|Tricksters and Traditionalists|
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Tricksters and Traditionalists
COLORADO CLIMBER PAT AMENT recently watched people dragging a thirty-foot ladder up scree slopes in Boulder Canyon. Were they on their way to a high-wire act, he inquired? No, no act; they just needed to preprotect a new route with a bolt twenty feet off the ground.
In Yosemite Valley, holds are chopped ("sculpted," say the defenders of the action) into the rock to allow tries at free climbing El Capitan. At the other end of the Valley, on Glacier Point Apron, a string of aid bolts is placed to protect free climbing on Hall of Mirrors. Reportedly, protection without aid was possible, but on a less direct line. The route is then touted as one of the greatest new free climbs in Yosemite.
In Tuolumne Meadows—in the high country of Yosemite National Park—routes on every major dome are done by placing bolts and pitons while on rappel, by standing on bolts to place others, and by creating bolt ladders to protect free climbing. In the latest Tuolumne innovation, leaders place protection bolts while hanging from hooks attached to flakes and knobs. In the same area even the long-standing agreement to respect the protection style of the first-ascent party is weakening: a bolt was recently added to an established route on Daff Dome.
Picture Note: The ultimate refinement of "traditional" climbing: John Bachar free soloing a classic jamcrack on the second pitch of Outer Limits. Since a fall during unroped climbing high above the ground proves uniformly fatal, few climbers practice the pure but risky style portrayed in this and the following two photographs, all taken in Yosemite Valley. Lanny Johnson.