/ Bouldering mats on trad routes

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Robbiobaby - on 05 Nov 2012
I'm sure this has been discussed many times before and if there are any recent threads regarding this please point me in that direction.

I was wondering what people's views are on using mats for trad routes?

I don't use one at the moment but I have had a ground fall which could have done some damage.

Do mats change the grade? I have seen videos of hard routes done with mats at the bottom. It feels a little like cheating but I would rather the safety rather than being injured and not being able to climb. When does a new shiny piece of gear that increases safety become cheating?

I am no pro climber or putting up new routes, first ascents etc. Just climbing for fun.
remus - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Robbiobaby: Theres no such thing as cheating. Of course using a mat can make the route safer and thus easier than doing it matless but the only person it really matters to is you, as you're the one who'll be hobbling around with broken ankles if it all goes wrong.
Kevster - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Robbiobaby:

My life is worth more than one route.

Mats are fine if that's how you rationalise the risks you take and make climbing more enjoyable for you.
Mats are never OK only if you're a pedant/internet spectator/mental.

I've never come across someone who when putting it on the line has said "take the pads away please". There will be some, but they're getting rarer as time goes by.
barney800 on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Robbiobaby: I use one for routes with dodgy starts and don't find it to detract from my enjoyment of the climb. And you can still claim the full grade, as long as you get your second to remove it and carry it up the route like any other bit of gear.
stroppygob - on 06 Nov 2012
In reply to remus:
> (In reply to Robbiobaby) Theres no such thing as cheating.

Thank goodness for that, I'll just go and improve the holds on that route I fancy, where's me hammer?
skunky456 - on 06 Nov 2012
In reply to Robbiobaby: If you feel like mats would lessen the experience FOR YOU, and not in the eyes of others, then dont use them.

Otherwise, theyre a simple measure that will make the route much safer, and therefore much more enjoyable. The argument against using mats will be as short lived as the argument against using chalk.

I basically see mats the same way i see nuts and cams, theyre just another form of removable protection. They may be big, soft and square, instead of small and shiny but they have exactly the same purpose.

If you feel guilty about it then just think of the extra effort it takes to schlep them to the crag as payment to the gods :)
Seb Lee on 06 Nov 2012
In reply to Robbiobaby: As it's been stated, just another piece of protection (and you'd never choose to not use a nut or cam), however as the E grade takes into account how dangerous and protectable a route is, if the first ascent wasn't done with a mat, then i wouldn't claim the same grade with it.

I guess its the same if a tiny crack was unprotectable during the FA, but since a new tiny cam has been invented, i'd use it but understand that it's different from when the FA did and graded it. you see my point?
Robbiobaby - on 06 Nov 2012
I'm glad you have all said that as it was pretty much what I was thinking.
Fraser on 06 Nov 2012
In reply to Robbiobaby:

I tend not to have/take a mat with me when I'm doing trad routes. But if you want to, I'd have no objection,as long as you're honest about the style of any ascent. Even then, I'm not really bothered about what you or others do.
mkean - on 06 Nov 2012
In reply to Robbiobaby:
Using bouldering mats on trad routes causes heroin addiction, paedophilia and suicide bombing.




I quite like my ankles so I do use a mat occasionally although it definitely changes the grade.
Jonny2vests - on 06 Nov 2012
In reply to Robbiobaby:

> Just climbing for fun.

Me too. I climb a route because its fun, not because of its grade. So I'm perfectly happy to be downgraded if I use a mat, it doesn't change the moves.
GrahamD - on 06 Nov 2012
In reply to Robbiobaby:

Chasing grades by just doing run out routes is a mugs game, IMO. Do the route in a style that you can rationalise and forget about 'claiming the grade' (whatever that means)
jkarran - on 06 Nov 2012
In reply to Robbiobaby:

> I'm sure this has been discussed many times before and if there are any recent threads regarding this please point me in that direction.

It has. http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/info/search.php?forum=0&dates=1&name=&topic=mats+routes...

> I was wondering what people's views are on using mats for trad routes?

Your call. It's your hobby, your ankles. Personally I'm all in favor of it, I like climbing and I like feet that point forwards.

> I don't use one at the moment but I have had a ground fall which could have done some damage.

Lucky escape by the sound of it.

> Do mats change the grade? I have seen videos of hard routes done with mats at the bottom. It feels a little like cheating but I would rather the safety rather than being injured and not being able to climb. When does a new shiny piece of gear that increases safety become cheating?

No they don't change the grade, the grade is just a number in a book, a label. They can dramatically change your experience of the route or they can make next to no difference, it depends very much on the route and the matting.

> I am no pro climber or putting up new routes, first ascents etc. Just climbing for fun.

In that case you should probably do what you enjoy rather than following what other people do.

Sorry if that comes across a bit brusque, it's not meant to. I just think you should make your own decisions.
jk
LJC - on 06 Nov 2012
In reply to jkarran: Completely agree with the above post. My ankles are worth more to me than someone else's opinion.
The Pylon King on 06 Nov 2012
In reply to all fun climbers:

If its just for "fun" then probably the best bet is to just top rope?
davidbeynon - on 06 Nov 2012
In reply to GrahamD:

Alternatively, leave the route alone until you know you are good enough.
Kid Spatula - on 06 Nov 2012
In reply to Robbiobaby:

If you care about people using mats to stop them breaking their ankles you are clearly a bit mental.
Ramblin dave - on 06 Nov 2012
In reply to davidbeynon:
> (In reply to GrahamD)
>
> Alternatively, leave the route alone until you know you are good enough.

If you can do it above a mat then you ARE good enough - good enough to do it above a mat. If you want to solo everything in boxing gloves and roller skates then that's your own rules.
Robbiobaby - on 06 Nov 2012
I don't find Top roping very fun...
Jon Stewart - on 06 Nov 2012
In reply to GrahamD:
> (In reply to Robbiobaby)
>
> Chasing grades by just doing run out routes is a mugs game, IMO.

It's buzz though.

On routes that are a real buzz, a mat isn't going to help much. On routes with a dodgy start and good stuff high up, they can make the route less scary, so you can get up to the meat of the route with less faff and worry.

If the dodgy start is the meat of the route, then it's crap. And if the route is short enough for the pad to be really helpful, it sounds like the ideal highball - so it probably takes away the E-grade, but is a really great style of climbing (so long as it's not done by a massive group of loud, shirt-off-beanie-on b*stards who are smothering the holds in inches of chalk and then brushing it off with the aggression usually reserved for removing excessive grout clumsily applied by an apprentice bricklayer).

phleppy on 06 Nov 2012
In reply to Robbiobaby: I'd agree with what seb lee said, it is up to the person to use a mat or not but if you want the full grade or just want to be true to the original ascent then dont use one.

Surely the climb feels all the more sweeter to finish how it should be done? I would never want to tell anyone how to climb a route but generally if im tied onto a rope i dont think about mats, not yet anyway & if i did use one i would say so if asked or log it as having used one.

Obviously when grades get to a certain point though i can see most people(even the best climbers) using mats to cover up pointy boulders or deep holes.
augustus trout - on 06 Nov 2012
In reply to Jon Stewart: apprentice plumber, apprentice bricklayers usually get it done quite neatly!
Never seen anyone on the harder routes in places like the skyline or ramshaw without one. It's an advancement like friends or alloy krabs you don't down grade the climb for that or for techniques like head pointing,
augustus trout - on 06 Nov 2012
In reply to augustus trout: although to be fair feel a right plonker if I used one for any of my bumbly routes.
Goucho on 06 Nov 2012
In reply to augustus trout:

It's an advancement like friends or alloy krabs you don't down grade the climb for that or for techniques like head pointing,

Maybe not the tech grade but mats certainly affect the 'adjective' grade - downwards!
Ramblin dave - on 06 Nov 2012
In reply to Goucho:
Although interestingly we haven't bothered downgrading stuff for sticky rubber, nuts, cams, modern ropes etc - hence the fact that the UKC headlines aren't full of first ascents of cutting edge Very Severes!

Although I guess that if bouldering mats become standard pro on short hard necky routes then it might merit regrading those routes because it affects the difficulty of one style of route so disproportionately.

Which reminds me of Dave Mac's response to the subject: to paraphrase, if people protecting trad routes with bouldering mats bothers you that much then try climbing something other than gritstone occasionally - your bouldering mat will look pretty silly underneath Sron Ulladale...
Jonny2vests - on 06 Nov 2012
In reply to Ramblin dave:
> (In reply to Goucho)
> Although interestingly we haven't bothered downgrading stuff for sticky rubber, nuts, cams, modern ropes etc - hence the fact that the UKC headlines aren't full of first ascents of cutting edge Very Severes!

We didn't change the environment, we merely got clever and invented ways of using cracks & pockets that were already there, so I think downgrading in those cases would be daft. With a mat though, we change the environment.
jim jones on 06 Nov 2012
In reply to Ramblin dave:
> (In reply to Goucho)

> Which reminds me of Dave Mac's response to the subject: to paraphrase, if people protecting trad routes with bouldering mats bothers you that much then try climbing something other than gritstone occasionally - your bouldering mat will look pretty silly underneath Sron Ulladale...

Couldn't agree more since mine floated away at Gogarth.
drewish on 07 Nov 2012
In reply to Robbiobaby: If you're just climbing for fun then do that and dont get wrapped up in all the stupid politics regarding climbing these days. Go out, be safe and respect the landscape
teflonpete - on 07 Nov 2012
In reply to jonny2vests:
> (In reply to Ramblin dave)
> [...]
>
> With a mat though, we change the environment.

What about if there's 3 feet of snow at the bottom of a short gritstone crag? Does the cushioning provided by the snow change the adjectival grade of the route since it is a different environment?
GridNorth - on 07 Nov 2012
In reply to teflonpete: Back in the early 70's I climbed Quietus on Stanage like that. The snow was banked to within a couple of feet of the top. Do I get the tick? :-)
ads.ukclimbing.com
Mike Stretford - on 07 Nov 2012
In reply to teflonpete: Or you have a couple of burly mates spotting?
Jimbo C - on 07 Nov 2012
In reply to Robbiobaby:

You don't have to ask permission on here to go and use a bouldering mat. That's the beauty of our sport, that there aren't too many hard and fast rules (only ethics).

Increasing your personal safety should never be viewed as cheating, just remember that if you're on a decent length route, the mat won't make a blind bit of difference.

I tend to not take a mat when climbing trad but that's only because a rack, ropes AND a mat is a lot to carry.
GrahamD - on 07 Nov 2012
In reply to Jimbo C:

Also a mat is feck all use outside the limited subset of trad climbing that is gritstone. You don't seemany pads at Gogarth.
Jonny2vests - on 07 Nov 2012
In reply to teflonpete:

You haven't changed the environment, it was just easier due to 'conditions'. :-)
Jonny2vests - on 07 Nov 2012
In reply to teflonpete:

You haven't changed the environment, it was just easier due to 'conditions'. You don't downgrade it when the friction is amazing do you? :-)
Ramblin dave - on 07 Nov 2012
In reply to jonny2vests:
> (In reply to Ramblin dave)
> [...]
>
> We didn't change the environment, we merely got clever and invented ways of using cracks & pockets that were already there, so I think downgrading in those cases would be daft. With a mat though, we change the environment.

That seems like a slightly artificial distinction - I mean, given two climbs of the same physical difficulty, one of which is basically safe with cams and unprotectable without and the other of which is a totally protectionless chop route with or without cams, I'd be a bit surprised to find that they both had the same grade because cams didn't exist when they were put up and "the climb hasn't changed"...

Precisely how and when this happened I'm not sure about, but I think Offwidth has alluded to the fact that a lot of necky climbs have been upgraded in the last 10-20 years largely because a lot of routes that suddenly became protectable with cams but didn't get downgraded in the 80s.
robert mirfin - on 07 Nov 2012
In reply to Robbiobaby: Do whatever you like though you'll get more kudos for not using a mat at Froggatt or maybe broken ankles, your choice !
Andy Moles - on 07 Nov 2012
In reply to jonny2vests:
> With a mat though, we change the environment.

Having a route where the difficulties are close enough to the ground that a mat makes a significant difference is as much an inherent feature of the route as the cracks and pockets that take nuts and cams.
Andy Moles - on 07 Nov 2012
In reply to GrahamD:
> Also a mat is feck all use outside the limited subset of trad climbing that is gritstone.

Not really true, there are short outcrops of a lot of rocktypes other than gritstone.

Jonny2vests - on 08 Nov 2012
In reply to Andy Moles:

The environment is everything that is not the rock. So it's different see?
(Can you tell I'm making this stuff up as I go along?)
GrahamD - on 08 Nov 2012
In reply to Andy Moles:

Well, true, gritstone does seem to engender in many a mindset where it becomes the be all and end all of UK trad - and probably why so many people seem to have a distorted view on how to calibrate trad grades
paul mitchell - on 08 Nov 2012
In reply to Robbiobaby: Mats don't always save your legs.
people have had severe injuries falling off and totally missing mats.Even E9 climbers falling off E6.

Using mats is perfectly understandable.On each solo you can choose whether or not to use them.Long term injuries to knees ankles and hip joints will probably accrue if you jump off a lot.

If a route is graded because it has deck out potential,then mats will soften the grade.So what.When new highballs are put up,maybe ascensionists could make it clear if mats were used and to what depth,so repeaters have some idea.You will often get hordes of climbers doing 70's highballs with a huge stack of mats provided by a chance accumulation of boulderers.Those routes are rarely,if ever climbed matless nowadays.Seventies new routers would most likely have used mats if available.Point is,climbing is about challenges.Matless provides one kind of challenge and matted another kind.
Fortunately there is no rule book.

I used to solo routes,matless, that were done before my day as practical solos,as they had such poor gear.That is a mark of respect to previous generations.Allan Austin hit the deck off Western Front at Almscliff,and got mashed.Then went back and did it.Amazing.
Yes,mats are just another piece of kit that climbers protect themselves with.Personally,I am more impressed by climbers who use the minimum kit.Once you get about 40 feet off the deck,mats will make little difference.
Now we have a serious recesssion,and high youth unemployment,few youngsters can afford ropes and multiple cams and nuts.Mats are a simple way to get on the crag with the least cost.

It does mean,however,that a lot of climbers are denied the pleasures of roped climbs.One can often solo a route one has just led or top roped,as one has the sequence memorised;that one would not get from using mats on longer stuff.Thank the previous and current generation of capitalists for that.The young are sacrificed again...
Mitch

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