Retrobolting Opinion

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Should bolts be added to routes created under the minimalist bolting ethic so more climbers can enjoy them? After all, couldn't bolts be added, guidebooks still note the original style of the ascent and give credit accordingly, as a poster suggests? Of course there is pleasure being named in a guidebook or history. But to think getting into publications is such a central prize in climbing underestimates the complexity of the game. Preserving original protection is not to insure climbers get scared or first ascent parties get into history as bold. Preservation insures climbers preferring to do the climb in its original style get to do so. Some climbers prefer more risk and complication than many sport routes provide. They deserve their opportunities just as much as sportsters deserve theirs. But the picture is bigger than preferred risk profiles. Not altering routes insures they remain tributes to the time and mentality around their creation.

An important joy of the climbing game comes not just from doing climbs, but viewing, pondering, absorbing (as per this very web site) the full well of experiences, the moving stage of heroes, fools and follies, high and low tales, grand and vain acts. In the drama, the features of routes and associated protection are the underlying choreography, the hand and foot sequences set in stone and passing on through time. Once protection is changed, the original choreography of moves, runs, hardware (and sling) frustrations, resulting pumps and rests, the curses and hoots - the entire emotional passage - is altered. And lost is an assessment of how nuts or noble were the makers, our second guessing of all they felt. In short, there is no tribute to the past, no way to tap the well. It is for all these reasons, barring unusual circumstances, routes should be left to stand as they were first done.

In sum, for now I will ask for climbers to leave HB as it stands. I am open to receiving more information on the questions I've raised, consider further and post. I also will consult with my partner for the climb. I hope all this seems reasonable. Ultimately, today's climbers will have to decide what to preserve and not, as the wonder and fragility of the game is each new generation gets to determine how to play it.