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Noblesse Oblige retro of best easy route @ Buffalo
8:05:20 AM
Just for the record I'd like to point out that

1: Neil is quite right - after some preliminary discussions with Geoff and follow up ones (with a much wider group) where we discussed what was considered appropriate decided to steer well clear of trying to get involved in re(or retro) bolting any established lines and I'm very happy that this has been done by the FA team (only took them 30 years to get back to it, but hell - at least it's done and now it can be enjoyed by the masses, and clearly is being enjoyed by the masses).

2: Before we went establishing any new routes (i.e. A Fundamental Difference of opinion & No Ego) at Mackeys lookout we (3 of us) carefully sussed out the (very clear) topo and route descriptions which I verified had been written up by Geoff in the first place, and translated into the topo in the current guide. Hence we had a high degree of confidence that we were safely well clear of the established routes. Sadly this was not the case.

It turned out after much investigation (after the routes went up) that we shared part of Stiletto's 1st pitch and have hence added some fixed gear to this pitch, as well as the very last bit before you top out. To the best of my knowledge Geoff does not have a major issue with the additional bolts in the 1st pitch of Stilettom however he is more than capable of making his opinions made public or not. I have discussed / offered to remove these bolts and he let me know he is happy for them to stay. He acknowledged that we did our best to establish the location of the established lines before establishing what we believed were independent lines.

I have attempted to correct the route lines accurately in the topo I've made and posted on the VCC website.

Geoff has said that the yellow dotted line I marked as a potential new route on the RHS of the waterfall is in fact High Heels, but from the distinct lack of gear (literally nothing in about 50m and from what I could see nowhere to place a belay below, with the very real possibility of a horrible fall about 20-30m down a steep chasm) I have my reservations about this being correct and hope that I will be able to verify this with Geoff and subsequently update the topo and re-post.

So the point I would like to make is that we were dilligent and did take due care with establishing the position of the existing routes. The info was verified to the best of my knowledge by the first ascentionist team and hence as far as we knew we had the best information available. In short if we had any inkling that we were retrobolting any existing lines we would have steered well clear and gone elsewhere.

All that being said the new routes offer good climbing on good rock, and are well protected and I would have no reservations in reccomending them to anyone. The intention was to provide another option for climbing at this lovely venue that does not require huge run-outs, but is in fact quite reasonable in our opinions (which clearly are very different to a bunch of others - but being the first ascentionists we can establish what we consider to be well protected routes).

I would still offer a warning on all other routes at Mackey's lookout (with the exception of the recently retrobolted route Mike & Geoff have sorted out). I clearly don't agree with the style in which they were established, and think that like a lot of the other poorly protected routes at Buffalo this style is elitist and not worth the time of day (for me). While I choose this I would also like to point out that I do respect that it takes a lot of skill and willpower to establish routes in this manner, however it's a style that I'm simply not that interested in. I choose a lower level of risk.

At least there is now a little more choice so people are free to choose what experience they want, rather than it being dictated to them by a distinct lack of well protected routes at Buffalo.
12:24:36 PM

Hi Joe

I'm surprised Geoff has told you he is okay with you retrobolting the the finest route on Stiletto slab as I know he's proud of the exposed adventurous nature of all of the climbing in that area.

Are you seriously questioning the likelihood of there being a route established at Buffalo with a 40 or 50 metre runout? You've got to be kidding me. You've heard of Eurobin Falls, right?

As regards your topo, I'm also surprised to see one or two of the lines shifted away from what you call your new routes. The original lines have been pointed out to me and I'm sure any of the first ascensionists could identify the difference between where they actually go and where you have marked them on your topo.

1:36:20 PM
Hi K,

feel free to ask Geoff yourself if you like. I've spoken to him about it a lot.

I've also spoken to him about the position of the established routes with the intention of trying to get
them as accurate as possible - that's why the lines shifted from V1 to V2. He has marked up my initial
topo and I've since revised it. He has then suggested some more changes but as I mentioned above I
feel that there may be some misunderstanding about which I am flagging as a potential new route and
the actual location of "High Heels" as mentioned above. I don't have anything more to add on that at
this stage.

All I can say is that memories may fade after 30 years, especially if it's been that long since you've
been back to this cliff.

And perhaps I wasn't very clear, or you mis-read my e-mail re run-out routes, but I'm well and truly
aware of there being a big precedent of long dangerous run-outs at Buffalo. That is my whole argument
about the need to offer some other, more modern style routes that are more suitable to people who like
living and want to stay alive and don't feel the need to prove themselves by running it out.

It is all about what the first ascentionist feels is reasonable in terms of protection. I'm attempting to
provide some other offerings so that the community at least has a choice in terms of what they
choose to climb, rather than there being almost no / hardly any good well protected routes at Mt

1:50:55 PM
On 6/03/2008 jgoding wrote:
>but I'm well and truly
>aware of there being a big precedent of long dangerous run-outs at Buffalo.
>That is my whole argument
>about the need to offer some other, more modern style routes that are
>more suitable to people who like
>living and want to stay alive and don't feel the need to prove themselves
>by running it out.

Being the devils advocate here - but can you point out an example of someone dieing from falling off a grade 13 slab? I think the danger factor is lessoned substantially by the angle of the slabs. I think the main point many worry about is the closeness of your new routes to the original bold routes. By running a line of rings up within a few metres of a more run-out route it detracts greatly from the experience of the run-out route (ie you could escape to the bolts!)
3:53:15 PM
Hi Neil,

I wasn't specifically referring to easy routes. There are some moderate and hard routes which men
much harder than me refuse to do. Specifically Just as one example a route was put up by HB that
Monks refused to climb until the bolting was improved. There are a bunch of grade 18's that I would
also suggest fall into the vague
category I've suggested exists at Buffalo (run-out horror shows). Most of them are by friends who I
respect greatly and would prefer to speak to about it on a route by route instance rather than in this

I suggest you check out the area in more detail and get familiar with the history and extensive
research I've done before you go pointing the finger. The whole point I was trying to make is that we
went to a lot of trouble to establish the existing lines and thought that we were well clear of them,
hence your comment is obsolete.

Further - it's been pretty annoying that the routes were not shown correctly in the current guide. If they
had been this situation could have been avoided because it was certainly not my intention to put
myself in this position.
4:16:28 PM

Buffalo is a special place to climb, & the fact that there are scary routes there is a most definite part of the experience. It wouldn't be the same if the whole process of preparing & building up & psyching up for a particular route was lost. Granite areas are the same wherever you go - runouts are par for the course. Suck it up or move to Nowra buddy.

5:05:35 PM
Run-out slabs and routes in general are fine, there're already plenty of those. But having 20+m runouts on a grade 13 will put off leaders who aren't super-solid at that level, the low grade will mean harder leaders dont bother with them, and the few people who do have a crack, tho they wont die if they come off, may end up decorating large tracts of the slab with their skin / blood / abraded rope. Not the best combination, or encouragement for budding climbers.
I look forward to running up N.O. when i next get up there, thanks for the route and description Geoff and Mike.

5:10:43 PM
On 6/03/2008 jgoding wrote:
>Further - it's been pretty annoying that the routes were not shown correctly
>in the current guide.

It's your guide! :-)
5:18:59 PM
to be fair to the person who did the topo in the guide the lines were drawn on it by the first ascentionist

These lines were then accurately translated (to the best of my knowledge) by the designer and I
presume they would have been proofed prior to publication.

Let's just say the lines have been "clarified" (read moved) a few times as I've been trying to accurately
show them on the most up to date topo

grrrr - I'm biting a lot today!

8:28:18 PM
Never trust a designer. Simon probably moved them to make it more aesthetically pleasing.... :-)
8:49:52 PM

Hey! Easy on the designers, Neil! :)

About your handiwork Joe, I got quite a different impression from Geoff about his opinion of it, as will have several other people have by now. But perhaps the rest of us have misunderstood him.

On 6/03/2008 jgoding wrote:
> Let's just say the lines have been "clarified" (read moved) a few times
> as I've been trying to accurately show them on the most up to date topo

That's exactly what I was referring to: I know you checked the position of the original routes with Geoff and also that you then marked the routes on your topo _in a different place_ to where he indicated, thereby making your 'new routes' appear less like contrived overlapping retrobolts.

But I guess all's fair in love and property development, eh JGG?
10:24:45 AM
K - lets keep it civil. There is no basis for casting aspersions such as "moving topo lines to make room for new routes". And the Grollo reference isn't funny anymore

Joe followed "the protocol" to the letter, he telegraphed his intentions very clearly (as only Joe can!!) and could hardly have given the FAs more opportunity to clarify where routes go. He followed their wishes about not retrobolting existing lines.

Its no secret that Buffalo has a complete lack of beginner routes. Establishing beginner routes is not to Joe's personal benefit considering he climbs well into the 20s. he is thinking of others. If I had the time and inclination I might bolt any particular route slightly differently to Joe but his approach is also entirely reasonable.

11:34:15 AM
>Let's just say the lines have been "clarified" (read moved) a few times
>as I've been trying to accurately
>show them on the most up to date topo

See this whats happens when you dont mark your route with a line of ring bolts...ppl get confused. Ring bolts are the new white painted squares with initials...the fact they also have a side benefit of stopping you deck is a just bonus.

But to make it easier I reckon all first FA's take up a can of paint and wide brush and paint the line their route takes up the wall....but you have to make sure it matches the line drawn on the photo topo in colour or you will cause confusion.
11:44:29 AM

Point taken Will. My feelings have run high on this issue from the first flurry of emails. I agree though that consideration of beginners and bumblies like me is always a good thing.
3:23:02 PM
Thanks to MIkl and Geoff for fixing this one up, given its (now) rave reviews it does seem like it was well overdue.

Thanks also to Joe for all the work he does making routes safe for all.

Much appreciated, well done!
4:50:53 PM
On 7/03/2008 rolsen1 wrote:
>Thanks also to Joe for all the work he does making routes safe for all.

Making routes safe for all..I have a problem with this. Especially at Buffalo. Every time I drive up that hill from Porepunkah I have butterflies in my stomach and I feel sick because I know the mental anguish I'll be going through when I lead a climb. But that's the great thing about Buffalo, it should be encouraged, not written off as unsafe or dangerous. It's my mind and movement that's the problem, not the climb's protection. It's hard to climb well there, you take a huge kick in the guts grade-wise if all you do is sport climb, but what's wrong with that??
Why should the climbs be safe for all, more so why should easier routes be made safe so a beginner can lead them. It's not elitist, there's plenty of opportunity to top rope till you're comfortable on your feet. Yeah, I'll agree, some bolts are poorly placed on some routes, but I truly believe the majority of routes up there are safely protected to onsight, IF YOU'RE ONSIGHTING AT THE GRADE AT BUFFALO. Go out and practice it on a self-belay top-rope if you're not happy, that's what I do.
The grumblings of long-time first ascencionists at Buffalo over the retro-bolting of some routes without permission should be noted, the practice should stop, and let's leave this paradise as it is.
Got that off my chest..

8:31:11 PM
Ado, I don't see what problem you have? there are lots of the type of routes that you say are your
preferred style at Buffalo. you could even put up a whole bunch more for others that feel the same way
you do! just pick a blank face (loads of those up there) and climb it, don't worry about the lack of gear if
there is none! that's the style you love! right! IF YOU"RE ONSIGHTING AT THE GRADE AT BUFFALO.
Personally I think that if there are a few of both types of climbs, the run out horror shows, and the easy
to protect classics...... then everyone will be happy!
PS good work Claw, about time for a retro, and thanks Joe for all the hard work, not just the climbs but
the hundreds of hours spent selflessly improving on anchor set-ups and access, not just at buffalo but
everywhere you have done this thankless, expensive, time consuming, and much needed task! BP
Fish Boy
10:30:24 PM
This is so contrived....

Why do we "need" climbs...isn't there enough bolt and chalk lines already?

Enough of bringing the climb in line with what you think it should be...repect the ethic.....

Back in the day beginners climbed with waist belays and homemade safe is safe....

Bloody sliding scales...

10:35:39 PM
Hands up how many people repeated Nobless Oblige before it was retrobolted. I bet it's had more repeats in the couple of weeks since it was retrbolted than in all of the previous thirty years.

Routes that nobody wants to climb because they are so run out don't preserve bravery for the generations of the future. They're just memorials to the bravery of the first ascentionists. Mike and Geoff have both climbed slabs at least ten grades harder than Nobless Oblige - they're big enough not to need a run-out grade 13 memorial to their bravery.

I'm sure Kevin Lindorff (another Buffalo climbing giant) would be more than happy for Joe or some other good samaritan to retro-bolt some of his early routes too.

2:14:25 AM

>I'm sure Kevin Lindorff (another Buffalo climbing giant) would be more
>than happy for Joe or some other good samaritan to retro-bolt some of his
>early routes too.

no doubt. But he's also been known to make negative comments about some newer 'overbolted' routes at Buffalo!

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