/ NEWS: Coire Leis Abseil Posts Removed

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UKC News - on 01 Jun 2012
Abseil post, 3 kbThe eight abseil posts leading down from the Carn Mor Dearg Aręte into Coire Leis on the north side of Ben Nevis have been removed, along with the No.4 Gully marker which was vandalised last year

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=67163
Michael Gordon - on 01 Jun 2012
In reply to UKC News:

I don't understand why a 2 metre high cairn is preferable to the marker post. It certainly won't be any less intrusive aesthetically speaking, and will be a poorer navigational aid (there are cairns all over the mountain).
Doug on 01 Jun 2012
In reply to Michael Gordon: and I suspect a lot less obvious in winter
Simonfarfaraway - on 01 Jun 2012
In reply to Michael Gordon:
> (In reply to UKC News)
>
> I don't understand why a 2 metre high cairn is preferable to the marker post. It certainly won't be any less intrusive aesthetically speaking, and will be a poorer navigational aid (there are cairns all over the mountain).

Ditto.
I can't understand it - madness. I guess they like building cairns, or maybe they have a stone mason and builder in the group who needs to be kept busy and has identified in their yearly performance review that they want to gain experience of building unneccesary towers at higher altitudes. Or for a PHD studying the breakdown of cement over the freeze thaw cycles etc.

Do gooders doing no good springs to mind!
Sean Kelly - on 01 Jun 2012
In reply to UKC News: And a frozen rope won't pull around a cairn as easily as the old post, let alone suitable for abbing from!
highclimber - on 01 Jun 2012
In reply to UKC News: Very sad though not surprising given JMT's stance on things!
Eric9Points - on 01 Jun 2012
In reply to UKC News:

Does anyone know of anyone who's actually abseiled off the marker posts?

I've never heard of anyone doing that.

A cairn would mark the best descent into the corrie, I guess that was their thinking.
IainMunro on 01 Jun 2012
In reply to Eric9Points:

> Does anyone know of anyone who's actually abseiled off the marker posts?

Abseiled off the No.4 Gully marker numerous times when the cornice has been difficult to negotiate. Seen loads of people use it so definitely not alone. Never had a look at it in the summer months which is probably a good thing...

Iain
Dave Ferguson - on 01 Jun 2012
In reply to Eric9Points:
I've done it in the past, when coming down from the brenva face, very handy if its dead icy too.
The Ex-Engineer - on 01 Jun 2012
In reply to Michael Gordon:
> I don't understand why a 2 metre high cairn is preferable to the marker post. It certainly won't be any less intrusive aesthetically speaking, and will be a poorer navigational aid (there are cairns all over the mountain).

The reason you don't understand if perfectly obvious. You have not got the slightest clue about the current state of Ben Nevis, as evidenced by statements that are utter and complete bollocks.

There are absolutely not 'cairns all over the mountain'. The only cairns now remaining on the mountain are specifically there for navigation, mainly on the descent routes from the summit at 50m intervals, and they were all constructed in recent years. All the other numerous cairns that were haphazardly located and constructed over previous decades were completely removed several years ago, along with all memorials and vast amounts of other rubbish and man-made material left from past endeavours.

Additionally, these newly constructed cairns make superb navigation markers, as anyone who is not an armchair critic and has actually been on the Ben in a recent years in low visibility can testify.

The summit plateau of the Ben has been vastly improved over recent years and this is just the latest step in a well considered programme that has wide approval amongst those (including me) who regularly spend time on the mountain and have given the issues involved serious consideration.
Nemo9 - on 02 Jun 2012
In reply to UKC News: The No.4 Gully marker pole is lying at the foot of No.5 Gully if anyone is looking for it!
Pids - on 02 Jun 2012
In reply to UKC News:

Love the cynical way the nr 4 gully post removal has been reported - it had previously been well known that the coire leis poles were to be removed but consultation was to take place about the nr 4 gully marker - it's removal is now just a footnote - guess the consultation period ended and they decided.

Oh well, good to see the hill being returned to "natural" state with a 2m high navigational aid cairn instead, hmmmm
CurlyStevo - on 02 Jun 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:
> (In reply to Michael Gordon)
> [...]
>
> The reason you don't understand if perfectly obvious. You have not got the slightest clue about the current state of Ben Nevis, as evidenced by statements that are utter and complete bollocks.
>
> There are absolutely not 'cairns all over the mountain'. The only cairns now remaining on the mountain are specifically there for navigation, mainly on the descent routes from the summit at 50m intervals, and they were all constructed in recent years. All the other numerous cairns that were haphazardly located and constructed over previous decades were completely removed several years ago, along with all memorials and vast amounts of other rubbish and man-made material left from past endeavours.
>
> Additionally, these newly constructed cairns make superb navigation markers, as anyone who is not an armchair critic and has actually been on the Ben in a recent years in low visibility can testify.
>
> The summit plateau of the Ben has been vastly improved over recent years and this is just the latest step in a well considered programme that has wide approval amongst those (including me) who regularly spend time on the mountain and have given the issues involved serious consideration.

2 meter high cairns are less usefull in winter when there can be over 3 meters of depth of snow on the summit. The arete cairn will be fine but in a heavy winter these other cairns could get burried. I've seen the trig point cairn burried and that's very substantial and over 2 meters tall.
stuart58 - on 02 Jun 2012
In reply to CurlyStevo: so if we put 4m cairns what happens if we have 5m of snow. I think people should learn to navigate properly. Where else in the uk do u find markers, abseil posts. Its ok climbing grade 6 but not so good if your navigation is basic.
Doug on 02 Jun 2012
In reply to stuart58: plenty of cairns elsewhere, I've been very glad to see the cairn at the top of the Fiacaile a Choire Cas (Cairngorm) appear out of the mist/whiteout on more than one occasion and I'm sure I'm not alone. And part of the problem is drifting snow rather than the depth of snow, with much less drifting around a post than a cairn
Snoweider - on 02 Jun 2012
In reply to UKC News:

Like others here I am struggling to see how a 6 foot cairn could possibly be less intrusive than the marker post. Somebody somewhere has different aesthetics to me. Its all man made. At least the marker post had some historic significance.
Abseil posts were unsafe and I understand that times change and they needed moved as they were an eyesore too. Feel very let down by the JMT who I have supported a lot over the years and who I generally concur with on these sorts of things.
Andy Nisbet - on 02 Jun 2012
In reply to Snoweider:

I'm guessing a bit here but I think the JMT were determined to remove the marker post but because of pressure from most who they asked (including me), who wanted it left, they decided a cairn was a compromise. Which ends up being a worse option for everyone.
Ron Walker - on 02 Jun 2012
In reply to Nemo9:
> (In reply to UKC News) The No.4 Gully marker pole is lying at the foot of No.5 Gully if anyone is looking for it!

You are joking surely!
Nemo9 - on 03 Jun 2012
In reply to Ron Walker: No I am not ! Did ledge Route on Friday and at the foot of the snow patch in No.5 Gully is a metal pole with a drilled out No.4 attached to it. Was quite tempted to take it home as a souvenir but it wouldn't fit in my rucksack ! Maybe that's what the powers that be are hoping will happen - would save them the hire of a helicopter !
victorclimber - on 03 Jun 2012
In reply to stuart58: i agree with you no posts or cairns ,learn to navigate ,and yes I have been in white outs on top of the Ben
Ron Walker - on 03 Jun 2012
In reply to Nemo9:

Seems a bit bizarre that Ben Nevis is being cleaned up and returned to it's natural state, by removing existing aids and chucking them down the mountain as rubbish, then building massive cairns to replace them!!!!
Simon Yearsley - on 03 Jun 2012
In reply to UKC News: For interest, I've just sent the following email to Mike Daniels at the John Muir Trust:

Hi Mike, I understand that the #4 Gully Marker Pole has now been removed and replaced with a cairn.

Following a heated debate on UKC in November 2011, ‘Rory@JohnMuirTrust’, announced that the JMT had ‘opened up the consultation to general views’ and directed people to the specific proposal on the JMT website which invited ‘... members of the public to comment on proposals to remove an abseil pole above Coire Leis... and to retain the Number 4 Gully marker’. (JMT website Nov ‘11).

The consultation closed on 30th April, and I suspect I was not alone in emailing you (on 14th Nov ‘11) with my support of the JMT proposal.

I may have missed it on your website, but I can’t seem to find anything (either on your website or elsewhere) which shows the outcome of this consultation.

As someone who took the time to get involved, and to take up your invitation to comment on your proposal, I feel it is only polite if you could share the detail of the outcomes of the consultation, specifically in relation to the Number 4 Gully Marker issue. Therefore, could you let me know:

• the rational for the JMT’s proposal not being accepted.
• an idea of who was consulted.
• an indication of the number of comments ‘for and against’ which you received.

I also understand (though have not seen it with my own eyes yet) that the Number 4 Gully marker post is currently in the snow patch at the bottom of Number 5 Gully. Can you confirm if this is true if so, any ideas on how it go there and any plans to dispose of it properly?


Look forward to your reply.
Jamie B - on 04 Jun 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:

> Additionally, these newly constructed cairns make superb navigation markers, as anyone who is not an armchair critic and has actually been on the Ben in a recent years in low visibility can testify.

I think I meet your criteria. I'll testify that they can help people to maintain a bearing and provide reassurance, but would have to counter with the observation that they are often buried or rendered near-invisible by rime-ice. Only a fool would use them as a substitute for map-and-compass navigation in whiteout, but I see these fools regularly. Do the cairns tempt them higher? Quite possibly. Hence my concern that there is now another near-identical cairn a short distance from a big cornice.
dek - on 04 Jun 2012
In reply to Eric9Points:
> (In reply to UKC News)
>
> Does anyone know of anyone who's actually abseiled off the marker posts?
>
> I've never heard of anyone doing that.

Me and lots of folk when the cornice is huge!
Sam Warby - on 05 Jun 2012
No its not. Me and a friend bought it down ledge route as requested and left it at the bottom of No.5 gully for a couple of hours whilst we did Route 1, it was then taken down to the CIC hut and walked out a couple of days later.
AlH - on 05 Jun 2012
rogerwebb - on 06 Jun 2012
In reply to AlH:

Consult and ignore!
CurlyStevo - on 06 Jun 2012
In reply to stuart58:
> (In reply to CurlyStevo) so if we put 4m cairns what happens if we have 5m of snow. I think people should learn to navigate properly. Where else in the uk do u find markers, abseil posts. Its ok climbing grade 6 but not so good if your navigation is basic.

I wasn't suggesting that TBH, I was just pointing out they have limited use in winter which is surely when they are designed to be most usefull. In summer you can just follow the path no?

I agree you shouldn't be on the hill in winter if you can't navigate properly.
3leggeddog on 06 Jun 2012
In reply to Sean Kelly:
> (In reply to UKC News) And a frozen rope won't pull around a cairn as easily as the old post, let alone suitable for abbing from!

Easily solved; sling a chain around the cairn or add a couple of bolts to it.
StuDoig - on 06 Jun 2012
In reply to rogerwebb:
A great response isn't it - massive majority of respondents in favour of retention so demolish it anyway and go for a worst of both worlds compromise.

Disapointing that the MCofS involved themselves and agreed to the removal without any consultation with their membership. So much for a representative body! At least the JMT pretended to be interested in walkers / climbers viewpoints.

Stu
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GrahamD - on 06 Jun 2012
In reply to StuDoig:

Personally I think its a good thing that as much tat and rubbish is removed from the summit. OK 99% of people on Ben Nevis use the standard path up and there is a case for making the way for less experienced tourists at least safe. The 1% who like to call themselves climbers or mountaineers need to get themselves more self reliant or, if they do not have confidence in their navigation / down climbing ability then walk down the path. I'd agree that a cairn is probably OTT on number 4 gulley as well but at least its a more natural looking structure.
AlH - on 06 Jun 2012
In reply to... Post... cairn... does it really matter? The thing sits in a dip and is often only visible from nearby and just serves to confirm you are at the top of the right gully. Having replaced the post in november I stated that it was a pretty poor abseil anchor in its present state so I don't mind if they put something a little more solid up. I honestly don't really care whether its a metal post or a cairn made out of local stone.
JMT consulted... precious few bothered themselves to get involved. There was a preference for a marker left at the top of No. 4. They listened but reasoned that the existing marker wasn't stable enough to leave to be used as an anchor so decided to replace it with something else that is, that still marks the gully and isn't made of metal.
TonyM - on 08 Jun 2012
In reply to UKC News:

I was one of the 43 out of 45 responding to the consultation in favour of keeping the No. 4 gully marker. I realise it was a consultation and not a referendum, but I'm a bit dismayed that the majority view was so contrary to the decision of the JMT and those it represents. I kind of assumed our mutual love of wild places would take us in similar directions.
rif on 08 Jun 2012
@Simon: I received an email about the outcome and presumably so did the other 44 climbers who bothered to respond to the consultation.
@most: why so much apparent outrage at this? JMT have done what the majority of respondents wanted (probably NOT what they themeselves wanted): 43/45 in favour of retaining something to mark the top of No.4 Gully, 21/27 in favour of a cairn at the best descent point into Coire Leis. As Al H has said, the importance of the No.4 marker is to confirm one's navigation, and a cairn does that just as well as a metal post.
@Jamie B: the top of No.4 is about 350 m from the nearest point on the Tourist Path, and from what I recall isn't even visible from it, so surely there's no danger of confusing the new cairn with the walkers' way off?
@Curly S: I'm subject to correction here, but I don't recall that the metal marker was much taller (if at all) than 2 m, and I've never seen it anywhere near buried, so a 2m cairn should be adequate?

Rob F
James Edwards - on 08 Jun 2012
In reply to rif:
Some good points made.
I see the problem with a wide fat cairn rather than a slender marker pole is that snow can accumulate in its lee which then with several thaws freezes and wind direction changes can lead to total burial. Snow depth of over two metres is normal on the top of the Ben.
Time will tell if the design of the marker is a problem or if the criteria of an aesthetic marker has been a wise decision. In that regard I hope the keeper of the pole Guards it safely for a few years; it may need cementing on the top.
James e
Ben Sharp - on 08 Jun 2012
In reply to James Edwards:
> Time will tell if the design of the marker is a problem or if the criteria of an aesthetic marker has been a wise decision. In that regard I hope the keeper of the pole Guards it safely for a few years; it may need cementing on the top.

I was thinking along the same lines. At least including the pole in whatever structure they build would have some historical significance.

Ben

Jamie B - on 08 Jun 2012
In reply to rif:

> @Jamie B: the top of No.4 is about 350 m from the nearest point on the Tourist Path, and from what I recall isn't even visible from it, so surely there's no danger of confusing the new cairn with the walkers' way off?

You'd hope not, but I've seen confused walkers all over the place on the plateau, including some trying to follow me down no.4!


Jamie B - on 08 Jun 2012
In reply to UKC News:

Will the new cairn be installed with abseil chain in-situ or should we wait for garlands of tat to accumulate?
Simon Yearsley - on 14 Jun 2012
In reply to rif: Hey Rif, Mike's email reply went straight to my spam. He's since sent me the email again, which is pretty self explanatory. I'm fairly relaxed about the outcome and think the logic which JMT have applied is fair. My biggest gripe I guess is with the hoards of folk who bitch/postulate about things like this online, but never bother to get involved when the door is open to then to do so... i.e. only 45 people bothered to get involved in the JMT consultation, despite 7,234 people reading, and 207 comments made on the original post back in November '11, and then 2,608 people reading this current post & 37 comments made. My personal conclusions are: 1)the JMT have probably done the 'least worst' thing; 2)too many folk are apathetic about really really important things like this and then happy to get on their high horse afterwards and moan/postulate/bitch. Hey ho.
GrahamD - on 14 Jun 2012
In reply to Simon Yearsley:

Good points. I would dispute that this is 'really, really, important' given the likely direction of JMT - its not as though they are going for anything unsustainable or irreversible.
Grahame N - on 14 Jun 2012
In reply to UKC News:
I was one of the 45 who responded to the JMT and I am happy with the outcome.
A suitably designed cairn will be as good as the metal marker.

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