Does climbing cause harm?

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Tough_Boots
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Does climbing cause harm?

Post by Tough_Boots » Mar 31 2009 7:03 pm

I'm not trying to cause any big argument because I don't have any real opinion formed on this yet-- but my girlfriend just wrote a paper on climbers and sacred Native American spots and it got me thinking. Has anyone read anything about climbing speeding up erosion or the effects of hammering metal hooks into the rock face? Is leaving hooks behind in the rock considered littering? What's the consensus on this? I'm considering trying climbing and am a little curious about this stuff.
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joebartels
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Re: Does climbing cause harm?

Post by joebartels » Mar 31 2009 7:10 pm

Probably not a good idea but then again the Natives certainly didn't practice LNT graffiting up all those beautiful rocks and walls.
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Re: Does climbing cause harm?

Post by Tough_Boots » Mar 31 2009 7:13 pm

good point...
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Jeffshadows
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Re: Does climbing cause harm?

Post by Jeffshadows » Mar 31 2009 8:54 pm

Leaving permanent anchors behind is generally considered bad etiquette.
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Re: Does climbing cause harm?

Post by jkern15674 » Apr 01 2009 2:12 am

As far as erosion is concerned most rock climbing is done on hard rocks, not softer type rocks that would be affected by climbing. Putting in anchors where there is already an established route would be considered "bad ettiquete" There are generally 2 types of climbing 1. Traditional or trad climbing the first type of climbing this started with using knots tied in webbing and jammed into cracks or other natural features. This gave way to using cams, nuts, and hexes. 2. Sport climbing this is a bolted route that the climber clips into as they climb. Now if bolting was considered bad then we wouldn't have sport climbing. In canyoneering it is considered bad ettiquete is someone bolts a canyon that can be descended using natural features. Also some in the canyoneering community "ghost" a canyon this means leaving NOTHING behind including webbing or slings. I have seen damage done to canyons from just rope being pulled from a bolt and digging a trench in sandstone as well as poorly placed bolts that have to be reset and a hole is left. Some also yank bolts as they descend a canyon which can be very dangerous because if someone is not familiar with natural anchors and are expecting bolts to be in place and are ill equipt. I personally don't think bolts on a wall or in a canyon is unsightly or bad ettiquite most of the time you can't see them unless 1. you visually scanning for them or 2. the sling is left in place (usually brightly colored) JMHO

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Re: Does climbing cause harm?

Post by azbackpackr » Apr 01 2009 3:30 am

I expect there are a lot of opinions on this topic, as you first mentioned. I'm guessing here, but rangers and other land managers might have issues with those problems everyone has brought up, plus the trails that are made by climbers in popular areas, where they have trampled plants to get to the different routes over many years, so that networks of trails occur that weren't built by official trail-building crews, thus also perhaps causing erosion. And as with any outdoor sport, a very few idiots may drop food and beverage trash and not attempt to pick it up. (Now there's really bad etiquette for ya, gives all the climbers a bad name.) Disturbing nesting birds has been an issue in some areas. In the Catalinas, some climbing areas are closed during nesting season. (Now I forget which bird? Heck it's 3:30 am and I'm not thinking clearly.)
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Re: Does climbing cause harm?

Post by Hoffmaster » Apr 01 2009 5:26 am

jkern15674 said everything I would have said.

Hardly anyone hammers metal hooks anymore (pitons). Climbing gear has evolved way beyond that; trad gear is the ultimate in LNT climbing. Sport climbing does involve drilling a hole in the rock and inserting and glueing a bolt into the hole. They are semi-permanent. But, as said before, ususally bolts and bolt hangers are hard to see unless you are looking for them, or you're right up against the cliff where they might be. Even then, sometimes they are hard to see.
Aid climbing involves the use of hooks (fifi hook), but these are placed on features that can be hooked. They are not pounded into the rock. The climber uses them in places where there might not be any holds to allow upward progress. So the tiniest features are hooked, usually with an etrier attached (a nylon ladder). Once the climbers ascends to the point that he is no longer weighting to the hook, it is removed and probably used again higher up the cliff. If anyone is pounding something into the rock, it would be an aid climber, but this practice was much more prevalent in the 50's, 60's and 70's. The pitons that they used scarred the rock, but I have never heard of a case of erosion caused by them.

I would like to know more about your girlfriend's paper. Is it something to effect that Natives won't allow climbing on their lands, because they believe climbing will speed erosion?

Most climbers (not all) know not to climb on really soft rock, like some types of sandstone. As an unwritten rule, sandstone in general is to be avoided if it is wet. Sandstone is much more friable after it has been rained on. But climbing on wet sandstone will result in broken holds and features at worse (which is still really bad) and not full-on erosion. I strongly think that idea of climbers causing erosion is ludicrous.
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Re: Does climbing cause harm?

Post by Tough_Boots » Apr 01 2009 7:22 am

I would like to know more about your girlfriend's paper. Is it something to effect that Natives won't allow climbing on their lands, because they believe climbing will speed erosion?
It has mostly to do with climbers rights to spots with Native American religious significance that are on public land-- like specific landforms that might be found in a national or state park that are visited by Native Americans for religious purposes. Less to do with environmental reasons than religious vs. public rights. The question of damaging these landmarks came up as a possibly related idea.
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PaleoRob
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Re: Does climbing cause harm?

Post by PaleoRob » Apr 01 2009 7:41 am

Take a look at the example case of Rainbow Bridge for the whole "right to access" debate when it comes to religious freedom and public lands. Basically it was decided that if the government banned anyone from walking on or under Rainbow Bridge due to the tribes' religious connections would be promoting one religious view over another.
I also touch on this same sort of issue in my book that will (hopefully) published this year.
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Re: Does climbing cause harm?

Post by Jeffshadows » Apr 01 2009 8:22 am

A lot of times it ends up being uglier if people yank bolts since the holes tend to erode and decay faster without the bolt in place. Either way, bolts really have no place anywhere but as a top anchor for popular routes. Does that stop people? Absolutely not. Unfortunately, if I had my way, a lot of noobs would die senselessly every year because they would fall on pro they had never been really trained to place and it would zipper. Having bolted routes out there probably saves lives daily.

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Re: Does climbing cause harm?

Post by azbackpackr » Apr 01 2009 8:25 am

Khague wrote:Does climbing cause harm?
Sure does, if you fall!

:D

What the hey, it's April fools day!
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jkern15674
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Re: Does climbing cause harm?

Post by jkern15674 » Apr 01 2009 8:08 pm

Jeff MacE wrote: Either way, bolts really have no place anywhere but as a top anchor for popular routes.
...
Why have bolts at the top why not use natural anchors and/or cam, hexes, or nuts? If your such a wiz at setting cams why not rap off it? I've rapped off a deadman anchors, webbing stuck in cracks, rock horns, rock cams, etc!
So why bolt at all ??? The pioneers didn't so why should you??

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