Paolo Vitali & Sonja Brambati
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The ALPINE JOURNAL 1997, Edited by Johanna Merz, published jointly by THE ALPINE CLUB & THE ERNEST PRESS. 

Bolting in the Alpine Enviroment. Paolo Vitali. 
I have been climbing now for sixteen years and inevitably I bave been influenced by developing trends in all their different Alpine Journal 1997 Covermanifestations.These range from big classic climbs in the Alps and lighweight Himalayan expeditions, to sport-climbing on local crags, modern bolt-equipped mountain routesi and, most recently, the challenge of new routes, ground to top, with the aid of power-drills. Although I bave been involved in all these different experiences, I would still regard myself as a 'classic' climber. By that I mean that I put a high value on the achievements of the past and share with my predecessors their love of wide-ranging motintain activity, discovery and adventure. At the same time, I try to reinterpret traditional alpinism in a more modern sryle, uninfluenced by preconceived ideas. 
I have never climbed in the UK but I bave read certain articles indicating a consensus opinion that routes, both long and short, should be left in their original state. I have to say that your persistence, in the UK, in refusing any kind of sure and lasting protecrien baffles me! Afrer all, yeu no longer climb with hemp ropes and iron crabs.  In Italy, where climbers have traditionally been ultra-conservative, only 15-18 years ago it would have been censidered cheating to use modem rock boots instead 
of classic mountain boots! Since climbing styles inevitably evolve over time, I find your continued resistance to bolts perplexing. Though such classic protagonists as Cassin, Comici, Solleder, are thought of as the personification of perfect pure style, it seems likely that they would have used bolts if bolts had existed at that time. How can anyone be sure? Today we go climbing to enjoy ourselves and not to indulge in boring controversies. We have no wish to suffer in order to win some nebulous prize which, so 
far as I know, has never been precisely defined. Of course one has to be audacious to climb without permanent protection, but boldness and self-challenge do not necessarily enhance climbing ability. 
Whatever grading system is used, I believe it should be absolutely objective and must not be adjusted to take account of altitude, protection or lack of  it, and so on. These external elements can, of course, have a strong influence on both our psychological reactions and our physical performance, but they should not be taken into account in evaluating a route's 
grading: a 6b must be the same standard of difficulty on a crag two metres above a bolts as it would be 30 metres from the last point of protection on a big wall. 
The evolution of technical aids has brought with it complex ethical and ecological problems which cannot be ignored. I concede that there may be a case  for leaving certain crags in their natural state, if equipping them with bolts would cause an undue amount of ecological damage. Also, I am prepared to listen to arguments put forward by those people who are themselves capable of climbing at a very high level without using bolts. But I cannot give much weight to criticism from people who have 
never actually climbed on a bolted route. 
Lots of classic routes in the Alps have dangereusly widely-spaced belay points and worn out abseseil anchors. Sometimes it is possible to place camming devices as interim protection, but this is not always the case, especially on those popular classics whiere long queues of climbers build up at every belay. I cannot see what the objection is to equipping at least the belay points with good long-lasting belts and rings, which would surely be less polluting than the ugly mass of rusting iron that is often to be found en these routes. Moreover, the concept of 'pure style' is too often confused with excessive risk-taking. I am not convinced about the merits of a ctimbing style that refuses to use a bolt, come what may, on highly dangcrous routes. In the Dolomites, especially, some routes have been created which are virtually unrepeatable cxcept by those of a near-kamikaze 
state of mind. In the Swiss Alps, where I climb at grade French 7a/7b, I have come to realize that a sensible use of bolts can eliminate almost all (but not quit all) the risks of a fatal fall. And the climbing can be just as adventurous! A modern route with well-spaced bolts on otherwise unprotectable compact slabs can actually be more bold than a hard classic without bolts! Of course I don't advocate a total reduction of risk by indiscriminately  perforating a wall with bolts. At the same time, adventure in the mountains does not, for me, involve playing a game of chance with my life. 
I believe that, with a mixture of experrence and good judgement, one can use bolts responsibly, never employing them where they would be unnecessary or banal but reserving them for situations where, on the contrary, they avoid unjustifiable risk. It is really a question of integrity, and those who use bolts without that quality will soon forfeit the good opinion of their fellow climbers. 
A word about myself: I train relentlessly, both on indoor  climbing walls and on crags, to raise and maintain my level of fitness and  technical ability.To try to calibrate very exactly the protection that I need, neither placing too much nor leaving excessively long run-outs except when these are attainable, within my level of ability, without undue risk. 
My approach to climbing new routes has changed during the last few years. I used to try to place as few belts as possible, even on the compact slabs of the Val di Mello, where there is little or no opportunity for placing natural protection. Even when equipped with bolts, these routes are highly dangerous. When they were repeated, some very leng falls were taken and 
that made me stop and think. Today I try to identify as much as I can with potential repeaters of my routes and, conversely, I bear in mind  how I myself, as a repeater would like to find the routes. In general, I try to make my new routes basically safe. 
To be specific I supply two bolts at belays and one bolt for protection at the beginning of each pitch; in this way the most 
dangerous falls are prevented. The hardest moves of a climb still have to be climbed, of course, but, where possible I avoid long run-outs. On the easier sections, where it is very possible to stray of-route, I often put in a balt 'for direction'. On the campact slabs of the Mello and Qualido these  directional bolts are very useful, because it is quite possible te make a catastrophic and 
irreversible move to a dead point from which there is no way forward. 
These rules, which I like to formulate in theory, have to be adapted to the varying circumstances and types of terrain to be found in the  actual Alpine environment. For instance, rules that I would consider appropriate on smaller crags are not necessarily applicable on big mauntain routes.Moreover, there is no doubt that many people enjoy repeating certain routes which, like Another Day in Paradise, I not consider to be overbolted. Sometimes 'repeaters' even suggest that I should place more bolts 
rather than less, forgetting that to increase the number of bolts placed, and the number of stops necessary to place them, must involve added fatigue and stress. Today, if I were putting up new reutes on Badile and Qualido, I would try to apply bolts with more discretion, while accepting thiat  oihers may prefer a different style. 
Until three years ago I didn't have a power drill and always climbed from ground to top, stopping for hand-bolting when possible. In this way i was only able to manage a cauple of hard pitches in a day and, even then, my wrists would ache from tiredness and probably prevent me from climbing the next day. Now I have a small power-drill, with a 12-volt elcetrical battery, 
which I carry, while climbing, in a holster on my back. I can now use stronger l0 mm bolts instead of the older and weaker 8mm anos I used in the past, and I can achieve more pitches in a day because of  the quicker drilling. 
I woužd ask some of the people who are so vocal in in their criticism of bolting whether they have ever actually tried to apply a drill while keeping their balance on small holds, or whether they have climbed on unexplored rock, carrying the heavy weight of the neeessary gear, without being sure if or where they would be able to stop These activities are certainly not easy options. They require a surprising amount of skill, energy and balance, especially where the wall is vertical or averhanging, and with 
the everpresent risk af folling with a 15cm burning bit in your hand! 
I suggest that a visit to some of the wonderful new centres of modern climbing in Switzerland - at Wenden, Ratikon, Offen, or the Qualido Wall - would provide people with such an enjoyable experience that their fixed ideas might be changed for ever.