The drama continues, sadly. For context, read the thread to this point.
Sometime in the last few weeks someone placed four (!) bolts at the top of Penny Lane. They were not there in mid-April. I removed them today, and there are now no bolts on Penny Lane, apart from the long-existing rappel bolts above Crime of the Century. In other words, the route is back to its condition as it has been for virtually all of the last 32 years, and thousands of climbers and ascents.
I don’t know who placed the bolts, when, or why, or whether there was any prior public discussion. Please let other climbers know that these bolts have now been removed. (Luckily, three of the four were overdrilled, and could be countersunk.) It’s possible that they’ve been there long enough that a few are starting to assume that they’ll be there.
The four bolts were not a belay or rappel anchor, at least not of any normal kind. (Sorry, no photos.) The first was near the crack, where most people set up belays. It had a Fixe rap hanger. The second was a metre or two to its left, the third higher up, beneath the partly-removed graffiti, and the fourth low down, also with a Fixe rap hanger. The bolts were generally about two metres apart. They weren’t for belaying or rappelling, and aren’t at all needed to protect the walk from the top of the climb to the rappel anchors. I surmise that the idea behind was that by clipping into them, ropes wouldn’t drag in the grit. A few minutes working a rope through them indicated otherwise - leaving aside whatever grit the humans attached to the ropes might dislodge. (If the objective was to keep ropes out of the dirt, one bolt would probably have done it.)
Hopefully the bolts weren’t placed as a “statement”.
The District of Squamish’s Little Smoke Bluffs Management Committee, which includes several climbers, considered the question of fixed anchors at the top of Penny Lane a year or two ago, and decided that in context of all the factors, such anchors would not be placed. I believe that their policy is to have fixed anchors at the top of routes in the Bluffs, except when it would be inappropriate due to the nature of the route, or other relevant factors. I will let the Committee know what has happened.
I remain open to discussion of this matter, but will remove any bolts that are placed at the top of Penny Lane without debate, or the approval of the Committee, whose job it is to manage the park. The issues and context have been extensively discussed already on this thread. It appears to me that placement of fixed anchors at the top of Penny Lane would, in context of all factors, be a disservice to the climbing community, would not make the route ’safer’, and might make the route and area less safe. However, if the Committee, after careful consideration involving all interested parties, decided otherwise, then that is their prerogative. It may be that they would decide to place fixed belay anchors at the top, placed so as to discourage toproping or rappelling, and with a small sign “No toproping. No rappelling.” That, plus perhaps resiting or twinning the existing rappel anchors. Maybe more important, a modest sign at the base, emphasizing that there is always rockfall hazard in the area. That is the sort of compromise that might reasonably be discussed, anyway.
Given that no matter what happens, rockfall from the top of Penny Lane is an issue that won’t go away. People and ropes move around on the clifftop, and it is naturally loose there as it slopes down. Perhaps the Committee should convene a meeting at the top of the route, where we could all hang on our tethers, and visualize exactly what might be done there, and whether it would actually address any of the issues.
The owner of the hangers is welcome to have them back, anonymously if desired. If they aren’t claimed by June 15th, I’ll give them to the Committee.