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Topic - Pooing in the outdoors - particularly crags

jmwbarclay - on 25 Jun 2013
Ahhh Gogarth... the open sea behind you, the soaring quartzite cliffs, peregrines calling overhead, and the - oh God no! A huge, human turd!! I can't believe I have stepped in a massive shit, halfway up the grass bay of the Upper Tier, right next to a belay stance!!

The next 10 minutes were spent swearing a lot, cleaning the offending excrement from my rock shoe with a range of mosses, water and grass.

Sadly not the first time I have seen such deposits near crags and hillsides. Though definitely the first time I have managed to step in one.

We all get "sphincter wink" from time to time - Gogarth probably induces a loss of bowel control more than many crags; it's intimidating atmosphere and serious routes will often initiate an urgent desire to open your bladder, or worse. Here are some top tips for going for a shit in the outdoors:

1. Don't. If you can get to a lavvy prior to your day's excursions this is best for all concerned.

2. If (like me) you don't feel right until you have had your "morning constitutional" and for some reason it doesn't kick in before you leave the house, consider taking some loo paper, small bottle of hand sanitizer with you. Being prepared in advance means you feel more able to deal with the urge when it hits, rather than putting it off until you are desperately dropping your pants at an inopportune moment.

3. Bury it:
Step 1 - think ahead so you are not forced to drop your load at the last minute without having a chance to dig a hole. When you feel the irresistible urge, look for a spot where you can dig down.
Step 2: Find something to dig with, e.g. knife, nut key, stick / branch, sharp rock, boot or fingers as a last resort. If you are planning on wild camping as a hill walker, it is worth taking a small lightweight trowel e.g. I-Pood for this purpose.
Step 3: Dig a hole wide enough to accommodate your aim, and if possible about 15cm deep. This is not always achievable, but even if you can chop out a section of turf, scoop out as much soil as possible and get your deposit well aimed, this is better than leaving it on the surface.
Step 4: PUT THE PAPER IN TOO! The delightful sight of many a "toilet paper flower" in full bloom can put you right off your lunch.
Step 5: Scoop the earth back in, place the turf sod back on top and pat into place with your foot. A rock placed on top will help deter others from digging in the same spot, and prevents dogs hunting out and eating your poo - yes it happen and yes I have been on the receiving end of a black Labrador happily licking his lips as he bounced back to me, wagging his tail and face smeared with human shit! I didn't know that was what it was until I bent down to get a closer look as his grubby chops, only for him to pop his head up and gently head butt me in greeting - thus covering my own nose in the stuff. In the words of Morrissey: "I can laugh about it now, but at the time it was terrible..."

There are variations you might like to try, such as getting a stick to "mix it up" - blending your deposit in the hole with a scoop of soil prior to covering it up (err...put the stick in the hole too please!) which helps speed up the interaction of bacteria in the soil with your chocolate log.

As I say, not always possible to achieve this but my unfortunate incident at the start of this post was in a location where with a little effort, the offending article could certainly have been better covered and hidden.

Once well buried, the evidence is often decomposed and gone in a matter of a couple of months, so future toiletters may well use a similar location with confidence for years.

Happily, the incident did not spoil our day - we enjoyed 2 further routes after cleaning my shoe, though lots of Dettol was employed for both myself & my partner and our shoes back at home.

FYI this was about 2-3 weeks ago at the Cordon Bleau belay so you may want to tread carefully even now, and no we did not go on to climb Cordon Bleau for fear of further discoveries!

Please spread the word, & check out this link for a funny take on the whole thing.

Happy, sanitary climbing!


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