After The Owl Roof

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The argument against doctoring routes, placing bolts on rappel or climbing in an aid-free manner has been stated many times in many places. Briefly, the argument contends that the challenge of establishing a route lies in surmounting difficulties by the act of climbing. The removal or alteration of the difficulty and unknown elements, whether by chopping holds, preplacing pitons and bolts or aid-free climbing, detracts from the merit of the climbing act. In the extreme, climbing up a ladder which rests against a wall makes the act of climbing less remarkable and meritorious than ascending the wall itself using natural holds. This is not to say a single chopped flake is equivalent to a ladder; but that the motive to subvert the challenge is there, and the resulting climb is less admirable for it.

Again, one can't dictate such values. Perhaps the desire for future first ascents will compromise traditional ethics. One can only hope climbs done in the best style will be admired and imitated in the future. Certainly my ascent of The Owl was no shining example. I should have removed the chock-stone and then tried the ascent.

Summit, 1973