/ It’s a Disgrace – New Bolts at Carn Gowla, Cornwall
Three heavy-duty belay bolts have been placed at the top of Triple Buttress where the routes ‘Rainbow Games’ (E2 5b – a superb three star route) and ‘Four for Texas’ (E2 5b – another classic two star route) top out.
I heard from a local climber earlier this week that someone had placed some bolts near the top of these routes and this evening I took the opportunity to run over and check out this act of vandalism for myself.
It is true. There they were, three brand new, heavy-duty belay bolts at the top of the crag. My first reaction was of great disappointment, then disgust and then a moment of fear.
Disappointment, because for decades the vast majority of climbers, both locally and nationally, have agreed that Cornish sea cliffs should remain bolt free. There have been many forums for discussion and some disagreements along the way but I am totally confident that I can speak for the vast majority of climbers when I say that placing bolts at Carn Gowla goes against all the values of adventure climbing and that these bolts are not wanted.
Disgusted, because placing these bolts is an act of wanton vandalism, damaging the rock permanently and leaving sica glue spilled randomly on the top of the crag and on the plant life. The perpetrators of this act had even left a washer and a nut just lying around at the top of the crag, which I believe speaks volumes about their ignorance and/or arrogance to the beautiful and natural landscape they were in.
Fear, because I thought for a moment that anyone stupid enough place these bolts might well have placed more. Had they placed protection bolts on the routes themselves I wondered as I peered over the edge? Not that I could see.
I suspect that the person responsible for placing these blots will never have the strength of character to own up to their actions, but in the fullness of time their identity will probably become known. However, I would be fascinated to hear their justification. Having climbed both of these routes many times, I suspect that the bolts have been placed for convenience, because arranging a traditionally protected belay takes a little time and a little skill.
Many climbers travel to the South West to experience the superb adventurous climbing at Carn Gowla and routes like Mercury (E2) and America (E4) have justifiably grand reputations. Both Rainbow Games and Four for Texas are of the same ilk – bold, traditionally protected, adventure climbing routes.
Many experienced climbers have likened the climbing at Carn Gowla to Gogarth and I have often heard the expression “more Gogarth than Gogarth”.
Carn Gowla is one of the premiere adventure climbing sea cliffs in the South West and clearly the person who felt that these bolts were necessary was completely out of their depth and completely at odds with the expressed wishes of the climbing community at large.
If you would like an historical context to this story, please have a read of the guest editorial I wrote for UKC in 2011:
I have added some photos to my UKC profile but they are waiting for approval.
This is bizarre Shane.
I've been at the top of these routes (not done the routes) and don't they finish on a big ledge with decent natural belays?
If you've built up adequate experience to climb E2 in a place like Carn Gowla surely you can make a belay on a big ledge?
What a shower of bastards.
I can't believe someone has done this. The point of Carn Gowler is that it is full of adventure and risk - if you don't like that go somewhere else.
Are the bolts being chopped? I know that this doesn't undo what has been done but hopefully it does show that it won't be tolerated.
Maybe the Gower/Ogmore bolters were on holiday there and got itchy drills?
This is terrible news. I've only climbed at Carn Gowla once (Mercury Direct)but its a brilliantly wild adventure crag I'm looking forward to returning to. Bolts have no place there at all. How easy would it be to remove them and the associated damage?
Do you reckon they might not turn out to have nothing do with climbers?
They don't look like climbing bolts, nor do I see much reason to have three grouped like that?
Could this have been placed by non-climbers, eg people abseiling in to survey the plant life for a conservation body - although I don't suppose conservationists would condone the placing of bolts either.
Assuming it's possible to set up a belay on natural gear, this is ridiculous.
So far I've only done Mercury and my memories are of an awesome route and extensive rope faff. We used five ropes - two for the ab in, two to climb on and one ore placed for the belay. Finding and sorting out the ab and the belay must have taken as long as actually climbing the route. Yet that was all part of the sea cliff experience and having a convenient set of bolts would have lessened that. If people want convenience, they should go sport climbing...
Bloody hell what an eyesore.
Might be possible to sledge hammer them out but that would create a mess... One for the BMC area meeting perhaps but if it were up to me (and I'm not a local) I'd leave them rather than creating more mess, on the understanding that if any more appear they would all be chopped to break off the thin end of the wedge.
I do wonder if they were non-climbers - not an expert but they look like some kind of rope access bolts rather than the bolts and staples that we're used to, though that in itself does not mean much.
Interesting that the bolts appear to be glued in, but that there is a discared washer and nut for an expansion bolt, as if the bolter had come equipped for all eventualities. My vote would be to angle grind them off; not ideal but wouldn't worsen the visual impact and would be a statement of intent.
It is a disgusting mess though, and pointless.
Very bad news Shane, but as someone has already remarked they don't appear to be the type commonly used by climbers.
Skip has mentioned the BMC orchestrated debate, but unfortunately the issue there specified only West Cornwall and the Northcoasts of Devon and Cornwall were not included at that meeting although as John Willson and others will undoubtedly confirm they have been declared bolt-free zones on many previous occasions.
They will be removed as sensitively as possible, unless, of course they have been placed by some other agency which has more claim on ownership of the cliff top than ourselves.
Sadly there is a history of bolting at Gowla, some of it relatively recently it is rumoured and I remember coming across a bolt on Crystal Voyage many years back, long before the '88 Guide, that was never mentioned in any FA description.
Not good at all. That said, I agree with the posts above that it may not have been climbers.
I would hope they can be removed once the reason for their placement is understood. Can they be tagged with a note asking for the owner to make themselves known? I'm not familiar with the access there, is it possible they may have got permission from a owner not related climbing?
No need for an angle grinder or sledge hammer, except perhaps as a very last resort. It will only make a mess.
If the concensus is they need to come out, find a way to do this with no further damage to the rock.
A straight pull extractor usually draws glue ins out cleanly unless there is a weakness in the rock. Basically the glue is weaker than the rock.
I have taken out petzl P55 easily with a 300mm long lever to rotate the bolt first.
Devise a longer lever with a huge lever arm ratio advantage and no climbing bolt will have a chance.
Judging by the type of bolts and the fact they've been placed in a 3. I think this is more likely to be non-climbers. Is there a zawn near by? Could it be slack liners?
> Judging by the type of bolts and the fact they've been placed in a 3. I think this is more likely to be non-climbers. Is there a zawn near by? Could it be slack liners?
My thoughts exactly - did you have a look at the headland visible in this pic? http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=224830
> My thoughts exactly - did you have a look at the headland visible in this pic? http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=224830
may be worth someone local having a look, it used to be my closest crag, but sadly I've had to move up country
What a stupid thing to say.
Bolts are becoming increasingly common on West Cornwall's sea-cliffs it seems, although generally tied to either end of a barbed wire fence ( http://www.javu.co.uk/Climbing/News/NewsArchive/Heath/index.shtml )!
It's been a few years since I've done Four For Texas and Rainbow Games but setting up the belay isn't difficult or time consuming, so I think the suggestion that these are 'belay bolts' is unlikely at best. As already mentioned above these eye bolts aren't the type used by climbers so I would have thought it reasonably obvious that they are there for some other purpose and their position (which isn't exactly discernible from the pictures) is just coincidental.
I've often seen these bolts around the Cornish coastline – they're used for mooring small boats and are available from marine equipment suppliers http://www.seaware.co.uk/Products/SS-EYEBOLT-12MM-X-120MM__30843.aspx Might there not be some reason, perhaps, for a person, company or organisation to moor some kind of craft off the cliffs here? A wave energy buoy maybe? Some data logging equipment perchance?
I wouldn't wish to point fingers, or jump to any conclusions, but there are some exploratory operations looking into mining/dredging the seabed here. This article might help: http://www.carvemag.com/2013/04/unlawful-sampling-for-cornish-dredging-plans/#.Uf7hAtKsiSo The map of locations seems to show plenty of red dots off St Agnes Head. Perhaps, Shane, you might like to contact Marine Minerals Ltd. or Surfers Against Sewerage to find out if these little chaps are anything to do with exploratory mineral sampling. I think Triple Buttress is just within the National Trust's landholding so contacting them will probably yield some answers – whatever purpose they're for I'd bet the landowner's permission was sought.
This is all just idol speculation of course – as I said I wouldn't wish to jump to any conclusions – but I suspect the answer to why these bolts were placed lies off shore rather than on it. Please do let us know what you find out Shane!
If you have nothing to add then please add nothing!!!!!
First port of call might be the coastguard, the military or the NT, if they're the landowner. Might be connected to some form of rescue exercise. I doubt whether it will be for boat mooring at that height and landing by small boat anywhere beneath Gowla would need more than a bunch of bolts.
If it was some kind of agency/organisation/company then they might have been aware of it happening
What is the big deal?
The same happened on my local sea cliff a couple of years ago. No one ever found out what they were for but it too was unlikely to be for climbers.
A unilateral decision was made and local climbers hashed them out of the rock. Seemed a pretty selfish decision to me.
If other folks are using them for a non-climbing reason then can you not just accept that, chill out and clip them as an easy belay?
Various suggestions, including slacklining, caving, fishing, survey work, coastguard and filming have been made as a possible reason for these bolts.
Personally, I don’t think it’ll be the following because:
Slackliners - there is no significant zawn to cross and nowhere obvious for the other end of the slackline to attach.
Fishing – fishermen abseiling to the base of the cliff seems unlikely. There is a small tidal platform at the bottom of the routes, which would be an unusual fishing spot. You do see fishermen along the coast here but they are always at the tops of the cliffs with very long rods.
Survey work – there is talk of dredging much of the north Cornwall coastline for mineral deposits but this is a huge, well funded operation and the survey ship is large vessel. I would guess that any diving would have been done from a boat. Other cliff survey work (bird survey’s for example) is possible but I know one of the people responsible for cliff surveys of birds in Cornwall and I know he doesn’t drill bolt belays!
Coastguard – I have some experience of how the coastguard train and conduct rescue operations and they don’t ordinarily place bolts but use stakes to create belays as and where needed. I think this is unlikely.
Filming – a possibility. I know the NT ranger responsible for St Agnes headland / Carn Gowla so I will check with her and see if she has any knowledge of filming activities (or any thing else).
Caving – probably the most likely if it’s not climbers. The whole of St Agnes headland was heavily mined and there is a small zawn (about 10ft wide) behind the headland where the bolts have been placed. It is possible that some has placed the bolts to access the zawn.
Sorry if I have jumped to any conclusions. I’ll head back to the bolts later this week and have another look with a fresh perspective. I’ll also ask a few people that I know (coastguard, National Trust) and see if they can shed any light.
As far as I know, Mark hasn't been in Cornwall at all this year. He's certainly been in Spain for the last couple of months, so you can take that "conclusion jumping" right out of the equation.
Thanks Shane. Let me know if I can help in any way. However this action does throw up some related issues concerning fixed belays.
Anyone who's visited the popular slabs at Screda Point, Hartland Quay cannot fail to have noticed the collection of unsightly stakes along the ridge just beyond the carpark wall, obviously placed and used by local adventure centres, even though there are alternative belays readily available. A similar story at Lr Sharpnose and other popular crags along the coast with no obvious easy ways down, where tat builds up regularly. The BMC have provided me with a SS chain for a fixed belay/abseil point on the middle fin, but I can understand the views of those who maintain that a couple of discreet bolts would be less intrusive than a chain and conversely those who say that all fixed gear, stakes, chains included, have no place along this coast. Doubtless a debate that will re-surface again and again.
Retro-bolting against the will of the local climbing community is disrespectful, and it goes against one of the few rules of our sport. But, in the wider scheme of things it is of very little consequence - compared to, say, climate change or the loss of biodiversity. We should oppose unsanctioned retro-bolting, but do so calmly, and for the sake of our sport, not the defence of our own egos.
But, in the wider scheme of things it is of very little consequence - compared to, say, climate change or the loss of biodiversity.
Which in the even wider scheme of things are of even smaller consequence - compared to say the collapse of our sun.
So why bother, or care, or be passionate about anything eh?
Pretty depressing but like others I struggle to believe that it's climbers, unless it's some deranged Ally-Smith style joke/gesture.
> Caving – probably the most likely if it’s not climbers. The whole of St Agnes headland was heavily mined and there is a small zawn (about 10ft wide) behind the headland where the bolts have been placed. It is possible that some has placed the bolts to access the zawn.
> What is the big deal?
> The same happened on my local sea cliff a couple of years ago........
But it did result in a 500+ post thread on UKC!
But (semi) seriously, most bolt debates are fuelled by climbers fragile egos. If we get a bit of perspective then perhaps we can find pragmatic answers and leave our passion where it belongs - in our performance on the rock.
Pete, are you aware of Shane's climbing experience? I would be very surprised if his ego has been deflated by someone bolting a belay on an E2.
Perhaps Shane is passionate about the area in which he grew up wanting to maintain a climbing tradition that attempts to be respectful to the landscape?
Why does 'our passion belong on the rock'? Climbing is an ultimately futile past time. I think it's great that local activists seek to maintain some of our traditions and at the same time working to maintain access by ensuring that our community are seen to behave responsibly.
Let's hope that these bolts are nothing to do with climbers but establishing who placed them will be useful to ensure that climbers are not blamed by landowners or other interested parties or agencies.
Go chop em
Shane's right to be angry about this and maybe by making this strength of feeling clear we can prevent more of this happening in the future.
If you want to see what happens when not enough people complain, read the Gower thread.
This may not be of much use but this type of bolt is relatively common in the area where I climb( Ibiza) & I have seen them in other sport climbing areas in Spain so they have most likely been placed by climbers, but 3 is a bit odd. Perhaps one is duff?
Whether you place a bolt to hold a "cattle fence" for flying pigs, caving or climbing inabilities, its all vandalism. If you don't deal with the small minded actions of some, others will follow. Like happened on the Gower. I'm not so het up about quarried holes in the cliff but I for one will remove anything that alien in the natural cliffs around here. Please though, this can be done in a relatively considerate manner.
Maybe working out where those bolts come from is a start. They look like the ones we used to use in the swimming pool to hold the tensioned lane ropes in places. Kind of concerning as the ones I am thinking of some from a chandlers and aren't that strong. Also, if you climb that area often, would you put the bolts so close together?
I also wonder how these bolts would perform under test. It would be interesting to show others what is extracted and how well these compare with proper bolts. As sort of look what happened if you trust badly placed bolts sort of thing. The sort of thing I would have thought the BMC may be interested in (the informing of members about inadequate bolt placements, possibly elsewhere in the world). I have a great picture of a snapped bolt in Croatia somewhere if this helps :o)
Surely the same ethical standard should apply to all rock types.
A friend told me that the 7c he did with bolts in Chee Dale was justified.I'd already top roped it.He didn't think anyone could do it without.A 13 metre route.A beautiful red wall polluted with bolts.8b has been soloed,so clearly 7c can be,or done on trad gear. Greed rules,not o.k.
A start would be ,that when re equipping bolt routes,bolts should be more widely spaced,with the first more than 7 metres off the floor.
If people don't have the balls for that,set up a top rope.
Another alternative is the East German approach,placing bolts on lead only,by hand ,not a battery drill.
A recent bolt route on Stoney,Garage Buttress has 3 bolts in the first 25 feet,a section of rock I used to solo up and down back in the 70's.Feeble.
I have to say that I often think a stainless chain or wire or belay bolts at many venues would be more environmentally friendly and less intrusive than a heap of old weathered tat, vicarage cliff springs to mind where a small number of lower offs would be far less intrusive than spikes adorned with meters of old climbing rope, rotting slings and corroding karabiners. Lower offs would potentially be safer as well.
as well as preventing erosion to many of the sensitive flora that adorn the top of crags, notably along the top of many culm cliffs.
but until then it will be a case of retrievable abseils or lowering off the sun bleached tat with my eyes closed.. or tip toeing through the flowers at the top.
Moving the responsibility for safety from the climber's own judgement rarely makes things safer. How many times have bundles of tat (we are not talking single pegs here) fail either here or abroad, compared with inexperienced climbers coming to grief abseiling of suposedly safe bolts ? It could be argued that the very presence of bolts will encourage people into an environment they are not equiped to deal with.
There is absolutely no evidence that I know of that shows that bolts are safer than conventoional abseil stations.
Found this item on a Google search. Perhaps connected?
There Iain, right in one!
> There Iain, right in one!
Absolutely Jon: lost count of how many of my castles in the sand (i.e.routes) have been washed away by time and tide. What we need on this coast are some proper Avon type stabilizing bolts 30m long to keep the crags anchored to the mainland!
However these bolts might be at a camera station set up for a TV broadcast?
I don't understand... You don't know who placed these bolts, or for what purpose, and that annoys you as you feel that they have no right to drill and place bolts... What therefore gives you the right to go and yank them back out again? I am not a troll, I am not trying to provoke an argument, I am merely shocked at what seems like hypocrisy to me... If they don't have the right to place, them, you don't have the right to remove them!
Do these really subtract so much from the crag, that you simply cannot visit the area without getting involved and taking matters into your own hands? These cliffs do not belong to you - if the landowner wants them removed, then so be it, but it is not your job to police these crags!
To answer you , there is no hypocrisy. If the bolts were a legitimate placement by another party other than climbers then they would have sought permission from the relevant bodies... they did not.
Do you know that?
I hope this answers your question .
This is a rock platform so no erosion problem. There is an adequate belay on the platform and no tat in place.
Where on earth is the logic that that is somehow more acceptable than the 'conventional' bolting process? "Oh yes, it's fine to place bolts if it's tortuously difficult to do so, but not if you do it from a TR." To me, it makes no sense whatsoever.
I've never understood that rationale and never will.
It's 'ground up' logic. And it's exactly what was historically 'conventional'.
Re chain vs bolts, a chain is more intrusive but also more sustainable in that it can be replaced without leaving unsightly bolt stubs - albeit they would only be visible from the belay. Either way, no worse than the current collection of tat and bust biners!
Erm, some of us care about the traditions, the ethics and the experience! Al of which would be adversely impacted by bolting sea cliffs. Albeit it seems unlikely that climbers were responsible in this particular case. Yes, in the grand scheme of things it's no big deal but then you could say that climbing is pretty pointless anyway, so why bother with having any principles, why bother at all in fact... Well, I guess we like doing it and the sea cliff climbing experience (and trad generally) is best left to be appreciated as it is.
Yes, I realise that, but it's the 'means justifying the end' element I have trouble with. If the 'end' is, in the opinion of some, considered to be unjustifiable, how can the 'means' somehow legitimise it?
Rust spots already...
Never climbed in a place that used homemade bolts before? It's a weak justification and you should stop trying to use it as such and move on to something else.
Actually I would like to know who placed the bolts in the first place. I do have a suspicion which I am hoping is wrong as these people are supposed to be in agreement with the ethics of not placing bolts on the cliffs. I want to know why they are there, if the landowner does in fact know these bolts are there, if they are as dodgy as I think they are because the same person could be putting up similar bolts in other places, and why it is hypocrytic to give a shit about the place I regard as home? I have a tremendous respect for people who clean up after others, as long as they are in fact not making the matters worse, i.e. somebody putting the bolts back the day after removal, leaving stubs in the rock, or defacing the environment in general.
As for my right... I go up Snowdon, I come down with a bag of trash left by a number of mindless others as I find the sight of plastic on the hill distasteful and disrespectful. I pick up plastic litter off the beach and take it home (think how much plastic would be removed from the marine environment if a large number of people did this) as my job involves the marine environment and we are seeing the impacts of these things elsewhere. Despite seeing the benefits of plastics in society I am concerned with the disposal. I consider the bolts to be a similar form of trash until somebody can give me a good reason for them being there. A bit like the bolt up on Great Mis Tor. I am assuming it is to help pull up a flag pole as I can't think of another reason but you have to wonder at the competence of some people if they can't simply sling the large boulder that the bolt is embedded into. I do not only take photos as the adage goes, I pick up trash! And, I will cover up the equivalent of graffiti!
If you do not care passionately about the environment you are in or the type of adventurous climbing found in the south west (or even seemingly random bolts in tors on dartmoor) then I would suggest you are missing something.
I believe that in some areas chains or wire will be painted with a texturised paint to help it blend in with the rock, whilst impossible to make them invisible I do not think that they would detract from a crag. If anything certain creams would become more accessible (thinking of vicarage). I take the point made earlier about a climbers judgment and tat, but sometimes feel that as a climbing fraternity we can be exclusive rather than inclusive. I climb regularly on the north coast and have done all my climbing life. I would not see bolts being added to routes, I would however consider at certain locations bolt lower offs or chains. If this made the area more family friendly and accessible. I still believe it would be safer and more environmentally friendly.
I do not think that they should be at every venue and do not think we should be bolting routes, I do think though that in some locations they may be of value.
Nick don't shout at me or I will get phill on you! ;-)
In the context of this thread not only have bolts been placed in an area where are not needed or wanted they have been placed by a person who doesn't possess the prerequisite knowledge or skill to do it safely.
Please feel free to have the last word on the matter...
> If anything certain creams would become more accessible (thinking of vicarage).
Sounds like tea with the vicar.
> I have to say that I often think a stainless chain or wire or belay bolts at many venues would be more environmentally friendly and less intrusive than a heap of old weathered tat, vicarage cliff springs to mind.
What about the approach tat? I think it's worse than the belay station because everyone sees the impact of the sport and not just climbers at the top of an inaccessible crag.
Custard would be good :)
If you're referring to the Vicarage Cliff approach, it was originally fixed by fishermen as elsewhere along this coast. Admittedly there is now an old climbing rope installed but the anglers and beachcombers tend to use whatever gets washed up on the shore (c/f the final descent down to Cornakey) Near Hell's Mouth further down the coast we discovered an old rusted caving ladder. Neither Pat nor I felt brave enough to risk using it without some form of back-up!
Quite apart from the visual impact of bunches of tat, nylon bleaches and weakens very quickly when UV and salt combine, as does alloy. Popular crags such as Vicarage and Gull Rock with their low to middle grade routes naturally appeal to less experienced sea cliff climbers who may not be fully aware of the consequences of being cut off by the tide, so some sort of semi permanent ab/belay stations may be preferable in these situations, whereas the attraction for many of the likes of Gowla, Tintagel and Blackchurch (and Gogarth of course) is the challenge of the rock and the situation. Diluting the experience by making them "safer" would destroy their unique ambience.
"I climb regularly on the north coast and have done all my climbing life. I would not see bolts being added to routes, I would however consider at certain locations bolt lower offs or chains. If this made the area more family friendly and accessible. I still believe it would be safer and more environmentally friendly.
I do not think that they should be at every venue and do not think we should be bolting routes, I do think though that in some locations they may be of value."
Having hung off many of your belays James I can see why your advocating the use of bolts for belays, could there also be diagrams which would identify simple belay set ups... ;-)
Am down in the SW end of Aughust are u still on the same phone number
Iain - I can definitively confirm that our fundraising lifeboat day has NOTHING to do with these bolts!
Didn't think it would. Thought the bolts might have been placed for a camera position so I googled "filming near St Agnes" and your fundraising day came up. My apologies for the unintended accusation! Donation/forfeit will be paid into the nearest RNLI collecting tin. Hope you get the weather and the crowds. Cheers
If persons do not possess the skill to climb trad then they simply shouldn't climb. Or better still book onto a short course and learn properly.
I have climbed for 16 years and still have not set foot on a UK bolted route, I personally feel bolts have their place and the UK isn't it, they should be kept for the long marginly protectable alpine routes
Why that distinction? I would rather see bolts limited to grotty quarries than ANY mountain or see cliffs.
> Why that distinction? I would rather see bolts limited to grotty quarries than ANY mountain or see cliffs.
Yeah, very odd.
I don't agree with the placing of bolts on sacred Trad crags and do feel that restriction are key to preserving areas for those who want that kind of adventure.
But would like to put forward the point that some people do possess the skills to trad climb but still prefer bolt clipping. It is a different experience and some people (including myself) enjoy that more. I mostly really hate the faff.
Unfortunately not all of us have pockets deep enough to fuel weekly excursions to the continent and am very glad that places like portland and cheddar exist in the southwest.
I agree with you on this, some will be tempted to use them - BIG mistake!
Dont know why they are there, but should be taken out ASAP.
UNLESS YOU KNOW SOMETHING WE DONT!
No agenda to this, genuine question...
Do you think that bolts (esp belays/lower offs) placed by climbers should be rgistered to the bolter? This happens in caving although quite how it works is beyond me. They have insurance too which i guess covers liability.
It certainly would help to trace rogue bolters like the Ormes screwfix wonders earlier this year
A lot of this discussion strikes me as very blinkered. If these bolts detract from the adventure of the venue as a place for climbing, as some of you claim, well OK, so it does, if you say so. That's for those who climb there to judge. But to argue that there is gross damage to the rocks strikes me as silly. It's one rock on a whole headland. I run along there every couple of weeks and doubt I would ever spot them. I haven't yet. The massive path steadily widened by the likes of me , plus the odd commemorative bench ( I can't remember if there is one on that stretch, but you know what I mean) are much, much more noticeable.
Moreover, if the bolts were put there for reasons other than climbing, as Barney suggests, shouldn't there be a discussion about the value of this activity before the bolts used for it are condemned as disgracefully ?
Interesting that the person who placed these bolts is still unknown.
If you walk below a grid bolted crag I reckon you'll spot them.
If I walked below that one I would drown :-)
Of course I have seen bolted crags and when I got up close and looked hard I could see some of the bolts. When I lived in Grenoble many of the crags around me that I saw every day were bolted. But I couldn't see the bolts. I could see the chair lift, the ski jump, the trees, but not the bolts. Arguing against bolts because of their environmental damage seems a red herring to me. It's just so minimal compared to the damage caused by so many other leisure activities that some might turn who might otherwise climb if it were not so resolutely trad. How many bolts, do you think, need to be placed before the em approach the visual and environmental impact of one golf course, or one moto-cross track?
If you were to try and run across the top of C Buttress I hope you would....before you tripped over them. ;-)
Why don't we encourage people to climb indoors then the environment will be safe? Seems a better argument.
It's a guess. but yes, they might. I don't know though. The point is more that bolts are visually much harder to spot than the impacts of so many other activities. They are like the holes of a golf course, without the bunkers, greens, fairways, clubhouse and fancy housing etc that golf courses seem so often to insist on.
Yeah but you would have never had this awesome anecdote to share with us. If there is a tree behind why stick bolts in it? If there's plenty of natural anchors and you have conveniently brought a trad rack up with you then why not use them? Doesn't make sense. If you don't like it then no one is forcing it on you.
I don't find calling something you disagree with "idiotic and frankly backward" very constructive, especially when your opinion is against that of the consensus which doesn't want them there. Of course, belay bolts do have their place in some specific situations. But AFAI remember, there are plentiful natural belays above these routes (which makes belay bolts superfluous), it is unclear that these bolts are even useful for abseiling from anyway, and within the bounds of common sense, it seems better to me to leave as little disruption to the places we like as we can. No, of course (as others suggested) it isn't as bad as a quarry or a ski lift or a golf course, but then I wouldn't want any of those at the top of Carn Gowla either.
(BTW, when I abbed into America I did it from plenty of sound natural anchors I found. I wasn't left wanting bolts. Ab'ing from anything else just sounds idiotic and backward!)
> It's a guess. but yes, they might.
People like what they like, I'm not even trying to convince quadbikers or whatever to climb instead. One activity isn't equivalent to another, its like telling all walkers to go knit instead, as it's less damaging to the outdoors.
I suppose minimal risk + less impact would be a top rope station and you just bring you're own rope at sport crags. Safer than riskin those nasty 1st, 2nd bolt groundfalls.
Most of that section of coast is a spoil tip, worked over many years, and the evidence of man can be seen on every headland, be it mine waste, metalwork or derelict buildings.
Its a rugged, beautiful place but not a natural one by any means.
If the bolts aren't there due to climbers and they were possibly placed by another party who may or may not have permission of the landowner then I think people should hold off before ripping them out.
...and the old mine buildings on the cliff top in the area have been a popular location for filming since the Poldark series 30 years ago..... The triangular configuration of the bolts doesn't indicate to me that climbers are responsible.
Shame but there will be a way of getting them out if the landowner and BMC local area committee decide that's the way to go.
I heard that too. That stretch of coast is/was the central location for the series.
And if so perhaps the BMC could approach the beeb to ensure that they're removed after any filming and perhaps, if they're not fit for purpose for belaying, then a warning notice to that effect should be attached.
I had a look at the abseil into America a few weeks ago. Natural gear was not evident and the only possibilities were well off to one side. There were three unconvincing stakes. Two were really skinny (the poles used to support electric fences?) and there was an angle iron which snapped in two when I place my rucksack on it. I tied various bits of gorse bush into the abseil anchor I was fashioning when my partner began to have second thoughts about the whole adventure. Just as well since we went on to find Mausoleum to be a bit of an epic.
> I had a look at the abseil into America a few weeks ago. Natural gear was not evident and the only possibilities were well off to one side.
It is supposed to be an adventure.
In the Seventies on a first trip top Cornwall, we did not fancy abbing over a knot on Mercury as per the guidebook.
We looked around, used two ropes to link two well spread belay options and abbed down to the left of the route. Simple, and we had a realistic retreat option if needed.
On America, we abbed down Mauseleum, the route was soaking and when we ran out of barnacles to bridge on, we prussicked out. Mauseleum looked daunting as well, I have never been back. I know my limits.
PL 2 RG 0 What a hero.
Perhaps the message is.......do the original traverse approach. ;-)
PS. I'll have a word with the good doctor, who has a secret stash of stakes I believe.
PPS. Was Mausoleum wet and vegetated?
There's a tragic story attached to the original ab into Mercury over the centre of its capping roof Rick. The changeover knot hung in space and it was very difficult to control the swing as one transferred to the lower rope, and the lip of the roof is razor sharp.
I had actually finished the Gowla section for the 88 guide with a description of the descent you used, but before publication someone on the original had their rope cut on the edge and was killed.
In fact I would strongly recommend rope protectors for any abseil at Gowla, given the sharp-edged nature of the rock near the cliff top.
> PPS. Was Mausoleum wet and vegetated?
You guessed it. Here's my logbook entry ...
"Compared to other E2's I've done at Gowla this top pitch was a horror show. The cracks were choked with slimy succulents, there was no friction for dirty feet and the moves were unobvious and 5c. It would be easy to over commit. I sat on gear early on and when things didn't improve I put a shunt on the ab rope for additional protection. If it hasn't been climbed recently I'd treat it as top end E3"
> There's a tragic story attached to the original ab into Mercury over the centre of its capping roof Rick. The changeover knot hung in space and it was very difficult to control the swing as one transferred to the lower rope, and the lip of the roof is razor sharp.
> I had actually finished the Gowla section for the 88 guide with a description of the descent you used, but before publication someone on the original had their rope cut on the edge and was killed.
Thanks for that. I felt really bad at the time because I'd virtually finished the guide including the much safer alternative descent description. I actually much prefer your Mercury Connection approach as long as the sea and tide permit. Makes it even more of an adventure, even tho' the second pitch escape up the original line is straightforward if loose and vegetated.
I have carried out some further investigations and I can confirm that the bolts are nothing to do with the local Coast Guard, and that there is no known access to any mine entrances from this area (i.e. cavers are unlikely to be responsible).
The National Trust who own the land have confirmed that they have not given permission for any bolts to be placed and are basically annoyed that they have been. They have confirmed that there has been no access or conservation work on their behalf in the area.
At about the time the bolts first appeared BBC Coast were filming in the area and some of their team were kitted out for ‘rope access’. Although, I have no direct evidence that these bolts were placed by this film crew, given the dates, given that the bolts are unusual from a climbing perspective and given that a few professionals have said that the bolt configuration is of the type likely to be used by a film crew, my conclusion is that they were probably placed for this purpose.
However, the location of the bolts is unusual as if a camera crew wanted to get shots of the cliffs and coastline (of any description) there are much easier and safer locations to film from.
My suspicion is that to find the location and to access the location of the bolts (very steep, loose grassy and scree slope, leading to a hidden crag), that only a climber would have been able to facilitate this.
These bolts will be removed in the coming weeks.
Glad to see you on the forum Pete, hope you are well.
As for some perspective, I find these types of arguments strange. Yes, roads and other developments are far more visually intrusive than a cluster of poorly placed bolts, of course. But how that changes the fact that the bolts should not be there on Carn Gowla beats me.
I've only climbed on Carn Gowla once, and that was on a lowly HS, but it stands out as a memorable climb in a beautiful setting. Besides, I've been surfing and walking along that stretch of coast for about 20 years. I know it like the back of my hand. I'd hate to see any of it tamed in any shape or form. Places like Carn Gowla are precious.
Yes and what about my hallway that needs painting? thats a bloody eyesore!
That's obviously true but at the end of the day, we are only a bunch of climbers who have no more effect on the wider environment than any other group. What we can do is do our little bit to try to control the crag environment as Shane and others are doing here.
If it's so insignificant then who cares if someone chops them? We both know they're going for more reason that that they're an eyesore.
Hello Shane, I work for the BBC in Bristol and am also a rock climber and
rope access supervisor for the BBC and have been reading your thread on
this subject with interest. I have just spoken to the BBC Coast team and
they assure me that, whilst they have filmed a tin-mining sequence in this
area of Cornwall recently, no rope access or climbing was carried out, and
certainly no bolts were placed for their filming. I do not have a profile
with UK Climbing otherwise I would have responded to the thread directly.
And so the mystery remains.
> I have just spoken to the BBC Coast team and
> they assure me that, whilst they have filmed a tin-mining sequence in this
> area of Cornwall recently, no rope access or climbing was carried out, and
> certainly no bolts were placed for their filming. I do not have a profile
> with UK Climbing otherwise I would have responded to the thread directly.
Would the same Coast team also be responsible for location filming for the new Poldark series? That particular stretch of coast being relatively easy to access and with its spectacular scenery and prominent engine house has been used by other media outfits. Ladies in Lavender for instance, although set largely on the S Coast actually had a sequence here which was meant to be just outside Polperro!
direction.Often the first bolt can be 12 metres off the deck.After the first bolt,others are well spaced and big falls common.
This approach enforces a bolder habit of climbing.It keeps the standard of new routes fairly high.
I guess the Brits on the whole just don't have the balls for it.Much easier to ab down with an electric drill.
I have put in a few hand drilled bolts and they took me between 15 and twenty minutes each.Pretty much too pumped to then succeed on the route.
Hand drilling in the Peak has been accompanied by hold chipping on a grand scale,perhaps the idea being that if it is ok to damage the rock with bolts,it is then ok to chip holds if the grade is too high for the project aspirant.
battery drilling enables multiple routes to be bolted,depriving future new routers of those lines as trad routes;assuming the person who forst bolted them would replace bolts stripped by someone wanting to make the bolted route a trad route.Surely if it is ok to add bolts to a trad route,( in my opinion,out of order)then it is ok to strip bolts out to enabler a trader to rename the line
There has been Wave Power Generation work carried out along the coast in the vicinity of old mine workings and caves. Data gathering by instruments accessed from above. Any chance the bolts are from this work?
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