Last night Vertical Life received an email from an anonymous but clearly passionate climber who claims to have removed the infamous glued-up ‘bird-bath’ hold on Punks in the Gym at Mt Arapiles.
The email included some images of what the climber claims are the remains of the famously augmented crux hold, we’ve included the photo here and it does look to us like stone from the Mount. The email went on to say, ‘For too long now Punks has been sullied by this glued up edge, it was shameful and disgraceful and it had no place in Australian climbing and, as such, we have decided to remove it and return the route to its natural state.’
VL was at Araps on the weekend and heard nothing when we were there. Though we have not had corroboration, if the news is true, it is a controversial move and one that is sure to upset more than a few climbers.
For those that don’t know the history of the hold, it was already controversial. It was originally chipped by Swiss climber Martin Scheel, who first bolted the line, however, even after it was manufactured the route was too hard for him and it was eventually climbed in 1985 by the famous German Wolfgang Gullich, in so doing creating the world’s first 32. Unfortunately, over time, the crux edge began to crumble, until eventually Andy Pollitt – who famously spent more than 30 days on the route – glued up the edge, although rather than just creating an edge the hold is – or was – now considered a mini-jug (thus ‘bird-bath’). Whilst no one knows for certain it is speculated the augmented hold was considerably friendlier than the original.
The alleged act does raise some interesting conceptual conundrums. What is a route’s natural state? What is the place of glue in route preparation and should it be used to ‘return’ a route to its ‘natural’ state following the degrading of time and traffic? Can you chip a chip?
The email that we received went on to bait the climbing community, ‘Now that the rock has been returned to its natural state, those who have claimed its ascent have the opportunity to come back and climb the real route or they could opt to remain merely punks in the gym.’
Vertical Life is yet to receive confirmation that the hold has been chipped off, or what state that leaves the route in, but the word on the street is that there is already a fair bit of outrage and finger pointing. There is a long simmering feud between two camps of Nati locals who are divided along ethical lines and both of them have form when it comes to clandestine jihads. Such a brazen ace could prove to be the spark that sees things spiral out of control once and for all.
Vertical Life will keep you abreast of developments as they come to hand.