/ Number Four Gully Marker Cairn
I spoke to Martin about an abseil staple, he thought it a good idea so I'm surprised that one hasn't been included. There'll be a garland of tat around it after winter in that case.
It's no better than before and some thought about abseiling should have gone into the design - as mentioned above. The 4's do look wrong. All in all, I'm neither up nor down about it.
I don't think an abseil point is needed, but if it was a chain round the cairn would be a much safer option.
It would get buried by snow. And how is a chain "safer" than a loop (or more likely several loops) of tat?
A staple in a masonry block would be liable to a local mortar failure, it would also likely be covered in snow rime as you point out, perhaps this is the reason there is no fixed gear here.
Looks fine to me.
Yep, I reckon the 4s should come off. They look tatty at best. Also, somebody at some point is going to stick a couple of big boulders at the bottom of that thing.
I haven't been up there lately but judging by the photos I've seen, if there's going to be a marker there then it looks fine to me.
I think most mountaineers wanted to keep the flag. I think this was the John Muir Trust's idea of a compromise. But of course it could end up suiting neither, we'll see.
After a typical long day on the Ben in the middle of February, I think that an appreciation of the cairn's aesthetics might be overshadowed a tad by the relief of finding it!
Aesthetically, I don't like it. It looks rather too much like a stubby phallus for my liking, and the numbers just look a bit naff. By comparison the flag had a certain archaic and traditional charm.
However, in terms of its logistical and ethical value as a marker and an anchor, I can't get worked up. It does however seem that quite a lot of discussion and hard work has served to not really change things very much.
Just waiting for the first "Is there tat round the cairn" thread of the winter!
> It looks rather too much like a stubby phallus for my liking
Are we to surmise you'd prefer a more soaring, majestic phallus?
No, I think it's quite an appropriate piece of commentary on the effect of winter on male vitality. Mine always goes stubby when it's cold.
Frankly i think the removal of the aluminum flag was uncalled for and unecessary, a reasurring beacon to generations of mountaineers with historical importance. If it was an eyesore and considered junk, why replace with this obtrusive cairn, i thought the JM trust had a policy of removing cairns and such like from the mountain, hypocrasy springs to mind.
My stubby phallus? I should hope not.
> No, I think it's quite an appropriate piece of commentary on the effect of winter on male vitality. Mine always goes stubby when it's cold.
What, two walnuts and a radish?
Alan Halewood. Trust you to raise the tone.
Have JMT considered that it will become a default abseil anchor, and factored that into it's construction and positioning? My view, which I expressed at the time, was that either there should be nothing, or something that people can ab off of safely and without leaving tat.
We'll see how people treat it i suppose...
I can see a plethora of tat accumulating, as older stuff gets buried by snow. I can also see the occasional zealot cutting said tat away, and the occasional novice getting in a flap because there is nothing in-situ.
I can also conjure up a nightmare scenario whereby someone digs out what they think is a buried loop of tat around the cairn, commits to it then discovers it isn't. But I suppose such nightmare scenarios are integral to the activity.
Good effort getting that massive stone on the top!
I think a marker is better than no marker.
On a side note, although climbers like to take the moral high ground and want the plateau to be as pure as possible (something I actually agree with), how many of us have emerged somewhere near the summit in winter in bad weather, tired, knackered with nightfall approaching and been grateful to be able to see the marker cairns across the plateau either to reconfirm that the nav off towards the half way lochan is correct or even to use as a primary navigation aid if vis isn't too bad?
Before this thread cropped up I had asked the John Muir Trust why there was no abseil aid. It seemed to me that the marker served two purposes, one as a marker and two, as an abseil aid when the cornice is big. I had spoken to Martin as he was building the cairn and he had been quite positive about it so to save anyone else asking them the same question, here is their answer:
> The John Muir Trust worked closely with the MCofS and sought advice widely from professional mountaineering sources. It is recognized that a metal post is easier to retrieve a rope from if used to abseil; but has the potential to bend and fail, as would a staple. It is also recognized that a cairn will accumulate snow on its leeward side, potentially making it non visible in high density snow conditions. An appropriate compromise is the now built 1.8 metre high cairn with a small ‘No 4’ on the cap stone to avoid any possible confusion. Those who choose to abseil at this point may choose to construct a snow bollard.
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