/ NEWS: No.4 Gully Marker 'Removed'

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Pids - on 11 Nov 2011
Number 4 Gully marker posts new home, 4 kbUKC Staff Edit: Now on the UKC/H News Page

Reports have been posted on the UKC/UKH Winter Climbing forum regarding the recent removal of the marker post at the top of No.4 Gully on Ben Nevis, in what looks like an act of vandalism.

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=64988

--------------------

Original Post:

Have just read on a blog page that the ab post at the top of Nr 4 Gulley on the Ben has been removed - it was certainly there last Sunday as we abbed from it !

Apparently it was removed as it was a man made intrusion on the hill !

We walked up from the man made North Face Car park, on the newly extended man made path to the man made CIC hut,then branched off on the man made path up to the bottom of Nr 5 Gulley, then followed the man made path up Ledge Route to the top - then we followed the rim round (past a few cairns)to the cairn and post at the top of Nr 4 Gulley.
Due to it being wet & slimy we judged it quicker (and safer) to ab down the initial rock section before continuing down the man made path back to the CIC hut an then joining the newley extended path back to the car park - wilderness experience ???????

Has the post been removed since last Sunday ?
What is the "justification" for this , and notification of it's removal ?

Wilderness experience on the Ben ? Aye right !

Have the ab posts into Coire Leis also been removed (they were there last weekend as well)
Robert Durran - on 11 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids:

You are missing the point. The abseil post was/is there entirely for the convenience and/or safety of mountaineers while actually in a mountaineering situation (some would call it dumbing down). Most of the other man made features you have mentioned are not; indeed most are there either through unplanned erosion (many paths)or for environmental reasons (the car-park and the Allt a'Mhuilllin path). The only possible exceptions are the cairns and the CIC hut and many make a case for their removal as well.
Pids - on 11 Nov 2011
In reply to Robert Durran:

So the environmental reason for having many miles of paths trump the conveinece of isolated ab post's ?
highclimber - on 11 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids: I was under the impression that it was being discussed by the John Muir Trust and that no decision had been made as to whether it was to be removed or not.

On that basis, are you SURE the post has been removed?
Pids - on 11 Nov 2011
In reply to highclimber:
> (In reply to Pids) I was under the impression that it was being discussed by the John Muir Trust and that no decision had been made as to whether it was to be removed or not.
>
> On that basis, are you SURE the post has been removed?

I thought the same as you, and had commented to the JMT about it's planned removal and I used the post last Sunday - however I read a blog post today advising it had been removed

Robert Durran - on 11 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> So the environmental reason for having many miles of paths trump the conveinece of isolated ab post's ?

No. You are now missing my point: by lumping all man made features together, you are not comparing like with like. The arguments for and against building a path up the Allt a'Mhuillin to stop the erosion of a wide boggy swamp is entirely separate from those for and against the abseil post.

highclimber - on 11 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids: http://www.jmt.org/news.asp?s=2&cat=Land&nid=JMT-N10598

They state it will be widely publicised if they are to remove it. if it has been I would be slightly annoyed if they didn't do what they said they would in this link
Pids - on 11 Nov 2011
In reply to Robert Durran:

I really "don't" get your point - the removal of an isolated post, which was on a cairn because it was a man made object seems at odd to me with man made paths to stop erosion - who is to say deem what man made aid's to hill walking / climbing / navigation are allowed then ?

Pids - on 11 Nov 2011
In reply to highclimber:
> (In reply to Pids) http://www.jmt.org/news.asp?s=2&cat=Land&nid=JMT-N10598
>
> They state it will be widely publicised if they are to remove it. if it has been I would be slightly annoyed if they didn't do what they said they would in this link

That was my point - miffed that it had been removed since I last used it last Sunday !
steev on 11 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids:

Can you link to the blog please?
Robert Durran - on 11 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> I really "don't" get your point.

My point is that it would be entirely reasonable to be in favour of the path for environmental reasons but against the abseil post because it dumbs down the mountaineering experience. It would equally be reasonable to be in favour of the abseil post for safety reasons but against the path because you consider it a worse scar on the landscape than the eroded swamp it is replacing. The two issues are not connected.
JamesRoddie - on 12 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids:

I was up there yesterday evening, and unless I'm being a complete and utter blind idiot, the No.4 gully post has indeed been removed. Who by and when I don't know.

If I did by some freak chance simply miss it then my apologies.

James
highclimber - on 12 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids: i'm still waiting for the OP to post the link to his source...
chiz - on 12 Nov 2011
In reply to highclimber: A Google search gives a blog from a day ago saying that the post has been removed...but the actual blog page has been removed:

'1 day ago ... The Number 4 Gully abseil post on Ben Nevis was there for a long time, and as a ... Personally, on balance I think I'm glad it has been removed. ...
http:// glencoemountaineer.blogspot.com/2011/11/some-thoughts-on-man-made-objects-in. html'

I think its Alex R's blog?
hexcentric - on 12 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids:
Removal of the 4 post is a petty and stupid thing.
highclimber - on 12 Nov 2011
In reply to hexcentric: I'm still sceptical as to the veracity of the claim. I guess I am in denial that JMT would allow such an action without consultation if that is the case
Fredt on 12 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids:

I thought only Mick Ryan could remove posts?
highclimber - on 12 Nov 2011
In reply to Fredt:
> (In reply to Pids)
>
> I thought only Mick Ryan could remove posts?

different website, innit! or is that what you mean?
JamesRoddie - on 12 Nov 2011
In reply to chiz:

The blog post was mine. I've now removed it until someone else on here can confirm that the post has indeed been removed and I wasn't just being a total idiot and walked straight past it.

I walked the entire length of the plateau from Castle Ridge to the summit, and even deliberately looked out for the post out of interest to see if it had been removed. If I was just being blind then i sincerely apologise, but I'm sticking with what I said - there was no post above number 4 gully on thursday evening.

James
chiz - on 12 Nov 2011
In reply to JamesRoddie: Thanks, that makes sense and I wondered if that might have been what happenned. Fair enough. I wonder if someone nicked it as a momento! (if it has indeed gone...)
Milesy - on 12 Nov 2011
Maybe someone has removed it on the old adage that it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.
Minneconjou Sioux - on 12 Nov 2011
In reply to highclimber:
> (In reply to hexcentric) I'm still sceptical as to the veracity of the claim. I guess I am in denial that JMT would allow such an action without consultation if that is the case

Why? In my view the JMT would be perfectly capable of such action.
Erik B - on 12 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids ROCKS: Signor Durran, I think you should also visit Madness in Glesga!
highclimber - on 12 Nov 2011
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux: i'm not denying their capability to it. i'm just concerned they would do it without telling anyone and why it wasn't (if it is true) a consulted decision.

I patiently await verification.
Robert Durran - on 12 Nov 2011
In reply to Erik B:
> (In reply to Pids ROCKS) Signor Durran, I think you should also visit Madness in Glesga!

Who/what is Madness and why should I visit him/her/it? Also, please explain the "ROCKS" bit - is this a climbing reference or yoof speak for "is cool". Also, why have I become Spanish? I am very confused.



smithaldo - on 12 Nov 2011
In reply to highclimber: if...... someone was deemed by a coroner to have died because of the post being removed, could the john muir trust be sued because of it?
george mc - on 12 Nov 2011
In reply to smithaldo:
> (In reply to highclimber) if...... someone was deemed by a coroner to have died because of the post being removed, could the john muir trust be sued because of it?

No. They should be able to navigate and not reliy on markers.

To prove liability you have to prove the JMT owed a Duty of Care to the individual involved. I think that would be hard to do. Afterall we all go into the mountains of our own free will - and accept the inherent risks in mountaineering and consequences of our actions.
petestack - on 12 Nov 2011
In reply to smithaldo:

Doubt it (no coroners in Scotland)!
highclimber - on 12 Nov 2011
In reply to smithaldo: I think you are getting ahead of the situation. it has yet to be proven fact that it has been removed.
george mc - on 12 Nov 2011
In reply to smithaldo:
> (In reply to highclimber) if...... someone was deemed by a coroner to have died because of the post being removed, could the john muir trust be sued because of it?

If you bought a set of crampons from a manufacturer, fitted them to your boots and then you slipped and took a tumble down the Ben could the manufacturer be sued?
ads.ukclimbing.com
highclimber - on 12 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids: The longer this thread goes on without concrete evidence, the more I am begginning to think it's a very well executed Troll.
george mc - on 12 Nov 2011
In reply to highclimber:
> (In reply to smithaldo) I think you are getting ahead of the situation. it has yet to be proven fact that it has been removed.

Yup - good point. It's all speculation and what if until it has been confirmed it's gone.
Milesy - on 12 Nov 2011
In reply to george mc:

Right I admit it.. I took it. I am sitting with it in my living room just now. I am using it as a drinking horn.
Minneconjou Sioux - on 12 Nov 2011
In reply to Milesy:
> (In reply to george mc)
>
> Right I admit it.. I took it. I am sitting with it in my living room just now. I am using it as a drinking horn.

Joking aside, it would be a fairly "interesting" trophy to have in your living room (or anywhere else). You might need to be careful who you invite round for dinner ;-)
Jerry67 - on 12 Nov 2011
In reply to Milesy: No, I have it. It has been conveyed south of the border - bit like the Coronation Stone.
Jerry
Simon Caldwell - on 12 Nov 2011
In reply to highclimber:
If it has been removed, I'd be astonished if it was done by the JMT - apart from anything else, they'd have too much to lose by going back on their undertaking.
Pids - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to JamesRoddie:
> (In reply to chiz)
>
> The blog post was mine. I've now removed it until someone else on here can confirm that the post has indeed been removed and I wasn't just being a total idiot and walked straight past it.
>
> I walked the entire length of the plateau from Castle Ridge to the summit, and even deliberately looked out for the post out of interest to see if it had been removed. If I was just being blind then i sincerely apologise, but I'm sticking with what I said - there was no post above number 4 gully on thursday evening.
>
> James

Thanks, didn't want to "name and shame" as the source as some people were requesting - it was indeed your blog that I had read and commented upon - good blog, keep it up

The post was def there last Sunday but may have been removed by the Thursday - all rather strange, and doubt it was to provide a nice souvenier for someone
Michael Gordon - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Pids)
> [...]
>
> My point is that it would be entirely reasonable to be in favour of the path for environmental reasons but against the abseil post because it dumbs down the mountaineering experience. It would equally be reasonable to be in favour of the abseil post for safety reasons but against the path because you consider it a worse scar on the landscape than the eroded swamp it is replacing. The two issues are not connected.

As you point out, posts, paths, huts, shelters etc can have a variety of issues associated with them - some positive, some negative. In order to make any sort of balanced decision therefore, one has to decide which issues outweigh the others. Surely you can see that?!

In this case the usefulness of the post to climbers outweighed its meigre environmental effects which were in any case completely dwarfed by the far greater eyesores of eroded paths, huts etc.
Minneconjou Sioux - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids:
> (In reply to JamesRoddie)
> [...]
>
> > The post was def there last Sunday but may have been removed by the Thursday - all rather strange, and doubt it was to provide a nice souvenier for someone

FFS, can someone go and check?
dek - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids:
> (In reply to JamesRoddie)

>
> The post was def there last Sunday but may have been removed by the Thursday - all rather strange, and doubt it was to provide a nice souvenier for someone

Is there such a creature as a 'High altitude Pikey'? Aluminum wasnt it..check local scrappies yards. ;-)
Scott Kirkhope - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to dek: I've been up today and as James said in his blog, it has been removed. There'll be photos on my blog in a bit.
Lamb - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to Scott Kirkhope: Oooft! Let the rabble to come below commence!
Sounds like a farce indeed however, no need for them to be removed.
JamesRoddie - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to Scott Kirkhope:

Cheers for the confirmation, glad to know I didn't just walk past it!

James
Scott Kirkhope - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to Scott Kirkhope: Photo up now.
James Edwards - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to Scott Kirkhope: Have you got any better photos perhaps closer to the gully head where the pole should be as that photo is the wrong place.
Is this all an elaborate wind up?
James e
Scott Kirkhope - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to James Edwards: Yes I have a photo that shows the top of the gully but I promise you, that photo is in the right place.
James Edwards - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to Scott Kirkhope: Could you please put it on the internet to clear the doubt. Infact probably best to put lots on so stage 2 can be moved onto. A movie sweeping the area would be best if you have such a thing.
James e
Scott Kirkhope - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to James Edwards: I have loaded the photo onto UKC, which will no doubt take some time. In the mean time I find it quite insulting that you would not believe my post. What do I or James Roddie have to gain from making up such a lie?
Lamb - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to James Edwards: Can we send up a full IMAX film team tonight for a screening tomorrow evening please?

FFS, they are clearly gone.
creag - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids:
Hey, there not gone, the've been tossed into the gully!!!! Well done the pro removal people, now number 4 gully is a tip. photos to come....
creag - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to creag:
Along with the 2 bags of cement I may add...
James Edwards - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to Scott Kirkhope:
I'm sorry that I have put your knickers in a twist. It could be that I am more focused on something more important than you feelings.
I look forward to seeing your photos in due course.
James e
highclimber - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to creag: There's only one

however, if this is true, I doubt JMT will replace it.
Scott Kirkhope - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to James Edwards: yhm
thegoatstroker - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to James Edwards: It's nice to be important but it's more important to be nice! :)
creag - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to highclimber: there was 2 clear polythene bags today.... like I say, photos to follow soon
James Edwards - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to Scott Kirkhope:
I am a fool for doubting you. It is probably a combination of my short sightedness, my very short stature and the fact that i am often obviously climbing too slowly to get to the top of number four in daylight and or good weather so i didn't recognize your image.
Mea maxima culpa; am i forgiven? If so can we move onto the who, what, when and why as we now obviously know the where.

James e
Scott Kirkhope - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to James Edwards: Enough said. I'm sure once this filters down to the JMT or MCofS you'll start to get some answers. Or if more photos come as someone else has promised then matbe we'll have a quicker answer.
Robert Durran - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to Michael Gordon:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
> As you point out, posts, paths, huts, shelters etc can have a variety of issues associated with them - some positive, some negative. In order to make any sort of balanced decision therefore, one has to decide which issues outweigh the others. Surely you can see that?!

And that is exactly my point (assuming you decide which issues outweigh the others for an individual man made item). The OP made the mistake of lumping everything together and assuming because some man-made things were accepted, the abseil post should also be accepted (without considering the particular issues pertaining to it)

> In this case the usefulness of the post to climbers outweighed its meigre environmental effects which were in any case completely dwarfed by the far greater eyesores of eroded paths, huts etc.

In your opinion! You have made the same mistake as the OP which I pointed out above. You have also failed to mention the other (for some the overriding) issue - that it might be considered an unacceptable dumbing down of the mountaineering experience.

Paul035 - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to Robert Durran:

Aye very good. Go on then, justify the hut by your 'dumbing down the mountaineering experience'.

Its 1.5 hours walk from the car park, there is no justification for it whatsoever. Anyone that can't be bothered walking that distance shouldn't bother climbing on the Ben.

It seems quite a bizarre argument to want rid of a small marker post which has the potential to save lives (dumbing down the experience for others if you prefer), completely ignoring the big hotel half way up the hill which serves no purpose other than to save some folk a walk.

ads.ukclimbing.com
Robert Durran - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to Paul035:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> Aye very good. Go on then, justify the hut by your 'dumbing down the mountaineering experience'.
> It seems quite a bizarre argument to want rid of a small marker post which has the potential to save lives (dumbing down the experience for others if you prefer), completely ignoring the big hotel half way up the hill which serves no purpose other than to save some folk a walk.

I have not expressed any of my own views in this thread, so I am not quite sure why you are having a go at me for what you have for some reason assumed are my views. I have merely criticised the reasoning by which the OP seems to have arrived at his view that the post should stay.
Minneconjou Sioux - on 13 Nov 2011
In reply to Robert Durran:
> You have made the same mistake as the OP which I pointed out above. You have also failed to mention the other (for some the overriding) issue - that it might be considered an unacceptable dumbing down of the mountaineering experience.

I fully realise that there will be some whose opinion will differ from mine but the idea that a metal post on a mountain already so riddled with human influence could possibly "dumb down the mountain experience" is simply bizzarre.

I can concede that I would prefer these things were never there in the first place but once in place, and for so long, it defies belief that they should be removed in order to meet someone elses view of what constitutes self reliance.
Robert Durran - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
> The idea that a metal post on a mountain already so riddled with human influence could possibly "dumb down the mountain experience" is simply bizzarre.

I used the word "mountaineering", not "mountain". I think there is s significant difference. I think you could argue that a 100ft sculpture of Mickey Mouse by the summit cairn might dumb down the mountain experience (aesthetic) without dumbing down the mountaineering experience (self reliance). Once you justify the post on the grounds that other man made structures exist, I think you are on a slippery slope. The OP's citing of the car park is ludicrous; in that case you could use the existence of car parks to justify just about anything in the mountains.

> I can concede that I would prefer these things were never there in the first place but once in place, and for so long, it defies belief that they should be removed in order to meet someone elses view of what constitutes self reliance.

I really don't buy this argument. So, even if there was an overwhelming concensus that the post should not be there, this should be overriden by the fact that it has already been there for some time? Again, such arguments could lead to all sorts of absurdities.

Paul035 - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Robert Durran:

I wasn't having a go at you Robert, merely the argument you are putting forward. I just don't understand the line of reasoning regarding the marker post when surely under the 'dumbing down' argument the Hut, for example, would be a much more obvious feature which detracts from the 'wilderness experience'.

For what its worth, I agree with the ethos of keeping the mountains in their natural state as much as possible, but I feel the Ben is unique and is possibly an exception to this. There does seem to be quite a degree of double standards in general regarding the removal of the marker post and retention of other man made structures.
Robert Durran - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Paul035:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> I wasn't having a go at you Robert, merely the argument you are putting forward. I just don't understand the line of reasoning regarding the marker post when surely under the 'dumbing down' argument the Hut, for example, would be a much more obvious feature which detracts from the 'wilderness experience'.

This is a perfectly valid point if one is arguing from the perspective of maintaining a wilderness experience. However, I think it would be possible to argue for the removal of the post on the grounds that it dumbs down the mountaineering experience (nothing to do with "wilderness"), while accepting the hut since it lies below the level where the mountaineering actually starts.

> I agree with the ethos of keeping the mountains in their natural state as much as possible, but I feel the Ben is unique and is possibly an exception to this.

Why should it be an exception?
Hardonicus - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Robert Durran:

Ok, why remove the post and keep the summit shelter?
Minneconjou Sioux - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Minneconjou Sioux)
> [...]
>
> I used the word "mountaineering", not "mountain". I think there is s significant difference.

This makes even less sense. If you simply want to preserve the mountaineering experience then don't use the post.

> I really don't buy this argument. So, even if there was an overwhelming concensus that the post should not be there, this should be overriden by the fact that it has already been there for some time? Again, such arguments could lead to all sorts of absurdities.

But there isn't an overwhelming concensus, which makes the removal even more annoying. It becomes an imposition of will. When the post was there you could elect not to use it in order to enhance "your mountaineering experience", now it has gone no one has the choice.
Calum Nicoll - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids: I love how arguments in favour of bolting are now being used to try to keep a post.

Minneconjou Sioux - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Calum Nicoll:
> (In reply to Pids) I love how arguments in favour of bolting are now being used to try to keep a post.

Escape Route!
A quick descent is also possible via No. 4 Gully. Head carefully along the rim in a generally NNE direction until you reach the next big gully, No.4, which is marked by a metal post with the number 4 in it. The descent of No. 4 is steep at first and it's best to face in to down-climb. However, it soon eases off and leads back to Coire na Ciste. Descend to the CIC hut and walk back along the Allt a Mhuilinn.


Not really the same argument now, is it?
Richard Baynes - on 14 Nov 2011
I was talkimg to JMT last week about the Ben for work reasons and they were still discussing the No 4 post. It wasn't them that's done it, I'd stake my life on it, because they're still committed to consultation. Someone has taken the law into their own hands. The question is whether we can get the post back?

R
victorclimber - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids: havent climbed on the Ben for ages but forget its the Ben ,how would you feel if I objected to the post and removed it,as I think would be my right if I felt stongly enough about it ,Which by the way I dont....just a thought
Denni on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:

Having only used it as an "escape" route a couple of times, I was glad to see the wee post when I did! (after digging about in the snow that is)

PS, hopefully heading to Canmore soon, will drop you a line if/when I manage if you fancy a climb?
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:
>
> Escape Route!
> A quick descent is also possible via No. 4 Gully. Head carefully along the rim in a generally NNE direction until you reach the next big gully, No.4, which is marked by a metal post with the number 4 in it. The descent of No. 4 is steep at first and it's best to face in to down-climb. However, it soon eases off and leads back to Coire na Ciste. Descend to the CIC hut and walk back along the Allt a Mhuilinn.
>
>
> Not really the same argument now, is it?


No! http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=186137


Chris

Robert Durran - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Hardonicus:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> Ok, why remove the post and keep the summit shelter?

Why indeed? It would be logically consistent to be in favour either of retaining or removing both.

Jamie B - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Richard Baynes:

> The question is whether we can get the post back?

An equally pertinent question is should we? While I am no supporter of unilateral action, and didn't feel that the post was in any way that big a deal, to re-instate something which was barely neccessary would feel like a retrograde step to me.

Maybe we should ask what the reaction would be if someone proposed a similar anchor at the top of Easy Gully on Aonach Mor? The marker's only real defence was historical precedent and tradition. Now that has gone we should perhaps just move on.

If one or two people opt not to descend without it and instead choose an inherently safer way down would that be a bad thing?

Robert Durran - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
> This makes even less sense. If you simply want to preserve the mountaineering experience then don't use the post.

Yes, and we could bolt every route in the country, but retain the trad ethic (for those who wish tom do so) by not clipping them. The argument is equivalent and equally absurd.

> But there isn't an overwhelming concensus, which makes the removal even more annoying.

I never said there was. I was putting forward a hypothetical scenario.

MG - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Chris Craggs: Why is that picture not in the No 4 Gully collection, or in Creag's collection? And why when I click the No 4 Gully link under the picture, does it take me to No 3 Gully?!
Robert Durran - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Chris Craggs:

Presumably all those people who were in favour of retaining the post because it was already there, will, in the interests of logical consistency, now be in favour of not replacing it because it is not there.
rogerwebb - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Robert Durran:

Please define 'dumb down the mountaineering experience' So far I have assumed you mean something like 'make mountaineering less reliant on personal skills'.
Robert Durran - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to rogerwebb:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> Please define 'dumb down the mountaineering experience' So far I have assumed you mean something like 'make mountaineering less reliant on personal skills'.

That seems a very good definition to me.

Coire Bog on 14 Nov 2011 - cnag4.gotadsl.co.uk
In reply to Pids:

What is the opinion of LMRT on this? Their opinion counts a lot more than people further away from the situation.
GrahamD - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:

> Escape Route!

Escape route ? why not do what thousands of hill walkers do and just walk down the path ?
In reply to MG:

It is in Creag's Gallery - I just moderated it and flagged it up. I assume it links to No 3 Gully because he filled in the wrong route when submitting the shot?


Chris
MG - on 14 Nov 2011
Does anyone know when and why this was put there in the first place?

Rory@JohnMuirTrust on 14 Nov 2011 - 82-70-193-166.dsl.in-addr.zen.co.uk
In reply to Pids:

Hi, for now I just want to state that the John Muir Trust wasnít behind this action. This is an act of vandalism which we condemn in the strongest possible terms.

We were, as mentioned above, in the middle of a consultation process regarding the No 4 Gully Marker and the abseil posts in Coire Leis.

Whatever work was agreed was to take place next summer, after everyone with an interest had been given a chance to express their views.

Itís a shame someone has decided to take matters into their own hands.

Rory, John Muir Trust
rogerwebb - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Robert Durran:

With that definition then the post certainly 'dumbed down the emountaineering experience', but what bothers me about this concept is where does one start and finish? Guide books, mobile phones and gps certainly 'dumb down' the experience far more than that post ever did.

Would my experience be dumber if I used a guide book but not the No4 marker post, or if I use the marker post but not the guide book?

Personally I think it is a pity the post has gone, I felt it enriched my 'mountaineering experience' imagining the generations before that had struggled to find it and the epics that it had witnessed. It was to me part of the cultural history of climbing in Scotland and it did no harm.

Has anyone really had their day ruined by finding that post?

Sir Chasm - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to rogerwebb: Are your guidebook, phone and gps available for everyone to use?
A9 - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to rogerwebb:

Agreed.

Irrespective of yr take on "wilderness experience" the marker is a major feature in just about every guidebook out there (iconic in the perroux guide). Its been a bit of the ben nevis landscape for donkeys years. Guaranteed some of our seasonal visitors will be looking for that flag in a hoolie this winter . .
creag - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to A9:
Is it me or are people missing the point here. I'm dismayed that due to the issue being raised by JMT and others, the action taken by some 'climbers' has resulted in the removal of the post, which now lies discarded in the gully itself.
Who is going to accept the responsibility of getting rid of this now? Is it those who wanted the removal so vigorously in this forum? I doubt it... they can just sit back and claim that they were not responsible for what amounts to vandalism and littering!
Go on, do the right thing.. you got what you wanted, so get up the hill and take it down
Rampikino - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to creag:

Agreed. No matter what your views on whether it should or should not be there in the first place (and I'm ambiguous on this one) if you are going to chop it down in protest then at least remove the bloomin thing and demonstrate that you actually do care about the mountain.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Coire Bog on 14 Nov 2011 - cnag4.gotadsl.co.uk
In reply to rogerwebb:

Agreed, I don't want an empty Highlands which is a museum to some point in time decided by some body somewhere. Not suggesting that the marker is related to that but I certainly don't want to strengthen that view.

Personally I think the MRT should have the final word. Clearly the JMT have been taking account of views and some idiot has thrown the pole down the gully. Who?
CurlyStevo - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to GrahamD:
I for one have been happy to find the number 4 gully post when navigating off the Ben in windy whiteout rapidly darkening conditions. I guess we'd have been OK without it but the geography on top of the Ben is quite complex to navigate safely in these conditions.
MG - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Coire Bog:
> Personally I think the MRT should have the final word.

Certainly they may have a point of view but why should it be a dominant one?
rogerwebb - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Sir Chasm:

No, and?
Robert Durran - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to rogerwebb:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> Guide books, mobile phones and gps certainly 'dumb down' the experience far more than that post ever did.

Maybe so, but it is your choice to carry these things. If you thought you were at the top of Number 3 gully and stumbled across the post, you would be hard-pressed to make the choice to ignore it!
>
> Would my experience be dumber if I used a guide book but not the No4 marker post, or if I use the marker post but not the guide book?

I think that is for you to decide!
>
> It was to me part of the cultural history of climbing in Scotland and it did no harm.

A fair enough viewpoint.

> Has anyone really had their day ruined by finding that post?

I doubt it. Mine certainly hasn't. I have more of a problem with it while sitting at home considering the principle of it.

Robert Durran - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Coire Bog:
> (In reply to rogerwebb)
>
> Agreed, I don't want an empty Highlands which is a museum to some point in time decided by some body somewhere.

Given Roger's point, aren';t you contradicting yourself here?
In reply to creag: I doubt we'll ever find out who dunnit. But loads of people climb the Ben - and most of them will never have heard of the JMT, or even UKC, and won't have been party to any debate about the post. I wouldn't discount the possibility that this has nothing to do with the consultation started by the JMT at all - it could just be a coincidence. Maybe random vandals chucked it down the gully?
Robert Durran - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Coire Bog:
> (In reply to rogerwebb)
> Personally I think the MRT should have the final word.

I think this would set a dodgy precedent. I can think of all sorts of things which could be added to the mountains to reduce accidents and therefore give the MRT an easier time. Perhaps a big fence all the way along ther edge of the plateau in all major climbing areas for starters.
Coire Bog on 14 Nov 2011 - cnag4.gotadsl.co.uk
In reply to MG:

For fairly obvious reasons I can't be bothered to type out.
creag - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com:
Dan, forgive me if I upset you but seriously??? Don't be so naive! that post has existed there for as long as I can remember and I've been climbing on the Ben all my life. The amount of effort involved in its removal and subsequent cairn rebuild job that has taken place is not an act of random vandalism. Coincidence.... doubtful.
creag - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Robert Durran: What, like the one on Aonach Mor??
Coire Bog on 14 Nov 2011 - cnag4.gotadsl.co.uk
In reply to Robert Durran:

I think your last post is example of why forums are often rubbish as they provide the opportunity to publish rubbish.

The point I am making is that I think more weight should be given to the thoughts of an MRT than people posting on an internet forum.
Simon Caldwell - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to CurlyStevo:
> I for one have been happy to find the number 4 gully post when navigating off the Ben in windy whiteout rapidly darkening conditions.

Same here.
Which isn't an argument for keeping it of course, but an argument for widespread publicity prior to any removal, and probably signposts at the main car parks. Anyone assuming it is still there could get themselves into serious difficulty looking for it.
Sadly it's now too late for this to happen before the winter season starts.
In reply to creag: Upset, who me?
Robert Durran - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to creag:
> (In reply to Robert Durran) What, like the one on Aonach Mor??

Not really. That was put there to stop skiers falling over the edge. There is no tradition of downhill skiers relying on personal navigational skills for their safety.

creag - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Robert Durran:
Piste map???
Robert Durran - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Coire Bog:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> I think your last post is example of why forums are often rubbish as they provide the opportunity to publish rubbish.

I was merely rubbishing your opinion!

> The point I am making is that I think more weight should be given to the thoughts of a MRT than people posting on an internet forum.

Well that is different to saying the MRT should have the final say (which is what you said earlier.) Now that you have changed/clarified your opinion, we are in agreement.

CurlyStevo - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com:
it was kind of these 'vandals' to bag up the cement.
MG - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Coire Bog:
> The point I am making is that I think more weight should be given to the thoughts of an MRT than people posting on an internet forum.


But you can't be bothered to say why. I can't think why MRT would be too concerned one way or the other whether the post exists. However, if they have a view then it should be heard but not allowed to dominate. Given that those posting on this forum are a broad cross-section of those who are likely to use a post if it exists then I would say more weight should be given to any concensus here, if one arises.
creag - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to MG:
Being a member of said MRT, not sure it makes any difference to us. Has been a useful marker in the past but remember there are many gully's out there without markers.
My feeling is it was there doing no harm to anyone so why remove it? Its part of the mountains history as is all the other man made features on the mountain. Now gone, I don't particularly want it put back, what I would like is for it to now not be litter...
rogerwebb - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to rogerwebb)
> [...]
>
> Maybe so, but it is your choice to carry these things. If you thought you were at the top of Number 3 gully and stumbled across the post, you would be hard-pressed to make the choice to ignore it!
> [...]
>
Choices, choices, I'm pretty sure most are hard-pressed to ignore mobiles gps and guides (or indeed maps) but you are correct, that post left you no choice except to see it, but did it really do harm?

> I think that is for you to decide!
>
Actually I think that one has an objective answer. The post did a lot less dumbing than a guidebook!
>
> I doubt it. Mine certainly hasn't. I have more of a problem with it while sitting at home considering the principle of it.

You clearly have too much time on your hands :)!



Robert Durran - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to rogerwebb:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
> [...]
> Choices, choices, I'm pretty sure most are hard-pressed to ignore mobiles gps and guides (or indeed maps) but you are correct, that post left you no choice except to see it.

As it happens, I managed to ignore the existence of mobile phones for many years but have now succumbed. I am still succesfuly ignoring the existence of GPS on ideological grounds and hope that I shall continue to do so for ever (or until I walk over a cornice.....).

> You clearly have too much time on your hands :)!

Maybe so, but I do think about these things because the mountains mean a lot to me!

GrahamD - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to CurlyStevo:
> (In reply to GrahamD)
> I for one have been happy to find the number 4 gully post when navigating off the Ben in windy whiteout rapidly darkening conditions. I guess we'd have been OK without it but the geography on top of the Ben is quite complex to navigate safely in these conditions.

So have I - but before I knew it existed, navigating down the main 'tourist' path was no harder than navigating to the top of Number 4.

Obviously the walk off is a little more inconvenient (is this the reason for the protestation ?) but to say that the main route off the top is hard for climbers to find and that the removal of the gulley marker is somehow dangerous is absurd.

highclimber - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to GrahamD:
> (In reply to CurlyStevo)
> [...]
>
> So have I - but before I knew it existed, navigating down the main 'tourist' path was no harder than navigating to the top of Number 4.
>
> Obviously the walk off is a little more inconvenient (is this the reason for the protestation ?) but to say that the main route off the top is hard for climbers to find and that the removal of the gulley marker is somehow dangerous is absurd.


the removal of the post in this instance is dangerous. there are people out there who still think that its there and when they don't find it could easily think they're navigation is off and get lost.
Toby S - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to creag:

I'm not really fussed one way or the other about the whether the post should be there or not. However I completely agree that this is a fairly shocking act of littering. Whoever did it needs their arses kicked.

Anyone got any idea how easy it would be to retrieve and carry off the hill? I'm assuming its going to a fair weight.
creag - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to GrahamD:
Quote from JMT - 'Whatever work was agreed was to take place next summer, after everyone with an interest had been given a chance to express their views.

It's a shame someone has decided to take matters into their own hands.'

I think they should accept more responsibility other than it's a shame. What has happened must in part be as a direct response to their discussions on this matter.

If it was discussed to install a via ferrata over the gap in tower ridge and someone went up and put in in without their blessing, would that be a shame? I think not.

Robert Durran - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Toby S:
> Anyone got any idea how easy it would be to retrieve and carry off the hill? I'm assuming its going to a fair weight.

It should probably be put back in place at the top of the gully until a "proper" process by some sort of concensus has determined whether it should be permanently removed or not. The obvious people to put it back up would be those who threw it down the gully!

BruceM - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids:
I walked past #4 Gully last night (Sunday 13 Nov) on the way to the Ledge Route and was shocked to see that marker completely gone. It was there last Sunday when I last passed.

The remaining cairn/rubble is still there, but isnít very prominent and will easily be covered by the winter snow.

Given that the removal seems to be through vandalism (going by that photo linked above) rather than an intentional removal, hopefully the marker will be replaced. I know that area of the hill pretty well, but always welcome confirmation of #4 by the marker in the usual winter blizzards.

There must be countless lives saved by that marker over the years.

If however itís been decided by someone mighty that itís not to be replaced, Iíd suggest everybody passing chuck a rock on the pile to make a huge fóof a cairn before the snows hit, so that there is some kind of marker knob.
creag - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Toby S:
Its pretty heavy and would probably either need dragged to the top and walked off by at least 2 people as taking it down would be a nightmare. (its about 30m down the gully at the moment)I would like to see the lumps of concrete broken up and removed, as I would imagine if this was to be done properly the concrete would be taken away at the same time.
highclimber - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to creag:
> (In reply to Toby S)
> Its pretty heavy and would probably either need dragged to the top and walked off by at least 2 people as taking it down would be a nightmare. (its about 30m down the gully at the moment)I would like to see the lumps of concrete broken up and removed, as I would imagine if this was to be done properly the concrete would be taken away at the same time.

helicopter might be a more feasible and sensible Idea.
ads.ukclimbing.com
AlH - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids: Right, I'm at the halfway lochain on the way down off of the Ben having been up for a look and seen the post lying 30 m down No. 4 Gully.
I've put it back. I'll post my reasons in full later but they have more to do with a disapproval of what I feel are the arrogant and selfish acts of some few individuals than for any great desire for the post to be there. I have returned things to the long existing status quo and would ask that anyone with strong feelings on the matter get involved in the consultation process.
Al (pulls on tin hat and ducks into his trench)
Robert Durran - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to creag:
>What has happened must in part be as a direct response to their discussions on this matter.

Not necessarily. And even if it is, are you suggesting that it should not be discussed? Maybe no-one should discuss crime either in case it gives potential criminals ideas!
creag - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to highclimber:
I like the idea of putting it back until due process has taken place. But, I think it's doomed to just be removed again. Whoever ripped it out this time clearly put a lot of effort into it and I suspect it wasn't just someone passing. If they were determined the first time, my guess is they'll just do it again, sadly.

Maybe JMT should have had a closed consultation with those affected by its presence (MRT, MC of S, guides etc) and made a decision, then a statement, then removal. Open debate creates these kind of knee jerk reactions.
Toby S - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to AlH:

Good effort! Did you really manage to get it back up on to the plateau?
Robert Durran - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to BruceM:
>
> There must be countless lives saved by that marker over the years.

I think that is highly debatable. It is possible to make a case for the post contributing to accidents (people looking for it near the cornice edge rather than marching safely off towards the Red Burn.
Robert Durran - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to creag:
> Maybe JMT should have had a closed consultation with those affected by its presence (MRT, MC of S, guides etc).

What an absolutely appalling idea! What about ordinary climbers - their view should be paramount.
rogerwebb - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to rogerwebb)
> [...]
>
> As it happens, I managed to ignore the existence of mobile phones for many years but have now succumbed. I am still succesfuly ignoring the existence of GPS on ideological grounds and hope that I shall continue to do so for ever (or until I walk over a cornice.....).
>
I am impressed (truly). I can't ignore mobiles because of work but succumbed to gps through lack of moral fibre.


Robert Durran - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to AlH:
> I've put it back.

Well done.
victorclimber - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to creag: i dont remember it being there in the early 60,s we always used to walk off down the path,I reckon the hut users use it more than most ,quick way back to the hut.more days on routes ..
creag - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Robert Durran:
Not necessarily?
So, because there is a small likelihood that by discussing this, a potential reaction like this could occur we should just carry on regardless? If you do carry on, with that in mind they should accept some responsibility, thats all.
creag - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Robert Durran: ok, invite every climber to a closed consultation, you organise it, well come along
creag - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Robert Durran:
Oh, and you'll find some ordinary climber in these groups strangely enough.
sheeny - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to AlH: well done, instead of pontificating about the evils of it,a man of action not words
Milesy - on 14 Nov 2011
I think who ever removed are very selfish invividuals. Regardless of whether it should have been there or not the decision should have been made from the consultation of the various parties involved. I really hope it was not a climber who done it because if I seen a climber desecrating The Ben by tossing stuff down the face I would have personally kicked them right up back side.
Jim Hamilton - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to BruceM)
> [...]
>
> I think that is highly debatable. It is possible to make a case for the post contributing to accidents (people looking for it near the cornice edge rather than marching safely off towards the Red Burn.

as happened last winter when a party got very cold spending half the night trying and failing to find both the ab posts and 4 gully post, before eventually getting down Red Burn
BruceM - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to AlH:

Good man! Strong man.
BruceM - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Jim Hamilton:
Of course. But you canít blame the presence of the marker for peopleís decision making abilities/processes. Iím thinking more of people identifying the correct gully, and not disappearing down one of the others nearby, or just over the edge of the cliff. Most people who know about #4 would also know that if they canít find it, the backup is right behind them down the red burn.
Simon Caldwell - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to locals:

Has anyone had a look to see if the Coire Leis abseil sign is still there?
BruceM - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Toreador:
Walked past that last night too. (Was a long day). That was before I saw #4 so wasn't concentrating too much.

There certainly was one of the alloy poles lying snapped off on the pile of rubble at the top. And I'm PRETTY sure, no sign.

But I'm search my aging short term memory for that. I remember thinking it strange that the broken off post was lying there. It's only now you mention it I can't remember seeing the actual sign.
GrahamD - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to highclimber:

> the removal of the post in this instance is dangerous. there are people out there who still think that its there and when they don't find it could easily think they're navigation is off and get lost.

That is a weak argument. Anyone on Ben Nevis, especially in winter, should have the capability to walk off it.

highclimber - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to GrahamD: this statement assumes everyone on the ben in bad visability can navigate off there which, again, is a dangerous supposition.
MG - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to highclimber:
> (In reply to GrahamD) this statement assumes everyone on the ben in bad visability can navigate off there which, again, is a dangerous supposition.

There is already a line of huge cairns from the summit to half way down for those who can't. The No 4 post is/was simply there for the conveniance of those who wanted quick way down to the CIC hut vicinity. If you are planning on downclimbing a grade 1 climb, using a compass shouldn't be a problem.

GrahamD - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to highclimber:

If you can navigate to number 4 gulley without falling down any of the other gulleys, navigating down the tourist path should be a doddle. The point, I suspect, is that its not quite such a convenient way down rather than it being about safety.

It will be interesting to hear what the proper review concludes.
Robert Durran - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to BruceM:
> Most people who know about #4 would also know that if they canít find it, the backup is right behind them down the red burn.

I think the point is that trying to find it in the first place (because the post is there) might constitute a danger.
Rory@JohnMuirTrust on 14 Nov 2011 - 82-70-193-166.dsl.in-addr.zen.co.uk
In reply to Pids: After hearing from the MCofS and others, and following this weekend's events, we've now opened up the consultation to general views.

We are proposing to:

Remove the top abseil post at the top of Coire Leis and replace it with a cairn at the best point for making a descent from Ben Nevis.

Retain the Number 4 Gully marker.

Comments from anyone with an interest are welcomed, details of how to do so are now on our website.

http://www.jmt.org/news.asp?s=2&nid=JMT-N10612
Robert Durran - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to creag:
> (In reply to Robert Durran) ok, invite every climber to a closed consultation, you organise it, well come along.

Surely if every climber were invited, it would not, by definition, be a closed consultation!

I agree it is impossible in practice to get a true concensus. At least if the meeting were open, it would be an improvement on a closed meeting. Even better if the organisations you named could also be trusted to canvas and represent the views of of "ordinary" climbers (maybe they can).

creag - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Robert Durran:
I don't know the answer Robert. I just know lots of opinions usually lead to no concensus at all. Some strong leadership is usually the way to get things done.
I'm in the camp of it's there so just leave it. I can get my 'wilderness experience' elsewhere!
I propose we change the name of Number 4 Gully to 'Devision Gully'. anyone got any other suggestions for names?
AlH - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids: FWIW my opinion along with details of me replacing the post in the cairn and pictures are on my blog. http://alanhalewood.blogspot.com/
MG - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to AlH: I like the jaunty angle it is now at!
stevev on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids: is it a marker post or an abseil post. It doesn't seem too secure to abseil off.
AlH - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to MG: Can't take credit for that.... its the bend that makes is look crooked!
AlH - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to stevev: It marks the gully and is primarily there to indicate where you are. However in winter it is frequently used as an abseil/other anchor. I can't recommend that personally having just rebuilt the cairn though!
Al
stevev on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to AlH:
I can't recommend that personally having just rebuilt the cairn though!
> Al
Maybe it would be safer to stick a bolt there and a proper abseil chain. saves someone getting injured and claiming off the owners. A small bolt, what harm could that do?

AlH - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to stevev: LOL (I'm assuming that was a wee joke). If there is enough snow to need to ab off then you can cut a bollard and it sees so much traffic that there is usually a slot cut and a massive set of bucket steps down the gully.
craig.coid - on 14 Nov 2011
Wow, what a lot of typing for something that is hardly earth shatteringly important! Syria, Afghanistan, Tibet...they all seem to generate less typing than this!
highclimber - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to craig.coid: That's because they aren't as contentious as this subject!
AlH - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to craig.coid: Storm in a virtual teacup.... soon blow over.
highclimber - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to AlH:
> (In reply to craig.coid) Storm in a virtual teacup.... soon blow over.

maybe that's what cause it to happen. we are assuming that it was a person when it could have just as easily been a virtual storm!
stevev on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to highclimber:
Maybe someone was using it to abseil off and it came loose. Did anyone check for a rope and body further down the gully?
AlH - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to stevev: Could see a good way down and nothing visible. The cairn also looked like it might have been put back together after the post was removed. It didn't look just pulled apart.
Jamie B - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to AlH:

Nice one. Despite my non-committal earlier post this was clearly the Right Thing to Do.

So what does no.4 look like as a snow-free descent?
AlH - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Jamie Bankhead: Photo on my blog of upper section.... , predictably minging but doable. I used the post to dig into the mush to get out.
hexcentric - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to AlH:

Alan Halewood, you are my hero!
AlH - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to hexcentric: Don't think I'd have been anyone's hero when I swore falling on my a@*e in the gully or dropped a rock from the cairn on my foot ;-)
Toby S - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to AlH:

Somebody buy that man a pint too. Sounds like you've earned it!
Sean Kelly - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids: This marker post is an important part of Ben Nevis's history, and I have been very relieved to come across it when trying to descend from the summit in adverse winter weather. If you have not been in this situation then it is not so easy to understand the concern that climbers express about it's removal. As someone who has been down 5 Finger Gully a couple of times and lost a climbing partner descending down towards the 'abseil posts', I fully applaud what Alan has done. As for the vandals, I have only utter comtempt at their irrresponsible behaviour! There are much more serious 'litter' problems on the Ben than this.
Toby S - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Sean Kelly:

Just out of curiosity how long has the marker been there and who put it there?
Paul035 - on 14 Nov 2011


Not only did this story make headlines in the Caledonian Mercury, it has also attracted publicity in lesser known media sources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-15719755

Well done Alan, it was good of you.
Richard Bentley - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Toby S:

The first post was made by Lochaber High School in the late 60's and placed there at the request of the local Police. It was then replaced a few years later, (which is I believe the present post), by some members of Lochaber MRT.
Robert Durran - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Sean Kelly:
> There are much more serious 'litter' problems on the Ben than this.

It can certainly viewed as something other than a litter problem. Would you consider bolts in an inappropriate location as litter? indeed, I don't think something deliberately placed somewhere could ever really be termed "litter".

Simon Yearsley - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Rory@JohnMuirTrust: Thanks for opening the consultation on this Rory. I've read the proposals on your website and emailed my comments to Mike. I do so hope that all other contributors to this important UKC thread will do the same. Folks Ė as well as debating this on UKC, letís use the JMT consultation in the spirit in which it was intended, and make sure that the c.6,000 UKC readers who have viewed this thread to date, and the 170 who have commented so far, all do read the proposal on the JMT website and take the opportunity to take part in the consultation.
Toby S - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Richard Bentley:
> (In reply to Toby S)
>
> The first post was made by Lochaber High School in the late 60's and placed there at the request of the local Police. It was then replaced a few years later, (which is I believe the present post), by some members of Lochaber MRT.

Thanks, I think my Grandfather was involved with it. Will need to check with my mum.
loopyone on 14 Nov 2011 - host81-147-105-203.range81-147.btcentralplus.com
In reply to Pids: idiotic, mindless vandalism. If the post was removed 'officially' after a consensus was reached fair enough, if it's someone taking it into their own hands then it's idiotic.
phenocryst - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids: A few years ago I was a Trustee on the JMT. I was also a fairly active climber and had been up and down the cliffs of Ben Nevis a few times. I was often happy to see the marker, and actually abbed off it at least once to enable a safe, fast, and low energy descent down the top section of No.4 Gully. (One could, given the right snow conditions, use a snow bollard. Maybe. Sometimes.)

The JMT then purchased a lump of land, including the plateau of Nevis. They decided, rightly in my opinion, to clear much of the human inspired detritus off the bridle track and plateau. Unfortunately, and they said this was done with input from climbing organisations (by which I suppose they meant the MCofS), this included the No. 4 marker. I voiced my protest at this, although, if my memory stands me well enough, it was never brought to a vote by the main committee, it was decided that this clearance would include the marker. I stated that if it were taken down, climbers would simply put it back again. I was met with a shrug of the shoulder, literally.

If it has been removed, as seems to be the case, I am surprised that it would have taken so long for the JMT to do this. I am also surprised, though I may be wrong, that the MCofS have raised no alarms over its removal. Although it is/was an obvious manufactured piece of metal, to me personally it resonated with history, and was always a welcome object.

Surely a few requests for information to both bodies would circumvent most of the postings here, enough to have papered the inside of the CIC Hut a few times over ...
highclimber - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to phenocryst:
> (In reply to Pids)
>
>
> If it has been removed, as seems to be the case, I am surprised that it would have taken so long for the JMT to do this. I am also surprised, though I may be wrong, that the MCofS have raised no alarms over its removal. Although it is/was an obvious manufactured piece of metal, to me personally it resonated with history, and was always a welcome object.
>
>

It HAS been removed it was NOT through lack of consultation, just lack of respect by a (few) dullard(s)
AlH - on 14 Nov 2011
In reply to phenocryst: Times have obviously changed. If you read further up the postings you will find some from staff at JMT stating that they did not remove the post, they are consulting and so far seem minded to leave it.
Al
Simon Yearsley - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to phenocryst: Itís helpful to first read back through previous posts before commenting: It has been removed; this was nothing to do with the JMT; Al H has put the marker post back in place (albeit not necessarily with the same degree of solidity as previously); JMT have opened the consultation on what to do, and are proposing to (quote from their site):

ĎRemove the top abseil post at the top of Coire Leis and replace it with a cairn at the best point for making a descent from Ben Nevis. Retain the Number 4 Gully marker. Comments from anyone with an interest are welcomed, details of how to do so are now on our (the JMT) website.í

Suggest you a) read their proposal, and b) get involved in the consultation process...
GrahamD - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to Sean Kelly:
> (In reply to Pids) This marker post is an important part of Ben Nevis's history, and I have been very relieved to come across it when trying to descend from the summit in adverse winter weather. If you have not been in this situation then it is not so easy to understand the concern that climbers express about it's removal.

In that case we ought to pander to the majority of people who summit Ben Nevis and properly sign the tourist path. That way everyone (including the climbers that apparently can't navigate as well as the vast number of walkers up there)can all benefit.

Justifying a marker post based on the laziness and or incompetance of climbers is pretty lame IMO.
hexcentric - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to GrahamD:
Graham,
Have you ever navigated on a bearing from the Trident area is terrible weather? Last time I did that I was knackered and cold. I gave the post a wee hug. But then maybe I am just lazy and incompetent.
Milesy - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to GrahamD:
> In that case we ought to pander to the majority of people who summit Ben Nevis and properly sign the tourist path. That way everyone (including the climbers that apparently can't navigate as well as the vast number of walkers up there)can all benefit.

When was the last time you went up the "tourist path"?? - The pony track and summit cairns and crap are already a man made motorway monstrosity which shadows anything else on The Ben. Thankfully most of it is hidden away in winter.
Offwidth - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to Sean Kelly:

Whilst a bit undecided on whether or not the post should be there, I think it's safety marker benefits for escape from the summit in bad weather are way overstated. I've come off a few times in real bad weather and much more often in white-out conditions. More often than not with poor visability I didn't want to be anywhere near a cornice if I could avoid it (which you may well be especially with buffeting and difficulties in following a bearing). Seems to me its more a convenience for people wanting to be sure they have the right gully to drop back down for another climb (or return to the CIC).

Have you really come down 5 Finger or do you mean you started down and came back up pronto?
Antony C Ball - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids: common sense will prevail. it will stay.
Simon Caldwell - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to phenocryst:
Strange, I've been a member of the JMT for years and don't recall ever seeing a statement that the marker would be removed, and it's the sort of thing I'd normally notice. I have however seen statements that it would stay. If you were a trustee is it possible that this plan was agreed internally but dropped before it was made public?
Simon Yearsley - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to Antony C Ball: Only if folk get involved in the JMT consultation. Posting all our views for/against only on UKC is a real lost opportunity, so (again) suggest we all read Roryís post of 15.10, Monday and get involved in the consultation.
jon on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Sean Kelly)
>
> Whilst a bit undecided on whether or not the post should be there, I think it's safety marker benefits for escape from the summit in bad weather are way overstated.

The problem now, certainly for this winter, is that the people who WOULD use it as a safety marker won't know whether it'll be there or not. I'd imagine it could take a few more rides down the gully at the hands of some self righteous... I'm sure you'll agree that looking for something that isn't there is a lot more dangerous than looking for something that is.
GrahamD - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to jon:

There are two debates here, aren't there ?

Firstly, whether the post should be there (personally I would say not - it is just a sign post for our convenience which we would be up in arms about if the ramblers had proposed one)

Secondly what to do about its unilateral removal. (personally, I see it as regrettable not to have gone through a review procedure but equally, I think the potential of its loss is way overstated by supposedly mountain wise climbers)
victorclimber - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to Offwidth: quite agree with you Sean its mainly used for people in the hut or folk wanting to get more climbs in ,in the day.its not needed if your competent,if you aint, get competent before the Ben,walk of ..sorry if this upsets some folk but its how I feel about it..
AlH - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to GrahamD:
>
> Firstly, whether the post should be there (personally I would say not - it is just a sign post for our convenience which we would be up in arms about if the ramblers had proposed one)
>
> Secondly what to do about its unilateral removal. (personally, I see it as regrettable not to have gone through a review procedure but equally, I think the potential of its loss is way overstated by supposedly mountain wise climbers)

To the first... I don't really have strong feelings either way. I don't think its a vital navigation aid (however both before and after its removal there needs to be signage at the car park to inform people that its gone) but equally its such a small thing, only visible from nearby, that I don't think it in any way erodes our independence in the mountains. Its been there since the 60s and hasn't led to a proliferation of similar markers. I just don't see it as a big deal either way. People on the summit of Ben Nevis are found wandering around fairly clueless on a regular basis, not just in the height of winter but often in the shoulder seasons of autumn and spring. But the presence of the Post alone wont stop that, even for those that do know its supposed to be there.

To the second... this did make me a little more annoyed but other than putting it back if possible and waiting for the outcome of the consultation I don't think there is anything to be done. If one or two climbers are selfish enough and arrogant enough to believe that their opinion is so much more important than everyone else's that they decided to take such unilateral action there is little to be done.
Offwidth - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to jon:

I simply think looking for it in bad conditions, even when it is there, is ill advised for most climbers unless your climb finishes next door. As for it being there: I wouldn't be terribly surprised if it was buried or if it was hoar frosted (ie you can't find it even if it's there) or if it broke or if someone who doesn't like such things removed it.

The real avoidable danger on the Ben in winter is the large number of climbers and winter mountain walkers who don't pre-prepare for bad plateau conditions (ie know the bearings and pacings, and are practiced enough to get off safe from where the route finishes). A common problem is you can see when you finish so don't check then the cloud cover comes in and you then need to think hard to get off.
jon on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to jon)

> The real avoidable danger on the Ben in winter is the large number of climbers and winter mountain walkers who don't pre-prepare for bad plateau conditions (ie know the bearings and pacings, and are practiced enough to get off safe from where the route finishes). A common problem is you can see when you finish so don't check then the cloud cover comes in and you then need to think hard to get off.

Yes, not easy is it. Given that people fall down FFG on a pretty regular basis or stray too far rightwards, put a line of poles across the plateau. Someone then removes them saying people who don't know how to navigate shouldn't be there. But there WILL be people up there who don't know how to navigate and some of these will fall down FFG etc etc. Are their lives best sacrificed to preserve someone elses superiority complex? Yes I know the thread is about a different pole, but in essence it isn't really, it's about markers in general. I must admit I'm ambivalent, but given the Ben's unique nature, if pushed I'd say keep markers. I must also admit that though I've been on the Ben dozens and dozens of times I can't really recall the post, but I'm sure that says more for my memory!
Daniel Sutherland on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids: If it seems ok for the JMT to create marker cairns which are very obvious and for the aid of walkers then why is the future of a tiny pole that is the No.4 gully post being disputed?? Six or seven cairns for the walkers vs 1 metal pole for the climbers!! Seems we need to get the pole replaced properly and move on!
SultanofMull - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to jon:

Exactly I agree Jon, there seems to be a very arrogant tone among some posters and those involved in the Outdoors that it should remain but for a few to enjoy. The mountains are there for all to enjoy, Ben Nevis is a unique mountain in that it is the highest and has easy access and as such will attract huge numbers of people certainly in the summer and also in the winter although by a more competent crowd admittedly. It seems pretty heartless to suggest that if you don't know how to navigate then its your own fault when fatality's do occur that way. We as competent mountaineers know and accept that but the crowds who come year in year out might not appreciate it or even comprehend the consequences. But you can guarantee they will give it a go anyway. We as competent mountaineers should make our suggestions to the JMT as to how to make it safer for those individuals and try to limit any fatalities/injury's, and limit the amount of time the MRT have to spend out at night in potentially dangerous conditions. Rather than ripping up signs and tossing them away which is just sheer arrogance. I am only talking about Ben Nevis here by the way as its a unique case, there are countless wild and remote spots to climb in the Highlands but in the Bens case there will always be a high numbers of inexperienced users and I would suggest a duty to protect them rather than try to create an environment to suit ourselves in this case!

Good one for popping it back up Al, do you think the random bags of cement where left there for you to make a concrete foundation Al :)

Aye Dan
Robert Durran - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to jon:
Yes I know the thread is about a different pole, but in essence it isn't really, it's about markers in general.

True. If there were calls for marker poles or lines of marker poles in other places (Say to the window on Creag Meagaidh or to the top of the Goat Track in the Northern Corries), I would be vehemently opposed - even though it might be argued they would save lives; I think a line must be drawn somewhere. However, the no. 4 Gully marker does not seem, so far, to have represented the thin end of a wedge, so, although, on balance, I would probably be in favour of it's removal, I don't really mind either way - certainly not enough to make my views known to the JMT! The only thing which has got me wound up on this thread is the OP's (and others') confused and illogical comparisons with other man made features - how anyone could think that the existence of a car park at the bottom of a mountain can be used to help justify a marker pole at it's top is quite beyond me!
Simon Yearsley - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to Robert Durran: I agree with your sentiments Rob, but why not make your views known to the JMT ? Ė They have opened a consultation on this, as far as I can see, in all good faith.
Robert Durran - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to Daniel Sutherland:
> Six or seven cairns for the walkers vs 1 metal pole for the climbers!!

I think we need to have a full and proper debate about the fair ratio of cairns for walkers to marker poles for climbers. The MCS urgently needs to draft a policy on this vital matter of equality. Teams of volunteers can then visit every mountain in Scotland, counting cairns and erecting the appropriate number of poles so that no climbers will feel hard done by. Oh dear, I really do despair sometimes.
Robert Durran - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to Simon Yearsley:
> (In reply to Robert Durran) I agree with your sentiments Rob, but why not make your views known to the JMT ?

I would if I felt at all strongly about the pole, but I don't.
Simon Yearsley - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to Robert Durran: Excellent plan - a version of Naismiths Rule methinks... Durran's Rule: '5 cairns per kilometer, plus a metal pole for every 300m of ascent'. Perfect!
Offwidth - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to Dan Goodwin - Mountain Plan:

The Ben has never been "for all to enjoy" in its long winter. Many people get discriminated against because of their fitness, skills or finance (affording kit/guides, getting there, etc). Markers across the Ben will probably encourage more folk not experienced enough to be up there on their own in the first place and I'd say, if anything, more accidents would be likely (if you're not properly equipped and familiar with bad winter mountain conditions how do you safely follow marker poles if the weather turns?). There are things you could do: I've always thought a sign warning of the extra dangers of the summit plateau when under snow is wise where the Red Burn crosses the base of the zig-zags just above the half way Lochan.

I'd also say it's poor form to accuse others of arrogance in this post, when they express honest opinions, just because they are counter to yours. Most of us I'm sure would agree it was wrong to tear the No4 marker pole down and would be happy with JMT as landowners in consultation with user groups deciding if it stays, irrespective of opinions on its efficacy.
jonnie3430 - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Dan Goodwin - Mountain Plan)
>
> Markers across the Ben will probably encourage more folk not experienced enough to be up there on their own in the first place

The line of cairns across the summit is there already.
>
> I'd also say it's poor form to accuse others of arrogance in this post,

The arrogance he was commenting on was saying that it isn't for anyone, only a skilled winter mountaineer. This is not the case. Frequently in winter (stretching to April,) people are up there when it's green and warm below and are surprised to find that there is snow, that other people are there in full winter kit and not trainers and jeans like themselves, and that when the cloud comes in it's not so easy to get off.

There are a huge number of people caught out by the conditions on the Ben every year which is why they keep the summit shelter and have built the line of cairns.

From my point of view, the No 4 gully post isn't needed by me any more, I can recognise the gully and know what features to look for on the way to it. The first time I was looking for it, I asked a couple of climbers how they were getting off and recieved a withering look and a point in the direction of the gully!! It was welcome then and was a few times after.

If you leave your car in the N Face carpark, or the hallowed upper car park, I would suggest that the easiest way to get back to it is via No 4. The red burn is all well and good, but the lack of proper path from the halfway Lochan back to the upper carpark means crossing the bog and river which is normally a wet pain. I would rather an improved path there (I mean a good one finishes at the Lochan, why not run it on?) which would mean the descent by red burn or zig zag is much better option?
jonnie3430 - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to Pids:

200th post!!! I re-read mine and would like to say that no 4 post has been nice MORE than a few times!
GrahamD - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to jonnie3430:

I don't think anyone is denying that No4 is the most convenient descent. Just that the bog hop from halfway down the main path is not a life or death option as some climbers seem to imply.

As to the signage, I see no problem with a very much more explicit notice on the dangers of the summit in winter (and summer for that matter) at the main carparks.
SultanofMull - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to Offwidth:

I would still suggest that the Ben is there for all to enjoy there is no opening times or locked gates its open and anyone my use it ! If its your personal circumstances that prevent you getting there or being equipped that's a different matter. The Ben along with all the other tops are open. My point is more that in the case of Ben Nevis perhaps a concession could be made for the crowds who come and their safety in terms of markers and posts. It seems a shame to me if someone falls into 5 finger gully and dies when a post or marker of some sort would have prevented it. It seems to me that people are more keen to preserve the ethics than make any concessions to other mountain users. I would say though that the arrogance and stubbornness shown by some has helped to keep the highlands clear of signs and markers which is on the whole a great thing but I think the Ben is a different case.

As for the pole itself I think it should remain in place, it might be worth noting that although Al has put it back up will it still have the strength as it once had, thawing conditions and people abbing of it ?

Aye Dan
jonnie3430 - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to GrahamD:
> (In reply to jonnie3430)
>
> I don't think anyone is denying that No4 is the most convenient descent. Just that the bog hop from halfway down the main path is not a life or death option as some climbers seem to imply.
>
Aye, but a lot of people are saying that if the No 4 post wasn't there, people should head down red burn, those that know No 4 will continue to use it, but I doubt it'll be so popular and red burn and the path across to the halfway lochan will become more of a bogfest (just wondering what the consequences are?) I don't think I would have headed down No 4 the first time if there hadn't been the post there, the gully looks steep and you can't see more than the narrowing anyway.

jonnie3430 - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to Dan Goodwin - Mountain Plan:
> (In reply to Offwidth)
>
> helped to keep the highlands clear of signs and markers which is on the whole a great thing but I think the Ben is a different case.
>
Anyone seen a lot more Scotways signs (Scottish Rights of Way & Access Society,) about the place recently? I saw two new and unnecessary ones in Glen Kinglass last month pointing at the bridge. I think they need to limit them in wilderness areas.

Sorry for the off topic post!
Simon Caldwell - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to Dan Goodwin - Mountain Plan:

Anyone who chances upon the No 4 Gully marker when looking for the tourist path is already badly lost!
Robert Durran - on 15 Nov 2011
In reply to jonnie3430:
> Anyone seen a lot more Scotways signs. I saw two new and unnecessary ones in Glen Kinglass last month pointing at the bridge. I think they need to limit them in wilderness areas.

Why didn't you rip them down and chuck them in the river?

Seriously, though, I agree. Far too many of them. Roadside seems fine, but in the middle of nowhere, people should just use a map.
Sean Kelly - on 18 Nov 2011
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Sean Kelly)
>
> Whilst a bit undecided on whether or not the post should be there, I think it's safety marker benefits for escape from the summit in bad weather are way overstated. I've come off a few times in real bad weather and much more often in white-out conditions. More often than not with poor visability I didn't want to be anywhere near a cornice if I could avoid it (which you may well be especially with buffeting and difficulties in following a bearing). Seems to me its more a convenience for people wanting to be sure they have the right gully to drop back down for another climb (or return to the CIC).
>
> Have you really come down 5 Finger or do you mean you started down and came back up pronto?

Yes, and twice in terrible weather conditions, both times in December with short daylight hours. First time was after an ascent of Glovers, when we managed to descend with no real problems apart from crossing the flooded river at the bottom. The 2nd descent was after a slow ascent of Tower Ridge because of dithering parties in front. Hit the summit in the dark and desperate weather, ie. 60mph winds and total whiteout. I realised we had strayed into Five Fingers but going back up was out of the question, so we traversed as much as we could before abbing off snow mushrooms down vertical ice. I would not like to repeat the experience. We seriously considered a bivvy! I think it was the wind that pushed us towards FF gully in the first place. As we were staying in the CIC at the time looking for No 4 was not even considered as it was too risky to venture too close to the cornice, and virtually zero vis with only headlights to guide us through the maelstrom. Lazy and incompetent didn't come into it! People posting on here with no conception of what it is like to be caught out on the Ben's summit plateau in such conditions. There have been more accidents/benightments because of this than on other hills in the UK. Indeed after my second descent of FF guly there were at least 3/4 fatalities here during the following weeks. But this was over 25years ago, before MWIS and marker posts.

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