/ Answering the "has this been climbed before?" question

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Morgan P - on 01 Jan 2014
When looking at putting up a new route or boulder problem, or just happen to have done something in an area you think people wouldn't have climbed at before, what's the accepted amount of effort to find if it's been climbed before before you claim it as a first ascent?

How much effort is someone required to make? Is it a matter of checking the current guides and if it's not there then claiming it?

My thinking though is that these guides could have left out little used or obscure areas (e.g. a lonely boulder miles from anything else) or could be a select guide (e.g. every eliminate or variation of a boulder problem that could be found on yorkshiregrit or UKC isn't listed even in a definitive guide)

If this is the case, do you need to do an indepth search of past forum posts, local websites, old guides, youtube etc etc etc before you can claim it or is it generally accepted to claim it if it isn't in the common sense places and see if you get corrected?

In summary: What's the ethics behind how hard you search for a previous ascent of something before you claim it?

P.s. Assume this is in a country without the wonder of a definitive UKC!
remus - on 01 Jan 2014
In reply to Morgan P:
Id say checking the current definitive guide is a minimum requirement, checking past definitives and asking knowledgeable locals would be sensible additional steps to take before you get stuck in developing a crag (though obviously you need to balance that with revealing the location of your classy new crag). If you don't do it you're basically just shifting the burden to some future guidebook author.
Post edited at 00:23
misterb - on 01 Jan 2014
In reply to Morgan P:

just claim it if its not obviously been done or recorded before.im sure someone will be along presently to tell you they did in in the 90s or summat.
Al Evans on 01 Jan 2014
In reply to remus:

Also checking with the definitive guide publisher/producer, like the CC,FRCC or the BMC etc etc. Even if they are no longer doing the guide they will no doubt be able to put you in touch with the current definitive guide writer to the area.
Al Evans on 01 Jan 2014
In reply to misterb:

And get the bloody dates right, the early Lancs guides had no history or details of first ascents and now the later guides have dates on the first ascents that are years out.
Phil Kelly - on 01 Jan 2014
In reply to Al Evans:

> And get the bloody dates right, the early Lancs guides had no history or details of first ascents and now the later guides have dates on the first ascents that are years out.

got your email on this Al. Always good to get the records straightened out.

you need to raise it with Les tho. He doesn't listen to me.
Al Evans on 01 Jan 2014
In reply to Phil Kelly:
Les doesn't listen to anybody when it comes down to correct history, his early guides made that quite clear (none at all) I am a champion of the CC guide style with a full first ascent list and a good historical reading, makes for good bogtime reading :-)
I only realised I was correct after talking to Dave Parker this week who wholeheartedly agrees with me about the dates of our routes.
Post edited at 10:45
Morgan P - on 01 Jan 2014
In reply to remus:

Awesome thanks, good advice!
Dave Williams - on 01 Jan 2014
In reply to misterb:

> just claim it if its not obviously been done or recorded before.im sure someone will be along presently to tell you they did in in the 90s or summat.

Good point. It's often said that if there's no written record then it hasn't been done. But it's not quite as simple as that. There's been a cultural shift since the 70s/ 80s (and even possibly the 90s), when the FAs of micro routes on rock other than grit weren't normally recorded. This was also often true of routes in obscure or remote locations as well. At the time people commonly thought that such climbs would either be of no interest, or had been done before and not recorded. There wasn't the obsession with recording everything as there seems to be today.

Recording of FAs during this period was also far less straightforward than it is today. You had new route books in certain places which tended to cover certain geographical areas only (eg. in Snowdonia there was Wendy's Cafe, then Pete's Eats in Llanberis; Eric's Cafe in Tremadog) and the CC Journal. But if you weren't in the CC and climbed stuff in areas outside the scope and coverage of the new route books ....

So the new routes we climbed on obscure outcrops in the Moelwynion in the 1970s simply went unrecorded. Similarly we did a new route on a remote mountain crag in Ceredigion in 1979. We briefly discussed recording it, but didn't, as we had no idea at the time as to where to record a route that geographically was so far away from the mainstream of Welsh climbing. Interestingly, this particular route was re-cleaned and climbed again in 2013. Not surprisingly, before re-cleaning, it looked as if no one had been up it before, such was the effect of over 30 year's worth of neglect and regrowth.

Basically you can never be absolutely sure that something hasn't been climbed before. Best advice seems to be to claim it and then wait and see.

Dave

The Pylon King on 01 Jan 2014
In reply to Morgan P:

Just claim it, the guidebook authors of the next guide can sort it out if they are doing their job properly.

UKC is not definitive, far from it!
remus - on 01 Jan 2014
In reply to The Pylon King:

> UKC is not definitive, far from it!

Really? I thought new crags sprung in to existence when they were added to the UKC database.
The Pylon King on 01 Jan 2014
In reply to remus:


> Really? I thought new crags sprung in to existence when they were added to the UKC database.

There's loads of developed crags not on UKC
Toerag - on 01 Jan 2014
In reply to The Pylon King:
> Just claim it, the guidebook authors of the next guide can sort it out if they are doing their job properly.

Agreed, it's up to others to prove they've done it earlier than you when they buy a guide and get upset that they're not credited. As the saying goes, you snooze, you lose!
Offwidth - on 02 Jan 2014
In reply to Morgan P:
There are loads of obscure venues out there with new routes but I very much doubt any are on popular rock like grit at sub extreme. Climbers have been soloing quietly on such crags for years specifically not claiming stuff. As such on grit in the lower grades and in similar popular venues the best thing is to contact the guidebook producers with named FRA (First Recorded Ascent claims). When we did Froggatt we included stuff we felt was good enough but left out loads of pointless ( in our editorial view) micro variations and on routes that we included repeat claims and obviously false FA claims (some even claimed routes with polish !). When FA claims are silly the guidebook team then have to deal with retro-claims so my advice is when in doubt as an editor use FRA. There are examples where editors abused positions to retro-claim for themselves or mates on routes that were trivial, almost certainly done before and then changed the route name which is bloody annoying for people who log their routes or who follow them as editors (pointless work dealing with retro-retro claims are then quite likely)
Post edited at 09:18
Morgan P - on 04 Jan 2014
In reply to Offwidth:

> As such on grit in the lower grades and in similar popular venues the best thing is to contact the guidebook producers with named FRA (First Recorded Ascent claims)

That's interesting, sounds like a good option for stuff likely to have been done before, thanks!
Trangia - on 04 Jan 2014
In reply to Morgan P:

The chances are that if the route is obvious, it's been climbed before.

I know of at least one example of an obvious crack line which was being climbed by local activists years before the guide book claimed first ascent.
Jonny2vests - on 04 Jan 2014
In reply to Trangia:

> The chances are that if the route is obvious, it's been climbed before.

....in the UK. I think this chap is elsewhere.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Morgan P - on 05 Jan 2014
In reply to Jonny2vests:

> ....in the UK. I think this chap is elsewhere.

Yeah, New Zealand (year abroad) - Some of the biggest and best crags in the country are still only half developed

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