/ NEW ARTICLE: Guest Editorial: Carn Vellan Bolts
In this Guest Editorial, active and passionate climber Shane Ohly puts forward his opinion on why bolts should not be placed at the super-steep cliff of Carn Vellan, Cornwall.
Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=3563
Perhaps we should have listened to , and believed, more intently Ken Wilsons early rants against bolting and sport climbing in the early years.
So far Cornwall (apart from Carn Vellan) and gritstone have remained inviolate, and many mountain crags in Wales the Lakes and Scotland, but the danger of that creep is always there.
I think there can be exceptions, the mix of trad and sport at Malham more or less works and seems to have been stuck to, I'm not sure it has worked as well at Swanage where many bolted routes could have been trad ( I miyself have put up some routes in trad style on obscure manky quarries that will probably never get repeated but are probably not worth bolting), however I think Portland is an exception, it would be nothing without its sport routes. As it is it is a major UK area, but it is singularly an exception, I'm sorry Shane, but I see even the retro bolting of routes on The Cuttings to be acceptable.
However having given the sport freaks a whole area to play in I do feel that they should respect traditional UK trad values on areas that are 'traditional' climbing areas and there are not many areas more so than West Penwith sea cliffs. I'm in agreement that Carn Vellan should not suffer the ravages of the bolt gun.
Thanks for that Shane.
Just as a quick note for anyone looking for sport climbing in Cornwall. It's not even necessary to drive the full 60 miles to Cheesewring from Penzance. There's granite sport climbing in the woods at Luxulyan near St Blazey, just 45 miles away. It's overgrown and esoteric, but it's there.
As you know at the last meeting, there was some issue with the phrasing of arguments put forward by both Penwith and Cornish Climbers and Land's End CC.
Whilst I understand that your objection is to bolting on sea cliffs in Cornwall as a whole, in your article, you refer explicitly to West Cornwall. Insofar as P&CC seem to want to extend bolting possibilities throughout the county, can we be sure that the argument against will be phrased in such a way as to cover all Cornish sea cliffs, not just to those in West Cornwall to which you allude?
I'm not being pedantic, it's just that for one thing this was a major preoccupation with the previous autumn meeting and it would be nice to have these definitions smoothed out beforehand, and secondly wasn't it a misunderstanding of a technicality like this that some of the earlier disputed bolting at Carn Vellan anyway?
some form of crag top trumps should be played until both parties are equally unhappy with the outcome.
Hi there, cheers for putting that together Shane.
I must admit when I first became aware of the issues surroundng the roof at Carn Vellan I was leaning towards being in favour simply because it seems, in isolation, an ideal candidate for a sport crag (too hard/un-protectable for most to climb on trad but with good climbing and generally un-utilised).
However, as the argument played out I started to get EXTREMELY nervous about the wider issue, ESPECIALLY when I read the wording concerning the development of "other" sport crags on non-granite cliffs in Cornwall.
I was thinking of this during a particularly memborable day out on Kenidjack when I lead Rock Dancer. This is a superb, run out E1 on a slate cliff and felt very bold for me; needless to say, reaching the top was a very rewarding experience and one I won't forget in a hurry. Now it seems highly unlikely that the local or even national climbing community would ever permit the placing of bolts on such an iconic crag (you might not know about Rock Dancer but most people are aware of Saxon, which is also a fairly bold lead at HVS), but it DOES fit the bill as laid out by the P&CC; i.e. non-granite.
But every route I have done there (and those I still aim to do) would be an easy clip up if bolted. That bold, nervy E1 would be just another 6a slab if you didn't have to worry about running it out above some fairly small gear before the crux.
And don't get me wrong, I LIKE sport climbing. I head up to Portland now and again and have a good time, but I just can't think of anything worse than bolting coming to Cornwall on these terms and agree that a degree of creep will occur whatever the terms of the initial agreement.
Great lunchtime read.
I agree with Shane in parts and with Al.
'West Cornwall' is a far more complex issue than Portland. As Al says, Portland wouldn't be what it is without the bolting. And I'll always disagree with Nigel Coe's stance on the whole retro issue - without exception every single trad route on Portland makes a far better sport route.
As a staunch sport supporter it surprises me to say this, but I agree that sport 'creep' is a danger to sensitive areas like Carn Vellan.
We've got climbers like McClure, MacLeod etc that can climb 8b/c equivalent on gear, let them climb the blank sections of trad cliffs. Bolting them just to prove the moves can be done doesn't make a lot of sense.
I fully support the development of some(emphasis on some) sport climbing in Cornwall. I have lived in Devon and climbed in both counties for many years before moving to North Wales. Only having a handful of sport crags (Ansteys, Torbyan, Cheesewring, I belive there is some at Luxulyan) and being a sport climber it can get a bit monotonous. In this vein I think some careful development could be advantageous to the area.
However........I do agree with Shane when he mentions 'bolt creep' onto the classic trad crags in the area. It would be a shame to see places like Kendijack, the Lizzard, etc get bolted and even more so for any grantie trad areas. These areas a great places to climb and I think bolts would spoil them. There is a quantity of natural and especially quarried rock that could be carefully developed into decent sport crags. There is no reason that this cant exist in Cornwall. The climbing community in this part of the country is very small with a very strong trad ethic that I feel will prevent the creep of sport routes onto the already developed trad crags.
I have lived in countries where trad and sport co-exist, not necessarily at the same crags but in the vicinity of each other. Bolting is managed through an application process (do you know how to bolt?, which lines?, etc, etc) and permission is then granted/denied. It works very well and bolting does not creep onto 'trad' crags as people respect the ethics. This system could work well in an area like Devon/Cornwall.
Complete disagree with the whole point you have made!
Every case should be dealt with on an individual basis, if someone wants to bolt somewhere that case needs to be put forward.
For me Carn vellan should be bolted.
I think that many of the people who post forget that to trad climb it costs an awful lot of money and that not everyone will ever be able to climb E1 whereas many of them would be able to lead 6a, children in west cornwall will be only top roping because getting kids to lead would be madness on many of these routes, where young climbers all across the world are outdoors leading from a young age on relitively (safe) bolted routes, but we think its acceptable to say no bolting end of, get relistic and get with the times.
If we as country and climbing commmunity are just looking to only keep huge areas as trad only crags we are going to stay in the darkness of world climbing.(look at brean down, sport crag = quality and gets used - trad crag = good but wasted and never used)
In Italy, France, austria for the majority of crags in my experience where possible to protect, cracks and good placement there are trad routes and where there isnt possible to portect it they bolt it.
Common sense, accessable to all and appropriatly thought about.
We need to start looking at specific situations and discuss those.
> Complete disagree with the whole point you have made!
> Every case should be dealt with on an individual basis, if someone wants to bolt somewhere that case needs to be put forward.
> For me Carn vellan should be bolted.
> I think that many of the people who post forget that to trad climb it costs an awful lot of money and that not everyone will ever be able to climb E1 whereas many of them would be able to lead 6a, children in west cornwall will be only top roping because getting kids to lead would be madness on many of these routes, where young climbers all across the world are outdoors leading from a young age on relitively (safe) bolted routes, but we think its acceptable to say no bolting end of, get relistic and get with the times.
Are you under the impression that Carn Vellan is a beginner's venue that they want to bolt easy routes on? I think you might want to look at this... http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=162190
> I fully support the development of some(emphasis on some) sport climbing in Cornwall. I have lived in Devon and climbed in both counties for many years before moving to North Wales. Only having a handful of sport crags (Ansteys, Torbyan, Cheesewring, I belive there is some at Luxulyan) and being a sport climber it can get a bit monotonous.
Really? How about being one of the many climbers who live many miles from rock of any sort? As Shane said, you live with what you can get. Living in a trad area as a sport climber is only the same as living in London as any sort of climber - you have to travel to pursue your hobby. I don't think that is a good reason to bolt up potential trad routes.
Where would you put these new sport routes? I don't think that anyone would mind a newly discovered quarry being turned into a sport crag if you know where one is, but bolting up outrageous lines on trad crags is just short-sighted as one day someone will have the combination of balls and ability to climb it without the bolts.
Good article, gives a good overview of the issue and area. I'm looking forward to a visit this spring.
Spell checker has thrown a spanner in the works though, it's 'precedent' not 'president' :)
1. You can buy a trad rack capable of getting you up plenty of Cornish routes for less than the price of a decent bike so I don't see that as a problem. In the grand scheme of things trad is a very cheap passtime since, once you lay out for your rack, the rest is free and your rack will last you ten years or more.
2. Sport is only cheap because you aren't paying in time and money to bolt the routes.
3. There are plenty of easy trad routes with great gear and I have seen young kids climb them very proficiently.
4. You are being very defeatist if you think you'll never climb E1. Of course if the routes ytou spend 10 years dreaming of leading get bolted in the mean time then you might be right.
5. We have as a country had more than our fair share of talent in all aspects of climbing. Your argument presumably does not extend to the likes of MacLeod, MacLure,etc, etc, etc,
6. In France for sure there are bolt ladders right next to decent cracks on every crag you are ever likely to go to.
Good article Shane and I'm with you all the way, with the proviso that all Cornish and N Devon sea cliffs should be bolt-free, not just West Penwith. Whilst I have a certain amount of sympathy for local sports climbers, particularly as indoor walls are few and far between, this unique region has a global reputation for its adventure climbing, as was proved in 2010 on the BMC International Meet, which arguably saw a week of some of the most concentrated hard trad sea cliff climbing for decades, with many repeats of acknowledged testpieces.
I find it strange that there should be any debate about this when Lundy, Gogarth and Pembroke are all virtually bolt free with never a murmur of protest.
As to the ludicrous comment about the lack of safe low grade (ie bolted) routes for children and beginners in the area. The West Penwith cliffs have some of the finest low grade routes in the country. Just go to Bosigran, Sennen or Chair Ladder on a fine weekend. I wonder how many climbers have started out on Alison Rib (fully deserving its Top 50 designation in the Rockfax guide), or enjoyed a real taste of adventure on Right Angle or Demo Route.
Finally, no-one would consider bolting on natural (or most quarried) grit, so why shouldn't Cornish sea cliffs have the same status?
And even if you don't, there are enough trad routes below that grade to last you at least 2 lifetimes!
Thats the daftest thing I have read in ages.
Don't get me wrong; I think the issue of "bolt creep" is important and something to be resisted. However, if you are concerned about potential bolting of, say, the lizard, then argue against bolting the lizard, not Carn Vellan.
Shane's complaints about the "sinister" wording of the proposal (my emphasis) is a red herring. If it's bolt creep that concerns, propose an amendment that allows bolting on Carn Vellan alone. If you're opposed to bolting Carn Vellan, argue on that basis.
I wish people would stop making a melange of different issues.
Its not just bolts that threaten the future of new bold innovative climbs in this country, we should learn from the mistakes of past generations and agree not to use any fixed gear on the sea cliffs. I'm sure future generations will thank us for our care and foresight if we make the right decisions now.
If you cant climb it free then go where you can.
Or find another form of exercise, as that is what bolt clipping is when all said and done.
Not really, pretty much half of the last meeting was concerned with the wording of the P&CC proposals and exactly where they wanted to bolt and when? The wording made it seemed like it was open season on all non granite cliffs in Cornwall, yet they denied this. All sides need to be clear as to what they're proposing/opposing.
I think there was an amendment proposed IIRC. There are folk I would think who are happy for bolting to proceed on the Vellan roof, but wouldn't want to see any elsewhere.
Ditto......... the one thing which really spoils any argument against bolts in my eyes is the idea that a vote for bolts in Vellan is somehow also a vote for bolting Rock Dancer - I mean, FFS..........
As a slight aside....
I sometimes find it interesting in discussions about bolting that there is often someone who insinuates or states that sport climbers and especially low grade sport climbers need to be catered for... also that with out low grade outdoor sport routes how can people progress from climbing walls.
If you want to climb in big mountains - go to the Alps, if you want quality crack climbing go to the states, if you want bouldering go to the peak, if you want top quality sport climbing go to northern spain, IF YOU WANT WORLD CLASS TRAD CRAGGING CLIMB ON THE SEA CLIFFS OF THE UK.
We should not reduce the challenge that the rock sets us just because there is a demand for a certain style of climbing or because you are not good enough.
Furthermore I appreciate that some people have to travel to go climbing but I dont really see how this is relevant. If you (or any person for that matter) lived in an area of rock then I feel they would have a vested interest in developing it a bit. Trad and sport exist side by side in many parts of the country (Pen Trwyn, Slate Quarries, Malham, Swanage) quite happily. There is no reason not to have any in Cornwall and no-one is saying bolt any trad lines.
> Ditto......... the one thing which really spoils any argument against bolts in my eyes is the idea that a vote for bolts in Vellan is somehow also a vote for bolting Rock Dancer - I mean, FFS..........
Ah, but you're in danger of that argument turning into it's own red herring!
I don't think that many people seriously believe that Saxon/Rock Dancer/whatever being bolted is really going to happen, it's the vagaries of the P&CC statement's wording, coupled with the vagaries of the geography of sea cliffs that concerns me.
Take Carn Gowla, it's massive right? It can hardly be said to be one cliff, it's about a mile long. The P&CC statement IIRC spoke of crags with no history of trad climbing. Well Carn Gowla could easily be divided up into several separate crags (Mercury - Vault Walls - Indian Buttress etc), some of which due to the fact the place is still pretty underdeveloped, might not under such a designation carry any history of trad climbing. I can think of one unclimbed wall (going by the last guide) in particular that due to it's steepness, would be well suited to bolting - that doesn't mean I, nor possibly you, would want to see it bolted. I think such a location could well fall fowl to the vagaries in the P&CC proposals and those of us that would see these places left to future trad possibility, will just have to roll over because these issues weren't sorted out in the first instance, i.e now.
After the statement that James Pearson made on this wall is Mr Birketts route not a step backwards?
A large part of the last debate was the wording of the Lands End Climbing Clubs proposal for the removal of all fixed gear in Cornwall. Is this at all possible certainly not on the North Cornish coast?
Swanage might not be the best example of peaceful coexistence.
Quite a few people did mention it.
> A large part of the last debate was the wording of the Lands End Climbing Clubs proposal for the removal of all fixed gear in Cornwall. Is this at all possible certainly not on the North Cornish coast?
Yes exactly! Nobody seemed to know what they were proposing!
The was LECC proposal to remove all fixed gear, or was it remove all bolts, or a moratorium on further fixed gear etc, etc. P&CC didn't seem to know what or when they wanted to bolt, etc, etc.
I just hope they're is some proper proposals this time around and not a bloody great mess like last time.
> Swanage might not be the best example of peaceful coexistence.
Probably not in hindsight but my point extends to the other spots
Its all variations on a theme though really isn't it - people might not believe that Rock Dancer will be next, but in previous variations on this argument the names of all sorts of well-known cliffs get trotted out as places at risk - I don't know why, but the cynic in my thinks that its because its easier to get emotive about places people have heard of and so tar the other side of the argument with a brush it doesn't necessarily deserve.
For what its worth I think Carn Gowla is still pretty much a red herring (I mean really, I can't imagine anyone bolting it, or the wider climbing community or some outraged individual being stopped from yanking hypothetical bolts out because of some agreement or another), but I can't imagine a scenario when bolting would be something I'd be in favour of.
I think overall it would make sense for a vote to be made on Vellan alone, with any future areas subject to a future vote, something like that. Some people will always say no, some people may always say yes, but if things are done case by case then those like myself who don't feel tied to either view would be a set of voters who would vote according to the merits of each individual site.
I don't think the issue of new pegs on sea cliffs has been forgotten. I hope it hasn't.
> Its all variations on a theme though really isn't it - people might not believe that Rock Dancer will be next, but in previous variations on this argument the names of all sorts of well-known cliffs get trotted out as places at risk - I don't know why, but the cynic in my thinks that its because its easier to get emotive about places people have heard of and so tar the other side of the argument with a brush it doesn't necessarily deserve.
Yes, causes would better be served by keeping things realistic.
Possibly, but not intentionally - I'm no sport climber, so don't really know what is/isn't suitable, except that steepness seems to be a preference.
I think this is exactly what needs to be done, not all of us are partisan one way or another. I dare say the pro' faction might well do themselves a favour by narrowing their proposals.
When Shane made me aware of this issue first time around I wasn't totally against bolting Carn Vellan however I do find the idea of bolting "other to be decided cliffs" rather alarming and as people have said sinister. I don't really see the need to bolt any cliffs just to provide a local sport opportunity. There aren't any in Pembrokeshire (well apart from one little known locality) and I've never felt hard done to.
I did originally say to Shane that sometimes - usually somewhere so loose and unattractive could possibly be considered as a cliff to bolt but only if it was a very specific cliff and that it was agreed that it would be only that cliff and no others that could be bolted. This would not include picking sectors of cliffs where as has happened the bolting spreads itself along. As such I am now firmly behind the no bolts at Carn Vellan team. P&CC seem to be trying to get a lot more than just a few lines on one roof but aren't willing to show their full hand or intentions.
Sporadic bolts have also appeared further up the coast on the Culm, mainly on small, exceedingly steep micro routes.
The prospect of a crag by crag debate over whether to bolt or not is in my opinion a complete waste of time. Let's just accept that all the Cornish and N Devon sea cliffs should enjoy the same status as Pembroke, the gritstone edges.
Where on the Culm - do you mean that route of Simon Youngs in the cave with the german name?
I think the way I see it is that the monobolt or occasional bolt routes seem to be a style that is not so much in vogue these days - it was historically something that seemed to be a stop on the road before people started creating full sport routes. In my mind I don't see full sport routes being done on Gowla, and as I say I don't see single bolts as being something that happens much any more.
> Where on the Culm - do you mean that route of Simon Youngs in the cave with the german name?
You're right; the bolts appeared in the cave at Menenchurch. As to the question of single bolts, I'm not so sure. The recent notorious Eroica hoax, although fiction not fact, did result in a significant number of favourable responses. That is why I feel this whole debate should be as open and widely commented on as possible, and I'm grateful to Shane for his article. I've made my position clear and will fight as hard as I can to keep the Cornish sea cliffs free from bolts. That said, if a clear consensus came down in favour of creating sport routes on Carn Vellan or other non-granite crags I would have to accept it. Important though the next BMC SW Area meeting is, it can only reflect the views of those who attend and vote.
If you care be there.
Thanks to Shane for taking the time to put this issue into perspective it is the future of this fantastic place that is at stake here.
I think the situation with eroica was a tricky one, since it was such a national classic and so reliant on a single piece of gear to maintain it's grade. It's the debate as to whether you try and preserve the experience, a debate I know some people have been raising about other places (Avon for example) where fixed gear is rotting and will ultimately completely change the nature of the route when it goes.
It was a tricky one for me - lots of me thought the bolts should be yanked out asap, but if I'm honest a small part of me thought that leaving it as a classic E2 I could do as opposed to an E4 that I can't would at least allow me to enjoy the experience.
but if everyone took that attitude, then you'd bolt everything on the grounds that there'll always be someone who wishes they could lead any given classic, but isn't quite up to it for whatever reason.
But anyway, isn't this thread about Carn Vellan, not Eroica?
OK, that sounds reasonable, but your post is or me a more convincing argument against bolts at Carn Vellan than Shane's!
The issue is bolts at Carn Vellan, and you have taken this to start discussing how you think that there should be low grade sport near where you live. This is a) not the original issue and b) a ridiculous arguement.
I love big wall climbing, and would be pretty made up if there was some within an hour of where i live. There isn't, unless my exploration o yorkshire has been a bit near sighted.
If you want to sport climb go to Portland, Ansteys Cove.... it's not that far. I love sea cliffs, but i live in Leeds, so i have to drive 3 hours to Gogarth, so it's a bit far for one day, but never mind, i have to do it a bit less.
The vein of argument where people take bolts at CV (which i used to be in favour of) to mean 'lets discuss everywhere else then; i can't climb hard enough to climb there so i want some at my grade' convinces me that nowhere in Cornwall should be bolted at all, ever.
Just who are the P&CC? A search on Google brings up just three (yes, three!) links, one of which is this thread and one was in the thread regarding the previous BMC meeting.
I agree with the poster who stated that if the type of climbing you wish to do isn't available locally then go somewhere it is. There is no need to have every style of climbing in every locale.
You can get to Gogarth (and Cloggy) for the day from the Lakes so should be doable from Leeds. Have done LPT, Tremadog, Gogarth, Cloggy in a day (different days!) many times, though with fuel prices as they are you do need to ensure a full car.
Unfortunately, due to the P&CC wording this issue is about every non granite crag in Cornwall.
Glad Carn Gowla was brought up and really happy to hear someone has ripped the bolt out of the second pitch. I was stunned to hear there was a bolt there. I have wanted to do this route ever since I bought a copy of South West climbs about 10 years back and this year I am finally starting to feel like I might be ready to go for it.
I don't agree that Gowla is a red herring. It is just the sort of place that bolted IS likely to happen should this proposal go through.
There is a big difference in the two debates. Avon was about whether pegs that had been there should be left to rot, replaced like-for-like, or replaced with a bolt (but not retrobolting the whole route). This debate is about bolting whole lines that have yet to have routes in a world class trad climbing area. The former is on the border line of ethics, whereas the latter for me is ethically unacceptable
Sigh. My post was clearly related to Iains suggestion that the troll about replacing the eroica peg with a bolt had garnered some support. So in fact it wasn't really on topic for the thread as a whole, for which I apologise, but actually is about preserving the experience in a similar way to that at Avon, whether it's better to preserve the rock or the experience of climbing it essentially.
In reply to Toby Dunn:
Yes, you're entirely right it's a dumbing down argument and one I'm very aware of. I'm just being honest in admitting that a small part of me is sad that the experience so many other people have had of Eroica is no longer available to me. It's not an argument for that approach, more stating that because of that I can't simplify that issue into pure black and white.
And of course, you're right, Eroica, Gowla and elsewhere aren't really on topic, they just tend to be the red herrings that people use as examples of "crags under threat"
> And of course, you're right, Eroica, Gowla and elsewhere aren't really on topic, they just tend to be the red herrings that people use as examples of "crags under threat"
I'm labouring this point, I know, but then I personally would not be against the roof at Vellan being bolted IF it could be guaranteed that no other bolts were placed in Cornwall on natural crags. But it can't.
And although I made a fairly trollish remark about bolting at Kenidjack it serves to make a point. And that point is basically, if not there then where EXACTLY are these "other" non granite crags that the proposals are aiming to include in a bolting agreement? There are good routes at a number of low profile cliffs in Cornwall that fit the bill but no-one has heard of them. Doesn't make them any less important than Rock Dancer etc.
If P&CC had tabled a motion to only ever bolt the roof at Carn Vellan then perhaps I would feel differently. But they didn't. And hearing some of the feelings expressed on here it seems pretty obvious that once a precedent is set then the sport climbing majority (i.e people that WON'T be getting on Monster Munch in a hurry) will soon want a crag in the area that suits their needs. Again, I am asking...Which one(s)?
I just wanted to make it clear that, if what has been stated is true, we are not talking about solitary bolts on a trad route but full sport routes.
Not that it makes much difference to the argument...
Yes, I'm inclined to agree because it might allow a more reasoned debate about Carn Vellan rather than colouring it with the phantoms of crags elsewhere because of what I suspect is just a badly worded proposal being read out of context, either deliberately to confuse the argument or not.
For what its worth, I reckon my view on Vellan would be heavily swayed by whether either party would volunteer to clean the snipped bolt stubs and other junk on that wall - the people who would put that time and effort in are probably the ones who care most about the crag.
In reply to James Moyle:
Fair enough. This debate gets on my nerves, which may explain the sighing ;)
Hope this photo adds some context; couldnt find a better one: http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=162190
I've not been to Cornwall for seven years now, so am a long way from being an authorative local opinion, but it does kinda look like a performance sport crag, for whatever that's worth. Would anything on that wall ever get climbed on trad?
I have a suspicion that the creation of a steep bolted sector for the relatively small number of people who could actually pull onto it (or who would want to travel to it) would not in itself be the end of the world. The issue which I find harder to judge is whether it would prove a stalking-horse for other less appropriate bolting actions.
Bit like Tunnel Wall...? But unlike TW, it probably wouldn't stop there.
Dunno; seems to me there are 2 pro-bolting factions and one is possibly more dangerous than the other.
Firstly those who see steep, unprotected rock as an opportunity to create a great sport sector where nothing else would go (Tunnel Wall, Dunkeld, Malham, Ferocity Wall, etc, etc, etc).
Secondly those who for whatever reason dont really want to climb on trad and would like to have more lower-grade clip-ups (Yorkshire, Portland, S.Wales, etc).
There are many more climbers in the second demographic, maybe the "danger" in the SW is that they take their lead from the first?
> Would anything on that wall ever get climbed on trad?
I think rewind has been climbed at E10.
E10? Not sure if that proves or disproves the point! Wonder what Mark Edwards thinks..
Given that the FA worked it on bolts before the trad ascent, I don't think it shows the walls trad potential very well.
Given that it's hard (8b when bolted?) and so steep that if you fall off low down trying to toprope it I guess you would hit the gnomes (the house sized blocks at the bottom), I'm not surprised that repeat ascents or trad ascents of the other ex-bolted lines have hardly been forthcoming.
> Given that the FA worked it on bolts before the trad ascent, I don't think it shows the walls trad potential very well.
It seems to me that the thrust of Shane's argument is that bolting Carn Vellan or other unspecified non-granite crags is the thin end of the wedge. What the climbing community now has to decide is whether or not sport climbing has a place on the Cornish sea cliffs. Nobody is questioning the bolt free status of Gogarth, Pembroke or Lundy, the argument is whether the Cornwall and N Devon seacliffs should also be included.
> I don't think the issue of new pegs on sea cliffs has been forgotten. I hope it hasn't.
All fixed gear is on the agenda. I guess that this will be the next big debate after the bolt issue has been decided one way or other. Anyone want to knock the peg out just below the crux of Little Brown Jug? Might just push it into the genuine HVS bracket!
I'm not sure you quite got where I was coming from. I think my point is that working any of these routes on that main roof prior to an ascent is going to be near impossible because of the logistics of rigging a toprope on it - its steep, from Mark's account of the gear on Rewind the idea of putting gear in to keep the rope near the rock is not likely to work too well and if you swing off you've got the gnomes to hit back first at speed.
Its a simple question of logistics, not who is or isn't gifted, bold or whatever - Trail of Tears (is that right? I'm not sure but I hope so) is very impressive but the simple fact remains that working it is also going to be a whole league of difficulty easier. I don't have any problem with the idea that there are loads of hard dangerous routes out there or that there are loads of gifted climbers out there.
Hence why I don't think Rewind demonstrates its potential as a trad crag particularly well - its a route which is logistically possible because of the prior existence of bolts which make working the moves easy and hence made an ascent feasible in a way which just isn't possible for any of those lines in their current state.
I do see your point about wanting to have a blanket ban. My view though is that some crags simply work better as sport crags than they do trad crags, and some routes the same, and that should be included as one of the many factors that feeds into the decision. For example most of Pembroke is relatively easily protectable natural limestone, and as such it would seem far more suitable to trad than sport. That main roof at Vellan is an example of a crag which looks far more like a stereotypical modern sport crag than anywhere else I've visited at either of your three venues, and as a result I've some sympathy for the view that it would make a good sport crag, better than it would a trad crag. But as a counter to that I don't see places like Carn Gowla (which people keep bringing up, no other reason why I've picked it really) as an area where sport climbing would work, which is why I know which way I'd vote on bolts at Gowla but don't know which way I'd vote about bolts at Vellan.
Anyway, I've got to dash now.....
Just to add my view, I would be in favour of the re-bolting of the roof of Carn Vellan. As AJM states, some crags are just more suited to sport climbing and I believe Carn Vellan is one of those. Yes, it has been climbed on trad gear but that does not really make it a trad crag - modern headpointing is a long way from the ideal of onsight trad climbing and I believe that the increasing popularity of headpointing is gradually eroding the adventurous ethic of rock climbing.
My only reservation being that rebolting Carn Vellan would inevitably lead to more people visiting the crag and thus more erosion. But is this really something that we as climbers (particularly local activists and guidebook writers) can complain about? Erosion is the by-product of climbers visiting crags and some of those against the bolting of Carn Vellan have contributed to increasing visitors to the crags in the area. To be clear, I am not criticizing the promotion of crags (I am responsible for the same thing with my own promotion of Dartmoor bouldering on javu) but to raise the environmental damage issue ignores the visible and serious erosion caused by any climbing on any crag.
I personally know members of the P+CC responsible for the proposal that bolting be allowed on non-granite crags and am absolutely confident that their proposal is not designed to open the doors for widespread bolting in West Cornwall. Perhaps it is merely to future-proof an agreement in case another Carn Vellan type crag is discovered and thus avoid the need for another unpleasant debate?
Having said that, I do think that to eliminate any confusion, the bolting discussion should focus purely on Carn Vellan.
Regarding the other proposals:
I would not support the idea that all in-situ gear is removed from West Cornwall crags and any in-situ gear 'banned'. The majority of old gear in the sea cliffs is rotting away quite happily and will soon be gone. I very much doubt that this gear will be replaced and the routes will simply evolve to be peg free, particularly given that many climbers are against the use of mild steel pegs on sea cliffs. In my view a ban would be unecessary.
Do we really need to hold a meeting to vote on whether or not to allow "drilled protection slots, the creation of artificial holds by clipping and/or by cement construction and/or cleaning with a drill be carried out"? Surely it is already widely known that this is not the right thing to do?
Do we really need more bans to govern what used to be a hobby for those trying to escape the over-regulation of modern life. Yes, ethics and best practice should be respected, styles of ascents can be improved upon but to smother climbing with rules would be a greater threat to the freedom of climbing than the risk of a few bolts on a crag well suited to sport climbing.
The 'bolt creep' argument may well be valid but has this really been detrimental to other areas of the country? Here bolts have merely crept onto other suitable crags and not spread onto areas where traditionally protected climbs are most appropriate.
Anyway, that's enough rambling for now.
The future WILL bring better and bolder climbers who will relish the challenge of crags like this.
If people are so desperate to climb steep bolted routes, then go and build a climbing wall with as many steep walls and bolts as you like. If the P+CC got their act together and campaigned for an artificial wall as hard as they are to bolt Carn Vellan then it would happen very quickly.
Look at all the skateparks, bmx tracks etc etc that are/have being built in Cornwall with the help of funding from various authorities.Surely they can get the same treatment for climbing.
WHY OH WHY DO WE NEED TO BRING EVERY CRAG DOWN TO OUR LEVEL????????????
This sums it up. Cornwall and N Devon is not the place for sport climbing or bolts. Its about wagglin' wires above big seas on big leads, whether its on granite on gneiss - whatever the grade.
Good call. How about a bouldering wall the size of Mount Hawke Skate Park - that would be something.
hi Dave, i generally agree with everything you have said, and would love CV to be an excellent sport crag; but experiences and conversations with people elsewhere lead me to think that bolting it isn't worth the risk of the action influencing other 'development', and justifying the actions of those who care not for traditional ethics in any form.
i think shane's article names some examples. and there is a trend towards thinking it's reasonable to consider bolting (inland) limestone trad routes (esp harder ones) as they aren't very popular in their current state. Surely we don't have to be able to climb every bit of rock (nice as this would be!)
> Anyway, that's enough rambling for now.
Says the self-confessed aid climber, does anyone else see the irony in this...?
Uhm, I tink orl bolts is borin and bad speshilly in norf devon und cornwall. Luv and xxx dave
But oh dearÖ Have the local sport climbers really been daft enough to put forward a proposal explicitly seeking to develop sport climbing in other (as yet unnamed) locations. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. As the proposal currently stands the entire debate / meeting is a complete and utter waste of everyoneís time. I donít even know of many SPORT CLIMBERS who would vote in favour of it let alone trad climbers.
The proposal SHOULD have been completely clear. It should have been about the roof at Carn Vellan. No other crags should have even been mentioned and it should have explicitly stated that bolts elsewhere at Carn Vellan were banned. With THAT premise, there is something to have a debate about. There should be no worries about bolt creep or thin ends of wedges and no concerns about any trad routes being affected (Rewind aside). If other crags surface in the future which are suitable (which I doubt), then they should be considered separately.
Letís assume sanity prevails and the proposal is fundamentally changed. What is the case for and against bolts on the roof at Vellan? I pretty much agree with AJM and Dave Hendersonís posts but will add my two cents:
For me the two most important questions by far are:
1. How important a potential sport venue is this? Are we (as I expect) talking about a dozen or so 7b+ - 8c ish routes here? Or is there potential for some classic 9th grade testpieces which would make it a nationally important venue?
2. How important a potential trad venue is this? Do hard trad climbers who know the area genuinely believe that this place will make a good trad venue in the way that Malham Central Wall or LPT never would? If this really is the case, then I suspect that most people would support it remaining unbolted. But if they know that it is never going to make a good trad venue and are prepared to see a great crag sitting unused indefinitely because of a general aversion to bolts, then I think most people probably wouldnít support them.
In more detail: how compact is the rock? How much available trad gear is there in it? What is the score with Rewind Ė is it basically a Fr8a solo, or is there gear in it? If so, is there enough to work it ground up, or is AJM right that there isnít even enough to hold a top rope in so that headpointers canít work it on a rope without the bolts which were used first time round? How about the other routes? If the CV roof is suitable for trad, then how come no one has shown the slightest interest in it since the bolts were stripped?
I donít know the answers to these questions so I donít know whether the CV roof will make a good hard trad crag or not - and I expect most people posting on internet forums donít either. What is needed is some kind of honest consensus from hard trad climbers about whether or not this is the case. And if they say that it is but it really isnít, then this question is just going to come back to haunt everyone again in another decade. If itís never going to be a good hard trad venue, it would be better to just get the pain over now for those who disapprove, and then everyone can coexist and stop the arguingÖ But if it is, then I think most would accept it should remain unbolted.
That is what this debate should have primarily been all about. But obviously there are also other factors to take into account. Clearly the access question needs answering (it should have been the first thing to be cleared upÖ) Generally, non climbers tend not to ďgetĒ bolt debates. When bolts cause access issues, it is usually indirectly by an area becoming more popular and the landowners objecting to the people rather than the bolts themselves. This seems unlikely here as weíre only talking about a small number of relatively hard routes. But if access IS an issue, then obviously that overrides everything else and the entire debate is a waste of time.
Also there are clearly lots of people who feel that this is a beautiful coastline and donít want to see any bolts on it regardless of whether or not the crag is suitable for trad. Personally Iím not a fan of this approach, but I accept that there are plenty of people who feel this way. It does have the advantage of simplicity. But for me, if itís simplicity gained at the expense of seeing a great crag go completely unused, then itís TOO simple. LPT is a coastal crag. Shane, Iain etc Ė would you accept that this would make a terrible trad venue and that bolting it has created a nationally important sport venue?
Iain Ė for me, the difference between the roof at CV and Lundy, Gogarth and Pembroke is pretty clear. Those venues have vast numbers of classic trad routes which would be wrecked by bolting to produce pretty lame sport venues (the same is true of the rest of the cliffs in N Devon and Cornwall). The CV roof is an exception because it has no decent trad routes (Rewind aside), and would produce a very good sport venue. The crucial question is whether or not it will continue to have no decent trad routes in the future. And the fact that some people will obviously be capable of soloing some of these routes in the future (or even now) doesnít make it a good trad venue. Malham central wall doesnít make a good trad venue just because there are people capable of soloing Raindogs or Zoolook. Revelations isnít a good trad route because Le Menestral soloed it. Tears of a Clown is a VERY different type of route.
Artif Ė This very definitely has nothing whatsoever to do with ďbringing down the crag to a level that means we can do it todayĒ. As Iíve said, there ARE a number of venues which just are not and never will be good trad climbing venues. Whether this is one of them I don't know. But as Chris J said, to hear that argument from an aid climber is hilarious. The routes which have been ďstolen from future generations of trad climbersĒ arenít routes on Malham Central Wall. They are all those thin seams which should have been future desperate testpieces on RPs but which, having been pegged into submission, are now lines of finger locks and jams with mid sized cams.
But finally Iíll repeat what I said at the start - this entire debate is completely pointless whilst the proposal stays as it is. If people even think that there is a hint of sanctioning bolting elsewhere, then the meeting and vote are a foregone conclusion. And if there really are some locals who are trying to use the Carn Vellan roof debate as a way of sneeking sport climbing elsewhere in by the back door then they are living in dreamland. Dave may be right that this wasnít the intention Ė but if thatís the case, it needs clarifying way before the meeting. If it isnít then I fully understand the concerns of people worrying about thin ends of wedges.
Seems that all goes up there.
Plenty of Irony in it.
However I travel extensively to partake in my particular folly, to areas that can sustain it i.e. The Verdon. I'm pretty sure the routes I spend my time on won't ever be free climbed, unless people start using finger nails to jam in cracks.
However the local ethics in Cornwall are "no bolts" it's pretty simple.
If you want to clip bolts then travel to where you can clip bolts. I've done it, and anyone else can do the same. You, I, and pretty much anyone who is in to climbing knows that Cornwall is a Trad area, why change it.
I linked that once in one mega traverse, it took about two hours!
It was pretty epic considering the previous night I'd finished up on the Special Brew in Rumours. God knows where I found the energy - oh to be 21!
> Good article Shane and I'm with you all the way, with the proviso that all Cornish and N Devon sea cliffs should be bolt-free, not just West Penwith.
> I find it strange that there should be any debate about this when Lundy, Gogarth and Pembroke are all virtually bolt free with never a murmur of protest.
that said, i do enjoy the occasional bold solo or route, but i`m getting older and have kids now, so it`s nice to have a compromise every now and then.
it`s just a shame that anyone mentioning the use of bolts nowadays seems to get shouted down in flames, and everything goes very childish. lets have some common sense, and less dictatorship when these issues arise.
so to go back to the earlier statement, why can`t cornwall be `virtually`, bolt free without even a murmur!
yours, an ex kernow climber who now has the choice of bolts or nuts in wales!!
Na it's all to juggy, if you want aid, head for Pendennis!
> All fixed gear is on the agenda. I guess that this will be the next big debate after the bolt issue has been decided one way or other. Anyone want to knock the peg out just below the crux of Little Brown Jug? Might just push it into the genuine HVS bracket!
no it won't Ian theres a bomber 2 cam six inches above it
I thought the bolt debate, of where and how, got sorted in the 1980's!
It's still going on? That's a long debate.
I know Chris, it's so unfair, that a route like Indian Face has only had a handful of ascents in over 20 years, let's hear it for us average Joes and stick a few bolts in..
I'd love to put a Barcelona shirt on and run out onto Wembley and play in the European Cup final in May - any suggestions?
As a Cornwall local, itís great to see a sensible, mature debate about the bolt situation here. The area has seen a fair bit of abuse over the years and I, for one, hope that after this debate the vandalism and mendacity of some will cease, leaving this beautiful climbers playground in peace. Iíd like to make a few points on the issues that have been raised above, particularly by the well respected Mr Henderson:
The particular problems associated with CV are described in Cornish Rock thus:
ďThe descent slopes are very fragile (some steps would help limit erosion). The cliff suffers from seepage and sea spray and is slow drying. Care is required in handling brittle rockÖ.Ē CV is not a good example of a sport crag; there are much better (i.e. less fragile environment, drier, sunnier, and almost as steep) crags nearby.
This whole argument has a very 80s feel. Repeatedly the BMC, local climbers and the wider climbing community have agreed on the issue Ė no bolts in West Penwith. This has been ignored by a couple of climbers, with a variety of spurious excuses (i.e. it only refers to granite). It is a dangerous precedent when this happens. We climbers are an anarchic lot, but have traditionally respected the ethics of our peers.
I believe that as freedom loving climbers we have a responsibility to the environment. We need to look after it, not use it as an excuse for our own selfish acts. Climbing with minimal impact should be the aim of all here in Penwith. There are still a lot of ugly scars here. Still lots of rusting bolts at Lands End and rusting drilled pegs at Chair Ladder and drilled cam slots at Carn Barra and chipped holds at Sennen. Local climbers are keen to clean up this mess, but need the wider climbing community behind us, and the vandalism to stop.
I canít climb the roof at CV, Iím too weak, old and scared! However, I know that soon someone will create a world class trad route up here. The latest generation of small cams fit into some horizontal breaks and pockets. Letís leave the place for someone with the skill and bottle to climb it. I donít think we will have to wait too long.
The Big Issue wall at Bosherton is a good comparison with the CV roof. It would make a great sport venue, but is in the middle of a trad area and has sensibly had its bolts removed. All we ask is that West Cornwall is treated the same.
The whole area described in the West Cornwall guidebooks should be bolt free. Diluting this with even one exception puts the whole area at risk. Letís keep things simple! Please come to West Cornwall for adventure climbing. There are much better places for sport climbing.
I hope that we get a good turn out on the 2nd. I am looking forward to more sensible debate and argument. This is an important issue, not just for us Cornish Pixies. Please turn up and have your say, what ever your views.
Thank you for your good and reasonable questions. I have answered them below, as honestly as I can given my bias in favour of bolting the crag:
> 1. How important a potential sport venue is this? Are we (as I expect) talking about a dozen or so 7b+ - 8c ish routes here? Or is there potential for some classic 9th grade testpieces which would make it a nationally important venue?
I suspect that your guess is about right although there may be potential for harder routes. This would, in my view, make it nationally significant as a sport venue. The routes would be about 40 metres long and 45 degrees overhanging.
> In more detail: how compact is the rock? How much available trad gear is there in it? What is the score with Rewind Ė is it basically a Fr8a solo, or is there gear in it? If so, is there enough to work it ground up, or is AJM right that there isnít even enough to hold a top rope in so that headpointers canít work it on a rope without the bolts which were used first time round? How about the other routes? If the CV roof is suitable for trad, then how come no one has shown the slightest interest in it since the bolts were stripped?
My view is that the main roof crag has very limited potential as a trad crag. The rock is a bit snappy, there is not a lot in the way of gear, it's rarely in good enough condition for someone to stick their neck out for trad climbing and working the routes for a headpoint would be extremely difficult. These things are unlikely to change which is why I don't believe bolting would be stealing from future generations. In reality the crag will probably have fallen down within a lifetime or two.
I understand Rewind to be about Fr8a+ (I've not tried it - too hard and impractical to get on!) and Mark Edwards' original description suggested the small amount of gear to be marginal and very hard to place. As mentioned above, the rock is not totally reliable and conditions very fickle.
Hope that helps clarify the nature of the crag.
I'd also like to add, just so I'm not confused with a rabid bolt and in-situ gear fan, that I believe there are certain south west crags (currently featuring pegs) that are perfectly suited to climbing entirely on leader placed protection - Sharpnose and Pentire Great Wall being two perfect examples. In my view, assessing crags on a case by case basis would be the best way to decide whether they should have fixed gear rather than making blanket bans in whole areas.
A good and reasoned reply Dave but I still don't agree! You and Nemo may well be correct in suggesting that CV could become a world class sport venue (provided it doesn't fall down that is) but my concern is that if we accept that this and future potential 'sport' crags are assessed each time on a crag by crag basis, not only will these and other forums be filled up on each occasion with conflicting opinions but the regional BMC meetings will all be interminably taken up with this on-going saga.
Why cannot we all accept the loss of one sport crag, thus leaving it as a challenge for a possibly more gifted and adventurous generation (maybe even armed with a new high tech generation of eco protection devices) in order to preserve the integrity of one of the finest adventure climbing regions in the country?
This is why I want this debate to go beyond Carn Vellan and include the whole of the Cornish and N Devon coastline.
Finally a query on your original post: Was the retro-bolting of Cocytus and The Mitre sanctioned by Pat Littlejohn and Frank Cannings (FA)?
It's a bit like European referendums. If they get the wrong answer, they'll just wait a bit and ask again. Eventually they'll get the answer they're looking for and the battle will be over.
> I'd love to put a Barcelona shirt on and run out onto Wembley and play in the European Cup final in May - any suggestions?
Yeah, take a bolt gun to Xavi. It'd do the cheating little f*cker good.
I believe I did make your point about the motion somewhere else. The pro-bolters' childish insistence on anonymity and secrecy isn't doing them any good. And nor is their complaining about how there isn't any sport climbing in Cornwall, as though a handful of routes at 8a and up which are wet nine-tenths of the year is going to make a big difference to that.
Don't entirely agree about Lundy though. The main bolting/chipping/general Gibsonising area there was Black Cliff, which is a discrete venue which (Neil Dickson and Emergency Ward Ten apart), hasn't seen a lot of trad action. It's true the routes there would be a lot easier to headpoint, I suppose. I'm finding it a bit hard to believe it's not possible to rig a safe, if not convenient, top-rope at CV. I'd prefer to hear this from someone without a vested interest before I believed it was quite as impossible as they say.
Also, do I understand right from Dave Henderson that we're not just talking about rebolting the existing four routes, but creating a dozen or so routes in all down to 7b? I'm not quite sure how those would fit in, unless of course we're talking about retroing Ziggurat (which I'm quite sure will happen if the proposal is passed anyway, but it'd be nice to know and be clear about these things, don't you agree?).
I would be more than happy to support a campaign for the removal of all non-essential fixed gear (including some I placed back in the day!) starting with the high profile crags that you mention. I guess it might be a gradual and possibly controversial process,
>I think that many of the people who post forget that to trad climb it costs an awful lot of money
Nonsense. When I started climbing I had five wires, four quickdraws, two hexes and a couple of slings. I led up to HVS with that rack plus whatever I could scrounge from others on the day, and I considered myself royally well equipped compared to a lot of contemporaries (and rightly).
Moreover, that was an enormous rack compared to those which a lot of people on here started with - before about 1967 there was no gear to buy, and people used nuts scrounged from railways, home-made wooden wedges, home-made pegs (not a good idea really), their mothers' washing lines (also not a good idea) and so forth. Look up boje's gallery for one of many examples.
Money has absolutely nothing to do with it. It's a question of attitude.
The rest of your post also contains some bizarre misunderstandings, but others have pointed those out.
I'm a coward and like as much gear as possible, but somehow managed for a few years with one set of nuts, 2 hexes, 6 quickdraws, and some slings. There aren't that many sport routes where you could get by with just 6 draws are there? At Needlesports prices a set of nuts costs the same as 5 quickdraws.
This quote is by Nick Bullock from his blog. It actually refers to an essay on winter climbing and the anomalies of the grading system we have, but I feel sums up what British adventure climbing in places like West Penwith is all about.
"Britainís crags on the world scale are nothing, they are small and insignificant. The thing that makes our crags special and memorable is the style in which we climb them. In my mind with every drop in style from ground up, placing gear on lead, leading with intent to get to the top clean and no abseil inspection, we are diluting what makes our crags and our climbing special."
The link to the full article can be found on the UKC Forum.
> >I think that many of the people who post forget that to trad climb it costs an awful lot of money
> Money has absolutely nothing to do with it. It's a question of attitude.
This shoe horning of financial consideration into a debate about ethics should be stopped really, its got bugger all to do with it.
My first rack was... er, nothing really. Didn't stop us going out and doing loads. My first (proper) rack was something like a couple of garage nuts, four slings and a few steel krabs that weighed a bloody ton.
We thought we were in heaven! And, in many ways, we were in heaven.
I don't know but suspect it wasn't. I do know that Just Revenged was bolted without the permission of the first ascentionist. These were bolted before I started climbing at Anstey's...
... although I'm not convinced that first ascentionists' approval should always be essential when their routes are being left unmaintained to become defunct. For instance, there are routes at Churston (Brixham) originally climbed on a mixture of pegs, threads and some leader-placed gear which are now ignored, the in-situ gear left to rot. These are routes that were basically climbed in the style of sport climbs (although sometimes bold sport climbs). In theory, as things stand at present, I would be wrong to go and bolt these up without gaining permission from the first ascentionist. If they didn't agree is it really right that these lines should now be pretty useless because of the style they were first climbed in? Particularly when the style in which they were climbed was just the trend of the day and not really a pure ethical approach?
Dear Mr Mysteriously,
Thanks for your reply.
> I'm finding it a bit hard to believe it's not possible to rig a safe, if not convenient, top-rope at CV. I'd prefer to hear this from someone without a vested interest before I believed it was quite as impossible as they say.
Thank you for your question and I hope that has answered it.
This suggestion is perhaps a little mis-informed. As I understand it, the whole issue of pegs and bolts in Cornwall was stirred up by a proposal from the Land's End Climbing Club to remove all in-situ gear from West Penwith; the proposal from the P+CC was merely a counter argument to what was a contentious proposal which was felt by some to be short sighted.
The locals I know in West Cornwall would have been happy for things to remain as they had been agreed upon in the last vote on Carn Vellan (even though many locals disagreed with the outcome from that meeting).
I disagree, it's actually massively ill-informed :-)
I've only ever climbed in Cornwall once.
I have, however, seen what's happened to Yorkshire limestone.
'May your paperclips not open, your ball of string not snap and your best days not turn into your worst nightmares...' (Old Irish proverb.)
I'm not sure there was anything unmaintained about Cocytus. In fact I thought it was chopped once after being retroed, presumably by someone who wanted to do it in its free state. In fact I almost chopped the bolts again myself when I found them there in 1999 or so, but what with one thing and another (including I believe someone assuring me that the proper procedures had been followed before it was bolted, which with more experience of these things I now see was probably just a lie) I never bothered. Perhaps I should.
>I don't think I really have a vested interest if you are referring to me and am not saying it would be impossible, merely difficult.
No, I wasn't, just the general sort of stuff that one hears in support of this proposal.
Presumably more or less any line from the top to the bottom of the crag would serve to stop you swinging backwards and hitting the Gnomes (whatever those are), no? I can't see it being the sort of thing that some future Cornish Dave Macleod wouldn't find a way round, let's put it that way.
>I was trying to give an indication of the nature of the crag and casually agreeing with Nemo's estimate - the 7b+ I guess would be Bridge of Sighs.
Oh, OK, so we're going to retro everything that goes through Ziggurat as well. I have an idea that's an advance on the proposal from December, or am I misremembering? And Ziggurat itself (in theory), or not?
I suppose the answer's probably in the motion. I really should care enough to go and read it. If someone had done that properly in 1989 or whenever it was we'd all be a lot better off. You see how useful lawyers are?!
>Was the retro-bolting of Cocytus and The Mitre sanctioned by Pat Littlejohn and Frank Cannings (FA)
I've just reread this. The Mitre surely hasn't been retroed, has it?? If so that was in the last ten years or so, and that definitely wasn't being neglected in its trad state.
I admit to going slightly off topic with my question to Dave on Cocytus and the Mitre: the point I was trying to emphasize is that the 'bolt creep' that Shane mentions in his article does seem to take place where trad and sport exist side by side.
Of course it does. That's why the pro-bolters always say it's irrelevant, of course - they like to pretend it doesn't.
But The Mitre hasn't really been retroed, has it? (well, any more retroed than the two bolts it had in 1999 or so. I always imagined those dated from the FFA and that PL had at least resigned himself to them, since he mentions them in SWClimbs).
It look's like I got the topography of Carn Vellan muddled in my mind so apologies for starting confusion over Bridge of Sighs.
The 2005 proposal for Carn Vellan was for bolts to be allowed in the roof section of Carn Vellan, which would not include Bridge of Sighs. If there was a future proposal for re-bolting Carn Vellan (and this isn't currently on the agenda for the forthcoming BMC meeting) I think it would be sensible to be along the same lines as that proposed in 2005 i.e. the roof section only.
This would of course include Right Angle and Doorpost.
who is going to decide what is essential fixed gear? What is fixed gear? Will it ever be possible to remove it without making crags inaccessable? How are people going to get off the top of lunakod? I've walked off the top a couple of times but there's a reason all that tat is there? What are people going to belay on at the top of Screda point?
Who is in the position to remove so many climbers ability to enjoy these crags and climbs in the condition they were originally climbed?
I passionately oppose the proposition to remove all fixed gear nd feel it's unworkable.
Just my thoughts!
Perhaps the word all was a bit strong! First off, many of the pegs I and others placed back in the 70s and 80s are now redundant as well as dangerous because there are adequate alternatives. The pegs on Matchless, Little Brown Jug and are two examples. Essential fixed gear might be a proper lower off at the top of Lunakhod and therefore removal of all the unsightly and inessential tat.
Whether I could repeat some of my old routes now without pegs says much more about my failing abilities. I certainly do not want climbs to be brought down to my level and am quite happy to acknowledge that they may even become a grade or two harder without fixed pegs in place. An example of this might be Darkinbad which I did climb back along in similar style to the FA but would struggle on now.
I think that removing fixed pegs on the Cornish coast is the next logical step after the bolts are all gone, but it can only be a process that is accomplished with a consensus and could take a while, (the same as a workable no bolt policy in W Cornwall.)
PS. Hang on to the passion!
I would have thought it's only possible to work a big roof if there's opportunity to place reasonable and regular gear? Otherwise how on earth could you get in to work the moves?
Quite a few steep projects have been down-aided prior to their ascent, this being the only real solution to their respective problems, but that does depend on there being some gear with which to do so!
But where do you propose the line is drawn will we have to have a discussion about every peice of fixed gear on the coast? Most people yourself included I think are against such a discussion with regard to bolts on crags but you appear to be happy to do this with regard to other fixed gear? Why is the lower off on Lunakhod more essential than the pegs on Crimptyphon.
You mention your failing abilities and I feel this is a reason a number of the older genewration of climbers are now happy to remove the fixed gear they have done these routes with the fixed gear when it was new and I presume had an excellent experience doing it? They now don't mind the up and coming generation of climbers not having this opportunity. Why should all the climbers that are now coming through the ranks not have the opportunity to do Eroica in the state it was first done? When you guys were able to do it? I would love to do Darkinbad but taking the pegs out may well move it out of my abilities?
I think you're slightly missing the point: many of the pegs that I and others placed 30 odd years ago are now not needed because of the advance in gear technology. Egg has pointed out that there is a bomber Friend placement 6" above the peg on LBJ. The traverse on P2 of Diocese used to have a couple of large angles but again they are not required.
Your point about the Eroica peg is understandable but if you read the many replies to the hoax about a replacement bolt you'll see that many now support the idea of not replacing the peg,( which, incidentally was primarily an aid peg and not bomber by any means). In the Rockfax guide the route is now free and the grade has jumped to E4. That's not so much due to my failing abilities as the fact that modern climbers might just be getting better (and more ethical!)
You have not answered my main point who decides what is essential gear? Is it the same people who decide where we can put these bolts? Why is it o.k. to have the far more obtrusive stakes at the top of many crags and lots of insitu tatty old slings but not a small peice of metal that not many people will even get to see? Will it be o.k. to leave the pegs to lower off the top of Marsland but not on the routes to get to the lower off?
The argument about climbers getting better is not a new one and is it reallying happening? Have standards really improved? What is the average leading grade of people on this site? Has it improved over the years? Remove all the fixed gear and you are removing a lot of routes that these people could aspire to do in the future! Are climbers really leading any better than i9n the 70's and 80's? There may be many stronger climbers but as we know that is not the same as getting better at leading!
Of course there are many routes where pegs give essential protection - at least as far as the FAs are concerned. Birkett obviously felt that the 4 pegs he placed at Dyer's were necessary, and no-one has yet repeated the route.
And yes Crrimtyphon is a good example of a route that would jump a couple of grades without the pegs and probably wouldn't get many more ascents, and I guess that most people would consider them essential, but just across the way you have Tydomin, originally climbed with two pegs and now a fairly bold but still popular bottom end HVS. The peg on Matchless is corroded, and next time I'm there I will remove it as there is a perfectly good Friend placement close by.
As an aside I have noticed that there's a completely unnecessary peg on the top pitch of Right Angle - it could even be my original, the only protection I had on the first ascent. Anyone clipping that is either a fool or possibly inexperienced so it should be taken out.
I really don't think that there will be a guerilla campaign to remove every peg from the Cornish seacliffs, but maybe a welcome reduction in rotting and unnecessary ironmongery.
Of course there are many routes where pegs give essential protection - at least as far as the FAs are concerned. - Why is it just the first ascent was the peg not equally as essential for the second third twenty third ascent?
I think Crimtyphon would jump more than a couple of grades and it would be a solo as I said before who would be willing to put there neck on the line for that route. Tydomin just emphasises my point above climbers have decided these don't need to be replaced and they haven't been we didn't have to have a meeting and a debate about it!
Why after so many years do so many people suddenly feel responsible for looking after all the other climbers? Why can't people be allowed to make their own decisions on the state of insitu gear? I thought that was one of the huge reasons many of us climb in the first place to allow us to be responsible for ourselves and make important decisions which could have serious consequences!
"At a basic level there are two views: 1) Allow some bolting or 2) Don't allow any bolting."
It shouldn't be much of a surprise, this. Given that the debate has continued, in various forms, for several decades now, to me it's blindingly obvious that there is NO clinching argument. It all just comes down to personal preferences, and personal reasons to climb. I find the debate exasperating, since both sides repeatedly trot out the same old points. Just vote and be done with it.
> I know Chris, it's so unfair, that a route like Indian Face has only had a handful of ascents in over 20 years, let's hear it for us average Joes and stick a few bolts in..
what was i saying about being childish !
apologies if you thought i was refering to you individually, i was refering to the dicussions about bolting on some of kernows cliffs. if we as climbers could discuss and control the occasional use of bolts in any area, in a more adult and sensible manner, surely the climbing world could put it`s energies into more enjoyable activities. i`m aware there are people who will take the piss, but does this happen because of a punk style f--k you! because there damned if they do, dammed if they dont! in reference to the `indian face`, thats exactly why redhead painted the mural, allthough many people didn`t get it, and before you slag me off, i`m not saying it`s right or wrong to do these things, it`s just an observation of the big picture.
cheers to all, happy dringo.
But the challenge would still be there - no one would be forced to use the bolts....
OH THE HUMANITY!!!!!!!!
So what happened at the meeting????
Anyone that went care to summarise?
OK in summary. Basically there is now a moratorium on the future placement of any fixed gear - bolts or otherwise - on all natural outcrops and sea cliffs in the area covered by the CC West Cornwall guide. There was a large majority in favour of this.
Existing (non-drilled) fixed gear is to be left to "rust in peace" as Shane Ohly put it. This was passed by just one vote.
Existing drilled fixed gear is to be removed. This was passed with a smaller majority.
There is no time limit on the current moratorium.
Sixty people turned up, lots of regular (West)Cornwall locals and some of the great and good, Pat Littlejohn, Frank Cannings etc.
Barney Carver/Andy Whall and Shane Ohly (and plenty of others) made good points for and against bolting respectively and it was all in all a civilized and good natured meeting.
Sounds like a good outcome.
Now we just have the ridiculous suggestion that some bits were "quarried" to deal with.
That was dealt with too as points were amended to include 'sea cliffs' rather than just 'natural outcrops', so regardless of any ambiguity about quarrying at Carn Vellan, that venue (and others) are definitely covered by the sea cliff classification.
My guess is that will be a BMC clarification of the results of the meeting in the near future.
I presume that whether the wishes of the BMC in cases such as this are respected rests upon all climbers voluntarily acquiescing.
What's to stop some sport climber, or an organised group, say, the "Sport Climbers Assc.", from reaching individual agreements with private landowners to place bolts on crags?
I wanted to get the results out today Tom but apart from the numbers you have beat me to it!
I would imagine it will go on BMC website tomorrow.
Absolutely nothing and this is what generally happens when privately owned disused quarries are used for sport climbing. In the hypothetical case of an "SCA" applying for permission to bolt a seacliff or natural outcrop in West Cornwall then I suggest that the BMC, and those who would object would make strong representations to the landowner to have that decision overturned and the whole interminable issue would go back to square 1. Saturday's vote by a large majority in favour of an indefinite moratorium on all driiled gear on West Cornwall seacliffs and natural outcrops was substantial so hopefully we can now all relax and enjoy the superb trad climbing at all grades that is available in this unique region, (including possible repeat ascents of the current hardest trad route in the SW - Rewind at E10??!!).
I though you guys would be on the case, I was going to leave it but as someone asked I thought I'd chip in.
Hopefully UKC will run your BMC write up too - far more likely to feed into people's minds than the continuation of this thread.
For those interested there were a few semantic points that had to be ironed out, so it's worth looking to Sam's official write-up rather than my vague spectator's summary.
Pete Oxley was proved wrong in bolting the Big Issue in Pembroke and Ron Fawcett was proved wrong in bolting the Cad at Gogarth.
The Cad is still commonly climbed clipping the remaining bolt (of the two originally placed), no?
Well, we made it to publication tonight, thanks to your efforts, Sam. The official results are on the BMC Communities site:
Thanks everyone who attended for a good meeting.
Pity some sort of minimum period before this could be debated again wasn't agreed. It's a bit tedious having this sort of thing every five minutes.
I know what you mean John but how regular are debates about bolting, gritstone, gogarth, Pembroke etc? The feeling was that this should be it, end of, no bolts, no more pegs ad infinitum
All the more reason for a moratorium on debate, I'd have thought.
Anyway, well done to those who made the effort to go. I would have done myself had my mother-in-law not inconveniently been born 80 years ago.
> All the more reason for a moratorium on debate, I'd have thought.
I think that bolts in WC will only ever become an issue again if there is a massive sea change in attitudes to the drill right across the country and given GB's reputation for adventure climbing I can't see that happening any time soon.
We move on now to accepting similar agreements that will protect the rest of the Cornish and N Devon coastline.
> We move on now to accepting similar agreements that will protect the rest of the Cornish and N Devon coastline.
Thereby opening another can of worms!
> Pete Oxley was proved wrong in bolting the Big Issue in Pembroke and Ron Fawcett was proved wrong in bolting the Cad at Gogarth.
> The Cad is still commonly climbed clipping the remaining bolt (of the two originally placed), no?
Surely not, Toby? I thought it was regularly climbed twisting a wire through the remains of one of the bolts. Proper British trad, in other words.
Now A Midsummer Night's Dream, on the other hand.....
You mean that wonderful compromise where we accept that fixed gear is bad but nevertheless are happy to use it to lower the commitment of the route just so long as it's been made a bit more fiddly, thereby maintaining a suitable level of ethical integrity in the proceedings... ;)
So where next for the jihad, John? Plenty more bolted sea cliffs to go at: LPT, Little Orme, Ansteys, Brean, Portland, Swanage, Witches Point, St Bee's ... etc
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