And the great slate debate
COLIN GOODEY, 74, a native of Penmaenmawr, in North Wales, has climbed for six decades. Untti now, he never really made headlines, though in the 1950s Goodey pioneered the limestone on the Great Orme, in Llandudno. He also clocked a few notable first ascents in the 1960s, such as Great Wall (E3 5C), at Craig y Forwen, and Vulcan (E2 5C), at Tremadoc. Today, in North Wales' Snowdonia mountains, Goodey has found fame and infamy in equal parts due to his bolting practices. He's added a host of moderate sport climbs (from 5.5 to 5.10), specifically in the disused slate quarries of Llanberis,
The quarries' sprawling slate terraces, ranging in height from 15 to 650 feet, have primarily hosted the climbing elite since the 1980s. Most routes mix bolts and gear, with 60-foot runouts standard (picture cheese-grater slabs and RPs ripping from brittle cracks). But in 2007, Goodey noticed an underdeveloped slab, picked up a Hilti, and bolted the well-protected Grandpere (5.6) for his grandson, Morgan, then 9. Goodey spent that summer bolting more lines and seeking permission to retrobolt old ones. To date, he's added 20-plus new sport routes, with more projects slated for the future.
Not surprisingly, Goodey's break with the (very bold) local ethic has triggered a slate renaissance. Now climbers-especially beginners and intermediates-line up to climb the weil-protected lines or even establish their
Colin Goodey on the final pitch of Tomb Raider (F6a+), Dinorwig Quarries, North Wales, own. Also not surprisingly, some argue that sport bolting has changed the quarries' character and created access problems. There has long been a policy of ignoring climbers at the quarry, but since Goodey's bolting, there have been literally crowds of climbers. The British Mountaineering Club is currently working on an accord between land owners and climbers. Over the past year, the Internet buzzed with debate, and one objector even scratched "Over bolted and graded!" into the slate atop one Goodey line.
When did you get into climbing? I started climbing in Llandudno in the early '50s. My dad would take my brother and me to some mountain crags. I was hooked, even with hemp ropes and hobnail boots. Why the fuss about the bolts? Initially, people saw it as breaking with tradition, There had been no climbs in the [French] 4s, and a lot of the 5s and 6s had been soloed. I think people, especially in Britain, love their traditions, and they're not too keen on change. On one route, some accused you of putting in too many bolts
They were about six feet apart But there was a reason: the rock was loose in places, and it was the hardest route I've led. When someone criticized it, f suggested they didn't need to clip them all. At my age, I'm over all that macho stuff, and if I bolt a route, it wilt be done properly.
Why are your routes so popular? There have never been many moderate bolted routes in the UK before. [Such routes] give people of all abilities a chance to have fun. Who makes the rales? In the past, only the first ascentionists, but now things are decided more democratically, in open forums involving national bodies, such as the British Mountaineering Council. They have funded a lot of my route development through the use of their drills and bolts. Does the popularity of bolted routes signal that today's climbers are less bold? I think most people want to climb for fun and pleasure, without the risk of headpointing. But there is room for both. There has to be choice, though. That was the problem with slate: virtually all of it was dangerous, and people had been killed. I suppose the real irony is that the bolts have brought crowds. Before, when it was all very dangerous E6s and E7s, there were fewer access issues simply because so few people could try the routes. cp—
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