• TNB: Climbing's Big Mistake
  • TNB: Trad Dads and Dad Bods
  • TNB: Do the Right Thing
  • TNB: Big Wall Soloing Sustenance – Cookies vs. Bugs
  • TNB: When Your Rope Falls Off—and 5 Ways to Prevent the Nightmare
  • TNB: Before I Die - What Would Climbers Think?
  • TNB: Raphael Slawinski - Firsthand Account of Everest Earthquake
  • TNB: Point Break - Sharma, Andrada on the Big Screen
  • TNB: Muscle Shoals - Rock and Soul
  • TNB: Naked Soloist is Saner Than Me
  • TNB: The Hard Climb to Heaven
  • TNB: Summer Camp
  • TNB: Suicide in Our Sights
  • TNB: Ethan Pringle's 10 Tips for Sending Your Project
  • TNB: Hawaii Rocks - Totally Aloha
  • TNB: PointGate - Why Comp Climbing Is Not The Future
  • TNB: My First Epic
  • TNB: Eight Ways to Avoid Braking Bad - The Art of the Soft Catch
  • TNB: #Dawnwall and The Creation of Alex Honnlove
  • TNB: Vision Quest - Benji Fink and Mexico’s Steepest Big Wall
  • TNB: The New Dawn (Wall) of Climbing
  • TNB: The Top 5 Weekend Whippers of 2014 (Plus the Comments)
  • TNB: 10 Tips for Jolene Kay, Professional Climber (and Hot Actress)
  • TNB: The Story Behind the Craziest of Rescues
  • TNB: The Risk of Climbing
  • TNB: How to Get Stronger by Doing Nothing for 5 Minutes a Day
  • TNB: Eight Ways to Improve Your Footwork
  • TNB: In Praise of the Weekend Warrior
  • TNB: Joe Kinder Visits the World's Hardest Cave
  • TNB: Celebrating Insomnia in Chamonix
  • TNB: Run, Rabbit - Hermann Gollner, 71, Cranks Pump-O-Rama (5.13a)
  • TNB: Five Best Photos of 2014
  • TNB: Clip Like A Pro - 5 Tips from Sasha DiGiulian and Sean McColl
  • TNB: Five Things Every Gym Climber Must Know About Climbing Outside
  • TNB: Still Jeff Lowe
  • TNB: Moving Over Stone With Doug Robinson
  • TNB: Wheels Up—The Top 5 Climbing Rigs
  • TNB: Is K2 The New Everest?
  • TNB: Things—Besides Us, That Is—That Fall
  • TNB: When Homemade Gear Works, Sorta
  • TNB: The Outsiders
  • TNB: R.I.P. Homero Gutierrez Villarreal - The Padrino of El Potrero
  • TNB: A Short Talk with Sierra Blair-Coyle
  • TNB: Ian Dory, Ninja, or The Craziest Thing I Ever Seen
  • TNB: The Best Crag Dogs of All Time
  • TNB: 5 Ways to Make People Love Your Routes
  • TNB: Hudon and Jones, and Don't Forget It!
  • TNB: Climbing's Tribal Rites
  • TNB: Sasha DiGiulian and Alex Johnson On How to Be a Modern Pro
  • TNB: Is Dean Potter A Bad Father?
  • TNB: Silly Places We’ve Slept - Tales of Unplanned Bivies
  • TNB: Forgotten Hero - Frank Sacherer 1940-1978
  • TNB: The World-Class Weekend Warrior – Martin Keller Climbs V15
  • TNB: Everest Sherpas No Longer Willing to “Grin and Bear It”
  • TNB: Hardheaded Helmet Lesson Learned
  • TNB: Six Most Awesome Jobs for Climbers
  • TNB: The Coolest Climbing Deal Breaker
  • TNB: Sharma and Glowacz Send World’s Steepest Rock Climb
  • TNB: An Encounter with a Legend - Patrick Edlinger, Plus A Whipper Vid
  • TNB: Six Things Every Climber Should Do Before They Die
  • TNB: Falling from the Top
  • TNB: Weekend Whipper
  • TNB: Band of Crushers
  • TNB: Charlie Porter, We Hardly Knew You
  • TNB: Climbing's Greatest Route Names
  • TNB: Hot Women Die and Have Sex on Everest
  • TNB: The Great Tragedy at Carderock
  • TNB: Thoughts On Death, and Last Words
  • TNB: Climbing's Next Big Story
  • TNB: Next Level? Honnold Pushes the Game on El Sendero Luminoso
  • TNB: Jeff Lowe Invented the Sport
  • TNB: The Most Popular Weekend Whippers of the Year
  • TNB: If Ondra Isn't The Best Climber In The World, Who Is?
  • TNB: Storm Years or Typhoon? The Biggest Issue in Climbing
  • TNB: Jim Bridwell Speaks
  • TNB: Honnold's Biggest Solo
  • TNB: Death on Forbidden Peak - Was the NPS Complicit?
  • TNB: Ice Climbing Goes to Sochi Olympics
  • TNB: When Gear Attacks
  • TNB: 8a.nu: The Best Climber in the World is the One with the Most Points
  • TNB: Shutdown: Illegal Climbers in Yosemite—Ninjas or Criminals?
  • TNB: Who is the Best Climber in the World?
  • TNB: The New Courage in a Rucksack
  • TNB: Unsolved Mystery - The Ten Sleep Shooting
  • TNB: The Pad Problem - Honnold, Kehl on Headpoints and Highballs
  • TNB: Travels with Delaney Miller - National Champ Turns to Rock
  • TNB: Jail Food and Booty
  • TNB: Love on the Road
  • TNB: Is Pakistan Safe for Climbers?
  • TNB: Flash Floods, Climbers and How to Get Out of the Way
  • TNB: Climbing's Next Level
  • TNB: Best in Show - Brand New Gear from the Outdoor Retailer Show
  • TNB: Adam Ondra Ties the Knot
  • TNB: Under Pressure - Trotter and Honnold On How Bets Can Help You Send
  • TNB: The Tragedy of Tito Traversa
  • TNB: DR's Crazy Brain Puzzle. Get It Correct or Else.
  • TNB: What Happened To Climbing Films?
  • TNB: Cry of the Colorado Fussy Snivel
  • TNB: Mystery Solved!
  • TNB: The Mystery of Moses Tower - Help Answer a 25-Year-Old Question
  • TNB: No Such Luck
  • TNB: Erasing Midnight Lightning
  • TNB: Mayhem - Crawling, Balling & Brawling on the Evere$t Soap Opera
  • TNB: Watching the Boston Marathon
  • TNB: Chasing the Devil's Snort
  • TNB: Born-Again Gumby
  • TNB: Super Unknown - Austin Dark Horse Establishes 5.14d in Random Texas Cave
  • TNB: Fearless?
  • TNB: The Big Freaking Deal, Ain't Bouldering
  • TNB: Honnold's Achilles' Heel
  • TNB: He's Either Crazy or a Poet
  • TNB: The Fish Cheat and the Prince of Climbing
  • TNB: A Letter from Santa... I mean Sharma
  • TNB: Traveler's Advisory - El Potrero Chico, Mexico
  • TNB: A Year Ago - Athol
  • TNB: Gun Control
  • TNB: What's the Problem?
  • TNB: Derek Hersey's Magic Carpet
  • TNB: The Apprentices
  • TNB: The Jungle
  • TNB: Klem Loskot is Back Climbing V15 and 5.15
  • TNB: Eliminated
  • TNB: The Hurt Locker
  • TNB: The Perils of Sport Climbing
  • TNB: Baddest Climb of the Year
  • TNB: Crossfit Misfit
  • TNB: Eating People and the Real Seventh Summit
  • TNB: Bring It On, Bitch!
  • TNB: What Would Warren Harding Do?
  • TNB: The Curse Of The Bandit
  • TNB: Reality Pro
  • TNB: Chris Sharma and The Art of Jeep Maintenance
  • TNB: American Dirtbag
  • TNB: How Not To Climb 5.12
  • TNB: Project FAIL
  • TNB: The Backwards Future of Climbing
  • TNB: The Death of Progress
  • TNB: The Da Vinci CO
  • TNB: The Philosopher King
  • TNB: Spam Alert
  • TNB: Bad Genes - The Different Types of Gumbies
  • TNB: Mouth Wide Shut
  • TNB: Outside Reality
  • TNB: The Day I Saved Jésus
  • TNB: My Pad, Your Problem
  • TNB: House Rules
  • TNB: Five Things I Don't Hate About Climbing
  • TNB: Metro-Pointing
  • TNB: Beast in the East
  • TNB: Artificial Intelligence
  • TNB: To Boldly Go Sprad Climbing
  • TNB: Self-Destruction
  • TNB: Soul Sport
  • TNB: Nine Pitches
  • Video Spotlight
    Alex Honnold Solos Lover's Leap in Dan Osman Tribute
    Alex Honnold Solos Lover's Leap in Dan Osman Tribute
    Whipper of the Month
    Weekend Whipper: Alastair McDowell's Los Indignados (M7) Screamer
    Weekend Whipper: Alastair McDowell's Los Indignados (M7) Screamer

    TNB: 5 Ways to Make People Love Your Routes


    The author on his route, <em>Via Viva</em> (5.12c). Located 30 minutes up an undeveloped trail, this sandbagged route with an un-ironic name, will never see a second ascent. Photo by Duane Raleigh. I put up my first route in 1977. It was a crappy, 30-foot line that climbed a crumbling cliff of shale just downstream from a sausage plant. To call the cliff “loose” would be like calling George W. Bush “dim.” I excavated the hand and footholds with a geology hammer as I went and pounded in railroad spikes I’d picked up off the nearby tracks—not into cracks, mind you, but directly into the decomposing mud/rock. I called the route Eiger II.

    Why did I throw my 13-year-old self into such an absurd adventure? Well, I’d read about climbing in a book called In High Places, and Dougal Haston was always doing first ascents so I thought that’s what I should be doing, too. Plus, there were no other established climbs within five hours of Plano, Texas, where I lived, so if I wanted to climb, I had to make my own routes.

    Since then I’ve established hundreds of climbs from shit piles to lauded classics, but in the interim between that first POS and my latest masterPOS, my motivation has changed. Now I don’t do first ascents because I have to or for fame or because I’m obsessed. I equip them for you, dear climber.

    Here’s a little secret: First ascentionists just want to be loved. All us guys with our drills, haulbags of hardware and oozing knuckle gobies are secretly pining for the kind of affirmation someone gave me the other day (after chastising me for not using stainless steel bolts). “You’ve put up some pretty good routes, I guess,” he said.

    That’s the kind of statement that melts a first ascentionist’s heart. When all’s said and done, that’s what keeps our drills spinning. Trust me, praise like that is rare indeed. People are far more likely to point out your routes’ faults than utter a word of admiration, but a compliment to a first ascentionist is like a pat on an unctuous dog’s head.

    The love. Wag, wag. Show me the love.

    After almost 40 years of doing first ascents I’ve learned a few things about climbers and what they like in a route. So for those who, like me, are looking for a little love, I’ve summarized the 5 most important ways to make people love your routes.

    1. Make it accessible.

    Location, location! Rule number one for establishing routes that everyone will love is to locate your climb no more than 10 minutes from the parking area. The quality of the rock can have an inverse proportion to the time it takes to reach the base. Take the Arsenal in Rifle as an example. Despite the fact that entire sections of this roadside wall have fallen off, bolts and all, I’ve actually heard it described as “beautiful rock.”

    If your climb is located more than 10 minutes away from the road, you will need to resort to advanced trail making. Simply stamping out a path will not suffice. You will need to clear away all vegetation that might brush against the bare arms of approaching climbers or potentially snag their packs. If the crag is uphill, you’ll need to construct switchbacks and stairs out of treated 4x4s and rebar stakes. Don’t forget to mark any confusing passages with cairns. Remember, if someone gets lost on the way to your route, or breaks a sweat, they will inevitably tell others that the crag is a shitpile. If your crag is 20 minutes off the road, you’ll need to supply cold lemonade. If your crag is located 30 (or more) minutes off the road and at the top of a steep hill, no one will ever climb there no matter how much work you put into the trail.

    2. Clean it.

    You may not realize it by looking at their cars, or by the eau-de-roadtrip armpit stank lingering around their discarded t-shirts, but sport climbers are incredibly fastidious people. To satisfy the whims of today’s climbers, you’ll need to thoroughly swab every inch of rock within swinging distance of the bolt line. Start by removing any loose (or loose-looking) flakes with a pry bar. Keep in mind that sport climbers scare easily. If your route has a firmly attached piece of rock on it that appears loose, pry that sucker off, because if a climber gets scared on your route (see #3) they will pronounce it a shitpile. After you remove any loose-looking rock, sweep the face with a hand broom, then take a wire brush and scrub off all stubborn debris. Then use a large-gauge plastic tube to blow away any dust. Then use a small wire brush and small-gauge tube to plumb any pockets. Then do it all again … and again, until not a speck of dust remains on the mirror of your climb, because if a sport climber touches dust, dirt, lichen, moss, bird poop or a loose flake on your route, they will tell everyone that the route is a shitpile.

    3. Overbolt it.

    Back in the 1970s, climbing’s cognoscenti had ruled that bolts must be used only as a last resort. I learned to climb at Enchanted Rock near Austin, Texas, and at Quartz Mountain in Oklahoma, areas where face climbs might have one bolt every 50 feet—if you were lucky. However, as mentioned above, today’s sport climbers frighten easily and the rules have changed. Many of the routes I cut my teeth on have been retro-bolted to assuage the fragile psyches of today’s climbers. These days, bolts are placed no more than a body-length apart when the climbing is challenging. If you choose to engineer run outs into your sport climb (i.e. pass up obvious stances where a climber could clip a bolt), and allow today’s squeamish tribe to experience a jolt of fear, they will pronounce your climb a shitpile and call you an asshole in the comments on Mountain Project. My rule of thumb is to bolt a climb so that I feel perfectly safe at all times—and then add a couple.

    4. Overgrade it.

    Concomitant with the fact that sport climbers scare easily is the psychological detail that they have very fragile egos. If you wish to be loved by them you must coddle their desire to appear mighty. Therefore, let this rule be burned into your heart like a brand: Thou shall not sandbag. I’ve had excellent results with taking the grade I feel the route to be and adding a letter grade (or two). Do this and people will love your route. Ignore this advice and people will label your route a shitpile.

    5. Give it a Funny Name.

    We’re living in the age of irony. My original route, Eiger II, the short, scruffy climb near the pig farm, was actually perfectly named if I’d been trying to be ironic. I wasn’t, but you get the idea. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Even though you’ve spent days and lots of money making a trail, equipping, cleaning and sending your climb, it’s time to let go. I think it was Arthur Rimbaud, the French poet, who wrote that all works of art are flowers for the void. So breathe and smile through your tears when it’s time to say goodbye. Give your baby a funny name and send her out into the world with a grin. Thunderballs, Super Garbage or I Can’t Believe It’s Not Better are all appropriate names. Remember, if you appear to take yourself too seriously, people will attack you on Mountain Project and tag your climb a shitpile.

    Reader's Commentary:

    Don't want to use Facebook, but still want to comment? We have you covered:

    Add Your Comments to this article: