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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.

Happy climbing!

3 Responses to “Is there no standard anymore?”

  1. josef melley says:

    “Is there no standard anymore?” Just sheep for the slaughter….hungry?

  2. Eric Wright says:

    Please get up there and clean those anchors. BBB has not had fixed anchors nor should it. It’s our little eigerwand. It’s all we have around here for serious routes. If someone needs to rap route then they can pay for it with their rack. If you find booty on the route then take it over to that big rap on Kenedeys gulley. That anchor was crap last winter and it’s neede to make the route worth doing. Nobody should be raping the route on BBB except people that are having a real bad day.

  3. Eric Wright says:

    Why did my comments come out so hard to read?
    Just one more iPhone mistery.
    Well I will say it again. No fixed raps on the route itself. Go for the top or stay off. That’s the way it has been for a generation. No need to change that. What a nightmare to be leading and have someone rapping on your head. Navigating the raps is a significant part of the overall experience.
    The Ames ice hose when I led it for the first time in 1994 had no rap anchors. Burt Perry and I walked off after climbing the last pitch into the trees. That was a different climb than after Jared O started beefing up fixed anchors. So he could enchain Multiple routes in a day. BV,ice hose, etc. amazing stuff to this day. But the point is that improvements shorten the route. We only have a handful of these kinds of routes on the western slope. No need to make them less challenging to onsite. It’s bad enough we have play by play photos and route discriptions. We have to work together as a climbing community to preserve these master pieces. Bridal Veils climbing experience has already been disgraced with its bolted rap/rescue anchors. Granted those are there to help with access issues. So we have to have them and a big thank you to Damon and Steve for putting those in. But BBB, and ice hose to not share those concerns. They need to be kept as clean as possible.

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