Category Archives: Bolts – Why not

Bolts… why not

Bolting is unsustainable

For the following reasons bolting is unsustainable;

  • It causes significant irreversible damage to the rock
  • The ‘Decades’ of use we get out of a bolt placement is minute compared with the entire future of climbing (How many hundreds of years?)
  • It rapidly speeds up destruction of crags through higher volumes in traffic and a greater intensity of use
  • It ruins potential for new clean lines and therefore having a destructive nature on the traditional aspect of climbing. It is worth mentioning that no other protection practice has such a destructive effect on the enjoyment of other aspects of the sport.

Bolts are not necessary most of the time

The majority of bolts are on relatively easy climbs; perhaps not so much in the UK, but certainly in countries which have adopted wide spread bolting.

On these routes it is almost always possible to use natural protection instead, often ‘bolt-only’ climbers think the routes are ‘unprotectable’ when it is far from the truth. This often stems from the fact that they have not had the opportunity to learn how to place gear and therefore do not know when it is good – coupled with the fact that they are never looking for it

Yes, there are hard bolted routes – where is it hard to imagine anyone ever climbing it using natural protection. But they said this in the 1980’s and were proven wrong, for this generation this is unlikely to be any different. At any rate, the ‘elite’ end of sport climbing does a very small proportion of the physical damage done to the rock.

Bolts are aesthetically unappealing

A scattering of man made shiny items with or without a pasting of glue around it on some of our most dramatic natural features is not exactly pretty. Other people enjoy these environments and bolting it up will detract from its beauty for others. Of course this could apply to chalk, but at least chalk generally washes off in the rain and is very unlikely to cause anything like the irreparable damage bolts cause.

In some areas people might start to realise the mess bolts make, maybe not now, but in the future and use it as an argument to stop people climbing and destroying these often very ancient rock structures.