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Closed Projects

Posted on 01. Jun, 2011 by in News

With all of the attention to all of the new bouldering here in Colorado, one issue that comes up is the idea of a closed project.

Say for example (and the example I give is pure fiction), I spent three days hiking around an obscure corner of the Indian Peaks Wilderness, which is just south of RMNP. I spent 3 previous nights on Google Earth for an hour each and on the third night I stumbled upon an image I felt deserved a real life visit. As it just so happens, after several hours of hiking in ankle deep snow, subsequently soaking my shoes, I stumble upon an awesome glacial erratic with an incredible V12 roof project. Being the motivated climber that I am, I have a wire brush, several soft brushes for cleaning the boulder, and a sockball for chalking the holds. I spend a few hours getting dirty, and removing the moss, lichen and maybe a loose block on top, which happen to cut my finger. Realizing this amazing line is too tall to clean, even after trying to clean the holds by climbing up an adjacent tree, I return to Boulder. The next day I bring up a rope, harness, ascender, and Gri-Gri, make the hour hike back to the boulder and spend another two hours cleaning. I am worn out from the effort, and decided to hike around some more. I find nothing new, and return a third day to begin trying the problem. The day goes well. I climb all the moves and it seems like, although it will be a challenge, it appears to be one I can manage. On the fourth day I get a call from a friend, Climber X, who says, “Hey, what have you been up to? We should go climbing!”. Not being one to keep things from my friends, I tell Climber X I found an amazing new boulder and she should come with me to check it out. I know that Climber X will almost certainly climb the line faster than I will, and in taking her there I will lose the fruit of my effort. But I may also get new beta from Climber X which could help me climb the problem more quickly, I will certainly enjoy the company of a friend, and it will be nice to have her crashpad and motivation.

So what should happen? Who should do the climb first? The parameters can change as well to complicate things. Perhaps I spent only one day of cleaning. Perhaps we were hiking together and came upon it. Do I have the right to “close” the project and if so for how long? Should boulders, because they lack the relative financial investment, remain free game, no matter what? Should my friendship with Climber X be tied to her and my interest to climb the line? If I tell Climber X “The project is closed”, am I holding back the progression of the sport, or have earned the right to have time to send it? And what if Climber X was someone I didn’t know?

Keep in mind that this example is completely fictional. Thoughts?

45 Responses to “Closed Projects”

  1. beau

    01. Jun, 2011

    why is climber X a girl, who are you trying to lure into the woods?

  2. Beau

    01. Jun, 2011

    No, but seriously, Just call dibs.

  3. michael

    01. Jun, 2011

    <—— is always ready for a troll to start trolling

  4. Gomez

    01. Jun, 2011

    Closed projects are lame.

  5. sammy d

    01. Jun, 2011

    I don’t care if its been done before. If i’m working it you better not get your greasy fingers on my project

  6. hayden

    01. Jun, 2011

    first of all, damn, 30 minutes and five posts. b3 be blowing up.

    second, as someone who has cleaned a number of hard lines that i have not be able to complete, these should always be shared. if for no other reason then that working out a new line with someone else is more fun. i like the challenge of figuring out something and working it out with another person is always more interesting.

    what is comes down to is pretty boy, swag. some people want is all for themselves. others just wanna shout it out from the 2nd story window.

    swag swag swag.

    and $&@& lebron.

  7. Maxim

    01. Jun, 2011

    Can I retweet this comment?? “Did he just say SWAG?”


    Chris Bosh would almost climb this project. and then uprate it.

  8. LG2

    01. Jun, 2011

    It seems to me, ego drives many who wish to close any project to anyone that resides on public lands. Just because they got there first and put some effort into cleaning doesn’t mean it can’t be climbed first by others. If you own the land, do whatever you like. We all own our public spaces. Climb harder and send it or embrace the beauty of watching someone else get the feeling of a first ascent.

  9. Adam

    01. Jun, 2011

    No need to close it, just need to have the will power to keep a secret… until after you send

  10. lizzard

    01. Jun, 2011

    i think boulder projects should be free and open to every person who want’s to try them. i clean and found a lot of lines which i shared with people who climbed them before me, simply coz they climb harder and better then me.
    i’d like to point one thing thou, climbers should pay respect to people who have vision to found and brush and start trying things first. i think that should be put equally next to F.A. also in the guide books, opend by climber X, F.A. by climber Y for example. Thoughts?

  11. Crafty

    01. Jun, 2011

    Eh, you two are friends. You will figure it out. Seriously though, I would politely ask if I could try it for a day or two before the other person did it. But after a short period of time, all bets are off. Also, people other than close friends are unlikely to respect these wishes, so keeping things somewhat of a secret is paramount.

    That being said, the person finding and cleaning something like this deserves MAJOR props.

  12. William

    01. Jun, 2011

    Seems this post has a lot of similarities to Endo. Plotting where to go, hiking to finding an inspiring line, the vision to see whats possible, cleaning it, building a landing, working out the beta, 90% of the time takes more energy then climbing it. I find it funny/pathetic when someone climbs a line, someone else has put heart and soul into, and then boost FA on 8a and puts a video on Deadpoint. There is more Ego in that then having a few friends give you the time to send.

  13. Adam M

    01. Jun, 2011

    I agree with Adam. Not really hurting a friend to not tell her/him. Just “exploring.”

    Say I work 6 jobs to pay off a car and as soon as I buy it, I hit a deer.

    Just plain sucks. There’s plenty of rock out there trust me.

    Sorry about your finger…

  14. Matt

    01. Jun, 2011

    I don’t agree with closing projects; However, if I just cleaned a boulder spending a few days doing so, took a rest day so I would have energy to send, then came back to find someone just ninja’d the freshly cleaned boulder (within 1-2 days of it being cleaned), I’d be pretty irked. It’s just like “Hey! Someone cleaned this boulder yesterday that I usually pass all the time and noticed a few lines but I’m totally too lazy to clean it myself. I’m totally going to climb everything on it. Even the crappy, unaesthetic v0– lowball on the other side just to get the First Ascent.”

    Basically, one or two good days of trying right after I cleaned it would be all I would really want. After that, free game. It’s nature. Not someone’s house (I hope not?).

  15. Rajiv

    01. Jun, 2011

    Great post, Jamie. In the language of economics, this can be rephrased as a problem of public-private goods:

    Ultimately, we feel that all boulder problems, like routes, should be public goods. No one should be excluded, and it can be a good thing to have other people work your project (you get beta, encouragement, etc.). However we also feel that the effort of discovery and development merits a shot at the first ascent.

    In the world of technology, patents are meant to address this very problem. A patent is a compromise between public and private statuses, allowing the inventor rights to use the invention as a private good for a finite time as an incentive for eventually making the invention publicly available. Without patents there would be very little incentive to share inventions.

    However there is another factor that is unique to climbing. A First Ascent is a very different thing from any other ascent. While an FA of a longstanding open project could be evidence of superior ability, an FA of a line you discovered is as much about the discovery and vision as about the climbing difficulty. To put it another way, the FA’ist has more to lose from opening the project than anyone else stands to gain.

    Some might argue that new projects should be free for the strongest person to climb them first. But an FA isn’t a race. You can always wait for the FA and then climb the problem in a day, or in a couple hours, or flash it. That way you prove your ability without infringing on the FA.

    Now no one likes to hear about a new problem they can’t try. It’s like dangling candy in front of a baby. But we aren’t babies, and we should be able to put ourselves in the shoes of the developer and give them the time they need to get the FA, if within their grasp.

    So how do we codify this? Obviously the best case for non-developers is to always ask and defer to the wishes of the developer. Conversely, if you are a developer, the shorter time a project is closed, the better for all climbers who are itching to get on it.

    Maybe we need a hard-line time beyond which, even if the developer wishes the project closed, climbers have a right to climb it (unless they are too polite). Maybe a year could be the standard? Or maybe different times for routes vs. boulder problems, as routes are presumably more work. Suggestions?

  16. sidepull

    01. Jun, 2011

    Probably just re-iterating:

    1) There is no moral requirement that you share.

    2) If you are sharing, it’s probably just as “just” or “right” to expect that your friend asks “do you mind if I give your project a go?” rather than just assuming that everything is open.

    I think what Jamie is really talking about is: “when is it okay to go after your friend’s girlfriend?” I think he was listening to Rick Springfield’s timeless classic “Jessie’s Girl” the entire time he wrote this post:

    …. I’ve been funny,
    I’ve been cool with the lines
    Ain’t that the way
    Love supposed to be …

  17. Davin

    01. Jun, 2011

    As an example, I have found and cleaned many, many problems and potential problems in Wyoming. I have kept all of them as “open” projects. The vast majority of which went down anywhere from a day to several years later and were named by me as I managed the first ascents. Because of of a general lack of focus on bouldering in Wyoming “open” projects have always been somewhat closer to “closed”. Meaning there is far less worry of things getting snagged because there is no one here to snag them.

    I will admit to keeping some areas on the down low with the hope of getting some classics finished before the crowds (all three people who boulder here) get things done before I can.

    In addition, several projects that I had found, cleaned, and worked on for several sessions were climbed by others before I could. When I was younger several of the snagged FAs greatly disappointed me. So much effort seamed lost at the time. Those problems however are just as good as when they were unclimbed, maybe better with improved beta and cleaner holds. Continuing to keep things “open” was hard then, but staying the coarse brought reward from honesty.

    As I get older and projects that I have found and cleaned are finished before I can do them, including several I would consider some of the best lines I’ve ever seen (Lord of The Forest V12, Copacetic Cowboy V12, and others) , a motivation builds to get things done sooner. I have grown stronger and more focused because of “open” projects up here in Wyoming. Of course not having a town like Boulder near by with a pile of strong boulderers ready for anything is a factor too. I’m sure my down low would be even lower for some of the things I’ve seen.

    Feeling a sense of community is important in our sport too. To that end I continue to invite people out to the areas and boulders I find knowing that they may be the one to unlock a sequence and give a classic line a name. Leaving me to do a repeat and maybe a down rate to help fill the void. Then again, maybe their new beta will give me the edge and now having a spotter the send is possible and the invited climber can down rate the pile.

    “With great risk comes great reward” -Thomas Jefferson

  18. Hayden

    01. Jun, 2011

    Chris Bosh thought The Exfoliator was V14.

  19. big poppa chosscrush

    01. Jun, 2011

    i’ve long thought about whether to share personal FA projects with others or not and i cannot think of non-selfish reasons for closing a project or keeping it secret.

    i certainly believe that a climber does not need to serve up perfect directions and to-date beta of a certain line or area to anyone who asks, but if you want the fun and motivation of friends to assist you, then you have to pay the piper and realize that you might not get the FA.

    realize, too, that your friends may be more popular than you and their sending the line or general interest in it may actually bring more attention to the line and bait repeats.

    any 5 start obscure line never shared with anyone in my opinion is no better than a morrison contrivance…. probably less so.

    ON BALANCE, all you spoon-fed bitches and bitchettes out there need to be way more grateful for the cleaning efforts of those who have come before. it’s really easy.

    for example, in typical bouldertardese: entry: “ghetto turd roof. v-way hard. thanks to big poppa for scrubbing this one up! vision! supreme effort for me. very psyched”

    interview: so, tell me about this new line. “oh, man! so good! big poppa told me about some amazing blocks in this old trad climbing area and i totally checked them out right away! he and joey jo joe helped me clean it up and worked out the moves. i nabbed that bitch first! booya!”

    see, all the butthurt and tears shed over someone’s project getting stolen comes down to the disrespect of a total swipe without giving any credit to those who are really responsible for serving it to you on a silver platter, whether by actually cleaning it first, working the moves with you, or even just by telling you about an area.

    if that discoverer/scrubber isn’t your best friend? SO WHAT. suck it up and have respect, tip your hat, and move on. no hard feelings if there is acknowledgement.

    i’ve probably done well over 100 FAs. i can honestly say that only about 7% were lines i ever discovered fully on my own. the other 93%? either swiped, served on a silver spoon, or at least in an area found by someone else and shared with me.

    i suspect the same kind of ratio is true for most of the climbers out there.

    respect. yes, have some. apply liberally.

    closed projects? not possible in the bouldering world. everyone knows that.

  20. big poppa chosscrush

    01. Jun, 2011

    freuidian slip! “5 start” => “5 star”, though all my FAs have 5 “valid” starts, too.

  21. big poppa chosscrush

    01. Jun, 2011

    cut what i said. paste the following excerpt, in quotations, and close the issue.

    “In addition, several projects that I had found, cleaned, and worked on for several sessions were climbed by others before I could. When I was younger several of the snagged FAs greatly disappointed me. So much effort seamed lost at the time. Those problems however are just as good as when they were unclimbed, maybe better with improved beta and cleaner holds. Continuing to keep things “open” was hard then, but staying the coarse brought reward from honesty.” (Comment; Davin; 6/1/11)

  22. Tiffany Hensley

    01. Jun, 2011

    There’s no onus to share. The work of the artist wouldn’t exist without the artist, and a finished project, like a marathon, fruits a deep feeling of productiveness, satisfaction, and contentedness.

    However, there’s also art in collaboration – not all climbers are well-rounded in their techniques of developing a boulder, and certainly there are amazing projects, long and over-hung – that require a spotter to move pads. Remember, John Nash’s game theory doesn’t work with just one player, ergo two bodies are better than one.

  23. joeyjoejoe

    01. Jun, 2011

    I appreciate the shout-out, big poppa. Ha.

  24. George

    01. Jun, 2011


    yo nice videos on your website keep them up

  25. Seb

    02. Jun, 2011

    I wish there was still some unclimbed rock in Yorkshire for me to find so I could even think of having this problem. :-(

  26. matt

    02. Jun, 2011

    i think you should stop asking what other people think. do what makes you happy, and just climb a fucking rock.

  27. southernclimber

    02. Jun, 2011

    yah its def your option to close it or not but i think you should close it just because you found it and cleaned it (as in close it off to naming but others can climb before you send it) i love showing problems to friends like you said…the extra psych and pads are def a plus….happened to me one time but i got to name it before it went in the guidebook! and i also agree with Tiffany! Great post Jamie…

  28. Seth

    02. Jun, 2011

    What Davin said.

    In addition, if you want to do something first don’t tell anyone about it. If you show people, expect it to get climbed. Simple.

  29. todd

    02. Jun, 2011

    You should be able to close it for as long as it took you to clean it. So generally under an hour. After that it’s fair game.

    Agree with others that there needs to be more respect for the dirty work of cleaning.

  30. tom

    02. Jun, 2011

    i love how he knew it was v12 before he started cleaning! would anything less suffice?

  31. big poppa chosscrush

    02. Jun, 2011

    everything i start cleaning i know is v7 or 9. otherwise, what’s the point? harder? worthless. easier? save it for a rainy day.

    i guess the fun and surprise comes when the 7 is 12 and the 9 is 5.

  32. Zach Wahrer

    02. Jun, 2011

    Share the cleaning, share the climbing. And as others have said, if you don’t want to share, keep it a secret (which is still kinda lame).

  33. cardboard_dog

    02. Jun, 2011

    I love this topic.

    It is my humble opinion that in good form, you would never have to ask a “friend” to give you a couple days on a boulder like the one you described. If you put in the effort and the missed days you could have used to fluff up your 8a card to find it and clean it, in a perfect world people would respect that. But the climbing world is becoming less and less perfect every year.

    So I think it’s fully acceptable to ask for the opportunity to send, especially on a boulder that required that much effort. And it should be respected. I’ve handed FAs to friends on a silver platter just to have an excuse to enjoy their company for the day .. and I’ve kept things a secret too. But I certainly prefer to not keep things a secret and just be upfront. That boulders mine beeyotch. You can poach the one on the hillside.

    I remember when I gave up the FA of Faith in Chaos. That was a FIVE STAR LINE. I handed it to a poacher who poached my glory. It hurt. It hurt like hell. I ended up going on a 5 day drinking binge after that one. But in the end, I was the real winner. Because I got to share a line with a friend. Someone give me a hug.

  34. cardboard_dog

    02. Jun, 2011

    Seriously though … someone said something about, “.. ego drives many who close projects ..” I think it’s just the opposite. Ego drives those who would snake a project from someone who did all the hard work cleaning it. And the justification is usually something gay like .. “I climb harder than you.”

    So go hike 8-10 hours at altitude to find a boulder, then spend another two days hiking back and forth to said boulder to clean it and prep it for a send, and see how much energy you have left to actually send. So many young punks, so few boulders.

  35. big poppa chosscrush

    02. Jun, 2011

    for the record, i told everyone that faith in chaos was a CBD find…. just before i also said: BUT I DID IT FIRST BECAUSE I’M BETTER THAN HIM MUAHAHAHAHA AND I HAVE A BIGGER MAN-PIECE!!!!!

    and then it was discovered that only the first third of the statement was correct and we all had a big (not as big) laugh.

  36. Dave

    03. Jun, 2011

    Sorry, I cleaned and climbed it 10 years ago.

  37. andré várzea

    03. Jun, 2011

    why that!?
    some people like to find new places, boulders, clean them. but the searching should be done for itself… not for the first ascent. i’m not a hypocrite, make the first ascent is great! but it’s is great for the battle, for the fight with our limits! this history that if i found a boulder, cleaned it, the FA of this line should be mine… is an absurd! i think a lot of questions are in front of the principal… the pleasure of climbing!

  38. ktmt

    04. Jun, 2011

    I’m with Adam way up above there. If you want FA rights, then keep it to yourself. If you invite someone to go with you, then you need to be emotionally prepared to have them get the FA. I would say they do owe you the first attempt(s) of the day. But if you can’t send before they get on it, then it’s only fair they give it their best attempt and try for the FA.

    So, yeah, I think closed projects are totally legit. What sucks, though, are secret areas, that is, problems/boulders/routes that a small group has opened and sent, but still keep to themselves. That’s where I raise objections.

  39. Hickey

    04. Jun, 2011

    What if we assumed that (along with your identified troublems), you had to cross a wide unrelenting desert, under an unforgiving sun. You were chased by rabid dogs, bucked by a wild stallion, stung by a feverish scorpion, lost an arm to a crazed mountain lion… and then your friend, requested that she travel these distant lands with you, exploring along the way the inner thoughts from your emerging bouldering manifesto, that has tortured your soul for so many years. But alas, as you now move along this unrelenting journey together, can she fully consider the magnitude of your suffering as she approaches the singularity of your objective… can she fully appreciate the incredible satellite induced soul suffering you have incurred… can she fully give you what is yours, and walk away with you from your most recent conquest, celebrating the greatness of your achievement? And ultimately, as you exit the distant lands you have traveled, can she share with you the brilliance and philosophy of the moment you are feeling, together as friends?

  40. Sir Cahoots

    04. Jun, 2011

    This is the story of monkey traverse isn’t it?

  41. cardboard_dog

    04. Jun, 2011

    what I’d like to know is if that was Seb Grieve talking about rock in Yorkshire .. because that would be rad.

    And JJ .. HAHA dude you spent way more time at Evans than me. It was yours for the taking. At least you got it before Ryan. And who has the bigger manpiece??? Your 5.7 and I’m Irish. Thats like two midgets fighting over whos taller.

  42. Hayden

    06. Jun, 2011

    After his last project was swooped, Chris Bosh cried in the locker room then told the press about it.

  43. novak

    06. Jun, 2011

    You should NOT be cleaning at all. You should NOT be chalking holds. When I go bouldering, I leave no trace. What about you???

  44. big poppa chosscrush

    06. Jun, 2011

    bigger question:

    what if you were willing to have a friend swipe your would-be FA after crossing savage lands together, as a gesture of great friendship, until the friend suggested a bad name just before the friend goes for the send burn.

    can you take it back and yank them by their shoelaces off the last move?

    i vote YES, OF COURSE!

  45. bongowurm

    07. Jun, 2011

    Does this come up a lot in the CO scene?

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