/ Climbers and Churches! I need help

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Simon Alden - on 10 Jan 2013
Hi everyone, one of our local climbers decided to bolt three routes on what is claimed to be private property, taking a wall right of a chapel in a cave and then following a line, in the case of one route, directly above the chapel. See pic: http://www.josephspiteri.com/keyword/speranza/1/906249666_N8tes#!i=906249666&k=gPPrjQP

The church authority has complained and want us to remove the bolts immediately. We have a last-ditch meeting later today to try and avoid this as the routes are brilliant and obviously a lot of work went into creating them in the first place. I'm looking for pics or stories which i can bring to the attention of the church rep showing climbers climbing near churches or chapels or situations where climbers and the church have cooperated and made this overlap of church/sport work to the advantage of both. Ideally I will be able to show them that the fact that climbers do these routes can be used to the advantage of the church..any ideas?
The Pylon King on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:

You need to see if you can find depictions of jesus climbing, that would help. But of course Jesus wouldn't have desecrated the rock with bolts.
Denni on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:

Rename the route stairway to heaven, that may help :0)
Sarah G on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:
made this overlap of church/sport work to the advantage of both. Ideally I will be able to show them that the fact that climbers do these routes can be used to the advantage of the church..any ideas?

What advantage, precisely?

Frankly, if you have gone ahead and bolted onto the property without the permission of the owner is pretty arrogant. Even if not, then the notion of climbers scrabbling about above and around the church is a bad idea- who is going to pay for any repair should damage occur, including wear marks?

Sx

nniff - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:

To be honest I can see why they complained, but you might try the tack that the Church, mountains and climbing have a long history of close association, viz the numerous summit crosses in the Alps (Google).

If they don't take that argument at face value, then you could point out that stuffing a 15 foot high cross into the top of a mountain is somewhat more intrusive than a handful of bolts in a crag next to a church.
Howard J - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale: I agree with SarahG. Whether or not the crag is private property (and it will presumably belong to someone, if not the church) to bolt routes this close to someone's premises without consulting them first is thoughtless at best and arrogant at worst, and throws the whole climbing community into disrepute.

I suspect the church is not only concerned about possible physical damage but that climbing (or any sporting activity) is inappropriate and disrespectful in that location, regardless of how often the chapel is used for services. It's difficult to see what benefit the church might get from it.
Howardw1968 - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:

Firstly I agree with the people who say that you shouldn't have bolted it.
Secondly the church is unlikely to to change it's mind they are closed minded on many many issues and wont understand climbing in the slightest.
thirdly this may help your sport/church link and it was on songs of praise.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlCAExJXIpo

Finally given my experience of church I suggest you pray about it cause usually when they are dealing with this sort of thing they forget too!

Should this be a BMC help issue?
Howardw1968 - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale: ok it's in malta not BMC then!
Simon Alden - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale: Yes we all agree that the act of bolting the rock without permission of the church was not exactly the best thing to do! But this is the situation we have today and we're trying to find a solution. In terms of advantages for the church i'm thinking along the lines of telling them that its an opportunity for them to "engage" with youth and more people will come to the area and enjoy seeing the church, maybe we can name one of the routes after the patron saint...not great ideas but then thats why I posted in this forum! :)
Jim Lancs - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale: Isn't it that church that is in the centre of a really viscous argument about commercial development in the area? And isn't it a World Heritage site or something?

The bolting at best seems a little insensitive - good luck with trying to get the Church authorities to see your routes as having some 'benefit' to their lives.

Simon Alden - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale: No its not a world heritage site...in fact some have expressed the opinion that the area isnt really private property at all but we don't want to escalate the issue
Trangia - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:

You need to appologise profusely and crawl like mad! As has been said to bolt on private land near anyone's property is downright unthoughtful and arrogant.

Accept their decision with grace. Remember that it's not just the church authorities you are dealing with, but their whole congregation. They will talk and word will fly round the island. As climbers you need to be seen in the best possible light by the local population and want to avoid access issues.

Out of curiousity do you encounter any problems or conflict with bird shooters on the cliff tops?
Simon Alden - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to Trangia: We're crawling! No one is saying that the bolter did the right thing believe me..like I said, we're trying to save the situation but at the same time trying to save the routes too. We meet hunters from time to time but its not really an issue. We say hi and they say hi back usually and we continue doing our own thing. Popular areas like Babu and Lapsi we dont meet hunters at all.
Rollo - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale: How hard are the routes? (they look quite hard)

Can't see you making the case for inclusivity of youth if they're all 7a-8c !!
Simon Alden - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to Rollo: The routes are 6b, 7a and 8a is the hardest going above the chapel.
kevin stephens - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:
It's not as if you are short of rock in Malta (or sunshine) unlike in the UK. Whatever your religious beliefs putting a route so close to the church was bad karma, and the (justifiably) negative reaction of the church may have implications for climbing much further afield in Malta. The only way to "save" this situation would be to arrange to remove the bolts and move on.
3 Names - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:

As with anything else in life, the only guaranteed way to resolve this issue is money.

The only question is how much of a donation will it take?
jon on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to kevin stephens:

I was about to post exactly the same thing... almost word for word!
ksjs - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale: What a setting - very cool indeed. Good luck.
Simon Alden - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to Vince McNally: We've tried the donation route..and offered to help with maintenance and looking after the chapel but it didnt make any impression so far :(
ads.ukclimbing.com
kevin stephens - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:
> (In reply to Rollo) 8a is the hardest going above the chapel.

Is this for real!!!!

I can imagine some poor soul seeking quite religous solace in the church being disturbed by the sound of loud profanities through the roof from another blown redpoint attempt.

Take a step back and look at yourself!

Simon Alden - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to kevin stephens: This is a country chapel which is hardly used...in all the years I've been climbing in the area its always been closed and I've never seen anyone near it. We are trying to get a dispensation to leave the bolts in place so that one or two months a year the routes would be climbable. Very obviously no climbing would take place if there is a service or any activity at the chapel! The point of this post wasnt to justify the placement of the bolts but to try and get a positive out of the situation!
getandy - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale: Perhaps you can convince them that a fee box be placed outside for those wanting to use the routes. I know a number of caves in the mendips have used this route around similar issues.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:

Tell them that Saint Anasazi (the patron saint of climbers) appeared in a vision and told you to seek out the chapel in the cave and there create a climbing route in his name. After many years searching you found the chapel in the vision and bolted the route along the line revealed to you by the saint but were unable to climb it. Seven days later on the feast of St Anasazi (10th May), it was revealed to you that you must make an offering of 100.

As the money left your wallet Saint Anasazi descended in a blaze of light and blessed your climbing shoes. You felt a tingle in your feet and then a searing pain as the shoes shrunk gripped your feet tighter and tighter. As you turned to leave the chapel the rubber stuck to the floor of the chapel like glue. With your miraculous footwear you easily ascended the new routes above the chapel and from that day forth you have been climbing 3 grades harder. Now St Anasazi's shrine at their chapel will be a place of pilgrimage for all climbers.
Chris the Tall - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:
Pope Pius XI was apparently a keen mountaineer in his youth - the Achille Ratti club was named after him - and I've got a feeling that both JPII and Benedict were too.

Not too sure about their feelings on sport climbing though, and a route going directly above the chapel sounds pretty out of order.
chanandler bong - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale: could totally see the churches point. until i seen the picture. what a great place to climb. church looks a bit out of place
cave should be filled with jolly rock worshipers praying they can tame the awesome roof-good luck with you problem
Howard J - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:
I suspect the view of the church will be that it doesn't matter that the chapel is used only occasionally, it is sanctified ground and should be treated with respect.
Rigid Raider - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to kevin stephens:

Back in the 70s we were roundly abused by the man who lived in a hut at the foot of The Roaches and was upset by all our shouting. It wasn't a church though.
Timmd on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:Only option is to remove the bolts I think.

I'd have definately asked first.
Howard J - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:
> (in fact some have expressed the opinion that the area isnt really private property at all but we don't want to escalate the issue

Even if the church doesn't own it it seems highly unlikely that the land isn't owned by somebody. Malta is a small island which has been occupied for thousands of years and I would expect that every square inch has been claimed by someone.

Even if it's publicly owned (by the government or local authority) that wouldn't necessarily mean that the public has access to it, let alone the right to bolt and climb it.

I think you're wise not to pursue this argument.
Timmd on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to Howard J:
> (In reply to coverdale)
> I suspect the view of the church will be that it doesn't matter that the chapel is used only occasionally, it is sanctified ground and should be treated with respect.

That's what i'm thinking, whatever one's views of religion the church was there before the routes were, and different groups need to peacefully coexist where possible.
Fraser on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:

I'd suggest removing the bolts immediately and tell the local climber not to be so arrogant or selfish. It looks like there are lot of other opportunities for 'brilliant routes'.

Sorry, you did ask!
Timmd on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:

I think that's a beautifull chapel by the way, like a place for peacefull reflection even when it's locked up.
Dave Garnett - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to jon:
> (In reply to kevin stephens)
>
> I was about to post exactly the same thing... almost word for word!

Me too. I struggle to imagine anyone thinking it was a good idea to bolt somewhere like this. The bolts should come out, and grovelling apologies made.
steve taylor - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:

As an access rep I've had to deal with several issues caused by inappropriate/inconsiderate/unskilled bolting efforts by lots of climbers.

I've got pretty upset by some of the actions that short-sighted climbers have taken in order to fill in small gaps in the crags, or bolt-up three star classics in bolt-free areas.

IMHO, this is much worse than anything I've had to deal with. You've got acres of rock over there and someone has got it into their head to bolt this small crag, where there was bound to be a negative reaction which would not only reflect on the bolter, but possibly on the whole climbing population of Malta. Such a shame - I've seen Dave Simmonite's photo collection of his trip last year and the place looks magical.

Eat some humble pie, apologise for the insensitivity of the bolter and remove the bolts as soon/cleanly as possible.
winhill - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:

A few churches have allowed people to do charity abseils down them, in fact a quick google for derby cathedral abseil brings up the website of one G Stainforth, of this parish, so to speak, who has a load on his website.

You could offer to do this on one of their other churches to raise funds, certainly much more lucrative than climbers putting their hands in their own pockets. Although it will bring the situation out into the open and possibly raise more objections from the church's other members.

Managed access sounds good. What about painting the bolts to make them less obvious?

Longer term the Colditz strategy of woodworm in the rafters might pay off.
jkarran - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:

Short of a hefty donation I don't see what benefits you can possibly bring the church. Most likely they'll eventually end up with a damaged roof as bits and bobs get dropped onto fragile tile.

Looks to me like your options are:
*Apologise then try the bribe, see if you can afford it.
*Apologise then strip the routes, re-use the gear elsewhere.
*Ignore the problem, climb when the church is vacant, risk losing the gear and risk follow-up action when the roof gets broken.

jk
Timmd on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to steve taylor: There's the heritage side to things I guess, with it looking like it's an old building.
Morgan P - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to Rigid Raider: Is that the one built into the cave/boulders? If so it's a memorial climbers hut now - how things change!
Owen W-G - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:

Chop the bolts and move on with an apology to the vicar.
Fraser on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:
> The point of this post wasnt to justify the placement of the bolts but to try and get a positive out of the situation!

I think the consensus on here at least seems to be that you're being a bit disingenuous in your objective. You're really trying to find an excuse to let the routes still be climbed and get a 'positive' out of it for the climbers; the church's expressed 'positive' seems to be getting the bolts removed.

Simon Alden - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to Fraser: The consensus, even here, is that bolting the routes without permission was not the right thing to do. The discussion has been interesting though..I'm off to the meeting in half an hour!
Trangia - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> (In reply to coverdale)
>
> Tell them that Saint Anasazi (the patron saint of climbers) appeared in a vision and told you to seek out the chapel in the cave and there create a climbing route in his name. After many years searching you found the chapel in the vision and bolted the route along the line revealed to you by the saint but were unable to climb it. Seven days later on the feast of St Anasazi (10th May), it was revealed to you that you must make an offering of 100.
>
> As the money left your wallet Saint Anasazi descended in a blaze of light and blessed your climbing shoes. You felt a tingle in your feet and then a searing pain as the shoes shrunk gripped your feet tighter and tighter. As you turned to leave the chapel the rubber stuck to the floor of the chapel like glue. With your miraculous footwear you easily ascended the new routes above the chapel and from that day forth you have been climbing 3 grades harder. Now St Anasazi's shrine at their chapel will be a place of pilgrimage for all climbers.

Oh! and the sequel to this story is that the bolters must renounce all material things, take life vows of chastity, go into the chapel to pray 3 times a day and enter a holy order in return for being allowed to climb there hen not praying. It the climbing worth the price? :)
Simon Alden - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to Trangia: An update: just got back from the meeting and there seems to be a glimmer of hope. We've been asked to submit a written proposal including the points we discussed including positives for the church. Yes we did come up with some! Fingers crossed.
Trangia - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:
> (In reply to Trangia) An update: just got back from the meeting and there seems to be a glimmer of hope. We've been asked to submit a written proposal including the points we discussed including positives for the church. Yes we did come up with some! Fingers crossed.

Good luck!

Nigel Modern on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:
> (In reply to Vince McNally) We've tried the donation route..and offered to help with maintenance and looking after the chapel but it didn't make any impression so far :(

Consent to baptism?

btw Can I just point out that not all churches are against mountaineering as someone implied higher up the thread? Ours actually has a mini-club which advertises our activities in the notices - interesting contrast to the flower arranging (I jest, more likely to be talking about services for the homeless and btw we ran the first Foodbank and these are now popping up everywhere in these dire economic times)

Dig, dig, slight counter to UKC's very vocal atheist contingent :O)

Sorry for hijack - I genuinely hope the church see the sense of becoming more exciting and relevant.
JJL - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:

Man up, take the bolts out, apologise, give them a donation and go somewhere else.

What the hell were you thinking?
Dave Kerr - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to JJL:
> (In reply to coverdale)
>
> Man up, take the bolts out, apologise, give them a donation and go somewhere else.
>
> What the hell were you thinking?

This.

Rock Badger on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale: just ignore them, back in the day they probably just built the church on a pre christian site anyway,,would like to see some church minister chapel dweler remove the bolts,,, religion,,,well up for ruining peoples fun,,,,and causing wars,,,,surely they've got better things to worry about like people using contraception,,,,,,
Dave 88 - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to coverdale:

Tell them God told you to put the bolts there. They can't really dispute that.
Nigel Modern on 12 Jan 2013
In reply to Dave 88: I believe there are quite a few references to bolts from Heaven...

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