First of all let me correct JON 12/11/2007. I am not in my eighties, although I hope to get there some day while still climbing. I do live in Ontario and not in Alberta and, as said, still climb on local cliffs, even recently at Bon Echo, but more importantly on the real stuff, in the mountains. However, what I real resent is his denigrating remark “what do these guys know”? This is an arrogant dismissal without foundation.
What is there to know about this trivial fight about a couple of bolts by a bunch of, mostly self-righteous, rock jocks? Is it the climb? The pros or cons of bolt use? The preservation of climbs in their original state? At least I have probably done the climb more often than anyone else; yes, I am probably also guilty of having placed the first bolt on a cliff in Ontario; and finally I do not much care, if somebody places a bolt on any of the garden variety climbs like the Joke to make it safer.
While I am at it let me be as prolix as TRAD DADDY.
A couple of facts:
1. On the first few repeats of the climb (and I was on all of them) a knife blade piton was placed in the so-called letter box of the traverse as well as on the slab on the third pitch. How good they were is questionable, but they made us fell better anyway. We always removed them because they were expensive and we hardly had any.
2. John Turner never fell off on any of the cruxes of the climb as it is done these days. He climbed left of the big tree to the top (the Punchline goes right of the tree). He fell from this particularly difficult pitch, so far unrepeated, and broke his ankle. Urs Kallen and I were the first to climb to the end of the ramp and from there to the top.
1. It would be utterly ridiculous to get killed or seriously maimed on a climb like the Joke because of inadequate protection. The fact that so many dozens have done the climb (a statement I doubt) does not prove that it is “safe” or has been done “safely”. It just means that nobody fell off and got hurt. Quite clearly the climb cannot be protected adequately, if it has an R rating. Get killed where it counts, in the mountains where you find more of the “original state”.
2. To have climbing stopped at Bon Echo because of a fatality, a real possibility, would indeed be a tragedy. Note that Milton at one time considered closing Rattlesnake after a death. The park authorities can do this any time.
3. If you like to climb the route “in its original state”, then don’t clip the bolts, but don’t brag about it afterwards either. And if you really wish to go original and add an extra dimension, do it with heavy mountaineering boots and the grotty equipment we had in those days. Original state, my foot.
4. Removing the bolts will leave a nasty scar that I would find aesthetically repulsive. I like shiny bolts. Equally problematic are repeated piton placements and removals. Eventually it may be impossible to place a piton at all in addition to major scaring. Anyone done Serenity Crack in Yosemite. I still used crack tacks.
5. If you really want to do trad routes go out west or to Europe and pick a nice 1000 metre face or ridge, modestly graded at 5.8 and do it with a pack, maybe bivi gear, mountaineering boots and one foot on rock and the other on snow or ice and stop polishing the rock in Ontario (you are changing its original state).
6. While I personally would not have placed the two critical bolts, which have everyone in a huff, I would be very sad indeed and irritated should somebody chop them. Keep that in mind TRAD DADDY. Remember, Robbins, after he matured, regretted chopping Harding’s bolts on The Wall of Early Morning Light.
7. Remember also the good deed that this enterprise produced. It is my understanding that much of the poison ivy on the climb has been removed. A major hazard albeit not deadly.
Finally, let me just say that some of you have way too much time at hand. I am particularly concerned about TRAD DADDY, who is apparently looking after the safety of a nuclear installation. I hope he is not writing these missives while he should be watching dials. Remember Chernobyl!
The whole thing is a tempest in a tea pot. Get out and train so you can brag about having sent something or other, just not another blog.
Finally let me hope that the perpetrators of this “heinous crime” have sense enough to stay away from this site, which I shall do after this semaphore. It would lead nowhere.