Is there no standard anymore?December 5th, 2011
I lifted the title to this post from a Pantera song. It’s kind of fitting, though (especially if you’re familiar with said tune). I climbed Bird Brain Boulevard a few weeks back and recently had some revelations about my experience on it. When climbing, I noticed most of the route to be equipped with rap anchors. From time to time I’ve seen them up there, but now it had anchors most of the way up, until just before the traverse. At first, I thought nothing of them, but as I got higher, I thought about cleaning them out. I didn’t though. Now I regret that. My mistake was not to clean them.
While I think it was fine that whomever was up there and had to bail for whatever reason they did (I’ve had to bail on plenty of routes) and leave those anchors, I think it is part of the responsibility of future secessionists to clean it up. This is pretty much the same as when you decide to back up an existing rap anchor with new material, you really should clean out the bulk of the old stuff, leaving just the best single old piece in addition to the new material that you leave. This keeps things clean. As for these anchors on the route of ascent on Bird Brain, some will argue, and rightly so, that having the anchors on the way up will make it much more convenient for some to simply rap the route or even quickly bail from any given point. Though it would be more “convenient”, I don’t think that convenience necessarily equals improvement. Besides, It is much better to do the standard rap or into the Ribbon than to rap the route. I know, I’ve done it before and can attest to the numerous stuck rope opportunities there are in rapping down the route. Having known rap anchors on BBB greatly reduces the seriousness and commitment involved in climbing that route. It is a special route for Colorado in that it is one of the few winter cragging routes that could get a grade IV or V level of commitment. I think it is worth maintaining that. As well, with a lower level of commitment, you get a lower level of competence needed to safely ascend the route. This will attract more climbers with less experience and (besides simply crowding the route a bit more) will increase the likelihood that people will go up there and get in over their head; perhaps having an accident. Believe, me, BBB is NOT a route to fall on. The fact that it is serious and revered by most, has helped ensure that most suitors have served an appropriate apprenticeship prior to leading such a climb. This is respect and there is something to be said about that.
I’m not trying to preach or rant here, but just wanted to point out that I made a mistake by not cleaning up the rap anchors on this route when I had a good opportunity (and to some extent, as a guide, the obligation) to do so. If I go up there again this season, I will certainly do this, however, I would hope that someone else will have felt similarly and already done so.