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Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 3:15 pm
C'mon Roger,

Say something. You started this...And I know you are reading every post!

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 6:48 am
by Nattrass
Sorry Snort - I have been very busy watching machines go beep, beep, beep…..

My opinion on this specific matter was decided long before I posted the topic. Not sure that anyone will like it and it does sound like a bit of a rant…

As Snort pointed out I cut my teeth on trad climbing and only placed my first bolt after 6 years of climbing. I loved those early routes with their multiple challenges: finding good gear, solving the sequence and keeping your head together. I still trad climb here and there and no trip to Cape Town is complete without a trip up Table Mountain. I like Trad routes…but I really love sport climbing. On sport routes I am fascinated by (and addicted to) the continuous movement that they allow plus the freedom they create to pursue technical and physical difficulty without the distraction of having to source reliable gear. Sounds ok so far...

I recently re-bolted one of my popular routes in Kloof Gorge for the second time i.e. it is now on its third set of bolts. It is starting to look like a kid with bad acne with generations of small craters slowly weeping rust trails down the face. Tragically this is the ultimate fate of every sport line. Table Mountain on the other hand has no bolts so with the exception of a million ton of cable way station (and one tiny nut placement) will remain largely unchanged. Unfortunately, one day Snapdragon will receive its 8th set of bolts. (Ultimately the geological process that created the rock face will erode the route away completely but I digress…) I have opened 112 sport routes to date and probably placed in the region of 1500 bolts, wearing out 4 drills in the process. I am still bolting but these days I am always unsettled on some level as every time I pull the trigger I know I am starting the anchor replacement ball rolling. So why do I do it?

Because I love and am addicted to the experience bolting makes possible - in spite of its long-term quandary. I can also climb sweeping aesthetic faces that are un-tradable. I deal with my guilt with lame arguments to fool myself that the impact is less than that of the road or car I used to get to the crag. But it is impact all the same. I also climb because it makes me feel I am living life to the full. My profession (Anaesthetic Specialist for those who don’t know) reminds me on a daily basis of our inevitable physical decline and eventual mortality. This both haunts and drives me. While climbing my demons feel temporarily tethered.

So why the long story… because I am building an argument to defend that which should be convicted. Sport climbs are on weaker ground than trad routes. If one had to chose one over the other on a given section of trad climbable rock one would guess sport climbs are less worthy of saving over a trad route considering their long term “maintenance impact” In spite of this realisation we sport climbers continue to bolt and climb sport routes as (in my opinion anyway) these routes and the type of climbing experience they offer add quality to our (short) lives.

In our problem case I must agree that the errant bolter deserves all the egg on his face as he certainly crossed a boundary that needs to be defended. He placed two bolts that are just too close to an established trad route. I disagree however that the bolts should be removed after considering the merits of this particular end product (it’s a very good route, climbs the whole face, living life to the full, killing demons and all that) against the offended trad climbs mongrel pedigree. I most certainly would not apply this dodgy logic to a full length trad line. My opinion is further supported by claims by some trad climbers that the two bolts placed left of the start of a crack do not (in their view) significantly detract from the trad experience. This stance is further supported by the opinion of the Landowner, who has a say in the matter as he controls access. If he won’t let me in then I am only left with a bottle of 18 yr old malt to tame my demons…

So, I am admitting my hypocrisy. Don’t pull the bolts but don’t do this again is the short answer. The topic was posted to hash out the issues in public as this is the only effective means we have to police our actions.

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 9:54 am
by BruceT
Illona let me in on the secret - thanks!
My 2 cents:
Its a good, if short trad route - please don't pull the chains, I might just make it to the chains...
Don't pull the bolts either - they are very ignorable.
Although I will never be able to climb the sport route I would enjoy watching others on it...
Good essay Roger.

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 1:49 pm
by Ansie
This is just ridiculous... Come on! So what if there is 2 bolts near the trad line, if people want to trad, then they just wont use the bolts, the rest of the world can use it if they want. Why should there be such a big deal about it? nobody owns a line, that rock is going to be there after we are all long gone, just let other people enjoy it in whichever way they choose. I hate it when people are so uptight about small things!

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 9:21 pm
Thanks Roger, that was a pretty stylish and elegant epistle.

Go read the posts on "why I climb" and add this there. Short answer seems that if you don't then there will be a world shortage of single malt whiskey

Anyway, my issue is that there SO many sport routes to do. Do we need more and more and more and more.... Esp. controversial one? You just have to move a little to get to them. How many trips and km to send Stormwatch?

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 5:54 pm
by peakhigh
Let me have my say. Its my route that was retro-bolted (Jail Bird Shaik grade 19). There are 3 bolts placed so close that the RD even states that you climb the Trad route.

Now Umgeni Valley has miles of boltable rock. I cannot see how someone can simply retro bolt a very good Trad line and it must be acceptable? The bolts need to be moved and I have even offered to help. Anyone who gets upset with that needs to ask themselves why are they not upset with the person who placed the bolts in the first place.

Gavin R

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 5:57 pm
by Marshall1
Who was the retro-bolter?

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:06 pm
by XMod
Why are you so worried about a 15m half height crack???
Its regrettable that the bolts were placed so close but removing/moving them is simply going to scar the rock. The cliff and the bolts in it are the property of the landowner and it sounds like he doesnt want them removed. This 'my route' idea just doesnt hold water, the cliff does not belong to you and you are not the only one climbing there. Lodge objections for sure and lets hope it doesnt happen again, but there really isnt anything that can be done about it without ticking off the land owner or damaging the rock.

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:42 pm
by Marshall1
Hey Gavin, its not nice to have some one waste bolts on a trad line, worse if its your trad line, but I would not add to the waste; by wasting time to chop them. Chopping old bolts is hard work. New ones are worse. Its a waste of a climbing day.There are thousands of trad lines out there waiting to be discovered. Open 10 more, the bolters will never keep up. Laugh it off.

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:46 pm
by andrew p
Re-bolters out there, please, please fill in the old hole. The thought of scars on our rock keeps me awake at nights. Filling them in is so easy and if done well it is very difficult to even find where the hole was. I use Pratleys putty as its much easier to handle than epoxy glue. Once you have put it over the hole, rub in a little dirt/dust and its perfect. There's really no excuse for not doing so, it takes about 30 seconds a hole.Thanks, Andrew

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 8:33 am
Gavin has had his say. And I could not agree with him more.

X-Mod I am trying to find out the exact law pertaining to vertical rock but like beaches and rivers it is almost certainly does not belong to the owner. Even if I cannot find the law that governs this it is common sense and intuitive that one does not own Mountains and cliffs. Not only are they part of the recreation of all peoples but they are also invariably a water source, and they are nesting sites for birds - some of them rare and as such are public property. An owner has no right to remove a Pergrine falcon nesting site from a cliff on his land or even prevent them nesting in the first place.

Nobody owns the rock, but you do own the route or the line or whatever you want to call it. The route is a trail that you envisioned. And that you climb and define and name. It is no different to the one envisioned by Sir A Bain called Bain's Kloof. That road forever is his vision and work. It is like the "American route on the Petit Dru", the Polish route on whatever.... The name of the route is implicit in the ownership of the vision and the line.

In my view if you "blaze" a trail, then you need to maintain it or at least make provision to maintain it and there's the rub with bolts vs trad routes. How many guys are going to replace their old wanky bolts placed 30 years ago?

Gavin, go chop those bolts. Whoever placed those bolts lacks respect and if you let it go you allow another precedent whereby the bolters will engineer more and more trad routes around the country . If it was my line I would remove the bolts and I would not even debate it on although I would certainly mention i something like this:

"Last week I removed some bolts that were detracting from the character of, and the commitment of doing a good quality trad line that I did the first ascent of on *****. Please do not place bolts on any of my lines as they will be removed. If you intend to do so in future, at least have the respect and the courtesy to discuss it with the first ascentionist. If you cannot or don't want to trad the route then top rope it. Or move on and bolt the other 10,000 other lines in the area that have yet to be done"

And don't let anyone tell you there are not gazillions of lines out there to do. The Ledge on TM has yielded no less than 9 new routes with at least 16 pitches in the last two years of which more than half are moderate in grade.

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 8:44 am
by XMod
Gavin - Dont chop the bolts! You will be damaging the rock and most likely raising the ire of the landowner and other climbers. Snort I cant believe you are advocating damaging the rock - again! Really sad! Good luck finding this law you imagine exists, to the best of my knowledge it doesnt. If the climbers want right of access they would have to apply for a right of way based on a long history of unhindered free access, either that or purchase a servitude from the landowner. Comparing any 'right of access' (if any) climbers may enjoy to a recreational resource to the protection afforded an endangered species is just silly. Whilst a route may be credited to the opening party as 'their route' it does not afford them real ownership, they cannot sell it as a commodity or claim ony other rights of ownership such as I might claim over my car or a piece of land.

Whilst there is obviously an ethical dilemna at work here its important not to confuse ethical constructs that exist only in the minds of climbers with actual and real legal issues. Advocationg chopping the bolts is going to create real issues that may endanger access to this great cliff. This is really a storm in a teacup! Voicing a protest is good, speaking to the bolters to ensure it doesnt happen again would be a far better way of dealing with this than some stupid debate on the internet or making threats of chopping. Taking or advocating action against the bolts is likely to endanger access and possibly even spark a bolting war such as has happened in the States. A totally pointless exercise. The only result of which was that the rock suffered massive scarring and access was closed to several locations.

Snort your suggestions do not have any real legal basis on which to stand, are provoking conflict in the climbing community and, if followed, will most likely result in access problems. It doesnt dound like you have thought this through from a logical and realistic standpoint at all.

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 8:48 am
by micky
people keep coming back to arguing about bolting trad lines. The point is .. this trad line was not bolted! There are bolts next to it for which is proabably a 5 star sport route. Its about the same distance from the trad line as one sport routes is from another. If this is going to be a mixed sport and trad area people are should be ok with sport and trad routes being next to each other. Basically if the bolts are left up then people can climb awesome 25 sport route if they wish or they can choose to climb the trad route, whats the problem?

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 8:50 am
by Nic Le Maitre
Snort, Xmod is correct. If you own a piece of land, you own everything on it, mountains, trees, rocks, sand dunes etc, with one exception, water resources. The legislation used to be that if you owned the source of a river you could extract all the water from it, but this was changed with the new Water Resources Act of a few years ago. The landowner still owns the river area, just not the water in the river.

Just because a piece of land has something that you consider to be
part of the recreation of all peoples
does not mean you have right of way over someone else's property to access it. Imagine if you had a boulder in your backyard and you found a few nice problems on it. Would you allow every Tom, Dick and Harry who wanted to climb on it access through your garden at anytime? Just because something is in a rural/outdoor setting doesn't mean that the normal laws governing tresspassing are suspended

The only time the legislation allows access across one persons property to another, is if it is the only access possible with no public right of way. This is called a servitude.

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 9:10 am
Nic are you sure! I mean really sure! This was brought up many time in th 80's in the JHB MCSA. I am trying to find out..... Till then common sense and intuition and simple respect is part of civilization.

There are certain bylaws that govern land ownership too. You simply cannot do as you please on your own land like destroy a natural habitat for an endangered species and the like....

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 9:44 am
by illona
I think micky has a valid point there. Treat them as two routes next to each other. If two sport routes were next to each other the first ascensionists would not be frothing at the mouth to chop each others bolts.

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 10:01 am
by XMod
Snort Im not arguing that this landowner is not bound by the by-laws governing his property, quite the opposite. From research I have done about public facilities; if he offers access free of charge the only provision (or protection he should seek) is to have the visitors sign an indeminity form (climbing is a dangerous activity), if however he wants to charge (if he is even allowed to do so by the bylaws?) he is compelled by law to provide not only adequate facilities (restrooms, medical facilities etc) but also to take out liability insurance to cover the intended use. I urge Roger and the other parties visiting this crag to look into this, there may be no need to pay an entrance fee. They may even qualify for a public right of way to be issued given the long history of access to this crag and henceforth enjoy free access.

On the matter of ownership, the land and all on it belongs to the landowner. Obviously he is bound by certaing laws as to what he may do with the land but Im fairly sure there will be little restriction on how many bolts he can place or have placed. Thankfully Roger has educated him about the needs of trad climbers so it sounds like the rest of the trad lines are safe. The existing bolts are fixtures on the property and therefore form part of his property, so removing them could easily be seen as damage to his property.

Seriously Gavin (et al) the diminutive trad line has not been retrobolted, a sport route has simply gone up next to it. Far worse has happened at other cliffs and this is really not worth the amount of argument it is causing. I have bolted right over a trad line before (no RD was posted up and I found out about the trad line too late) and a four star sport line now stands. The FA of the trad line was upset but has not made any move to remove the bolts. This case is so much less serious, let it be.

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 10:04 am
by dannypinkas
Sonrt, I suggest you contact Peter Lazarus with your legal questions. He is sure to have the answers you are looking for. I've PM -ed you his phone number

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 10:10 am
Peter is the dude we are trying to get to answer this via Petro Globler. But you know Peter......

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:57 pm
by Nic Le Maitre
SNORT wrote:Nic are you sure! I mean really sure! This was brought up many time in th 80's in the JHB MCSA. I am trying to find out..... Till then common sense and intuition and simple respect is part of civilization.

There are certain bylaws that govern land ownership too. You simply cannot do as you please on your own land like destroy a natural habitat for an endangered species and the like....
Yes I am sure. If there is a pretty mountain/crag/thing that you want to get to on my farm and I don't want to give you access I don't have to. It is exactly the same as you not letting just anyone into your garden. The laws governing access are independant of any enviromental legislation.

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 1:19 pm
I am not specifically concerned with access which is a different thing and relates to servitudes like those that concern access to the beach. If there is an alternative then you are not obliged to provide a servitude.

I am talking about ownership of the actual cliff and what you do or do not do to it. A boulder is not exactly a cliff and there is a line where it is a little outcrop to where it constitutes a Mountain or cliff. ANyway unless you have the legal document , and I don't, it is all speculative so I shall try and get it.

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 1:27 pm
by Marshall1
Gavin, there are more important things in life. The bolter should supply 4 six packs or a bottle of rum(red heart) as compensation.

Life is too short, there are better things to do. Points of issue = points of ego. You have opened stax of trad lines in your life.

so what is the route called? This is how classics are born.

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 1:54 pm
by DouglasWard
I think the issue of "ownership" by the first ascentionist needs to be explored a little. I don't mean legal ownership, but rather an internal climber-agreed ownership, from which it is argued that the first ascentionist has the right to chop bolts place retrospectively on "his/her" route.

It's now nearly 20 years since I walked up the hill to Lakeside Pinnacle, on a lonely Friday afternoon after lectures, and fully (retro)bolted the Undercling Route, and the grade 18 on the right of the Pinnacle. Although those bolts, and ones re-placed subsequently, have suffered repeated, sporadic and above all anonymous choppings since then, the immediate aftermath of my overnight retro-bolting was complete silence. No objections. My question is WHY? It's not like bolting wasn't a hot topic back then. Cape Nature Conservation even had files on people who were placing bolts.

Why did nobody complain that these trad routes had been retro-bolted? I think the reason is that the first ascents of the trad lines themselves were anonymous. I had also taken care to only bolt those lines that were habitually top-roped rather than lead. For example, the Crack of Dawn - many a climber's first grade 17 trad lead - was left alone. Hence since nobody felt themselves to be the "owner" of these routes, and since the good trad lines were left alone, nobody objected. I like to think that everybody who used this crag at that time saw this action as a constructive and positive development.

So what, then, gives the first ascentionist any kind of right to object to a constructive retro-bolting of an under-utilised route? Where do we draw the line? Some shitty, moderate route that gives access to an otherwise un-tradable wall is free game? But a ground-breaking, bold, clean, test-piece demands strict respect of the first ascentionist "rights"?

My opinion is that I think the first ascentionist's rights are bollocks. I think no single climber should ever be allowed to decide what happens with a piece of rock after he has climbed it. Rather, I think a consensus amongst the climbers who generally use that area for recreation is what should be respected. Moreover, I think in most cases that consensus has been reached (more or less), and IS respected. (That's quite aside from any legal aspects of land ownership).

(Sorry, Roger, twas I who put in the chains at the top of Faberge, thus avoiding a few top-out moves, and maybe making the whole thing half a grade easier. But since you don't own the route, and in any case this greatly increased both the carefree enjoyment of climbing it, and the level of safety, I felt no need to ask your permission...)

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 7:56 pm
Doug we agree to disagree. You retrobolt any of my routes while I am alive, able or able to write the check. I shall or will ensure they are removed. (chopped is such an obnoxious term.)

Re: Ethical Mayhem: Res Publica

Posted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 8:14 pm
I have done some research. (Nic this is especially for you.) I contacted Peter Lazarus and he, like you, is quite adamant that Mountains, unlike beaches and rivers are not Res Publica. However, google comes up with some interesting stuff regarding the public right to mountains and cliffs and for the purposes of supporting my argument I have copied and pasted this:
The TMNP’s latest proposal has, of course, at its foundation the fallacious notion that the mountain is its own private property, to do with as it pleases. Nothing could be further from the truth. The powers which govern the TMNP should really make a serious effort to get their minds round the concept of public ownership – res communis and res publica if they prefer the Roman law terms – of such places as mountains, rivers and seashores.

I mentioned earlier, that there was plenty of agitation of the concept of "vertical land" being public land in the MCSA, and guess what google came up with: Francois Junod's article in the MCSA journal in 1997 called "Notions of Ownership - Our Mountains and our Natural Resources" ... l97ed.html

Francois is an MCSA member that has been an activist for this kind of thing his whole life and we should all read and heed is article.

So Nic, if you are SO SURE please quote the law that specifically states that Mountains and cliffs are not res publica.

Even if the law so is, it is very obviously flawed and we would be doing our citizens and especially climbers a disservice if we did not fight for the law to be scrapped and have Mountains revert to being public property - res publica!

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 9:56 pm
by XMod
So when do we march on parliament? :jocolor:

Unfortunately 'notions' and 'opinions' dont amount to writ.

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 7:55 am
X-mod, people living off shore can now vote! That was so adjudged in the constitutional court. So before it was challenged it was law that they could not vote; after the challenge, the law determined it is a constitutional right!

Mountains being res publica has long been part of Roman-Dutch law and google will inform you that this is so in many US states and Swiss cantons. In effect, that means we as recreational users have a constitutional right to it, like with beaches or rivers whatever the law says? Agreed?If it is not law in SA, then should it not be? If it is writ - and I have yet to see it, - then is it right?

Should we do something about it if it is not Res Publica?

Unlike Niv de Maitre who is sure about the law, I am not but he has to provide the proof of the law. Meanwhile I am trying to get it from my legal mates and also a land surveyor mate. Till then, the jury is out as to what the law is but there is no doubt in my mind that we have a constitutional right to the mountains and we should change any law that deprives us of them.

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 10:25 am
by XMod
Hi Snort, Im actually with you on this one in that I would also like to see some form of access rights afforded climbers and hikers to the natural resuorces our country has. The 'march on Parliament' comment was only half tongue in cheek. Its just that in my (also limited) experience and knowledge of such matters mountainous areas are still only covered by the law of private ownership of property. As obscene as it may seem there are people who own whole mountains. I also wonder if its a good idea to have free public access to such pristine places? - given the level of eco-awareness and intelligence of your average Joe public. You only have to take a stroll up the first hundred meters of Donkerkloof or look at Kalk Bay caves at the end of summer to see how little respect for the natural environment the visiting public actually have. So as an ideal res-publica is good, but is it a wise thing to have enshrined in the statutes??

Just as an aside the only protection a river enjoys has to do with the water quality in it. The river bed (being land) is also part of the property on which the river runs. Landowners are definitely not obliged to provide access to rivers simply for recreational purposes. Try kayaking in this country and you will soon discover this is the case, some farmers wont even let you portage around rapids on their property (although they cant stop you floating on the water).

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 10:49 am
Res publicae does not mean indiscriminate access and use. It means you have a right to it and you need to then obey other moral, ethical and environmental laws and mores. This requires regulation and by-laws. You can't deface it and trash it etc. And this then gets back to what happens at the bases of climbs - trashing of the fynbos by over use, bolting and otherwise defacing the rock with chalk blah blah blah. All this needs to be debated and balanced and that is what this thread is all about.

But it does start with who's right is it to use the cliff, then how is access granted and finally how it gets used and (abused).

Re: Ethical Mayhem

Posted: Sun Mar 15, 2009 11:23 pm
by Nic Le Maitre

I spoke to a lawyer friend and he says that (he also says he will try to dig up the legislation):

1) The laws governing access to public (i.e. state owned land) and private land are very different.
2) Beaches (below the high tide mark) are part of the Admiralty reserve and are therefore state land which allows access for the general public.
3) The TMNP and other parks and or reserves are state land and not private land which is why there different conditions of access.
4) Water on the property is also state property which is again why access rules differ.

5) The owner of a piece of land IRRESPECTIVE of the size/shape/contents of the land has the right to deny access to ANYONE who they don't want on their property. @SNORT; Please note: This only concerns access and does not imply that any other legislation regarding environmental issues (such as that pertaining to bird nesting sites) or other issues like water rights is suspended.

If I don't want people on my land I can just put up fences and no trespassing signs and you will just have to go somewhere else. If you don't believe me just remember the Lost World crag at Montague which is now truely lost...

If you truely believe that the public should have unfettered access to all that you define as "part of the recreation of all peoples" why would you ask permission before crossing some farm to access a crag such as Slanghoek Amphitheatre?

As an aside, try and see it from the landowners perspective: You have a farm, with crops/livestock and expensive equipment on it and you must open your gates to every person who wants to walk across it to get to the cliff/hill/mountain. Why?! Especially when many people who come are blatantly disrespectful, rude, litter, steal and vandalize equipment and fences. I'm not saying that everyone behaves in this manner but even if 1% do, it can be too much. Which is why we don't have access to several beautiful places anymore.