- Crags where the rock is too soft to take repeated gear placements in a sustainable manner and top roping is not possible. Where top roping is possible then the addition of top rope anchors is a far more sustainable option than bolting up routes minimising the long-term damage to the rock and leaving the climb open for ascents in different styles.
- On climbs or crags that have absolutely no gear and are at an extremely hard level*. These extremely hard climbs are often cited as a be-all-and-end-all justification for bolts but, in reality, the vast majority of bolting happens far below this level of difficulty and on traditionally protectable terrain.*i.e. Top level climbers spend weeks , months or years trying to complete the moves
- On hard climbs with very little gear and no realistic top-out making climbing it traditionally very unlikely, preferably on crags where all the routes are similar in this nature making a crag that would otherwise be enjoyed empty and without routes.
- Perhaps on modern quarry rock faces – when the whole crag has been made by man, and perhaps it is an ‘abomination’ itself – but this doesn’t mean that bolts should be used when it can be climbed clean!
What is ‘no’ gear?
This raises the issue of what is ‘no’ gear. There are not as many climbs that have ‘no gear’ than people often believe. If you examine most bolted climbs you will see that they are indeed protectable, it might be less protection than we would like, however understanding, calculating and breaking down risk is a big part of climbing – making the climbs more challenging and therefore more rewarding. No gear – is as it says, no gear.
The best locations for bolted lines in reality are hard climbs with very little or no gear across the whole crag and no realistic top out. Sadly many moderate bolted climbs exist on routes where a walk off is perfectly possible.