Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Are More Routes Good?

Andrew Bisharat editorializes about the lack of first ascensionists in this Rock and Ice article.

As passionate climbers, we can all agree that having more routes is generally a good thing, right? Well, actually, no, we can’t, because there are factions of climbers—basically human hangovers from the 1970s—that believe that if you can’t do a first ascent ground-up, drilling bolts by hand and from stances (and occasionally hooks), then a route shouldn’t be installed at all. (I’ve never met the reverse—a climber who thinks everything should be bolted top down—and the vast majority seems to think there’s enough rock out there for both styles to coexist.)

I would like to believe that the old ways of thinking are fading as the American climbing community slowly detoxes from its internecine attitudes about style and ethics, which for the last 40 years have created our relatively antagonistic, progress-thwarting culture.”

I read his editorial twice and I think he is saying it’s good only a few people – rock artists - want to put up new routes. Because if lots of people put up new routes, they wouldn’t have as high a quality of new routes. Or, maybe, he’s saying something else. I’m not sure most of us are suffering from lack of routes; most of us don’t have time – or skill - to climb what’s already there.

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