Respect For The Route Makers August 6, 2008
Who owns a route? No one owns the rock. Does he who prepares a line have any rite to be the first to climb it, or is it open to all?
Respect is due to those that make the routes! Nature may shape the rock with forces of water and wind but in the case of sport routes its man that completes the job and makes it accessible to all. Perhaps not the most natural of acts, using a machine to drill a hole into our precious medium, but often this is the only way to form the playground which we love. Bolting routes can be hard work taking days and costing even hundreds of pounds. Just getting to the top of the cliff could be an epic adventure, or the route could be bolted ground up, a scary experience holding a drill from a tiny crimp, drilling, and falling with the thing in your hand still whirring away, threatening to mangle you as you drop into space! Some delight in the task, an activity in its own rite, creating a passage for mankind that nature didn’t quite finish off. They may even have no desire to climb it, the creation being part of a process that leads to an ascent of a virgin line. For some climbing cultures every ‘project’ is open, once the bolts are in anyone can climb it, after all, no one owns the rock. For other cultures a project may be ‘owned’, the community allowing a specific individual to break new ground. In the case of a route that took many days to prepare, or a special route taking amazing terrain or the first to breach a cliff then I can understand the desire to be the first, and that the person with the vision should at least have the opportunity if they wish. That is the point; if they wish! Respect is due, surely! It’s a basic human quality. Without their efforts the line is not possible. Of course there is no law, no police to stop a person climbing ahead of another, but as climbers we are better than that, I’d like to think anyway!
In Zillertal a 90m overhanging arête soared into the sky with a 200m rope sat ready at it’s base! I had to try it if only for the position, and after a few journeys the projected grade of F8c had dropped to F8b+ and I was ready for action. But it wasn’t to be. Jorg Verhoeven from
Climber way up on the arete - if you can see him!