/ Replacing old Pitons? *A touchy subject*

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
Nick.V - on 01 Aug 2014
This thread is purely out of boredom and to question modern Brit climbing in the interest of potentially 'maintaining' grades and style.

How do users feel about replacing old pitons around the Lakes and Wales - particularly those used for Belays?

Quite a few times I've come across an old peg (or two), given it a wobble, and if I've been confident in it's integrity, clipped and continued. One question has always popped into my mind though... What happens when these pegs, which are sometimes part of a crux sequence are pulled out or fall apart?

Pegs have often attributed to the grade of particular climbs either from the first ascent, aid climbing or modern 'free climbing' efforts. Sometimes, as we all know, people place them to make it easier, move faster, or just plain 'safer'...

What do we think about replacing them or just letting them fade into memory?

- Perhaps just the ones used in belays ie. Eagles Front, Buttermere.
- Maybe ones used to protect crux sequences ie. Trilogy, Langdale
- Maybe place some more on belays, ie. the Dolomiti approach
- Maybe just leave them to rot and run it out if no other options

Lets discuss...

The Pylon King on 01 Aug 2014
In reply to Nick.V:
As far as i am aware a lot of pegs were placed because there was no other option, so if there still is no other option then replace them. Obvious with all the possibilities with cams and micro wires etc sometimes there is no need to replace them.
Post edited at 21:33
Jon Stewart - on 01 Aug 2014
In reply to Nick.V:

I was under the impression that the likes of Rob Matherson were replacing pegs on many Lakes routes. I witnessed one being bashed in to a hard route on White Ghyll a couple of years back.

I approve. The Lakes suffers from lack of traffic and has stiff grades. If good routes become total sandbags because of rotten pegs, then that will further put people off.

North Wales sees plenty of traffic and if routes are going to get done without the pegs then I don't see much point in replacing them - it does after all "improve the style" - or just make them harder.
andrewmcleod - on 01 Aug 2014
In reply to Nick.V:
My (somewhat uneducated) views?

If you wouldn't bolt it, don't peg it.
If you would bolt it, bolt it.
A peg is basically a rubbish bolt. I don't like the argument that it 'has to go into lines of natural weakness' because it is the lines of natural weakness we climb, and so you are potentially interfering with the climb - in fact I think there are climbs that are only possible because of peg scars?

I don't think that (outside of winter climbing and really stupid/fun stuff on genuine adventure routes) pegs should be used where bolts would not be OK.

Let them rot, or better still pull them out! :)
Post edited at 21:38
Jon Stewart - on 01 Aug 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

What does this absolutist stance gain?

What it potentially loses is great routes that get done with pegs but won't without because it tips them from being "accessible" (i.e. say E3ish) to "hard" (E5ish), the point at which the number of climbers with the ability to do them starts to really drop off.

Pegs are part of trad climbing in the UK, and a few of them are pretty crucial to the character and grade of the route. Zeppelin (Pembroke) is a good example, where the pegs comes after a crux in a position where it's a real godsend. It's been replaced because it's a classic, popular route and it's established at E3 with the peg.

Some routes would be better without the pegs, e.g. Fay. Some routes are better with them in. Each case on its merits is the approach I support.
andrewmcleod - on 01 Aug 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> What does this absolutist stance gain?

> What it potentially loses is great routes that get done with bolts but won't without because it tips them from being "accessible" (i.e. say E3ish) to "hard" (E5ish), the point at which the number of climbers with the ability to do them starts to really drop off.

> Bolts are part of trad climbing in the UK, and a few of them are pretty crucial to the character and grade of the route. Not-Zeppelin (Not-Pembroke) is a good example, where the bolts comes after a crux in a position where it's a real godsend. It's been replaced because it's a classic, popular route and it's established at E3 with the bolt.

> Some routes would be better without the bolts, e.g. Not-Fay. Some routes are better with them in. Each case on its merits is the approach I support.

(apologies, but hope it illustrates my point - if we are going to put fixed gear in climbs it might as well be good fixed gear that lasts longer, doesn't rust, and is safer and more reliable)
Post edited at 22:07
Tom F Harding on 01 Aug 2014
In reply to Nick.V:

The work going on in Avon is pretty open minded to this. Replacing pegs like for like where they are important. Getting rid of ones where they have become obsolete. Replacing the old drilled pegs or old bolts with a proper stainless glue in bolts. An amazing amount of work has been done - a big thanks to everyone involved.

Spread sheet of recent gear replacements with associated reasoning:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AkLIzq3f0zcXdFNIN2Y0U2pMRDljR0FuZXd4QTNJN2c&usp=sha...

And the money raised and what its being spent on (A few hundred pegs!):
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AkLIzq3f0zcXdDYxNHo1STBlZWdQdlJPbVpQbFV6RXc#gid=0
Hardonicus - on 01 Aug 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

Bolts don't last for ever either though do they?!
andrewmcleod - on 01 Aug 2014
In reply to Hardonicus:

No, but modern bolts last longer than pegs (and in many places will probably last longer than the rock)... I think 25-50 years is not unreasonable for a gluein? In 50 years time we probably won't need them anyway :P
Hardonicus - on 01 Aug 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

Yeah fcuk - what's a century of climbing history taught us anyway. Bolts all round mush eh?
andrewmcleod - on 02 Aug 2014
In reply to Hardonicus:
> Yeah fcuk - what's a century of climbing history taught us anyway. Bolts all round mush eh?

Strictly speaking (if we are talking about history): that hammered aid was OK, that nailed boots were OK...

I actually arguing for fewer pegs, not more bolts; sorry to disappoint.
Post edited at 00:04
Webster - on 02 Aug 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

your entitled to that opinion of course, but pegs are not bolts! pegs are a part of traditional climbing. clipping in situ gear on a trad route (peg or tat) doesn't detract from the commitment of the climb in the same way as a bolt would as you cant be certain of its integrity, but more to the point somebody hasn't drilled a line of holes in the rock!

drilled pegs are a slightly different issue, and personally I don't agree with them. your viewpoint is fair in their regard - if your gonna 'manufacture' a gear placement you may as well go all the way and stick a good bolt in it.

the general concensus, as already stated by the pylon king, is pretty fair and reasonable in my opinion. I also don't object to a first ascentionist placing a peg or 2 on a new route if it is an an area with existing pegs.
andrewmcleod - on 02 Aug 2014
In reply to Webster:
> your entitled to that opinion of course, but pegs are not bolts! pegs are a part of traditional climbing.

So was hammered aid. Just because we did something in the past doesn't mean it is still acceptable now (unless trad climbing == old-fashioned climbing). PS you are of course also entitled to your (perfectly reasonable) opinion :)

> clipping in situ gear on a trad route (peg or tat) doesn't detract from the commitment of the climb in the same way as a bolt would as you cant be certain of its integrity

Well we could solve that problem by replacing all pegs with 'comedy bolts' where only 90% of them are glued in, in such a way that the climber can't tell which until they fall on them :P except that this is of course silly. If you can't trust the peg, then either you don't need it or you shouldn't be climbing that route. If it is just psychological protection, then leave it for the better, stronger, more confident climbers who can do the route without the peg; if you are relying on it because there is a good chance you will fall on it then I hope you aren't the unlucky person it fails for...

When you place your own gear you are placing your faith in your own skill and competence (surely a key part of trad!). When you clip a bolt you are trusting someone else BUT bolts are so much safer that they can generally be trusted. When you clip a peg, who knows?
Post edited at 00:15
Kemics - on 02 Aug 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

I agree 100%. Very wise.
Jon Stewart - on 02 Aug 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

> (apologies, but hope it illustrates my point - if we are going to put fixed gear in climbs it might as well be good fixed gear that lasts longer, doesn't rust, and is safer and more reliable)

It doesn't illustrate any worthwhile point, because it isn't true. Bolts aren't part of trad climbing, nor are routes getting done in their bolted state. Replacing pegs with bolts would change the character of routes in a way which is unwelcome by the people who climb the routes. Trad climbing is not about safety and reliability, it's about taking responsibility for your decisions. when you clip a peg, you think about it, considering what backs it up. we don't need to change the character of trad climbs to make them a bit more numptified.
Michael Gordon - on 02 Aug 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

>
> I don't think that (outside of winter climbing and really stupid/fun stuff on genuine adventure routes) pegs should be used.

> Let them rot

Agreed, I think there should be a gradual 'natural' phasing out of the use of pegs on rock routes in the UK (don't remove them but don't add them either).

Leave out all the stuff about bolts though!
Offwidth - on 02 Aug 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

Have you ever led a route that relies on pegs?
needvert on 02 Aug 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:
I see where you're coming from.

On the other hand it almost feels like one is rejecting the progress of technology.

Coming from a place without the staunch UK grad ethic, the only reason for me to want to use a piton over a bolt is due to practicality (not carrying drilling kit) or laziness.

On the topic of bolts...There's places in the world where you look at each one, making an assessment of each one - and what's backing it up, as some of them you're not even confident with bodyweight on them. Perhaps the locals have similar debates, those wanting to replace them with decent bolts and those wanting to preserve an experience.
Post edited at 10:32
Nick.V - on 02 Aug 2014
In reply to Offwidth:

Trilogy on Raven crag in Langdale is a prime example of a route considered 'bloody hard' even with up to 17 pegs on the crux 31m pitch.

I've climbed a lot around Europe where its common practice to clip to and place pegs if a climber deems it safer or makes a route more accessible. Most of the time, in my experience, this is carried out for belays - although these are often used as abseil points on long routes and therefore may not always apply to Lakeland and welsh rock that you can often walk off. I like this approach nevertheless, meaning having a sound belay that you don't worry about - making an ascent faster and meaning you can focus on the climbing of a pitch rather than the faff of making/trusting belays...

I'm sure loads of you will lecture me on the overall experience and ethics of placing removable gear in trad climbing, I'm well aware of this, but where there is already a peg, why not just make sure there is also a one there for the next few ascentionists? ...or do some of you like the thought of others not having the same opportunities?

I started this thread to see how people feel about replacing old gear that can potentially cause (for those not accustomed to analysing old pegs/unlucky individuals) injury from falls. I guess I'm just personally a fan of the European approach in just replacing old stuff to help the current and future generations (maintaining grades?/safety). To me, clipping a peg isn't cheating and doesn't take away from the overall experience of trad climbing. Any way to avoid people getting hurt, be it down to bad judgement or just plain bad luck, can only be a good thing.

I'm sure a lot of you will beg to differ from my opinion but I'm not suggesting pegging/bolting every climb I see, just replacing belay pegs or ones that can be seen to effect the nature of a climb, be it difficulty or lack of other protection...


I'm a big fan of the work done in Avon, maybe we should do something similar everywhere else.

Jon Stewart - on 02 Aug 2014
In reply to Nick.V:
Given the trade off between character and safety, i'm glad that as a nation of climbers we opt for character nearly every time.


If you want to do trad climbs with minimal risk of injury, then choose well protected routes and make sure your gears good. It's no one else's responsibility to make sure you don't pull a peg and graze your knee/bash your ankle/hit the deck.
Post edited at 13:58
ads.ukclimbing.com
Frank the Husky - on 02 Aug 2014
In reply to Tom F Harding: That is just so progressive, thoughtful and pragmatic...well done! If only other areas could take such an approach.

Merlin - on 02 Aug 2014
In reply to Nick.V:

Interesting subject - having recently climbed quite a bit at Wintour's Leap where a few of the trad routes have bolts on, which I found didn't detract from the 'traddyness' of the routes because they are generally well runout, I've come to think that I'm not that bothered about the odd bolt providing they're not unnecessarily/abundantly placed.

Were pegs not the original bolt anyway? I've not really understood why you would replace an old peg for a new peg, when surely the idea is that they're not meant to fail, or do people prefer the fact that pegs rust and become dangerous and that maintains the safe uncertainty of a trad route (I strongly suspect that may be the case)?

Anyway, my thrupence worth is; peg for a bolt? Why not. I don't look at bolted belays in Chamonix with distain, and that's on generally easily protectable granite! Where as here, we're really only talking about lime stone crags and the odd sea cliff.
Graham Hoey - on 04 Aug 2014

It's always difficult to assess the quality of a peg as shown in the following photos of the same peg:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=243632

and

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=243633
jon on 04 Aug 2014
In reply to Graham Hoey:

So my beta for La Chute might not be reliable anymore, Graham? http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=155976
ericinbristol - on 04 Aug 2014
In reply to Tom F Harding:

I'm in favour of the Avon Gorge Revival project. I also get that in the end it is down to individual climbers to make their own judgement call on how reliable a peg is. However, in making our judgement calls we are influenced in part by the information/views we get. I wonder if the Avon Gorge Revival project is promoting overconfidence in the replacement pegs and in some of the existing pegs.

I would be particularly interested to hear what Jim Titt has to say on this. On his website http://www.bolt-products.com/Glue-inBoltDesign.htm he says this:

"A piton can only be trusted on the day it was placed and only the climber who placed can give an opinion on its reliability, anything else is only a guess.Reports of pitons found on the ground below climbs or being removed by hand within a few years of placing are commonplace and give a fair indication of their unreliability, as does the number of serious and often fatal accidents involving in-situ pitons. ... The result of producing nice corrosion resistant pitons is that climbers may blindly trust them with potentially fatal result and my feeling is that to put them on the market for permanent placements would be irresponsible and other solutions need to be found."

Obviously, blind trust is not a good idea. The main conclusion I take from Jim's work on this is that ANY peg is almost complete gamble, no matter how good it looks. So I wonder comments in the Avon Gorge Revival project spreadsheet about how good pegs are would be considered by an authority like Jim to be appropriate and I wonder whether people might trust the pegs more than they should based on them.




ericinbristol - on 04 Aug 2014
In reply to Nick.V:

I think I would be in favour of simply adding Jim's warnings to the information about the new pegs. Or maybe the Avon Gorge Revival project team could get Jim's input on an appropriately-worded warning.
Mike Stretford - on 04 Aug 2014
In reply to Nick.V:


> I'm sure loads of you will lecture me on the overall experience and ethics of placing removable gear in trad climbing, I'm well aware of this, but where there is already a peg, why not just make sure there is also a one there for the next few ascentionists? ...or do some of you like the thought of others not having the same opportunities?

The problem is if people keep banging pegs in the rock will obviously get damaged more and end up full of rotting pegs. I can see your point because the only person who can make an informed decision about how sound a peg is is the person that bashed it in on the day it was bashed in, but I don't think more pegs is the answer.

From a technical and aesthetic point of view I'd agree with what andrewmcleod said, but then more prolific and skilled climbers than me seem to like the uncertainty of pegs (despite the environmental damage). There's enough routes to climb, both trad and sport that don't rely on them so for those that like the risk, leave them to it.
Michael Ryan - on 04 Aug 2014
In reply to jon:

La Chute has been cleaned and re-geared, as has Sox that crosses it. There are bolted 7's near too.
jon on 04 Aug 2014
In reply to Michael Ryan:
Someone been working their magic, Mick?

> There are bolted 7's near too.

Related to this, maybe?

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?n=593612
Post edited at 11:48
Michael Ryan - on 04 Aug 2014
In reply to jon:

> Someone been working their magic, Mick?

Yes he has. Good job done as well. Respect to the old with significant new stuff.

Such a lovely cliff.
MikeYouCanClimb - on 04 Aug 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to andrewmcleod)
>
> (apologies, but hope it illustrates my point - if we are going to put fixed gear in climbs it might as well be good fixed gear that lasts longer, doesn't rust, and is safer and more reliable)

> It doesn't illustrate any worthwhile point, because it isn't true. Bolts aren't part of trad climbing
Why do you think that?

Do you not know that many eighties trad FA's on the limestone and slate used bolts.
Jon Stewart - on 04 Aug 2014
In reply to MikeYouCanClimb:

> Why do you think that?

> Do you not know that many eighties trad FA's on the limestone and slate used bolts.

Yes, there are exceptions to this, but in the context of andrewmcleod's comments implying that there is an equivalence between bolts and pegs, then it's not true.

I'm not an absolutist, I just think that calls to make trad climbs safer with bolts completely miss the point of trad climbing. It's up to you, not someone placing a bolt, to manage the risk of the route. Every single peg placement has a different effect on the character of the route in question: it would be impossible to come up with a blanket policy that improved routes rather than detracted from them. Sometimes it might be better to replace a rotten peg with a bolt. Sometimes it better to remove a peg. At the moment, there isn't a problem. There is no need to change the character of trad routes by replacing pegs with bolts.
wbo - on 04 Aug 2014
In reply to Nick.V: i cannot see the point of replacing an old junk peg with another of dubious merit. One of the appeals of trad is the skill element of placing gear and appraising it's quality. When you clip a peg there is no skill involved as you cannot know it's quality (unless you placed it) and it's quality is pretty well hidden - so it's purreløken a guesstimatiom - it might look nice and shiny but you don't know the amount of unseen rust, depth , quality of placement.

My personal opinion is fixed gear should be good or gone.

Jon Stewart - on 04 Aug 2014
In reply to wbo:

> My personal opinion is fixed gear should be good or gone.

But how do we decide with each piece of fixed gear whether to remove or replace it? An agenda item at the BMC area meeting for each piece?

Also, the skill of climbing using dodgy fixed gear is the skill of trad climbing: assessing risk. That doesn't just mean assessing the likelihood of the gear holding, it means considering what you know and what you don't know, are you prepared to commit? That's the essence of trad, why dumb it down?
JimboWizbo - on 04 Aug 2014
In reply to Nick.V:

The guidebook description of Hobson's Choice almost encourages it

http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=15009
Michael Ryan - on 04 Aug 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> But how do we decide with each piece of fixed gear whether to remove or replace it? An agenda item at the BMC area meeting for each piece?

As it has always been done.

An individual decides.

The BMC area committees can make recommendations. It's an individual who usually decides whether to pull a peg and either replace it with a peg or a bolt or nothing.

That's how it happens at the crag.

The theorists would like it to be a consensus opinion, we all would, and whilst that has an influence, it is an individuals mind that decides what action to take.


Michael Gordon - on 05 Aug 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:

>
> Also, the skill of climbing using dodgy fixed gear is the skill of trad climbing: assessing risk. That doesn't just mean assessing the likelihood of the gear holding, it means considering what you know and what you don't know, are you prepared to commit? That's the essence of trad, why dumb it down?

I don't think removing pegs would be 'dumbing it down'.
wbo - on 05 Aug 2014
In reply to Nick.V: I personally think it's a rather artificial way of adding risk - and certainly the values of skill and judgement are very reduced as you're purely guessing. Would you replace a crappy old bolt with another one to preserve similar values?



Mike Stretford - on 05 Aug 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to wbo)
>
> [...]
>
> But how do we decide with each piece of fixed gear whether to remove or replace it? An agenda item at the BMC area meeting for each piece?
>

You could decide! I'm playing devils advocate here, but surely if you removed a peg before it corroded to an ugly rotting stump, you'd have a placement for modern gear (eg ball nut). If you led it you'd have truly done the route clean and there'd be no justification in replacing the old peg placement with other fixed gear. Each subsequent ascent of the route would be done in the same condition you did it in. You get loads of kudos. What's not to like?
Si dH - on 05 Aug 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

> My (somewhat uneducated) views?

> If you wouldn't bolt it, don't peg it.

> If you would bolt it, bolt it.

> A peg is basically a rubbish bolt. I don't like the argument that it 'has to go into lines of natural weakness' because it is the lines of natural weakness we climb, and so you are potentially interfering with the climb - in fact I think there are climbs that are only possible because of peg scars?

> I don't think that (outside of winter climbing and really stupid/fun stuff on genuine adventure routes) pegs should be used where bolts would not be OK.

> Let them rot, or better still pull them out! :)

+1 to most of this. I hate pegs. If there is no trad gear in modern times, you should either place a bolt or accept that it's bold. A peg is the worst of both worlds in my view as it is ugly, permanent and scars the rock, but is usually of uncertain worth. They are a relic of a bygone era when ethics were 'different' and bolts didn't exist.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Si dH - on 05 Aug 2014
In reply to Webster:
Why is a drilled peg any different from a hammered peg? That's complete garbage as far as I'm concerned. Both make a mess.
Mike Lewis - on 05 Aug 2014
In reply to Nick.V:

I also hate pegs, for the very sensible reasons already given - take them all out! If a particular piece of fixed gear is essential for a route (and the vast majority isn't), then I can't see why a bolt wouldn't be better. It's hard to argue that it's absolutely necessary to have fixed gear on a route, but it's ok for that gear to be unreliable.
Michael Ryan - on 05 Aug 2014
In reply to Si dH:
> Why is a drilled peg any different from a hammered peg? That's complete garbage as far as I'm concerned. Both make a mess.

Uhhhhh.

Ken Wilson put it best - with a peg you are hammering it into a natural weakness in the cliff - a crack, Ken called this, 'bending a knee to the crag'.

With a bolt, you can put them anywhere. Similarly with a drilled peg. Although often with a drilled peg, unless you drill in blank rock, you are drilling into a crack that wouldn't take a peg or you are replacing an old peg and drilling the scar out.

Again this is all academic and forum hot air, as those whose opinions count are the cragsmiths - those who are out there doing new routes and looking after old routes, doing crag maintenance.

You can hate pegs all you like and argue for and against them, unless you take action its just an opinion and doesn't count for much.
Post edited at 18:24
Enty - on 05 Aug 2014
In reply to Michael Ryan:

>
> Again this is all academic and forum hot air, as those whose opinions count are the cragsmiths - those who are out there doing new routes and looking after old routes, doing crag maintenance.

> You can hate pegs all you like and argue for and against them, unless you take action its just an opinion and doesn't count for much.

Nail on head.

E
Stevie989 - on 05 Aug 2014
In reply to Si dH:

This is a good way to put it.

The last time I climbed a route with a peg I didn't clip it but then again I didn't place any gear immediately above or below either.

Either bolt it if ethics and local consensus allow or run it out.

Old knackered pegs are handy for route finding though. Arguable their only use to modern climbing.
Jon Stewart - on 05 Aug 2014
In reply to Mike Stretford:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> [...]
>
> You could decide! I'm playing devils advocate here, but surely if you removed a peg before it corroded to an ugly rotting stump, you'd have a placement for modern gear (eg ball nut).

Sometimes, sometimes not. Some pegs are in places where at the grade, you wouldn't be able to fiddle around with tiny fiddly gear. I don't know how many E3 leaders could manage that on Zeppelin, where the peg is clipped at arms lengths, pumped solid.

What should be done with the top pitch of The Moon? There are bags of pegs in it, and not much other gear. The experience of the pitch hinges on clipping crappy old pegs searching out more gear which eventually comes. I don't see that the pegs do any harm (although arguably they don't do much good). Given the choice of no fixed gear, crappy old pegs and bolts, I know I'd much prefer to have the crappy old pegs.

Webster - on 05 Aug 2014
In reply to Si dH:
> (In reply to Webster)
> Why is a drilled peg any different from a hammered peg? That's complete garbage as far as I'm concerned. Both make a mess.

simple, a peg in a crack is a natural gear placement, a drilled peg IS just a bad bolt, a manufactured placement where no weakness existed

Si dH - on 05 Aug 2014
In reply to Webster:

> simple, a peg in a crack is a natural gear placement

This is where we disagree then
MikeYouCanClimb - on 05 Aug 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:

>but in the context of andrewmcleod's comments implying that there is an equivalence between bolts and pegs, then it's not true.

But it is true, there is an equivalence between bolts and pegs (not forgetting threads). They are all types of fixed gear and they offer leader protection that does not have to be placed on lead.

Fixed gear can be clipped, aided, provide a quick rest, simplify route finding, give you confidence prior to a hard move, they can allow you compose yourself after a hard move, provide the leader with an objective or even give you belief that you can do the move/ sequence etc.

Back in the eighties, beating the competition to new routes was much higher up the agenda. Installing fixed gear allowed routes to be created very quickly. The choice of using pegs could be down to laziness and fear of the competition, not because bolts didn't exist, they did. Pegs are cheap and can be easily whacked in to an available crack by anyone(often the one you want to climb).

Bolts on the other hand require much more thought, a great deal of effort and cost is required. Hand drilling rock used to be a very arduous job, so it is not surprising there are less. Bolts have the advantage in that they can be placed to one side of the climb and as they do not interfere or damage the climbable rock.

Where fixed gear has been deemed necessary, often clusters of pegs strewn with tat appear where a single bolt would have done the job.

To argue that one form of fixed protection is better than another is subjective. But to say that a peg is the correct choice because it creates an artificial danger seems a bit irresponsible to me.
Jon Stewart - on 05 Aug 2014
In reply to MikeYouCanClimb:

> To argue that one form of fixed protection is better than another is subjective. But to say that a peg is the correct choice because it creates an artificial danger seems a bit irresponsible to me.

The argument is about preserving the character of routes. Flytrap used to have a peg and was E2. There's no peg now and it's more like E3. Maybe someone fell off and snapped it, they probably banged their knee, were very scared for a few moments, and then used their nous to somehow get back on or off the route (tricky!). That's trad climbing. It involves risk, and being good enough at either not falling off, or coping with falling off, to keep yourself safe. If you can't do it, or cope with a peg snapping, then don't go on the route because you're not good enough. It isn't sport climbing.
DaCat - on 05 Aug 2014
In reply to Si dH:

But there is something quite exciting about finding a vintage hot forged peg off the beaten track.

Mike Lewis - on 05 Aug 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> If you can't do it, or cope with a peg snapping, then don't go on the route because you're not good enough. It isn't sport climbing.

These arguments could equally be applied to just not having the peg...

I really can't think of any peg I've seen on any route in Britain that made it a better climb.
Jon Stewart - on 05 Aug 2014
In reply to Mike Lewis:

> These arguments could equally be applied to just not having the peg...

Indeed, I just think let them run their course. I'd rather have bits of so-so gear than nothing, most of the time. The odd crucial one can be replaced like-for-like without controversy rather than introducing bolts to somewhere like Pembroke where they're not accepted. Easy.

> I really can't think of any peg I've seen on any route in Britain that made it a better climb.

I like them. Sometimes for amusement value (Red Wall belay) and other times because I've fallen off and they've held (at Stoney). As has been said above, they can be good for route finding if nothing else. I just don't see any need to replace them with bolts.
Michael Ryan - on 06 Aug 2014



Anyone on this thread ever done a new route?

Anyone on this thread ever placed a peg or a bolt?

Anyone on this thread done any established crag and route cleaning?

There must be a few. Speak up if you have.
victim of mathematics - on 06 Aug 2014
In reply to Mike Lewis:

>
> I really can't think of any peg I've seen on any route in Britain that made it a better climb.

So what would you do with the top pitch of The Moon? Bolt it? Turn it into a terrifying E3 5b pitch? I'm with Jon on this one, those pegs (and their obvious dubiousness) make that pitch.
victim of mathematics - on 06 Aug 2014
In reply to Michael Ryan:
>
>
>
> Anyone on this thread ever done a new route?
>
> Anyone on this thread ever placed a peg or a bolt?
>
> Anyone on this thread done any established crag and route cleaning?
>
> There must be a few. Speak up if you have.

Yes, no, yes. I'm with Jon. What's your point?
Bob on 06 Aug 2014
In reply to Michael Ryan:

I have done all three Mick. I've been following the thread with interest and will reply with a fuller post in due course as I'm heading off to work but:

> Anyone on this thread ever done a new route?

For the purposes of this thread - Machiavellian Paragon on Far Hill Crag.

> Anyone on this thread ever placed a peg or a bolt?

Yes on the above I placed a peg at the end of the crux section. I've drilled a handful of holes for bolts but never placed them - North Wales limestone, went on holiday and when I came back the landowner had banned the place!

> Anyone on this thread done any established crag and route cleaning?

I cleaned up a few sections of crags in the Lakes back in the 1980s, the headwall of Raven Crag Thirlmere for example where I also replaced pegs.


Michael Ryan - on 06 Aug 2014
In reply to Bob:

Cheers Bob - good to hear from someone who isn't spraying from a theoretical basis.

Whilst all climbers should have a say in how we maintain the crags in the UK - in theory , whatever their experience of the pegs and bolts, in practice it is those who are motivated to action who make the decisions.
Graham Hoey - on 06 Aug 2014
In reply to Michael Ryan:

Yes all three, many times and not just in the Peak (e.g. Wales, Cornwall, The Lakes). I have no problems with replacing old in-situ gear. The big national issue is going to be sea cliffs. I once wrote to the BMC re. trying to interest climbing hardware companies in the manufacture of a range of stainless steel pegs (I was running out of 'Peck's). The answer I got back from the technical committee was that a) no company will do it because it costs too much to tool up and make, for such a limited market and b) the only serious technical solution to rotting pegs is a resin fixed marine standard stainless steel bolt for in-situ gear in sea cliffs.
cheers
Graham
Bob on 06 Aug 2014
In reply to Michael Ryan:

Pegs are a bit of an anachronism really. On the one hand they *are* fixed gear, on the other they still have to obey the rules of the rock in that there needs to be some form of weakness, crack, seam for them to be placed - Ken Wilson's "bending a knee to the crag". The only drilled peg that I can recall is that of Gary Gibson's on The Haunted on Craig yr Ysfa.

In some instances they are essentially surrogate bolts, most commonly on limestone routes of the 1980s when bolts were still beyond the pale but the rock didn't really lend itself to wire, cams and slings. Most of these routes have been retro-bolted and TBH are probably the better for it. There is a strong argument that they should have been left but human nature being what it is ...

The remainder may be divided in to what might be called "traditional" pegs and what Ed Cleasby referred to as "biscuits" - cop-outs. Traditional pegs date from a time when there wasn't the plethora of gear that we have today, even in the 1970s gear was essentially slings and a few larger nuts, think Rock #7 as the smallest size, so the only way to protect thinner cracks was with pegs. When Hexentrics came along the need for pegs reduced still further and again when Chouinard stoppers appeared.

So by the mid to late 1970s the only pegs that were being placed were knifeblades and a few king pins. Then around 1980 RPs arrived, now the only reason left for placing pegs on new routes was as a cop-out, Cleasby's emergency "biscuit". Even the top climbers of the day didn't have modern day limestone fitness so the new routes that headed in to strenuous territory were hard work especially if you had to place gear so a peg or two whilst still accepting the nature of the rock was seen as being generally acceptable even though there might be hand placed alternatives.

So, after a bit of background, back to the OP's question. Here's my cop-out: it depends.

Some routes depend on pegs for their protection, something like One Step Beyond in Swindale has just the two pegs for protection. On the other hand some pegs have gone and no-one has really noticed them - there used to be a peg near the top of the main pitch of Astra on Pavey Ark, it snapped when someone fell on it and they unfortunately decked it. This was 1981 or so, there's a good wire placement nearby and the peg has never been replaced. Just round the corner on Gimmer the peg on Kipling Groove seems to be remarkably persistent despite there being enough placements that you could clean aid the route.

I've replaced a peg or two: Norseman on Dow Crag and some on Raven Thirlmere but to be honest it's more about delaying the inevitable decay than preserving the nature of the first or early ascents and I don't think they should be replaced any more. Without the peg something like Norseman will go from E4 to E5, this shot http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=161990 shows Keith clipping the peg.

Old aid routes like Trilogy on Raven Crag, Langdale are quite literally littered with pegs, someone mentioned there being 17 of them. I can't remember clipping them all so some must be dubious, split eyes and the like and some will be the actual aid pegs with the free version taking a slightly different line. It's a long while since I did the route but I definitely placed some gear (!) so maybe it needs a bit of a clean up but then who decides on which pegs should stay and which should go? Obviously the blatantly bad ones should be removed but what about those where there's a nut slot a metre above or below but which is really awkward to place and thus might blow your on-sight? You certainly don't need the pegs to show you the way!

A Welsh example might be Central Wall at Castell Cidwm, there's about half a dozen pegs around the crux and with modern gear I'm not sure any of them are necessary, there's gear at around foot level when you clip them so it's not as if it's miles away from your last piece.

What we need to be careful of is applying current ethics to the past without understanding the environment in which climbers operated then. If it was you or I climbing the route with the gear of the time would we have eschewed the peg?

Phew! A bit longer than I anticipated but there you go.
SteveRi - on 06 Aug 2014
In reply to Michael Ryan:
Utterly trivial and inconsequential new routes, yes. Placed fixed gear, no. But you'll be cheered to know that, partly inspired/frustrated by a lot of the hand-wringing here, I went out and rescued a bit of local crag from vegetated obscurity last week. Carefully done, bit of smug satisfaction, another warm up option before getting stuck into the harder problems. Everyone's a winner.
Post edited at 10:03
Timmd on 06 Aug 2014

My only experience of pitons is playing with one I found in the back of the 'climbing cupboard' at home, and later losing it, but could Camp Ball-nuts (in the smaller sizes) be a possibility in the same cracks in which pitons were once placed?

http://www.needlesports.com/Catalogue/Rock-Climbing-Equipment/Camming-Devices/Micro-Cams/Lowe-Ballnu...
Gary Gibson - on 07 Aug 2014
In reply to Bob:
I would just like to point out that the peg on The Haunted was not drilled by me or anyone I know. I placed a peg on this route by normal means just before the first ascent with Andy Popp. And that same peg was still in when I did it again a few years later.
Bob on 07 Aug 2014
In reply to Gary Gibson:
Fair enough - the guide has "a curious case of a round peg in a round hole" in the first ascent list and "(with an unfortunate drilled peg)" in the history section.

I believe that the peg that is now in place isn't your original which was found to be loose so it appears to have been replaced.
Post edited at 07:37
Gary Gibson - on 07 Aug 2014
In reply to Bob:
History written by someone with an opinion and no facts.

dr evil - on 08 Aug 2014
In reply to Gary Gibson:
You are skating on thin ice here
KellyKettle - on 03 Sep 2014
In reply to Si dH:

>In reply to Webster:

>> simple, a peg in a crack is a natural gear placement

>This is where we disagree then

On what grounds do you disagree? Not natural, Not a placement, Not in the spirit of your ethics

I personally don't view pegs as Fixed Gear or even as being appropriate as such, they should be (very rarely these days) Leader placed, and only when no other placement would do.

In my mind that's how it should be... Peg is a crucial piece of gear for the route? Bring a peg along, Look at the placement, Definitely can't use a cam/ tricam/ball nut/just run it out to the next one, Place a Peg, Bash a Peg, Use a Peg, Clean a Peg, Take a Peg away...

This is to some extent tapered by the knowledge that on a route with frequent ascents, it would only take a handful of groups using it to place/clean pegs with inappropriate amounts of force to start to cause noticeable wear, which unchecked would alter the route forever.

FWIW I have placed two Pegs to my memory, A channel in an iced up crack somewhere in the Carneddau, and a hand placed leeper, with a sling girth hitched right next to the rock in a horizontal crack somewhere in the lakes. The latter sticks in my mind as the second commented that he'd tugged down on the sling and it seemed bomber, cursed me, and then discovered a gentle pull out and slightly up freed it.
Si dH - on 03 Sep 2014
In reply to KellyKettle:

This isn't generally how pegs are used. They are almost always left in place, hence 'fixed', and stay for many years getting rusty and making a mess of the rock while people climb past clipping them without thinking.
KellyKettle - on 03 Sep 2014
In reply to Si dH:

I'm aware of that, but personally I don't see that as desirable. It has the same net effect as bolting (Leaving a hunk of metal in the rock), yet provides dubious safety benefits (Bomber... Until its not).

I don't doubt some people will be having kittens, at the mere idea of pitons being used as leader placed protection, In a "but what if the numpties think it's OK everywhere then?" Vein, but I'd have thought there were nigh on no piton reliant routes which would be accesable to people without a reasonable knowledge of climbing.
Jon Stewart - on 03 Sep 2014
In reply to KellyKettle:
What you're proposing though, is that the experience of climbing certain routes is totally changed from how they've been established. The peg on Zeppelin, for example, couldn't be placed on lead nor a ballnut or somesuch placed instead.

On The Moon, I don't know if any placements would be available if all the pegs were ripped out, and on such a popular route and its imperfect rock the idea of placing and cleaning them is just daft - better off having no gear at all, which again would totally change the nature of the route.

Some routes would be better without pegs, or without some of the pegs (Fay, Howling Gale, Scoop Wall), others need the peg/s to retain their grade and character. Maybe in future when the pegs are really dead, climbers will decide not to replace them and the routes will be climbed without, at a new grade or otherwise (like Eroica). Which is great. But no one should take it upon themselves to decide that these routes should be changed by ripping out what's there, unless there's a local consensus in favour.

Ideals and rules don't apply well to trad climbing. Seeking a consensus from local activists with regard to each (significant) route or crag is a much more sensible approach.
Post edited at 09:54
KellyKettle - on 03 Sep 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> But no one shwould take it upon themselves to decide that these routes should be changed by ripping out what's there, unless there's a local consensus in favour.

> Ideals and rules don't apply well to trad climbing. Seeking a consensus from local activists with regard to each (significant) route or crag is a much more sensible approach.

On those two points I would *hope* we could all agree, absolutist thinking does not apply well to something so diverse.
Post edited at 10:45
jon on 03 Sep 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> On The Moon, I don't know if any placements would be available if all the pegs were ripped out,

I think Jon, if you read enough uninformed comments on these threads you'll find that if you remove any old peg it'll automatically reveal a bombproof 2 1/2 Friend placement. Problem solved.

GrahamD - on 03 Sep 2014
In reply to Nick.V:

Personally I think bolts should largely be allowed to wither and die unless they are a prevalent part of the climbing ethic of the area. Off the top of my head I can only really think of Avon and Wintours in this category.

Historical belays are not generally relevant with the availability of 60m ropes and there is only the odd route where the pegs are massively integral to the grade (Eroica, unfortunately for me) and, I guess, Mousetrap back in the day.

Despite the furore over the grades, I think Pearson was making a very valid stance by removing pegs with walk of life and the consequent pegged new route by Birkett was a real backward step ethically
henwardian - on 03 Sep 2014
In reply to Nick.V:

Good OP, afraid I'm not sufficiently motivated to read 65 replies but I do feel like giving an opinion as a UK climber.

> What do we think about replacing them or just letting them fade into memory?

> - Perhaps just the ones used in belays ie. Eagles Front, Buttermere.

I've seen pegs on belays in the UK, I've never seen a necessary peg on a belay in the UK (with the availability of modern gear). When you bear in mind that you can run pitches together with double ropes or belay a little earlier or later than a first ascent, I think there must be a tiny number of routes that really need a belay piton. If it is really needed though, I would not be against replacing it.

> - Maybe ones used to protect crux sequences ie. Trilogy, Langdale

Probably more examples of this being reasonable. I think it's fair to replace these if there is no modern gear alternative.

> - Maybe place some more on belays, ie. the Dolomiti approach

No. If they are not needed then you are just trying to reduce the time needed to make a belay and there really isn't anywhere in the UK where this is necessary, we don't have the 1000m+ walls of the Dolomites that require speedy climbing or benightment.

> - Maybe just leave them to rot and run it out if no other options

No. I think the approach detailed in my anwers above covers this really. Take a measured approach where individual pitons are evaluated for their necessity.

> Lets discuss...

Finally, I need to point out that there is a difference between "i.e." and "e.g." because it grates on me when people use them wrongly.
Bulls Crack - on 03 Sep 2014
In reply to Nick.V:

What about new hammered pegs?

Just asking since there's a shiny new one in the err, well brushed let us say, new route in Heptonstall Quarry I noticed today - a sort of hard indirect start to either Hard Line or Vertical Speed? (I suggest the name No Line)
Bulls Crack - on 03 Sep 2014
In reply to Bulls Crack:

> What about new hammered pegs?

> Just asking since there's a shiny new one in the err, well brushed let us say, new route in Heptonstall Quarry I noticed today - a sort of hard indirect start to either Hard Line or Vertical Speed? (I suggest the name No Line)

Anyone know what it is?

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.