When Sport and Trad Routes Cross

I get e-mails occasionally asking about fixing some of my old bolted FA routes. I always agree to replace bolts but sometimes there is a question about adding a bolt to a run out section. How about a couple more on Hair Raiser? Last pitch of Jonah? Shake and Bake needs just one more, OK? And so on. Recently, I got a question about exactly where an old line went so the climbers could preserve it against sport routes crossing it, thereby effectively adding bolts to the old trad line. Wow, now that was an unusual and unexpected question! Makes me wonder if anyone else has experience with the issue of bolt sport and trad lines crossing.

Climbers working on the new Southern Sierra guide contacted me about both Sahib and Elegance on Chiquito Dome, asking about exact locations of the routes and my preferences for how sport routes might cross these climbs. I contacted Chris Vandiver who was my partner on the climbs, got his feeling, and then wrote back saying, in effect, "sure would hope both routes could remain distinct enough from new sport routes as to avoid confusion about what bolts went with what routes." We hoped climbers could still experience the path and protection of Sahib and Elegance as originally done (a bit run but not terrible). Sure enough, one climber named Grahm who contacted me took it upon himself to contact other sport climbers in the area and resolve the issue. They:

  • Figured out the exact path and bolts on the old routes (with help of my pictures and old topos), removed old bolts and replaced with new
  • Removed and replaced some bolts on nearby sport routes to keep those routes distinct from the two classics
  • Colored (lightly) the hangers on Sahib (the route most affected) to insure climbers know they are on that route
  • Agreed to make note in the new guide of the entire project and request climbers of new routes cross the old trad routes with caution.

It seems we have here an example of sport and trad trying to live side by side, and a worthy model for other areas to consider, especially as more and more sport routes go into areas with old trad bolt routes. My thanks to Grahm and all who cooperated in the ensuing project.

Anyone have like examples?

Supertopo post, May 2012