Forums: Climbing Information: Regional Discussions: PA's Cliffs of Insanity: Edit Log


Nov 17, 2008, 3:13 PM

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Registered: Mar 16, 2004
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PA's Cliffs of Insanity  (North_America: United_States: Pennsylvania)
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PA's cliffs of insanity.


Now I'm not really one to feud.

And the point of this rant isn't to feud with Rob Holtzman but to clarify an issue about an area that Rob posted on his web site about a series of 300 ft cliffs Rob Holzman calls

"the cliffs of Insandity"

Rob states:

"A 250' high quarry near the Juniata River. The area has a few good sport climbs if you do only the first pitches. Anything above the first pitch is hazardous and could result in death. Many bolts are in bad shape and the second pitches should probably have never been bolted because they are extremely dangerous due to very loose, large rock. Climb only the first pitches and wear a helmet!"

I find I must take issue with this.

Not because what he says isn't true, the place is truly death waiting to happen, but because he said this:

"second pitches should probably have never been bolted because they are extremely dangerous"

The only way this statement makes sense to me is if Rob is thinking that the area was bolted in sport climbing style from the top down. If that were the case then I agree.

However, nearly every route at the cliffs of insanity was put up from the ground up, standing on small holds drilling with a bosch.

You see, I had this bosch and there was this giant virgin cliff thing and there was no way I wasn't going to put the two together to have some fun. Good old, ground up fun. No pre-inspection.

The procedure was simple. Tie the bosch to a 20-30 ft piece of rope,
attach it to the last bolt you drilled with a fifi hook and climb up. When you start to get scared take your hammer out and start tapping the rock, hoping for a ringing sound. If you get a dull thunk, that's bad. You don't want to put the bolt in rock that makes a dull thunk when you hit it with a hammer.

Now if you tap around and you don't get that ringing sound, your only option is to keep climbing higher, tap, tap, taping with the hammer until you find a piece of rock solid enough to actually hold a bolt.

So sometimes you end up in the middle of a bunch of unholy crap that makes you WISH you climbing at the fisher towers and you can't see your last bolt below you.

Now you have two options - you can take the longest lead fall of your life, tumbling and knocking jagged quartzite bowling ball things down the wall along the way, or.....

be a man, suck it up and keep going for it. Maybe you will find a piece of rock that makes sort of a ringing thunk sound.

And you do.

And you get to the top.

And you lived.

And you feel good about it.

Or at least I did until I read Rob's description that the second pitches should not have been bolted. That's like saying half the climbs in the canadian rockies shouldn't have been done.

Now I may have been stupid enough to have repeated the above adventure scenario perhaps more often than sanity would guide (there are around 50 routes there), but I guarantee you I was extremely thankful for every single bolt I placed on any second pitch of a climb at the cliffs of insanity as they were generally placed to augment my own personal survival at the time and not to satisfy some sport climbers wimp ass, putt putt mini golf sensibilities of what makes a safe route.

Having said that, there are actually 3 or 4 second pitches there that do push up against the line of sanity and are for sure worth doing considering the rush of climbing a big wall in the middle of pennsylvania.

Anyone planning to visit there should email me for beta. Rob has done myself and the climbing community a disservice by claiming that the cliffs of insanity is a sport climbing area when it was never intended to be so and not approached in that manner.

The place is a traditional ground up area, with the routes put up by a raving madman who was simply after a good adrenaline fix.

(This post was edited by synrock on Nov 18, 2008, 3:20 PM)

Edit Log:
Post edited by synrock () on Nov 18, 2008, 3:20 PM

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