/ Trad climbing, dying on its arse?

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colin struthers - on 19 Feb 2013
A recent thread about replacing/removing fixed gear at Stony Middleton stimulated a lot of more general discussion about the future of trad climbing.

Some people felt that many long established trad crags were now suffering decline and deterioration through lack of traffic

Others disputed this or felt that less traffic was a good thing.

It was generally accepted that a large proportion of the current generation of young climbers have entered the sport through indoor walls.

It was noted that many of these new climbers seem to be more interested in sport routes and bouldering when they start to climb outdoors.

One poster described a situation in which we were 'sleep walking' towards a different sort of climbing future because not enough was being done to help young climbers adapt to the challenges of trad climbing or to overcome the perceived obstacles to getting into it.

Personally, I trad climb a lot, I sport climb a lot and I boulder a bit(creaky limbs). I value every aspect of our sport but I fear that much of our best rock will return to an unclimbable or at least unappealing state if current patterns persist.

In short, I think, (with a little bit of deliberate provocation) that trad climbing as we know it may be 'dying on its arse'

Is it?

Does it matter?

The Lemming - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

Could be something to do with the instant gratification of walking up to a boulder and doing a problem then and there. The safe matress also aids the sterile moment of the event.

Who really want's to do a 3 hour walk-in for a few chossy routes on a mountain crag where it may be cold, damp or worse, with little protection and a long way from help. And then there's the 3 hour walk-out.

didntcomelast on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers: I have recently brought a few friends into climbing through an indoor wall (bad weather in 2012 and the ease of teaching the basics in a 'safe' environment). I did try to introduce a couple to the world of trad but they were quickly put off by the lack of speed of progress in their climbing ability, and the far slower nature of outdoor climbing. It didn't help when I enlightened them to the cost of gear used in trad climbing.
It is my intention to try again when spring comes and get people outdoors but i agree with your comments Colin, trad climbing needs something to encourage more people to become involved.
dunnyg - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to tony forster: Why do we need more people involved? Stannage always seems plenty busy
Karl Bromelow on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to The Lemming:
>
> Who really want's to do a 3 hour walk-in for a few chossy routes on a mountain crag where it may be cold, damp or worse, with little protection and a long way from help. And then there's the 3 hour walk-out.

I do. And there'll be plenty more who would get pleasure from that. Therein, maybe, lies the difference.

Franco Cookson on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

The danger is not that there aren't enough people climbing outside really - It's a shame that people don't see the attraction of all these wild crags, but there's not much that can be done about that and both styles of climbing are pleasant. What is dangerous is that people group trad climbing with sport climbing, or even indoor climbing. When 90% of climbers have never lead a trad climb, democratic decision-making organisations like the BMC are unlikely to primarily represent the view of trad climbers.

There's a further debate to be had about why no one's climbing new grit-style routes at higher grades.
colin struthers - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to dunnyg:

Stanage yeah, but have you been up on Dow in the mist recently?

Ugh, cobwebs!

It's spooky.

I get lonely up there.
didntcomelast on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to dunnyg: If we increased the number of indoor or sport climbers to climbing trad routes there would be potential benefits, the most obvious is in terms of the increase in spending on gear, thus benefiting the climbing economy.
The increase would then raise the profile of outdoor trad climbers and add weight to improving access rights, (providing of course that everyone behaves when playing outside).
Granted easy to access crags would see more traffic which could be detrimental, but with effective management by individuals (and groups) there is space for everyone.
dunnyg - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers: Why would you want other people there? Dow is hardly and "unpopular" crag - its just rarely in decent condition.
Gordon Stainforth - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to dunnyg:

Also, the Lakes and Snowdonia crags were in exceptionally bad condition last summer because of the weather.
andic - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

I suppose it depends what your friends are like but of the ones I have helped to go climbing starting with indoor coaching then moving onto grit, only one in 5 has shown any personal initiative to go climbing, ie been out without me or bought anything beyond a harness and boots.

stroppygob - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers: Who'd want to be doing on dirty cold wet rock what they could be doing in the nice warm gym, why sport climb? After all, once a route is bolted down to safe levels, where is the challenge?
Andy S - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers: yeah I think you might have a point
craig1983 - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

For me, the reason I started sport climbing instead of trad was the cost of gear. For sport you just need a dozen or so quickdraws....for trad you can spend hundreds of pounds on a decent rack, and thats hard to justify when you're just starting out.
Jonny2vests - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

> In short, I think, (with a little bit of deliberate provocation) that trad climbing as we know it may be 'dying on its arse'
>
> Is it?

Don't be daft. I can't think of a time when there's been more trad climbers.
xplorer on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

Letting some venues return to there natural state surely isn't a bad thing. Climbing is going evolve, as it has done for the last one hundred years.
mikekeswick - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers: For me sport climbing is climbing with the fun taken out.....
I do sport climb when the oppertunity arises but where's the adventure, the unknown, the need to be able to control your mind (granted this does play a part in sport but you get my drift..).
I think the trend towards more people sport climbing is largely due to the world of instant gratification, safety first, mamby pambyism that we live in now.
Why does climbing need yet more people doing it anyway. So what if the mountain crags are looking green after this last summer. 'Decline and deterioration' isn't how I see it. The crags are simply looking more like they should and would if we stopped crawling all over them! Anyway a bit of green slimyness adds to the spice!

deacondeacon - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to mikekeswick: you could always just live and let live. The majority of very good trad climbers are also out there sport climbing and bouldering, even if its just for training, although in reality I'm sure they're getting plenty of enjoyment out of it.
As for your reasoning to why sport climbing is so popular, is top roping lots of climbs that are too hard for you any better? Pots and kettles spring to mind.
Jonny2vests - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to mikekeswick:
> (In reply to colin struthers) For me sport climbing is climbing with the fun taken out.....

> I think the trend towards more people sport climbing is largely due to the world of instant gratification, safety first, mamby pambyism that we live in now.

What data source are you and others using for this paradigm shift to sport climbing? It's not like we have masses of sport crags.

So clearly you don't get sport climbing, it's just a different game though and your reasons for why others like it are basically self invented fabrications to fit in with some long fermented jaded world view about how it's all going to pot, like every generation before you.
Skyfall - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

I suspect that the absolute numbers of trad climers is hardly declining but as a percentage of the climbing population it's probably declining quite heavily (as people focus on other disciplines eg. sports and bouldering). However, is that a problem?

As climbers get older they do tend to take less risks and there is a marked number who turn more towards sports climbing. New entrants to climbing nowadays do tend to start at the wall and get into bouldering/sports climbing as the emphasis is different. But a large number of the truly adventurous types will get into trad.

Everyone has commented on the rubbish weather in some recent years and so a lot of poeple will do much of their climbing abroad, often sports.
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Jonny2vests - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to mikekeswick:

Edit: It seems your 27 and have been climbing for 10 minutes. But you sound like Fred Becky's dad.
mikekeswick - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to jonny2vests: MY data sources are my eyes!! Most people's data source's now come from tapping keyboards....which I feel is a shame.
When did I say there was a paradigm shift towards sport climbing? I don't think I would have used that phrase out of context.
I have done plenty of sport climbing just like i've done plenty of trad climbing. I feel I have a right to my view of the two as indeed do you.
I feel that sport climbing has very few of the things that atracted me to climbing in the first place. It's a little like climbing by numbers...
Sure sport climbing has it's place.
Please define a self invented fabrication. Flowery language is fine as long as it has meaning and relavence :)
mikekeswick - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to jonny2vests: I'm truely flattered that you've got nothing better to do than 'check out my profile'....
For your information i've been climbing just about every weekend for 10 or so years in many different places.
muppetfilter - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers: Is a direct result of the way climbing has been dumbed down of recent years. Take NICAS where kids arent let loose to discover and invent their own version of climbing but where they bust complete X and Y to get a signature for the next level.
Rather than leaving climbing for people to invent their own version of on their own terms we have created a McDonalds system for the lazy of not only walking but of thinking where you are told what to climb indoors then climb low grade sport routes outside on a crag near the road.
jkarran - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to stroppygob:

> After all, once a route is bolted down to safe levels, where is the challenge?

In climbing it.

OP: No, I don't think traditional climbing is dying on it's arse. Fashions change, what's new and trendy for a few years is eventually recognised for what it is and it finds its place in the general order of things. At some point the neglected limestone crags offering a bit of adventure close to home without big drives will be back in fashion. I don't think the gritstone is really suffering for a lack of traffic, if anything a very few honeytrap venues are suffering badly from overcrowding. Away from the grit the high mountain crags may not currently be in vogue but like the coastal crags they're rarely empty and don't require a huge amount of traffic to keep the climbs in condition.

What I do see is sport climbing growing in popularity as accessible routes are opened up and erratic unsafe bolting is fixed. Combined with the influx of 'wall trained climbers I can see sport being very popular for some time to come. In places this is going to cause conflict but in general with good communication between interested parties they can coexist quite amicably without detriment to each other.

jk
Jonny2vests - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to mikekeswick:
> (In reply to jonny2vests) MY data sources are my eyes!! Most people's data source's now come from tapping keyboards....which I feel is a shame.

So you based it on a sample of one (anecdotal) source. You. And keyboards can be quite useful for finding out the truth you know.

> When did I say there was a paradigm shift towards sport climbing? I don't think I would have used that phrase out of context.

That was my phrase not yours. But you and others have implied that there is a trend towards sport. Honest question - based on what?

> I have done plenty of sport climbing just like i've done plenty of trad climbing. I feel I have a right to my view of the two as indeed do you.

So we've both looked at each others profiles then.

> I feel that sport climbing has very few of the things that atracted me to climbing in the first place. It's a little like climbing by numbers...
> Sure sport climbing has it's place.

Ok. Then your hardly in a position to slag of its advocates then.

> Please define a self invented fabrication. Flowery language is fine as long as it has meaning and relavence :)

As you said, your data source is your eyes.
victim of mathematics - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to muppetfilter:

What an utter load of horseshit.

To the OP:

No, it isn't. There's loads more people on the crags than even 10 years ago when I started. I love chossy esoteric bobbins (hell, I've even been to Scotland).
In reply to colin struthers:

I think it has already 'died on its arse'. 30 years ago there were (a guess?) 10% of the climbers that are around now. There were more routes getting done on more cliffs and the standards being climbed were much higher.


Chris

Jonny2vests - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to muppetfilter:

I blame harnesses. And those sticky shoes. And those coggy things that go in cracks - the junk food of gear. We used pipe cleaners back in the day.
Jonny2vests - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> (In reply to colin struthers)
>
> I think it has already 'died on its arse'. 30 years ago there were (a guess?) 10% of the climbers that are around now. There were more routes getting done on more cliffs and the standards being climbed were much higher.
>
>
> Chris

Well that's because they were lucky enough to have more gaps Chris.
EeeByGum - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Franco Cookson:

> There's a further debate to be had about why no one's climbing new grit-style routes at higher grades.

Perhaps the only joy to climbing these modern test pieces is to be the first to climb them? Most are not the hardest climbs or come with a luring track record so why should people climb them when there are classic hard climbs with good moves and history to boot?

I suppose it is pretty difficult to be a full time climbing bum these days.

I think one problem with trad climbing is the amount of faffing involved, most of which is totally unnecessary. I remember once doing some soloing on the East Face of Tryfan. A pair rocked up as I was setting off and set about their faffing ritual. I did my 100m route, summited, had a look at the view and then descended back to the ledge to find another route. I found them still faffing and still no where near ready to climb i.e. 40 minutes from arriving at the climb to still not climbing.

I think if we are to introduce new people to climbing, we need to climb more and faff less. You see people climbing grit routes in the Peak who spend 30 - 40 minutes faffing about with gear and belays but only 5 minutes of actual climbing. No wonder it puts off the youth who crave instant gratification and quick wins.
victim of mathematics - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> (In reply to colin struthers)
>
> I think it has already 'died on its arse'. 30 years ago there were (a guess?) 10% of the climbers that are around now. There were more routes getting done on more cliffs and the standards being climbed were much higher.
>
>
> Chris

Care to explain why the average grade in the UKC logbooks has hovered consistently around HS since 1955 then?

Sounds like rose-tinted nostalgic ramblings to me. Maybe you just don't hang out with the right people?

Ramblin dave - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Franco Cookson:
> (In reply to colin struthers)
>
> When 90% of climbers have never lead a trad climb, democratic decision-making organisations like the BMC are unlikely to primarily represent the view of trad climbers.

I think this is the real point.

It's great fun for now to laugh at the fact that people are stacked five deep for the sport routes at Horseshoe while you've got the whole of Stoney / Dovedale / wherever to yourself, but if we continue going in the same direction then somewhere down the line, some of the people stacked twenty deep at Horseshoe are going to start wondering why it's so important that Stoney be maintained as a trad crag for the benefit of the three people a year who actually go there.
Jonny2vests - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to EeeByGum:

I'm sure we've all faffed at some point.
jkarran - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave:

> ... but if we continue going in the same direction then somewhere down the line, some of the people stacked twenty deep at Horseshoe are going to start wondering why it's so important that Stoney be maintained as a trad crag for the benefit of the three people a year who actually go there.

Or alternatively they'll wander down the road and find out for themselves whether they like it or not.
jk
Hugh Cottam - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Chris Craggs:
I strongly suspect that you are correct. I've trad climbed for that period in the Peak in particular and it is truly shocking to me that brilliant trad venues such as Chee Tor now get so little traffic. There is a certain irony that it is probably harder to get in to climbing ( certainly in the trad climbing sense ) than it was 30 years ago. It's not so much the proliferation of climbing walls, but the accompanying disappearance of climbing clubs that makes it harder to develop trad climbing skills than it once was. It's a cultural shift that is not easily reversed. I believe that in 20 years time that limestone in Britain will be predominately bolted, which will be a great shame. Chee tor will make a pretty meagre sports crag rather than the fantastic mid grade trad venue that it currently is ( all be it a rather underused one ),

H
Ramblin dave - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to craig1983:
> (In reply to colin struthers)
>
> For me, the reason I started sport climbing instead of trad was the cost of gear. For sport you just need a dozen or so quickdraws....for trad you can spend hundreds of pounds on a decent rack, and thats hard to justify when you're just starting out.

You see, this is the sort of thing I was talking about in the other thread. With due respect to Craig, this isn't a good reason to avoid trad because
a) given that for sport climbing you already need shoes, a harness, a rope, a helmet and a set of quickdraws, the extra expense of a set of nuts (about £70) and a couple of cams (prbably about £100 if you get the right deal) shouldn't put you off for too long. It's a total myth that you need to spend hundreds on two sets of nuts plus micros plus offsets plus hexes plus two sets of cams plus tricams plus micro-cams before you can get onto your first VDiff, and one that shouldn't be hard to dispel and
b) if you get into trad by joining a club (most of which will be glad to have you if you're genuinely interested in learning to climb outdoors) then you can climb on other people's gear for quite a long time anyway.

There are other similarly wrong reasons for getting into sport rather than trad:
1) the idea that you need balls of steel to get on any trad lead (false: if I can do it you can)
2) the idea that you need to go on an expensive course to learn to do it safely (false: most clubs are full of people who are happy to show an enthusiastic newbie the ropes)
3) the idea that you have to start leading sport to get used to leading before it's safe to try trad (hence why noone in the UK climbed before we had bolted routes...)

If people want to mostly climb sport because they've given trad a crack of the whip and find sport is more what they're interested in then that's fine, but if there's a generation coming up who've got no experience of or interest in trad for completely spurious reasons then I think that's something that we should worry about.
tlm - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

> In short, I think, (with a little bit of deliberate provocation) that trad climbing as we know it may be 'dying on its arse'


How many people were trad climbing in the 1960s?

How many trad climb now?

It used to be an obscure hobby that you would only really get involved in by knowing someone else who climbed. Now there are hundreds of clubs, books, videos, information, gear.... Look at how much trad gear is sold....

Even with those who aren't into the outdoors as such and who want a quick, easy fix, there are still thousands of people trompling around out there every weekend, enjoying the crags.

and no - it doesn't matter if they don't do it - it's just for fun at the end of the day. But it would be a horrible shame if all chance for future adventure was obliterated in order to make everything safe and accessible... (but I think the walk ins will always keep some crags safe).
Monk - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

When I started climbing, the big news, the stars and the focus were the like of Ben Moon and Jerry Moffatt climbing big numbers on sport routes. The major topic of contention was the death of trad climbing and 'the thin end of the wedge'.

Then came hard grit and suddenly everyone was climbing trad again. Shortly after that bouldering was 'invented', bouldering guidebooks started appearing and bouldering took off in a huge way (for obvious reasons, in my mind).

Is anything really so different now to how it was before? Trends come and go, but crags close to towns and cities are always busy.
Ramblin dave - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to jkarran:
> (In reply to Ramblin dave)
>
> [...]
>
> Or alternatively they'll wander down the road and find out for themselves whether they like it or not.
> jk

General trends seem to suggest otherwise - we fairly regularly see talk about bolting crags because they're neglected as trad crags and the area "needs" another beginners' sport crag, and relatively little about bold trad crags getting rediscovered because people were fed up of queuing for the 6a clip-ups down the road.
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Greenbanks - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to EeeByGum:
>I remember once doing some soloing on the East Face of Tryfan. A pair rocked up as I was setting off and set about their faffing ritual. I did my 100m route, summited, had a look at the view and then descended back to the ledge to find another route<

But, were they having fun? Gaining enjoyment in being outdoors? Doing it their way?

I don't think traditional versions of rock climbing will ever die, as long as you leave folk to get on with being themselves, naturally exploring their own 'new' environments and having adventure (at whatever level...).

The same goes for other variants of the sport. I prefer rock climbing in its more trad format - it gives me things that the others don't. But that's me. Personal likes/dislikes.

A pity if an interesting thread descended into partisanship

:-))
Ramblin dave - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Greenbanks:

> A pity if an interesting thread descended into partisanship

FWIW, my point isn't that people should be prevented from sport climbing if that's what they want to do, it's wondering whether there might be more that trad climbers could be doing either individually or collectively (through the BMC / MCoS) to avoid people being put off trying trad for spurious non-reasons.
Simon Caldwell - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:
> have you been up on Dow in the mist recently?

I don't think there are fewer trad climbers about (try Stanage on a sunny summer weekend), but there are certainly fewer who are willing to climb (especially in the mountains) in anything other than perfect conditions.
jkarran - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave:

Well I'm quite possibly one of those people you've seen 'queueing' at Horseshoe although since I don't really do queueing very well I suspect I prefer to think of it as resting. That's exactly what I've done this year and my conclusion is Stoney is a mixed bag, much like horseshoe, some gems and much dross but certainly worth another look.

What were you doing there anyway if you're so dead against it?

jk
GridNorth - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers: I think it's in decline. A lot of the older climbers, like me, who didn't mind the walk-ins when they were young are now finding them a little tough. We are also less inclined to stick our necks out. Combine this with the fact that most people are being introduced to climbing via indoors walls and the relative safety of sport it's hardly surprising. I have no hard evidence to back this up but I have noticed that places like Avon Gorge get a lot less traffic and I am told that a lot of the crags in the Lakes are suffering from neglect.
Jamie B - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to craig1983:

> for trad you can spend hundreds of pounds on a decent rack, and that's hard to justify when you're just starting out.

Really? I found the justification easy. I looked at pictures of great adventures on Glencoe, Gogarth and the Tre Cime and reckoned that was the greatest thrill I could have in my life. £400 seemed like peanuts to pay for that, even on a student grant.

Ramblin dave - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to jkarran:
> (In reply to Ramblin dave)
>
> What were you doing there anyway if you're so dead against it?

See above: I'm not dead against it. I climb both sport and trad myself, albeit fairly badly.
Bruce Hooker - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to craig1983:
> (In reply to colin struthers)
>
> For me, the reason I started sport climbing instead of trad was the cost of gear. For sport you just need a dozen or so quickdraws....for trad you can spend hundreds of pounds on a decent rack, and that's hard to justify when you're just starting out.

You don't have to spend much, once you've got the crabs. A few slings then make your own nuts, it'll do up to quite high levels of climbing. You may not be able to do certain routes but I doubt that more than a few climbers really need expensive gear. As time goes on you can buy a few commercial bits and pieces, find a few, look out for second hand stuff.

On the other hand if you want a set of friends or similar camming devices you can spend a fortune, it's true, but you don't "need" them.

john arran - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave:

Also bear in mind that trad free climbing, certainly on Peak limestone, was very much 'en vogue' in the 70s and 80s, so comparing now to then is perhaps misleading. At the time it was new and different and because new things were being climbed on the main peak lime trad crags they were often in the mags and in people's minds when choosing what to do of a weekend. It's like comparing hard grit now to how popular it was in the 90s or early 00s. Slate too saw a similar boom. These things tend to have a heyday before settling down to a more sustainable level of interest.

The question is whether the current interest in easy sport is really just another phase or whether it represents a lasting shift in climbers' interests in general.
Jamie B - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave:

Some good points. I do hear some very spurious reasons for avoiding trad. Everybody has the right to make an informed (or even uninformed) decision, but I suspect that there is a massive undercurrent of people not prepared to admit that they are scared.
Simon Caldwell - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to craig1983:
> for trad you can spend hundreds of pounds on a decent rack

or you can club together with a mate and spend tens of pounds on an adequate rack. If you're really skint then fund it by giving up beer for a couple of weeks.
Greenbanks - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
Agree. These days it seems that kids will blow £40-50 a night on partying/gigging. Besides, anyone who has the instinct/will can hook up with a club etc. The cost thing is not really an issue
GrahamD - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> (In reply to colin struthers)
>
> I think it has already 'died on its arse'.

I remember (just) when the Old Man of Hoy was deemed such an adventure that it warrented a whole BBC outside broadcast unit to film an adventure spectacular.

Recently a pretty much beginner was being guided on it on a reality TV show and you are lucky to get the place to yourself on a good day in summer.
John Rushby - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

Some interesting comments on this thread.

Is trad dead, no, though it might be resting, in certain places. Perhaps the perceived "death" of trad is a diversification in climbing itself - there's lots more climbing, in lots more places going on instead.

It used to be the case that bouldering was what you did as the sun went down, with a beer mat to land on, before you went to the pub. Sport was something they did in Boux or in dusty looking limestone crags in the Peak. Something men with dreadlocks and a wonky Porsche got involved in, but you had to live off brocolli, sleeping on some random's floor to be good at it.

Sport is what On the Edge readers did.

Since then, bouldering has become "climbing" in it's own right. Sport has attracted a massive number of participants, often schooled in walls who find the transition to trad daunting or simply unattractive. These climbers often climb nothing else, travelling to Catalunya, Costa Blanca, Siurana etc to climb their routes. To a not insubstantial number, the idea of a sketchy trad run out on a deserted moorland grit crag is an anathema. It does not make it any worse or any better, it's just another type of climbing.

I also suppose that certin venues fall out of favour. In the 80's and 90's you queued for routes at Ilkley. Nowadays, you need to brush the lichen off even the classics. Would someone who likes a clip up lead Fairy Wall?

So, trad's not dead, it's just there is more choice, the climbing community is more divrse and a persusla of the various climbing DVDs will show, it's still there and arguably, it has come back in vogue over the last 10 years, since the days of Hard Grit we now have Onsgiht, Committed,etc etc
Robert Durran - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Hugh Cottam:
> (In reply to Chris Craggs)
> There is a certain irony that it is probably harder to get in to climbing ( certainly in the trad climbing sense ) than it was 30 years ago.

I'm not sure that's true - it's just much easier to get into sport (and people are generally, by nature, lazy).

I certainly get the impresion that the popularity and general standard of trad climbing (in the sense of people just going out and doing routes properly onsight) is lower than it was 25 or 30 years ago.
Monk - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Hugh Cottam)
> [...]
>
> I'm not sure that's true - it's just much easier to get into sport (and people are generally, by nature, lazy).
>
> I certainly get the impresion that the popularity and general standard of trad climbing (in the sense of people just going out and doing routes properly onsight) is lower than it was 25 or 30 years ago.

This sort of stat is frequently wheeled out, but can anyone provide any evidence of it?

I don't doubt that the proportion of climbers doing trad climbing is lower now than it ever has been, but that is because sport climbing and bouldering didn't really exist as accessible option 30 years ago. However, the sheer number of climbers has risen exponentially over that period. For example, the most recent figures from the BMC show that membership has gone from 25,000 to 70,000 in 20 years, and Sport England estimate there are 100,000 people participating in mountaineering at least once a week in England, which has increased from 67,000 in just 6 years.
Bert - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers: I have noticed a significant increase in rock climbing popularity, unfortunately this does seem to be mainly sport climbers. The pureness of the challenge to climb seems to have changed somewhat since I started 15 years ago.
A good example, last year I visited cheddar gorge (as a general tourist not a climber) for the first time in years and was shocked by how many bolted routes there were in the gorge, last time I went I don't remember seeing a single bolt.
I think the problem may be in part to persons teaching climbing these days, its all so easy to take novices out to bolted areas, you don't have to teach them to place gear, or to rig belay or absail anchors, just tie them in and let them go. then the transition from bolted to trad is massively difficult and just doesn't happen.
I really think that this problem should be recognised more and attempts made to trad climb first since moving from trad to bolts is very easy.
James Gilbert on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Monk:

The statistics can be found online: http://www.thebmc.co.uk/participation-in-climbing-mountaineering

And the BMC member survey from 2010 is quite interesting: http://www.thebmc.co.uk/bmc-member-survey-2010-results

"Of those members that rock climb (including bouldering), 83.3% trad climb and 58.5% sport climb".
Monk - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to James Gilbert:
> (In reply to Monk)
>
> The statistics can be found online: http://www.thebmc.co.uk/participation-in-climbing-mountaineering
>
> And the BMC member survey from 2010 is quite interesting: http://www.thebmc.co.uk/bmc-member-survey-2010-results
>
> "Of those members that rock climb (including bouldering), 83.3% trad climb and 58.5% sport climb".

My point exactly. Apparently, trad is dying. Just a shame the stats don't agree.
James Gilbert on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Hugh Cottam:
> (In reply to Chris Craggs)
> It's not so much the proliferation of climbing walls, but the accompanying disappearance of climbing clubs that makes it harder to develop trad climbing skills than it once was.

Are you sure climbing clubs are disappearing?
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Dave Garnett - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Franco Cookson:
> (In reply to colin struthers)
>
> The danger is not that there aren't enough people climbing outside really - It's a shame that people don't see the attraction of all these wild crags,

If you like 'wild crags' do you really want loads of people going to them and trashing them? Doesn't a bit of you quite like being one of the few, rather than the many? The best bit is we don't have to risk elitism and exclusivity by restricting access and discouraging people, they don't seem to want to do it anyway!

I don't think crags 'suffer' from neglect either. It helps preserve them for the future and makes them more interesting. The alternative is the sort of sad degradation to raddled suburban wastelands that is happening to many crags in the Peak, for instance.

Crags are a finite resource and if some are forgotten for a generation or two, is that such a disaster? They will be there for others to rediscover and perhaps we're thinking about this over too short a timescale.. I can imagine that climbing archaeology; getting hold of an old guidebook and trying to reclimb ancient routes, might become quite a fashionable aspect of the sport in the future - if there's anything left to rediscover.

>When 90% of climbers have never lead a trad climb,

Do we have any idea if this is even remotely true? It's a pretty alarming statistic if it is, for exactly the reason you suggest. Then again, if the BMC ceased to represent them, wouldn't trad climbers simply organise themselves into a new national trad, winter and alpine club. Now I come to think of it, maybe there's one already.
RockSteady on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

So many value-judgements on this thread as to the relative 'worthiness' of different climbing pursuits.

Trad=good,hard,adventurous?
Sport/bouldering=bad,lazy,easy,cowardly?

There's way too much mythologising of trad climbing. It's just a tradition, with as much value as any other tradition. In my view trad is not inherently any better or worse than other types of climbing, it's just a different way of interacting with the rock - it's a traditional style or 'fashion' of climbing a piece of rock. I imagine it will wax and wane, as other fashions do.

Bulls Crack - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to tony forster:
trad climbing needs something to encourage more people to become involved.

Or rather people need something to realise how rewarding trad actually is?
Timmd on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

Why does it matter if trad routes become underused and overgrown, isn't that saving the routes from polish for future generations of climbers?

I can see it's a problem if other places become honeypots and suffer from this, but I think there's a good side to lack of use too.
Ramblin dave - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Timmd:
> (In reply to colin struthers)
>
> Why does it matter if trad routes become underused and overgrown, isn't that saving the routes from polish for future generations of climbers?

What if it becomes a popular sport crag in the meantime?

That would be very unlikely to happen to a historic trad crag today, but that's because at the moment, the majority of climbers learnt to climb on trad and still have an active interest in it. That may not always be the case.
Stone Muppet - on 19 Feb 2013
I think those concerned for the preservation of trad crags are right to think about the long term future of trad climbing, even if the stats don't show cause for concern yet. I like it when otherwise obscure underused crags get bolted, but I'd hate to see that fate befall everywhere.

On the other hand if you're worried why debate this, just get on and promote the things you love.

My local wall offers introductions to trad climbing. The video screen above the cafe area shows a clip of dave mac falling off rhapsody about every 90 seconds, which admittedly could have both positive and negative effects on people..! But most indoor/sport-only climbers I have met there aspire to progress to trad.

But I'm sure there are more creative ways to promote the trad scene.
Dave Cumberland - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:
>
> In short, I think, (with a little bit of deliberate provocation) that trad climbing as we know it may be 'dying on its arse'
>
Yes it is in the Lake District, primarily because of the guidebook star system which discourages climbers from doing routes that do not have two or more stars, despite the excellence of many unstarred routes. 15 years of cool wet summers has not helped of course, this has been a major influence, in tandem with the fashion to bolderbate and bolt-clip elsewhere.

It matters because many crags with previously excellent routes will simply disappear under vegetation and be lost to future generations. The future is in our hands, if we do not climb and clean existing routes, they are lost forever. There are many crags in the Lakes where this has happened.
Coel Hellier - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Dave Cumberland:

> ... if we do not climb and clean existing routes, they are lost forever.

Or at least until someone cleans them.
Simon Caldwell - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Dave Cumberland:
> it is in the Lake District, primarily because of the guidebook star system which discourages climbers from doing routes that do not have two or more stars

What, you mean the star system that is used everywhere else in the country and has been for decades? They tried getting rid of it at Tremadog and it had no effect, people climbed the same routes anyway. In Langdale they tried giving stars to more routes, again with little effect.

What do you suggest - get rid of stars and ban all words such as 'good' or 'poor' from route descriptions? You'd also have to stop people buying second hand guides, or using libraries, or talking to each other.

Robert Durran - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Monk:
> (In reply to James Gilbert)
>
> My point exactly. Apparently, trad is dying. Just a shame the stats don't agree.

Well, if the stats are correct, you can't argue with them! So where are all these trad climbers then? Presumably all crammed into the same honeypot venues such as the big end of Stanage. This is all very well (I don't care where they are or how many as long as I am elsewhere!). The only problem is the neglect and decline of the likes of Chee Tor.

Robert Durran - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

What really amazes me is the massive increase in the numbers of people winter climbing to a surprisingly high standard in the last ten years or so. Given the perceived decline of trad, where did all these people get their boldness, cunningness in placing gear and willingness to suffer? Not, presumably, indoors or sport climbing. I find it genuinely baffling.
Simon Caldwell - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> The only problem is the neglect and decline of the likes of Chee Tor.

Possibly partly due to the fact that the definitive guidebook has been out of print for a few years (and was a decade or two out of date by the time it sold out). Other once-popular areas are also usually deserted (eg Dovedale).

Also, Peak limestone has a reputation for being unpleasantly polished - this put me off trying it for years, only to find that it's reputation wasn't deserved (I've climbed on shinier gritstone).

It's not all doom on the trad limestone front though - the bit of Wildcat that's in Rockfax is usually very busy, and my last couple of visits to Stoney it's also been (relatively) crowded. Maybe the new guide that's in preparation will help change the fashion once and it'll see a resurgence?

biscuit - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Dave Cumberland:

So before these climbs were discovered where were they ? Under a load of vegetation i would think.

They will never be lost forever unless they fall down. They may revert to a vegetated state for a while and then if people want to climb them they will be cleaned and climbed.

All my mates back home climb trad, boulder, sport and most Winter too. To say it's dying in the Lakes is taking it a bit far i think.
Robert Durran - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to biscuit:
> (In reply to Dave Cumberland)
> They will never be lost forever unless they fall down. They may revert to a vegetated state for a while and then if people want to climb them they will be cleaned and climbed.

Wanting to climb them is not sufficient - they will need to want to climb them so badly as to be bothered to clean them. That's the problem!
Simon Caldwell - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Dave Cumberland:
Last time I was climbing at Pillar Rock, which is liberally starred in the guidebook, there was nobody else there; the busiest I've seen it we shared the crag with maybe 5 other teams. Less surprisingly, the crags on the southern side of High Stile had no signs of ever having been climbed, despite a load of stars.

Somewhere like Gimmer, which is always busy, most of the unstarred routes get climbed as well as the starred ones. Likewise Raven Crag.

999thAndy on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

More climbers are in total, but only the same number doing trad would be my take on it. It will become a problem if trad venues end up being retro-bolted, otherwise we might see the wheel come round again - who knows?

Stoney's real demise started when the council stopped people parking at the bottom of prayer wheel wall.
StuMsg - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:
I think it is a lack of adventurous spirit. Young people now-a-days are constantly told what is safe and acceptable. Add to that modern TV and video games makes outside less appealing. An indoor and safe environment are tempting and acceptable, and similarly with sport climbing (easy to get to and 'safe' '. I'm 21 and notice this!
Toerag - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to biscuit)
> [...]
>
> Wanting to climb them is not sufficient - they will need to want to climb them so badly as to be bothered to clean them. That's the problem!

Exactly - people are lazier than they ever were. I first climbed on the seacliffs here in '91 and the vegetation on the approaches has changed from grass and low plants to rampant gorse, blackthorn and even trees, with many crag access scrambles becoming impassable. Nature is reclaiming what many years of grazing and fuel collection had created. The 'quick fix' generation just cannot be bothered to clean routes or approaches, all they're interested in is climbing the hardest grades and 'cool' bouldering. They don't care about mountains, summits and the whole mountain experience, they just want to tick some problems and get drunk in the evening. They want to go on trips to costa blanca or Kalymnos, not the Dolomites or Pembrokeshire.
Fishmate - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

I often wonder if it is due to the zealous attitude of many trad peeps on here? For example, people want to climb, not climb, stop, climb, stop, fiddle about. People genuinely love climbing. The fact that the average grade for trade as per UKC is VS4c or similar backs that up (greater risk, psychological demand acknowledged). The fact that many trad peeps slate off other styles when trad involves the least amount of straight forward climbing, is no small irony.

My suspicion is that we have a new generation who are perhaps more open to possibility than those before and this will manifest itself through an educational process where one learns to climb well technically and gain good strength through bouldering, stamina and power endurance through top roping and sport/leading. With that in the bag one may sample trad on a worthwhile basis.

The best climbers I know followed a similar route, the least technically proficient are generally from trad and talking to them they tend to love the outdoors and a bit of adventure more than the actual climbing itself. The best climbers in the world pretty much all follow a similar route involving all the styles. The only people I know who disagree are the ones on UKC who seem to think trad is in someway the purest. I will sample my first trad experience in Spain this April. I was put off to some extent by people on here who climb shit grades but think what they do is the be all and end all of climbing, when they obviously just do trad to cover up the fact they are either no good at climbing or too lazy or uninspired to become good. Trad will rise again but within a community who have a greater understanding of what it is to climb and who also will inspire others to join. Not because of a bunch of self satisfied, smug and small minded individuals. That's how a lot of you trad heads are viewed. :)
Dave Garnett - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to StuMsg:
> (In reply to colin struthers)
> I think it is a lack of adventurous spirit. Young people now-a-days are constantly told what is safe and acceptable.

I think that traditional climbing was always regarded as unjustifiable by most people, maybe that hasn't changed. It's just that a safer, more performance- and less judgement-based version has been developed which is, unsurprisingly, of more general appeal.
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tom_in_edinburgh - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to James Gilbert:

Working from BMC stats to argue that 83.3% of climbers are trad climbers is somewhat circular because the BMC services primarily appeal to outdoor climbers and most of the outdoor climbing in the UK is trad.

If you look at the document the main reason for joining the BMC is to get insurance, the second most common reason was because they wanted to get an mountain leader award. People need insurance when they are going to take a climbing holiday abroad which is selecting for fairly experienced climbers. There's not much reason to join BMC for insurance if you just climb indoors and do low risk summer hillwalking.

The age range of BMC membership responding to the survey is also skewed to older people compared with what you would see at a climbing wall maybe because they have extra money to spend on a good cause and like reading the magazine.
Monk - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Toreador:
> (In reply to Dave Cumberland)
> Last time I was climbing at Pillar Rock, which is liberally starred in the guidebook, there was nobody else there; the busiest I've seen it we shared the crag with maybe 5 other teams.
>

There you have it. Definitive proof that trad is in decline - Pillar was always busy in the 1890s. Things have gone downhill ever since the cragrats decided they didn't need alpenstocks!

jkarran - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Fishmate:

> ... I will sample my first trad experience in Spain this April. I was put off to some extent by people on here who climb shit grades but think what they do is the be all and end all of climbing, when they obviously just do trad to cover up the fact they are either no good at climbing or too lazy or uninspired to become good.

You were doing ok up to there then you got stuck into your own ill informed stereotyping. It's daft and unnecessary.

By and large people do what the do because they enjoy it.

Why wait till April out of interest?
jk
Jamie B - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:

> So where are all these trad climbers then? Presumably all crammed into the same honeypot venues such as the big end of Stanage.

I think you're right. Parallel with the increased preference for sport-climbing among new starters, I sense a preference for more predictable, reliable and less adventurous trad venues. Not by everyone, but surely produced by the same factors that lead more and more to stick to the bolts.

I also believe that the same shift in attitudes has created a large number of trad leaders who do so many grades below their physical limits as falling onto wires is unthinkable to them. If that is what trad is to some people I can't really blame them for moving on from it.
neilh - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:
Everytime I think its dying like you describe, I then meet some young climbers tradding to a really good standard.It fills me with hope. But I agree with some psoeters comments that compared with 20 years pls ago, it does appear that there ar enot the same number operating at that level.

The benchmark I suppose is Pembroke, not been there for a few years. Are there still stack of people in huntsmans,mewsford, mother careys etc. Or is it a deserted area. Probably a better benchmark than Stanage.Or is everybody at Portland etc.
GridNorth - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Fishmate: Scathing and harsh. The ONLY thing that most trad climbers I know are afraid of is unbridled bolting. I do both and for me trad is the more worthwhile pursuit. NB I said for me. That does not mean that I am slagging off sport climbers. It's just different. You shouldn't let anything you read on here influence you in any way. I stopped posting as myself because of the abuse I got. Being anonymous feels less personal.
Fraser on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Franco Cookson:

> When 90% of climbers have never lead a trad climb ....

Out of curiosity, where did that statistic come from?
mikekeswick - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to StuMsg:
> (In reply to colin struthers)
> I think it is a lack of adventurous spirit. Young people now-a-days are constantly told what is safe and acceptable. Add to that modern TV and video games makes outside less appealing. An indoor and safe environment are tempting and acceptable, and similarly with sport climbing (easy to get to and 'safe' '. I'm 21 and notice this!

+1
Fraser on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Fraser:

FWIW, UKC lists 41.7% of logged climbs as having been led.
Rock Badger on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers: Maybe people climb for different reasons these days, they all start at
climbing walls where the aim is to be stronger and fitter 'do that move'.They are climbing to keep fit do exercise, look good, they dont want to risk their lives by placing their own gear. Where as i and others i know enjoyed the buzz of being out in the wilds placing gear, taking our time appreciating it all enjoying a bit of calculated risk.
Monk - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>

>
> I also believe that the same shift in attitudes has created a large number of trad leaders who do so many grades below their physical limits as falling onto wires is unthinkable to them.

Isn't that what all trad climbers were brought up to believe though? I hardly think it is a new phenomenon. In fact, I suspect that this is the opposite of the truth, as in my experience people moving to trad from sport/indoor tend to be much more likely to dog a route than a dyed-in-the-wool trad climber.

I think that we in the UK do need to take Trad down from it's pedestal in some ways. I've had my eyes opened over the last few years by seeing physically talented climbers move from sport/bouldering and ignoring the orthodoxy "thou shalt start at VDiff and serve an apprenticeship of many years before trying an extreme", manage to climb the odd E4/5/6 in their first year. The fact is that on many routes, placing trad gear is not that difficult and the climbing on most trad routes below E1 is ridiculously easy for someone who can climb 7a or more on bolts. Obviously there is a fine line to walk here, but most of us walked a fairly fine line when we started out.

John2 - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to neilh: Pembroke is often deserted apart from on bank holidays. The topo photos for the new CC guides were taken over a not too bad weekend in September, I think. One day we travelled in a RIB from Lydstep to Range West, the next we travelled along the North Pembroke coast. Four or five of the photos have climbers in them.
Blue Straggler - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Fraser:
> (In reply to Fraser)
>
> FWIW, UKC lists 41.7% of logged climbs as having been led.

Yes but it that doesn't conflict with anything else. 1% of the climbing population could conceivably do 100% of the leading :-)
Jimbo C - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

I think there will always be climbers doing trad, but it would be a shame if they were all at Stanage because everywhere else is dirty and overgrown.

I think the proliferation of climbing walls is partly responsible. Before they existed, you had to go outside if you wanted to climb. On days where the weather looks a bit marginal, a good portion of climbers choose the nice dry indoor environment rather than risking a day wasted due to bad weather. Case in point was last Saturday at a slightly damp Birchen where I saw about a dozen people at most during the whole day. The crag dryed up nicely by mid morning and it turned out to be a brilliant day.
Simon Caldwell - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
> I sense a preference for more predictable, reliable and less adventurous trad venues

I'm not sure it's as simple as that. Froggatt is always heaving, whereas Curbar (which is really a continuation of the same crag) is usually deserted. If you get fed up of the crowds at the Roaches, just head half a mile up the hill to the Skyline, or half a mile down the valley to Hen Cloud. Too many queues at Gimmer? Look round the corner at the NW crag, loads of starred routes, nobody climbing them.

Unless by 'adventurous' you just mean 'slightly different from what everyone else seems to be doing'.
Ramblin dave - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Monk:

> I think that we in the UK do need to take Trad down from it's pedestal in some ways.

I think this ties in with what I've been saying previously, actually - the other side of the coin is that you get people who never want to try trad climbing at all because they're convinced that it's all about massive whippers and dicing with death over 10m runouts, when in fact it's entirely possible to be fairly risk-averse and still get something out of trad. I think demystifying it a bit would be really positive.
Jamie B - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Monk:

I think there are a number of orthodoxies, and for every nutter that jumps onto a trad lead that's too hard for them before they get the requisite experience, there are at least as many who approach trad timorously and never come close to leading at their full potential.

Personally if I was looking to develop a trad leader I'd seek to steer them between these two very different pitfalls and find the optimum middle-ground.
neilh - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to John2:
That was always the case.If Huntsmans still gets full on bank holidays then its a positive sign for trad.
999thAndy on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave:
> (In reply to Monk)
>
> [...]
> I think demystifying it a bit would be really positive.

+1

Ramblin dave - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Toreador:
Re the Peak grit, thing, I'm guessing that it's partly down to a change in the proportion of climbers based in London and the south east - eg I believe that London & SE has more members than any other BMC area, which in turn is probably a new thing and partly down to the availability of nice indoor walls meaning that you don't have to be quite as mad to get into climbing while living in London as you used to.

That would tend to lead to a lot of people ending up in the Peak and Dorset simply because they're the easiest to get to. Manchester or Leeds or Newcastle based climbers have always had the option of getting to other areas fairly easily, and they're also less dependent on indoor walls and hence won't have had as big an upturn in the total number of climbers since the rise of indoor climbing as a thing in itself.

It may or may not also be related to the tendency to end up at honeypots rather than hidden gems - not being in the area every week, they (or rather, we) tend not to get to know the place in as much depth...
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Ramblin dave - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave:
Also the fact that many of us are relatively crap at outdoor climbing, come to think of it...
metal arms on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Franco Cookson:

> There's a further debate to be had about why no one's climbing new grit-style routes at higher grades.

Speaking of high grade grit stuff... Have you done Dangermouse yet?

In reply to the thread:

My favourite bit so far was when that feller said that the problem was that people want to do the hardest stuff they could and then get drunk in the evening. Isn't that the point?
Jim at Work on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to GridNorth:
> (In reply to colin struthers) I think it's in decline. A lot of the older climbers, like me, who didn't mind the walk-ins when they were young are now finding them a little tough. We are also less inclined to stick our necks out. Combine this with the fact that most people are being introduced to climbing via indoors walls and the relative safety of sport it's hardly surprising. I have no hard evidence to back this up but I have noticed that places like Avon Gorge get a lot less traffic and I am told that a lot of the crags in the Lakes are suffering from neglect.

agree. and if you have the choice of driving to Pembroke versus N Wales or the Lakes, and the forecast for the hills is poor (or its a shit summer like last year) then you'll go for the shorter journey & the better weather. Personally if I do a long walk in to find my route of choice occupied, I'd almost wish fewer people were doing trad.
jkarran - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Jimbo C:

> On days where the weather looks a bit marginal, a good portion of climbers choose the nice dry indoor environment rather than risking a day wasted due to bad weather.

There's a lot to be said for this, with fuel so valuable it's just not worth driving 2-3Hrs for a possibly damp crag when there are other more reliable things to be doing. On the other hand it doesn't have any real bearing on the sport/trad thing, they're roughly equidistant for me.

Not aimed at you specifically:

I don't think there's anything wrong with the uk climbing scene. We all get into climbing in the midst of the fashion of the day. If we stick with what we know then we'll inevitably see the decline of 'our' climbing, this is a symptom of our myopia not a more general malaise. If we wait we'll eventually see the cyclical rediscovery and 'trashing' of our quiet overgrown backwaters.

jk
Jon Stewart - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:
>
> In short, I think, (with a little bit of deliberate provocation) that trad climbing as we know it may be 'dying on its arse'
>
> Is it?

As I said on the other thread, no. I tend to stick to classic routes up to E3 all around the country and everywhere I go I meet enthusiastic climbers of all ages. The atmosphere at somewhere like Mother Carey's in the summer is great - there's someone on nearly every route, but there's enough space that you can get a lot. Gogarth, as I said, is popular and most people there are climbing harder than me. The adventurous routes get plenty of traffic - look across at Red Wall (don't climb on it for goodness sake)just after the bird ban and it's covered in folk, delighting in disintegrating sandy charm. The guys in the climbing shops in Llanberis even advocate climbing on the Lleyn - eugghh!

As for Dow when it's raining (or whatever), shock horror you're on your own. There's a reason.



tom_in_edinburgh - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Jimbo C:
> (In reply to colin struthers)
> I think the proliferation of climbing walls is partly responsible. Before they existed, you had to go outside if you wanted to climb. On days where the weather looks a bit marginal, a good portion of climbers choose the nice dry indoor environment rather than risking a day wasted due to bad weather.

I think the other side of it is that for a lot of places in the UK trad climbing is just too much hassle and too expensive because of the travel. If I have three hours free time and go climbing indoors I can get 2 hours climbing at exactly the grades I want no matter whether it is dark or rainy.

If I wanted to go trad climbing from here I'll spend 3 hours or more driving and walking in, another bunch of time messing about with equipment and I'll be lucky to find more than a handful of routes in the grade range of interest. The actual climbing time will be far lower. It will also cost £20 quid in fuel which is far more than going to the wall.

With low cost airlines and high cost fuel going on a multi-day trip by car up to the highlands or down to England for trad climbing is not much less expensive than going sport climbing in Spain. Which is probably why most sport and indoor climbers are not that bothered about the lack of sport climbing in the UK.
Tyler - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to muppetfilter:
> (In reply to colin struthers) Is a direct result of the way climbing has been dumbed down of recent years. Take NICAS where kids arent let loose to discover and invent their own version of climbing but where they bust complete X and Y to get a signature for the next level.
> Rather than leaving climbing for people to invent their own version of on their own terms we have created a McDonalds system for the lazy of not only walking but of thinking where you are told what to climb indoors then climb low grade sport routes outside on a crag near the road.

Is NICAS now compulsory for anyone wanting to start climbing?

Jamie B - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> If I wanted to go trad climbing from here I'll spend 3 hours or more driving and walking in, another bunch of time messing about with equipment and I'll be lucky to find more than a handful of routes in the grade range of interest. The actual climbing time will be far lower. It will also cost £20 quid in fuel which is far more than going to the wall.

All of this is true. But I suspect that if all that faff/expense enables you to climb Shibboleth it doesn't really matter?
Offwidth - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

Seems to me you are muddling popularity of the game with fashionable crags and crags with problems (Stoney has a reputation for factors like polish, vegetation problems and loose rock in the most popular grades up to HVS).

I'd say trad climbing is still at its peak and has been so for the last decade, its just most folk are chasing the same thing and those looking for adventure or higher grades (esp cf the top level of performance) are slightly in decline. Yet there are still plenty of hard and adventurous routes being done, even if numbers are down a bit: its not a plummet.

I posted on the excellent current condition of Jackson Tor recently, a great little sheltered winter grit quarry with an urban setting 2 minute walk in and good low to mid grade routes and bouldering ..... with tumbleweed drifting by afterwards. People will be freezing their nuts off on Stanage and ignoring this gem (that actually needs traffic to keep the routes clean).
Fishmate - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to jkarran:
> (In reply to Fishmate)
>
> [...]
>
> You were doing ok up to there then you got stuck into your own ill informed stereotyping.

> Why wait till April out of interest?
> jk

Hi JK, not quite right, however I see how you may have taken that impression. I made those comments because that is the impression many trad heads give on UKC. When I have followed up profiles my impression of that individual is formed thus.

I love climbing in all the forms I have experienced so far including indoors as has been the case for 6 months in the South East.

I am waiting until April for a number of reasons I wont bore you with, however it will be with highly experienced guys who climb fairly hard and love what they do. The week in/around Alicante will be sport and trad. Very excited. Given that all the various styles ask different and valuable questions I can't see that one will push the others into obscurity.
Fishmate - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to GridNorth:
> (In reply to Fishmate) Scathing and harsh.

But true. Others have mentioned that the zealous nature of some of the trad community is just disappointing.

For the record, I know plenty who inspire others, including me, and genuinely love trad, hence my going to Spain to start that experience in April. Hopefully I will enjoy it as much as you guys.
JimboWizbo - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Fishmate: This is brilliant.
Robert Durran - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> (In reply to James Gilbert)
> People need insurance when they are going to take a climbing holiday abroad which is selecting for fairly experienced climbers.

Most climbing holidays abroad are to clip bolts in Spain! So, if anything, the insurance thing will skew BMC membership towards sport climbers.

Robert Durran - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Fishmate:
> (In reply to GridNorth)
> For the record, I know plenty who inspire others, including me, and genuinely love trad, hence my going to Spain to start that experience in April.

Going to Spain to learn how to trad climb! What on earth have things come to? Whatever next? Deep water soloing for beginners in the Alps?
Jonny2vests - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Fishmate:
> (In reply to jkarran)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> Hi JK, not quite right, however I see how you may have taken that impression. I made those comments because that is the impression many trad heads give on UKC. When I have followed up profiles my impression of that individual is formed thus.
>

Yes, but as soon as you start making judgements about people's worth based on their grade, you're on dodgy ground. There's always someone climbing harder than you, 'shit grades' is a very relative term.
Jon Stewart - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Fishmate:
> (In reply to colin struthers)
>
> I often wonder if it is due to the zealous attitude of many trad peeps on here?

I think that what people post on UKC makes no difference to anything.
>
> My suspicion is that we have a new generation who are perhaps more open to possibility than those before and this will manifest itself through an educational process where one learns to climb well technically and gain good strength through bouldering, stamina and power endurance through top roping and sport/leading. With that in the bag one may sample trad on a worthwhile basis.

I think it's completely fine to climb whatever you like in whatever order, but you seem to be implying that it's somehow better to move to trad later on - it isn't. People do things in all different orders depending on circumstances and eventually gravitate towards the thing that suits them most. For me, I started trad, got into bouldering, then focused more on trad again, tried sport but found it incredibly boring. That's not better or worse than the path anyone else has taken.

> The best climbers I know followed a similar route, the least technically proficient are generally from trad and talking to them they tend to love the outdoors and a bit of adventure more than the actual climbing itself.

There are some climbers like this. There are lots of trad climbers who are also sport climbers and are more concerned about climbing hard. I'm all for generalisations where they ring true, but these do not. You're just talking about a particular subset of trad climbers who you might see on Tryfan, but who you won't see at Lower Sharpnose. Try getting to a whole variety of great UK trad venues and meeting the people who climb there. Stanage is very different to Scafell, is different to Pembroke, is different to The Pass, is different to Gogarth - all though you'll see people who love trad climbing, like me, at all of them.

> The best climbers in the world pretty much all follow a similar route involving all the styles. The only people I know who disagree are the ones on UKC who seem to think trad is in someway the purest. I will sample my first trad experience in Spain this April. I was put off to some extent by people on here who climb shit grades but think what they do is the be all and end all of climbing, when they obviously just do trad to cover up the fact they are either no good at climbing or too lazy or uninspired to become good. Trad will rise again but within a community who have a greater understanding of what it is to climb and who also will inspire others to join. Not because of a bunch of self satisfied, smug and small minded individuals. That's how a lot of you trad heads are viewed. :)

What a load of rubbish. I do know what you mean about some of the silly attitudes on UKC, but it's of no relevance, it's just a couple of people who post on an internet forum. You don't have any trad experience, so you don't know anything about trad climbing apart from a few posts from a few people on here.

I urge you to have a great time in Spain and then come back and enjoy the brilliant trad climbing in the UK. At the grades you climb, you'll quickly be able to climb classic E-grade routes on big, exciting cliffs in incredible settings. I recommend particularly something like Atlantis/True Moments/Freebird on Castel Helen, Gogarth. It's technically not hard, yet still great, engaging climbing; but from the abseil in it's a real trip, nothing like anything you can get sport climbing.

Trad climbing is, for me anyway, so deeply rewarding that I think there will always be people who love it and continue to climb in that style on our cliffs. Yes, lots of people will prefer the athletic styles (sport and bouldering) where it's so much easier to push the physical difficulty, find your physical limits and expand them, but that's great too, it takes nothing away from trad which has a different appeal and shows no signs of dying.*


*Although Chee Tor could do with more traffic

Simon Caldwell - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> I think that what people post on UKC makes no difference to anything.

Heretic!
Coel Hellier - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> *Although Chee Tor could do with more traffic

Is it just lack of traffic, or is it more to do with encroaching trees keeping the whole area more moist and shaded (coupled with wet summers)? If the area weren't owned by a wildlife trust one could cut down some trees and improve things quite a bit.
Jon Stewart - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

I think it's both. With the jungle upstairs it'll never actually be clean, but in summers where it gets traffic, the grime is not a problem (which is surprising the first time you go and see more veg than rock!).
Jonny2vests - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Coel Hellier)
>
> I think it's both. With the jungle upstairs it'll never actually be clean, but in summers where it gets traffic, the grime is not a problem (which is surprising the first time you go and see more veg than rock!).

The complete lack of a guidebook for many years hasn't helped either. Then one comes out and the monsoon arrives.
ads.ukclimbing.com
loose overhang - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to The Lemming: Who really want's to do a 3 hour walk-in for a few chossy routes on a mountain crag where it may be cold, damp or worse, with little protection and a long way from help. And then there's the 3 hour walk-out.

Put me down for that too. Give me the opportunity to climb a mountain, big or small, via a route that I have no description for, over chossy rock, with a chance of getting wet and cold, or even benighted; over doing the umpteenth ascent that day of a "classic". I'll take the choss, thanks very much.

I'm GLAD we don't see many people "out there"
RocKalina - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers: I think the main think is to enjoy climbing. I personally always loved to be outside and was scared of heights, that's why I never climbed...but then a friend dragged me to the wall about 4 years ago and that's how I started climbing. I don't like people very much... so that's why I love trad :-)
I always say: Sport Climbing is not real climbing...but mostly just to annoy people.

Anyway: It's everyone's choice how to climb and what to climb...and I dont care, as long as there is some traffic on my favourite routes and I can climb them and enjoy myself.

I agree with many people here: Trad is dangerous, often unpleasant and expensive... you have to be a certain type of person. Lot's of people climb because it's a cool sport at the moment and I believe that they enjoy it. So that's fine. You can climb indoors or sport but trad wouldn't make these guys happy. No one watches you, the moves of a VS or HVS are not as fancy as climbing a 6c+ or so at the wall or in a sport crag.

I like to climb fo myself, I love the challenge that trad brings, the excitment whan you have managed the move, you found a great belay spot....ah, that makes me happy :-) ... and maybe there's even some sunshine.
Jon Stewart - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to loose overhang:

Why not walk 3 hours to a really amazing solid mountain crag when it's in good nick and do the best routes, having an amazing time in the process?

I'm all for adventurous trad, but that doesn't mean I'm into cold wet choss - that's just miserable. But as for the sport climbing, each to their own...
jon on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to RocKalina:

> Trad is (...) expensive

I'm not having a go, believe me, and I know you didn't really consider it when you wrote this, but my drill and all the bolts I've placed didn't exactly come for free.
GrahamD - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Fishmate:

Do you think there is a whole community of climbers out there who are solely trad climbers ? because I don't. Everyone I know climbs pretty much all styles from bouldering to alpine (with the exception of greater ranges which I guess is pretty much a minority passtime). You may have marked people like me down as 'trad heads' because it suits a particular strawman you are trying to construct but it doesn't reflect reality.
RocKalina - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to jon: No I didn't consider this :-)
I just tried to imagine every sport climber trying to bolt stuff ;-)

I know what you mean but (thank god!) only a few people spend their money on bolts...
Ramblin dave - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to RocKalina:
How much would you say it costs to start sport climbing?

And how much would you say it costs to go from sport climbing to trad?
combatrock on 19 Feb 2013
As a newbie who has got into climbing through an indoor wall (gasp, shock, horror etc), i've found the views of some of the 'purist' trad climbers, especially on this forum, to be very elitist, incredibly narrow minded and, ultimately, boring.

'youth only want a quick fix' , 'no repsect for history', 'sport climbing is a quick, lazy option' etc etc - why do you care so much about how other people choose to enjoy climbing and being outside? i personally prefer sport as my enjoyment of climbing comes from the physical movement and challenge - on bolts i'm able to push myself more, enjoy the moves and concentrate on climbing rather than gear placing. Is this really so bad?!?! Apparently so. if anything, the views i've heard/read have put me off trad as i think what a bunch of xxxx, i'd rather go bouldering or down to portland...

just my opinion, btw - braced and ready for a mauling!
RocKalina - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave: the best is to find a partner who has all the gear :-)
Don't know... for sport you just need a rope, quickdraws and the basic stuff like harness, shoes, chalkbag and helmet and maybe some slings

For trad you need half ropes (at least I like), a set of nuts at least, some cams, nutkey, slings, karabiners ... and all these nice shiny things :-)

But maybe you should ask someone who has more experience than me (just climbing for about 4 years and only 2 of trad). I am still assembling my kit.
I think it gets really expensive when you try winter climbing...

There was an article on UKC once calculating the costs.. just use the search function
RocKalina - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to combatrock: don't be angry... some climbers are very rpoud individuals who like to stick to their rules and opinions ;-)
Jon Stewart - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to combatrock:

I think 'youth take internet forums too seriously' might be nearer the mark.

I'd recommend you try trad climbing to see if it's for you. In this country all the best crags are trad (Malham possibly an exception) - you just can't get any of the experience of mountain crags or sea cliffs or grit by climbing on bolts. And we have absolutely pittiful low-mid grade sport climbing with Portland being your best bet (and I think utterly mediocre) with so much in crappy old quarries.

It would be a very different matter on the continent, but I wouldn't be so sure that trad isn't for you since the UK has amazing trad and crap sport.
a lakeland climber on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to RocKalina:

Gets asked regularly - you don't need to buy everything at once: a set of nuts and a sling or two and a nutkey are probably all you need to get going if you've a rack of quickdraws from sports climbing. Less than £100. Of course your mate has kit as well.

ALC
Simon Caldwell - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to GrahamD:
> Do you think there is a whole community of climbers out there who are solely trad climbers ?

Yes, especially if modified by "apart from a week each year clipping bolts in Spain".
combatrock on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Very valid point - having spent a weeek in San Vito lo Capo, coming back to portland was depressing... I have tried a little trad in the UK and have found, due to my limited ability, that i'm on awkward, annoying chimney style VDiffs that offer me very little in terms of 'climbing' as i know it, and enjoyment! I can totally see the appeal of trad climbing at the higher grades, but when you're not especially good, i'd rather (personally) take a day in a quarry actually climbing than a day squirming up 5 metre Diffs
Ramblin dave - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to a lakeland climber:
Yeah, sorry, that was to make the rhetorical point that if you've got a full set of sport climbing gear then you've already spent most of the money that you need to get into trad. Even more so if you find a mate to get started with, or join a club.

I'd say you basically need a set of nuts, maybe a couple of cams and a few slings and screwgates. If you've already got a rope, quickdraws, shoes, harness, helmet, belay device etc then you're most of the way there.
Jonny2vests - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to combatrock:

Well said that man. Well, the first half anyway. I learnt on a wall too, in 1986.

As GrahamD said earlier, the trad only climber is a rare beast. Most prefer to mix it up.

Don't listen to some of these old farts having a go at the youth of today being soft (and the death of trad, which is utter bollux), they've obviously forgotten that the generation before them did exactly the same, and so on ad infinitum.

Play whatever game you prefer.
Ramblin dave - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to combatrock:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
>
> Very valid point - having spent a weeek in San Vito lo Capo, coming back to portland was depressing... I have tried a little trad in the UK and have found, due to my limited ability, that i'm on awkward, annoying chimney style VDiffs that offer me very little in terms of 'climbing' as i know it, and enjoyment! I can totally see the appeal of trad climbing at the higher grades, but when you're not especially good, i'd rather (personally) take a day in a quarry actually climbing than a day squirming up 5 metre Diffs

It does get quite a lot better quite quickly. (Or if you pick the right venue.)
Jonny2vests - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to combatrock:

If you can onsight 6a, you're boxing we'll below your weight. Shouldn't take long to get sorted.
Jon Stewart - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to combatrock:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
>
> I have tried a little trad in the UK and have found, due to my limited ability, that i'm on awkward, annoying chimney style VDiffs that offer me very little in terms of 'climbing' as i know it, and enjoyment! I can totally see the appeal of trad climbing at the higher grades...

That is certainly a fair point - you should probably try routes at higher grades, they'll be easier and more fun. At f6a, you should be looking for HVSs that suit your style. You might find that at that grade, where you get some amazing steep juggy routes with plenty of gear, trad is a whole lot more fun than you ever had a grotty quarry.

Surely this is appealing?

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=143203

It's like climbing a 5+ at the wall, but a whole load more exciting!
Simon Caldwell - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to combatrock:

If you can onsight 6a then you can lead a lot harder than 5m Diffs!
climb the peak - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to The Lemming: me
combatrock on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to jonny2vests:
Thanks! Maybe time to man up (woman up, actually) and get on harder trad (i.e nothing with the words gully or chimney in the name) as that's the side of it that has more in common with the aspects of climbing i find enjoyable/challenging. The trad routes that really appeal tends be routes that, once i look in the guidebook and talk to others, seem to be death on a stick for someone who hasn't got the experience in gear placing and keeping a cool head. Maybe the trad group are right - maybe clipping bolts has made me lazy and unadventurous! ;)
Offwidth - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Toreador:

Probably depends if it's your grade of Diff chimney really ?;-)
Offwidth - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

The Sloth is also pretty serious for someone not especially familiar with trad placements and mnaking those in strenuous positions. Natural grit isn't the best place to learn to lead trad HVS, grit quarries are much better.
Simon Caldwell - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Offwidth:

True - there are Diff chimneys, and there are "Diff" chimneys :-)
Offwidth - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Toreador:

Fixed that for you:

True - there are Diff chimneys, and there are "Severe" chimneys someone wants to keep as Diff and might grudgingly accept as a VD after moaning for a while :-)


Rog Wilko on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers: As with most club huts, Tranearth (belonging to Lancs C & CC) has a pile of back numbers of climbing mags. I was reading one recently where a writer was bemoaning the fact that no-one ever bothers going up to the high crags these days and so thew were all getting green and overgrown. The mag in question was Rocksport, dated, I believe, 1968. Plus ca change...
Offwidth - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko: Good spot.
Jon Stewart - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
>
> The Sloth is also pretty serious for someone not especially familiar with trad placements and mnaking those in strenuous positions.

It's a great route to aim for though, achievable in just a few sessions.

> Natural grit isn't the best place to learn to lead trad HVS, grit quarries are much better.

I don't agree at all. Natural grit is a great rock type to learn trad on since it's so solid, accessible and popular, with always a quick way down (other than the obvious). Personally, I learnt some ropework on rhyolite then immediately went and led the rounded Sunset Crack, the quarried Diamond Crack and found the former easier as it's less strenuous and jammy.
RocKalina - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers: I think a major point in trad ( when living in UK) is multi pitch. Nothing is more fun than having a full day on as big route.
I think the dolomite are great to get started on triad. You have the luxury of occasional bolts and fixed belays. Wonderful! And this should make you psyched for the grim Scottish mountains :-)
If in Scotland: dunkeld and clova are good places to start. The cioch nose is a great easy multi pitch classic. I hope this helps to get more people into triad. Also don't pressurise yourself too much. Just take it slow and enjoy!
RocKalina - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to RocKalina: and I hate autocorrect... Trad I meant to say above
Bruce Hooker - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Monk:

> "thou shalt start at VDiff and serve an apprenticeship of many years before trying an extreme",

I don't know who said that to you, I've never heard it. When I started there was only what you now call "trad climbing", if you wanted to climb that's what you did. As for moving up the grades, the general limiter was when you fell off, if you fell off an extreme, as happened to me the first one I tried on Cloggy, one went back to the grade before... no one read out a rule book, the bruises did the job.

As for "sport" climbing, or bolted climbing as it should be called, this is clearly due to the mindset formed in indoor walls (didn't exist either when I started), and the safety obsession, plus, alas, the fact that the BMC actually helps people bolt climbs instead of doing all it could to stop them. There is no equivalent encouragement of proper climbing at all so it's no wonder that a trend towards the more unnatural types of climbing should happen (if this is the case, I'm only assuming that those saying so on this thread are basing this on fact).

The result is a debasing of climbing to the fast food level, and a consequence, an increase of accidents when these molly-coddled climbers find themselves up against nature with only their own skills to help them (again assuming the present fuss about accidents in winter conditions are based on fact).

What to do? Apart from burning down climbing walls - a spark in a dust filled atmosphere might well do the trick, and chopping bolts at the dead of night - obviously things that one could not recommend - not much really... leave the BMC unless they give up pushing drilling the hills, but probably few who oppose bolting are still members, writing a letter to the times if you a retired colonel? Otherwise I can't see much.
Jonny2vests - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to RocKalina:
> (In reply to RocKalina) and I hate autocorrect...

Yes, it's a butch.

I think you might have replied to the wrong person too :-)
Jonny2vests - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

And sleep....
combatrock on 19 Feb 2013
In response to the original question - i don't think trad is dying at all. The climbing club I'm a member of do sport and trad trips and both are always over subscribed. The passion for trad is still there(a uni club so, unlike myself, a lot of members are 18-21 years old) as is the passion for sport, bouldering, winter...just climbing! I don't think trad will ever die - too many people care too much to let that happen. And even a bolt clipper like me is very glad about that!

In reply to Bruce Hooker: yep, that pretty much sums up what i meant by the first part of my first comment on this thread...
Postmanpat on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to Monk)
>
leave the BMC unless they give up pushing drilling the hills, but probably few who oppose bolting are still members, writing a letter to the times if you a retired colonel? Otherwise I can't see much.
>
Admit it, you've written that letter to the Times haven't you colonel?

Top rant by the way :-)

Bruce Hooker - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Postmanpat:

As a postman you are nearer to being a commissioned officer than I am.
RocKalina - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to jonny2vests: probably....well, I don't usually post in forums.

Anyway: there's nothing like trad climbing.
Dave Garnett - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to Monk)
>
> [...]
>
> the more unnatural types of climbing

Unnatural. Nice touch.
Jon Stewart - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to Monk)
>

> As for "sport" climbing, or bolted climbing as it should be called, this is clearly due to the mindset formed in indoor walls

No it isn't. It's a different style of climbing that is more athletic than trad, in which the value is being able to climb at the limit of one's physical ability rather than the more complex mix of skills needed in onsight trad climbing. This is not difficult to understand.

> ...and the safety obsession, plus, alas, the fact that the BMC actually helps people bolt climbs instead of doing all it could to stop them. There is no equivalent encouragement of proper climbing at all so it's no wonder that a trend towards the more unnatural types of climbing should happen (if this is the case, I'm only assuming that those saying so on this thread are basing this on fact).


> The result is a debasing of climbing to the fast food level, and a consequence, an increase of accidents when these molly-coddled climbers find themselves up against nature with only their own skills to help them (again assuming the present fuss about accidents in winter conditions are based on fact).


> What to do? Apart from burning down climbing walls - a spark in a dust filled atmosphere might well do the trick, and chopping bolts at the dead of night - obviously things that one could not recommend - not much really... leave the BMC unless they give up pushing drilling the hills, but probably few who oppose bolting are still members, writing a letter to the times if you a retired colonel? Otherwise I can't see much.

What utter tosh, or am I missing the irony?4

The UK climbing scene and the BMC do a brilliant job of maintaining the character of crags, and the controversy caused by the mere suggestion of placing a couple of new bolts in very specific circumstances over on the other thread shows how much people care about using bolts wisely. Bolts are limited basically to grossly overhanging and compact limestone, or crappy quarries, with a few exceptions (hence the lack of decent sport in the 5s and 6s). Our wonderful crags are all kept bolt free because we place so much value on the trad routes.

We can argue for weeks over the placing of a single bolt in this country - you couldn't be further off the mark if you tried (although I suspect you are trying pretty hard).
ads.ukclimbing.com
In reply to colin struthers:

Last spring, one lovely weekend morning, we drove past Horseshoe on the way to Ramshaw. There were around 40 cars parked outside the quarry, there was one other team on Ramshaw.


Chris
Jon Stewart - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> (In reply to colin struthers)
>
> Last spring, one lovely weekend morning, we drove past Horseshoe on the way to Ramshaw. There were around 40 cars parked outside the quarry, there was one other team on Ramshaw.
>
>
> Chris

Yeah, but Ramshaw's a nightmare! A great crag for when:

- it's too hot anywhere in the sun
- but it's not midgy in the shade
- and you're climbing really well and can get up a Joe Brown HVS

i.e. almost never!
Skip - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

The evidence from Bosigran today suggests that Trad is alive and well, at least in Cornwall. It's only February, yet there were 10 people climbing multi pitch trad, and what a glorious sunny day it was too.
Dave Garnett - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

The trick with Ramshaw is to get there before lunchtime.
Jon Stewart - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Dave Garnett:

Yes I've heard people say that crags that face East get the sun in the morning - never seen it myself.
Jonny2vests - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> (In reply to colin struthers)
>
> Last spring, one lovely weekend morning, we drove past Horseshoe on the way to Ramshaw. There were around 40 cars parked outside the quarry, there was one other team on Ramshaw.
>
>
> Chris

The implication that those two events are somehow correlated is a bit weak. And besides, can you even get 40 cars on that track?

I'm going to pretend you're trolling Chris, so I can continue to agree with the stuff you normally post.
In reply to jonny2vests:
>
>
> The implication that those two events are somehow correlated is a bit weak. And besides, can you even get 40 cars on that track?
>
> I'm going to pretend you're trolling Chris, so I can continue to agree with the stuff you normally post.

I'm not sure there was an 'implication' just the fact(s) that on a nice spring day a decent grit crag was almost deserted and a mediocre bolted quarry (I know there are some good route there btw) was rammed.

We counted the cars, the track was full as was the big car park up on the left. (Of course they may all have been cavers!)


Chris

PS I don't do trolling!
Wayne S - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

Climbing is what the individual makes it, it is a personal challenge. Personally I think trad climbing is far from dying a death. Beyond not damaging the rock and environment, and being honest about the style of any accent, the rest is for the participant to decide.

I think in the main common sense has prevailed s in regard to the mix of sports and trad climbing in the UK.

Maybe I’m just getting old, but isn’t it just society in general changing? A change where individuals expect to be spoon fed safe sanitised computer game style fun?

I vote for green over polished!
Jon Stewart - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Chris Craggs:

When I drive past the busy carpark at Horseshoe, I enjoy bathing in the feeling of smug superiority, in the knowledge that I'm going somewhere that's more than two million times better (even if I'm not going climbing).
HB1 - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers: When I started climbing in the late 60s I went with a college club to Wales or the Lakes. Living close to london I got used to those long friday-night drives and early monday-morning returns. How I would have relished the opportunities afforded to us all today - climbing walls, bouldering mats, Easyjet and the rest. I don't think, back then, that I knew really what was going on. I didn't climb regularly, and have no record or recall of what I climbed then. Mountain routes, for sure, but apart from that - I just loved the whole caboosh, which is why, years later, I'm still getting out-and-about. I counted 12 cars at my local Windgather this afternoon. People with ropes, soloists, boulderers, all, I'm sure, taking full advantage of the sun, and better able to do so, I imagine, by having kept climbing-fit over the winter which is easy to do now, but was not much thought of back in the day. I climbed a bit too much in the quarries last year, and will try to vary things more this year, but I've had good days in good company at Horseshoe or Intake (where on a couple of sundays we've had the place to ourselves) but I could mention an equally good sunday at Gardoms with few climbers around (but a lot more at Birchens probably) I saw no-one at Ravensdale, I saw no-one on Dow, but the routes didn't seem any more neglected (well, except that, what with such a wet summer, there was an abundance of growing things at R) Plenty of folk at Gogarth midweek, and, by way of contrast, hardly a soul climbing in Costa Blanca (we don't go to the popular crags) or Mallorca either.

There is so much more information about what and where to climb or boulder. All the walls run courses inside-to-outside, clubs advertise to increase membership. I cannot believe that classic climbing is dead-in-the-water. After all, if only a small percentage of those climbing now "keep the faith" and climb in the old way (along with all the other variants) there should be more than enough to ensure its health and survival
Sarah G on 19 Feb 2013
>
> In short, I think, (with a little bit of deliberate provocation) that trad climbing as we know it may be 'dying on its arse'


Could it be because we don't do sitting starts in trad?

Sx
HB1 - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart: Oh god, not YOU again. Ggrrr!
Jon Stewart - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to HB1:

Someone mentioned HQ. There was nothing I could do.

Fill it in! Fill it in! Fill it in!
Fill it in! Fill it in! Fill it in!
Fill it in! Fill it in! Fill it in!
Fill it in! Fill it in! Fill it in!
Fill it in! Fill it in! Fill it in!
Fill it in! Fill it in! Fill it in!
Fill it in! Fill it in! Fill it in!
Fill it in! Fill it in! Fill it in!
Fill it in! Fill it in! Fill it in!
Fill it in! Fill it in! Fill it in!
Offwidth - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Sunset Crack is neither rounded nor is it typical in any sense of natural grit, being when you did it a well protected and pleasant soft touch VS.

Is it only me that loves Ramshaw almost year round? I still have a good tick list to finish there as I keep finding distracting nooks and crannies. Last time we did an unlisted HVS 4c and a whole series of boulder problems I'd missed alongside some old faves. With the new grading its not even brutal below HVS.
Andrew Mallinson - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Sarah G:
I'll do a sitting start, standing start...anything that gets me started.
Andy (Decidedly trad...and anything else!)
Sarah G on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Andrew Mallinson:
Yep, me too- I've been known to employ the good old-fashioned leg up on occasion!

Sx
Orgsm on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Sarah G:
> (In reply to Andrew Mallinson)
> Yep, me too- I've been known to employ the good old-fashioned leg up on occasion!
>
> Sx


Combined arctics eh ;-)

Fraser on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> Yes but it that doesn't conflict with anything else. 1% of the climbing population could conceivably do 100% of the leading :-)

Yes, I appreciate it can be read in whatever way you choose, but I just wonder where the lad plucks his figures from. It'd nice to be able to give his opinion some credence, but until he can substantiate the statistic it's just random peacockery. (new word btw, now copyright)

Jonny2vests - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> (In reply to jonny2vests)
> [...]
>
> I'm not sure there was an 'implication' just the fact(s) that on a nice spring day a decent grit crag was almost deserted and a mediocre bolted quarry (I know there are some good route there btw) was rammed.

Oh so you were stating two entirely independent facts for shits & giggles. If not then surely the implication that you think they have some sort of connection is, erm implied.
Bulls Crack - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Chris Craggs)
>
> When I drive past the busy carpark at Horseshoe, I enjoy bathing in the feeling of smug superiority, in the knowledge that I'm going somewhere that's more than two million times better (even if I'm not going climbing).

I would tend to agree..thinking of of 90% of Horseshoe...but then take it's best routes..then compare lets say the many good moves you get on Rain Dance to many short grit 1 star routes...it's not all bad!
ads.ukclimbing.com
biscuit - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

I've not re-read the whole (considerably larger ) thread since i posted earlier so apologies if this has been discussed.

Anyone any thoughts on what time people now have available ?

I don't have stats ( so shoot me ) but i often see/hear in the media about how life is now so much busier: longer working hours, both parents working, family/friends more spread out so more weekends taken up visiting them etc.

I know when i lived in the Lakes that a full day out on a mountain route was a rare treat. This was due to working, having 2 kids, a wife who worked a 55-60 hr week and all the other crap we have to do in our lives.Oh and the weather. I'm afraid i ever used to get the same enjoyment of trolling up a mountain vDiff in the rain because the classic E2 i'd wanted to do was wet. It just wasn't worth giving up the little time i had for it - to me anyway.

Often i would grab an evening cragging down Borrowdale or go to the wall during Winter - or go 'cool' bouldering as it was a quick hit of what I, and all of us here i guess, love - CLIMBING !

So what did i do ? I used to plan ahead, save up and go on a climbing holiday for one glorious week of the year.Should i go to sunny Scotland or baking hot Wales where i stand a good chance of getting rained off my one opportunity of the year ? Nope i booked a flight and went to Spain.

Why does everyone think the Morocco guidebooks are proving so popular ? Adventure climbing ( of the highest order ) with good weather. Who are all these people going out to Morocco if trad is dying ?

There are plenty of people still tradding in the Lakes they've just not all got the time to get into the mountains. And lets not forget that a wet Summer means less climbing and more vegetation so it's been a double whammy.

I am doing my bit to keep trad alive having just taken 2 mates to Morocco and helped introdue them to trad. They were both sport climbers and were comfortably leading E grades on day 1 ending up in an E3 lead for one of them.

as for Robert Durran's comment before about going to learn trad in Spain there's plenty of it here we just keep quiet about it so it doesn't get too busy ;0)
Jon Stewart - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Bulls Crack:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> [...]
>
> I would tend to agree..thinking of of 90% of Horseshoe...but then take it's best routes..then compare lets say the many good moves you get on Rain Dance to many short grit 1 star routes...it's not all bad!

You're right, I did once enjoy a route on the Main Wall. But then I turned round and realised that I was spending my leisure time in a dismal, post-industrial pit, where a few people had lit a camp fire and were playing psychedelic trance music on a tinny sound system. It had a kind of Mad Max vibe.
Bruce Hooker - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to biscuit:

Flying to Morocco and so rather knocks a hole in the theory that people don't climb putting in their own gear, AKA trad" climbing, because the said gear is too expensive though, doesn't it?
biscuit - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

I thought that idea was put to bed a while ago in this thread ?

If you're a sport/wall climber you have shoes, rope, draws, belay device, helmet etc already. Sharing someone elses kit for a while or buying a bit when you can will soon have you kitted out enough to get started.

PS my flights were about 60 euros return with suitcase so not that much - but flying from Southern Spain means it's a lot chaper obviously.
Robert Durran - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to biscuit:
> Why does everyone think the Morocco guidebooks are proving so popular ?

Because the budget airlines now fly to Morocco. And a new guide to anywhere always results in at least temporary relative popularity.

> Adventure climbing ( of the highest order ) with good weather. Who are all these people going out to Morocco if trad is dying ?

The ones who would have been trad climbing in the UK were it not for the guidebook and the budget airlines; I'm not sure the current Morocco fad proves anything about the non-demise or otherwise of trad.
colin struthers - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

Well, well, its been an interesting discussion so far.

A few people seem to have misunderstood the original post and have tried to cast me as some kind of trad dinosaur which I most definitely am not. I also like sport climbing and I'm proud to have put up quite a decent number of new sport routes.

However, I do think (steps carefully off fence), that in terms of climbing in the UK, trad offers me a richer experience. This is because

- I find the combination of skills involved in successfully negotiating a long trad climb more stimulating and challenging

- going trad climbing often involves a day full of incident and variety and is less of a quick hit than a few hours spent clipping bolts

- the best quality rock in the UK is, by a country mile, trad

- trad climbs tend to happen in areas that are generally more attractive

- trad climbing better connects me to the history and culture of our sport which I value


But none of this means that there is anything wrong with sport climbing or with people who see themselves as primarily sport climbers.

I certainly didn't start this thread so that silly old buggers could have a rant against a 'feckless' and 'morally defective' younger generation. I have myself, for many years, been trying to preserve the feckless aspects of my own character (and curiously I find that a devotion to trad climbing can actually help).

However, there are trends in the way climbing is developing and I am fairly convinced that one of these is that fewer young climbers are now developing trad climbing skills. I think this is a huge shame because they are, IMNVHO, missing out.

The BMC is currently awash(ish) with money and new staff and there are, I think, a lot of individual climbers who care about the future of trad climbing. So here's an invitation to the 'something must be done' brigade -how do we apply these resources to give the young people (who want to) the best encouragement if they want to develop as trad climbers?

Oh, and finally, for those of you who missed it, the suggestion that trad climbing is 'dying on its arse' was tongue in cheek. I didn't need you to point out to me that this was not literally true. As I hope I have now explained, I came 'not to bury trad climbing, but to praise it'
Lukem6 - on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to The Lemming:
>
> Who really want's to do a 3 hour walk-in for a few chossy routes on a mountain crag where it may be cold, damp or worse, with little protection and a long way from help. And then there's the 3 hour walk-out.


youve just described my happy place
Lukem6 - on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers: in regards to TRAD dying, abroad in some locations its growing.

I know more purist trad climbers than purist sport/boulderers, but most people I meet do all of the above but mainly trad.

seems pretty popular to me
Phil Belcher - on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to The Lemming:
> (In reply to colin struthers)
>
> Could be something to do with the instant gratification of walking up to a boulder and doing a problem then and there. The safe matress also aids the sterile moment of the event.
>
> Who really want's to do a 3 hour walk-in for a few chossy routes on a mountain crag where it may be cold, damp or worse, with little protection and a long way from help. And then there's the 3 hour walk-out.

this adds to it all tho. people have not got the balls to walk in for 3 hours knowing that they will have to tie into the rope on a sketchy lead. this adds to the grade in points. if i was strong enough i would love to do some E6 on cloggy or something but most people are happy to hedpoint a grit route now or boulder a grit route

Jonny2vests - on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:
> (In reply to colin struthers)
>

> However, there are trends in the way climbing is developing and I am fairly convinced that one of these is that fewer young climbers are now developing trad climbing skills.

Colin, repeating that still doesn't make it true. Where is the evidence to support this trend? 'How things seem to me' and anecdotal tales of car parks and the like don't qualify . This is the entire point of the thread, so I think its important.

Go to any university in the UK, they mostly have a climbing / mountaineering club, sometimes 2. Trad is by far the predominant activity of these clubs. These clubs are as popular as ever, if not more so. You only need to look at the freshers threads in September to see that many of them are bursting at the seams.
paul__in_sheffield - on 20 Feb 2013

> I think that we in the UK do need to take Trad down from it's pedestal in some ways. I've had my eyes opened over the last few years by seeing physically talented climbers move from sport/bouldering and ignoring the orthodoxy "thou shalt start at VDiff and serve an apprenticeship of many years before trying an extreme", manage to climb the odd E4/5/6 in their first year. The fact is that on many routes, placing trad gear is not that difficult and the climbing on most trad routes below E1 is ridiculously easy for someone who can climb 7a or more on bolts. Obviously there is a fine line to walk here, but most of us walked a fairly fine line when we started out.

+1
To a reasonably competent climber, the vast bulk of trad leads are well protected and comparable in risk terms with sport climbs. I think it's possible that the adventure/risk message coming from forums like this are counter-productive if we want to encourage climbers to take up trad.
Jonny2vests - on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

What adventure/risk message?
Hugh Cottam - on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to jonny2vests:
Well you're not going to get any evidence either way. Thre aren't any meaningful stats that have been gathered in anything like a remotely scientific fashion. Plus it's not like there's any previous data to compare it to anyway. We're stuck with opinion and anecdote.
Robert Durran - on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:
>
> To a reasonably competent climber, the vast bulk of trad leads are well protected and comparable in risk terms with sport climbs.

Even if this is true (I don't really think so), they are certainly not in terms of risk management, which is a very important essence of climbing. It is very hard to hurt yourself on a sports climb but really quite easy to do so on a trad climb.

> I think it's possible that the adventure/risk message coming from forums like this are counter-productive if we want to encourage climbers to take up trad.

I doubt it.

Jonny2vests - on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to Hugh Cottam:
> (In reply to jonny2vests)
> We're stuck with opinion and anecdote.

Yes. Which I'm sure you realise has no basis in fact.

Regarding your earlier comment about Chee Tor, give them a guidebook (now thankfully published) and a reasonable Summer and they will come, its too good to ignore.

Nottingham University used to go down there a fair bit because I lent them a spare guide. And all that stuff about it being harder to get into trad and the disappearance of clubs is just pure fiction I'm afraid.
JimboWizbo - on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

Isn't trad traditionally a way of practicing for the big mountains? Maybe there should be more focus on this. Budding alpinists should really have trad gear and the skills to use it.

I'm sure a lot more people will be inspired by the goal of being high up above a glacier on an AD ridge somewhere as a result of gaining trad experience, than the goal of being able to climb more dangerous/difficult grit routes.

Trad might seem slow when you're climbing single pitch routes, but the skills will speed up your progress in the mountains.
neilh - on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:
Some of the comments about trad climbing being difficult to learn are just rubbish. You get talented overseas sports climbers on bmc visits doing impressive trad leads.Before sports climbing talk off there were plenty of climbers who within 6 months/a year were doing E numbers. So IMHO this point of view about " risk management " of trad etc just does not stand up.
biscuit - on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:

Well it's not a sport climbing destintion is it ? If people were not interested in trad they would be going on sport of bouldering holidays surely ?

The reasons why they go abroad are what i said above i believe. Time being the biggest factor for most climbers i know who work and have family.

So a new guidebook=an area becoming more popular.

I remember the same happening with the FRCC selected guide and the Buttermere guide. When are the next Langdale, Scafell and Dow guides due out ?

Sounds to me like it's a cyclical thing as modern life has changed and types of climbing/areas come into and out of fashion. Those who till favour the now less popular styles/areas will notice this more than those who have moved on to other things.
Hugh Cottam - on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to jonny2vests:
....based upon your intimate knowledge of one club?
Robert Durran - on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to biscuit:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> Well it's not a sport climbing destintion is it ? If people were not interested in trad they would be going on sport of bouldering holidays surely ?

Yes, cheap flights and good guidebooks might mean that some predominantly trad climbers are swapping their annual bolt clipping holiday for a trip to the likes of Morocco, but it doesn't follow that Morocco's popularity indicates a general resurgence of trad climbing.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Offwidth - on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to Hugh Cottam:

The clubs all meet up and talk through the BMC. My 20+ years experience with a student club was the same. Main events were trad, winter, bouldering in that order.
Simon Caldwell - on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:
> how do we apply these resources to give the young people (who want to) the best encouragement if they want to develop as trad climbers?

For the past few years, the BMC have been giving money to clubs to fund/subsidise training for beginners. Our (thriving) club has run several courses as a result of this.
Michael Ryan - on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to Hugh Cottam:
> (In reply to jonny2vests)
> Well you're not going to get any evidence either way. Thre aren't any meaningful stats that have been gathered in anything like a remotely scientific fashion. Plus it's not like there's any previous data to compare it to anyway. We're stuck with opinion and anecdote.

There is some data out there..but not much and fuzzy.

• guidebook sales
• footfall at climbing shops in climbing destination areas
• climbing club hut occupancy
• UKClimbing.com logbook stats

Mick

bullybones - on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

There's a set of perceptions at work here that needs teasing out from facts.

1) That there are more sport climbers and boulderers introduced via walls is a consequence of newer walls that cater for sport climbing and bouldering - a self-fulfilling prophecy.

2) Since, say 1990, we have far more easy sports routes in the UK. That doesn't mean we don't have far more easy new trad routes - we have those too.

3) Pads and bouldering guides have allowed bouldering to take off massively. But bouldering was massively popular in the 80's (there were fewer venues, but Burbage and Caley were huge; and most walls were bouldering-based).

4) A high percentage of sports climbers and boulderers does not equate to a reduction in the absolute number of trad climbers, if there are more climbers overall.

As HC has said, there are no data to base any case on, just a lot of anecdotes.

Everybody said that TV would kill radio, but now we have both and lots more as well. Bring it on.

bullybones - on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKC and UKH:
> (In reply to Hugh Cottam)
> There is some data out there..but not much and fuzzy.
> • guidebook sales
> • footfall at climbing shops in climbing destination areas
> • climbing club hut occupancy
> • UKClimbing.com logbook stats

I'm not seeing any data Mick! Even if there were, it would be confounded by 1) down, but so what? Could be due to less travel. 2) normalised for the number of shops? controlled for proximity of boulders or sport routes? Yrou would miss entire areas, e.g. Pembroke 3) Down, but could be due to less travel and poor weather 4) OK you're on to something, but someone needs to crunch numbers sensibly. Limited by the fact that the database doesn't go back far enough (retrospective logging is far too biased towards specific routes - too selective).


cuppatea on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

How does the ukc logbook work? If today I log 10,000 routes I did in 1990 would the software add 10,000 to the number of routes done in 1990 or add them to the number of routes logged in 2013?

Stone Muppet - on 20 Feb 2013
The first one, assuming you dated them correctly on your logbook.
Stone Muppet - on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers: 'not to bury trad climbing, but to praise it'

+1 for a misquote that isn't really a misquote :)
cuppatea on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to Stone Muppet:

Thanks, given the age of the forum software (Trollish reference to the other thread ;) ) I've wondered about this whenever statistics of the growth/decline of certain types of climbing are quoted.
biscuit - on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to biscuit)
> [...]
>
> Yes, cheap flights and good guidebooks might mean that some predominantly trad climbers are swapping their annual bolt clipping holiday for a trip to the likes of Morocco, but it doesn't follow that Morocco's popularity indicates a general resurgence of trad climbing.

Exactly ! I don't think there has been a reduction/resurgence in trad climbing, you do. Using only our anecdotal evidence and opinion i think it's about the same as when i started 12 yrs ago.

My point about Morocco is that now the option is there people are going there instead of bolt clipping POSSIBLY showing that that is what they prefer. Should we go climbing in good weather and do sport or trad ? Well it seems that it is becoming quite a popular option to go and do sunny trad. However i concede that one swallow does not a Summer make ;0)
Jonny2vests - on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to Hugh Cottam:
> (In reply to jonny2vests)
> ....based upon your intimate knowledge of one club?

What are you replying to? If you include it, I'll know.
andrewmcleod - on 20 Feb 2013
I am qualified to reply to this topic, as I am qualified in nothing, and therefore represent a 'new' wall-bred climber :)

As a new climber (started in August), I have mostly learnt indoors; now climbing mostly 6a+ and the odd 6b (grades may be slightly soft at my local centre or so I am told! also two 6b+, but on a very short slab and possibly not really 6b+). If I had to choose between sport and trad climbing, I would probably choose sport; it may therefore seem bizarre that most of my outdoor climbing has been trad :P

The reason that most of my climbing has been trad is due to two factors:
a) I have been lucky enough to be able to climb with the Uni of Exeter climbing club, and therefore share in racks/helmets/slings etc. I have some stuff but not much.
b) There is lots of trad down here but not a lot of sport! What few sport routes there are in the South West are usually far too hard for me, or there are at most a few 6a's. Portland is an obvious destination, but is most of two hours drive (Cheddar is also on the list). Therefore we end up tradding just because it's closer (and some people do want to do trad).

I find that when doing trad I do, in a day, a total of maybe 10 minutes climbing. I have done a few multipitch routes (VERY slowly), and for me at least it seems to be about 10-15 minutes of waiting or belaying per pitch, and for the 10-15 minutes of actually leading, 80% of it is spent putting in gear or building anchors (I quite enjoy the latter, and that doesn't take to long, but my gear faff is legendary). At the grades I am climbing, most of the actual climbing climbing is pretty trivial. I recognise these are skills that I could learn, and that would make everything faster, but mostly I would rather climb better :P

There is the added risk of trad. I have absolutely no interest in this; I enjoy a route less if it is bold (and I am far more likely to wuss out and certainly will not climb as hard!). I like getting up things that I didn't think I could, with as little fear of falling off as possible.

This is not because I am not willing to accept risks, I just have no interest in fighting to get gear into some crap placement on some wet limestone cliff in order to get 10m up to a belay when there is a perfectly good path around the top - I am not climbing for the adventure of getting to the top after all!

It is interesting that someone earlier commented on the increase in winter climbing. I do want to get into winter climbing, and would be perfectly happy to accept the risks involved - because it is a necessary risk. Winter climbs are obviously difficult to bolt, there is no easy alternative. Similarly, I would in a few years like to go with a friend on an expedition (possibly to something like an unclimbed 4/5000m peak in Central Asia) - and recognise that there will not be a line of bolts up the mountain! Again, to me this is a necessary risk and THAT is adventure - doing a 30m chossy route with a muddy descent path and dubious top-out is not :P

If Portland had a good motorway to it from Exeter, so that it was only an hour away, I am sure I would be there more often! That said, I also practice trad because of my overly-optimistic expedition ambitions (probably won't happen but worth a try).

You may feel my comments are uneducated - indeed they probably are because I have only recently started climbing outside - but that is my point :)
Howard J - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to andrewmcleod:
Some interesting perceptions there. If you are really only doing 10 minutes actual climbing in a day then you or your partners are doing something wrong. Of course trad involves some hanging around belaying, and you may have to wait some time while the leader route-finds and sorts out protection, but is that any worse than belaying a sports route while the leader makes multiple attempts?

Trad is not necessarily more dangerous but you control the risk by accepting a lower level of difficulty - in my case, very low :). The difference is that trad is not just about the technical grade, and it involves a wider range of skills including route-finding and placing gear. Part of the challenge and pleasure in trad is in exercising these additional skills and the greater self-reliance that comes with them.

The mistake is to think of sport as "trad made safe", when they're entirely different things. The point of sport climbing is to focus entirely on the athletic and technical elements by eliminating as many of the other aspects as possible. Trad on the other hand is much broader and the actual climbing is just one part. You have to approach them with entirely different mind-sets.

Jon Stewart - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to andrewmcleod:

The trad/sport faff argument is a funny one in this country because there is so little mid-grade sport to 'compete' with the trad, Portland and the A55 being the exceptions - both utterly mediocre venues compared to what's a few miles away from each.

Since we don't really do decent onsight sport climbing here (everyone into sport is into redpointing) the whole faff argument is turned on its head. In the Peak say, you can go out and do a few trad routes in the evening, but if you do sport you end up getting sweet FA done. The crags have no warm-ups and I'm usually pretty tired and bored by the time I've got the draws into the route. Then I'll spend what seems like the rest of my evening belaying my partner who is mainly sitting down, not climbing. Then I'll go half up the crag and sit down for 10 minutes. A couple of moves, then another sit down again. Etc. Meanwhile partner is bored shi!tless and it's starting to go dark. No one has climbed a route. We leave, grumpy and unsatisfied wondering whether to return to the route another time, or to pick one of the others which are essentially exactly the same. Lots of faff, hardly any climbing.
Lord_ash2000 - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to andrewmcleod: I do understand what you mean. When I was younger and was going out tradding with my dad I used to very much dislike multipitch climbing because on the grade we were doing it was basicly, 2 mins of nipping up the pitch. Then 20 mins of faff, followed about another 2 mins of climbing etc. Not to mention the walk off at the end etc. That pretty did it for me in terms of long days out tradding on mountain crags. Of course we were not very good back then and not very slick when it came to setting up belays etc and I've climbed a few multi pitch routes since but anything more than 2 pitchs now does not seem worth the hassle.
Bobling - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to andrewmcleod:

Nice post Andrew. I'm delighted to see you too had a humiliating experience on Slanting Crack at Sheep's Tor, gotta love those Dartmoor grades!
deepstar - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to Dave Garnett:
> (In reply to Franco Cookson)
> [...]
>
>
I can imagine that climbing archaeology; getting hold of an old guidebook and trying to reclimb ancient routes, might become quite a fashionable aspect of the sport in the future - if there's anything left to rediscover.
>
>This is what Me and a few mates have been doing in the Mendips,cleaning up and making climbable routes in places like Sandford Quarry or even The Southern Outcrop at Churchill Rocks where some of Graham Balcombe`s 1930 routes have`nt had a recorded second ascent.I dont know if anyone apart from members of the Mendip Crazy Gang will ever climb them but it does`nt really matter,its great fun anyway.Martin.
>
>

Greenbanks - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

As said before, excellent thread...

But, to your original Q...course its not:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=213992

Jonny2vests - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to Greenbanks:

Why did you link to that photo?
Greenbanks - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to jonny2vests:
'cos a couple of lads are giving a decent trad route a real go...of sorts

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andy farnell - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers: I think you have opened a but of a wound. But you're essentially right. Trad, big mountain trad, is a dying art. The scrittle will always be ringing to the sound of hex 11's and red socks, but the faff of big mountain read means many won't bother. Which is a pity as it means the decent crags (Malham, Kilnsey etc) will be even busier in the summer. If we have one.

Andy F
Jonny2vests - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to Greenbanks:

I thought you were taking the piss, I can't think of a worse example. So bad in fact, its been deleted. I'm not sure what you were trying to say anyway, there's brazillions of photos of randoms climbing on UKC.
Gordon Stainforth - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to andy farnell:

I don't follow. How can climbing big mountain routes be a dying art? It seems rather alive and well to me (see international climbing mags). Or do you just mean big mountain rock routes? Are people really giving up climbing the great mountain routes in Snowdonia, the Lakes and Scotland when the weather is good? Or the Alps, for that matter? It's true that many more people in our consumer society are now taking part in outdoor pursuits because they have been made much safer with modern technology (good), but does that mean that trad is literally dying? That fewer people are interested in climbing the big mountain rock faces (in the Alps and elsewhere, for example), or that such adventures as swimming the channel and rowing the Atlantic will become a thing of the past - because they're just too much 'faff'??
Jonny2vests - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to andy farnell:
> (In reply to colin struthers) I think you have opened a but of a wound. But you're essentially right.

Baseless assumption alert #342.
Jon Stewart - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to Lord_ash2000:
> I've climbed a few multi pitch routes since but anything more than 2 pitchs now does not seem worth the hassle.

You need to go to Gogarth Main Cliff. Big routes, amazing climbing, incredible setting and exposure, short walk-in and easy to get back to your bags (give or take the odd pitch of steep grass to finish).
Robert Durran - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to Lord_ash2000:
> I've climbed a few multi pitch routes since but anything more than 2 pitchs now does not seem worth the hassle.

I don't get this. On multi-pitch routes, you don't need to unrope, walk down, then rope up againn between pitches, so it is actually more efficient in terms of time spent climbing. You must be going wrong somewhere.

Dave Garnett - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to Lord_ash2000:
> (In reply to andrewmcleod) I've climbed a few multi-pitch routes since but anything more than 2 pitchs now does not seem worth the hassle.

Are you really saying that you lead E4 and have never started at the bottom of the Idwal slabs and climbed to the top of Glyder Fawr? Do you think that it wouldn't be enough climbing to be worth bothering with? You could even solo it if you have trouble with ropes.

Fair enough if you are agoraphobic or have an allergy to heather or something but to say that it's not enough climbing to be worth the hassle is incomprehensible. Or do you mean you don't like the walk down afterward?
ksjs - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to Monk: I didn't climb in the 70s as I was just learning to walk but, and I've bored people on here before about this, trad just isn't done to the same extent or level as I perceive it was.

Certainly, standards are low: you rarely see people leading much above E1. Yes, the Cromlech and the Leap see regular ascents at E3/4/5 but these are honeypot venues that are nationally known and attract climbers from far and wide. So too with numbers, yes Stanage and St Goavn's can be / are busy but away from that sort of venue...

The climbing population may be larger but in terms of ability on trad it's diminishing. That may however equate to a rise in bouldering and / or sport standards?

I love all aspects of climbing but I do think the fashion, if that's what it is, means that many are losing out on some of the truly outstanding experiences trad can deliver.
victim of mathematics - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to ksjs:

> Certainly, standards are low: you rarely see people leading much above E1. Yes, the Cromlech and the Leap see regular ascents at E3/4/5 but these are honeypot venues that are nationally known and attract climbers from far and wide. So too with numbers, yes Stanage and St Goavn's can be / are busy but away from that sort of venue...

Either you're hanging out at venues full of particularly puntery punters, or you have an aura of punteriness that makes all those around you stick to low grade routes. I see people climbing higher E grades all the time. All over the place (and I say that as a committed punter myself).
Monk - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to ksjs:
> (In reply to Monk) I didn't climb in the 70s as I was just learning to walk but, and I've bored people on here before about this, trad just isn't done to the same extent or level as I perceive it was.

As I asked earlier of someone else - have you any evidence of this? As far as I can tell, this anecdotal evidence can just as easily be explained as a hard core of climbers on each 'scene' who frequented particular crags and climbed hard routes, but everyone else was just as much of a punter as they are these days.

> Certainly, standards are low: you rarely see people leading much above E1. Yes, the Cromlech and the Leap see regular ascents at E3/4/5 but these are honeypot venues that are nationally known and attract climbers from far and wide. So too with numbers, yes Stanage and St Goavn's can be / are busy but away from that sort of venue...


I can't deny that most climbs are below E2, but even E4 leaders climb VS some of the time, don't they? I know that my climbing follows a pyramid, with only a couple of routes per session at the higher end of my grade spectrum, and more at the lower end, and most people I climb with are like this. Similarly, at the crags I visit (Avon and Wye, mostly) I often see climbers on harder routes but I agree the busiest routes are the lower grade routes.
ksjs - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to victim of mathematics: It must be the aura of punteriness then.
Dave Garnett - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to deepstar:
> (In reply to Dave Garnett)
> [...]
> >This is what Me and a few mates have been doing in the Mendips,cleaning up and making climbable routes in places like Sandford Quarry or even The Southern Outcrop at Churchill Rocks where some of Graham Balcombe`s 1930 routes have`nt had a recorded second ascent.I dont know if anyone apart from members of the Mendip Crazy Gang will ever climb them but it does`nt really matter,its great fun anyway.Martin.
> [...]

It is great fun. Even up here in the western peak there are plenty of forgotten routes to be unearthed, many haven't had a second ascent. Some of them may not have had a first...

Mark Westerman - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to Dave Garnett:
> (In reply to Lord_ash2000)
> [...]
>
> Are you really saying that you lead E4 and have never started at the bottom of the Idwal slabs and climbed to the top of Glyder Fawr? afterward?

Probably one of my best days out in North Wales.

cheers
mark
ksjs - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to Monk: No, no evidence. Just what I see based on about 10 years of climbing. I just don't buy that standards are where they should be. More numbers into the sport should see an increase in standards. Yet there isn't, average standards are low.
a lakeland climber on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to *the thread*:

Back in the so-called heyday of big mountain routes you have to remember that there weren't really any foreign rock climbing destinations. Pete Livesey's guide to French crags didn't appear until 1980, until then foreign trips primarily meant the Alps or Yosemite. In addition to that sports climbing simply didn't exist. The basic rule was: get to as high a crag as you could given the current weather. So if there'd been a week of dry weather then you went to Scafell or Cloggy. Even so a busy day on Scafell East Buttress might only have been ten teams which is hardly packed out. I can only remember one weekend when I was up there (East buttress) that I'd say was "busy" in that people were queuing for routes.

Was everyone climbing "E5" on the mountain crags back then? Not really, it's just that you heard about it because it was close to the then top grade and the routes had had very few ascents. Add two or three grades and think about how many ascents in the E7-8 range we hear about, it was equivalent to that. In the 1970s and 80s most people climbing on the mountain crags were climbing VS and below.

A couple of years ago we went to Carnmore crag in the Fisherfield Forest. It was mid-week and outside school holidays. There were two other parties there. This is a crag that is a good five hours from the Central Belt and then three to four hours walk-in. Neckband Crag last year had half a dozen teams when we were there and there were teams heading up to Flat Crags. My last trip to Cloggy was in the company of about twenty teams, I don't think I've ever seen that many up there.

Mountain crags were never and will never be "pristine" even if with my rose tinted glasses I look back and think routes were much cleaner back then than now. In truth I don't think they are that much different. The less popular lines have reverted back to nature a bit, especially those that were eliminates or weren't actually that good - once they'd had a few ascents and people got to know about their quality they were left alone.

There are so many more options these days so even if overall numbers have doubled then you might still only see the same numbers at the mountain crags. Unless the majority of climbers log their climbs then you aren't going to get any true picture. In the last three years probably 25-30% of all the crags I went to were first time visits, that's just in the UK. If I go to Loch Thollaidh crags, I can't be on Scafell at the same time.

ALC
paul mitchell - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to a lakeland climber: Lack of money is indeed why many young climbers go in for bolted routes and bouldering.
The cheapest entry to trad climbing is to join a club.Older members can lend gear and instruct you how to use it safely.

Bouldering is going to wear out your knees and hips with multiple falls ,if you do it for years.Best spread the load and do some roped stuff too.Top roping is a good way to get stamina and to get acquainted with routes you might wish to highball,or lead eventually.
Boulder problems on route cruxes are often better than on highballs.Top roping is a good way to widen your experience.

Try to climb outdoors as much as possible.Often crags turn out climbable,after you set off to the crag thinking it will be wet.
Climbing a lot indoors is pretty bad for your bottle and doesn't help at all with learning the nous needed for trad.If you can't afford the trad gear,find a less popular route to top rope and push your grade.
Bolt climbers seem to have more elbow and finger injuries than tradders.Try and mix the different styles and you may find they are complementary.

Mitch

mockerkin on 23 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

>> There is something that disturbs me on this thread. It is that indoor wallers and boulder people have no interest in the mountains, sports climbers also. I believe that, but there is no law saying that their climbing is of less value. They simply are not mountain folk. Where do winter climbers come into this? Are they not trad? Trad exists on its own for mountain folk, so why is everyone comparing it to people down the gym?
























Few have talked about winter climbing, alps, higher mo Surlelyn that
Lord_ash2000 - on 23 Feb 2013
In reply to Dave Garnett: I do trad climb in the summer and to a respectable grade sometimes but I'm really not a good poster boy for the trad revival. I've never even been to Idwal slabs despite living for 2 years in north Wales. It just didn't appeal to me in the slightest. Most of the stuff I did in Wales was on the orme, some in the slate quarries and a lot of bouldering. I’ve now lived in the lakes for 3 years, and I can be in Borrowdale in about 10mins but there are plenty of the larger mountain crags I’ve never even been to, I spent most of last summer’s trad effort at Reecastle.

If you want my opinion on trad’s future in the UK I don’t think it’s dying out its just what people seek from their trad climbing experience has shifted. I think it’s become more about the climbing, the overcoming of the actual physical moves on the rock while dealing with the risks and dangers of the situation, basically a little closer to a sport climbing mentality but with the added factor of some danger to deal with.

This is apposed to the more traditional focus being on the whole broader adventure aspect. The old school idea of getting a big day out in the hills, trekking around, seeing some nice views and spending a good few hours on a long mountain multi pitch at grade probably well within the climbers ability and nipping of to the pub later for a good pint is losing it’s appeal with modern day younger climbers.

The whole “hardy mountain man” vibe is what’s dying off not trad climbing as a whole, I wouldn’t worry to much just means the wild crags will stay remote and quite for those who still wish to have the adventures.
BarmyAlex118 - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Lord_ash2000:
> (In reply to Dave Garnett)
> If you want my opinion on trad’s future in the UK I don’t think it’s dying out its just what people seek from their trad climbing experience has shifted. I think it’s become more about the climbing, the overcoming of the actual physical moves on the rock while dealing with the risks and dangers of the situation, basically a little closer to a sport climbing mentality but with the added factor of some danger to deal with.

This my be the case for some young climbers from time to time, personally if i am climbing single pitch i sometimes like to just focus on how many hard routes i can tick off whilst i am there, however there's times when i just want to enjoy the climb, the veiws and who i am climbing with by doing easier routes

> This is apposed to the more traditional focus being on the whole broader adventure aspect. The old school idea of getting a big day out in the hills, trekking around, seeing some nice views and spending a good few hours on a long mountain multi pitch at grade probably well within the climbers ability and nipping of to the pub later for a good pint is losing it’s appeal with modern day younger climbers.

Really? I love it when i can get out for a long mountain day with a cracking multi - pitch thrown into it. Some of my most memorable climbing days have involved going for a pint afterwards at the pub, i would consider going to the pub after the climb a great way to finish off a mountain day

jimtitt - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to mockerkin:
> (In reply to colin struthers)
>
> >> There is something that disturbs me on this thread. It is that indoor wallers and boulder people have no interest in the mountains, sports climbers also. I believe that, but there is no law saying that their climbing is of less value. They simply are not mountain folk. Where do winter climbers come into this? Are they not trad? Trad exists on its own for mountain folk, so why is everyone comparing it to people down the gym?
>

Good Lord, what planet have you been on for the last half a century? Climbing split of from mountaineering even before I started climbing, "rock gymnasts" was the sneering phrase of the day.

While it might disturb you personally obviously plenty of climbers of all types have no interest in the mountains and why should they? Rock climbing in mountains has an unfortunate tendency to have considerable objective dangers, expense, crap weather and worst of all involve long walks with a heavy rucksack.
The concept that any form of climbing has more `value´ than any other is ludicrous, climbing/mountaineering is fundamentally pointless anyway. To say for example that jumaring up a fixed rope attatched to a dead body is more worthwhile in any concievable respect to working a boulder problem for 2 years is madness.
I live within view of the Alps, they are pretty sometimes and make driving to Italy slower!
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Will Hunt - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to The Lemming:
> (In reply to colin struthers)
>
> Could be something to do with the instant gratification of walking up to a boulder and doing a problem then and there. The safe matress also aids the sterile moment of the event.
>
>


There speaks a man who has never done bouldering "properly". If you can boulder by "walking up to a boulder and doing a problem then and there" then you aren't trying hard enough. The likelihood is that you're climbing at a level on the boulders that you could on trad and then of course the activity will be less engaging. Try spending four, protracted, agonising sessions on the same problem and still not getting it right and see if that fits the bill of your "instant gratification".

I enjoy all disciplines of climbing and choose to climb according to the season. I don't particularly enjoy sport climbing, though I have never done it "properly" really so only have myself to blame. In the winter I boulder and in the summer I trad. In both of these, I make an effort to get as off the beaten track as I practically can (transport, partners, time allowing).

The problem is a psuedo one made up by old farts who think that because a standard rack for the budding hard climber now includes a pad or two (as of course it should) then something has gone seriously wrong. We've seen this before. Do you use cams? Sticky rubber? Chalk? Tut tut tut. Thin end of the wedge, that.
Mick Dewsbury - on 24 Feb 2013
It's just the way that people come into the sport nowadays isn't it? As many contributors to this thread have stated, they started on the indoor walls. They became hooked on the beauty of the moves involved in ascent. Why mar this experience outdoors by 'faffing' trying to place gear etc. when the routes exist on which one can replicate the freedom of movement practiced indoors?
I, along with many other older climbers, started climbing for a different reason and for those reasons I still prefer 'trad'. I would then concur with the OP somewhat in that trad climbing will be of lesser interest to the majority of newcomers, but this would suit me perfectly.
I would add that having watched exponents of 'sport' climbing perform, I find it highly amusing. It used to be called 'frigging' in my day.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to mockerkin:
> (In reply to colin struthers)
>
> >> There is something that disturbs me on this thread. It is that indoor wallers and boulder people have no interest in the mountains, sports climbers also. I believe that, but there is no law saying that their climbing is of less value. They simply are not mountain folk.

I'd guess if you took a sample of indoor climbers in Scotland or the Lakes or Wales you'd find a lot of hill walkers and scramblers with just as much interest in mountains as someone that climbs at Stanage.
Bruce Hooker - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to jimtitt:

> "rock gymnasts" was the sneering phrase of the day.

I thought it was a compliment!

As for jumaring up around dead bodies I that's a new branch of the sport to me, aren't you exaggerating a little bit?
Jon Stewart - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Mick Dewsbury:

> I would add that having watched exponents of 'sport' climbing perform, I find it highly amusing. It used to be called 'frigging' in my day.

I think you were watching them practice. When they perform, the climb routes several grades harder than they could onsight, with the cleanest technique and near-perfect efficiency. Did you used to call that 'frigging' too?

Personally, I don't enjoy sport climbing, but it annoys me when people make this non-point for the billionth time. I know it's intended to annoy sport climbers, but it annoys me too.
Jon Stewart - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to jimtitt:
> (In reply to mockerkin)
> [...]
> To say for example that jumaring up a fixed rope attatched to a dead body is more worthwhile in any concievable respect to working a boulder problem for 2 years is madness.

Haha. Those two extremes of the sport are equally unappealing to me.

As you say, all climbing is futile. But personally I think working a boulder problem for 2 years strips away almost every aspect of climbing, leaving the futility particularly noticeable.
Mick Dewsbury - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Mick Dewsbury)
>
> [...]
>
> I think you were watching them practice. When they perform, the climb routes several grades harder than they could onsight, with the cleanest technique and near-perfect efficiency. Did you used to call that 'frigging' too?


No. we called it pointless.

Just to be clear, I have no problem with what other people do, but I do often find it amusing these days. The main thing is that they're enjoying themselves through the pleasure that only the physics of climbing can bring.
jimtitt - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

Well I know you´ve been on another planet for a fair while!

"The first body they met was Shriya Shah-Klorfine, a Nepalese-Canadian woman who had died the previous day. They unclipped themselves off the rope to go past her, and then clipped back on to continue. Shuttleworth reports on their next encounter: “There was another man who was almost dead; he was sitting attached to an anchor…and I just thought it was a dead body rocking in the wind, but as we passed he raised his arm and looked at us. He didn’t know anyone was there. He was almost dead. He was dead when we came back down”.
That body was either Wang Yifa, a Chinese climber, or South Korean Song Won-bin, both of whom died in that period. Next was the dead body of Eberhard Schaaf, a German doctor. Shuttleworth’s team cut him from the rope to get past."

Reportedly one fixed rope on an 8000´er was anchored to the frozen-in body of a Japanese climber, your welcome to search for this yourself.
TRip - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Mick Dewsbury:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> [...]
>
>
> No. we called it pointless.
>
It's all pointless. Climbing is pointless. Don't be such a bigot.

Climbing is a broad church, enjoy what you enjoy doing but don't look down your nose at people who enjoy doing other stuff.
Jon Stewart - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Lord_ash2000:
> (In reply to Dave Garnett) It just didn't appeal to me in the slightest. Most of the stuff I did in Wales was on the orme, some in the slate quarries and a lot of bouldering.

I know it's quite common, but I find it amazing that anyone should live in N Wales and climb on the Orme and go bouldering. I can see why people wouldn't go up to the Cromlech and to Gogarth if they couldn't climb the classic E-grade routes, but I would have thought anyone with the ability would go up and do Left Wall just to see what all the hype was about. If they didn't get it, basically I'd think they were mental. In N Wales particularly there's plenty of "sport style trad" - long, well protected hard, sustained pitches that are incredibly rewarding from a physical climbing point of view, with the far superior setting, exposure and atmosphere a bonus rather than whole point. Rhoscolyn springs to mind, more than Gogarth for the sea cliffs. It's not a choice between The Orme and Idwal slabs you know.

(I've only been to the Orme once and it was too hot so we ended up on some lame A55 rubbish, and I've hardly done any bouldering N Wales, not the sort of thing I'd travel to.)

> I’ve now lived in the lakes for 3 years, and I can be in Borrowdale in about 10mins but there are plenty of the larger mountain crags I’ve never even been to, I spent most of last summer’s trad effort at Reecastle.

Reecastle's great, eh? But it's as close as trad gets to sport climbing! Personally, I've climbed just as hard up on the big crags, but those days are ones which I'll remember forever, whereas Reecastle was just quickly banging out a few soft-touch E-grades in a couple of hours. Completely different level of experience.

> If you want my opinion on trad’s future in the UK I don’t think it’s dying out its just what people seek from their trad climbing experience has shifted. I think it’s become more about the climbing, the overcoming of the actual physical moves on the rock while dealing with the risks and dangers of the situation, basically a little closer to a sport climbing mentality but with the added factor of some danger to deal with.

That's certainly where you're at, but I've spent the past couple summers climbing with lots of different people, and they've all been different. I guess I only meet people who want to climb low-E routes on major trad crags but then you'll meet people who want to climb on The Orme and Reecastle. Some people like really adventurous routes (the sideways adventures on a crumbly sea-cliff type) and don't focus on hard moves, others want convenient, single pitch trad where the grade is what matters most ("sport style trad"). Others are mainly boulderers who just don't try hard on trad at all and just want the experience (the font 7b climber who only leads HVS - plenty of those around).

> This is apposed to the more traditional focus being on the whole broader adventure aspect. The old school idea of getting a big day out in the hills, trekking around, seeing some nice views and spending a good few hours on a long mountain multi pitch at grade probably well within the climbers ability and nipping of to the pub later for a good pint is losing it’s appeal with modern day younger climbers.

I'm not sure, I just think it's diversifying. When I'm in The Pass say, there are lots of uni-age people on the classic long severes, as well as someone having a crack at a hard, safe trad line, and quite a few "low E-grade plodders" like me slowly onsighting the classic routes and never falling off!

> The whole “hardy mountain man” vibe is what’s dying off not trad climbing as a whole, I wouldn’t worry to much just means the wild crags will stay remote and quite for those who still wish to have the adventures.

I don't know - I know lots of people into winter and alpine climbing, maybe these are our hardy mountain men.

Jon Stewart - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Mick Dewsbury:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> [...]
>
>
> No. we called it pointless.

You can't see the irony in a climber calling another climber's kind of climbing 'pointless' then? Oh well...
mockerkin on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

As has been said above, indoor walls, bouldering and sports climbing are on their own and are a different beast to trad. They tend to be towards the gymnastic side of climbing. Many trad climbers are up on the hills because they love the hills. Being up on a high crag v.diff route, after a walk in, watching the buzzards and ravens and enjoying where you are, comes from a different mindset to the gymnastics of non trad climbing, where such things are unknown.
I suggest (don't bother asking for statistics) that high hill trad climbers, especially winter climbers are more likely to proceed to alpine level and further, than climbers from the other types of climbing.
Also, where do we draw the line between climbing and scrambling? Some difficult scrambles need a rope, especially in winter. Does that count as trad? I have seen an increase in hill walkers in the Lakes progressing to v.diff. But as has been said by others, indoor, bouldering and sport are removed from trad because trad has it's origins in love of the mountains, whereas the other three have no interest the hills.
Jon Stewart - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to mockerkin:

Your definition of trad is wonky.

Trad climbing is climbing with leader-placed protection rather than bolts. It is not long, easy routes in the mountains as part of a progression to alpine climbing (although it includes that as a subset of trad climbing).

As I say above, there are some people who like "sport-style trad" - well protected, acessible, hard, single-pitch, well protected trad. There are others who like Vdiffs on Tryfan in big boots and the pissing rain. Both are trad, just different kinds of trad.

Personally I like to get the best of both worlds. I go up into the mountains only when conditions are good, to climb pretty much as hard as I can (for onsight trad), along with the beautiful scenery - which is an incredibly important part for me - the long walk-in, the pub after, etc. As it happens, while I love the British mountains in summer, I have no desire to "progress" to alpine climbing (although I do like rock-climbing in the Alps).
Goucho on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Mick Dewsbury:
It used to be called 'frigging' in my day.

...or 'dogging', but that now has a different connotation nowadays :-)



Jon Stewart - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Goucho:
> (In reply to Mick Dewsbury)
> It used to be called 'frigging' in my day.
>
> ...or 'dogging', but that now has a different connotation nowadays :-)

Haha.

But for the 'sport climbing is bad because it involves rehearsing the moves' brigade, do you also think that all the modern hard trad which is headpointed is equally pointless. And how do you get your heads around Dave Macloed's Echo Wall, which so very trad, and yet so very rehearsed. Pointless frigging is it? It's terrible the depths that trad climbing has sunk to, isn't it?
Mick Dewsbury - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Goucho:


That was it, 'dogging'!
Goucho on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart: As far as I'm concerned, folk should just climb what they want - doesn't matter whether it's trad, sport or bouldering - and just enjoy whatever flicks their switches.

Climbing is now a far broader and more fragmented sport than it used to be, and in fact that's probably a good thing.

As for trad dying on it's arse, well I doubt it very much.

There are always going to be people looking for that special experience - if you like a sort of 'connection' - that only trad can really give you.

Personally, I've now done enough sport climbing to know, that whilst it's a great technical and physical blast, it just doesn't have the adventure, magic and dare I say it, soul, that trad climbing does.

Sport climbs seem to lack any individual character - or put it like this, I can remember in great detail, and great affection, trad routes I did 4 decades ago, whereas I can't recall in any great detail or affection sport routes I did 4 weeks ago.

Jon Stewart - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Goucho:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart) As far as I'm concerned, folk should just climb what they want
>
> As for trad dying on it's arse, well I doubt it very much.
>
> There are always going to be people looking for that special experience - if you like a sort of 'connection' - that only trad can really give you.
>
> I can remember in great detail, and great affection, trad routes I did 4 decades ago, whereas I can't recall in any great detail or affection sport routes I did 4 weeks ago.

I couldn't agree more with all of that.

Mick Dewsbury - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Wow Jon, you really take folks opinions personally don't you?

Don't include me in that 'brigade' as I have stated the opposite quite clearly. And of course the difference between leading a route such as Echo Wall (however much rehearsed) and a line of bolts (ditto) is quite obvious, but it is not what I would call 'trad', but there you go.
For the pedants, I use 'pointless' purely in the context of my own climbing extraction. If you think it ironic for this climber to use such a term then perhaps you should think a little more about what you get from true 'trad' climbing, as it is far from pointless.
To 'practice' a sequence of moves on a line of bolts ad infinitum until you can eventually get it off pat builds nothing but physical strength, but as I said, as long as you enjoy it , that's the main thing.
Mick Dewsbury - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to TRip:

Read my post again you clown, then look up the meaning of the word 'bigot'.

Doesn't apply, I think you'll find.
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Bruce Hooker - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to jimtitt:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
> Reportedly one fixed rope on an 8000´er was anchored to the frozen-in body of a Japanese climber, your welcome to search for this yourself.

Well that's not typical of traditional climbing, it's a perversion due to commercialism and a profane desire to get to the top of high mountains by any means that money can buy.

It's quite possible to climb even quite high peaks in good style, unguided and unaided by the commerce that rots everything... But on a more homely level going for a climb with a friend up an unmarked cliff, leaving hardly a trace of your passage is hardly an extreme thing to do, elegant and simple, no fuss, no bullshit, no competition.

Bruce Hooker - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to TRip:

"bigot", "broad church"... your references betray you :-)

No one's going to stop you in your practices, however perverse they may believe them to be, but you can't demand approval.
Robert Durran - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Goucho:
> Sport climbs seem to lack any individual character - or put it like this, I can remember in great detail, and great affection, trad routes I did 4 decades ago, whereas I can't recall in any great detail or affection sport routes I did 4 weeks ago.

Climbs tend to be memorable when the experience is intense. To get that from a sport route you have to be trying very, very hard physically; I find that some sports onsights just as memorable as trad ones (where the intensity just as often comes from the feeling of commitment.

Jon Stewart - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Mick Dewsbury:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
>
> Wow Jon, you really take folks opinions personally don't you?

Personally? Not at all. I find sport climbing duller than dishwater, it really isn't my thing, but I see it as another form of climbing completely equal in value in trad climbing. I used to have a bit of a snidey, superior attitude to it, but then I tried it, found out how much commitment it takes to do it well (in a different way to trad of course), and now I just see it as a discipline of climbing that isn't for me, but is no better or worse than what I do.

> Don't include me in that 'brigade' as I have stated the opposite quite clearly.

You have stated that you think it's fine for people to do what they enjoy, but you maintain an implied snobbery that what you do is better:

> To 'practice' a sequence of moves on a line of bolts ad infinitum until you can eventually get it off pat builds nothing but physical strength, but as I said, as long as you enjoy it , that's the main thing.

I'm only asking that you let go of that snobbery.

> And of course the difference between leading a route such as Echo Wall (however much rehearsed) and a line of bolts (ditto) is quite obvious, but it is not what I would call 'trad', but there you go.

I agree. When I talk about 'trad' I mean onsight trad climbing, and what happens at the top end when that just isn't possible is a different game.

> For the pedants, I use 'pointless' purely in the context of my own climbing extraction. If you think it ironic for this climber to use such a term then perhaps you should think a little more about what you get from true 'trad' climbing, as it is far from pointless.

Climbing gives a huge amount to my life. It is not pointless in that respect, but it is just a game with pretty arbitrary rules (like it or not, not resting on gear etc *are* rules). In sport climbing, it is a similar game with a different set of rules. Some prefer one game, others the other.

Saying "I accept that other people can climb in inferior ways to me" is the tone I get from your posts. I'm just suggesting that your way is not superior at all, both are equal and both are arbitrary.
Orgsm on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Goucho:
> (In reply to Mick Dewsbury)
> It used to be called 'frigging' in my day.
>
> ...or 'dogging', but that now has a different connotation nowadays :-)

And frigging is a sexual term as well. Best not done at the crag.
Goucho on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Robert Durran: For me one of the most enjoyable aspects of climbing is the fluidity of movement, getting a rhythm and a flow going, which is why I've never got into 'working' routes - it just kills the rhythm.

I also have a very low boredom threshold - I find the thought of spending hour after hour working the same sequences as appealing as wading through a sewer in a snorkel :-)



Jon Stewart - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Goucho:

> I also have a very low boredom threshold - I find the thought of spending hour after hour working the same sequences as appealing as wading through a sewer in a snorkel :-)

I've also found it's more like manual labour than a leisure pursuit.

It's just a personality thing though, for me there is no buzz when I manage a redpoint, nor when I finish a boulder problem that took hundreds of tries. I just think, 'god, that took ages' and feel empty inside.
TRip - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to TRip)
>
> "bigot", "broad church"... your references betray you :-)
>
> No one's going to stop you in your practices, however perverse they may believe them to be, but you can't demand approval.

I have no idea what any of the above means. I wish I hadn't bothered posting. Threads like give this give the UKC forums it's bad name.
Jon Stewart - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to TRip:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
> [...]
>
> Threads like give this give the UKC forums it's bad name.

There's no apostrophe in that kind of "its".

(That, by the way, was a joke about the bad name of UKC.)

While spending some time this evening posting on this thread, I also contributed the following haiku to another:

trad or sport is best
arguments on UKC
what a waste of life

But then, we could be discussing when we go for a dump...
Jon Stewart - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to a lakeland climber:
> (In reply to *the thread*)
>
> Back in the so-called heyday of big mountain routes you have to remember that there weren't really any foreign rock climbing destinations...

A post that makes sense. Thanks for instilling a sense of reality.
Robert Durran - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to a lakeland climber)
>
> A post that makes sense. Thanks for instilling a sense of reality.

Indeed. We are just spoilt for choice these days by climbing in all its wonderful diversity from convenient indoor boudering to affordable superalpinism. How can that possibly be a bad thing?

Bruce Hooker - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> > Back in the so-called heyday of big mountain routes you have to remember that there weren't really any foreign rock climbing destinations...

> > A post that makes sense. Thanks for instilling a sense of reality.

I don't know when you mean - the Vercors, Chatreuse and many other areas were well known in the 60s and 70s - I've got a 1970 of "Alpine Climbing", the ACG magazine, which has fairly good guide to the Vercors and the Saussois in it... The Vercors go up to 2 or 300 metres which isn't bad. Also the Pyrenees and the Costa Blanca. People stick with bad weather in the Alps frequently headed South to the Calanques too.

Doubtless there is more choice now but the "reality" isn't quite so clear cut... and that's without mentioning the USA and Norway for the more dedicated climbers.
Wink - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: Saussois! I had forgotten all about those Saussois slim fitting boots, with a steel plate in the sole. Great for trad mountain routes - last used on Main Wall Christmas Eve 1968 with Conga in a snow storm, had to ab off 3/4 of the way up. Now who did I lend them to?

tdan0504 - on 25 Feb 2013
There are more people climbing and more indoor climbing walls than ever before. Sport climbing and bouldering are the next stage in progression from indoor climbing, and I guess some people are content to stick with that. Of course trad is the next, and much bigger step up, requiring a lot more investment in terms of kit and personal commitment, determination and lugging heavy packs and ropes for miles sometimes.
It's down to us to encourage as many people as we can to try climbing trad, although Stanage in Summer resembles an ant hill most weekends.
Jon Stewart - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to tdan0504:
> There are more people climbing and more indoor climbing walls than ever before. Sport climbing and bouldering are the next stage in progression from indoor climbing, and I guess some people are content to stick with that. Of course trad is the next, and much bigger step up, requiring a lot more investment in terms of kit and personal commitment, determination and lugging heavy packs and ropes for miles sometimes.

I don't see any reason people should 'progress' to trad climbing in those steps. Why not just go out seconding routes with friends, and then start leading? I never climbed indoors or bouldered until I was regularly leading on grit, which was as soon as I started roped climbing, and sport just doesn't feature because it's all too hard (unless you count choss-holes, which I don't).

> It's down to us to encourage as many people as we can to try climbing trad, although Stanage in Summer resembles an ant hill most weekends.

I think it's up to us to encourage more traffic at crags where we want to arrive and find the routes already clean and chalked. Before I go up to Flat Crags this year, would someone like to do the classic E2s first please?

GrahamD - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to tdan0504:

> Of course trad is the next, and much bigger step up, requiring a lot more investment in terms of kit and personal commitment, determination and lugging heavy packs and ropes for miles sometimes.

Er, no it isn't. The major piece of equipment that most people who live away from the climbing need is a car. The extra increment for a set of nuts over a sport rack is maybe £50 to start with.

Walking miles ? only if you want to. Plenty of trad crags are pretty much drive in (Avon IS drive in)
mg99 - on 25 Feb 2013
Less lycra on the crags? Quality.
tlm - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to Mick Dewsbury:

> To 'practice' a sequence of moves on a line of bolts ad infinitum until you can eventually get it off pat builds nothing but physical strength, but as I said, as long as you enjoy it , that's the main thing.

It might build up other things too - balance, a sense of timing, stamina, will.

Physical climbing isn't all about strength.

Ramblin dave - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to tlm:
I do find it hilarious how hung up some people get on redpointing vs onsight. It's like a bunch of footballers complaining that if professional basketball players aren't good enough to play without handballing all the time then they should stick to Sunday League...
Jonny2vests - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to a lakeland climber:
> (In reply to *the thread*)

Well said. Here it is again for those that missed it:

> Back in the so-called heyday of big mountain routes you have to remember that there weren't really any foreign rock climbing destinations. Pete Livesey's guide to French crags didn't appear until 1980, until then foreign trips primarily meant the Alps or Yosemite. In addition to that sports climbing simply didn't exist. The basic rule was: get to as high a crag as you could given the current weather. So if there'd been a week of dry weather then you went to Scafell or Cloggy. Even so a busy day on Scafell East Buttress might only have been ten teams which is hardly packed out. I can only remember one weekend when I was up there (East buttress) that I'd say was "busy" in that people were queuing for routes.
>
> Was everyone climbing "E5" on the mountain crags back then? Not really, it's just that you heard about it because it was close to the then top grade and the routes had had very few ascents. Add two or three grades and think about how many ascents in the E7-8 range we hear about, it was equivalent to that. In the 1970s and 80s most people climbing on the mountain crags were climbing VS and below.
>
> A couple of years ago we went to Carnmore crag in the Fisherfield Forest. It was mid-week and outside school holidays. There were two other parties there. This is a crag that is a good five hours from the Central Belt and then three to four hours walk-in. Neckband Crag last year had half a dozen teams when we were there and there were teams heading up to Flat Crags. My last trip to Cloggy was in the company of about twenty teams, I don't think I've ever seen that many up there.
>
> Mountain crags were never and will never be "pristine" even if with my rose tinted glasses I look back and think routes were much cleaner back then than now. In truth I don't think they are that much different. The less popular lines have reverted back to nature a bit, especially those that were eliminates or weren't actually that good - once they'd had a few ascents and people got to know about their quality they were left alone.
>
> There are so many more options these days so even if overall numbers have doubled then you might still only see the same numbers at the mountain crags. Unless the majority of climbers log their climbs then you aren't going to get any true picture. In the last three years probably 25-30% of all the crags I went to were first time visits, that's just in the UK. If I go to Loch Thollaidh crags, I can't be on Scafell at the same time.
>
> ALC

colin struthers - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to the thread

This you have to watch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8RE-WAsjX0

Brilliant!

Not sure which side of the debate this is on but it fits perfectly with one of the climbing traditions that I value most - taking the piss.
Helnorris - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:
I think the main thing that has put Steve and myself of trad climbing most last year and all of this is the weather.
The walk ins, abs ins scrambles etc are all part and parcel of the fun and adventure of trad climbing. Pembs would not be as indimitating and comitting as it is if you didnt have to ab in to every route. Thats what makes alot of pembs.

However the shocking weather we have had since last march/april has just put a stop to trad unless you like climbing on soaking rock/ howling winds/cold temps which just take the pleasure out of trad when you got to play around with metal gear constantly. Even if its been sunny for two days you get your hand into a crack and its sopping...great lol.

As a result we have taken to bouldering outdoor and in, just becasue of the ease of it. No commitments, if it starts raining its doesnt matter, easily accessible and can do it indoors to keep strong. The slimplicity and sociable side of it is much more apealling these days than trad.

Dont get me wrong...we are both itching to get back out to areas where we havnt been and get on routes that are on ticklists and get stuff done but the weather just makes that idea miserable lol.

So im my view the weather is what stops trad pretty much but thats just me haha :D Some may call me a wimp...some may call me sensible haha :D
Goucho on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:
> (In reply to the thread
>
> This you have to watch.
>
> http)//www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8RE-WAsjX0
>
> Brilliant!
>
> Not sure which side of the debate this is on but it fits perfectly with one of the climbing traditions that I value most - taking the piss.

+1

Is this the best climbing video ever :-) ???

Absolutely wonderful.
tlm - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave:
> (In reply to tlm)
> I do find it hilarious how hung up some people get on redpointing vs onsight.

I don't really notice people saying that one is better - just that they are different, and that it's only fair to be honest about style.

Mitch V8S on 25 Feb 2013
Have you seen this video.
Something for the anti-bolting campain.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TeTejh1ebs


Bruce Hooker - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to Mitch V8S:

He's not just a pretty face, is he?!

Amazing.
dougieb - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers: Wonderful clip; Herr Mad-dog Traditionalist, perhaps referring of the original Fontainblu's bouldering fraternity ?
jules699 - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers: I've spent most of my climbing career doing trad. I dabbled in bouldering, hated it, then tried sport and found that more scary than trad - bolts waay too far apart - then came back to bouldering cos it got me strong for trad and now I'm itching for conditions to hit the trad again this season. I reckon trad will live. Were british...its wot we do!!!
BPT@work on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to Goucho:
> (In reply to colin struthers)
> [...]
>
> +1
>
> Is this the best climbing video ever :-) ???
>
> Absolutely wonderful.

Agree totally! Hilarious!
Jimbo C - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to colin struthers:

I think we now have a definitive answer to this question (albeit a 3 year old answer):

http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=67864

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