Zodiac pitch five

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Is it true that pitch five of the Zodiac no longer traverses forty feet left but now goes directly up a new bolt ladder. This is good news to me if true, although I wonder if it will get chopped by stick in the muds who had to do it the old way.


-- Steve Purcell (steve@mds.com), November 23, 1998


Well I am a stick in the mud. The traverse (5.8) is part of Zodaic history. If that has been changed without Charlie Porters permission I will be the one to chop the new latter and replace the old one. It's ok to replace but not to retrobolt a route. Look at the Sea of Dreams, it has been destroyed by chicken s***t pepole without the balls to push the limits. I am disgusted by what I hear. If it were not for the "sticks in the Mud" you would still be sitting in the gym wishing you could get on the roof. Get Charlies permission and change it. But without that nothing should be added to a route, or taked off a route except from an act of GOD. I think that it is a lack of respect to change a route with proper permission from the F.A. team. I think Eric Kohl would be pissed if I thought that Abstact Expressionist was unsafe so put bolts on the crux pitch or changed the direction of the pitch. Again I know that I am not making any friends, but I think ethics speak louder that words. "What have you guys got around here worth climbing?" Royal Robbins addressing the Yosemite Locals. Burt

-- BURT (epiclmber@hotmail.com), November 26, 1998.

I believe that the Bolt ladder was added by Mr. Macnamara of the Safe Climbers Assoc. All sticks in the mud, should adress this issue to him, and the Self titled web site. Flame on!

-- Feelio Babar (mtea@ptc.com), November 30, 1998.


Your point is well taken, and while I understand the sentiment, I think the argument can work both ways.

First of all let me say that I've done many scary/stupid things climbing, and while they may be memorable I'm not sure that glorifying them is anything but a justification for an adrenalin addiction. I am also fully prepared to take a route in it's original state, but my understanding of this particular pitch of the Zodiac is that it was kind of stupid in that it went left towards nothing only to come back right again.

In fact there are many climbs in Yosemite that I think have been ruined by the 'balls of brass' attitude. Some of these climbs are well within my ability given reasonable protection, but with incredible runouts they become to my mind 'ruined'. The attitude that those who can't do it just shouldn't be there is flawed when 5.12 climbers put up 5.10 routes. Maybe it's the 5.12 climbers that shouldn't be there? Or maybe some retrobolting should be acceptable? Besides there is no requirement to clip a retro-bolt.

Zodiac does not belong to Charlie Porter or you for that matter. It is public domain. While I would never have changed the route myself, if it was changed I suspect it was for good reason. All subsequent climbers can still go the old way if they wish. The cycles of bolting and chopping that I have known of have been destructive to the rock and to the reputation of climbers as responsible users of public lands.

I'm with you Burt, 'leave it as it was'. But if bolts have been placed they should remain, and when I get to that pitch I'll certainly take the chicken sh't way, but I will miss the rush and reward of the original line. The thing is though, if I need more adrenalin I can always get on something harder, but it's damn hard to get on something easier.

Should there be wall climbs for normal mortals? Or should we all stay home and humble ourselves before the unassailable manliness of those who have 'got what it takes'?


-- Steve Purcell (steve@mds.com), November 30, 1998.

The pitch was chopped shortly after it was put up. Now you all can continue the debate that has been around since the start of climbing. Have fun!!

-- Ronnie Miller (dylan-miller@juno.com), November 30, 1998.

Great! Not only do we have the eye sore of the original wandering pitch, but a line of shitty looking chopped bolts! Is it worth the ego trip which is based on supposed "preservation", to further impact the rock by chopping? Place a bolt, chop a bolt, place it again, chop it again! What the hell! This shit is retarded! Now the pitch looks like shit, and is back to the original circuitous way. I am not saying that adding bolts to established routes is in any way cool or acceptable, but there comes a point where ethicical arguements like this becomes tail chasing affair. Now how much ground has this gotten us in the last 40 years?

-- Feelio Babar (Walldork@obsesive.com), December 01, 1998.

Well I don't know how many bolts you guys have replaced but I know when I take a bolt out that there is NO trace of my being there. If you take the bolt out then fill the hole with the same color of rock (sand) and some appoxy there is virtually no trace. Yes, if you stared at the rock for an hour you would find it but the fifth pitch of the Zodaic is pretty high off the ground if you ask me. Like I said before I know that I am not making any friends but I stand by tradition. This last summer Jim Bridwell (first accent Sea of Dreams, P.O Wall and many others) and I talked over a few beers about the direction of big wall climbing. He did Wyoming Sheep Ranch this summer and was disgusted by the sight of The Sea of Dreams. The last pitch of the Kali Yuga on Half Dome was retrobolted and destroyed by very famous climbers. These classic lines are being destroyed by mindless yuppies that can't get the balls to stick it out a little. If you want easier routes go do the Nose. There are plenty of routes that are not scary or commiting (the Nose you can rap the whole thing) but leave the harder stuff alone. If you like the easy stuff (we all do) go do the easy stuff, but some of us like to push the boat out, and the option of not cliping bolts is dumb. Trust me when you get out on an A4 lead you want a bolt. If it is there you will clip it, but when it isn't there it is awesome to keep pushing it out. I know that people will contunie to bolt, chop, compalin (as I am doing now) and just do what they want. Climbing is my life and there is no greater feeling than topping out on lead with minimal rock damage. Sorry for the complaining this will be the last from me on this subject. "I have not conqured Everest, it has merely tolerated me." - Peter Habeler, after climbing that mountian without bottled oxygen. Burt

-- Burt (epiclmber@hotmail.com), December 01, 1998.


Personally I'm not a mindless yuppie, and as far as I know mindless yuppies do sport climbing and epic on the South Face of the Column. They do not go and retrobolt climbs like Sea of Dreams. The fact that valley locals get upset when insanely dangerous things are retro-bolted by lesser climbers is nothing new. But the Yosemite cult of the deadly pitch does not present a pretty picture to outsiders. There might as well be a sign at the gate "don't even think of climbing here, you are too weak". Well I don't know who gave Yosemite to the locals, but this kind of arrogance, and the cycles of bolting and chopping by people who refuse to compromise is causing our access to crags around the country to be jeporadized.

My personal feeling is that rerouting Zodiac was against tradition and would surely be chopped, thus my original posting. In fact knowing that I have to do it the original way is good, because like you say it is one of the classic Yosemite pitches.

I'm not defending retro-bolting on serious routes. Some routes really should be left to the best climbers. But the Yosemite intollerance for bolting begins to seem more like macho then the environmentalism it is claimed to be. Putting up a route is very destructive to the vertical environment, and the bolts placed do the least of the damage. Gardening cracks and forging trails does far more damage then bolting a featurless slab.

There are acres of climbing in the Valley that I'm shut out of because I 'don't have the balls' (or is it that I'm not stupid?). Who decides what to protect? The first acensionist?, and who decides that the first acsencionist has sole say in the matter rather than the thousands of other Americans who have equal claim to Yosemites rock?

Don't get me wrong. Over bolted areas like Williamson are disgusting and destructive, and I would not want to see similar things in Yosemite. But, as long as there is no rational debate and no possible compromise on certain routes then the different camps will continue to excercize their personal will with no regard to others, and the rest of the climbing public will suffer from closed areas and outlawed fixed gear.

I believe that the Zodiac issue was a mistake as it was doomed to be chopped. But, it did straigten the line. It's not as if it was purely to get around some scary climbing. If this were the case then the original traverse would have been bolted. Perhaps this is an area where compromise would have been in order.

I know this argument goes back to Robins and Harding, and I know who ultimately one that argument. However, I also have a sense of who's the pompous ass that wouldn't stoop to talk with me, and who I could share a bottle of wine with and enjoy life.

If it bothers all the RR's of the world to know that other people can climb the same things as they, albeit with less comitment, then they should just go put up something new and insane to prove once again that the majority of us are not worthy.


P.S. I don't know if you've seen the anchors on the Nose, but personally I'd only rap from sh't like that if I had too. I've never seen so many weak bolts strung together with tattered American Triangles in my life. Maybe Yosemity locals should climb down off their high horses and take a physics class, then go clean up their messes.

-- Steve Purcell (steve@mds.com), December 01, 1998.

I don't know what all the complaining is about. All I see here is a bunch of complaining climbers bitching at each other over an incident that is really not that important. As Jim Beyer says, "if anyone has the right to add a bolt, than anyone has the right to remove the bolt" so someone added a bolt and someone pulled it out. Anyone can pull bolts, and I've filled a few holes in my day, it's not hard to do I'm sure that all of those notorios bolts that were once there show no signs at all now. As a valley local (or sorts) myself, you'd think it's strange that I was not appalled by the Zodiac 5th pitch incident. I don't really care, I guess this is all in past tense anyway because the bolts are supposedly now gone. I had the opportunity to climb the route before the bolts were added, so I never had to deal with the dilemma of going the original way, going the new way, or pulling the new bolts out.If I we're there again, with the bolts in place, I almost surely would go the new way. Anyone who's climbed the route knows that Charlie Porter fucked up,(even though this really isn't an argument about the relevancey of that at all) he bolted over to what is now Abstract Expressionist didn't like the blade seem (even though Kohl says it takes bomber blades) and ended up bolting in an S shape. Lots of first ascentionists have fucked up, I have fucked up on a first ascent. I don't think the addition of the 5th pitch bolt ladder on Zodiac was right or wrong, it ws just a matter of opinion for the person who did it, an opinion that a lot of people militantly don't agree with. Anyway big walls are changed constantly, from loose blocks falling off, heads get placed, replaced, trenched, entire pitches fall off, belays get retroed, shit happens. I know this argument could go on and on.

-- chris (turbospazm@yahoo.com), February 11, 1999.

I dont really want to add my opinion, but i do have some questions...

I was wondering if the new ladder has been chopped? Im guessing it has and i see no problem with that. Also did anyone contact Chris Mac? If so what did he say about the whole thing?


-- Brian (slobri@aol.com), October 19, 1999.

My original source of information was wrong. The bolt ladder is still there! Or it was replaced? Who knows? Sorry for the wrong info, but it sure was interesting reading all the remarks.

-- Ronnie Miller (dylan-miller@juno.com), October 21, 1999.

is there any difference between chipping a hold on a free route and adding a bolt on a aid route?

-- bob pipernicker (bob@hick.com), October 25, 1999.

I heard that Mac et al. got permission from Porter before they rebolted it. If we do not learn from the past we repeat it... I'm off to erase the wall of early morning light. CHOW.

-- brent armstrong (pinscar@hotmail.com), February 14, 2000.

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