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Thoughts about WA vs. CO climbing communities

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Re: Thoughts about WA vs. CO climbing communities

Postby GregMiller » Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:31 am

Read through this topic last week, then went out to Portland over the weekend, and went out to Smith Rock for the day to climb. One thing that struck me more than anything else was that (at least it seemend) every group had a stick clip with them, whereas I hadn't seen any used in CO. I'd guess it was because people were pushing it on harder routes, and wanted that security for the bottom 15-20 feet?
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Re: Thoughts about WA vs. CO climbing communities

Postby Dave B » Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:18 pm

GregMiller wrote:Read through this topic last week, then went out to Portland over the weekend, and went out to Smith Rock for the day to climb. One thing that struck me more than anything else was that (at least it seemend) every group had a stick clip with them, whereas I hadn't seen any used in CO. I'd guess it was because people were pushing it on harder routes, and wanted that security for the bottom 15-20 feet?


They might just all be there to steal fixed draws.



In reality, from what I remember, Smith is pretty notorious in being scary to get to the first bolt typically. It is considered, by some, to be the birthplace of modern sport climbing, but things were done a bit differently back in the days when Alan Watts was sending routes like Chain Reaction.
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Re: Thoughts about WA vs. CO climbing communities

Postby shredthegnar10 » Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:37 pm

bigtuna wrote:Colorado climbers only live to get radical. They don't understand the mountains, so they'll never get the spiritual side of it.

Do you by chance attend The Evergreen State College?
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Re: Thoughts about WA vs. CO climbing communities

Postby tlongpine » Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:17 pm

Dave B wrote:
GregMiller wrote:Read through this topic last week, then went out to Portland over the weekend, and went out to Smith Rock for the day to climb. One thing that struck me more than anything else was that (at least it seemend) every group had a stick clip with them, whereas I hadn't seen any used in CO. I'd guess it was because people were pushing it on harder routes, and wanted that security for the bottom 15-20 feet?


They might just all be there to steal fixed draws.



In reality, from what I remember, Smith is pretty notorious in being scary to get to the first bolt typically. It is considered, by some, to be the birthplace of modern sport climbing, but things were done a bit differently back in the days when Alan Watts was sending routes like Chain Reaction.


Interesting video, and exchange. In the context of this topic I'll offer a few (over-generalized) conclusions about how CO climbers differ from PacNW climbers - based on this video.

1.) PacNW tuck their synthetic shirts into their denim jeans - without a belt. Colorado climbers, by contrast, have to have one item of clothing that has a red, blue and yellow "C" on it.
2.) When waxing sanctimoniously about ethic and technique PacNW climbers say "red-point" when they really mean "pink-point". That CO climber probably has no idea what either mean.
3.) That Co. Springs climber is the precise embodiment of my argument that "mountaineering in Colorado has a very low common denominator."
4.) Gear left on rocks in Colorado (generally) symbolizes a failure to clean and/or complete a sport route. Gear left on rocks in PacNW (or Smith Rock specifically) symbolizes a project in the works?

I'm not familiar with the ethic at Smith Rock, although I think I get the gist watching this video. However, it raises one curiosity in my mind: If I want to climb a route thats clipped with quick-draws and nobody is around I presume it's okay to clip into their draws, correct?

EDIT: the more I think about this the more I'm inclined to think it's just plain selfish to leave gears on a route in public land. First, the ethic of public land is that it's there for everyone. Second, if you leave gear on a public route you're forcing other users to either a.) trust gear of questionable quality, b.) wait to climb until you come back to clean it, or c.) clean it for you so they can climb it.

I'm not trying to justify the actions of the thief - he makes it clear his motives are indefensible. But, the self-righteous behavior of the other climbers isn't justified either. Clean up after yourselves, or accept that this might happen.

And don't cut the video when the guy is apparently ready to repent. Which brings me to the thing CO climbers and PacNW climbers have in common: Some of us are real dicks.
Last edited by tlongpine on Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:35 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Thoughts about WA vs. CO climbing communities

Postby SchralpTheGnar » Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:27 pm

bigtuna wrote:Colorado climbers only live to get radical. They don't understand the mountains, so they'll never get the spiritual side of it.


Back off Warchild, seriously.

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Re: Thoughts about WA vs. CO climbing communities

Postby Dave B » Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:18 pm

tlongpine wrote:Fixed draw opinion


The issue of fixed draws on sport routes has been and will be a huge point of contention amongst the climbing community. If you're ever feeling bored or masochistic, search "fixed draws" or "stolen draws" over at Mountain Project and you'll see endless threads with all varieties of opinions, many of which are defended with out-right dickish verbosity.

In the end, I agree with you. If you leave your crap at the crag, don't get up in arms when someone takes it.

However, this isn't just a PNW issue, there have been several instances of draws being stolen at Rifle, Shelf, BoCan, Clear Creek etc. It's quite universal, actually.
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Re: Thoughts about WA vs. CO climbing communities

Postby tlongpine » Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:46 pm

Dave B wrote:
tlongpine wrote:Fixed draw opinion


The issue of fixed draws on sport routes has been and will be a huge point of contention amongst the climbing community. If you're ever feeling bored or masochistic, search "fixed draws" or "stolen draws" over at Mountain Project and you'll see endless threads with all varieties of opinions, many of which are defended with out-right dickish verbosity.

In the end, I agree with you. If you leave your crap at the crag, don't get up in arms when someone takes it.

However, this isn't just a PNW issue, there have been several instances of draws being stolen at Rifle, Shelf, BoCan, Clear Creek etc. It's quite universal, actually.


I'm going to pass on that rabbit hole. I think I know where it goes.

So, what is the (general) ethic if you want to climb a route where quick-draws are present but the climbing party isn't?
I am unable to walk away from the mountain without climbing it. An unclimbed mountain tugs at my consciousness with the eternal weight of time itself. Until I've pressed my face into it's alpine winds, hugged it's ancient granite walls, and put it's weathered summit beneath my heal I'm unable to resist it's attraction.Knowing nature gives the mountain more time than she gives us adds urgency to the obsession. As has been said before; the mountain doesn't care.

It can wait forever. I cannot.

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Re: Thoughts about WA vs. CO climbing communities

Postby bigtuna » Tue Nov 12, 2013 4:18 pm

SchralpTheGnar wrote:
bigtuna wrote:Colorado climbers only live to get radical. They don't understand the mountains, so they'll never get the spiritual side of it.


Back off Warchild, seriously.



They call him the Bodhisattva. He's a modern savage.

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Re: Thoughts about WA vs. CO climbing communities

Postby Dave B » Tue Nov 12, 2013 4:58 pm

tlongpine wrote:So, what is the (general) ethic if you want to climb a route where quick-draws are present but the climbing party isn't?


I never have, nor ever will, climb at the grade that requires projecting sport routes, but you can't just claim a route, disallowing others to climb it, by hanging draws on it. So yeah, climb on, just check the quality of the gear before trusting your life to it.
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Re: Thoughts about WA vs. CO climbing communities

Postby Aubrey » Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:49 am

Interesting topic. I can’t speak on Class 5 rock climbing, but ever since moving to Washington from Colorado a few years ago, I have noticed many differences in the climbers and the mountains in both states. Of course, these are just some generalizations I've noticed, based on the many peaks I've done in both states.

The most obvious difference is in elevations. Washington has just one 14er, and most of the state’s “big” mountains seem to be between 6,000 and 10,000 feet. But even though they’re lower than Colorado’s “big” peaks, elevation gains are just as big, if not bigger. It’s not uncommon in Washington to have to gain more than 4,000 feet to climb a 5,000-foot mountain, for example. And many peaks require more than 5,000 feet of gain.

Prominence is also huge in Washington, especially when you consider changes in elevation from valley floors to nearby summits that tower over them. Over the summer, I climbed a couple mountains with summit views that looked directly down more than 6,000 vertical feet. Comparatively, many CO 14ers rise only 3,000 to 4,000 feet above their bases.

Climbing all the 14ers in Colorado was very tough, it required a good amount of skill and determination, and it’s still one of my proudest accomplishments in life. But after moving to Washington, I was quickly humbled by the mountains here. Generally speaking, WA mountains have tougher access issues and longer approaches, they require more hours/days to climb, they have more routefinding challenges (including faint trails or no trails, difficult creek crossings, lingering snow sections, dense forests, etc.), they require more mixed climbing (glaciers, rock), and on average the trails are much steeper.

There’s also much less route info and current conditions info online, and guidebooks are extremely vague. Not to mention, there’s lots of misinformation. When we climbed the North Twin Sister this summer, I brought at least four route descriptions and it took all of them just to find the trailhead! Each had ambiguous descriptions, a couple left out critical turns, one mentioned a road that wasn't there, and at least two had errors.

Some other differences I have noticed:

-It seems like every climber in CO is working on some sort of list or multiple lists. In WA, I have yet to meet anyone working on a list.

After climbing Rainier, Baker, St. Helens, Shasta, Adams and Hood, I briefly considered attempting the Cascade Volcanoes list, but I’m not sure if Jefferson meets my risk standards, and Glacier seems like a major expedition with an incredibly long approach.

-I was able to climb all the 14ers in CO, but I would never be able to complete the top 50 in WA. Even some of the state’s lower peaks are well above my paygrade.

-For some reason, helmets are not worn much in the PNW (excluding Class 5 rock climbing). Over the summer, we did many Class 3 & 4 rock scrambles – all of which had rock fall potential – and we were some of the only people wearing helmets.

-I wouldn’t say that WA climbers are less prepared and/or go out without any route beta or safety gear. If anything, WA climbers I’ve met are more equipped than your average 14er climber in CO. Many rely on maps, compasses, etc., and many are avy trained and carry all the necessary gear.

-Many WA climbers don’t seem to get hung up on gaining true summits and/or the tippy tops of mountains. Years back, when my wife and I still lived in Colorado and we climbed Rainier, we wouldn't have felt like we made it to the top without gaining Columbia Crest, but some people (from the PNW) in our group stopped at the crater and considered it a successful summit. And when we first started hiking/climbing mountains in WA, I was frustrated beyond belief by not being able to make it to the very tops of some mountains. Many people here say they’ve climbed Mt. Si, but few scramble up the Haystack. And countless other mountains in WA rarely see people on their true summits (i.e., Yellow Aster Butte, Tomyhoi Peak, Church Mountain, Sauk Mountain, and dozens of others). In the interest of staying alive on some of these mountains, I have learned to not let this bother me.

-Class ratings are skewed downward in WA, IMO. “Class 3” in WA is more like “Class 4” in CO. Over the summer, I did a few Class 3 climbs in WA, and all of them had tougher moves than any Class 4 peak I've done in CO.

-“Solid rock” in WA is not solid, and a “good scramble” in WA might only be a 50-foot section of rock after hiking 9 miles and 4,000 feet to reach it. That said, the North Twin Sister was one of the best and longest scrambles I have ever done. But good scrambles in WA are far and few between.

-Exposure seems to be much more commonplace in WA. Guidebooks always seem to downplay the exposure. And whenever we've come across other climbers while on exposed sections, they seem to be much less freaked out, and they treat it like an everyday aspect of climbing. Also, the exposed sections seem to be longer and more sustained in WA, whereas on many CO peaks they seem to be much briefer.

-Even though temps are mild, the humidity in WA can be brutal. Solar heat can also be rather nasty, especially when reflecting off snow on a windless day. The Top 3 hottest experiences I've ever had in the mountains were all on Cascade volcano descents.

-Other than the big volcanoes and some other big peaks, most climbs in WA do not require alpine starts. In fact, sometimes it’s better to get started late morning, after the fog burns off. In the summer, the sun doesn't set until almost 10 p.m., so there’s plenty of daylight to work with, and afternoon storms are very uncommon.

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Re: Thoughts about WA vs. CO climbing communities

Postby TallGrass » Fri Nov 15, 2013 11:24 am

tlongpine wrote:So, what is the (general) ethic if you want to climb a route where quick-draws are present but the climbing party isn't?
Climb on gear or route at your own risk.
One could swap (untrusted) draws on the way up and re-place when rapping down.
Draws left may not be cared for (nicked up end on rope biner) which could damage your rope.
Draws might be on a working project with unsecured bolts that could pull out (e.g. New River Gorge). :shock:
Some "draws" are actually part of anchors, made of steel, and have pinned biners (e.g. Cliff Drive) -- best to run rope through your own biners (e.g. locker through the steel draw) unless you're sure the steel draw can't damage rope (dings, nicks, edges, corrosion).
Not sure if I'll do more 14ers. The trip reports are too tiring. :wink:

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