/ Number Four Gully Marker Cairn

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Mike Pescod - on 17 Nov 2012
Now the new cairn is in place, I wonder what UKC opinion is - http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=208697

Any thoughts?

Mike
jonnie3430 - on 17 Nov 2012
In reply to Mike Pescod:

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.
AlH - on 17 Nov 2012
In reply to Mike Pescod: Whilst it doesn't offend me aesthetically it feels no more or less pleasing than the flag... just a lot more solid to abseil off of I suppose. However with the size of the beast and its position back from the edge i fear it will become a tat magnet and thats not great.
AlH - on 17 Nov 2012
In reply to AlH: And the 4s will be invisible for most of the winter if it rimes up like the other cairns. I don't think its particularly visually intrusive as its only really obvious from a small area of the plateau near to the top of the Gully.
drmarten on 18 Nov 2012
In reply to AlH:
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.
Ronbo - on 18 Nov 2012
In reply to Mike Pescod:
I don't think an abseil point is needed, but if it was a chain round the cairn would be a much safer option.
Jamie B - on 18 Nov 2012
In reply to Ronbo:

> 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?


Ronbo - on 18 Nov 2012
In reply to Jamie Bankhead:
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.
MG - on 18 Nov 2012
In reply to Mike Pescod: Looks neat and tidy. Nice job!
Cuthbert on 18 Nov 2012
In reply to Mike Pescod:

Looks fine to me.
Murko Fuzz - on 18 Nov 2012
In reply to Mike Pescod:

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.
Eric9Points - on 18 Nov 2012
In reply to Mike Pescod:

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.
Jasonic - on 19 Nov 2012
In reply to Mike Pescod: I think it will be invisible in winter, the 4s will rime up. In retrospect the metal flag was more functional & visible under most circumstances- bring back the flag!
Andy Nisbet - on 19 Nov 2012
In reply to Jasonic:

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.
FrankBooth - on 20 Nov 2012
In reply to Mike Pescod:
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!
Jamie B - on 20 Nov 2012
In reply to Mike Pescod:

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!
nufkin - on 20 Nov 2012
In reply to Jamie Bankhead:
> (In reply to Mike Pescod)
>
> It looks rather too much like a stubby phallus for my liking

Are we to surmise you'd prefer a more soaring, majestic phallus?
Jamie B - on 20 Nov 2012
In reply to nufkin:

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.
wee jamie on 20 Nov 2012
In reply to Jamie Bankhead: Could I ab off it in dodgy snow conditions?
Fergal - on 20 Nov 2012
In reply to Mike Pescod:

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.
Jamie B - on 20 Nov 2012
In reply to wee jamie:

> Could I ab off it in dodgy snow conditions?

My stubby phallus? I should hope not.

AlH - on 20 Nov 2012
In reply to Quagmire: If someone hadn't tossed the flag down the Gully the status quo might have remained for a while. I don't think its the fact that its particularly obtrusive that caused the removal of the flag. Its more that you are right JMT's policy is the removal of artificial markers of all type. The only reason they built a cairn is that climbers responded to their survey of opinions asking that something be left. JMT built something more solid than a metal pole that I stuck back in a pile of rocks and that they felt was less 'artificial' and more in keeping with the materials found on the plateau. I'm not saying I agree with them... just explaining their though process based on events and the feedback they were given.
Murko Fuzz - on 20 Nov 2012
In reply to Jamie Bankhead:
> (In reply to nufkin)
>
> 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?
Murko Fuzz - on 20 Nov 2012
In reply to AlH:

Alan Halewood. Trust you to raise the tone.
AlH - on 20 Nov 2012
In reply to Murko Fuzz: Away and read the reply to your last FB post.
AlH - on 20 Nov 2012
In reply to Murko Fuzz: And I had to belay under a bridging Bankhead with a tear in the crotch of his overtrousers this week. I've had quite enough of his nether regions thankyou.
Murko Fuzz - on 20 Nov 2012
In reply to AlH:

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...
AlH - on 20 Nov 2012
In reply to Murko Fuzz: Its strong enough (IMHO). It just might be a little too far back for ropes to run easily. Bizarrely the foundations of the old flag cairn are now of importance as a botanical habitat (climbers pi**?) and the new cairn is built (carefully) on the same spot.
Jamie B - on 20 Nov 2012
In reply to Murko Fuzz:

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.
Murko Fuzz - on 20 Nov 2012
In reply to AlH:

Wow !?
tobykeep - on 20 Nov 2012
In reply to Mike Pescod:

Good effort getting that massive stone on the top!
AlH - on 20 Nov 2012
In reply to tobykeep: Think Egyptian pyramids... After over a day of winching it a short way across the plateau he built a ramp at a gentle angle to winch the block up!
Michael Gordon - on 20 Nov 2012
In reply to above:

I think a marker is better than no marker.
bowls - on 20 Nov 2012
In reply to Mike Pescod:

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?
jonnie3430 - on 21 Nov 2012
In reply to Mike Pescod:

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:

> Firstly thank you for your enquiry regarding the work done on number 4 marker, secondly apologies for the time it has taken me to get back to you.

> To answer your question over the reason behind there being no abseil aid added to the cairn:

> The John Muir Trust as a wild land organisation would prefer that there were no artificial markers, including cairns on their property what so ever, as set out in our policy statement on the management of the Ben Nevis summit plateau: http://www.jmt.org/policy-ben-nevis-summit-management.asp

> However we do recognize that there are specific navigation aids, especially on the Ben that have distinct, historical mountaineering importance that serve as a significant safety feature.

> I am sure you will have read the outcome of the Consultation, see link for further details: http://www.jmt.org/news.asp?s=2&cat=Land&nid=JMT-N10676

> Through the consultation the John Muir Trust had, which ran from November 2011 to the end of May then the consensus was we needed to maintain a navigational aid at the location of the redundant aluminum post.
> 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.

> Both the JMT and MCofS maintain that as a climber/mountaineer it is important to develop continual self reliance in the mountains

> Yes I agree the cairn may well accumulate tat, which as with Tower gap, may well be removed by any mountain user at any time. I also understand that Martin considered a staple in the cairn to be possible, but not appropriate in this given situation.

> I have tried to cover your query as best as I can, if you’re still in doubt please do get back in touch.

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