/ NEW ARTICLE: Farrletter: Too Farr for the Bolt?
Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=5710
Can the persons responsible please replace the pegs, or re-graded and re-describe the routes in their current state. I was there earlier in the summer intending to lead a couple of the trad routes, and the (presumably crucial) peg runners described in the book were absent, so there was no way I was going to set out on one of these routes without knowing if an E3 6a was now an E5 6a.
I'm not too fussed if the bolters or de-bolters want to accept responsibility for the current state of affairs, but the crag has now been left much less climbable than it's original state.
P.S. Very useful and timely article.
I'm no longer sure where I stand on this one. On first hearing it I was ambivalent, then looking at the crag I supported some retrobolting, but the retrobolting of some Ratho routes (which I am much more familiar with), along with some fairly unquestioning support of that (and the occasional personal remark which definitely solidifies my hostility towards the situation), I'm back to being ambivalent, or even supporting re-pegging and leaving it.
Asking sport climbers at a climbing wall if they think a crag should be bolted doesn't seem very representative.
How many of those climbers had actually visited the crag, or even climbed outdoors?
"Nothing more was climbed until John Lyall returned in 2007 "
Nothing? Or just no new routes? How can you know that nothing was climbed in 17 years? Not everyone logs on UKC...
"Coincidentally, MCofS was approached at this time by FC regarding their liability at Farrletter. Having cleared the forest below the crag, they were concerned about the in-situ protection (the slings and pegs) and their liability if these should fail through lack of maintenance. "
I don't understand this. Climbers all over the country take responsibility for their own safety. Also, how do bolts remove concerns about liability? Who is going to inspect and maintain those (and therefore put themselves in a position of potential liability)?
Its sad that we still can't find a way to find a middle ground.
Despite all the work put in to decide if this crag should be considered for bolting and, the time and expense put in to put up the bolt. It just takes one idiot with boltcutters to maintain the status quo.
the truth of the matter is that encouraging sport climbing, where appropriate would benefit the climbing community. I appreciate trad ethic and indeed prefer it personally - but I see no reason for both to not co-exist so we can share the climbing resources of these fair isles.
That made me chuckle!
I'm just covering every angle so that I can make sure I have all the bases covered when I set up a bolt fund to get Northumberland bolted, starting with Bowden Doors ;)
Before someone else says it
"Can't it be bolted as the trad climbers just not clip the bolts?"
I was thinking that as well. While taking a straw poll was a great idea, I'm curious as to how diverse the group was. Interesting nonetheless.
In reply to beastiebhoy:
I sometimes think that part of the problem when discussing it on UKC is that people who are either brand new to the sport, or just have never thought about the issues, come up with profoundly ignorant statements like "why can't trad climbers just not clip the bolts??!?!?!? Duh!". Whereupon other readers think "Jesus, these guys are bona fide mental defectives, best not give even an inch lest they take a moronic mile".
I'm exaggerating for effect of course.
'After Scott Muir opened the Extreme Dream climbing wall in Aviemore, he was looking for a possible sport venue and extensively cleaned and then bolted a section of The Badan. This was mainly on an area which had previously not been climbed, except for one of the two trad routes from the 1980's, The Bad Uns, first climbed by Keith Geddes and who was happy for it to be cleaned and bolted (the crag had become overgrown). However, the bolts were quickly removed by local climber John Lyall.'
Was that because of nesting birds of prey or was that somewhere else?
"Asking sport climbers at a climbing wall if they think a crag should be bolted doesn't seem very representative."
So are "trad" climbers not allowed in climbing walls?
"How many of those climbers had actually visited the crag, or even climbed outdoors?"
Probably a lot more than comment from afar on this website.
The method many not be ideal and comprehensive but it's better than just doing it off the cuff.
There is a bold E5 at Tynrich Slabs that i imagine hasnt been climbed much in the past decade and many of the other routes there lack much gear. It would be a sacrilage to bolt that little place. But its not steep and strenuous? No its not - it's nice and slabby but thats not the point.Otherwise the arguament should be that sport climbers only want to climb/bolt steep and strenuous routes. Too me, the retro bolting arguaments seem consistently inconsistent. Nobody climbs much at places like farrletter, brin, tynrich, pinnacle crag but i have done and still do and enjoy them for what they are worth - a bit of local adventure.
I like going to these little crags in strathspey and strathnairn, and just because they arent popular, doesnt mean they should be drilled up and fed to the masses.
I think itís a travesty that a venue which people rarely frequent (with the exception of outdoor centres and abseilers) cannot be bolted. Bolts appeared to have increased the desire of people to go and enjoy the crag and benefit from the outdoors. If more people had this attitude then perhaps there would be more people climbing hard trad, which seems to be some justification for removing bolts?? Now whoever has chopped the bolts has ruined the crag for everyones enjoymentÖsurely if there was such a desire to do the routes in trad style it would be possible to do the routes without utilising the bolts. Rant over.
I have a great respect for those reposonsible for the development of the crag (trad and sport) and appreciate all their efforts. I feel that there should be some compromise available to allow at least some of these routes to be bolted.
I haven't climbed at Farrletter so I don't really want to comment on the bolting situation.
However, I just wish the people who go through the effort of chopping bolts would put the same amount of effort into cleaning and developing trad venues. There are tonnes of under-used crags in Scotland that could be good with a bit of work.
If you're so desperate to preserve the trad ethic, put the hours in!
I'm probably going to get flamed massively for this little ditty...but it's never stopped me expressing an opinion before....
Recently my 83 year old mother has been very ill following 3 heart attacks and a stroke. She's in hospital in W. Yorkshire, close to where I was brought up in sight of Earl Crag, Ilkley, Crookrise, Rylston, etc...where as a kid I learnt my craft. As a result I have over the last few months been making frequent trips down to Yorkshire and combined it with lots of climbing on my old stomping grounds. And it's obvious...the lowland cragging in Scotland, (and by that I mean non-mountain crags), is by and large absolute rubbish compared to somewhere like Yorkshire. It's horses for courses - Scotland's mountain crags are magnificent and I have lived and climbed in Scotland for over 25 years. The wee crags like Craigmore, Auchinstarry, Neilston, etc. are rank.....
However, both in Scotland and down in Yorkshire, even during this lovely summer weatherwise, I have detected a distinct lack of one thing....outdoor climbers. Many crags are now neglected and pretty worthless, being overgrown, green and in many cases routes are now unclimbable...go and have a look at Craigmore to see what I mean....
I am definitely of the trad school, and used to be against bolts...full stop...not now...not ever...etc..etc BUT I think I was and am WRONG. I think anything that gets people out of climbing walls and onto real rock is a good thing and would be good for the climbing world. I think the time has come to allow retro-bolting on all lowland (i.e. non-mountain) crags. But bolts should not be allowed on mountain crags - some lawyer person at the MCofS or here on UKC can work out what is, and is not, a mountain crag.
It's time to stop all this should we/shouldn't we garbage and get on with it. Everything has a place and should be accommodated, including people who just want to have a good time, and if that means bolts on every lowland crag then actually, what's wrong with that? And if anyone thinks it's not going to happen anyway.....
I'm sure you can all pick holes in what I've said, but I don't care...it's just time it was sorted out, for good.....I'm off climbing....
Well, you obviously haven't been to Craigmore in a while because it's actually in really good nick at the moment. A guy who lives locally has done an amazing job of cleaning a lot of the routes and the place is really popular with boulderers.
I'm not against retro-bolting, some crags are definitely better for it. I just think we have to look at these things long-term. Just because a crag falls out of favour for a few years doesn't mean it won't be resurrected in the future, all it takes is a couple of folk to take an interest.
Are you trolling here?
If the majority of wee Scottish crags are 'rank' as you say, what would bolting do to improve that?
They'd still be 'rank' but bolted AND rank.
A lot of my favourite Lowland trad routes would be absolutely boring if they were bolted.
Take for example Walk on the Wildside at Auchinstarry- an bold and involving HVS or Fr4?
I know which I'd rather climb.
> There is a bold E5 at Tynrich Slabs that i imagine hasnt been climbed much in the past decade and many of the other routes there lack much gear. It would be a sacrilage to bolt that little place. But its not steep and strenuous? No its not - it's nice and slabby but thats not the point.Otherwise the arguament should be that sport climbers only want to climb/bolt steep and strenuous routes. Too me, the retro bolting arguaments seem consistently inconsistent. Nobody climbs much at places like farrletter, brin, tynrich, pinnacle crag but i have done and still do and enjoy them for what they are worth - a bit of local adventure.
> I like going to these little crags in strathspey and strathnairn, and just because they arent popular, doesnt mean they should be drilled up and fed to the masses.
Like you I've only visited the crag once. I came away feeling pretty uninspired and thinking it would be much better as a sport crag and at least that way the rock would probably stay clean (and this is from someone who rarely does sport climbing).
Tynrich Slabs is completely different and I think anyone who's climbed there would agree it would be a travesty if bolts were to appear there.
The opinion of all but one of the (trad) first ascentionists? Can't be many places where this is the case. I say bolt it up but keep John Lyall's routes (and some distance either side of them) bolt free.
The question of whether or not to bolt a crag should be by consensus after consultation through the appropriate representational body. I think a substantial majority in favour is needed, but once a decision has been reached, then all climbers, whatever their personal views, should accept it as a matter of climbing ethics.
If a consensus cannot be reached then the crag should remain unbolted. Due to our long history of trad climbing in the UK that should be the default.
I keep asking why we accept fixed pegs - and have yet to get a convincing argument. In this case it seems that pegs left in-situ have rusted away, impairing future placements and rendering some lines unclimable in their original state - I hope I got that right?
That really left the options as: letting the routes evolve into less-protectable lines and upgrading them; replacing the rusted pegs like-for-like with bolts; or equipping them as sport routes.
Perhaps if we refuse to accept "fixed" pegs and instead replace them for each ascent then we wouldn't get into this situation? Eventually we could dispense with pegs altogether (see Andy Kirkpatrick's point about "creative" cleaning in his book "Driven"). Imagine: no more rolling the dice when clipping old pegs; no rotting stumps obscuring placements, less faded tat and no rust streaks scarring our crags.
Too late for this crag, but something to think about, maybe?
1. Pegs accept a natural weakness in the rock, same as trad gear, and they cannot be placed anywhere.
2. Routes are very rarely fully pegged up and the pegs are used in conjunction with trad gear.
To me, pegs are like "fixed trad gear" and definitely not "sport gear".
I agree their use should be minimised and pegs rotting / rusting is an issue. I do fully support peg replacement on routes where the pegs are as crucial as they originally were.
> 1. Pegs accept a natural weakness in the rock, same as trad gear, and they cannot be placed anywhere.
> 2. Routes are very rarely fully pegged up and the pegs are used in conjunction with trad gear.
> To me, pegs are like "fixed trad gear" and definitely not "sport gear".
> I agree their use should be minimised and pegs rotting / rusting is an issue. I do fully support peg replacement on routes where the pegs are as crucial as they originally were.
Good points - and I think there is a real safety issue here as well as a problem with rusting pegs blocking future placements. We all clip "fixed" gear and hope; trusting our lives to whoever put it there in the first place. Shouldn't we take responsibility for our own safety and place pegs ourselves - BUT only where the first ascentionist used them? Over time we should move to "clean" climbing; eliminating pegs as placements widen and leader placed protection becomes an option. I'd love to see fixed pegs going the way of the dinosaur...
>The question of whether or not to bolt a crag should be by consensus after consultation through the appropriate representational body. I think a substantial majority in favour is needed, but once a decision has been reached, then all climbers, whatever their personal views, should accept it as a matter of climbing ethics.
> If a consensus cannot be reached then the crag should remain unbolted. Due to our long history of trad climbing in the UK that should be the default.
I completely agree, hence my questions above. Unfortunately it seems that current guidelines (such as those agreed by the BMC and MCoS, including seeking permission from the first ascensionist) are not being followed and APPROPRIATE consultation is not being carried out in many recent cases of bolting.
If this was done, and the process correctly documented with the relevant council, it would save a lot of problems.
Why not aim for a system that would correct these problems, as well as address safety concerns?
Find your local crag bolted? Contact the area council. Find out that they had several local meetings and votes, contacted the person who put the route up and had signed agreement, landowners permission had been agreed (where needed), the criteria laid out by the said council had been met, etc. The council could then have a record of what bolts/materials were used, and offer advice to the bolter in regards to this. This would give everyone concerned some reassurance that the crag has been bolted correctly and ethically.
Otherwise I can't see this argument ever ending and reckon I'll be taking shares out in Screwfix (they sell bolts and cutters, win-win for the shareholder!)
by all means bolt a new crag, but ffs stop retrobolting trad routes!!
The thing about Farletter is that now the pegs have gone, there really only are one or two routes left where you wouldn't hurt yourself seriously if you fell at the wrong place. Farletter meets the sport crag requirements as well as any of the established places in Scotland. Only difference is that the routes were trad climbed first. I would have thought that all the FAists bar one agreeing to retrobolting was enough (so not bolting his routes), but clearly not to the person unknown who's chopping bolts. And clearly not enough for this thread either. Which is surprising, since there is other sport climbing in Scotland, and it's accepted, so why not here. Just letting it overgrow on a point of principle seems silly.
Do you really think that is likely? Indications of the opposite could not really be clearer. Scotland continues to produce some of the best young climbers in Britain but none (except Ross Kirkland and the Mackenzies) show any interest in trad. I hate the fact that crags are falling into diuse but it is a fact.
In terms of new crags.....what happens if this
is bolted and Scotland gains a clutch of inspired/inspirational mountain sport routes?
I find it amazing that only 2 or 3 people in Scotland are interested in trad.
> In terms of new crags.....what happens if this
> is bolted and Scotland gains a clutch of inspired/inspirational mountain sport routes?
They'd probably be chopped. While Creag a Bhancair has been accepted, this is very much the exception to the rule. I think 'no place for bolts in the mountains' is a good stance.
*takes drill out of car, stops fingerboarding*
Let the trad crags fall into disuse. Thats how they were once. I'm sure the new generation will come along and uncover the crag again once the time comes. And it may offer new routes! For those adventurous souls and subsequent second, third.. etc ascentionists. Not all route can be maintained after all. I couldn't climb all the routes in one guide in a lifetime, so why be precious?
I started climbing 15 plus years ago. I see no more volume of people on the trad crags (less in fact at many), besides the obvious popular ones where most operate at VS or below, the ones operating at the adventurous middle of climbing seem similar in numbers to years ago. Top end, publicity or participation being greater? Not sure.
Is this a bad thing? so there is a greater participation, why feel the need to get them all into trad? Is there really all the new climbers going into sport? If so what crags are they taking over? Horseshoe, the cuttings, Dalis hole? (I site these as my Scottish crag knowledge is minimal) Alright there are a few folk out at sport crags, but the huge numbers indoors? No! They are not out in force. I think my point is, is this a problem? If folk like indoors, let them climb indoors. There is no advantage to others who do go on the journey of climbing outdoors to make mediocre/ esoteric/ niche crags into mainstream sport venues. It simply won't work.
I'm as guilty as most on a forum. I don't participate in real discussion on a local level about the crags I climb at. The bolting committees, BMC, local activists are mostly left unsupported by the average climbing public. Maybe if our hot air was actually put to use, then a balanced argument might come forwards. Then straw polls wouldn't be needed at the local wall, as the climbers voices would actually be counted without exaggeration or bias.
As for the crag in question, I don't know, I am way too far removed to comment. Maybe those who do have an opinion of merit should consider doing more than just registering online? I know online is like a signature in a petition. But revolts and revolutions don't happen through a simple petition.
It'd be good to see climbers stand by their convictions more than they do now. And as much as bolt croppers aren't representative, at least those people/person stood up to be counted - I wonder though if they'd be willing to put their name next to their vote...
One only has to go to Kirrie to see that there is much demand for sport climbing. Of course, 'supply' should not just take place simply to meet demand, but for a crag where the vast majority think suitable?
It's not about getting more folk into outdoor climbing.
Fair enough. I'm merely encouraging healthy debate and participation over drawing my own sword on the specifics. Questioning if we should, rather than mindlessly running away with what we could do under a potentially false banner. Ultimately i will leave the decisions up to those who stand up to be counted and have the authority to have a genuine crag specific input. Encouraging folk to actively take part is a good thing, i believe.
My views on Farrletter [for what there worth] - Climbed there once and did OK E4 & E5 in middle which had loads gear & should surely therefore never be bolted. The pegged routes were in a state & would have been much more appealing with bolts or new pegs. However, these routes were headpointed & from my memory there were loads trees at top of crag. Not quite sure why folk couldn't just top rope them if they wanted a local training venue or to see if they were capable of climbing them.
Regards Ratho, I was under impression the routes getting bolted were new lines or lines that had been buried under mud and required extensive cleaning before retro bolting.. I also was under impression the first ascentionists were contacted before bolting. I know Ian T had received an email request regarding Retro bolting 'Alopecia' [which thankfully I think he declined, as its cool route with gear]. Thought this seemed pretty fair & responsible approach to bolting un- popular areas of crag that ain't seeing much traffic. Even when trad was 'popular' in Scotland, head point chop routes like wally route at Ratho didn't see much traffic.
On slightly different topic, if the bolt chopping brigade want to make a stand, quit chopping wee road side crags go and chop the retro bolted routes on tunnel wall or Steal hut crag, both have perfect examples of retro bolted trad routes, which are now miles better & more travelled as a result of having been retro'd! Also pretty sure there are still some 3 star trad lines at these crags which have remained bolt free despite the dreaded onslaught of bolts. Funny how common sense prevails!
Neil, 3am?? Really...?
Really glad to be wrong re young team, although would argue that Greg and Tony are past it ;)
Good post, you should do more.
The arguments for bolting are that it would bring more people from climbing walls and prevent the crag from being overgrown.
Sure everyone wants their interest to prosper, that doesn't matter if they collect train sets or run a drama society or climb.
But don't be nieve. If someone wants to climb trad then they will, climbing sport does not mean you suddenly become interested in trad.
Lets not forget that climbing is supposed to be dangerous. The risk and thrill are what makes climbing different from other sports.
Anyway this seems like an argument in which both sides are lazy. 'You can't bolt the crag cause of reasons' and 'bolting would make everything easier'. What a pile of bullshit. There is a consences or there is not. The end result of bolting this place was chopped bolts and that's not going to change.
This is a particularly depressing case history where bolters and choppers appear to have cancelled each other out, leaving a now almost useless crag. Well done chaps.
I have to agree with you there Jamie. Although I'm personally not in favour of bolting at Farrletter, I'm pretty surprised that both the bolters and the choppers haven't taken any further responsibility for there actions. You'd think that if they felt strongly enough about it to bother bolting/chopping they'd be ashamed to have rendered the crag useless to everyone.
Been thinking about what you said and what I posted.
It must have been quite an annoying thing to read, esp given all the work you and Kev have done over the past few years.
I guess I was shooting from the hip and what I really meant was 'none of the young team are doing the things I would do if I was both young and good. Or just good.'
Things like Titans Wall, Dalriada, Freak Out etc. esp after such ideal weather.
But if they are ripping it up in the NW and Aberdeen seacliffs then that is great.
...yes there is!
However, I do think that events at crags like Dunkeld, Lednock & Farrletter do highlight the importance for more discussion on the topic of - criteria for bolting. Its not about which style of climbing is better, its about managing the impact of one style on others. Crags being equipped and chopped over and over is helping no one & is pretty irresponsible behavior. It is apparent there are valid points coming from both camps. I love sport climbing as much as I enjoy every other aspect of climbing I participate in, but I do feel that we have to air on the side of caution when bolting crags. Plenty of great sport venues been developed in Scotland without causing this huge uproar & bolt chopping. Therefore I do think its important to establish why actions at Farrletter caused such offense. So it can be avoided in future. There is a lot of rock still out there after all.
Aye i was good but it was not as good a this:
Wonder how hard GB will climb this winter. Wont be lacking fitness anyway...
A very good post.
Says who? Climbing is many things to many people...
but its quite selfish to place your preferences (or whats in fashion) on future generations for eternity
> A very good post.
What do you think gives you the right to do this, any more than the original bolters were right in the first place? Have you read mgeek's post above? It is precisely this attitude which leads to confrontation and an ongoing cycle of bolts being place, chopped and places again. This gets us nowhere.
I have no opinion on whether Farrletter should be bolted and I'm never likely to climb there. How this and other crags are bolted is of interest to all climbers, wherever they are based. As I said earlier in the thread, we need to evolve a system whereby bolting takes place after proper consultation, and once a decision is made all climbers then accept it regardless of their personal views and preferences.
Farrletter has already been de-bolted, so it's not a fait accompli. However the combined actions have left it in a mess with de-pegged routes.
Ratho quarry has not yet been de-bolted, and was presented as a fait accompli retro-bolting routes without any warning nor consultation. If you want to take your hacksaw somewhere, that would be the place to do it.
As the owners of the quarry are happy with the bolts there and, indeed, they were installed by one of their employees, you do realise that would be committing criminal damage, don't you?
> As I said earlier in the thread, we need to evolve a system whereby bolting takes place after proper consultation, and once a decision is made all climbers then accept it regardless of their personal views and preferences.
In a perfect world?
Is it not just because the lines were climbed previously without bolts?
> Is it not just because the lines were climbed previously without bolts?
Yes but times are changing, the pegs have gone and the routes now might as well be soloed. What's the point in that, when here is a fine sport venue.
> What do you think gives you the right to do this, any more than the original bolters were right in the first place?
It is everyone's right to tidy up after others. As a trad climber I'd normally say crack on, do what you like as long as it doesn't affect others. This affects everyone else there as the bolter leaves something permanent behind when then go on to climb elsewhere. Leave it in the state you found it so that others can find it the same way.
> here is a fine sport venue.
But sport venues aren't fine as they cause massive overuse of the route, the crux moves are slipped of again and again and again and the route is worn out for future generations. Who knows what future gear will be invented to make the routes safe, but bolting now and the excess wear that a route gets is irrepairable.
That article defining bolt clipping as a poor cousin to sport climbing saddens me as he is encouraging failing many times on a route before eventually climbing it clean and makes light climbing a route cleanly first go.
I quite agree.
From a completely selfish point of view I would have preferred the routes to be cleaned & the pegs replaced [OOHHhhh.....waiting for the aunslaught of replys], so that next time I was stuck in Aviemore I could have had some routes to try ground up, without having the hassle of cleaning & headpointing. But hey I don't live there and wasn't the first ascentionist, so don't really feel my views really count.
I know what you mean! How someone justified bolting Sharp Practise at Cambus O'May I don't know! It's a crack climb FFS!
As I travel all over for climbing I'm not sure I appreciate the "locals know best," attitude. As an example; I'd be a bit miffed if The Roaches were bolted because all the climbers in the area suddenly wanted it to happen.
What's the difference between pegs and bolts (as far as the climbing goes), except that there were one or two pegs per route as against (say) 4 bolts.
From my reply above:
In reply to Fiend:
> 1. Pegs accept a natural weakness in the rock, same as trad gear, and they cannot be placed anywhere.
> 2. Routes are very rarely fully pegged up and the pegs are used in conjunction with trad gear.
> To me, pegs are like "fixed trad gear" and definitely not "sport gear".
> I agree their use should be minimised and pegs rotting / rusting is an issue. I do fully support peg replacement on routes where the pegs are as crucial as they originally were.
OK, I asked for that one. But just how bad does a trad crag have to be before I'm allowed to bolt it. Because there are almost no crags with potential lower sport grades left, apart from conglomerate. If you don't think sport climbing has a place in Scotland, then that's your opinion and I can't argue. But equally I don't think you can say that sport climbing has a place but no-one is allowed to bolt anything. Because Farletter meets all the requirements apart from having been trad climbed first, as indeed have most of Scotland's sport crags. Am I not even allowed to bolt my own routes?
This goes round in circles! Weren't most of the pegs removed when the crag was bolted (by the bolters I assume, but don't know)? Including the routes they didn't bolt.
What are the specific routes that are now effectively solos?
Andy, I am far from anti bolts. Was sport climbing at a mainly trad crag last week & it was mega. I Just think that having one less sport crag is far better option than climbers vandalizing crags by sticking bolts in removing them then sticking them in again.....and so on. Its all nonsense. I do think there is more than enough rock still out there to satisfy everyone. It might not be local and accessible to Aviemore, like Farrletter is, but hey that's life. Werent many low grade sports crags around Glasgow, but folk didn't start bolting Auchinstarry [would be much busier crag if they did though!] Aint much gear in Nijinski either, would be awesome sport route!
Was there not another crag in Aviemore area that was bolted then chopped, even though it had no recorded trad routes?
"Trad is dangerous" I was told the other day. Other frequent comments include "Trad is too expensive", "Trad confuses me" and, more insightful, "Trad takes too long before I can climb as hard". All of these statements may be true but I find the "them & us split" between sport & trad the worrying factor. Yes there is a percentage competently doing both but the mood across the UK has swung so far that those who strongly argue against bolting are demonised for spoiling everyone elses fun.
I would appeal to influential climbers, magazine editors and our representatives on the quangos, basically those who know & understand exactly what is so good about the British Trad ethic, to balance out their arguements. Readers of Kevin's article may be under the impression that he is Mr Bolt but unaware of his hard bold climbing feats (when I believe he was loudly anti-bolt; Kev?).
My own opinion is that traditional climbing is a whole lot more engaging than clipping bolts; the head games, the gear placements, studying every milimetre of them; awe and wonder at the feats of pioneers etc. Conveying the attraction is only half the battle. So please give us some inspiring tales and tips on Trad climbing rather than using your strong positions to promote the bolting arguement.
You may feel Farrletter is a negligble thin wedge but your opinions are hitting it with a sledgehammer.
I'm not anti-trad. I much prefer it. But Farletter would be a much better sport crag than it is a trad crag. If it was actively used as a trad crag, then there would be no argument. But almost no-one climbs on it (apart from occasional top-roping and rare attempts on Too Farr for the Bear) and all these anti-bolt arguments are about bolting in principle, not about Farletter. I think we have enough common sense to limit bolting without having to sacrifice Farletter.
I dunno, following my visits to Goat Crag, Creag Nan Luch, Creag Nan Cadhag, Moy Rock, Creag An Amalaidh, The Camel, The Keel, Red Wall Quarry, Boltsheugh, The Elephant, Arbroath, Rob's Reed, Kirrie Hill, Legaston, Ley, Balmashanner, Glen Ogle, Rockdust, Weem, Dunkeld, Benny Beg, Strathyre, Dunglas, Ardvorlich, Dumbarton and North Berwick Law, I'd say sport climbing definitely has a place in Scotland.
As long as it keeps that place, and that place only spreads without spoiling trad climbs
I'm still ambivalent about Farrletter, but seeing the wedge getting thicker at Ratho has proven there needs to be tighter controls on the bolting. Geek's jests about Auchinstarry and Nijinski are truly frightening in that context.
It might be that Farrletter might have to be "sacrificed" to trad climbing to take a standard against indiscriminate bolting overall.
Not really. Since the routes are no longer in the state when they were trad climbed (now dirty, no pegs), it's like starting again. Only because the FAists (bar one) agree.
> I dunno, following my visits to Goat Crag, Creag Nan Luch, Creag Nan Cadhag, Moy Rock, Creag An Amalaidh, The Camel, The Keel, Red Wall Quarry, Boltsheugh, The Elephant, Arbroath, Rob's Reed, Kirrie Hill, Legaston, Ley, Balmashanner, Glen Ogle, Rockdust, Weem, Dunkeld, Benny Beg, Strathyre, Dunglas, Ardvorlich, Dumbarton and North Berwick Law, I'd say sport climbing definitely has a place in Scotland.
> As long as it keeps that place, and that place only spreads without spoiling trad climbs
Most of those crags had trad climbs on them before they were bolted, and now you say you don't mind about them. Why just Farletter?
Can I ask if you are you making these suggestions for yourself or others? Do you want to climb these routes (I assume again,) but limit the danger from the trad ascent and not want to use a top rope?
Or are you trying to get the routes bolted for others use?
> Can I ask if you are you making these suggestions for yourself or others? Do you want to climb these routes (I assume again,) but limit the danger from the trad ascent and not want to use a top rope?
> Or are you trying to get the routes bolted for others use?
Both, although bolted for others is the main reason. About half of the routes are too hard for me. I'm happy to bolt them all although I'm sure others will help. I would need advice as to where to place bolts on the harder routes. Having spent a long time cleaning the routes originally, it seems a waste to see the crag neglected.
> I'm not anti-trad. I much prefer it. But Farletter would be a much better sport crag than it is a trad crag.
Getting so involved in arguing for bolting creates a misleading impression.The chairman of the SMC asking "Why can't I bolt my own routes?" is the sort of sound-bite that will not only be picked up and repeated by many here on UKC but also grabbed by the mainstream media.
Clearly we do not have enough common sense or common concensus yet. The act of bolting IS the irreversible stage and is still considered by many as the act of vandalism, not the bolt-chopping.
People in power have generally earned respect but should use it wisely. My appeal is for you, Kevin and the many other highly influential climbers involved with the bolting debate to take a step back and consider the greater effect; it doesn't feel good from this reader's position.
Agree that all this pigeon holing people is doing no good to the argument whatsoever. In fact to have a valid opinion on the matter you should really have "proper" experience of both types of climbing.
By proper experience i mean
TRAD : big mountain routes, sea cliff, the feeling of adventure, commitment and succeeding in a fairly serious environment. Not sticking a couple of shiny wires in a worn slot on some polished VS. The immediate feeling of success as you top out on your onsight.
SPORT : Properly working a route over many days, something that is way beyond you current abilities that you have no idea whether or not you will succeed. Feeling very happy that you worked out the beta for just one move during a full days climbing. The hard won feeling of success as you match the final hold on your 13th repointing day.
Most of the noise on this forum comes from people who are stuck in one pigeon hole or the other, dispite having clipped a couple of bolts or placed the odd wire. The funning thing is mixing it up a little is probably the quickest way to improve and get yourself out of that rut.
For sporties, we donít have the crags in Scotland, for that day to day mileage stuff. This isnít spain - stop thinking it should be or move. Buy a rack learn how to use it and get out into the mountains when itís too hot hold that greasy crimp on you project. Injured ? get the mileage in, you footwork will thank you for it.
For traddies, pick a local sport project and work it when the weather is too crap for the mountains. Something with a big enough number that you never thought it possible to climb at the level, dog the living daylights out of it until you suceeed, Repeat a couple of times and watch your trad grade soar.
I have never been to farrletter, so have no opinion on it. Although Iím not likely to go anytime soon given what I have read. Iíve given up contributing to these threads/forums recently as it just degenerates into ill-informed ramblings by people stuck in one or other camps who have never been to the crag in question.
<Currently planning a sport trip while perusing lidls inflatables for the next sea stack mission>
As was demonstrated on the Ratho thread, the bolting justification there was in direct response to a specific set of circumstances for specific routes at a specific venue. It wasn't a 'wedge' argument, be it the thick or thin end. I hope you are able to see that. You're making a connection where there is none.
With regard to Farrletter, I've never been there and don't know the routes in question. It does seems shame that the crag, or at least parts of it, are now considered unclimbable.
Geek's reference to Auchinstarry and Nijinski was of course tongue in cheek and the comment should be taken in the way it was intended. And that wasn't to illicit a Pavlovian response as soon as bolts and trad are mentioned in the same sentence. We need to have a more mature discussion about the issue rather than become entrenched in a personal, dogmatic stance from which there's no room to manoeuvre.
To my mind, flexibility of approach is paramount. We can't assume a blanket response to the issue is appropriate, it has to be 'horses for courses'.
Yes, though of course you will also get brilliant adventurous sea cliffs and good bold trad crags (i.e. venues yet to be established but that would provide great trad routes) which might for good reason also be controversial.
Thus I think the main thing is whether the crag is better suited to sport or trad rather than just whether it has been climbed on before or not.
Nice post and very true I feel...
> Agree that all this pigeon holing people is doing no good to the argument whatsoever. In fact to have a valid opinion on the matter you should really have "proper" experience of both types of climbing.
> By proper experience i mean
> TRAD : big mountain routes, sea cliff, the feeling of adventure, commitment and succeeding in a fairly serious environment. Not sticking a couple of shiny wires in a worn slot on some polished VS. The immediate feeling of success as you top out on your onsight.
> SPORT : Properly working a route over many days, something that is way beyond you current abilities that you have no idea whether or not you will succeed. Feeling very happy that you worked out the beta for just one move during a full days climbing. The hard won feeling of success as you match the final hold on your 13th repointing day.
Surely having been to the crag (more often than I have) is better basis for a valid opinion than 10+ days spent redpointing a route? The latter is certainly not required to form an opinion on whether this place is better suited to trad or sport.
True, apart from the way I do sport. I want to on-sight and do several routes in a day. Kind of like trad, but concentrating on the moves and not the protection as in trad. I'm not that interested in working moves or routes, though I have done it occasionally. Most folk I see on lower grade routes on sport crags seem the same.
I'm not arguing in favour of sport over trad. I only want to see the rock put to best use but still with trad given priority (within reason). And it's not SMC policy, as the SMC has members in all camps. I'm not SMC president any more, nor am I on the Committee.
Should we retrobolt for the sake of making a crag convenient or not?
- No mountain Rock
- No Rock easily protected by trad
- No existing trad routes
Stopped this kind of thing going on then surely that's a good thing. I accept the routes would get more traffic if bolted, but so would many crags and routes where bolting would never be tolerated. I also accept that people who have used it as a trad crag feel they want to protect the history of the crag & what the routes meant to them. Both arguments seem pretty valid.
One placement where the peg rusted away is now blocked (perhaps could be drilled out) and one placement is unnecessary because you can get a modern cam in, but the rest could be replaced. But the routes weren't climbed before with such limited protection so why would that change?
I thought they were 'guidelines' not rules?
Sorry, you've lost me there. Where are these 'rules'?
"i have never been to farrletter, so have no opinion on it." , you seem to have missed this bit. I'd have to actually climb there to have an opinion other than just a default pro / anti stance.
To save you the time searching, I've copied and pasted from the MCOS site
"The MCofS has produced the following statement regarding the use of fixed protection (utilising bolts) on both natural and quarried rock in Scotland to act as a guideline for climbers wishing to establish sport routes
I've highlighted the bold phrases for the hard of thinking.
So I think we have it - they're 'guidelines', not 'rules'. I would suggest that specific qualifications for inclusion in any guidebooks is a bit of a red herring.
Erik coming from you I find this absolutely hilarious! Rules such as a route being too short ? Get a grip. Guidebooks are a guide to the climbing on offer in an area, in the current context of what constitutes climbing, with some historical background thrown in.
When did the arguments for bolting (existing) routes start to be so that more people could climb the routes / use the crag? Was this the justification used in the Bolt Wars of the 80s?
I believe this argument goes against the very spirit of climbing which is entirely down to ones own ability and how far you want to push it. Some crags with only hard routes on do not get used as much as crags with easy routes on. If the 'making it more accessible' argument were to be extended logically then all harder sport climbs would have to be altered to make them accessible to people who couldnít climb them.
I'm not good enough, and am unlikely to get good enough, to climb at Farlatter either trad or sport, but I accept they are my limitations. I wouldn't wish others who can climb there to be denied the trad experience in order to make it more popular.
Kind of agree.
Another thing that gets my goat in all of this is anonymous chopping. It just spineless vandalism. If you feel so strongly about it to chop then at least mtfu and publicly state why you have done it.
Still waiting to hear which 'rules' you reckon have been bent....
The point I was (really) trying to make is that the issue isn't totally black and white, hence the significance of guidelines rather than rules being the salient term, it implies a certain degree of flexibility. I've said it before here and on the Ratho bolt thread: each case should be examined on its site-specific merits. Surely that's the only that way that an appropriate solution can be reached for - any - particular - site?
I'll wager this crag wouldn't be in the news if it wasn't so close to aviemore.
With the knives out for them so clearly why should they bother? Suicide is traditionally viewed as the spineless way out.
Ross & Raffa created the problem but Kevin goes out of his way to justify their actions and portray the chopper as the vandal. With the weight of the representative body of Scottish climbing against them who can blame them for some underground rebellion.
They interpreted the guidelines and bolted; A Non interpreted them the opposite way and chopped. Surely the guidelines need to err on the side that stops them being placed in the first place; it's a lot closer to the "leave nothing but footprints" principle than the way we are going.
I can understand that is your viewpoint, but it's not one I agree with. I find a blinkered view is unhelpful in the long term. If you're only prepared to consider issues are either black or white, then you're precluding the possibility of progress or at least, change. Now whether or not you see <insert activity of choice> as 'progress' is up to you, but without accepting its possible existence - which you do with such a polarised stance - you'll always have the status quo where there's no room for movement. To me, that's just like being trapped.
An analogy (not great admittedly, but you'll get the picture): you're suddenly faced with a beautiful view, it's amazing - the most perfect, sublime thing you've ever seen. Now freeze that view and be told that's all you'll see from this point on till the day you die. You can't turn your head, you can't blink, you can't see the same subject even from a different perspective. My guess is that view would soon become torture. That's essentially what you're advocating.
> I've said it before here and on the Ratho bolt thread: each case should be examined on its site-specific merits. Surely that's the only that way that an appropriate solution can be reached for - any - particular - site?
Definitely. Each crag is unique and must be considered on its own merits.
> "i have never been to farrletter, so have no opinion on it." , you seem to have missed this bit. I'd have to actually climb there to have an opinion other than just a default pro / anti stance.
That's why I agreed with Erik B that your post lacked substance.
While it seems a bit nitpicky to go through crag-by-crag, the whole case-by-case concept is very relevant as most Scottish sport crags don't follow the MCofS rules. So...
Goat Crag - trad routes are still present and not retroed.
Creag Nan Luch - not aware of any prior trad routes
Creag Nan Cadhag - not aware of any prior trad routes
Moy Rock - only previous trad route was an E3 5b death chimney which has been left intact!
Creag An Amalaidh - not aware of any prior trad routes or climbing at all
The Camel - certain of no prior trad routes, mentioned as unclimbed in HO.
The Keel - certain of no prior trad routes
Red Wall Quarry - certain of no prior trad routes apart from E1 corner that is not retroed.
Boltsheugh - trad routes still present, caused heated debate at the time, resulting in, AFAIK, no retro-bolting in Aberdeen area.
The Elephant - not aware of any prior trad routes
Arbroath - not aware of any prior trad routes
Rob's Reed - not aware of any prior trad routes
Kirrie Hill - not aware of any prior trad routes
Legaston - some trad routes, easy E1 5b crack was retroed and this is definitely wrong.
Ley - not aware of any prior trad routes
Balmashanner - not aware of any prior trad routes
Glen Ogle - trad routes are still intact and not retroed (Poison Ivy a great route)
Rockdust - not aware of any prior trad routes
Weem - trad routes are mostly still intact apart from a retroed E3 on Aerial Crag. Obvious cracks should be left alone.
Dunkeld - trad routes still intact and bolts have not spread from Marlena wall even onto the less popular trad routes.
Benny Beg - no idea.
Strathyre - not aware of any prior trad routes, none mentioned in HO.
Dunglas - the few west face trad lines were retro-bolted, snappy rock may justify this
Ardvorlich - previous bold peg routes retro-bolted.
Dumbarton - routes still intact and bolts have not spread from sport climbs even onto the less popular trad routes.
North Berwick Law - not aware of any prior trad routes, post-sport development has included plenty of trad.
It seems that most of the places I have visited either had no trad routes listed in the previous guidebooks (so any trad development was not made public for people to actually climb) OR have trad and sport side-by-side without trad climbs being retro-bolted. A few crags do have retro-bolting, occasionally with obvious reason, and at least one crag has provoked controversy and a much-needed bolt debate (that seemed to set up the area for sensitive sport development without retro-bolting).
As for Farrletter, should it be part of the seeming minority of Scottish sport venues that have been developed by full retro-bolting of established and published trad routes?? Before I was tending towards supporting that, for reasons of dangerous routes, areas of wall lacking in good trad LINES (under the assumption that the LINES would be left as trad), and functionality in a mostly trad area.
BUT, having seen the uncontested and un-fore-warned Ratho retro-bolting, and some of the responses to that, it has made me a lot more aware of the increasing problems of succumbing to pressure and retro-bolting routes. As I mentioned elsewhere, I wasn't so convinced by the "thin end of the wedge" argument before (and some developments, like Inverness conglomerate, were showing bolters sensibly keeping the wedge away from trad venues), but now I am. So Farrletter is relevant as a showcase, as much as a venue in it's own right (pretty much as Boltsheugh must have been). If there is a choice between retro-bolting stopping BEFORE Farrletter AND Ratho retroing AND whatever the bolters are planning next without warning the community....OR stopping AFTER Farrletter and Ratho and wherever, I would very strongly suggest the former.
And an ideal world, if you can get the Ratho trad routes de-bolted and reinstated, and a promise that they won't be ruined again, and that bolters will give a lot more warning, consultation AND try other options to restore neglected routes before retro-bolting in general, then I would probably support selective retro-bolting of Farrletter, subject to the wedge pausing there.
P.S. Having been for a second look at Farrletter whilst in the area, I would definitely been keen to climb some of the easier / safer routes with the pegs back in place. It's actually a reasonably attractive wee venue, more so than the picture implies!
"Guidelines", not rules. See above.
Ditch the fordist fast food approach folks. If you don't Scottish climbing will have lost its USP.
If no statement is made then we are no further forward than having an understanding that some people just don't like bolts. Is it because it was retroed, in natural rock not a quarry, just a general statement against the thin end of the wedge, or was it actually the and landowner or a non climber and we are all arguing over nothing?
One word in your post is going to set me off at a tangent. It seems to me that given recent events in the media kids are going to be taught more and more to ignore what they read online. So if people on here genuinely want to protect and promote the trad ethic they need to inspire kids at a real world level, not by drivelling online. Kevin h, geek etc are all doing this, so perhaps people needs to be offering to run a slide show at the local kids club about their islands trip, or helping out on these real rock things. The direction climbing is going in is being decided as we type (yes it's raining but I'm guessing the walls will be rammed at the moment) if you want to steer that direction you have to do something constructive. Chopping bolts is not constructive.
(None of this is aimed at mike btw just general ramblings)
> That's why I agreed with Erik B that your post lacked substance.
I guess your opinion is why you are number 19 on top 40 ukc poster list - REspect!
> Goat Crag - trad routes are still present and not retroed.
> Red Wall Quarry - certain of no prior trad routes apart from E1 corner that is not retroed.
> Boltsheugh - trad routes still present, caused heated debate at the time, resulting in, AFAIK, no retro-bolting in Aberdeen area.
> Ardvorlich - previous bold peg routes retro-bolted.
> North Berwick Law - not aware of any prior trad routes, post-sport development has included plenty of trad.
There were trad routes at benny beg. I've climbed there before the bolts.
Makes a better sport venue.
With the consent of the FA yes, times change. Why no fuss over mcgowans retroed thing on steal ?
On a crag that is more suited to sport rather than trad and the FA has died / cannot be tracked down, with local consensus then yes.
In the mountains no.
On the sea cliffs no.
Because you don't know how to place a wire , no
Because trad gear is too expensive, no
For a convenient local training venue maybe?
Ps Erik I've come on a fair bit since we last climbed together, I blame the bolts myself.
It's be better if the bolters got a proper idea of opinion before hand or just didn't retro bolt crags.
Obviously I stand corrected on the ones I didn't know about!
But there still doesn't seem to be many fully developed and guidebook-publicised trad venues that have been fully or even partially retro-bolted, like the current venues at risk.
At risk of folk actually leading routes. That would be serious.
> Because there are almost no crags with potential lower sport grades left, apart from conglomerate....
This is where I struggle with your argument. Why should there be an endless supply of new routes to do? It's not anyone else's problem that you have done much of what you can do already so are looking to move the goalposts. Rock is a finite resource, and this is Strathspey, not Spain.
And why not bolt the conglomerate?
> And why not bolt the conglomerate?
I don't really care about new routes, just want the crags to be available in their best form. How are we supposed to get youngsters in Strathspey outdoors when there's no sport climbing and they look at overgrown crags with little gear. And conglomerate is being bolted, just that most conglomerate crags are too loose (I know; I've looked at some others).
I think it would be great to have some easily accessible sport routes close to Aviemore. Itís not like weíre short of trad climbing here but there is a shortage of quick access evening crags with user friendly routes.
In the greater scheme of things Farrletter has little value in its current state and the condition of the existing trad routes speak for themselves in terms of popularity. You could the say same about the Burnside Crag which has virtually disappeared back into the hillside. Scotland is full of Ďnever to be climbed againí trad routes, (which doesnít mean to say they should all be bolted) but Farrletter is a perfect candidate for retro bolting.
Plenty of us have managed to get into climbing outdoors without having bolted routes to go at.
The same way everyone else has for the last century - easy outdoor trad with an experienced leader. A bit of seconding, a bit of gear practice, a bit of leading where the experienced climber has placed a few bomber bits of gear just in case.
Actually, you must be playing devil's advocate as it is utterly inconceivable that anyone could think that sport climbing is at all necessary to start outdoor climbing, but even so it's worth reinforcing the point that safe, easy trad always has been a sensible and natural start to outdoor climbing, and that hasn't changed.
The reality is that there are now thousands of climbers in Scotland who aren't psyched or inspired by the risky aspects of climbing. These folk obviously want places to climb safely outside, but at present their options are limited. Hence more and more existing and new crags will inevitably be given the Hilti treatment. Peronally, I think it's important to recognise this and be up front in honest debate rather than bullshit about a particular crag "fitting" with MCofS guidelines. Any single pitch crag with half decent rock not too far from the road will make a good sport venue for someone.
When Brin was bolted recently some of those involved cited the dubious nature of some of the rock and poor protection as good reasons for placing bolts. In fact, Brin is one of the best bits of rock around, and to my mind could just as easily have been one of the Central Highlands best hard trad venues. As it is, it's one of the area's best sport venues.
Whatever your views, I think an honest approach will lead to the most constructuve debate, though as I say, I think the reality today is that more people want more sport venues to go at, and this is bound to be reflected by what happens on the ground.
As an aside, the lack of decent local climbing full stop never stopped Glasgow from being a centre of excellence in Scottish climbing history, I'm intrigued by Andy's argument.
Trad isn't risky though. Not with the right tutoring and choice of routes. Misconceptions like that will only fool people into relying on sport climbing when they don't need to.
AFAIK there were only a couple of existing routes on Crag One at Brin?? If Farrletter and Ratho had only been recently discovered and only had a couple of trad routes on, it would be quite different to starting retroing a fully developed crag.
An honest approach could include warning, discussion and consulation before considering bolting.
> The same way everyone else has for the last century - easy outdoor trad with an experienced leader. A bit of seconding, a bit of gear practice, a bit of leading where the experienced climber has placed a few bomber bits of gear just in case.
This argument is basically trying to tell people that want to play football that the only game they are allowed to play in Britain is rugby.
Creating more climbable surfaces near cities seems like a better approach than fighting over the use of existing routes. Part of the solution to city based indoor climbers wanting to get outdoors in summer could be outdoor artificial climbing structures like you see on the continent or even using heavy equipment to remodel sections of quarries which are currently useless for climbing. Indoor climbers are used to paying to climb so there's no reason to rule out solutions that cost money.
How does suggesting that we build outdoor climbing walls or convert unclimbable quarried rock to meet the demand for sport climbing equate to suggesting we bolt an existing route?
If we had a quick poll about Creagh Dubh I very much doubt the concensus would be for retro-bolting!!!!
The major difference is: Farlatter - a small (but important) number of people would lke this crag to stay trad.
Creagh Dubh - regulalry used and enjoyed by a multitude of trad climbers. You'd know that if you had climbed there any time in the last 5 years.
Are we allowed postal votes now?!
When's Creagh Dubh getting bolted? I hadn't heard that one was next....
Hardly affects him if he's abroad though?
Nice to see you're back on form mate....
Are we maybe fighting a losing battle ?
I agree. It's very impartant to gain as many people's opinions before any action is taken. If enough people, people who have been to Farlatter, and, dare I say people who actually climb, think it's not the correct plan of action then fine, it should stay trad.
As many, many people have said so far it's no good having a default "Bolt or no Bolt" stance. Sport climbing has a place and we need to decide, crag, by crag, if it's relevant and justifiable.
You will notice that I have not given an opinion on whether or not Farrletter should, or shouldn't be bolted. That's because I've never been.
Many of my more memorable trad routes would probably not exist if the crags were found now and I think we'd be worse off for it. Eg. The Hill ( Creagh Dubh), Laughing Gnome (Upper Cave), Blade Runner Direct (Auchinstarry) etc. etc. So, in summary, I do think we need to be careful. And, as many have said this loop of bolt-chop-bolt does no one any good.
Can anyone think of a good way of having a "proper" consultation on things like this? Clearly a straw poll in Aviemore and a thread on here are not quite fit for purpose...
> This argument is basically trying to tell people that want to play football that the only game they are allowed to play in Britain is rugby.
No it's not. It's like people who have taken up inside 5-a-side football wanting to play outside but wanting to change the rules of the 11-a-side outside game to suit themselves without a thought or care for the impact on the traditions of the game or for the thousands of people playing 11-a-side.
> No it's not. It's like people who have taken up inside 5-a-side football wanting to play outside but wanting to change the rules of the 11-a-side outside game to suit themselves without a thought or care for the impact on the traditions of the game or for the thousands of people playing 11-a-side.
We can argue about the analogy, I think rugby is more accurate, but the point remains the same. If enough people want to play 5 a side outside then people who play 11 a side are not going to stop them.
Companies are building five a side centres to meet the demand and building more facilities is a better option for both football and climbing than fighting to re-purpose existing ones.
I think you're missing my point Tom or I'm not explaining it particularly well.
The point I am trying to make is that people moving outdoors from indoors should not expect to change the existing game, which exactly what bolting is doing. If people want safe, bolted clip ups then they need to stay indoors. If they want more variety, more places to climb then more indoor walls should be built.
5-a-side pitches may well be being constructed but they're not taking 11-a-side pitches to do it!
> I think you're missing my point Tom or I'm not explaining it particularly well.
> If people want safe, bolted clip ups then they need to stay indoors.
My point is they don't need to stay indoors. You can have artificial climbing outdoors: it may suck compared to a mountain or sea cliff but it's pretty good compared with a quarry. This one is in Amsterdam:
> As many, many people have said so far it's no good having a default "Bolt or no Bolt" stance. Sport climbing has a place and we need to decide, crag, by crag, if it's relevant and justifiable.
It's not crag by crag is it! If there is suitable protection the route stays trad. I may be wrong, (but hope not,) but just because a crag is "accepted," for bolting, it still means that trad is the default setting for routes on it if the gear is there! The bolted routes are the ones without gear.
Well the responsible body is the MCoS, they need to invite anyone interested to a room, let them discuss and broadcast the results. It looks like is Andrea Partridge who is the Access Officer should be coordinating it all.
All this chat about "opening up the crags to others," by very experienced climbers bolting easy routes to allow greater numbers of wall bred climbers to get outside is wrong. You may want to bolt the routes out of a sense of generosity, but you are depriving others that have tried much harder of what you have had yourself. The only person that should bolt a route is one that wants to climb the line, but is worried about a lack of gear.
I have a feeling that the outdoor instruction community would love easy sport crags too, as they'd have more opportunities to get groups out of walls and onto rock.
Another group I have a feeling would like more outdoor sport routes are those that like the ease of indoor sport climbing on an evening, but would rather have somewhere outdoors and free for sunny evenings.
> All this chat about "opening up the crags to others," by very experienced climbers bolting easy routes to allow greater numbers of wall bred climbers to get outside is wrong. You may want to bolt the routes out of a sense of generosity, but you are depriving others that have tried much harder of what you have had yourself. The only person that should bolt a route is one that wants to climb the line, but is worried about a lack of gear.
> I have a feeling that the outdoor instruction community would love easy sport crags too, as they'd have more opportunities to get groups out of walls and onto rock.
> Another group I have a feeling would like more outdoor sport routes are those that like the ease of indoor sport climbing on an evening, but would rather have somewhere outdoors and free for sunny evenings.
Couldn't agree more.
I'm ending my contribution to this thread. If folk would rather have no climbing on the crag than sport climbing, then that's up to them. Seems a waste to me.
Away! That's far too black and white. There will be climbing on the crag, but limited to those that can get fit enough and place a peg. Oh, and those, like me when I started, who have slings, crabs and a rope but found that a rack was too expensive so we toured the local area for anywhere that you could set top ropes up on. Even the photies of the crag have people top-roping there, so it's already encouraging people! Exactly the same people that top rope there would be able to lead sport there so what is the difference? There will still be climbing on the crag.
> Well the responsible body is the MCoS, they need to invite anyone interested to a room, let them discuss and broadcast the results. It looks like is Andrea Partridge who is the Access Officer should be coordinating it all.
Why the Access Officer? There isn't a problem of access to the crag.
> Exactly the same people that top rope there would be able to lead sport there so what is the difference?
Most people find sport climbing more enjoyable than top roping.
Given a choice of mandatory top-roping with no other options, or retro-bolting, I'd choose retrobolting.
Then again, given a choice of mandatory top-roping and scrubbing my bawbag with battery acid....pass the Brillo pad and a 12v...
> Given a choice of mandatory top-roping with no other options, or retro-bolting, I'd choose retrobolting.
> Then again, given a choice of mandatory top-roping and scrubbing my bawbag with battery acid....pass the Brillo pad and a 12v...
> Why the Access Officer? There isn't a problem of access to the crag.
Don't ya think there there may be if you try and bolt it?? The owners should not just be offered a fait accompli where bolting is the finished option. It should be pointed out to them that it is an option, not the only one and others from the same community feel differently.
> Most people find sport climbing more enjoyable than top roping.
If you are applying Stuarts description of sport climbing where 13 days are spent toproping before getting a clean ascent, then I see no difference.
> Given a choice of mandatory top-roping with no other options, or retro-bolting, I'd choose retrobolting.
I think I still prefer climbing. B&Q fetishists are getting more out of hand than bolters these days...
A few thoughts:
The apparent current demand for lower grade sport routes (perhaps fuelled by a generation of wall bred climbers) is a new phenomenon and comparisons with Upper Cave and The Tunnel wall are misplaced; there the (dubious?) justification was that the routes were too serious (even for the day's top climbers) without drilled gear and the climbing was very hard by the day's standards. As a new phernomenon it needs to be very carefully handled, there being a lack of established precedents, and it is not alarmist to suggest that we are seeing the thin end of a very big wedge.
I think it is undoubtedly true that if today's appetite for sport had existed twenty years ago, some perfectly good trad crags would have been bolted (in the north west for example). Do we want more perfectly good trad crags bolted, perhaps just on the grounds that natural protection is limited? A bold route is not necessarily a bad route.
The argument for bolting that locals need training venues is very weak - if it's only training, just top rope.
The retro-bolting of routes at Ratho could be a very dodgy precedent if it spreads to other "under used" central belt venues. There is a very limited supply of rock accessible to young cash-strapped carless climbers and even if some of us in our relatively affluent middle age wouldn't give Auchinstarry or Ratho quarry a second glance nowadays, we should not forget how important such places were in our formative years. And where will we be in twenty years if today's youngsters spend their formative years clipping bolts?
Personally, I would like to see a complete moratorium on retro-bolting, perhaps in tandem with a bit of an effort to clean up and resurrect neglected trad routes and venues (a chain and a bit of traffic would have been the solution at Ratho). There should be a presumption that any "new" crag should be a trad venue unless a broad concensus has clearly formed that it is suited to sport.
At the end of the day, we have to accept that Scotland is and always will be basically rubbish for sport climbing and no amount of complaining, retro-bolting and glossy new guide books is going to change that. People need to accept that if they want decent sport then Ryanair is the answer (or a drive to Yorkshire if half-decent will do).
> Don't ya think there there may be (access problems) if you try and bolt it??
I don't see why there would be
Your semi-recent thread about sport climbing concerns has been shown to be highly topical!
I totally agree with this
Another agreement; top post Sir!
> A few thoughts:
> The apparent current demand for lower grade sport routes (perhaps fuelled by a generation of wall bred climbers) is a new phenomenon and comparisons with Upper Cave and The Tunnel wall are misplaced; there the (dubious?) justification was that the routes were too serious (even for the day's top climbers) without drilled gear and the climbing was very hard by the day's standards.
This is not strictly true. I remember Cubby telling me that his intention for Marlene was for a route that could be used for training and getting fit on. I am pretty sure that he could have done Marlene without bolts if he had wanted.
> This is not strictly true. I remember Cubby telling me that his intention for Marlene was for a route that could be used for training and getting fit on. I am pretty sure that he could have done Marlene without bolts if he had wanted.
When Cubby first did Marlene all he had for protection was a Rock 6 and Rock 8 at 15', a Friend 2 at 20' (under bulge), a Rock 2 (above bulge) and 2 bolts, before reaching the crack of Rattle Your Dags.
Seems unlikely that such sparse protection would allow the route to be used for training.
So about the same number of protection points as are used today :-) I think intention was not to create a bold route and additional bolts were quickly added. At least we agree on one thing Grahame, how the route name is spelt.
Only putting too bolts in it would have strictly limited the clientele for training!
I remember one activist (who I think had atempted the route without any drilled gear) telling me that he thought the drilled gear was a real shame, spoiling a futuristic E8 (or whatever).
> Welcome back.
Thanks! I visited Ratho for he first time in seven weeks this evening (the weather has been sooooooo good!) and had a look round the quarry. It seems Pettifers has not yet been chopped, but I am increasingly convinced that the deed needs doing (I am now quite psyched to have a go once it's been done). Rumours of a "mud cornice" would seem to be some rather "colourful"). The bulldozing has left the place a bit of a messy quagmire, but maybe the intention is to properly landscape it.
A further thought: this view put forward by some apologists that new bolts placed without concensus should only be chopped with the concensus of some supposed "community" is pretty ridiculous. Once a bunch of people have been up some E4 dumbed down to 6c or whatever, the momentum of opinion is inevitably ignorantly skewed against restoring a route to it's proper state. If the bolts shouldn't be there, the sooner they are chopped the better.
> So about the same number of protection points as are used today :-) I think intention was not to create a bold route and additional bolts were quickly added. At least we agree on one thing Grahame, how the route name is spelt.
I should probably have said dubious protection rather than sparse protection. Maybe the training was exclusively for Cubby himself!
The spelling is debatable - Cubby originally named it Marlene (Tiso new routes book) inspired I believe by the Suzanne Vega song "Marlene On The Wall". But somehow it appeared in 'Highland Outcrops' spelt Marlina. Andy N corrected this in 'Scottish Rock Climbs'. But when writing 'Scottish Sport Climbs' Rab A checked with Cubby how he wanted it spelt and apparently Cubby preferred Marlina.
I'm updating Craig a' Barns for the next edition of Highland Outcrops and at the moment have it spelt Marlina in deference to the first ascensionists wishes.
Regarding Farrletter - I don't have a strong opinion but if asked to choose I'd be against bolting.
> Thanks! I visited Ratho for he first time in seven weeks this evening (the weather has been sooooooo good!) and had a look round the quarry. It seems Pettifers has not yet been chopped, but I am increasingly convinced that the deed needs doing (I am now quite psyched to have a go once it's been done). Rumours of a "mud cornice" would seem to be some rather "colourful"). The bulldozing has left the place a bit of a messy quagmire, but maybe the intention is to properly landscape it.
> A further thought: this view put forward by some apologists that new bolts placed without concensus should only be chopped with the concensus of some supposed "community" is pretty ridiculous. Once a bunch of people have been up some E4 dumbed down to 6c or whatever, the momentum of opinion is inevitably ignorantly skewed against restoring a route to it's proper state. If the bolts shouldn't be there, the sooner they are chopped the better.
It`s a shame you could only manage 7 weeks without visiting Ratho...any chance you could stay away a bit longer next time :)
When you say restoring a route to it`s proper state I take it you mean a dirty route with a bank of earth at the top, which makes topping-out problematical, and which no-one (apart from you and your fiendish chum) wants to climb?
We couldn`t have people ("ignorantly skewed" of course) actually wanting to climb something...that would be ignorant, and skewed.
Retro-naming is ruining Scottish climbing.
When it's settled as to whether Farrletter is going in as a trad crag or sport crag :S
Spring, or more likely later in the year, 2015 (I'm coordinating author). It will include Ardnamurchan and low level crags in Ardgour.
All this talk about chopping bolts at Ratho is ridiculous. The routes in question have not been 'tradded' for eons, and in the case of Pettifers, this was in an unclimbable state. If all the 'thin end of the wedge' doomsdaysayers were so concerned they would have gone down, cleared some of the vegetation away from top/middle/bottom of the route and given it a try.
Where have they been for the last 10 years?? Probably off sport climbing somewhere.
Ratho as I'm sure we are all aware is a man made hole in the ground, with a few average trad routes. If you are looking for something to chop, head up to tunnel wall. The sport routes in Ratho quarry have now had more ascents in the last two months than they have in the last 20 years as trad routes, and like it or not, we live in a democracy (of sorts) so the majority rule. The quarry is now a more pleasant place to climb, and what is wrong with that? Should we all be subjected to surmounting E6 5a earth cornices because one crusty old tradder (plus one moaning minnie from down south) say so?
The voices for the bolting of the Pettifers wall far outweigh the voices against, they may just not be quite so loud..
Or be the voices of people whose opinions ought to be paid any heed at all...
Some of the people concerned about retro-bolting of established trad routes at an almost entirely trad venue in a country with a strong tradition of trad climbing have been: 1. Not long resident in Scotland, 2. Not living next door to Ratho, 3. Off climbing trad (and occasionally sport) all over Scotland, having faith that no-one would do something as "ridiculous" as retro-bolting Wally 2 which was still on their ticklist as a minor but attractive bold trad route.
Ratho is a quarry, just like Auchinstarry, Cambusbarron (which had bolts chopped), Millstone, Lawrencefield, Dinorwic Slate, Hodge Close, Nesscliffe. Being a quarry does not preclude it being a classic trad venue. And whilst Ratho might not be classic overall, routes like Wally 1, Wally 3, Shear Fear, Gruel Britannia are undeniably great trad routes, and there are plenty of other good ones.
If a trad route is an unclimable state, there are many options available:
Thoroughly clean the route.
Attempt to clean the top-out.
If not suitable, install a lower-off.
Clear any vegetation and make access to the route easier.
Re-climb the route, get it chalked, make sure the description is up-to-date and publicise it.
All of these are the obvious sensible options before the next possible stage, which is NOT retro-bolting, but suggesting retro-bolting, allowing for consultation, warning other climbers and giving them chance to climb the route as trad.
> Thoroughly clean the route.
> Attempt to clean the top-out.
> If not suitable, install a lower-off.
> Clear any vegetation and make access to the route easier.
> Re-climb the route, get it chalked, make sure the description is up-to-date and publicise it.
> All of these are the obvious sensible options before the next possible stage, which is NOT retro-bolting, but suggesting retro-bolting, allowing for consultation, warning other climbers and giving them chance to climb the route as trad.
So if those are the requirements, why was that not good enough at Farletter? That's what we did.
I don't know - I wasn't arguing against Farrletter retro-bolting at the time. I didn't climb trad there YET because I got a bit distracted by Creag Dubh, Wester Ross, Glen Nevis, Skye.....sorry.
Now I see Farrletter as an EXAMPLE, as a wider band on the thickening wedge, part of the "progression" to more retrobolting. If people had demonstrated they could stop retro-ing after Farrletter and before elsewhere (and instead go through the same process mentioned above) then the case would be different. If the wedge stops getting thicker then Farrletter might be fine...
BTW, not "requirements", just extremely obvious and natural steps to keep trad routes in climbable condition. Just like we did at Egerton down in Lancashire, with no suggestion of retroing at all.
What we should be worrying about is the monstrosity about to be erected above Kinlochleven, what next, the Orion Face?
> All this talk about chopping bolts at Ratho is ridiculous.
Thankyou. You have just proved my point that bolts, placed without appropriate discussion or broad concensus, should be chopped as soon as possible, before people have acquired a taste for their dumbed down "fast food" fix and had their opinion, yes, ignorantly skewed.
Indeed, and those of us who value the existence of such routes should some take some responsibility and learn from this regrettable incident. It is not the bolts that have returned Pettifer's to a climbable state but the cleaning. The answer would have been to clean the route and possibly install a lower off below the co-called "mud cornice". I would like to think that, had there been proper discussion, this is what would have happened, restoring the route to it's true challenge.
Yes, as I said, I hope the lesson has been learned.
In my case, both sport and trad climbing and, in between, training at Ratho.
What a ridiculous argument. Bolting a route makes it easier to climb, so of course more people will climb it. Why not, while you are at it, chip a few extra holds on the trick bits to further increase your "majority".
Is it? Why? It was always quite a pleasant spot as quarries go (at lesast until the EICA was built)
No. As I said I would, in the circumstances, have been in favour of a lower off. And we shouldn't be subjected to retro-bolting to satisfy a few noob wall-bred bolt clippers.
Echo Wall looks a bit hard, do you know anyone with a drill?
No I mean a clean route with, in this case, a lower off below the bank of earth.
No. Which plenty of people might aspire to climb and some, who are up to the challenge, might climb (just like all climbs in fact).
After putting that together - one thing is clear, you need to get a life.
> An analogy (not great admittedly, but you'll get the picture): you're suddenly faced with a beautiful view, it's amazing - the most perfect, sublime thing you've ever seen. Now freeze that view and be told that's all you'll see from this point on till the day you die. You can't turn your head, you can't blink, you can't see the same subject even from a different perspective. My guess is that view would soon become torture. That's essentially what you're advocating.
Trad climbing is torture! You know you're allowed to go home after?
> Given a choice of mandatory top-roping with no other options, or retro-bolting, I'd choose retrobolting.
> Then again, given a choice of mandatory top-roping and scrubbing my bawbag with battery acid....pass the Brillo pad and a 12v...
why? I thought sport was all about the movement? Is it too safe and clinical for you? Awww, do you climb sport for the danger and thrill do you?
The Godwin's Law of Scottish climbing, how long in a bolting debate before Creag Dubh gets a mention...
Just did a wee count and I've climbed nineteen routes at Creag Dubh, all of which were good and only three or four of which I'd describe as bold, and even those have only got short (and steady) sections where it isn't safe to fall. Such an undeserved reputation and a brilliant crag.
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