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dingus


Sep 28, 2007, 7:59 AM
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Re: [camhead] What is traditional free climbing? [In reply to]
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We have a sport area near here; Table Mtn. One of the crags is called the Grotto and a lot of NorCal climbers know this hole in the ground. It sports 50 foot tall cracks leading up to bolted rap stations, sport crack.

The place is an excellent training ground and outdoor gym and I've climbed those cracks countless times.

Anyway, I'd been trying to get one of my buddies to climb there (this was some time back now). When he finally agreed to go there, we had a great time.

I treated those routes as playthings and workouts, and testpieces really, however pitiful that may be. Many of them I had wired and knew each placement, memorized (to this day in fact), where to put my feet, the tricky parts. I'd offer unsolicited beta to my partners whenever I felt the urge.

That's sport.

So my friend starts up this 5.11 crack, thin fingers all the way. Thin fingers give those of us with the more, uh, Whillanseque physiques... a forearm challenge. We need popeye arms just to comsider them. So I had that thing wired eh? So I could get to the top before I burned out.

I'd led it first, lowered off and cleaned it, offering the ole 'do exactly as I do, right?' And 'put your feet where I put mine' bullshit.

My friend had led every pitch of Astroman and plenty of other routes so I'm sure he was rolling his eyes at me. I often gave him plenty of reason to do so, haha.

He sported a rack of a couple of Generation 1 aliens, 2 ancient friends and this weird sawed-in-half hex-on-a-sling he created for alpine climbing.

15 feet up he places and alien and smoothly steps into the business. He climbed like a surgeon, laser precise. Oh, other than belaying me he'd never laid eyes on this thing.

He runs it out till is feet are 10 feet above that sole alien then casually inspects the crack. Slowly, carefylly, he takes the sling off his shoulder and fits that weird sawed-in-half hex into the crack, gives the sling the gentlest of tugs, clips it and climbs on to the anchors.

On his last move he dislodged a small piece of moss which fell lazily and and landed in my open and dumbfounded mouth.

He gets to the anchor, clips it, looks down and quietly comments, "Nice route."

That's TRAD.

DMT


(This post was edited by dingus on Sep 28, 2007, 8:00 AM)


sticky_fingers


Sep 28, 2007, 8:41 AM
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Re: [dingus] What is traditional free climbing? [In reply to]
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Just a thought: Since there have been numerous discussions about the definitions of (seemingly ambiguous) climbing terms, why don't we make a little dictionary of definable terms. Below are, what I think are, the 5 most common types of non-aid, non-bouldering, roped climbing.
----------------------------------------
Climbing a route that doesn't have any pre-fixed/pre-placed gear/slings/bolts on the route =

Climbing a route that doesn't have bolts, but has some other type of fixed protection no matter how manky the protection maybe, i.e., rusty pitons, stucky wedges, slings, etc) AND you used any of it =

Climbing a route that doesn't have bolts, but has some other type of fixed protection no matter how manky the protection maybe, i.e., rusty pitons, stucky wedges, slings, etc) AND you DIDN'T use any of it =

Climbing a route that has bolts on it and YOU didn't need to use/place gear between the bolts =

Climbing a route that has bolts on it and YOU needed to use/place gear between the bolts =


Before you call me out for forgetting the belay stations, I purposely neglected to address them (already established or not) because I don't think that the "end" of a route/climb/pitch should be considered in its definition. Also chalk marks and rock scarring were not addressed because I think those relate more to "move knowledge" than route description.

Just my 2 cents, but I think if we can agree on these examples (using new terms or not) we can level the playing field as well as better appreciate the way a climb was done (onsight, flash, redpoint, etc).


edited the last sentence


(This post was edited by sticky_fingers on Sep 28, 2007, 8:44 AM)


dingus


Sep 28, 2007, 8:48 AM
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Re: [sticky_fingers] What is traditional free climbing? [In reply to]
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sticky_fingers wrote:
why don't we make a little dictionary

No thanks!

I think the term trad needs to stay analog.

Cheers though!
DMT


caughtinside


Sep 28, 2007, 9:55 AM
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Re: [camhead] What is traditional free climbing? [In reply to]
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camhead wrote:

But yeah, the siege tactics, the ticking, the toprope whoring, the big groups of dirty hippies with dogs and drum circles-- all very sporty.

I dunno camhead, the siege and ticking are sporty, but I think we have the trad dirtbag dream distopia to thank for the rest of that bullshit.

Big groups = not TRAD, dude! Not TRAD 'tall.


LostinMaine


Sep 28, 2007, 10:01 AM
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Re: [onceahardman] What is traditional free climbing? [In reply to]
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First off, this is a great stroll down history lane. I am well-versed in climbing history in the NE, but not as much elsewhere. It's nice to get some thoughts from other regions.

I'm a bit confused on your definitions of 5th, 4th, 3rd, etc. classes, though, hardman. I understand what you are saying (completely), I'm just not sure how you come to that conclusion. Regardless of the "style" that the route is climbed (TR vs trad vs solo), it seems that a route cannot be digressed to another grade. Climbing a 5th class route in 3rd class style (solo of a 5.x route) seems to make no sense to me. It seems one might be able to climb a 3rd class route in 5th class style (think Monty Python), but not vice versa. No matter what style one wishes to climb a 5th class route with, the route remains 5th class. Any route in which protection is required in the event of a fall (whether above from a TR or below from bolts or gear), regardless of current style of climbing, is how I have always heard a 5th class route defined.

cheers


onceahardman


Sep 28, 2007, 11:50 AM
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Re: [LostinMaine] What is traditional free climbing? [In reply to]
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hi lostinmaine, nice to hear from a fellow yank!

In reply to:
Climbing a 5th class route in 3rd class style (solo of a 5.x route) seems to make no sense to me. It seems one might be able to climb a 3rd class route in 5th class style (think Monty Python), but not vice versa.

these terms are not things i have personally made up. "3rd classing" was a well-known and accepted term for free-soloing when i started out. the guidebook doesn't change. the route is most commonly climbed 5th, and no one is obliged to solo anything, to be considered in good style.

years ago, i climbed middle cathedral (east buttress? memory problems) the guidebook said IV, 5.9.A0...

the AO was a bolt ladder which was climbed "french-free", or it could be freed at around 5,10c or so. most just yank up the bolt ladder, though (as did i), and so the grade stays the same. you could make the stylistic choice of climbing it free, of course, but the guidebook didn't change. the "consensus" rating was IV, 5.9, A0.

style-wise, (as i'm sure you know) it has always been important to IMPROVE the style of a climb...that is, to free an aid line, or to solo a free line. a bouldering analogy occurs at falling ant slab in the tetons, where john gill opened several "no-hands" problems. he never called these "class 2" to my knowledge, but that would be an apt analogy.


quiteatingmysteak


Sep 28, 2007, 12:14 PM
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Re: [dingus] What is traditional free climbing? [In reply to]
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dingus wrote:
We have a sport area near here; Table Mtn. One of the crags is called the Grotto and a lot of NorCal climbers know this hole in the ground. It sports 50 foot tall cracks leading up to bolted rap stations, sport crack.

The place is an excellent training ground and outdoor gym and I've climbed those cracks countless times.

Anyway, I'd been trying to get one of my buddies to climb there (this was some time back now). When he finally agreed to go there, we had a great time.

I treated those routes as playthings and workouts, and testpieces really, however pitiful that may be. Many of them I had wired and knew each placement, memorized (to this day in fact), where to put my feet, the tricky parts. I'd offer unsolicited beta to my partners whenever I felt the urge.

That's sport.

So my friend starts up this 5.11 crack, thin fingers all the way. Thin fingers give those of us with the more, uh, Whillanseque physiques... a forearm challenge. We need popeye arms just to comsider them. So I had that thing wired eh? So I could get to the top before I burned out.

I'd led it first, lowered off and cleaned it, offering the ole 'do exactly as I do, right?' And 'put your feet where I put mine' bullshit.

My friend had led every pitch of Astroman and plenty of other routes so I'm sure he was rolling his eyes at me. I often gave him plenty of reason to do so, haha.

He sported a rack of a couple of Generation 1 aliens, 2 ancient friends and this weird sawed-in-half hex-on-a-sling he created for alpine climbing.

15 feet up he places and alien and smoothly steps into the business. He climbed like a surgeon, laser precise. Oh, other than belaying me he'd never laid eyes on this thing.

He runs it out till is feet are 10 feet above that sole alien then casually inspects the crack. Slowly, carefylly, he takes the sling off his shoulder and fits that weird sawed-in-half hex into the crack, gives the sling the gentlest of tugs, clips it and climbs on to the anchors.

On his last move he dislodged a small piece of moss which fell lazily and and landed in my open and dumbfounded mouth.

He gets to the anchor, clips it, looks down and quietly comments, "Nice route."

That's TRAD.

DMT


I climb with a few dudes like that... mostly old enough to be my pop. They've been doing SoCal routes for 30 years, so every once and awhile they will convene at Mt. Woodson and do some easy, after work bouldering and climb some routes.


The first time I ever saw someone lead a .12 on gear was a guy who was just under 55 float up the classic Bachar problem, don't rock the boat. I can't touch it, not with a 10 foot pole.


At JTree there are still new routes, to them, and the average observer can see what apears to be a jamboree of Sierra clubbers with Hexes and Swami's converging on the low angle dummy domes for some good ol' fashioned classics-clobbering. Take a second look, and you will see them on Illusion Dweller, Spider Line, Hobbit Roof, Big Pancake... all stout. I don't think I have seen them fall yet, and I know some of those were onsight.

Simple math shows that I have a whopping 33 years of climbing before I too am seen like these dogs, bright orange webbing hanging low in natty coils down to my ankles. Definitely gives some perspective, at least momentarily. Time goes by fast, but god damn there is a lot of it.


onceahardman


Sep 28, 2007, 12:51 PM
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Re: [LostinMaine] What is traditional free climbing? [In reply to]
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one more story...

once i was climbing in boulder canyon, on cob rock, roping up for a 3 pitch 5.7....3 short pitches. the late famed soloist derek hersey walks up with two others. he asks if he can quickly go ahead of us. "sure", i said. anyway, he ropes up, starts climbing, and finally clipped his first piece, a fixed pin on the 3rd pitch, before topping out. i hadn't finished racking yet. his clients quickly followed. if he didn't clip the pin, the route wouldn't be re-graded at 4th class...it's a 5.7, and will stay that way. but others are free to improve the style.


LostinMaine


Sep 28, 2007, 1:44 PM
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Re: [onceahardman] What is traditional free climbing? [In reply to]
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Thanks for the ideas to chew on. I have just never heard a true 5th class climb, climbed in any style, referred to a 4th or 3rd class ascent. I suppose I need to leave my little corner of the world once in a while!

As a side note, it seems somewhat ironic that to improve the style of a climb results in a downgrade of the climb (not in guidebooks, but still...). When I solo a route, I don't want to go home and spray my wife about my sick 3rd class ascent of a wicked 5.2. Wink


(This post was edited by LostinMaine on Sep 28, 2007, 1:50 PM)


pwscottiv


Oct 2, 2007, 10:57 PM
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Re: [olderic] What is traditional free climbing? [In reply to]
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olderic wrote:
blueeyedclimber wrote:
So, can you not redpoint a trad route? Josh

Actually Josh by the strictist rules - no you can't.

Hmm, well, like almost all other terms in the English language, I think the meaning of Traditional climbing probably isn't what it used to be... I've had so many people argue with me about other terms in the English language... Their argument is that if a term used to mean something then it always will... But honestly that's just not how things work... The meaning of words are constantly in flux and their meaning is reliant on what the majority of people at the time/region believe it to be... So as far as climbing terms go, this is the way I've come to understand the terms in question over my 22 years of climbing in California...

As far as Traditional climbing goes, it basically means that you aren't using fixed protection (i.e. bolts/hangers). This means the climber is using things like cams, chocks, slings, pitons, etc for protection. All of this gear is removed (except for the occasional jammed piece) when the climbers are done. Some people might argue that if the belay anchors are bolted/fixed then you're still doing traditional climbing... Some would argue that it's considered mixed climbing... At that point who really cares.

Sport climbing strictly uses fixed protection... If any trad gear is used, then it would be mixed climbing.

The terms red-point, on-sight, flash, and pink-point are independent of whether or not you're doing traditional, sport, or mixed climbing. They strictly have to with the time-frame and whether or not you placed pro ahead of time, and/or whether on not you fell or supported your weight with anything other than the rock (i.e. hanging on a cam). Yes, you can theoretically place pro ahead of time on a trad route to pink-point it.


jonoj


Oct 3, 2007, 2:13 AM
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Re: What is traditional free climbing? [In reply to]
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How about:

Trad / Sport - refering to the route itself (dictated by how it was opened).

Gear / Sport / Toprope / Second/ Solo / Aid - refering to the climbing style of any subsequent ascent.

eg: I toproped a hard single pitch trad route
I lead an easy sport route on gear
I lead a trad route on gear
I seconded a trad route above my lead level.
I aided up a super hard sport route

My 0.2c


pwscottiv


Oct 3, 2007, 2:24 AM
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Re: [jonoj] What is traditional free climbing? [In reply to]
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jonoj wrote:
How about:

Trad / Sport - refering to the route itself (dictated by how it was opened).

Gear / Sport / Toprope / Second/ Solo / Aid - refering to the climbing style of any subsequent ascent.

eg: I toproped a hard single pitch trad route
I lead an easy sport route on gear
I lead a trad route on gear
I seconded a trad route above my lead level.
I aided up a super hard sport route

My 0.2c
I don't see how the original methods used for climbing the route has much significance at all. And, for the most part (except aid-routes that are now free climbed) the same methods are used on every ascent... You don't really hear about trad routes getting bolted or vice versa.

jonoj wrote:
I lead an easy sport route on gear
I lead a trad route on gear
Hmm, now I'm really confused as to what exactly your reasoning is... How exactly is someone going to lead a sport route with cams and chocks? Do you know what a sport route is?

And how else are you supposed to lead a trad route? Are you going to pound bolts into the crack? Do you know what a trad route is?


jonoj


Oct 3, 2007, 3:01 AM
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Re: [pwscottiv] What is traditional free climbing? [In reply to]
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pwscottiv wrote:
jonoj wrote:
How about:

Trad / Sport - refering to the route itself (dictated by how it was opened).

Gear / Sport / Toprope / Second/ Solo / Aid - refering to the climbing style of any subsequent ascent.

eg: I toproped a hard single pitch trad route
I lead an easy sport route on gear
I lead a trad route on gear
I seconded a trad route above my lead level.
I aided up a super hard sport route

My 0.2c
I don't see how the original methods used for climbing the route has much significance at all. And, for the most part (except aid-routes that are now free climbed) the same methods are used on every ascent... You don't really hear about trad routes getting bolted or vice versa.

jonoj wrote:
I lead an easy sport route on gear
I lead a trad route on gear
Hmm, now I'm really confused as to what exactly your reasoning is... How exactly is someone going to lead a sport route with cams and chocks? Do you know what a sport route is?

And how else are you supposed to lead a trad route? Are you going to pound bolts into the crack? Do you know what a trad route is?

I have absolutely no idea what a trad route is, nor sport route for matter ..... I'm from South Africa man.... far too busy running away from lions and carnivorous zebra's to bother to find out.

However... if my escape leads me to a boltless wall, and I have gear on me, I'll use gear to protect myself (provided the baboons don't rip my trinkets from my harness. If I encounter a bolted wall, I'll just use those sport climbing thingees (have forgotten the name, since my climbing manual is still tangled up in the last acacia tree I climbed to steal a rotting buck carcass from an unsuspecting leopard).

On a slightly more serious note:

You lead a sport route on gear, by utilizing whatever cracks or pockets you can find, and sticking some pro in 'em. If it is totally blank, you run it out, or aim for the nearest bolt (and lose your claim to an all gear ascent).

You lead a trad route on 'sport gear', when some idiot has bolted it subsequent to the opening ground-up gear ascent.


(This post was edited by jonoj on Oct 3, 2007, 3:03 AM)


pwscottiv


Oct 3, 2007, 3:12 AM
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Re: [jonoj] What is traditional free climbing? [In reply to]
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jonoj wrote:

You lead a sport route on gear, by utilizing whatever cracks or pockets you can find, and sticking some pro in 'em. If it is totally blank, you run it out, or aim for the nearest bolt (and lose your claim to an all gear ascent).

You lead a trad route on 'sport gear', when some idiot has bolted it subsequent to the opening ground-up gear ascent.

Well, to me both of those routes would be "mixed" routes, which allow you to utilize both sport and trad pro. Once you use gear on a sport route, it's no longer just a sport route in my opinion... Especially if using the gear is required to make the route "safe". The same goes for a trad route... And crap, who the hell would eff-up a perfectly good trad route by bolting it? I'm not saying it doesn't happen... It was more of a rhetorical question.


jonoj


Oct 3, 2007, 3:28 AM
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pwscottiv wrote:
jonoj wrote:

You lead a sport route on gear, by utilizing whatever cracks or pockets you can find, and sticking some pro in 'em. If it is totally blank, you run it out, or aim for the nearest bolt (and lose your claim to an all gear ascent).

You lead a trad route on 'sport gear', when some idiot has bolted it subsequent to the opening ground-up gear ascent.

Well, to me both of those routes would be "mixed" routes, which allow you to utilize both sport and trad pro. Once you use gear on a sport route, it's no longer just a sport route in my opinion... Especially if using the gear is required to make the route "safe". The same goes for a trad route... And crap, who the hell would eff-up a perfectly good trad route by bolting it? I'm not saying it doesn't happen... It was more of a rhetorical question.

Guess this thread is a clear indication of the confusion caused by a rapidly evolving activity with a whole bunch of incidental sub-activities... where people are freeing old aid routes, and soloing hard sport routes, and bolting perfectly protectable cracks (it does still happen, but hopefully this practice is dwindling), etc etc.

S'pose there'll never be a true consensus. For us that aren't climbing in the limelight, the best is probably just to go out and have fun in whichever style suits us best.


pwscottiv


Oct 3, 2007, 12:23 PM
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Re: [jonoj] What is traditional free climbing? [In reply to]
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jonoj wrote:
Guess this thread is a clear indication of the confusion caused by a rapidly evolving activity with a whole bunch of incidental sub-activities... where people are freeing old aid routes, and soloing hard sport routes, and bolting perfectly protectable cracks (it does still happen, but hopefully this practice is dwindling), etc etc.
I really didn't know there was so much confusion... Everyoen I've ever talked with agreed with my take on the terms as I described previously.

With respect to freeing aid routes, I think I did mention that I thought it was one of the exceptions... I don't think there's anything wrong at all with saying that a route can be freed and/or aided... What I did have a problem with is mixing up groups of words like red-pint and trad, as they have nothing at all to do with one another.

As far as soloing sport, trad, aid, or whatever sort of route what does it matter at that point? If you're not using any type of pro, then there's no point in mentioning what the route usually is protected by. Who is gonna say they soloed a trad route or soloed a sport route?

And as far as bolting trad routes, the ONLY time I could ever see that being ok is if, for one, the local climbing community agreed it was ok, and two, it was to protect a part of a route that has no other protection such that if the climber was to fall it surely would result in serious/fatal injury.

Like I said before, the meanings of words are constsantly in flux... It's just the way things work... However, that does not mean that it isn't possible to have a general concensus. And of course it too will probably shift over time.


tomhiggins


Oct 9, 2007, 3:14 PM
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Re: traditional climbing links [In reply to]
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Apologies if this Supertopo thread has been noted (I saw a different one noted), but if not and for the record:

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=454492&tn=40

And, a copy of my post there:

I took a crack at the trad vs. sport issue on my website. I made a little table there which tries to summarize differences on key variables, but of course doesn't capture all the forever evolving shades of meaning and connotations:

http://www.tomhiggins.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=32&Itemid=19

And for history buffs, here's where the term "traditional" was first used, I think, and what it meant way back then:

http://www.tomhiggins.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=13&Itemid=19

Finally, Wikipedia has a bit on "traditional climbing" too:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traditional_climbing

Tom Higgins


curt


Oct 9, 2007, 6:35 PM
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Re: [tomhiggins] traditional climbing links [In reply to]
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tomhiggins wrote:
Apologies if this Supertopo thread has been noted (I saw a different one noted), but if not and for the record:

http://www.supertopo.com/..._id=454492&tn=40

And, a copy of my post there:

I took a crack at the trad vs. sport issue on my website. I made a little table there which tries to summarize differences on key variables, but of course doesn't capture all the forever evolving shades of meaning and connotations:

http://www.tomhiggins.net/...;id=32&Itemid=19

And for history buffs, here's where the term "traditional" was first used, I think, and what it meant way back then:

http://www.tomhiggins.net/...;id=13&Itemid=19

Finally, Wikipedia has a bit on "traditional climbing" too:

http://en.wikipedia.org/...Traditional_climbing

Tom Higgins

I fixed the links for 'ya, Tom.

Curt


tomhiggins


Feb 20, 2008, 2:00 PM
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Re: [blueeyedclimber] What is traditional free climbing? [In reply to]
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blueeyedclimber wrote:
...I realize that some of the terms I use and are commonly used today are not necessarily the way they were intended or were used back in the day...

Indeed. And for those interested in when/where the term "traditional" was first coined (1984 Ascent), what it meant then, and how the style first came into conflict with emerging sport styles, see:

http://www.tomhiggins.net/...;id=13&Itemid=19

And for a retrospective on how trad/sport style definitions and issues have since evolved, with over 20 references to climbing articles on styles through 2006, see:

http://www.tomhiggins.net/...;id=33&Itemid=19


tolman_paul


Feb 20, 2008, 3:33 PM
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To me the way the trad term has been used seems to be a way for sport climbers to have a degrading term to refer to those that don't employ those means as old fashioned, which is what traditional denotes.

In a sense it's a shame that sport climbing wasn't more properly termed A0 or free aid climbing. Yes it is pitched as allowing one free physical expression on the rock, but in reality gear is used to remove the both the mental fear of a fall, as well as used to aid the ascent by allowing the route to be dogged out untila ascended. Many sport routes could simply be left as tr problems, but some folks just had to have the ego trip of the first "free" ascent.

Heh, I've climbed all style of routes, and put up several sport routes. But no matter how fun the line, the ultimate sense of accomplishment is walking up to a route and going from bottom to top w/o falling or using gear to aid the ascent of the route.

To me there is no such thing as trad climbing, it's just free climbing from the ground up and protecting the route with either clean pro, or the occasional bolt.


tomhiggins


Feb 22, 2008, 4:36 PM
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Re: [tolman_paul] What is traditional free climbing? [In reply to]
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Paul,

No question trad and sport have positive and negative connotations depending on user intent and context. As you probably saw from one or more of the links I gave, there's been heat around the terms and styles for a very long time.

FYI, Wikipedia is in the midst of trying to do a purely factual definition of both (search for sport and traditional climbing), which needs some work, but shows discussion of styles can be done in an objective way too.

I agree, no question for me the greatest satisfaction comes from doing a route all "free” with no pre pro set up, tension, falls, or if a fall, then going down to nearest stance, getting off the rope and starting again, then giving up for another day after a couple of rounds, if it comes to that. Yup, I too have enjoyed bolted sport routes, though I still try to keep the same as above climbing style on them and just stay off many I know would take sieging. No joy in that for me.

After wrangling around the trad/sport debate for so long, I can't agree there is no such thing as trad, of course, but it certainly resides in the mind of beholder, and is an area of some muddy thinking and ever changing meanings. Fun it its way, however, as with any discussion of meaning, intent, history, past and present, and the best and worst in us paltry characters so soon gone from the stage.

Regards,

Tom Higgins


tolman_paul


Feb 22, 2008, 6:01 PM
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Re: [tomhiggins] What is traditional free climbing? [In reply to]
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Tom,

I'm sure my post came across a bit strong, I just get sick and tired of folks making things more complicated than they need to be, and causing derision in the ranks. It's just climging and it's supposed to be fun.

When I think of traditional climbing, I picture guys in lederhosen with hemp ropes, pitons and hob nailed boots.

I just can't get over the thought todays kids look at me in that vein Blush

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