The manufacturing of routes, via chipping and glueing, has been a hot-button issue in the climbing news the past few years: The drama at Ten Sleep shone a new light on an old practice that was once accepted and is now scorned. Some of the old guard still think manufacturing routes is okay, while the majority of the climbing establishment believes that walls and boulders should remain in their natural state.But what happens when an already manufactured route is altered further? Is chipping upon chipping a greater or lesser heresy?
These questions are central in the new front of the route-manufacturing battle opened up at the Pump-O-Rama Gym in Chippendale, Colorado. The first climbers who came into the gym early this morning discovered that the gnarly purple problem in the back left corner of the bouldering cave had been marred beyond repair.
“Someone had chiseled a crimp into the Pusher sloper at the crux,” reported one of the first climbers on the scene. “Like, why would you even do that? You could just take it down and put a crimp up.”
Climbing got in touch with one of the perpetrators, Chip Stevens, who said he wanted to make a statement. “It’s already a completely manufactured route. So I’m just taking it a step further. Manufactured routes have no place in this sport. Gym Climbing is neither, am I right?” Chip said. “Also I couldn’t climb that purple one. It was too hard.”
There is a local faction that agrees with Stevens, but thinks that what’s done is done—”The route setters screwed these holds onto the walls, and they’re already here,” said one climber who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution—and that further altering them simply compounds the wrongs. For example, if a hold breaks, they argue, it should be left as is. But some, like local climber Arthur G. Lue, see a middle ground. “If a hold breaks, I think sika should be allowed to restore gym routes to what the setters intended,” Lue said.
The owners of the gym, in an effort to quell further debate and controversy, plan on instituting a new policy: No holds at all will be affixed to either the bouldering or lead walls. They will be left blank.
“This incident has opened our eyes,” said one of the gym owners. “We might not be able to climb these walls without screwing on holds… But some kid in the future might.”
As of press time, 99% of the gym’s members had canceled their membership because of the new policy.