/ HELP! ...Damage by school group to Carrock Fell Boulders
He confidently informed me that he had permission, to which I expressed my surprise and enquired from whom. He failed to tell me but said he had a letter from a lake district based organisation back at his college. I was also amazed to find that he had no idea that these practices could be in any way a problem. In fact he considered my complaint a 'difference of opinion!'
He had no idea that he had instructed his group to 'take samples' from the start, middle and end of an established bouldering route, "The sound of one Al slapping" V2 5c on the DuAl boulder.
His lack of care, understanding and sympathy towards the environment together with his carte-blanche approach to chipping is in my view highly unprofessional. His students were laughing at my concerns and continuing to hit the gabbro with large hammers. I did wonder if he would take the same stance if standing on the top of the limestone pavement at Malham?
There is only one pocket of gabbro in England and he informed me that he has been collecting samples from it each year for the past eleven years. He also said that his group were making their way along the boulders so I assume they were going to damage the 'warm up area' next.
I've informed the BMC....does anyone know what else I can do (Legally!)?
Don't know if this is any help? Complain to school via BMC?
This issue is frequently the topic of correspondence in geological journals. The sensitive nature of climbing areas and also geological conservation for its own sake prevent hammering.
These people should be pulled up and stopped immediately.
Some years ago a similar thing happened at Shipley Glen in Yorkshire. If I remember correctly, it ended up in the national papers! The school did a massive climb down (as it were). They came out of it looking not only incompetent but downright ridiculous.
My impression is schools (like many organisations nowadays) are terrified of negative PR - particularly when they're in the wrong.
If you're still in contact with this guy, I'd suggest he goes online and has a little read of this for starters. The 'difference of opinion' may well scupper his career.
We can all email email@example.com with our thoughts on this matter.
Why not contact the college, using the details here:
and point them to this:
"Students should be encouraged to observe and record and not to hammer indescriminately
For teaching purposes, the use of replicas is recommended. The collection of actual specimens should be restricted to those localities where there is a plentiful supply or to scree, fallen blocks and waste tips."
Could it be this :
What was his name? I went to college there! Now work just down the road. I can get in touch. Old guy with glasses? Or short young guy?
Similar thread about a similar incident at Haytor a year or two back.
To the OP, not that it makes any difference to the situation, but there's gabbro in Cornwall too, so it's existence in England is not exclusive to Carrock Fell.
I spoke to a group (I think) from that self same college a few years back at Carrock Fell.
The teacher's response was 'climbers place pitons all the time' and 'Britain needs geologists'.
His approach was arrogant and confrontational although to be fair they did move on to some of the non-climbing boulders closer to the road.
I was a Head of Biology at a Sixth Form College for many years (not at Stourbridge), so I do have some expertise ~ might I suggest the following:
Use the Geological Society guidelines, and obviously describe the incident, maybe including photographs of the damage. Put this in writing to the Principal of the College, emphasising the poor example set to the Geology students,and make it clear you would like some feedback of action taken. Keep it all factual. Events, dates, times, place, grid references, will all ensure that they know you are serious and demand to be taken seriously.
I am very concerned that you say his students were laughing at your concerns.
Make it clear that you would like the students to have the Geological Society guidelines reinforced to them by a member of the Senior Management Team, perhaps a Vice Principal in charge of Curriculum.
For good measure, send a copy of all this to the Chair of the Governors (just address it to the Chair of Governors at the College address), making it clear that you expect feedback from the Principal.... this may encourage the Chair to follow it up, as he / she might expect further correspondence from you should you hear nothing.
As other posters have said, schools and Colleges are terrified of bad publicity, and I would be fairly confident that the Principal's and Chair of Governor's first thoughts would be in this direction.
You may consider contacting the President of the Students Union at the College. A sensitively worded letter again emphasising the poor example that the Geology students may take into their future education / careers ie play on the student welfare string with this approach.
It is a bit of a mission to do all of this, but hugely worthwhile and hopefully fulfilling.
Last course of action if you don't receive any feedback: contact their local press, contact the relevant Examining body.
Hope this helps.
I think that's being rather more than "fair", given that they shouldn't have been doing it all.
Who owns/manages the land that the boulders are on?
Sorry but I dont know the area myself.
Hi Jimmy, His name was Ross Mc Something. Hope this helps.
> "The sound of one Al slapping" V2 5c on the DuAl boulder.
> His students were laughing at my concerns and continuing to hit the gabbro with large hammers. >
Well look at it from their POV, a grown man wearing a beanie and carrying a mattress, saying please don`t hit my boulder called Dual and this bit is called, "The sound of one Al slapping" all slightly surreal.
Would a way forward be to find a boulder that is not climbed on and is suitable for what they want and maybe mark it as such with a BMC sign. If you want you could even give the boulder a name if it makes you feel better, may I suggest Tarquin :-), I`d like to hit a Tarquin with a Hammer.
That is irrelevant. The teacher should know the geol soc advice and guidelines.
At the very least, he should have stopped any further sample collection and then found out, once of the fells, if the activities of his students were acceptable or not.
I've just done this. Sorry, I was a bit brain-dead yesterday!
That's the one. It was a rather lovely little Dennis Gray HVS from the early 1950s, a favourite solo for me when I lived up there. I think they chipped the start. Steve Parker (formerly of this parish) did his best to rectify the damage.
The Guardian's response was pretty restrained. The tabloids had a field day, knowing full well that a good slagging sells newspapers.
If it's any help - The guy hasn't been teaching Geology at King Ed's for 11 years. Definitely worth letting them know as I can see happening. I'm sure they won't want this to happen again.
Good job you were out on that particular day and had a chat with the guy otherwise this could have gone for years to come!
I don't know the area, but it looks to me like it's a SSSI. A permit is required and would allow hammering in certain areas only.
I was a geology student at King Eds quite some time ago. I'm guessing it's not the same teachers now, Mrs Sweet & Mr Grove I think? Mrs Sweet was a keen climber so wouldn't allow that kind of thing and I'm sure we were always encouraged to only take samples from the floor and not hammer any actual outcrops, as is the norm for most geology field trips.
I'm sure if you email the college they would respond positively, they like to be seen in a good light!
Thank you all for your concern about the Carrock Fell Mafic Intrusion. I am the teacher referred to by Andy Can.
Can I first reassure you all that I and all of the geology department at King Edward’s take our moral and legal obligations towards sites such as Carrock Fell extremely seriously. Our fieldwork tasks encourage our students to study and respect such sites; not to damage them.
It is important that students of geology familiarise themselves with the techniques involved in and information gathered by hammering. What is important is that this valuable educational activity does not negatively impact on others.
For this reason the students’ hammering was restricted to the hammering of small boulders of scree. Instructions on this were provided to our students prior to the commencement of their fieldwork and the students were supervised throughout. The instructions and work were in accordance with the relevant codes of the Geological Society. In line with these codes we had permission to hammer scree at the site.
At no point was any of the outcrop itself hammered, nor were any of the large boulders used by climbers subjected to hammering.
As soon as Andy Can’s concerns were raised with me the students stopped their study so that we could ensure that they were not hammering the large boulder adjacent to their area of study, which Andy Can had indicated was used for bouldering. After investigation it was clear that the large boulder used by climbers was not being hammered and so the students continued their work in its vicinity.
I note that ‘banchester’ as a former student at King Edward’s was encouraged not to hammer outcrops and instead to work with samples from the floor. That remains the case today.
It is nonetheless apparent that hammering anywhere in this vicinity, even on scree, is causing climbers in the area concern and neither I nor the College have any desire to create such friction. Accordingly I do not intend to permit the use of hammering in future visits that I lead to the Carrock Fell site and I have spoken to my colleagues in the geology department of the College who similarly have agreed that they will not use hammering at the site during any trips that they lead.
I hope that this allays any concerns that you had about recent events and the future of this important site. If any of you do have any further concerns however please do not hesitate to contact me at information[at]kedst[dot]ac[dot]uk.
Clearly there's a difference of opinion about what actually happened, but well done for coming on here and giving your account. Thank you.
However, thank you very much for now taking into account the wishes of other climbers.
I am always amazed at how well routes and boulder problems are looked after. It is scary to think that it only takes a badly briefed group to destroy decades of climbing history in just a few minutes.
I would also like to make it clear that, Ross despite not knowing that these boulders were climbed on, did instantly agree to keeping away from them once we explained. So thank you for that.
Personally I still don't like the idea of even chipping small outcrops that aren't used by climbers, and although I understand after what you said that this is common practice in geology, I find it ludicrous that geologists, who should love this rock, insist on destroying it as a way of their practice. I'm sure that opinion is quite controversial. But that's what I think.
Thanks again for your co-operation Ross,
Well done for giving a 'bigger picture' on this.
> Well done for giving a 'bigger picture' on this.
It's not really a 'bigger picture' is it? It's just the other side of the story.
Yeah. Thats what I meant, the bigger picture.
The bigger picture would be setting the events in a wider context.
Ross says 'At no point was any of the outcrop itself hammered, nor were any of the large boulders used by climbers subjected to hammering.'
Andy says 'He had no idea that he had instructed his group to 'take samples' from the start, middle and end of an established bouldering route, "The sound of one Al slapping" V2 5c on the DuAl boulder.'
and Ethan says 'I saw you instruct your students to to take samples from a boulder regularly used by Climbers.'
So who's telling porkies?
Sometimes I use phrases I don't really understand, and vice versa.
I agree that although the majority of the students were supervised and being ok behaved the ones with the hammers were beating the crap quite randomly out of the stone, throwing rocks, shouting and generally being anti social.
Anyone got pics of this?
Might be worthwhile forwarding them to the school as it shows the teacher's statement above to be false.
Pretty worrying stuff. We have the teacher's position:
'At no point was any of the outcrop itself hammered, nor were any of the large boulders used by climbers subjected to hammering.'
And we have three people saying otherwise. All three have posted in an eminently sensible and restrained manner. Either they've all somehow got it wrong (seems unlikely) or they've got it in for the teacher/school (possible but also seems unlikely) or the teacher was out of order in the first place and (worse, if so) is now hypocritically covering things up.
Is it possible for someone independently to verify whether stuff has been chipped and, if so, narrow it down to a reasonable timeframe of days, if not hours? While this wouldn't prove anything either way, it would at least give circumstantial evidence to point in one direction or the other.
I have just e-mailed the following letter to the College: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To the Head Teacher,
I write as a concerned rock climber, that your College is encouraging students to damage rock that is both beautiful as part of the environment and regularly climbed on .
Geologists should surely respect the subject they study and the people who share an interest in natural rock formations.
Please would you insist that any future expeditions do not engage in any further such destructive practices.
Bit of a waste of ur time seeing that teachers already said the school wont be doing that sort of thing again.
Can't decide whether you are bein deliberately obtuse.
The teacher has (thanks for posting) said the school will not be going intentionally to carrock fell to take samples from boulders we want to climb on.
They will still be going there, hammers will still be issued. Now I can't watch both my toddlers at the same time. How one teacher can supervise 20+ people and guarntee "our" special boulders remain pristine and also deliver a lesson is anyones guess.
Why not leave the hammers at home? Or alternatively tell us when next your up so concerned folk can go and protect "our" boulders?
> Can't decide whether you are bein deliberately obtuse.
That's life matey. Get used to it.
Give the bloke the benefit of the doubt. He's admitted that the practice may have been wrong and has advised what he intends to do about it so proof in the pudding is ......
Just dont feel the lynch mob 'feeling' of this post is needed.
From a SSSI and conservation perspective i can see why this area and its rock should be protected and i do think this corner of the lakes is special. In the absence of conservation protection and from a purely climbers vs scientific/learning viewpoint however, why should the needs of a climber trump the needs of a student, assuming that the student is not hammering needlessly due to other loose specimens being available nearby?
It does seem a little strange that the accusers have not taken and posted any pictures of the damage to "the boulders" or anything else for that matter.
Do you expect us to fully believe everything somone states on the Internet, especially a biased climber posting on UKC.
Everybody sending emails to pretty much damage this guys reputation, when you simply don't know the facts. How do we know the OP hasn't changed the real events.
The tutor in question has come on this site to explain, and everyone has jumped on the mob band wagon. It even sounds like a select few maybe going chaining themselves to the boulders.
I agree that everyone emailing the school is not the best approach.
However, I see no reason to doubt the OPs statement of events. It is certainly more balanced than your post.
If there is damage to the boulders I'm sure evidence will emerge.
> They will still be going there, hammers will still be issued. Now I can't watch both my toddlers at the same time. How one teacher can supervise 20+ people and guarntee "our" special boulders remain pristine and also deliver a lesson is anyones guess.
As has been said, we have two opposing stories. Without further evidence, further discussion is largely moot.
I'm not sure I see your point. Are all students angels? Nope. Will some students run amock before a teacher regains control? Possibly.
The point I'm making is that the teacher should, and most of us do just this, is differentiate tasks and activities towards the abilities and behaviour of the students. There are groups I would trust with certain bits of apparatus and chemicals and those I wouldn't. Likewise with the issuing and wielding of hammers.
It should be perfectly possible to prevent a student hitting the wrong rock by ensuring that you herd them in the right direction and keep a closer eye on the "wrong uns"
> However, I see no reason to doubt the OPs statement of events. It is certainly more balanced than your post.
Can you expand on this a little further Dave?
I think photos are actually a reasonable request. It seems odd that you wouldn't take photos. Especially in the age of the camera phone. It also seems odd that the op would abandon his own thread. For those reasons I'm inclined to accept the teachers explanation for now.
> I think photos are actually a reasonable request. It seems odd that you wouldn't take photos. Especially in the age of the camera phone. It also seems odd that the op would abandon his own thread. For those reasons I'm inclined to accept the teachers explanation for now.
I already requested them further up the thread.
So you did.
Uh? He wrote: "Accordingly I do not intend to permit the use of hammering in future visits that I lead to the Carrock Fell site and I have spoken to my colleagues in the geology department of the College who similarly have agreed that they will not use hammering at the site during any trips that they lead."
> It does seem a little strange that the accusers have not taken and posted any pictures of the damage to "the boulders" or anything else for that matter.
> Do you expect us to fully believe everything somone states on the Internet, especially a biased climber posting on UKC.
> Everybody sending emails to pretty much damage this guys reputation, when you simply don't know the facts. How do we know the OP hasn't changed the real events.
> The tutor in question has come on this site to explain, and everyone has jumped on the mob band wagon. It even sounds like a select few maybe going chaining themselves to the boulders.
> PROOF PLEASE
We didn't take photos because we wouldn't have done ourselves any good, coming over shouting the odds and to top it all off start taking photos of School Children! The teacher's having to back pedal, but at the end of the day there are three different accounts saying this incident di occur, and the evidence will be clear next time you go to carrock.
Just because there may be evidence of chipping it doesn't prove who was responsible for it.
> Bit of a waste of ur time seeing that teachers already said the school wont be doing that sort of thing again.
Personally think that, owing to the fact that the complainant was armed with all the knowledge (name, school, location etc) he should have just complained to the school. BMC was informed also so whats to be gained by posting it?
Would understand more if a complaint was made to the school and just laughed off/dismissed out of then. Fair enough, name and shame them then.
No need to stir up sh#t on here.
I think you need to read all the posts in this thread.
> ur, and the evidence will be clear next time you go to carrock.
> Just because there may be evidence of chipping it doesn't prove who was responsible for it.
Some of you people have very strange ideas about what might constitute 'proof'.
If you had a corpse, and three people saying they saw someone kill the person whose corpse it is with their own eyes, most people would regard that as 'proof' when it came to convicting that someone of murder.
Similarly, if you have a damaged boulder, and three people saying they saw someone going at it with a hammer, most people would regard that as proof.
WTF has a cameraphone with them when they go out climbing?! Not me, that's for sure.
Pretty much everyone really.
1. So everyone tells the whole truth then do they, especially on UKC?
2. Yes Jon, most people do have a camera on their phone. And plenty of people take it with them climbing. Or just a normal camera. How did you get all of your profile page pictures?
You're damaged goods Jon, you're too deep in the system and you're a lost cause. A prime example of a drone.
With respect, I disagree. There are dozens of threads on here which I find idiotic. This wasn't one of them. The OP seemed deeply concerned, upset (as I'd have been) and looking for help. If he can't get help here, then God help us.
Re the 'climbers' rights versus students rights' view expressed above, in my view chipping boulders in the Lakes is mindless vandalism, a crime against nature. You don't need to be a climber to find it wrong.
Re photographic evidence, if the OP had put up pictures no doubt people on here would be arguing about their content. We have three peoples' word against one (with an obvious vested interest).
My reply from the Headmistress was, in my view, pretty dismissive.
> WTF has a cameraphone with them when they go out climbing?
> Pretty much everyone really.
Speak for yourself!
Anyway even the teacher concerned hasn't denied the chipping took place.
I think it's in everyone's interest to see this email you sent and the subsequent reply.
What made you get involved with correspondence?
Was you at the crag?
> Pretty much everyone really.
I don't think so. I don't and, whether they have one or not, I've never seen anyone I climbed with using one.
You've clearly been exploring the darkest Africa too long and picked up Swahili turns of phrase :-)
Now tell us, was you there as like the man?
It was suggested above. I sent one email and got one reply.
Surely better that you send your own email(s) and make your own judgement(s) about the reply/replies?
P.S. Have just come back to the computer but am going to be away from it again for a fair few hours now.
So are you telling me you don't have a mobile phone with you at the crag? Because almost any mobile in existence has a camera on it. If you don't take a phone with you, fair enough but giving it the whole WTF is clearly pish unless you live in a bubble because you know fully well most people do carry one. Bruce Hooker, I believe, he DOES live in a bubble after all.
The rules about chipping rocks is not just directed against King Edwards 6th College - it is for all geologists and everyone else. If all geologists chipped away then there would be nothing left. Those students should be told that and the reason for the rule. Taking samples from screes is possibly OK - but then again after time there will be no samples left.
The geology powers that be will all know this - hope that King Edwards and other colleges as well as climbers get the message.
Will look into idea of including a note in future FRCC guides.
Bruce lives in the bubble that is Paris - which is not even a part of France.
>If all geologists chipped away then there would be nothing left.
Well, given an infinite amount of geologists, armed with an infinite amount of hammers, and possessed with an all-consuming urge to turn larger rocks into smaller rocks, perhaps...
Sorry, couldn't resist :-)
I have a mobile phone but I don't take it when climbing, might get broken. I do when walking but I also have a camera so I'd take photos with that... on the other hand I can't see any reason to take photos for "proof" - if people won't take my word than sod them. The only places I saw people doing this sort of thing is in Germany, years ago they all carried polaroids in their cars and leapt out to take photos of any accident they were involved in, so if you want to act like the Bosch then that's up to you.
I've lived in Seine-et-Marne for nearly 30 years, after 10 in Paris.
See - even you are now disowning them!
Its not Bosch to take a couple of photos, its just information, context, evidence, call it what you will (and I dont think taking photos at a car crash is idiotic either).
I just think the school would really have to take notice if some photos appeared in an article on the news page, UKC have run chipping & vandalism stories many times in the past, but they probably wont touch it without a couple of photos.
It's just common sense to back yourself up and show people what you are banging on about, then we can all evaluate it and properly make our minds up. Obviously it wouldn't prove anything, but it would add weight, it would help construct a case against the school and hopefully affect future behaviour.
The thing with hammering is that it is a "skill" of sorts. There are at least two objectives. The first is to obtain fresh rock - untainted by the weathering process (which changes all sorts of things about the rock). Depending upon the type of rock and how resistant to weathering, you may have to hammer away a large amount of surface weathered rock before you get to the good stuff. This would be particularly true of soft rock such as sandstone or gritstone... The second is of course pretty obvious if you think about it - you want to collect rock from a site which is fixed (not a boulder or loose scree) so that you can definitively state where it comes from - both location and precise rock strata.
In the field, this can be very important when mapping new areas or carrying out new studies of previously mapped areas. Therefore, teaching this to students is actually quite important.
However, I completely agree that indiscriminate hammering in the UK is wrong and it should be done very sensitively. I say this both as a climber and as someone who would hate to see SSSI's damaged.
To put my comments in context, I used to be a geologist and studied at both school and university at various levels before doing some field work in the UK and far more remote locations.
When I was first taught geology about 30 years ago now, my teacher was a climber (the first person I'd actually talked to about it) but I have to admit I don't recall his attitude to hammering. At university, there was a fair bit of caution exercised and increasing respect for SSSI's. Whilst everyone knew that indiscriminate hammering was a bad thing and tried to minimise this and where possible collect loose samples, my dim recollection is that this wasn't always followed as stringently as should have been the case.
The beautiful weathered surfaces, particularly of the Borrowdale Volcanics and the Carrock Fell Gabbro for example should be protected and preserved as far as possible from damage and overuse. Hammering by geologists is not acceptable, neither is destruction by axes and crampons, or over-use by commercial groups.
> so if you want to act like the Bosch then that's up to you.
Thin end of the wedge....
Climbers have a right (in my opinion) to climb rocks for recreational/sporting reasons.
Geologists have a right to "take samples" for research and study/educational purposes.
The fact is that most geologists are respectful of this and avoid sampling from areas with a climbing tradition. Indeed I know a great many climbers who are geologists and both climb and sample rocks choosing appropriate locations for each. Clearly, this is an unfortunate example of a misunderstanding by an ill-informed teacher (who's reply I appreciate). If people want to do something to help then, rather then grabbing virtual pitchforks and setting off to linch the nearest geologist for doing there job, perhaps encouraging better dialogue between the BMC, MCofS and the professional bodies which oversee such geological activity is to be encouraged, both to ensure that a mention of avoiding areas with a climbing tradition is included in the professional guidelines and more effort is made to inform geologists of the location of these areas.
Quite! Sorry if I'm saying something that's obvious but that's why the French call the Germans "les Bosch", a lot of their equipment had this trade mark on it... So after two world wars and a century later the company is still going strong, their use of slave labour and involvement with the Nazis doesn't seem to have done them any harm. The French also have more derogatory words for Germans but they are best left unsaid :-)
Sorry if I'm saying something that's obvious but that's why the French call the Germans "les Bosch"
Are you sure: -
Of course you can providing you are a climber against bolting ;-)
I can't believe people are still defending the original act or questioning it even happened when the teacher's abject apology and ascertion that the behaviour was wrong and should not occur again has already been stated.
Because to properly take samples they need to be 'in-situe' ie from an outcrop, not a pebble on the ground, tho a boulder also isnt in situ so that would also constitute improper sampling... ether way a school/college group would have no need for propper samples as they are hardly going to be using them for propper science. ether way if the teacher is trying to teach them sampling then they should at least do it properly, so this guy was in the wrong both from a climbers perspective and science perspective
Who is questioning it happened?
> Who is questioning it happened?
You didn't read the multiple 'you haven't got photos so I don't believe it happened/everyone carries a camera phone (or doesn't)' debate, above????
> You didn't read the multiple 'you haven't got photos so I don't believe it happened/everyone carries a camera phone (or doesn't)' debate, above????
I think most people were asking for photos to add weight and context.
> I think most people were asking for photos to add weight and context.
Most indeed. However there appeared to be a couple of hold-outs.
I'm surprised someone hasn't been up there to see the extent of the damage and to take photos.
The fatal flaw in these forums - lots of talk, little action!
Almost a week ago, I suggested:
"Is it possible for someone independently to verify whether stuff has been chipped and, if so, narrow it down to a reasonable timeframe of days, if not hours? While this wouldn't prove anything either way, it would at least give circumstantial evidence to point in one direction or the other."
As I live in Dorset, it's a little far for me. But, given the will, I'm sure someone could have gone up there and reported back.
'For the triumph of evil, all that is required is that good men do nothing.'
Yeah, I'd be keen, but it's a bit of a trek for me too.
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