It's Right to be Wrong.

OKAY, so since nobody e-mailed me about the path, yet they still want to use fake names and bitch about why they're right. I will take 15 minutes and scribble about the climb in my own words.

The Gripped B&B has now gotten over 6000 hits and nearly 110 posts. I think that's terrific, because open discussion is wonderful, it goes to show that we as a climbing community still don't have our shit figured out and the truth is we never will. Because climbing is freedom, there are no hard and fast rules, some people still think chipping holds is okay, and that is up to them to decide. We climb because we feel free doing it, probably for the same reasons most of us ski or snowboard. I never liked organized sports because there were way too many rules, in gymnastics we were JUDGED by the way our performance looked to a group of well dressed people. What a load of crap. Nobody wants to be judged. Do they?

What's interesting about climbing is that there are a thousand different variables that determine what sort of decisions the climber or the climbers should make, and all sorts of issue's need to be taken into consideration. I don't think it's possible to label a set of rules for everyone and every climb to follow, that would take away what we all love so much about climbing and most of us would probably quit, or we would go to places were there were no people. Climbing to me is freedom. Freedom to move, freedom to think, freedom to travel, freedom to explore and I don't care if I sound like I'm quoting Braveheart or some other cheesy movie, it's true. And I don't care what people say about me and my decisions to climb, I am not effected – I know why I do what I do and there is not a soul on this planet that can tell me otherwise. And if I cared so much about what other people think, I probably wouldn't be doing any of this. I do it because I love it.

Maybe I WAS wrong to remove the bolts, I suppose that is up for YOU to decide. I thought long and hard about what I did and after reviewing it even further, I'd do it again in a second. But, you should know all the details and different variables before you make a decision.

So far, Wall Crawler and Bigwood are the winners on the Gripped site, (in his/her mind at least) HE/SHE is right, and HE/SHE knows they're right. There is no point in talking to them. It's like Christianity VS. Evolution. They refuse to see the other side and will take those thoughts to their grave. I do feel bad for those people.

However, because false facts still get thrown around, I will share with everyone what I know about the climb.

Five or Ten years ago, the talented and well respected climber, Ben Firth was interested in many different styles and one style that he enjoyed was hard trad. Now don't confuse hard trad with headpointing. Headpointing, is the art of climbing a route in which you may die or get seriously injured if you fall off. Therefore it is rehearsed into complete submission to ensure a high rate of success. Also, don't think that hard trad has to be 5.13 or 5.14, it doesn't. Hard trad is anything so long as it feels hard for you, if your limit is 5.10 sport than 5.10 trad feels pretty damn hard, and that's the whole point.

If the climb is traditional, maybe slightly runout in sections but is generally very safe it is still just trad climbing. It does not have to be a splitter crack to be a trad climb. Just because it has face climbing moves, does NOT mean that it should most definitely be bolted. Anyway, back to the story

Ben went up and he found three or maybe four directional bolts, those old Mammut angles I think it was. He was intrigued because it was the last great project at the back of the lake, and it is a striking feature, the most beautiful and intimidating wall. He went up with a hand drill and started working, and if anyone has ever drilled with a hand drill they know how much work it really is, now try and imagine doing this in quartzite. You will either break the hammer or you'll break your wrist. Whichever one comes first. P.A. a local developer saw what the young lad was doing and offered him his drill. Ben later abandoned the climb declaring it a bit too hard for me at that time, which is not to say that he couldn't do it today, I know he could.

Derek Galloway of Banff attempted the route a few years ago and he too left it for someone else and that was likely the last effort put into the climb before I jumped on it. Again, not to say that Derek couldn't climb it, in fact, I think he could do it very fast, but as of this year, he doesn't trust natural gear, yet, of course that will all change next spring when we go out and I make him lead Extra Dry 5.9.

Back to the story

This spring I ran into Ben Firth at the climbing gym, he told me all the details about the climb, or what he could remember anyway, and he was the first person who suggested that maybe the bolts should be pulled and it should be climbed on natural gear. When I got on the climb, it was still dirty and needed some TLC. I first saw the route about five or six years ago, I've wanted to try it ever since. I first went up using the bolts, yes, but on the second day I realized that Ben was correct, there was enough gear to protect the climb safely and easily. It is rated – R, but NOT – R/X or – X. There is absolutely NO chance of injury.

On my third day out, I rapped in, (instead of ground up on bolts) and placed all the gear I needed and started from the ground on top rope without using the bolts. I only used the bolts for day one and then day two. I never touched them again. After day three I knew the climb was very much possible, I also knew there were at least three or four bolts that were placed in the wrong spots. So on day four, I came back, rapped in alone and only using natural removable gear, I pulled the bolts. This way the climber is free to move around and not confined to the original line that was in fact the path of most resistance.

I top-roped the climb that same day (day four) and on day five went into the sharp end. I needed four more days to redpoint the climb. I fell off the climb often on many different sections but I never once pulled a piece of gear or got injured. I remind all of you that the climb is safe, well protected, obvious, natural and beautiful. I have climbed dozens and dozens of bolt protected climbs on natural gear because they seemed like a fun thing to do, I am sure many of us have, but I refused to remove those bolts as they were not my climbs and therefore I had no right in doing so. I climbed 'Wicked Gravity' entirely on gear (which by the way is the most dangerous part of the whole climb) on my way up to gain the base of Path, but I didn't chop those bolts because they are not mine to chop. The Path was NOT an established route, just because somebody thought bolting it was a good idea 20 years ago, does not make it permanent. By this standard, it is being suggested that all someone needs to do in order to establish a climb is drill it? I understand it takes vision to see a new line, but true vision also requires thoughtfulness. All I want to suggest here is that before we make changes, before we chip, glue, slash, trash or before we go around slamming in a thousand bolts on every wall, stop and think about other possibilities, about how or why you are going to do what you do, and if you still think it's a good idea then go for it and good luck.

One last thing.

Just because it's rated 5.14 people think I'm an elitist and it's only for me. Why don't you please stop for a second and think about the future of climbing, try if you can to imagine some youth climbers of today who value traditional ethics, who in three to five years will be strong enough to climb these routes ground up. Try just for a second to t
hink outside the bolts, er, I mean the box.

Here is a passage I found from the creative genius known as Paul Arden, I thought this may be interesting.

It's wrong to be right.

Being right is based upon knowledge and experience and is often provable. Knowledge comes from the past, so it's safe. It is also out of date. It's the opposite of originality.

Experience is built from solutions to old situations and problems. The old situations are probably different from the present ones, so that old solutions will have be bent to fit new problems (and possibly fit badly). Also the likelihood is that, if you've got the experience, you'll probably use it. This is lazy.

Experience is the opposite of being creative.

If you can prove you are right, you're set in stone. You cannot move with the times or with other people. Being right is also being boring. Your mind is closed. You are not open to new ideas. You are rooted in your own rightness, which is arrogant. Arrogance is a valuable tool, but only if used very sparingly.

Worst of all, being right has a tone of morality about it. To be anything else sounds weak or fallible, and people who are right would hate to be thought fallible.

So it's wrong to be right, because people who are right are rooted in the past, rigid minded, dull and smug. There is no talking to them.

It's right to be wrong.

Start being wrong and suddenly anything is possible. You're no longer trying to be infallible. You're in the unknown. There's no way of knowing what can happen, but there's more chance of it being amazing than if you try to be right.

Of course, being wrong is a risk.

People worry about suggesting stupid ideas because of what others will think. Risks are a measure of people. People who won't take them are trying to preserve what they have. People who do take them often end up by having more. Some risks have a future, and some people call them wrong. But being right may be like walking backwards proving where you've been. Being wrong isn't in the future or in the past. Being wrong isn't anywhere but being right here, the best place to be.

Paul Arden

A picture of one of the old bolts. I’m sure it’s fine and dandy, but personally, I’d rather whip onto a bomber cam than this.

  • Suzanne

    You know what Sonnie? I wouldn’t even worry about it anymore. You’ve gone to great lengths trying to justify your actions, and like you say, if no one can be bothered to contact you directly or read about why you did as you did (all explained by you quite clearly at the bottom of your page I notice), then that’s their problem, more than yours I’d say.

    Your point: So far, Wall Crawler and Bigwood are the winners on the Gripped site, (in his/her mind at least) HE/SHE is right, and HE/SHE knows they%u2019re right. There is no point in talking to them. It%u2019s like Christianity VS. Evolution. They refuse to see the other side and will take those thoughts to their grave. I do feel bad for those people.

    Yes, I agree, and there are many more just like them who never give up, or want to reason otherwise. Similarly, Johnas likes to invite trouble for me I notice, I feel sorry for people like him more, whoever he really is (hiding behind a user name), but ignoring them in the end is best; sometimes they just want you to ‘bite’.

    If anyone wants to judge and differ on what you did; so be it. You can’t please everyone, such is life! You shouldn’t let it bother you too much, majority see it for what it was I’d say. Let it go, they should too. Otherwise it will go on and on, and the end result is..

    we all fall asleep 😉

    It’s done, leave it behind, move on I’d say. You know who your real friends are, and the majority who support and agree with what you did; so focus on that, leave the rest behind. Yes, “Sod them” .. 😉

  • Sonnie,

    You have felt the wrath of the climbing community %u2013 it%u2019s really supportive and uplifting %u2026 Not that it matters from a middle-aged over the hill sport climber, but here are some thoughts. This is not to stroke %u201CSunshine%u201D or a demonize %u201CSunshine%u201D (Yes, leblank still refers to Sonnie as sunshine).

    To all who critique, whether you like the methods or dislike %u2013 Sonnie cleaned, scoped, figured, solved and sent the route now known as the %u201CPath%u201D. He did it in the best way he thought the route deserved and that%u2019s %u2013 headpoint. He sent and that%u2019s pretty much all that is needed to be said. If you are super offended to the fact that it was headpointed, then you should have gotten to the wall first and built it the way you wanted. If it still really irks you, then leave it alone %u2013 %u2018cause it%u2019ll continue to irk and eat at you. Climbers excel at nullifying others%u2019 ascents and accomplishments it%u2019s almost what %u201Cwe%u201D do best. This is often the climbers%u2019 maxim; if you can%u2019t do it, then how could another do it?

    Some thoughts for you on the %u201Cscene%u201D try not to let it get to you %u2013 the Gripped BB is pretty much a soap opera of wishers and wannabes and often ill-informed. As for the chastising %u2013 get used to it, you may get threatened, asked to meet at the bike rack at 3pm, get your gear stolen, get lectured by some old-guy, or youngster gunning for you. These are the unspoken pleasures of FAs, new routes, areas and pushing the envelope %u2013 %u2018cause some sure love their corners and don%u2019t want them moved.

    Sunshine, nice work, not that you need the stroke %u2013 the headpoint, scary, intimidating and daunting, a fine addition to the Canadian scene.

    Read the BBs and use them for entertainment as the soaps they are.

    Cheers, JD

  • NoahZ

    Hey Sonnie, good points, I enjoyed reading that.

  • Kevin Watson

    Thank you for removing that old mank, you did everyone a favor, I only wish there was as much of a reaction when bolts are indescriminately placed in the name of *sport* as they so often are, right next to obvious natural gear placements.

    To all the naysayers; please go to the back of the lake and repeat the route first, then write an actual informed account of why you think these bolts (mank)should have remained in place.

    Sonnie, nice work.. but don’t you know that you’re supposed to be clipping bolts at that grade? Who do you think you are actually placing gear in this modern age of rap-grid-bolting?

    PS: If you have a few of those style of old hangers, I’d love one for my “Historic Gear” collection!

  • Sonnie Trotter


    JD, thanks for your comments, your voice is taken in high regard and I really hope to see you up at the Flail next summer.

    Noah, I’m so glad you found intersting points in what I wrote, sometimes you wonder if anyone actually reads this crap, and if I’m doing more harm than good by being honest, but from all the e-mails I’ve gotten from friends and supporters, I feel pretty okay about it all. Thanks for the note.

    Kevin, yes, it was a fun route indeed and placing the gear just seemed to make it all the more enjoyable. Let me look around and see what I can dig up, I know I have at least four of those sucker hangers lying around somewhere. If I can come up with an extra one, you’ll be the first to know.



  • Peter

    Hey Sonnie,

    I stumbled upon this entry when I read a chapter in “Climbing, Philosophy for Everyone.” Thanks for the great read. It added some insight to my own personal climbing experiences. I look forward to seeing the line if I’m by Lake Louise next year!

    – Peter