my original query about Bitter Sea on this forum almost 3 years ago: http://www.chockstone.org/Forum/Forum.asp?Action=Display&ForumID=15&MessageID=25963&Replies=1 .
mikllaw
6-Dec-2016
1:40:57 PM
I've never been a fan of inspect and head-point, but if ever there was a route made for the ethic, it's this one.

No issues about glued in carrots either, a pre-clipped carrot is even more convenient than a ring.

It sounded as though the flake with gear behind it was a bit crucial, would ripping it off make the climb impossible? I'd have reinforced the crucial flake and put a bolt in near it.

Sounds like a good wall and a bit different.
One Day Hero
6-Dec-2016
2:17:21 PM
I pretty much agree with Mikl. The ethic of these inspected/partially bolted/still very dangerous routes is a bit odd and hard to justify, but there aren't heaps of them around. Some people find great value in routes like this one, Ride Like the Wind, Daedalus, etc. Leave 0.05% of routes bold and weird for the 1% of climbers who are into it.
PThomson
6-Dec-2016
2:40:51 PM
For me, a large part of the appeal IS the headpoint aspect (I always seem to climb better when there is some consequence, and at some subliminal level I never take pure sporty sport climbing serious enough to give it "everything I've got" on the redpoint burn), but I agree that it appeals to such a tiny audience, that it can be hard to justify.

If someone did seek permission to, and ultimately did partially retro it, I like to hope that it might still be a carrot-bolted route (for limiting visibility by the hordes of tourists, if nothing else) and my glue-in carrots mean the job is at least partially done already. OR they'll hate carrots as much as Neil does (we've had many a good debate on the topic in the past), and rip all my carrots out as well =P

As to the flake: it IS super-crucial, though its removal wouldn't necessarily make the sequence impossible... You'd need to pin the flake to keep it attached (it's not being held on by much, sticks out from the with a good 1cm+ gap, and physically moves when you yard on it). A bolt by that flake would mitigate the 2 sections on that pitch which make it R/X (not a true X, but entering into that territory). The other being the 5m section below it. Most of this climb would be a "soft-R" (still bold, but not REALLY dangerous) with an extra bolt or 2 strategically placed on each pitch.

Tangent: Daedalus is exciting, but not as dangerous as I'd been led to expect it to be. Bloody sandbagged at the grade though (and I could do the boulder-problem start with help of my height!)

- Paul T

rodw
6-Dec-2016
3:10:45 PM
Im okay with it...its not like it a head pointed sport route at a popular crag bolted "boldly" by someone whos climbing 10 grades higher etc..the routes is not a simple walk up situation so anyone deciding to attempt it, would have the knowledge/idea that its not your usual clip up sport friendly route and a change in your usual tactic might be warranted.

Enjoy the blog, tis a good read.
simey
6-Dec-2016
6:29:26 PM
Good read Paul and I admire your tenacity and honesty in how you repeated Alive in a Bitter Sea.

However I have always felt that Warwick Baird hijacked one of the great pieces of real estate in the Blueys with his pre-inspected, sparsely bolted creations in this part of the world.

I just reckon the fact that you had to go to all that faff of pre-inspecting and working the climb before you were even willing to attempt it on lead really detracts from the route. Out of interest, how many ascents has Alive in a Bitter Sea had? And how many of those have been ground-up?

If first ascentionists are not willing to meet the challenges of the cliff by going ground-up (like say Tobin Sorenson did on Tjuringa at Arapiles) then they should think twice before bolting selfish, egotistical, run-out climbs from rap.

PThomson
6-Dec-2016
6:50:05 PM
Simey,

You are right, and it IS a spectacular bit of real estate. I was super-psyched to try Iron Lady ground-up (I went to the ends of the earth trying to find a belayer for it on the last day before I went back to work), but it never eventuated.

I guess "ground up" in this case is tricky to define. Since the route starts off the halfway ledge (unless you climb the bottom pitches of Echo Crack) you probably will rap over the line just to get to it. I doubt anyone has really tried it without a "bit of sussing" as you rap past it, but I can't say for sure.

Matt Brooks told me Garth did it clean (but it sounded like he was rather gripped, despite his ability), but I'm not sure whether it might've had "a bit of an inspection on rap".

Simon Carter told me that Dan Honeyman had pre-inspected it (but not necessarily PRACTICED it) when he tried it, but that he also didn't get it clean (the famous photo of him doing the dyno is actually off-route, and you can't get to it by CLIMBING from the bolt you see in the photo).

I don't doubt that there are plenty of climbers who COULD do it ground-up, but not if the grade is even vaguely close to their limit. For me, I'm probably a "solid 25 climber" (ticking 25's Onsight, Flash or 2nd shot -usually-) who can "stretch" as high as hard 28 for a true redpoint (sometimes). So, it was at the limit of what I can do solidly, and that was a part of the challenge.

-Paul T

simey
6-Dec-2016
11:44:44 PM
How does the climbing compare to some of the Blueys other big routes (such as those in the Grose?)

Also, I would love to see a good climbing pic of the route taken from the Three Sisters, just to capture the full position. But I don't imagine you will be rushing back to pose for photos any time soon.

One Day Hero
7-Dec-2016
1:04:35 AM
On 6/12/2016 simey wrote:
>If first ascentionists are not willing to meet the challenges of the cliff
>by going ground-up (like say Tobin Sorenson did on Tjuringa at Arapiles)
>then they should think twice before bolting selfish, egotistical, run-out
>climbs from rap.

Like Mark Moorhead did on Ride Like The Wind?

There's a spectrum, Simey. At one end you have the "pretending to not toprope" routes which Bundy and Vaughn bolt......technically you're on lead, but the last draw is always above your knees. Then at the other end you have some of the protectionless Booroomba slabs from the 80s which were heavily toprope rehearsed before being soloed for the f.a.

There's no fixed line where things get selfish and egotistical, rap prepared routes just get progressively dumber as they creep towards either extreme.
simey
7-Dec-2016
8:41:53 AM
On 7/12/2016 One Day Hero wrote:
>Like Mark Moorhead did on Ride Like The Wind?

Well that route has an interesting history... my understanding is that Moorhead bolted Ride Like the Wind with its spaced bolts and then offered it to Mike Graham who led it without pre-inspection. Maybe if someone else had bolted Alive in a Bitter Sea and then said 'Hey Warwick, I have a new route for you to do' and Warwick led it without pre-inspection then I would be less critical.

>There's no fixed line where things get selfish and egotistical, rap prepared
>routes just get progressively dumber as they creep towards either extreme.

I tend to agree with you. I suspect also that a lot of rap bolted routes established before the advent of power drills had spaced bolts to minimise the tedious work of hand drilling.


Macciza
7-Dec-2016
2:46:32 PM
On 6/12/2016 simey wrote:
>However I have always felt that Warwick Baird hijacked one of the great
>pieces of real estate in the Blueys with his pre-inspected, sparsely bolted
>creations in this part of the world.

Better then it being low-jacked into some 'bland consumer classic clip-up'... And like most of Warwicks route it was probably inspected/rehearsed far less then most people imagine...

>I just reckon the fact that you had to go to all that faff of pre-inspecting
>and working the climb before you were even willing to attempt it on lead
>really detracts from the route. Out of interest, how many ascents has Alive
>in a Bitter Sea had? And how many of those have been ground-up?

Any faffing/inspection/rehearsal is as much a reflection on the climber as it is the climb. Perhaps you would like to set us all straight by going ground up on it yourself?? I just reckon that if you complain about all that stuff but are unwilling to lead it in your preferred fashion then it detracts from your argument. And does it really matter how many people have climbed it??

>If first ascentionists are not willing to meet the challenges of the cliff
>by going ground-up (like say Tobin Sorenson did on Tjuringa at Arapiles)
>then they should think twice before bolting selfish, egotistical, run-out
>climbs from rap.

Well that might have worked in the old days on trad climbs but with bolted stuff these days its quite a bit different. If FA's aren't prepared to at least run it out a little in the easier sections then they really should think twice before creating more overbolted overcautious consumer crap..
cheers

gnaguts
7-Dec-2016
4:20:23 PM
simes
>If first ascentionists are not willing to meet the challenges of the cliff
>by going ground-up (like say Tobin Sorenson did on Tjuringa at Arapiles)
>then they should think twice before bolting selfish, egotistical, run-out
>climbs from rap.

macca
>Well that might have worked in the old days on trad climbs but with bolted stuff these days its quite a bit different.
>If FA's aren't prepared to at least run it out a little in the easier sections then they really should think twice before creating more overbolted overcautious consumer crap..

Ya both blowin ya trumpetz.
Bring back the retreat I say.
Nothin wrogn with good old ground up absqueel retreat from a hi point if the climb gets tha betta of U, coz it nockz tha ego bak in2 shape, an savz all tha hard work of tha ovaboltin runout killin crap.
warwickb
7-Dec-2016
6:45:51 PM
Hi Paul,

Congratulations on your ascent of Alive in a Bitter Sea, and thanks for a great read and for the memorable photos (where did you dig THAT photo up from? - I didn't realise I had such a taste for blue, stripes, and tights in my youth!).

Thanks also for replacing the bolts like-for-like without any new additions to those placed on the first ascent (at least that's what I understand you did).

My view on the rebolting of routes I did in the 80's and 90's is that replacing old bolts like-for-like (with glue) is fine, and is probably a very good idea. So thanks, and thanks for not adding any rings or additional bolts. In my view replacing bolts with rings or adding extra bolts detracts from these routes and is contrary to my thinking when making the first ascent. It is not something I generally agree with. If people wish to make such additions to a particular route I put up please give me a call to have a chat about it (contrary to rumour I'm still alive, fairly sane, and happy to chat!).

In the 80's and 90's one of the things that interested me about climbing was the mental aspect of maintaing a relaxed climbing state in situations that generated a lot of fear i.e. keeping your shit together. Keeping bolting to a minimum allowed me to put up a number of routes where that mental aspect is central. The configuration of the protection, including bolts, is key to the integrity of those routes and the climber's experience of them. I'd like to think these routes remain as they were for other climbers to experience this mental aspect. (Perhaps they might be considered cultural heritage - after all they are in a world heritage park listed on the heritage list for its cultural as well as natural values!).

My recollection of the first ascent of Alive in a Bitter Sea was that I worked some of the moves off the rap rope when cleaning and bolting the route. I don't recall top-ropping any of it. I do recall taking a fall on the dyno pitch, which resulted in breaking the stem of a small Friend (a #2 I think) that I'd placed with most of it sticking out of a horizontal crack.

Alive in a Bitter Sea was the last of the routes I put up on that wall. I named it after a book I heard reviewed on the radio on the drive up. The book was of the same name and was about the Chinese cultural revolution. My recollection is that the first of the routes I put up on the wall I found the scariest. Iron Lady, named after Margaret Thatcher, traverses across the whole wall from bottom left to top right. When I abseiled the wall the first time to check it out I bush-bashed in to the top of the wall from the right hand side (facing the cliff) and rapped down the middle, placing one bolt to keep the rope in. There wasn't any opportunity to try out moves, clean it or really inspect it as the obvious line was a rising traverse. I then returned and did it from the ground up. When we got to Penny Ledge below the main wall it was covered in pennies thrown off the lookout. Hence we named it Penny Ledge. Launching up the main wall I placed bolts on lead working the route out as I went. That was my first time climbing on the wall and no one else had climbed on it. It was pretty unnerving. Mike Myers (the geologist) seconded me. We had a lot of fun on those routes.

That's a bit of history and some of my views.

Nice to see people out on the wall getting a taste of the first ascent experience! Congratulations again.

Warwick Baird

Macciza
7-Dec-2016
8:02:06 PM
Hey Warwick,
Well said! And thanks for all the inspiring lines you put up back in the day, the fact that so few 'modern' climbers are prepared to attempt them is, IMHO, testament to their 'old-school' quality. Love ya work!

It is sad that many people have a wrong view of the style of your ascents. I think often it is more a reflection on them - "He must have pre-inspected and rehearsed it lots, (because I'm not prepared to step up, so how could he have done it any other way)" - that sort of thing kinda pisses me off a bit, particularly when not backed up by facts or action . . .

Thanks for the bit of perspective on these routes, and the inspiration for them - they have been on my list for sometime and hope to get on them before i get too old, hopefully is an acceptable style (at least to myself) though that is getting harder as the years pass. Im sure they will still be a lot of fun . . . .

Cheers
MM

PS And if i haven't said it already; thanks and kudos to Paul for not sanitising the route.
warwickb
7-Dec-2016
8:47:33 PM
Thanks MM,
I saw a great photo of you in a climbing calander for next year. The best.

One of the things that intrigues me about some of the commentary I come across about some of the routes I put up are the views expressed about how the first ascent was done. These are from people who were never there, who I don't think I know, and who have never spoken to me about the first ascent and how it was done. Amazing. So all these rumours fly around, and nobody picks up the phone or sends an email to ask me what I remember about the first ascent. You're one of the few who has. Astounding!

Cheers
Warwickb
mikllaw
7-Dec-2016
8:52:51 PM
well you are hard to find...

Good work on Iron lady, lead drilling is full on. And I assume that was pre battery drills
WarwickB
7-Dec-2016
9:18:58 PM
Thanks. It was indeed.

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