Reflections On Styles

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The final siege tactic with which I am familiar involves breaking up a particularly difficult pitch into one or more pitches by means of hanging belays. This is apparently not a widely used tactic, but, even if occasionally used to make a section go free, it can befuddle uninformed climbers.

All these climbing strategies, coupled with the great abilities of the new generation of climbers, will continue to create incredible new free-climbs in years to come. Some will bemoan these strategies, call them unethical, and not accept them. For the moment, I think it is better to argue for and against whatever styles we each believe in, but hold no false hopes for the conversion of anyone to our preferences. The only styles against which we really should rage are those which prevent other climbers from climbing in his or her preferred style. Of all the styles discussed here, perhaps only doctoring and aid-free bolting prevent others from having the opportunity to climb on undisturbed rock. The tactics have only private consequences as far as the rock is concerned, though the climbing difficulty encountered by subsequent parties will be affected by these styles if the climb is merely given a rating and described as a 'free ascent'. For this reason, it is important that route-descriptions reveal information about pre-protection, reviewing, doctoring and sieging. 

A discussion about the ethics and attitudes of the current American rock-climbing scene, illustrated by photos of a number of recent hard routes.

Mountain # 53, Date Jan/Feb, 1977