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Ethics to consider when establishing new routes is locally rooted. In Elbsandstein, bolts are OK if placed from below, by hand, not by cracks and not too close. At Gritstone, only natural protection applies. On granite in California, bolts are OK to link cracks together, but only placed from below. In the Alps, several styles live in parallel: long and beautiful routes with a style like in California (M Piola and the Remy brothers), but also new routes with bolts close to cracks and old routes being retrobolted. The number of bolted routes has become so large that the UIAA is worried that the opportunity for naturally protected climbing will diminish. The UIAA uses both style and ethics in its argument, but the goal is to protect some areas that may be the arena for what they call "adventure climbing".
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Traditional or trad climbing involves rock climbing routes in which protection against falls is placed by the climber while ascending. In the unusual event bolts are used, these are placed on lead (usually with a manual drill). More commonly removable gear called cams, hexes, and nuts are placed in constrictions or cracks in the rock to protect against falls (in place of bolts) but not to aid the ascent directly. Due to the difficulty of placing bolts on lead, bolts tend to be placed farther apart than on many sport climbs. Once bolted on lead, if repeat ascensions can repeat the route using only the previously placed bolts for protection, the route would then be considered a sport climb, and repeat ascents would be considered to be done in the sport climbing rather than trad climbing style. Routes which are protected by a mixture of preplaced bolts and traditional climbing protection (cams/nuts/hexes) are commonly referred to as "mixed" routes, as in a mix of trad and sport climbing. Historically, pitons (a kind of deformable nail) were placed in constrictions in the rock instead of hexes, nuts and cams. These are difficult to remove and often destructive, resulting in a number of unremovable "fixed" pitons on many older traditionally protected routes. These are frequently used in a similar fashion to bolts, although they are not as trustworthy and by convention are not considered when evaluating if a route is a trad climb, sport climb or mixed climb the way bolts might be.
In crack climbing, the climber ascends a rock crack using specific techniques such as jamming, stemming, and laying back. Cracks can vary in size from smaller than the width of a finger to larger than human body size. Climbers may protect their hands from sharp-edged rock with tape.
Although many climbers adhere to "minimal impact" and "leave no trace" practices, rock climbing is sometimes damaging to the environment. Common environmental damages include: soil erosion, breaking rock features, chalk accumulation, litter, abandoned bolts and ropes, human excrement, introduction of foreign plants through seeds on shoes and clothing, as well as damage to native plant species (especially those growing in cracks and on ledges as these are often intentionally removed during new route development through a process commonly referred to as cleaning).
I took us up another short pitch to the right side of the massive pillar. According to the guidebook descriptions, the couple of pitches next to the pillar are the hardest on the route. John led up the first pitch on strenuous finger locks in a splitter crack before switching to the right hand cracks. Above these, there was a fantastic hand crack in a right facing corner with a few solid chicken heads for footholds. Awesome! I took the lead on the next pitch, traversing leftward to a steep finger crack. This pitch was strenuous and I had to rest on gear a couple of times. I need to work on my finger crack skills! John lead up one more pitch that was supposedly 5.5 but felt just as hard as the crux pitches below. The route was now in full sun, and it was a HOT day. There was nothing we could do to escape the sweltering heat. I was much more comfortable when I climbed this mountain a few months ago in early Spring (cold) conditions.