/ Proposal To Bolt Berry Head Quarry
We are presently finding it difficult to garner enthusiasm within SDMC (who put forward the proposal) to do the leg work! Can anyone interested in helping out do the following:
1. Get in touch/be available to help.
2. Ask Bruce Woodley to get in touch. Bruce has apparently put up several 3-star routes here and I have heard that he is keen to see them retro-bolted.
I've just checked where it is to be doubly sure and I've been into it once in the past, god knows I can't remember why now, maybe it was for a BBQ as I'm sure I've not climbed on the back wall or done any of the DWS, but it didn't strike me as a potential Ansteys/Torbryan, let alone a potential venue to trump them...
Incidentally, what sort of help do you need? I've got plenty of time on my hands at the moment, although my practical skills are limited (be happy to turn my hand to placing bolts if someone gives a demo, but currently labouring is probably my most practical means of assistance). It's not really nearby, but if I can get down for a few days and do some climbing at the same time I might be persuadable.
Just so I've got my head around this....
According to the UKC logbook nearly half the routes in that area are currently given sport grades so it actually IS already a sports climbing venue? You are presumably proposing to retro-bolt the existing trad routes to create a venue that is exclusively bolted?
And if the minutes of the last SW area meeting are accurate then no such initiative has actually been decided upon by the area? ('It was unanimously agreed that the SDMC should formally redraft their proposal to incorporate the above points made by Pat. Nick accepted that his current document was more of a consultation paper than a proposal.' and 'First ascensionists should be consulted and their views respected...The case for each route should be made individually e.g. no blanket retro bolting.')
Sport graded routes - I think a lot of those are DWS down on the sea walls below the quarry floor.
Oh, and do the references to the Long Quarry Point slabs mean that there are proposals to retro Black Ice or it's neighbours? That's on my to-do list at some point as/when I ever get down there...
Mark, I am well aware of that already thanks.
Read the posts above and the area meeting minutes. Both areas are included in the proposal.
"You wait, BHQ will be a prime sport venue one
day! Early routes may be crap but most of Bruce Woodleys are 2/3 star and he
wants them retro-bolted."
I think the SDMC should now rekindle some of the earlier enthusiasm which led to their proposals at the meeting, perhaps by organizing a clean-up at Long Quarry Point. There's some great climbing there but successive wet summers have done wonders for the vegetation.
BHQ Main Quarry:
1. Might be worth finding out first who actually owns the place and whether there would be an access issue were it to be developed as a sport venue.
2. I have climbed most of the pre 1980s routes, and my impression was that there was a considerable amount of loose rock and natural protection was conspicuous by its absence, but there was considerable scope for new routes.
Sport climbers in the far SW are limited for choice (and grade) so if BHQ could be developed as a sport crag with a good spread of grades this old diehard traditionalist would raise no objection.
> "You wait, BHQ will be a prime sport venue one
> day! Early routes may be crap but most of Bruce Woodleys are 2/3 star and he
> wants them retro-bolted."
Clearly Bruce is getting soft in his old age.
Less seriously, Equipoise at least, was heavily reliant on peg protection anyway and generally the quarry needs traffic to stay clean.
Look forward to clipping them in due course.
And presumably the revised proposal from SDMC is to go back to the BMC SW area at its next meeting for consideration before any action is contemplated?
> And presumably the revised proposal from SDMC is to go back to the BMC SW area at its next meeting for consideration before any action is contemplated?
> Read the posts above and the area meeting minutes. Both areas are included in the proposal.
Before posting, I tried finding the relevant minutes on the BMC website without success (hence my question). I also could find no reference to Long Quarry Point (other than yours) on this thread. Please could you post a link to the minutes.
It was the first or second link when I put a phrase like:
Bmc sw area committee meeting minutes
Into google. I see Iain has also provided you the link now. Hopefully this clears up the issue.
No bolting is to be carried out until the proposal discussed at the last BMC Area Meeting is formally put together by SDMC, debated and widely circulated for approval and comment.
Corrosion resistance bolts will have to be used and funded.
My enquiry for help on this forum was designed to sound out opinion and see whether help outside SDMC could be used to help do this (no one in SDMC seemed keen to do the actual work).
Pat was of the same opinion and I agree; it's a really good trad route, at least 2 or even 3 stars. Pat also suggested that The Gilded Turd a bit further along might be a good candidate for retro-bolting to make a reasonable F5. S Devon and The Cheesewring are not exactly heaving with quality lower grade sport routes.
Re: ND&C guidebook meeting this Saturday. Don Sargeant has confirmed he'll be there.
S Devon and The Cheesewring are not exactly heaving with quality lower grade sport routes.
> Re: ND&C guidebook meeting this Saturday. Don Sargeant has confirmed he'll be there.
I know this is probably a whole different thread...but surely the lack of sport climbing in any particular area, of whatever grade, shouldn't be a reason for bolting pre-existing trad routes? There's not many sport venues in West Penwith, or in Northumberland, or on SE sandstone. Should some crags there be bolted?
However there ARE plenty of climbing walls in those areas....
You've got my support, especially if it involves some routes in the 4-5 range. It'll be great to have a decent beginner friendly sport venue that's closer than Portland!
However, Torbay has long been a trad/bolt venue.I don't think any of the quality trad routes on the unquarried sections of Long Quarry Point will be retro-bolted, and none either crag will be without consultation with the FA individuals and open discussion via the BMC and these forum as Philip has already indicated.
As has been pointed out by others, the SDMC did not propose turning LQP or BHQ into sports climbing venues, but that placing bolts at these venues should be considered. In essence this was to increase the traffic flow to the point where the climbs remained in condition and relatively safe - i.e. they didn't become HVS 4a's etc because pegs were not being replaced. This might just mean that a few pegged belays are backed up with a bolt, or might mean more intervention.
The SDMC plan to visit each route and make suggestions, we will also consider a clean up if this can be done safely. I'm sure we would welcome all the help we can get with this this.
One thing I am concerned about is that if bolts are placed to encourage more traffic then this is only done in a way that doesn't end in more danger to all. Bolting unstable rock is a very bad idea.
> As has been pointed out by others, the SDMC did not propose turning LQP or BHQ into sports climbing venues,
From the OP 'There is a present initiative by the BMC SW Area (put forward by South Devon Mountaineering Club) to turn Berry Head Quarry into a sports climbing venue'.
Obviously much to discuss at the SW area meeting.
Perhaps within the SDMC first!!!
> From the OP 'There is a present initiative by the BMC SW Area (put forward by South Devon Mountaineering Club) to turn Berry Head Quarry into a sports climbing venue'.
> Obviously much to discuss at the SW area meeting.
Am I missing something, where does it say sports climbing in the SDMC proposal in the BMC minutes?
Well, in which case you might need to rewrite it to improve its clarity - Philip who from the minutes is the area secretary certainly seems to think its a proposal to create sports climbs!
Whatever was or wasn't proposed at the Area Meeting, which I attended, the only decision that was made, was for the SDMC to redraft their proposal. David Coley's replies above seem to suggest that this is what will happen. As I've pointed out two of the first ascenscionists, Pat Litlejohn and Bruce Woodley have indicated their views on retro-bolting their routes at both crags.
I would have no problem if a consensus eventually materialises for turning Berry Head Quarry into a sports crag, but there's a long way to go before that can happen.
I also wonder how many people have actually climbed on the Main Quarry there. I have and it wasn't a pleasant experience.
Philip has quite rightly opened up the debate, nothing more.
> Well, in which case you might need to rewrite it to improve its clarity - Philip who from the minutes is the area secretary certainly seems to think its a proposal to create sports climbs!
Interesting. Would you mind having a quick read of it please (it is in the Appendix) and suggesting where we could improve its clarity. Thanks.
As has been said, all that is planned at the moment is to take a look and report back.
Did you mean to direct this query to me, or to Philip, who is the one who has read into it the suggestion of creating full sports routes?
Incidentally, the minutes suggest some confusion regarding Pats comments about preserving the integrity of the line? I would interpret this as meaning that you make the decision as to whether to retrobolt or whatever on a route by route basis in the order that the routes were originally climbed, with the logic presumably being that the most natural lines would have been climbed first and so by going in order it reduces the danger of interfering with an older and more natural line when you retrobolt a more recent line which crosses it.
Personally I would have suggested using some sort of judgement as to which routes would actually make worthwhile sports climbs and using that as a part of the decision rather than simply assuming that the older lines are most natural (there are plenty of wandering lines about which avoid natural features in an effort to seek out easier ground), and also potentially not allowing a very good sport climb to be created because it would interfere with an older, more wandering and objectively worse line that it's been decided doesn't need bolting.
Also, isn't the draft in the appendix a rewrite by Philip of the original SDMC proposal?
e)iv. and i)iii. both would certainly lead people to assume that sports climbs are to be created, since that's unambiguously stated as what "may" or is "expected" to happen. If that wasn't the original intention of the SDMC proposal then those would be obvious areas to look at to improve clarity.
This is where my main confusion comes though. The original SDMC proposal has prompted people to suggest retrobolting Gilded Turd and St Gregory's (PL), to suggest that creating a sports venue out of bhq would be basically good and uncontroversial (PL and several others), to push for the complete retro bolting of a few of their own routes (BW) and so on, but yet you're saying that the SDMC has never proposed turning the area into a sport venue at all? Why then have so many people taken from this proposal the idea that a new Devonian sport paradise is in the offing?
I know feel that bolted crags have helped to push the sport forward and create some increadably talented climbers who are scariliy good trad climbers.
There has always been a tendancy to bolt the harder routes and I really feel that with the demise of Chudleigh North Face as an excellent easy/mid grade sport venue it is time to re assess the sport ethic in the South West.
I am not sure that BHQ is the ideal venue, however I think it is a good idea to bolt more easier climbs. I am slightly worried that 'where do we draw the line' comes into it. LQP is an ideal venue for bolting and indeed there are some excellent bolted lines already in the quarry. Black Ice bolted would be a shame as well as great!!
Not really sure what the answer is but I am glad the discussion has been opened up.
>... yet you're saying that the SDMC has never proposed turning the area into a sport venue at all? Why then have so many people taken from this proposal the idea that a new Devonian sport paradise is in the offing?
Correct, the SDMC has never as far as I'm aware suggested turning either venue into sports climbing venues. It has asked, "what shall we do?" It might be reasonable to bolt both places up but the SDMC suggestion (and so I don't get into trouble, it isn't even an SDMC policy ratified by the club) was to consider a range of options.
I plan to try and climb all the routes at both venues over the winter. Hopefully others will do the same and we can come to a sensible view involving as many people as possible. At that point hopefully the SDMC can return to the BMC area committee with a proposal.
So they should be bolted? To 'improve' the 'venue'? And 'encourage more people down'?
I'll lay my cards on the table. Climbers are often assured that trad climbing is under no threat from sport climbing as we live in an environment where trad and sport can happily co-exist.
But then we are told that there is a desperate need for more 'sport venues' for neglected sports climbers with no handy clip-ups so existing routes should be bolted up to cater for them. And it doesn't make sense for people to have to lug trad gear along with them as well as their quickdraws so we should have to accept that certain crags are simply 'sport' (Portland?) and will get bolted. (Just why the hell the BMC does not adapt their bolting guidelines to say categorically that if a route can be adequately protected with leader placed protection it should NOT be bolted I do not know). The solution in some parts of the country is to dig out all sorts of crap bits of rock and bolt it. I am just not convinced that the solution should be to take existing trad venues and bolt them to cater for a 'need'.
I am just not convinced that the solution should be to take existing trad venues and bolt them to cater for a 'need'.
If an existing route was done heavily reliant on pegs and these have since rotted, snapped or whatever then it does improve the venue to do something about them, regardless of what that something is almost anything is better than leaving them to rot, even removing them since at least they don't offer false hope that way.
As for neglected sport climbers - the old timers got to do them as clip ups back in the day when the pegs were new, and even pretend it was trad rather than the "poor mans sport" some of these routes probably were, so it seems a bit rich to me to moan that today's generation might like to see the protection in the same state it was in years gone by, just because at the time they were equipped only for the short term.
Have you ever felt seriously disappointed that all the routes which were originally protected by drilled pegs (poor mans bolts anyway) on Portland with horrific top outs through the capping rubble have now been turned into reasonable sport routes? I haven't. If I wanted that I'd go to Gogarth.
Define adequately in a way we can all agree with, and you've taken the first step to making it happen...
Also, how does that work in reference to the point above about pegs? Does adequate leader placed protection include placing a half dozen pegs in the pitch?
All this recent interest in Berry Head Quarry inspired Ken Palmer and I to throw a top rope down Equipoise (E4 6a) today. I give our impressions below, though bear in mind these may be clouded by it being a dull cold November day.
Looking down the route from the wildly exposed prow (base jump anybody?) the route looks solid and surprisingly ledgey. The neighbouring climb Boo- bah Plost (HVS 5a) looks very loose, very vegetated and with mud filled cracks. We couldn't envisage routes like these becoming Devon's new sport utopia for lower grade climbers. In fact any bolting in it's vicinity would do well to avoid the very features which would have attracted the first ascentionists. Personally I doubt anyone would want to bother bolting such a long and demanding line and take responsibility for providing a safe sport route.
Back to Equipoise ... Ken had two nasty incidents of blocks parting company on his abseil down. It is clear that there are more blocks immediately left and right of the line which could do the same. Any bolting should be done so as to deter such off piste adventures. The climb was covered in lichen which is like micro ball bearings under your fingers. However we wire brushed it a bit and it is clear a few ascents a year would keep it in good condition. The pegs were very corroded but the climbing itself was good - of a balancey nature in magnificent positions. The pitch is immense and whilst it felt the full 6a today with cold fingers it is pretty soft. In it's current condition we felt it might be at least E5 5c to onsight (form an orderly queue). It would probably make a sport 6c if safely bolted and prepared.
So our experience of what is clearly one of the soundest routes in the quarry echoes many of the views expressed above.
Pat (according to Iain) "Early routes may be crap but most of Bruce Woodleys are 2/3 star and he wants them retro-bolted". (Well the original route of the Quarry certainly does look a bit crap and wouldn't translate at all easily to a safe sport route).
Iain "there was a considerable amount of loose rock and natural protection was conspicuous by its absence, but there was considerable scope for new routes". ( Well maybe but the work required to make new lines safe would be a bit off putting).
Ledifer "You've got my support, especially if it involves some routes in the 4-5 range. It'll be great to have a decent beginner friendly sport venue that's closer than Portland!" (Making this venue into a beginner friendly sport venue is I am afraid a very long shot. Once Bruce's harder cleaner lines have been bolted I suspect the momentum may be lost)
David Coley "One thing I am concerned about is that if bolts are placed to encourage more traffic then this is only done in a way that doesn't end in more danger to all. Bolting unstable rock is a very bad idea". (A good point well made)
This is an interesting viewpoint. Surely if said bit of rock is so crap that nobody really climbs on it despite there being established routes then why not let it be reclaimed by nature. What's wrong with having routes/pieces of rock that never get climbed and are left as the niche environments that they are?
Having started climbing in Devon this interests me though I have never been to BHQ, though I have looked at the routes in the guide and considered going to do some (not now though!!)
Does nobody else agree that if rock is too shit to climb traditionally then why climb on it at all? Many sport venues would be poor trad venues due to lack of gear coupled with hard climbing but for the most part these areas have good climbing, I have no qualms with this, but if you can climb in an area on natural gear but no-one does due to terrifying looseness (as kafoozalem regales us with) then why bolt it?
Obviously as I haven't been, maybe I'm wrong but it is more than just a question of whether we are losing the trad vs sport fight, but also a question of whether we are overstepping the mark and trying to keep bits of rock superficially clean and reducing a very individual niche habitat.
Dammit. Guess I'll have to make the trip to Portland then if I'm gonna give bolt clipping a go.
Well I suppose we could consider bolting low man? [runs for cover] ;-)
> This is an interesting viewpoint. Surely if said bit of rock is so crap that nobody really climbs on it despite there being established routes then why not let it be reclaimed by nature. What's wrong with having routes/pieces of rock that never get climbed and are left as the niche environments that they are?
If you were arguing about some beauty spot, I might have some sympathy with that argument. I think going there might inform your opinion.
I was the other person who put up the 3 star routes with Bruce - Sunset Boulevard , also its neighbour Burning Bridges (2 star) back in 1983! These were test peices then; and still remain so today. Both were put up with out pegs using the gear we had at the time.
Modern small wires and cams will make it easer to protect these routes - but they still remains a test peice!
I would NOT like to see this changed by the addition of bolts to these routes. Bruce may have different views, but i have not seen him in 25 years so i can not comment for him.
I support sport climbing where there is no natural gear; or the replacement of existing rotting pegs by new stainless staples. Any new routes which could be opened by placing bolts on NEW rock - not near (close enough to clip) the routes we put up, i beleive should be carried out. But leave the test peices alone!
If the people who put up the other routes wish them to be bolted then that is a matter for them - and i would support their decisions. But they should be sought out and asked.
Thanks for taking the time to visit.
I'm starting to think that the middle line pointed at by the SDMC proposal might find a good balance between all those that have commented, after agreement at an area meeting (1 and 2 could be done without a meeting I assume):
1. examine each route.
2. clean if safe to do so.
3. consider replacing pegged belays and runners with bolts, on a route-by-route basis.
4. don't (at this stage) turn anything into a sports route.
It would be really, really good if others would visit so they have a better understanding of the situation even if it is just to look at the face from the base; I suggest you only climb the routes if you have the experience to deal with the rock in its current condition.
> I was the other person who put up the 3 star routes with Bruce - Sunset Boulevard , also its neighbour Burning Bridges (2 star) back in 1983! .....Both were put up with out pegs using the gear we had at the time... I would NOT like to see this changed by the addition of bolts to these routes. Bruce may have different views, but i have not seen him in 25 years so i can not comment for him.
When you say you also put up the routes can you be clearer what you mean by that ?
It was my recollection that Bruce led the routes but I vaguely recall that someone had cleaned them first. If so was that you ?
I also seem to remember that Sunset Boulvard required hand placing pegs in pockets for pro. If so not your standard trad rack. Again my memory may be wrong.
ps I think we made an abortive attempt on Rainbow Bridge the following year which was well above my ability and I ended up in the drink.
I believe the problem with your stance is that you have had no part in maintaining the route since you opened the line years ago, when you made the route relatively safe for your ascent and for a few years after. If however you came back and repeated the line with rp's yourself, the route will be of a different character, not the route you originally made the ascent of. There are many places, the Sanctuary wall is the obvious one where a number of routes where grabbed by whacking in the iron ware, congratulations, name in the history books, but what for the longevity of the route? Some of the popular lines on the Sanctuary wall are cared regularly by a conscientious local but many of the others are not. If one was to climb these routes again on completely natural gear they will be very different routes and in my belief no longer the "property" of the original ascentionist. I am not actually advocating bolting everything rather suggesting the importance of common consensus, and the that if one wants to claim your right of control over a line just being first isn't enough if you're not going to care for your creation. This is obviously easy if you don't whack the ironware in to get in quick.....
Thanks for the responses. It seems clear that experienced local activists need to get down there and inspect the routes. Top roping is possible if you take extra ropes to belay back to the fence. I'll try to look at the other routes by Bruce and K Philips (Dawlish)and would urge others to do likewise. From what K Philips and Robbie Warke say it seems likely that Burning Bridges and Sunset Boulevard could be scrubbed up and restored as trad routes.
However climbs where climbs are still reliant on pegs, tat and non standard gear like hand placed pegs I would favour bolting in some fashion. There are too many rendundant routes on Torbay limestone which have no appeal to subsequent ascentionists who are not driven by first ascent glory. History will not be changed in that the exploits of the first ascentionists will be on record. I agree with John that climbs are not the property of the first ascentionist but wherever possible their views should be sought and taken into account.
> However climbs where climbs are still reliant on pegs, tat and non standard gear like hand placed pegs I would favour bolting in some fashion. There are too many rendundant routes on Torbay limestone which have no appeal to subsequent ascentionists who are not driven by first ascent glory. History will not be changed in that the exploits of the first ascentionists will be on record. I agree with John that climbs are not the property of the first ascentionist but wherever possible their views should be sought and taken into account.
This more or less is how I feel, (and that as a diehard traddy who has repeated most of the pre-Woodly routes!) As you and others have said, both crags need further detailed inspection and possible cleaning before any proposal is put forward.
If one takes the Cheesewring, another man-made hole, as an example then there should be no problem in extending the trad/sport mix on Torbay quarried limestone.
'm unsure quite what your agenda is in regard to this venue given that by the sounds of it you'd never heard of it until this thread popped up.
To call BHQ a "trad venue" takes a fair leap of imagination. In its current state it would be generous to consider it any kind of venue at all, bar the DWS.
All your nonsense about "neglected sports climbers" and "lug trad gear" comes across very bitter - the fact is the majority of climbers are quite happy to enjoy trad and bolt-clipping, sometimes side-by-side, sometimes on the same route. The question is really about what's appropriate for an individual line or lines.
For my 2p I'd be happy to see BHQ bolted if there is solid rock hiding somewhere and people are inspired to unearth it, having looked at the state of the place and heard some horror stories I've never been tempted to look at any of the trad there.
It is unfortunate as others have said that there's a fair amount of potentially worthwhile lines down here that are lost to rotting pegs - the stuff on Moonshot wall comes to mind as does the headwall at Daddyhole between Zuma and Triton - routes that would be worth a look but no-one wants to get on peg-reliant routes that haven't been touched for 20 years.
Proposed Fixed Gear Replacement & Crag Clear Up At Long Quarry Point:
This like for like replacement of gear and possible installation of abseil stations, was raised by the South Devon Mountaineering Club (SDMC). (SDMC) were asked to present their proposals at a future meeting, detailing exactly what they were proposing to do. (SDMC) has since reported that further progress has yet been made. (SDMC) still await the interested parties behind the proposal to come forward regarding visits / cleaning / gear replacement.
Proposed Bolting of Berry Head Quarry Routes:
This replacement of rotten pegs with bolts, was raised by (SDMC). Since this time Pat Littlejohn (PL) reported that ‘the seaward face’ (where most of the climbing is), ‘boasts several 3-star routes’, put up by Bruce Woodley (BW). (BW) also reported that he was amenable to the idea of these routes being bolted and offered to help. (PL) added that he thought that this venue had the potential to be ‘the best sport venue in Devon’. He also added that as it is ‘totally quarried’ and ‘pretty much totally neglected, equipping it should be non-controversial’ (from a climbing perspective). Liaison with statutory bodies (wild life interests, rangers and land owners) will also be required before any work commences. Several volunteers have also come forward via UKC interested in helping with this. Funding would also be needed. The (SDMC) position is awaited to carry this forward.
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