After The Owl Roof

Article Index

Letter to Editor


I recently completed a first ascent in Yosemite which brought to discovery something about newly emerging ethical standards. The climb involved surmounting a ten-foot roof on a formation called The Owl. Peter Haan and I had attempted this roof last year, but failed at the lip. This time, I jammed out to the lip to find a chockstone with sling and carabineer had magically appeared since last year. It made the climb possible, though not a cinch. I thought it possible that I was doing a second or third ascent, though later found my ascent was the first. The chockstone had been placed on rappel by two climbers who were then unable to get past it. I began asking climbers in Yosemite and Tuolumne Meadows if there were many "doctored" routes done recently.

Informally surveying climbers on the history of any route brings forth a variety of stories. However, it seems climbers agree several routes in Yosemite are doctored. Chockstones have not often been placed, but holds have been sizably improved or created outright by first or later ascent parties on several routes. Among them, Outer Limits, New Dimensions and the Gripper. On these routes, the creative urge was apparently not in response to loose or dangerous flakes. The desire to make a line go free seemed to be the motive.