/ Eagle crag Borrowdale -whats going on??

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ebdon - on 11 Jun 2013
I having been wanting to go to eagle crag for ages as it always looked awesome and I always understood it to be something of a bastion of north lakes climbing. I finally persuade my girlfriend to go there last Sunday and I was pretty shocked of the state of the crag. It felt a bit like what I imagine climbing the winter lines on black ladders would be like in summer and I’m no stranger to lakes mountain crags. We did the 2 star VS Falconers crack which I would have thought would be pretty popular but it was probably one of the most vegetated routes and the second dirtiest route I’d ever been on - apart from the rusty pegs I felt like I was on the FA. Could someone enlighten me is this just the way some lakes crags are going or has this crag been under some massive bird ban for the last decade?
thegoatstroker - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to ebdon: unfortunately it has been bird banned when the weather has been good fir the last couple years i.e. spring.
Always wanted to get on falconers crack but havent got around to it.
I suspect eagle suffers from inbetween status i.e. is a bit of a mission for an after work crag and gets overlooked when you have a full day off and higher mountain crags are dry. I hope this year to get up there , i will take a brush!
Bulls Crack - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to ebdon:

It was never hugely popular - maybe because of a more than average dose of undergrading + ab it of a walk - times that by not being in vogue and wysiwyg
ebdon - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to ebdon: Oh well, I don’t know why I had it in my head it was ever popular - maybe it was the big two page topo in my Borrowdale guide. I can recommend it to anyone wanting an adventure!
A Mountain Journey - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to ebdon: Yesterday I went to the North side of Castle rock. Looking at doing Zig Zag. Most of the first 15 metres or so of the crag is heavily vegetated. We walked away and climbed on the clean & sunny South crag instead.
The upper pitches of North crag looked fine, but getting to them is a botanical excursion!
LakesWinter on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to A Mountain Journey: I had the same thoughts about Mayday Cracks on Sunday! I would have needed a trowel
Duncan Beard - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to ebdon: I think a lot of this is down to how wet the summers have been recently, simultaneously producing more plant growth and deterring climbers.
GPN - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to LakesWinter:
May Day Cracks - interesting that there's only 2 ascents in the logbooks over the last 2 years. I suspect the rockfall has probably put a lot of people off the North Crag, which is a shame really, especially with such excellent routes as this to go at!
Conan - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to A Mountain Journey:

Didn't think is was that much worse than it usually is here. It's only the 1st 5 - 10m but the rest of the routes are fine above this. (Appart from the obvious huge block of death)
jonny taylor on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to A Mountain Journey:
There have been some quite significant landslides down Zig Zag in recent years, which has probably not helped the state of that area. Plus, as mentioned above, the huge block of death probably means the north crag has seen a tiny fraction of the traffic it normally would, as most people are I think still giving it a wide berth. Leave a crag alone for a year and it reverts pretty fast.
Mostro - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to ebdon:
I remember a similar foray up to Eagle crag about 15-20 years ago and it was dirty even then. We faffed about on a HVS and backed off because of the moss and apparent lack of gear.
Dave Cumberland - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to ebdon:
> Could someone enlighten me is this just the way some lakes crags are going or has this crag been under some massive bird ban for the last decade?

1. Par for the course in North lakes at moment.
2. Culmination of many cold wet summers, lack of long warm dry spells.
3. Lack of poularity too - you will see more people boulderbating at Carrock than you will on crags like Eagle, Green, Raven Thirlmere, Great End, Hind, Newlands-Dalehead for example despite the presence of fantastic and often unstarred routes.
4. Many climbers prefer bolts in Europe or local bolted crags.
5. Lake District climbing may be over - vegetation is reclaiming the rock, most climbers are not concerned and go elsewhere.
6. It will only change with hotter drier weather.
ebdon - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Dave Cumberland: Think this is a little unfair as the thread http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=552379 will testify as do the multiple ascents of The Cumbrian and queues for routes I saw on Esk Buttress (a lot more popular I know) the weekend before last. However interestingly enough I do know a keen N. Lakes climber who’s pretty much given up on trad due to the crap weather over the last two years, hopefully the recent dry spell will continue and these routes wills see a bit more traffic, allthough I might indulge in some ‘boulderbating’ in the S. Lakes this wk end due to the unsettled looking forecast
PS. Carrock fell is ace.
danm - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to ebdon:

Yeah, Scafell was pretty busy this last weekend too. Basically, you have to work a bit harder, you may need to ab and clean a route first, and drop everything when there is a good weather window.
a lakeland climber on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to ebdon:

I think that climbers' expectations may have something to do with it. A lot of climbers begin outdoors on well travelled crags like Stanage or Froggatt where the passage of hands and feet keeps everything pretty clean. So when they head to the mountain crags for the first time, it's a bit of a shock.

I don't know why Lakes crags tend to feel dirtier than their Welsh counterparts, the acidity/basality of the rock itself may have something to do with it. Usually what looks dirty and unclimbable is anything but and there's probably only a hold or two that is actually dirty and needs cleaning. Obviously some routes are genuinely filthy as in your example. It all varies from crag to crag, some crags such as Gimmer, I've never known to be "dirty" whereas somewhere like Boat Howe Crags is pretty dirty most of the time.

We used to carry soft brushes as a matter of course to be able to clean up short sections on a route. Maybe it is worth doing again.

ALC
Kelcat - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to ebdon: Totally different crag but I was at Oxenber in the Dales last week & couldn't believe how some routes that have stars are now totally lost to vegetation. A couple of old boys that turned up were surprised too & said that the crag hadn't been like that two years ago when they last visited - they'd even climbed one route that just wasn't visible. I know nothing of these things - but does nature perhaps just take the crags back really quickly?
Rigid Raider - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to ebdon:

Fewer prople are going climbing, just as fewer people are going walking, caving and mountain biking. It's an age thing combined with the rotten summers.
victorclimber - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to ebdon: it never was very popular ,even less so now because of the bouldering ethic that's around at the moment,and the walk up .
Dave Cumberland - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to ebdon:
> PS. Carrock fell is ace.

Carrock has always been ace, and other bouldering venues like Parkend quarry, but it is no substitute for proper climbing which demands a greater commitment of time and much more. The hard venues like Dove etc get worked by the top teams in dry spells, unfortunately the vast bulk of remaining routes never get the grass pulled. There were many more climbers on trad crags and higher level venues in the past than there are now. The result is inevitable.
Skyfall - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Dave Cumberland:

You've gone and depressed me now. Having said that, if I think about my own climbing, I have indeed gravitated more and more towards N Wales as an alternative to the Lakes in recent years and partly because the weather is that bit better and the climbing more amenable somehow. I think there are various factors, not just weather and clean rock eg. I think the lines on the Welsh crags tend to be more obvious, the climbing and gear placements in the Lakes more subtle, maybe even harsh grades, and of course the M6 on the way home from a weekend away can be a complete nightmare. Largely as a result of travel issues, I have tended to spend more time up for a week in the Lakes staying in a cottage rather than fighting the weekend traffic but the weeks never coincide with good weather nowadays (not the case 15 or 20 years ago). Plus the cost of the Lakes and difficulty with finding overnight accommodation at short notice which is often easier to sort in other parts of the country. As a result of which my climbing in the Lakes is now almost non-existent (a few routes a year) whereas I used to be up every other weekend. I almost came up last weekend but opted for Wales again for some of the above reasons. The Lakes has a real charm and used to feel like a second home to me but, although my experience is a personal one, I have heard others cite similar reasons why they don't go to the Lakes much (often weather, traffic, cost). Ho hum.
Rigid Raider - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Skyfall:

This is very true. Long gone are the days when I used to leave work and jump in the car for a long Friday evening drive to somewhere for walking, climbing or mountain biking - or even skiing. I just don't have the energy for the traffic jams.

For me road cycling suits my present lifestyle and gets me fitter than I've ever been in my life... plus I get to ride a nice carbon bike and show off my saucy glutes.
Red Rover - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Skyfall: It would be sad to see Lakeland clmibing die, or just a lot of crags go back to nature. I used to always climb in north wales but I feel a bit fed up with it now and the Lakes are liek a breath of fresh air, plenty of really good climbing, nicer scenery than wales and much nicer places to eat and drink.
LakesWinter on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Red Rover: Lakes climbing isn't dying - there were at least 10 teams on Pillar on Saturday and almost no polish too. North Wales has better valley crags (Cromlech, Dinas Mot etc are all valley crags really) but the lakes has a better range of mountain crags imho.
bullybones - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to ebdon:
I was in Langstrath on Sunday. Didn't see anyone on Bleak Howe; routes on Fat Charlies Buttress were very mossy and/or vegetated; from a distance there apeared to be no-one on the ever-clean Sgt Crag Slabs either. I was thinking about the apparent neglect when it occurred to me that I'd been to these crags twice before, about 10 years and about 16 years ago - there was no-one there then either!

There were 5 bouldering teams on (or around) the Bowderstone on Saturday though, and the routes on Quayfoot Buttress seemed clean enough.

It seems to me now that the consequences of neglect were already kicking in back in the 1990s (I was more of a Lakes regular then, and this was happening on Pavey Ark as well as in Borrowdale). People avoid the mossy crags, which get ever mossier as a result. Hard to see what can be done except go climing with a trowel, but it's not much fun is it?
Ann S on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to ebdon:

This amazes me as I did the same route exactly 12 months ago and although the approach suggested a rather dark vegetated crag which did not look very appealing, once on the route I found it largely clean with very good quality rock. Perhaps some vegetation in the groove up to the first belay but otherwise clean. The worst bit is the steep grassy approach slope which could be lethal without grippy trainers. I think there were two other teams on the crag that day.
Skyfall - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to bullybones:

Sgt Crag Slabs has beem pretty rammed the three or four times I've been there in the last 7 or 8 years.
Skyfall - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Red Rover:

> I used to always climb in north wales but I feel a bit fed up with it now and the Lakes are liek a breath of fresh air, plenty of really good climbing, nicer scenery than wales and much nicer places to eat and drink.

I'd agree with a lot of that and, as I said, the Lakes was like a 2nd home to me for many years (and I did live there for a year in fact). However, whilst the scenery and charm remains the same, for the reasons I mentioned I have drifted away from it.

I very much doubt climbing is dying there but the impression I get is that it doesn't seem as vibrant now. Not quite the same point, but also where are the leading climbers establishing new routes and doing hard repeats?

unclesamsauntibess - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to LakesWinter:
> (In reply to Red Rover) Lakes climbing isn't dying - there were at least 10 teams on Pillar on Saturday and almost no polish too.........

So what have you got against certain European climbers then.............
bullybones - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Skyfall:
I get the impression Sgt Crag Slabs is enduringly popular (more popular then the other crags passed by on its approach), which you can probably put down to the fact that it's naturally pretty clean.
Simon Caldwell - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Kelcat:
> said that the crag hadn't been like that two years ago when they last visited

Last year's wet summer made a huge difference to many crags. This year, the late end to winter has perhaps resulted in a sudden growth spurt at the arrival of warmer weather (that's certainly what's happened in our back garden!).

Vegetation is a problem at several local crags round here, including those that are popular.
Dave Ferguson - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to bullybones:
> (In reply to Skyfall)
> I get the impression Sgt Crag Slabs is enduringly popular (more popular then the other crags passed by on its approach), which you can probably put down to the fact that it's naturally pretty clean.

I wouldn't say its "naturally pretty clean", Bleak Howe could be just as clean but isn't. Sgt Crag Slabs is popular thats why its clean, good routes on relatively quick drying rock, undergraded (counts for a lot these days) - whats not to like!

Bulls Crack - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Dave Ferguson:
> (In reply to bullybones)
> [...]
>
> I wouldn't say its "naturally pretty clean", Bleak Howe could be just as clean but isn't. Sgt Crag Slabs is popular thats why its clean, good routes on relatively quick drying rock, undergraded (counts for a lot these days) - whats not to like!

Overgraded shurely?
Dave Ferguson - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Bulls Crack:

You're right of course, but don't call me shirley!

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