Critiques Of Tricksters And Traditionalists

Article Index

- regarding, "Higgins must accept the responsibility that comes with encouraging boldness ... inevitable deaths." T&T does not equate danger with traditional style. The article is more focused on the how protection is placed and used rather than the volume of it. Nor did I create any death routes to my recollection (corrections, please). R, yes, but not X; bold when necessary to get it done, but not death defying, I hope. Some authors and commentators in The Rock and Ice issue cited above do seem to equate "traditional" with potential long or ground falls. Not my point at all. I tried to stay away from or turned back from many climbs I thought were too dangerous (getting down the better part of Super Pin in SD was the worst one). When caught in a desperate situation and getting through (e.g Twilight Zone and Fish Crack in Yosemite, with protection which wouldn't fit), I did not feel satisfied and ready for more, only grateful to be alive and determined to avoid a similar situations in the future. My preference in doing bolted first ascents was to make the protection as adequate as possible, keeping in mind bolts mark the rock, are hard to put in in the middle of difficult moves (often done anyhow) and time always was limited (paid dearly a few times on cold, unplanned bivouacs). As well, I have enjoyed my share of sport routes, but always found myself going back to the more mysterious, out of the way beauties, preferably involving a good share of natural protection.

- the central point of T&T was not discussed on the posts. It is not about the merits for ourselves or others of sport or traditional styles (however defined), but a suggestion for climbers agreeing about how styles should play out in areas where they are in contention. To cite Pinnacles again, there climbers met, debated and agreed to ground up from now on (new guidebook will tell) as rap bolting became problematic for all users of the area. In the UK at the moment, regional forums are discussing, among other things, how trad and sport cliffs can exist in the same area via local agreements. It seems their cliffs are scarce, climbers numerous and without such agreements, bolt chopping and acrimony ensue. As T&T states, "climbers can get down to the business of mending old agreements and striking new ones." The idea seems very much applicable to some areas today.

- last, to the post, "Higgins was such a humorless guy," I will suggest another piece for your enjoyment from an old Ascent - "In Due Time." Admittedly, some of the humor there is a bit dark and cerebral, probably from Irish blood.