There was long thread
recently about the East Ridge of Temple getting retro-bolted. Parks Canada did most--but not all--of the bolting, and posted their rationale on the same thread. I've pasted their statement below.
I closed the Temple thread as the bolting is quite a lot more widespread than just Temple; perhaps having a more open and possibly less aggro new thread will provoke some good discussion.
Personally, I don't think I know enough about who is doing the bolting and why on what routes to really form an opinion on the subject yet. I now know who bolted Temple, but was the bolting on Babel, Castle, etc. also Parks Canada? The ethics discussions are one thing, but in general around here there's a tradition of sharing what you've done on new and existing routes with the community. A lot of the retro-bolting hasn't been shared at all; the bolts just appear, mostly on commonly guided routes. This lack of transparency and lack of communication about the reasons for doing the bolting puts those doing the bolting in the shadows. It's just not honest and upfront with the climbing community, and I think that's what bothers me more than the actual bolting.
We'll all have opinions on what Parks Canada (and the "mystery bolters" ) did on Temple, and on other routes. To me it's not black and white even if generally I'm not for wholesale retrofitting of long-established routes. However, I'm not going to chop the bolts and am against that idea, I've seldom seen chopping result in anything good for the rock.
From Parks Canada’s Visitor Safety Team:
Parks Canada is responsible for placing eight ring bolt stations and one protection bolt on the East Ridge of Mt. Temple last season (2011). Three stations were placed on the Big Step and five stations were placed in the Black Towers gully. In a previous season, climbers unknown to Parks Canada placed between two and four bolts, and a number of pitons in random locations in the Black Towers gully. These were most likely placed to facilitate anchors in locations where gear placements were minimal.Background
For decades Parks Canada has made enhancements to anchors on popular alpine routes throughout the Mountain National Parks, usually in the wake of a serious accident, an emerging pattern of rescues, or significantly increased traffic on the route. These actions are always discussed among park rescue teams beforehand, and are done in the best interests of mountain safety.
In some cases where updating of anchors took place, there was a noticeable downturn in accidents and rescues, both of which are in the interests of Parks Canada. We are aware that the biggest tangible benefits of anchor replacement are not necessarily the strength of the anchors themselves, but that fixed and well located stations facilitate easier routefinding, more protected belays and faster ascents - all of which increase safety. At the same time, we are aware that the downside of fixed stations is that they may lure less experienced climbers into places they should not go, they may further increase traffic on the route, and that the seriousness and adventure value of the route is significantly reduced.
It is always a balancing act between safety and respect for the traditional values of alpinism, and for that reason Parks Canada takes a very serious approach to these matters. In recognizing the broad cross-section of people who use the backcountry, we understand that not all climbers will support our decisions to improve their safety. Therefore, only select routes are considered for anchor improvement on a case-by-case basis. Our Program
Our Visitor Safety program engages in two equally important roles to achieve our mandate of reducing the frequency and severity of mountain accidents; these roles are Prevention and Search & Rescue. Prevention is our ongoing work to educate people, provide information and improve mountain safety in order to avoid the need for Search & Rescue. Search & Rescue is what happens when Prevention fails.
Some examples of Prevention work for climbers are: avalanche bulletins, avalanche terrain ratings for waterfall ice climbs, ongoing public consultation with our Visitor Safety Specialists, public posting of photos and mountain conditions reports, scrambler and climber’s guides to Mt. Temple, Cascade, Rundle and Sir Donald, and anchor improvement projects as described above – to name a few.
We do all of this to lessen the chance that we will be called upon to rescue people in distress, and to hopefully make for a more informed and enjoyable day out in the national park.
However, despite these efforts many climbers do run into trouble and that is why we maintain a professional search & rescue team, staffed by highly trained climbers and mountain guides. In undertaking technical rescue, our staff are regularly placed in high risk situations due to the unfortunate locations that climbers can find themselves in. While we are trained for this, we want to avoid this and therefore if we can help to steer people in the right direction, we will do so.Rationale for Mt. Temple
The East Ridge of Mt. Temple has become a very popular route. Accidents and rescues, recurring on an annual basis, have prompted Parks Canada to re-examine these occurrences. Prior to last summer’s anchor replacement job, our staff responded to the East Ridge (again), and conducted a complex rescue operation to retrieve two climbers in the Black Towers. This incident in particular prompted discussion among the park rescue team, and it was decided that it was appropriate to install anchors for the following reasons:
1. Climbers will be less likely to climb up the wrong gully in the Black Towers
2. Well located anchors will offer better protection from the rockfall that results from multiple parties on the route
3. Fixed anchors will facilitate faster ascents subsequently making them safer
4. Fixed anchors will enable the route to accommodate multiple parties in a safer manner
We respect that not everyone will agree with our decision to install fixed stations on the East Ridge of Temple. There have been many valid points expressed on this forum, and we thank everyone for their frank opinions. We ask now that you please respect our work, and do not remove those anchors from Mt. Temple. Indeed, they have changed the character of the route forever, of that we will all agree - but times change; highly popular climbing routes naturally evolve and mature into established classics travelled by many.
Parks Canada’s Visitor Safety Team