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Unsent: Why I'm Gonna Chop the Bolts on Adam Ondra's Silence (5.15d)

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Unsent /un-sent/ 1. To have failed so badly on a route you had previously climbed that you negate your redpoint. 2. A humor column.

old man rock climbing crusty trad toprope follow
Bio: The “Mayor of Apricot Dome.” I never leave the ground without a double rack up to No. 6, and I always run it out. Lead 5.6, follow 5.8. Sport climbing is neither, gym climbing is neither, and bouldering also sucks.Shutterstock

Posted by CrustyTradDad58
2/23/18 at 2:08 a.m. PST

Wow. Just watched Adam Ondra’s Silence vid. Maybe Ondra didn’t scream on the route, but Mother Nature sure did—that line clearly takes gear and yet Ondra placed bolts. That’s bullshit. I, CrustyTradDad58, am chopping those bolts and here’s why:

1. You don’t bolt cracks

Back in my day—the 1980s, out at Apricot Dome (it’s not in any guidebooks, but I can Xerox a topo for you)—we had an unwritten rule: You bolt a crack, we slash your tires. You do it again, maybe we lug a sack of potatoes to the crag and play “Hit the Target” while you’re on the sharp end. The point is: You knew there’d be consequences. Today, you get to livestream the video premier of your crimes while the world applauds. What the hell happened to climbing?

Ondra keeps calling Silence a “sport route,” and yet he describes the crux as a V15 crack. INTERESTING. I see a clear No. 1 cam placement in the same slot where Ondra jams his foot after inverting, which is followed by two feet of bomber .5 placements. But instead, the crux has as many bolts as me and old Rowdy McRipperpants (RIP) used on Low-Angle Direct—three—and that puppy’s 2,000 feet. Ondra better keep an eye on his tires, is all I’m saying.

2. It’s Overbolted

Look, I get it. Some rock can’t even be protected with Ballnuts or taped-on skyhooks; bolts are the only option. But I count at least 12 bolts in 150 feet in the Silence video. If Ondra can climb the V15 crux, he should’ve had no problem running out the first 80 feet of 5.13d. Would Ondra like a Starbucks at the no-hands rest as well? Why not just domesticate the fucker like Half Dome: put in handrails and charge tourists $5 a pop? Ondra’s bolting lowers the route to his level, which, mentally, is the level of my two-year-old kid with my fifth wife. Forget if it’s a boy or not cause the hair’s all long, but I think we named it Rainbow. Anyway … as the homemade bumper sticker on my ‘78 VW bus says, “Keep Flatanger Bold.”

3. Ondra aided the route

Ondra had to rest in a kneebar for “five to six minutes” in order to complete the route. He wore sticky-rubber kneepads—an artificial climbing aid—in order to do this. Hey, buddy, if your knees hurt, how about I lend you my Carhartts, or perhaps you’d prefer etriers next time? 5.15d? More like 5.13d A0.

4. It wasn’t climbed ground-up

I don’t know when climbers decided that the laws of gravity don’t apply, but that sure as shit has never been the way out at Apricot. You think Layton Kor inspected The Owl (5.7+) in Boulder Canyon before his FA? LOLZ. “Climbing” means starting from the bottom and then going to the top. But Ondra started that no-star turd pile by figuring out the middle then working his way down. What’s next, a scissorlift up to the middle of El Cap so he can “work” the Great Roof? Perhaps he should pay someone to climb for him, since he doesn’t seem interested in doing it himself.

5. Silence is contrived

I watched Ondra’s little film and the whole time I was thinking, “This is dumb and that route is bullshit, but it must have a pretty boss view from up top since he’s putting so many years into it.” No, sir! Silence doesn’t even top out. It stops at an arbitrary spot in the middle of the ceiling. Did Ondra get lost? Did his bolt gun run out of batteries? Where is he trying to go? It’s like driving halfway to the 7-Eleven and then turning around before you can even smell the taquitos.

Next time I can get up the scratch to hop a plane up to Norge, I’m chopping those bolts then doing that route right. I’ll skol a few Scandinavian King Cobras and belt out some Steely Dan to get in the zone, then throw on my shoulder sling and climb until I run out of mountain. Then I’ll howl at the midnight sun, rap down, and celebrate restoring Silence to its rightful state: an X-rated trad route nobody will ever repeat.


Read more Unsent. For Kevin’s non-humor columns, see Noon Patrol.

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