Election Day Blues

by Mick Ryan – UKClimbing.com Smashed On the day of the US elections it is with sadness that we report that bolt chopping is still alive in the USA. Sport climbing didn´t have an easy birth in the USA. In the 80´s there were fisticuffs in Yosemite´s Camp 4 parking lot between Mark Chapman and John Bachar over how bolts were placed. If you placed bolts you risked having your truck tires slashed by the anti-bolt traditionalists. There was plenty of tit for tat between the Euro-liberal-pinko-redpointing-rap-bolters and the conservative trad climbers all across the American climbing areas. Bolts went in, then they were smashed flat; then they were replaced and then removed. It was messy and ugly. We reported last July (UKC News) that one of the USA´s most notorious bolt choppers, Ken Nichols of Connecticut was forced to cease a reign of 20 years crag vandalism by legal action which included a fine, probation, being banned from certain crags and he was ordered by a judge to never chop another bolt again. It seems however that he has violated his probation and is up to his old tricks according to reports at the Rock and Ice magazine website and forums (R+I News). They report: “It is suspected Ken Nichols broke his probation and chopped again in classic Ken style, Halloween night. The Connecticut Climbers Coalition got permission from the town of Southington to bolt a crag called the Fire Wall to have a cliff in Connecticut that utilized fixed protection. Ken only took out two routes.Ken had made threats to others just days before “that something needed to be done”. Ken was also spotted at the top of the cliff just days before and quickly escaped down the trail once he was spotted. ” At the Red River Gorge, Kentucky, Joe Kinder reports another incident of bolt smashing (50 Words´ Bolts Smashed). This time the cause isn´t a dislike of bolts. In this incident a local climber got upset about a variation to an established sport route, called 50 Words For Pump an 8c+ that was climbed a year ago by Frenchman Michaël Fuselier. Bolts were then placed on a right hand variation that some thought logical. One local climber didn´t think so and last week smashed the bolts of this variation. Political Kentucky is a red state and more than likely will fall to Republican presidential hopeful, John McCain. Connecticut is a blue state and is solidly Democrat with a certain victory for Barack Obama. The new president will not turn their attention to these climbing issues, and climbers must sort out these conflicts themselves before landowners and land mangers intervene.