After The Owl Roof

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In addition to doctored routes, there are several with bolts placed on rappel from above. In Yosemite, Split Pinnacle was perhaps the first; more recently, the list extends to Stepping Out and the Nabisco Wall. Outer Limits is reported also to have a bolt placed from above, though primarily because of loose rock. In Tuolumne, several bolts were placed on rappel to do Hand Jive. There is no bad rock within miles of this climb. In the Tahquitz area, a new route called Duck Soup was also pro┬Čtected by placing bolts on rappel.

Finally, some of the climbers I have spoken with recently claim several routes have been done "aid-free." One version of the aid-free ascent involves placing pitons or bolts with help from the rope, then immediately free-climbing past them. Hoodwink and the Handbook, both in Tuolumne, were reportedly done in this manner. Another version of aid-free climbing is to aid climb a new line, leaving protection in appropriate places and return shortly thereafter to free climb the route while desperately clipping into the fixed protection. The prize is a first free ascent. A few climbers contend the aid bolts placed on Crack of Despair were placed with the intent of returning to free climb the route, though most disagree and feel the aid was placed with the sole intention of putting together an elegant and largely first free ascent. While agreement on Despair was not universal, most felt English Breakfast and Leany Meany were more certain examples of aid-free climbs.

While the evidence is not crystal clear or in great preponderance, it does seem there are at least some relatively new routes being done in a manner outside the ethical tradition of certain areas. For climbers who have helped establish the tradition, it is disturbing to see old norms unravel. One is tempted to become a referee. If there were a hand- book of rules for rock climbing, and if it were a purely competitive sport, unethical ascents would be clearly identified and not tolerated. No one would get onto the track with electric shoes. But when an essential purpose of climbing is to enjoy the personal experience, and when the rules are not set down in tableau style, the referee becomes a buffoon when he calls unfair or out-of-bounds. In such a setting, all that the defender of tradition can do is argue for the merit of the values he supports and hope others will agree.