Fixexen - Will the rock face become a consumption arena?

Fixed quickdraws can be found more and more frequently in sports climbing gardens - this is explosive. Not everyone likes fixexes and so there are always conflicts. Guest author Markus Hutter expresses his exciting and stimulating thoughts on the subject in this article.

A guest contribution by Markus Hutter

Unfortunately, self-criticism is not exactly a strength of the climbing scene. About 20 years ago, climbers still made themselves like Alexander Huber or Stefan Glowacz strong for real red point climbing! Many younger people may no longer even know what the difference is.

Of course, it would make a big difference if, as in the climbing hall, all the quickdraws are already hanging and just need to be clipped, or if someone is doing an onsight inspection of a route where not a single exe is hanging. This would be an enormous challenge, especially in current top routes on rock!

Pinkpoint - the soft variant of Rotpunkt

The protagonists of that time were of the opinion that we would make it far too easy for ourselves with the convenient method: there was even a term for this «Pink Point». This soft variant was the predecessor of today's Rotpunkt and initially frowned upon!

"In the '90s, after a failed attempt, we took the exes out of the route before trying again."

Mark Hutter

I can still remember very well that in the 90s, after every failed attempt, we quickdraws have taken them out of the route to put them back on the next "go"...

Especially on rocks of the harder type, it can be observed in recent years how the exes fixed with a shekel are becoming more and more numerous. And there are regular reports like last autumn from the Basel Jura: “Exes are systematically stolen in the Basel Jura” . The authors speculate that the thieves would be keen on them as if they were diamonds. And the ridicule culminates in disparaging admiration of the perpetrators on the one hand, and pity on the other.

"In events such as those in the Basel Jura, I miss the self-critical attitude of the climbers."

Mark Hutter

As the author of this text, I must emphasize at this point that I have been active on the rock face for a very long time, have drilled and first climbed several hundred pitches/routes and see myself as a rock freak.

In events such as in Basel Jura I miss the self-critical attitude of climbers. The injured only scream out loud without questioning their actions on the rock in the slightest. Anyone who has been involved in an IG climbing knows pretty well what disturbs forest and rock owners and also nature conservationists about our behavior.

Hooking is one thing, but when done with care and consideration, it doesn't immediately catch the eye of the nature lover. In contrast, walls furnished like halls look like nature that has been violated and sports temples for fast, uncomplicated consumption. I am sure that this development will increasingly lead to massive problems!

The polemical reaction of the victims in the Basel Jura unfortunately shows very little expertise. In very few cases are climbers who are only keen on cheap equipment. Rather, they don't want to see any disfigured walls and take the wind out of the sails of quite a few climbing opponents. On more remote rocks, the undesirable development will go well for some time, but where there are also many walkers and hikers, the topic is slowly boiling up.

A very clear negative example could be seen in the video from last winter Alexander Megos. to be examined. In the King Capella rerun a sling at least 1,5 meters long hung in the middle of the wall, which was intended to defuse a larger distance between the hooks.

Alexander Megos clipping the extended exe in King Capella. (Picture Alexander Megos)

Such examples, which are viewed thousands of times on the Internet, are fatal. Why shouldn't soft movers who are afraid of long hook distances be allowed to hang long slings in the walls everywhere so that they can climb in a relaxed manner??? There are numerous examples on steep walls that are currently being besieged with many projects - a cruel sight!

Even as a very committed climber, I can understand why hikers who want to enjoy nature are extremely disturbed by this. A little more empathy would certainly do us good in these matters. Unfortunately, the very focused planning of routes often makes us extremely blind to other perspectives and is too often only geared towards personal success.

About the author Markus Hutter

Markus-Hutter_Kletterer_Boulderer_Erschlusser_Guest author-Lacrux

Mark Hutter grew up on Lake Constance and has been out and about in the mountains since childhood. Already at a young age he climbed many big, extreme classics in the Alps, such as the Matterhorn north face in very wintry conditions. However, his great passion became pure rock climbing and, since the beginning of the free climbing movement, alpine and sport climbing up to grade 8b. His internationally most famous first ascent is the route Parzival in the Swiss Alpstein mountains. He lives as a visual artist in northern Germany.

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Image and text Markus Hutter


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  1. At first I thought that this text was about the question of whether the climbing community should behave more sensitively and regulate itself with regard to fixed quickdraws. There are a number of reasons for this, and I'm sure there are many climbers who are unaware that a permanently fixed exe bothers some ('nature lovers') and may cause access problems.
    What is the author doing? He polemicizes with 3 completely useless arguments:
    1. We used to hang the exes ourselves every time we tried! Everything was better before! It's not called "pink" point for nothing!
    2. The people who owned the fixed exes in the Jura shouldn't have complained that the exes were removed (=stolen)! It's her fault! That wasn't a theft, it was a protest!
    3. It gets even worse, in winter Alex Megos equipped a hook with an extended sling and filmed the whole thing too!

    Point 1 has nothing to do with the matter. At the time when you hung the slings yourself, there were, firstly, much less steep routes, and secondly, a habit from the past is not necessarily better than a habit from today. I would say that there is almost nothing to suggest interrupting the climbing flow more than necessary on the second attempt. This has almost nothing to do with fixing the exes.
    By the 3rd at the latest I had to laugh heartily.
    The only content of point 2 is probably that the author justifies a kind of theft, and narrowly avoids clarifying whether it was him or not!
    And yes, point 3... without words.

    • Agree, the author himself seems a bit lacking in reflective thinking about the evolution of climbing.
      He's right that, in general, with more climbers, there will be more tension with local residents. The fact whether exes or just hooks are hanging in the rock is probably irrelevant. Much more it will be about garbage, huge crowds and generally bad behavior.

      • The thought occurs to me whether the evolution referred to in the previous comments is really a further development of sportive climbing ability, rather than a degeneration of it. What was climbed more than thirty years ago is the subject of consideration here rather than the current peak of difficulty. For about 10 years, climbing has increasingly degenerated into a pure consumer sport with no regard for sustainability with regard to one's own habitat. The author only sheds light on this at the beginning using the examples. Everyone should think about it and draw their own conclusions. I hope they will be heard.

      • Hi David,
        yes yes, the reflected thinking about the evolution of climbing…
        Since I've been around for a long time, I've saved every step in this development very well! However, this seems to me to be clearly missing from some comment writers...
        The accusation that “everything was better before” is a very cheap argument.
        I also see the current development more as a degeneration, like Jacob! Don't get me wrong, all credit to the performance explosion, but the "all the trappings" are going in the wrong direction!
        It would certainly be very interesting if you explained yourself and presented your own reflective thinking on the subject...

        • Fix exes don't work at all! They can be dangerous (depending on age, weather...) And anyone who would like to climb onsight or red point can no longer do it, or only makes it more difficult. Use your own material! But that's the same mistake as the clip stick. Now people climb routes that they actually can't climb and then block the routes for other climbers during their "attempting project" for hours and days...

    • Hello TeddyD,
      in the first section you come across as very factual, but then you become polemical yourself...
      In points 1-3 you do not exactly present yourself as an expert on the situation! You're reading things into it that are absolutely not true:
      1. Yes, we used to have a tough ethic for clean ascents, but I didn't judge that! Yeah, everything was better in the past... That's your rhetoric! And you don't seem to have the faintest idea what Pinkpoint meant...And, I'm not generally criticizing today's habit of leaving the material hanging for the 2nd or 10th try. But to install the exes fix with shekel for weeks, months or years, I see as a clear mistake!!! A convenience for the fastest possible success...
      2. I assumed that the action was in the Basel Jura what? Those affected were so sure that it was someone "just" keen to get hold of good material. I wanted to refute this view! Sure, it would have been better if he or she had put the material demonstratively at the entrance...
      3. It would be very useful if you commented on this in a more differentiated way. Maybe Johannes' hint would be good advice for you...

      Professionals like Megos have a role model function... and the tendency for such role models to use various tricks for success and to facilitate many clip positions with optimal loop lengthening will have further negative consequences. Shown a thousand times in the video anyway.

      So, maybe read my text again a little more carefully and you might feel for yourself that your puking is completely out of place...
      best regards

  2. I'm not a fan of fixexes either. But that has less to do with climbing ethics, because my difficulty levels are about having fun climbing and not about proving something to others 😉
    It bothers me when non-metallic material is left in the wall. Ribbon slings, etc. age over time and do so especially in the sun. No problem in the climbing hall, there is an operator who also has a certain security obligation for his entrance fee. Outside, however, no developer wants to be held liable if a fixex no longer holds up in 7 years. It's one thing when there's material hanging in walls in mountaineering and another when it's the case in sport climbing. Precisely because it is accepted that exes are already hanging before the redpoint attempt, there are few reasons to fix them.

    • Yes, that's a good argument. Fixed slings always lead to accidents (even fatal ones), and when they are present, the locals have a great deal of responsibility.

  3. As chairman of the IG Klettern Basler Jura, I feel addressed to comment on Hutter's digression: Climbing rocks as a consumer arena?
    Yes, in a way. But it already starts with the modern topo guides, where I am directed to the parking lot and rock face using a QR code. Earlier, yes earlier, we had tracked down and (mostly) even found our areas in the south of France without a navigation system, yes only with the old Michelin maps and Mistral 1+2!! Does good style start here?

    I've also discussed extending exes with protagonists from 8a upwards. There are world-class routes like the "Chilam Balam" where the hooks could never be clipped from the climbing position because they are far away from the actual climbing line. And everyone knows that quickdraws make climbing easier in their own way. The pink point idea was more and more forgotten, I agree with Hutter. Also the hanging of the ropes in eg the third bolt. For safety reasons? Out of convenience? Because getting started is easy anyway? Why not top rope? Free is free! A discussion about communication about the style could start here, as is the case with mountaineering, especially with the 8000m peaks: What counts as a summit? The real "at the top"! Or did I lengthen and hang the exes in my route in such a way that it almost became a top rope?

    Hutter is annoyed by the visual impact of fixed express trains. And here I agree with him. There is an area in the Basel Jura, the large dry tool and mixed overhang in Eptingen, where I stopped counting at 120 Express. An outdoor gym? At the same time a small nature reserve and recreation area with a picturesque waterfall. A photographer who wants to take pictures of pure nature here cannot do without a photo shop. If the nature lover feels bothered by the visual effect, that is understandable (he has to cover his ears when enjoying nature because of the constantly noisy motorway right next door...). But if Hutter has read LaCroux's contribution to Exenklau carefully and knows the corresponding locations, he knows that there are no hiking trails that lead past here and that the dismantler was not concerned with "beautifying" the wall, but he (or she) simply unscrewed new material and left old material hanging again.
    Hutter addresses a problem that may be current in Germany, but pillories the local climbing scene, although this is only a marginal phenomenon here in the Basel Jura.
    It is not without reason that we also prefer to rehabilitate routes in the Basel Jura with the gray French adhesive hooks from the FFME. Perhaps the future renovator and fitter in Germany will therefore have to think more about the optical effect of the praised "silverlings".

    With the evolution from climbing as a fringe phenomenon of some freaks to popular sport, it is worth thinking about the characteristics. Absolutely! The optical effect of quickdraws is a marginal phenomenon, which, depending on the situation, can be used to indicate mass phenomena such as dogs in the forest, climbing at night, parking anywhere, primal screams at success or failure, ghetto blasters, boom boxes, fans, searchlights, campfires, etc. look very different. But not only the community of climbers, but also society in general is asked to think about the topic of leisure and relaxation. Pointing the finger at fixed expresen to block a climbing area or to change the zeitgeist is not enough in modern times!
    Patrik Müller, IG climbing Basler Jura

  4. It is essential here that the origin is missing. I used to climb with Kurt (the inventor of RP) and Güllich from time to time. In the USA, I mean it was in the City of Rocks, in the evening in front of the tent, Kurt had given the best of what his idea of ​​RP was and is. He never said or defined that the Exxen should be taken out again after every attempt, although I understand the author, we did it that way at the beginning - stories were conveyed incorrectly. Wolfgang in particular had climbed some of his first 10s in the red circle and up to the early 80s it was still the style of the time anyway. Later in the 90's whole areas were drilled for pink point begs, e.g. Kronthal Elsace. Hooks in clip position can only be clipped when an Exxe is in the hook or had to be clipped back. Also there (90 and later) hooks were already extended with long slings - what's the problem? If the driller had drilled more cleverly, you wouldn't have to do it.

    • Hi Alex,
      if you would read my text a little more carefully, you would probably realize that I am not primarily concerned with the problem of clip positions! As you say yourself...if the driller had drilled a little more carefully in many cases, normal exes would usually be sufficient.
      If, however, completely "tangled" routes lead to optimally extended loops permanently hanging in the wall, this is a total misdevelopment, even if viewed in isolation! My criticism starts elsewhere: From my point of view, routes equipped with fixexes are mainly created for convenience! In very overhanging routes, this should perhaps be viewed in a more differentiated manner, since dismantling can be a challenge here...

  5. I'm a little caught between the chairs here. I can get something out of Hutter's position, but I find it formulated far too one-sidedly. What bothers me the most is that the so-called spoiling of nature always calls the climbers with exes and hooks. What about roads, cable cars, climbing routes, even hiking trails. They all interfere with the picture of nature, but I've never heard of a cable car being closed because some climbers are bothered by it. As with so many things, it's largely about the money

  6. Please nature without ifs and buts
    leave nature.
    To my active climbing time
    was and should be today.
    Find a clean climb and leave it again.
    Think about it.

  7. This weekend I tried a route from the author, which would not be nice to climb after me without a long extension. The cable would be too big and often the hooks were against my climbing flow. This problem was solved with the extended slings. Which is also ok for me since I climbed the same trains. Thank you for drilling the route.

    Regarding emphatic behavior towards other people present in the mountains, I wonder if it is ok to drill many routes into the best rock and then "block" them for younger generations for years?! According to me, focused project planning would be appropriate here.

  8. I can understand many of the arguments made in the article and in the comments and I also think it's good that this topic is addressed. From my point of view, fixexes pose the following problems:
    – Safety problems due to the fact that textile materials are exposed to the weather
    – optical problem on rocks
    – A hindrance for inspections that are to be carried out without the exes attached in advance
    - A hindrance for people who want to climb their trusted material due to the safety problem. Even if two exes fit into one bolt, clipping is usually more difficult in this case

    I myself basically climb without the exes already being in the wall and therefore automatically without extended hooks or with a pre-clipped rope. Not because someone at some point has defined some climbing style either in this way or not in this way, but because I want it and because it corresponds to my understanding of climbing.
    Ultimately, everyone can climb as they like and I don't understand why the author denounces Alex Megos' ascent with an extended exe.

  9. As a passionate climber, I have mixed feelings about the discussion about fixing routes. On the one hand, fixing can make access to difficult-to-access routes easier and climbing safer. On the other hand, it risks changing the character of a natural rock face and leading to excessive commercialization. A balanced approach that takes into account the needs of the climbing community and environmental protection is crucial.

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