/ bolt spacingat Penmaen Head

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colin struthers - on 20 May 2012
Had a pleasant afternoon at Penmaen Head yesterday - as a mid grade sport crag it really is an excellent venue.

That said, we finished on 3 routes on Expressway Way:

'Fathers for Justice' which I felt was adequately bolted

'The Quarry Woman' which had unecessarily long run outs which I felt detracted from the quality of the route

and

'That's enough new routes for now' which I declined to lead because I think it has a potential ground fall from 20'

Unfortunately these are by no means the only routes at Penmaen head with questionable bolt spacing.

This is not a criticism of any of the first ascentionists who have done an excellent job in developing such a fine crag. However, I personally think it is time to review some of the routes that we now have.

Deciding where to place bolts after you have already inspected or top roped the route (which is the norm with sport routes) is difficult and sometimes it is only with hindsight that you realise that you might have placed them differently. We now have that hindsight and I think Penmaen Head could be an even better place if we selectively added a few bolts or changed the relative position of existing bolts (I appreciate this latter option can be a bit of a ball ache).

So what does everyone think?

Colin

PS please don't take this as a typical wingeing UKC type post, I hope I'm making these comments in a positive and constructive way.

rockcat - on 21 May 2012
In reply to colin struthers:
Colin, Many thanks for your feedback, its much appreciated. One of the problems is that we don't get any feedback either regarding the routes at Penmaen Head or for the A55 Sport Climbs guide in general.
Firstly I entirely agree with you about Penmaen Head being an excellent mid grade sport venue - but then I may be biased!
Secondly you're right about the difficulty of getting the spacing of bolts right. There are many things to take into account other than spacing - rock quality and protecting a crux move being amongst them. For all my routes I work them beforehand before deciding where the bolts should go. Sometimes this doesn't work and I end up puzzled as to why I've put a bolt here or there. Its an inexact science and anyway its climbing, it can't and shouldn't be perfect.
I would hope that ground fall potential is minimised on all the routes but if this isn't the case they can be reconsidered. Certainly I'll have a look at "That's enough new routes for now". Surpised that "The Quarrywoman" is seen as somewhat goey - I'm not noted as a bold climber! If anyone else has any comments then please contribute to this thread.
Michael Doyle
In reply to rockcat:

There is loads of feedback here:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crag.php?id=9203


Chris

PS - those routes are hugely popular - nice job!
Luke Owens - on 21 May 2012
In reply to colin struthers:

In regards to The QuarryWoman having recently lead it I agree with Mike that it certianly isn't bold. The only bolt spacing is by the full hands off rest half way up to which you move to a very good hold(s) to clip off before tackling the finishing moves in complete safety. I wouldn't consider any part of the route dangerous.

The only route that felt like it benefit from an extra bolt is Go With the Flow 6a which is abit run out near the top all be it easier climbing. Think this would scare a few people especially if they were new to the grade.
rockcat - on 21 May 2012
In reply to Luke Owens: Was up there today. Fair comment about "Thats enough routes for now" - it does need another bolt between 2 and 3. I'll see to that in due course. "Go with the flow" isn't my route. I did it today and aren't convinced that it needs another bolt but I'll flag it up to the first ascentionists.
doylo - on 21 May 2012
In reply to colin struthers:

I'd say Quarrywomen might feel a little goey if you're pushing your grade and all the chalks washed off but its not too bad and certainly not dangerous. That spacing is standard fare at many crags abroad..
colin struthers - on 21 May 2012
In reply to doylo: I'd agree that the Qarrywoman isn't actually dangerous, just a bit spaced in terms of bolts.

The question I raised in respect of that specific climb was whether it would have been a better 'sport' route with closer bolting.

It's an ace route and might be more popular as a consequence (Does popularity matter? Discuss)
rockcat - on 23 May 2012
In reply to colin struthers:
Colin, The Quarrywoman may or may not have been a better climb with closer bolting but really its academic as its bolted and thats it. Comments about other routes on any crag on the A55 corridor are welcomed.


> (In reply to doylo) I'd agree that the Qarrywoman isn't actually dangerous, just a bit spaced in terms of bolts.
>
> The question I raised in respect of that specific climb was whether it would have been a better 'sport' route with closer bolting.
>
> It's an ace route and might be more popular as a consequence (Does popularity matter? Discuss)

Ben Farley - on 23 May 2012
In reply to rockcat: The Trouble With Girls could perhaps do with another bolt low down, perhaps on the wall right of the ledge/flake system (but left of Sir Crimpalot of course). The first bolt is very high and I should imagine it's tough to get the clip in if you are short. Not that I'm telling you to go and add a bolt, just mentioning it.
Bulls Crack - on 23 May 2012
In reply to rockcat:
> (In reply to colin struthers)
> Colin, The Quarrywoman may or may not have been a better climb with closer bolting but really its academic as its bolted and thats it.
>
> [...]

Bolts can always be replaced/rearranged?
Ian Andrews on 20 Jun 2012
In reply to Luke Owens:
Regarding 'Go with the flow', I bolted it & led it again recently.
It is slightly run out between the 2nd & 3rd bolts but it is steady climbing & there are good holds - it's just finding them that could maybe be challenging, especially onsight, but that's all part of the challenge & skill :-)
There's no deck-out potential between 2nd & 3rd bolts - as long as you're belayed correctly.
rockcat - on 20 Jun 2012
In reply to Bulls Crack: Not without the agreement of the first ascentionist.

> (In reply to rockcat)
> [...]
>
> Bolts can always be replaced/rearranged?

harold walmsley - on 20 Jun 2012
In reply to colin struthers:

I think several routes at Penmaen Head are iffy with possible deckouts from 2nd or 3rd bolts. The ones that strike me as worst are those on Wen Wall. Harry's World Tour seems particularly needless with the 3rd bolt being a long stretch above an easy clipping point and a long way above the 2nd. I have held an awkward fall that caused injury from below the 2nd bolt on Charlotte's Goal. Because of the bolt spacing I had to do a "hard" catch to prevent a groundfall (maybe I overdid it but you can really only do one or the other) and it slammed the leaders leg into the rock causing an ankle injury. The 2nd bolt on Jenny's Welsh Cap is easily high enough to do the same or worse (although I'm not sure I could let go to clip any lower even if the bolt was lower on this one so maybe the first bolt needs to be higher - but then that would be a problem?). I haven't been on Gabrielles's Arete but the spacing looks no better on that.

Scared shipless also seemed a bit awkwardly bolted.

I thought the Quarrywoman was bold but safe as the bigger gaps were high up. To me the worrying gap was not by the rest as stated above but from the bolt above the rest to the top bolt. But then I climb like a wimp and I felt tired at that stage despite the rest. Definitely felt harder than Fathers for Justice!
rockcat - on 20 Jun 2012
In reply to harold walmsley: I don't agree with all you say Harold but will have a look at the routes you mention. Generally my thoughts on this issue are that the bolting is a historical fact, thats the condition that the route was climbed by the first ascentionist and part of the character and history of the route good or bad. If anyone doesn't like the look of a route then they have the option not to climb it. Its climbing and its not supposed to be perfect or perfectly safe. I'd be loathe to change any bolt placements for those reasons. I don't think we should be interfering with bolt placements until everyone is happy with them and a route is a safe as possible. Having said that, as requested, I've stuck an extra bolt in "Thats Enough New Routes for Now" on Expressway Wall between bolts 2 and 3 although I have deep reservations about it for the reasons I've given above.


> (In reply to colin struthers)
>
> I think several routes at Penmaen Head are iffy with possible deckouts from 2nd or 3rd bolts. The ones that strike me as worst are those on Wen Wall. Harry's World Tour seems particularly needless with the 3rd bolt being a long stretch above an easy clipping point and a long way above the 2nd. I have held an awkward fall that caused injury from below the 2nd bolt on Charlotte's Goal. Because of the bolt spacing I had to do a "hard" catch to prevent a groundfall (maybe I overdid it but you can really only do one or the other) and it slammed the leaders leg into the rock causing an ankle injury. The 2nd bolt on Jenny's Welsh Cap is easily high enough to do the same or worse (although I'm not sure I could let go to clip any lower even if the bolt was lower on this one so maybe the first bolt needs to be higher - but then that would be a problem?). I haven't been on Gabrielles's Arete but the spacing looks no better on that.
>
> Scared shipless also seemed a bit awkwardly bolted.
>
> I thought the Quarrywoman was bold but safe as the bigger gaps were high up. To me the worrying gap was not by the rest as stated above but from the bolt above the rest to the top bolt. But then I climb like a wimp and I felt tired at that stage despite the rest. Definitely felt harder than Fathers for Justice!

harold walmsley - on 22 Jun 2012
In reply to rockcat:
Yes I accept it is done. Also it is quite possible to fix long slings if you really want. I don't normally bother doing this but I would if something was dangerously bolted (for me) but otherwise excellent. My taste in trad has veered to the timid in recent years so the unwillingness to accept a possible ground fall is part of a broader pattern. I don't want to man up on sport routes. Plaisir only. Bathchair next!
Pekkie - on 22 Jun 2012
In reply to rockcat:

Whilst greatly appreciating the efforts of yourself and other local activists, and accepting that there is an argument with a bolted route that 'what's done is done', there is also an argument that we need to do everything we can to make sport routes safe. The whole point about sport is that it should be hard but safe. If you want adventure and danger you go on trad. I accept that it is hard to move bolts around once they are in without making a mess and if you add too many bolts you also get a mess. But my opinion is that, as local activists, we have a responsibilty to make our sport routes as safe as possible where it is possible.
unclesamsauntibess - on 23 Jun 2012
In reply to colin struthers: "rock climbing can be dangerous and may result in falls or injury" shock horror............. give me strength
Pekkie - on 23 Jun 2012
In reply to unclesamsauntibess:
> '(In reply to colin struthers) "rock climbing can be dangerous and may result in falls or injury" shock horror............. give me strength'

Give you strength? How about giving you a slap on the legs for interrupting the adults when they're discussing serious things?

harold walmsley - on 25 Jun 2012
In reply to rockcat:
I went to Penmaen Head yesterday and feel I should correct/update myself. On Harry's World Tour it was the 2nd not 3rd bolt that was placed uncomfortably high. Also I should note that Colin thought Jenny's Welsh Cap was OK with a screwgate (if you can judge it so finely). Also, although a party on Scared Shipless found the 2nd bolt uncomfortably high, they found it OK with a quickdraw in place. I also thought the 2nd bolt on Grandad's Jumper was rather high: the climbing here is easy but the rock is not perfect.
rockcat - on 25 Jun 2012
In reply to Pekkie: Sport routes should be safe but "as safe as possible"? That opens up an enormous can of worms. Who makes that judgement anyway? Everyone has their own ideas about what is safe and this thread confirms it. Will twice the amount of bolts make them as safe as possible? How about 3 times? Who decides? Sport or trad, climbing should be a bit of a head game.

> (In reply to rockcat)
>
> Whilst greatly appreciating the efforts of yourself and other local activists, and accepting that there is an argument with a bolted route that 'what's done is done', there is also an argument that we need to do everything we can to make sport routes safe. The whole point about sport is that it should be hard but safe. If you want adventure and danger you go on trad. I accept that it is hard to move bolts around once they are in without making a mess and if you add too many bolts you also get a mess. But my opinion is that, as local activists, we have a responsibilty to make our sport routes as safe as possible where it is possible.

Pekkie - on 26 Jun 2012
In reply to rockcat:

You are quite right. I should have put an adjective such as 'relatively' in front of 'safe'. Sport climbing can be dangerous. All of the following have happened to me or someone I know:
- failing to clip third bolt and decking out
- failing to tie in properly and decking out from belay
- clip somehow (!?!) becoming undone from bolt
- pulling off large block that had been pulled on by countless others
- lowering off the end of the rope
- not taking enough clips, committing and arriving at bolt only to fumble with an expression of great surprise for non-existent clips on harnesss

Some of these are bad luck and some are on account of being a muppet but, yes, sport can be dangerous. However, could I suggest the following targets;
- the first bolt should be readily (for the grade) clipped by someone of average height
- failure to clip further bolts or a fall should not involve the deck

That's all there is to it as far as I am concerned.
Offwidth - on 26 Jun 2012
In reply to Pekkie:

Really? Nothing on sensibly spaced bolts to the top (ie not bigger and bigger safe run-outs)? I'm with Rockcat that sports climbing needs to be careful not to give the impression of 'cotton wool' as no climbing is like that.
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Pekkie - on 26 Jun 2012
In reply to Offwidth:

Well, yes; 'sensibly spaced bolts to the top' goes without saying doesn't it? Bolting a new sport route gives you the opportunity to think about it and plan it in advance - not least because, if you get it wrong, for the next twenty years you will be hearing 'what idiot decided to put a bolt there?' You can never get it exactly right eg the perfect location for a bolt might not be possible because of loose rock etc. I agree that you can't give a guarantee that any sport route is completely safe. Even on grid-bolted indoor routes you get accidents eg where the second gives too much slack. We're not really arguing are we?

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