Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The clean vs. the many

The world rarely is captured in terms of absolutes. Greys are the norm. The more I study culture and group dynamics, the more useful I find discourses about tension. Our neck of the Rockies has tremendously bad rock. Outside of Expert's choice, Wedge and Knob Hill, few areas don't have sizable amounts of choss. A recent revisit to the lower tier of Drywood brought up a tension that exists between route availability and route cleanliness.

The lower tier of Drywood is composed of a solid fossil algae limestone, well featured, but sandwiched between layers of less stable rock. Large ledges tend towards talus, and even solid faces still have some friable veneer.

Climbing in our neck of the woods rarely occurs without a few loose blocks or at least some loose rock on ledges. Because of this, I have never been too concerned over scrubbing routes crystal clean. Once dangerous blocks are removed, I generally figure traffic is the best way to ensure loose pebbles and veneer are brushed away. For instance, 20 years ago the information bureau had sizable amounts of gravel on the ledges. Increased traffic (and Duncan Mackey's broom) has made popular routes almost spotless. This cleaning really is more than any one person could have done (I, like others, have spent hours brushing off loose gravel from routes that are 40+ years old).

While everyone likes clean routes, cleaning up gravel on large ledges is an eternal process. More just pores down from above. Where does the balance lie between climber's responsibility for a route's safety vs. other's expectations? Do minimum cleaning codes make sense in our area? Should we really expect all established routes to be brushed and swept, or is removing obvious, unavoidable dangers enough? What about the book sized talus that is easily avoidable on ledges? What about loose rock which is slightly off route? What tensions come into play in this ethical conundrum?

Mr. Grimm. The large ledge below the roof is still home to some scree. Typically extra protection has been installed as rock quality lessens.



At 7/02/2008 03:11:00 PM , Blogger Scott Harms said...

has there been a complaint about cleaning??? I keep forgetting my broom when I go out. Also, i need some help on which route i actually climbed on sunday in waterton. I think that we climbed milts delight but i could be wrong. There were 2 bolts(newer looking) for the anchor at the base about 10 feet above the trail on the lower tier. 15 - 20 ft to the left facing the wall is what i think is called the leaning column (12-15ft high block leaning up against the main part of the wall)Looking at the route from the belay station there was an unfriendly looking crack directly above so i climbed the crack about 7 ft over which was really good. Above that there were a few small ledges and then a nice ledge to belay from. From there I climbed a short white left facing corner to top out. Any guess if this was "Milt's Delight"?

At 7/02/2008 03:47:00 PM , Blogger Scott Harms said...

one other thing.... my wife left a green bd nut at the very start and swore that it was stuck. It's yours if you get to it before I do or it might be exchangable for a beer!

At 7/02/2008 08:09:00 PM , Blogger chris g said...

To get to Milt's you normally keep traversing right (east) of the Leaning Column block you describe. The next corner over is Milt's, and it may very well have some bolts from Mckay's time. It has been a few years since I was up there.

If you were to the climber's left (west) of Leaning column, starting on scree, not the ledge, then you were on Left Corner.

It sounds like you were on Milt's. The top sounds right.

Hopefully someone will drop off the nut at Kirkam's insurance by Cloverdale paint for you Scott.

At 7/02/2008 09:57:00 PM , Blogger chris g said...

No complaints about cleaning. Just some thoughts after climbing Mr. Grimm. When it was put up, I couldn't clean the ledge under the overhang very well - just the dangerous blocks and loose holds. Heading up it again, and comparing it to the perfect rock at the tower made me wonder how clean is clean?

I figure a nearly perfect cleaning job would prevent me from establishing another 2 or 3 routes. As such I just wonder about the trade of off developed areas vs. a few really clean routes (if that is even possible). Or will traffic take care of the cleaning on the routes that are worthwhile and ignore the ones that aren't?

At 7/03/2008 03:42:00 PM , Blogger Scott Harms said...

i don't think most routes will become clean with use as there are so few ascents a year of each route..... in my mind i would rather climb a good clean route than have a couple of mediocre routes


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