/ via ferrata down side of grey mare's tail, kinlochleven
I can't believe that an outdoor company can be proud of steel staples down the side of a fantastic natural beauty spot.
Wow. That is hellish. How has it been allowed to fly....?
Yes, bizarre choice of venue. VF in a suitable place would be ok I guess, but surely this is not it?
We've all been looking the other way, ding-donging about a few bolts at Ratho.
What a properly horrible thing. Surely the fat end of the wedge.
I've been to the place and think it's very beautiful, but I'd quite lie a go on this VF as you'll get right up to the waterfall. I think it'll offer a really thrilling experience to visitors, and as much as we as climbers can be snobbish about it, this VF will be a physical, challenging outdoor experience right in the thick of a stunning natural environment - which is what we as climbers love.
In the Alps, I've been to similar VFs and enjoyed them and don't find them visually damaging. If the locals are happy with it, and it'll be good for the economy, I don't see it as destructive to the environment any more than a footpath is. But it will offer people an experience that may be the most exhilarating, amazing thing they've ever done, that they will remember forever. On balance, it seems like a good thing to me.
More importantly, has it ever frozen over and been climbed?
Also, what is it with the Scots and calling their waterfalls "Grey Mare's Tail"? I know of at least three.
Well do do have your own interests at heart, I suppose potential employment after ml traineeship finishes, it's not just about the staples. Glen Etive is untidy due the the visual impact of fandan transit van drunks.
This ticks all the boxes:
> This ticks all the boxes:
> Commercially motivated
The defacto knee jerk reaction is to be appalled, after all we are British and have ethics to uphold, we don't need or want this continental nonsense. If I'm honest this is how I feel/react most of the time. But kinlochleven has a host of other facilities that could compliment this quiet nicely, I don't know the venue so can't comment on that. But I must admit the idea of drunken stag parties tearing up and down it does make my skin crawl, but then I suffered this at stanage recently too, so if it keeps them off the crags then maybe that's a bonus.
> This ticks all the boxes:
In reply to The Big Man
Has the fall been climbed? I asked a lot of old locals and no-one seemed aware. I watched it closely in the hard winters amongst the last 10 years and it never came close. If it did the VF is to one side anyway. The rock is steep, loose and blank and doesn't look to lend itself to trad.
Sorry Alan but this is a recognised and accesible walk to a local place of interest.
It is the biggest (accessible) waterfall in the area I think.
I would imagine a lot more people have enjoyed a peaceful walk there than say climbers who have been up Five Finger Gully.
One bolt was not allowed to fly there and a huge ladder of re-bar should not here.
It is lowest-common-denominator stuff and all about extending the 'extreme experience' in exchange for cash.
Seems like there's some confusion between rock climbing ethics and bolting the rock with developing a visitor attraction akin to a nature trail with footpaths, signposts, railings at viewpoints etc.
This is clearly far less obtrusive than the bridge, viewpoints and trails at the wonderful Corrieshalloch Gorge. It's an amazing thing and people want to see it and appreciate the unique landscape and ecosystem, so stuff has been built all over it to allow that. And great, it's a wonderful experience.
I would be upset if someone bolted a trad crag with decent routes because it would destroy the climbing, not because someone had bolted the rock. This isn't a crag, it's a natural attraction and there's no reason to leave it pristine and rarely visited when it's located in town whose economy is based on the outdoors/adventure industry. People interact with the environment, nothing in this country is 'natural' or if it is, it's the places that nobody ever sees like the bottom of lakes.
I'm not in favour of destroying the landscape that is enjoyed by many by building over it, but this is a method of bringing people into the landscape so that they can enjoy it, and have an amazing experience. Without trails and railings and bridges we as a society wouldn't be able to enjoy our landscapes, nor would we have the economic activity that that enjoyment generates - and this is just a part of that. It has nothing in common with trad climbing ethics and bolting, because nobody climbs up the damp vegetated choss up the side of the Grey Mares Tail.
Its never always about climbing. As climbers do we not have respect for the limited natural resources we have? Bolts upset me more about their destruction of rock than taking away a recognised climb that hasen't been climbed in a while. The latter is still important, but the former is most important.
Is it open yet?
Sounds great, I'll be doing it!
Personally I don't think bolts have an appreciable impact on the environment. At Malham Cove for example, the centre is completely grid bolted, but as a natural beauty spot, the sport area looks no different to the Wings where it's trad. The Peregrines don't care whether they nest near sports or trad routes, the walkers and other visitors don't know the difference, the only people who care about bolts are climbers.
That's ok then. Let's pillage the environment then Alan?
Exactly the same argument could be used to justify the bolting of our mountain crags
Yes its being put in for commercial purposes but I don't view that as any more of a sin than much larger developments like Glencoe Ski Centre and Nevis Range (I'll accept Cairngorm as more controversial) which are much more obtrusive.
I do agree with Milesy that this is nothing to do with climbing at all, its about whether one tiny waterfall should have metalwork added by a commercial provider to make it into a place they can take customers to have fun in the outdoors. Its 1 small area in a vast 'beauty spot', its not hugely visible unless you go and find it (and relatively few visitors to Lochaber do) and (as posts on here show) not everybody will be offended by the sight or sound of the activity there anyway. If the 'loss' of Kinlochleven's GMT offends that much PM me and I'll send you the location of half a dozen better spots within a few miles you can visit (admittedly the paths aren't as good to them all).
I wonder how much they would charge us regular folk who have our own equipment and don't need a 'guide'
Other than the complete absence of such things?
Well then that's pants. I can understand charging us to use it (a small fee) to recoup costs and man power but I'll be damned if I've gotta be 20+ quid for someone to take me up it
My biggest issue is now that there is one, how can you really justify refusing others on some grounds? What if the landowner decides to put ladders up Steall falls? The fact people ice climb up it every few years when it occasionally comes into nick does not seem like a good argument of refusal. The refusal surely needs to be on the grounds of nature and the environment.
Up to that point I could see both sides of the argument ;-)
Thinking aloud it would be interesting to compare the use of things like Black MTB Routes with a facility like this though and to look closely at how they justify the stand alone nature of them on the continent. I suppose as its a more mainstream activity there there are more competent users and a greater public awareness of the hazards. I've walked straight past a sign on a VF in Switzerland telling me not to use it without a Guide.
High Ropes things are fenced off in private land are they not? This waterfall as a natural beauty spot is surely still freely accessable by the public or is Vertical Descents going to be now fencing this all off and having a physical presense on the site all year round?
Sorry Alan but I think this is a pretty ugly expansion of the remit.
Like you I cannot imagine this will be left for folks to have at without a guide.
That will mean fencing and signage and all the other trappings of commerical enterprise.
All this in an area that was previously an easily accessible place of natural interest.
What a shame. :0(
I tried to debate this subject with constructors end employees of the development on Facebook, and received a barrage of abuse for even questioning it. Even when I forwarded this thread was told those in favour outnumbered those against. Bizarre manipulation of statistics when by my reckoning only 14 different folks posted. Just as well I had my socks off. I wonder if the same manipulation was utilised during any environmental reports or studies. The post has since been deleted by the OP
My main concern is that a spectacular natural place that's currently accessible and free to all might become restricted, for paying customers only.
Also, it's probably worth pointing out that this will NOT be Scotland's first 'Via Ferrata':
The Elie Chain Walk is currently free for anyone to access (and is quite good fun):
However, public safety concerns have been voiced more than once, and I wouldn't count on it lasting forever.
> Sorry Alan but I think this is a pretty ugly expansion of the remit.
> Like you I cannot imagine this will be left for folks to have at without a guide.
> That will mean fencing and signage and all the other trappings of commerical enterprise.
> All this in an area that was previously an easily accessible place of natural interest.
I think if it does result in restricting access to the waterfall then that is a real cost, and a very fair argument against it. But access to the waterfall IIRC is on the opposite bank, and I remember boulder hopping along the river bed to get close to it, so I'm not convinced that will be the case. But if it does turn out that way, it's a fair argument against it.
You can argue the toss over definitions but Elie, pleasant as it is, is more like a short section of fixed gear such as you find on walking routes in the Alps than a Via Ferrata. But really that's just semantics. I'd happily romp across at Elie just holding the chain. The development at the GMT most people would definitely want a set of VF lanyards on.
That's not quite true, is it? I think the fall is climbed in winter, albeit very occasionally - though perhaps such access would be unaffected due to being independent of the metalwork?
Semantics, yes. They're both about fixing metal gear to the rock to facilitate access to natural beauty spots.
For what it's worth, I'm 100% against developments like these up in the hills, but I'm open-minded about this one - just a little concerned about precedents being set. Someone above mentioned Steall - that does seem like it might be a logical follow-on somewhere down the line.
From my experience, the majority of people who visit the GMT are tourists who have come into the village to gawk at the ice wall (but don't want to climb themselves) or because there are 'tourist route' signs. For most of these people, the opportunity to watch people doing strange things at height will probably add to the appeal, not detract from it. If they are seeking a quieter experience there are plenty of spots that will deliver this.
Like others, I think it would be a great shame if there is not an option to use the facility without taking a 'guide', but suspect this will be the case. Either way, I'll certainly be making a trip back to Kinloch to have a nose when it's all finished.
Interested if anyone does know if GMT has been climbed in winter. Its unlikely given the free drop and great height of the falls and in recent cold winters never came close AFAIK.
Not as far as I could find out either Al - I went and had a few noseys up there when we Steall and the like were in really good condition a few years back, but still not close.
Both of you have mentioned all the other quiet place that could be chosen and how not many folks visit it anyway.
Accessible, quiet and beautiful places are not that common.
Un-developed this would be exactly to kind of thing I would seek out for a family trip if I was up in the area.
I would suggest that I am not alone in that and would wonder how (if at all) visits to the area were monitored before all this.
It also seems to be an unsustainable endeavour - companies and participants naturally seek to expand what they do. A wonder which other sites have been considered.
In reply to The Big Man:
I would imagine a lot of key phrases were used in the development stage; 'local jobs', 'additional local spend', 'accessible, exiting and healthy'......
Fair point, just felt the comment calling me a f***ing chopper poor. Ironically although not its initial intended use, I've never chopped a bolt in my life.
> Both of you have mentioned all the other quiet place that could be chosen and how not many folks visit it anyway.
> Accessible, quiet and beautiful places are not that common.
I'd argue the opposite - there is a LOT of vast, quiet space in Scotland. I'd agree with you if we were talking about England/Wales.
Given Kinlochleven and it's history, for what it's worth my view is this kind of thing is appropriate for that area. I wouldn't say the same for many places.
Al, I have the greatest of respect for your abilities, experience and well-considered opinions.
Did you really just suggest that canyoning companies might be deterred by the prospect of their clients getting wet? :-)
You're thinking of Grey Mare's Tail near Moffat, not this one.
Grin :-) I can just imagine him turning up to GMT near Moffat with generator and grinder and spending all night looking for the rungs! :-)
Just a note that if you feel strongly either way you can comment on the Via Ferrata direct to Vertical Descents on their Facebook page.
Their words not mine:
'Vertical Descents is hoping to be the first company to develop Via Ferrata in Scotland. We are aiming to build this structure beside one of the most scenic waterfalls in Scotland, with hopes of opening 2013.
The first Via Ferrata in Scotland will be located in Kinlochleven, near Fort William and Glencoe. This fixed climbing route will run beside the third biggest waterfall in Scotland, The Grey Mairs Tail. Equipped with fixed cables, staples, ladders and bridges, this route will allow users to access this spectacular environment without the risks associated with unprotected scrambling and climbing. Hugely popular in the Italian Dolomites and across the Alps, Via Ferratas allow non skilled climbers to achieve heights and access areas they thought not possible.
Via Ferrata Scotland is the second of its kind in the UK, the first being the Via Ferrata at Honister Pass in the Lake District. Developed in 2007 by Mark Weir, the Via Ferrata climbs up the side of Fleetwith Pike (2,126 feet high) following old mine workings.'
Reads pretty clearly as a expandable business model to me. Lots of 'firsts'....wonder where the second one will be?
> Their words not mine:
I wouldn`t mind seeing some of these beasties in the Central Belt.
How about one just to the left of the route "Wounded Knee" in Ratho Quarry?
I am not sure I understand your point Nick...?
Rucksacks for profit vs restricted access to local landmark and introduction of unsightly infrastructure for profit. Apples, oranges.
> This ticks all the boxes:
> Commercially motivated
I introduced an example of commercial motivation - yes, about something different - that you don't seem to see as a bad thing. You haven't explained why commercial motivation is a reason against something, in this case, against the VF.
The pros and cons for new develpoments can always be argued either way and I respect others views but I would happily vote yes for this development.
Some will benefit from being paid to work, many will benefit from a nice wee outdoors experience, there is not too great an environmental impact.
The folk of the area need the work opportunities and extra things for tourists to do in the area are a good thing.
Not everyone agrees with the ski areas but on balance they do far more for their areas than they take away. This is very much the same but on a far smaller scale.
There are more venues that would be good for a via ferrata and if future developments are as carefully considered as Ben has been with this one they will be great.
I think we need a wise person to make a judgement for UKC. To be the arbitrator of ethics.
My criteria would be that person is ethically pure, never damaged the crags or mountains. That person should never have clipped a bolt, swung an axe and scrapped the rock, placed a crampon that grazed the stone, walked on a paved path in the mountains, like the path to the North Face of the Ben or SCNL. Never used the A82 through Glencoe, or the A5 in Ogwen.
Such a person can surely be the UKC ethical arbiter?
I guess we ALL agree damage is bad we are just trying to work out the line, Ben path good, A82 in Glencoe good, commercial investment that allows unskilled people onto terrain they would never visit........
All these things damage in some way the 'natural mountain environment' (if such a thing exists beneath the tree line!), yet the keep places like Bethesda, Kinlochleven and others going after the tide of industry has turned its back on these communities.
If you go to Malham or, closer by, to Creag a Bhancair and see climbers I think most people would think that its pretty impressive and adventurous precisely because the challenge is natural and the skill, strength and concentration required to climb there is so self evidently remote from the everyday (regardless of how it is protected). A via ferrata seems to replace that challenge with an absolutely artificial one which may excite many for an hour or so but inspire precisely nobody.
Certainly if I were to go to a grand waterfall like this the experience, for me, would be ruined by the sight of string of noisy dayglo revellers.
However , I've been to Kinlochleven plenty times and I've never been to this waterfall. I don't imagine the Eas Chuil Aluinn or the Falls of Glomach, or indeed Steall are threatened by such development (and I've been to all of those).
There's no shortage of grandeur and desolation to be had within easy walking distance of Kinlochleven (which after all was the sight of an aluminium factory for years and years).
Its hideously ugly and I for one can't see the point of it - I'm not going to be paying to climb it indeed I wouldn't climb it if you paid me (though to moan about its construction and then demand to use it for nothing seems a bit convoluted ethically) but if we are to build barricades around wild places in Britain to protect their beauty and drama, and to preserve the culture of the generations of ordinary and extraordinary people who have worked and played on them...Well I won't fight and die on this one.
How does this work? If I turn up at cairngorm with my touring skis there's nothing to stop me using the mountain, ski area or not, for free. No disclaimers, health and safety, entry gates or anything.
If I turn up at the bottom of this waterfall what's to stop me climbing up VD's ladder? Do they own the land? Is there a local bylaw that they've had put in to restrict access? Or will it be the same as cairngorm?
Milesy knows his stuff
I would imagine that the same restrictions will be in place that are used on sites like Go Ape. Essentially deer fencing.
I remain disappointed by the responses and sentiments on this thread.
If this VF was put up in a scrappy quarry over an unfrequented e4 then there would be a rammy. I am also reminded of the Five Finger Gully bolt/debolt.
I would be willing to be my very best socks that more people have enjoyed a peaceful walk up to the falls than climbers have ascended Five Finger Gully. That peaceful enjoyment will now be impossible due to whooping stag parties being guided up a contrived 'extreme adventure'.
The mountaineering community had the MCofS to refer to in the FFG incident due to the 'above-the-tree-line' location. There is little recourse in this other that to look for another easily accessible spectaculer waterfall. This thread makes it sound like there is one round every corner.
The argument that it supports jobs in a former industrial area is spurious and best kept for hood-winking local councilors.
On the topic of VD expansion, yes, they do want to expand, but they are first and foremost a canyoning company. They ARE expanding by opening this initial VF, and will gain substantially less by opening a second, as opposed to diversifying their product range further. As such I can see no reason why they, or anyone else would be willing to negotiate the environmental assessment problems with installing something similar anywhere else.
On VDs marketing as "one of scotlands most beautiful waterfalls", the key word is marketing. Everything that they release will be available on the internet for future clients to look at, they are never going to say, actually guys, this waterfall isn't that great, you aren't losing much, but pay some money to come have a go. As such their own marketing will fuel the hype that they are destroying a brilliant area, which is very far from the reality.
For what it's worth, I am also local, and pretty pleased to see this going ahead. If nothing else there is sod all for folk to do in Lochaber, and more and more stuff is closing down. If this gives even one of the folk that spend their Fridays doing the Mcdonalds drive-thru to steall falls car park circuit then it has to be worth it.
Also looking on a macro scale in the area, without sacrificing some areas to "contain" the vast number of visitors, we'll be at risk of damaging a lot more of our wild places, I have always looked on the ben track as a critical sacrifice to keep the rest of the mountain in reasonably good nick. If Kinlochleven continues to establish itself as The place to go for adventure activities when you're on holiday, then think of the respite a lot of the other frequently used places might get.
One of the reasons there is no rammy is that it in no way conflicts with climbing.
Yes I agree that more people will have enjoyed a walk to the Falls than have been up FFG and I'm no great fan of the hyperbole surrounding such 'extreme adventures' either. But there is a place for people to enjoy the outdoors in a different manner to how we like to. The VFs I've done have been great fun if totally different to climbing. This site is accepted as suitable by a large number of local people and other sites have been considered and do you accept that as many people might be interested and excited by what they see as annoyed by the disturbance?
If you like waterfalls go and take a look at the Nathrach, the Chaolais, the Righ or the Mhorair or cross the Corran Ferry to look at Maclean's Tower, Fort William has An Steall Ban and the Allt Bhan at the end of the Mile Dorcha is lovely (and next to a quiet car park). It doesn't get more accessible than the meeting of 3 waters in Glencoe and there are some great spots not marked on a map in the Cona Glen in Ardgour, or course there is Glen Etive and its tributaries and the Leven itself and the Nevis are not without hydraulic merit. The only thing GMT has over these is height. I'd tell you about the falls in Moidart but I'd have to kill you as there are more winter FAs I want to do out there ;-)
Will the development create new jobs? I doubt it very much. Is it another string to Lochaber's adventure tourism bow yes it is and therefore it contributes to the economy. VD do employ numerous young staff members many of whom have been on local FE/HE courses and these courses have seen many young people move to the area and stay here to make a living which is (IMHO) a good thing for the local area and economy.
Hay you obviously don't like this activity and raucous 'adrenaline' type groups aren't my thing either but if we get past that I feel this is a relatively sensitive development in that sector that does't impact on climbers and will have minimal or positive impact on other visitors.
If I was an unscrupulous landowner could I put some rungs in for instance, Limekilns, call it adventure tourism and charge entry to all? I can't do the same for a part my shooting estate and yet there are health and safety concerns with people wandering about while shooting. What's the dividing line and who decides?
What's the MCofS position on this?
A long and well reasoned post, thanks for that. Thanks also for the info on other areas.
I understand that this is not going to impinge on climbing/climbers, that's not why I referenced FFG.
It will affect a number of folks looking for a quiet walk or picnic spot but it is a fait acompli.
Why an outdoor company would need to add this to its porfolio in the west coast is totally beyond me. It will (I promise you) be populated by beer-sweating oafs in spiderman costumes.
Anyway, enough for/from me on this one I think.
Great idea lets stick one up Tower Ridge.
Thats where the commercial self-serving bit becomes evident; i would be in the area paying for food/accommodation etc, drawn there by the VD but (presumably) not allowed to climb the thing without VD.
I would have expected a similar setup to Camino del Rey where i can pay a guide but equally can climb it solo
> Thats where the commercial self-serving bit becomes evident; i would be in the area paying for food/accommodation etc, drawn there by the VD but (presumably) not allowed to climb the thing without VD.
> I would have expected a similar setup to Camino del Rey where i can pay a guide but equally can climb it solo
Never gonna happen, this whole post came about because someone I know on fb posted the video and invited people to try it. Access to waterfall is allowed on opposite bank, but no access to vd without paying.
To be fair the local guide (Alan) put a fair point across, and whilst i have a great respect for his exprience, alas I feel his view may be influenced by commercial contacts, vf virgins next step may then be a commercial guide in a more wilderness area
Said I would drop out of this...
You are right - the 'I want to use it for free' arguement is flawed.
The 'I don't want my nice day out ruined by hoons' is not flawed. Esp when the hoons are only there so someone can make money from them.
I cant believe what im reading. The area needs new tourist attractions to keep alive. There are probably hundreds of places like this in a 50-100 mile radius. Its a good idea IMO. Might even go and have a try!
Again im not against the capitalist approach, just against the distorting the argument of the primary aim - to create a revenue stream.
In VD's defense im sure they had to pay the locals some kind of feed im sure (hope) that some of their profit goes into compensating the locals, who no doubt will be p*ssed off in the future with the beer swigging n*bs on stag do's
So can anyone tell me what legislation can be invoked to restrict access?
Why do you instinctively assume the worst? Is it to add credibility to your point? Who said anything suggesting it will be used by beer swilling stag dos? If visible use of an establishment by beer swilling stag dos is such a problem....what do we do about pubs and bars? More to the point, I just don't think that pointing out a worst case scenario is a helpful argument.
If it were being built today then yes.
As it stands I don't like it but it is there, I'm not going to set up a picket line.
In reply to The Big Man: Whilst I've no vested interest in VD and don't work for them I'll front up and say that-
1. I'm generally in favour of (IMHO) sensitive commercial developments locally that I feel enhance the area for visitors and yes that's partly because it may have a knock effect on my own business and the financial stability of the area I and my family live in.
2. If its accessible to other local providers like myself to use then i would offer it commercially to relevant clients in particular as a possible wet weather alternative to mountaineering/climbing days or for those wanting specific training on VF.
If that happens more than a couple of times a year I'll be surprised so it wont make difference commercially to me but you can take it as MINIMAL honest declaration of interest.
Do they own the land?
According to their FB page they have leased the land.
Whilst the primary aim may not be to benefit the economy of the area, I suspect that this will happen. On how great a scale remains to be seen, but I certainly don't see it being detrimental. The people who own/ run/ work for VD also live in the area, so the wider benefit to the area is in their interest too I would think - it's not as if some random person from a different part of the country has invested in this and possibly doesn't give a hoot about the local impact.
As to stag parties etc. which some on this thread seem to despise so much, you already see them in the area on the various high ropes/ climbing/ gorge scrambling/ paddling/ biking/ etc. activities. Yes, they can be loud and they can cause irritation. But for the most part they aren't too bad, and the majority of local providers are happy to accept them as they bring valuable spend to the area, often outwith the usual holiday periods... They can even sometimes be good fun(!) There is a large military hostel in Kinlochleven, which (as well as being a base for adventure training) regularly hosts groups of troops who are on wind-down time from being on tour... So the village is no stranger to groups of lads out for a good night, for sure!
Many touristy parts of the country see a large influx of tourists doing somewhat annoying things each summer/ winter/ whenever their season runs. I'd consider things like inability to use single track road correctly and stopping when they feel like it/ driving *really* slow to take pictures in the way of the other traffic to be far more annoying than the odd stag group. But the reality of it is that you just accept that the summer will be annoying in some ways in return for the fact that tourism brings a huge boost economically. If you want solitude as a local, then yours is the crisp Autumn day, or the early season before the hordes and the midgies arrive, or the morning or evening outside of the time when most groups tend to book this sort of activity...
I always describe the Elie Chain walk as Fife's VF! (well, it's not really, though you can harness up and use cow's tails etc on it in case of slips). ECW looks nicer too!
However, can't come down firmly on one side or other re Kinlochleven one - DOES fit in with much of their other stuff, and if my children lived there, I'd be wanting as much employment as possible for them.
In reply to AlH:
That sort of access arrangement isn't exclusive to Britain and over-zealous H+S culture. I was in Italy where a river had formed a modest canyon and a via ferrata had been installed on its walls. Access to the canyon was restricted by a locked gate at the route's start (and then naturally restricted the rest of the way by the canyon itself).
I forget exactly where it was without current access to a map, but I was ski touring and had done the Gran Paradiso so somewhere in a valley bottom in that region.
Wont change anyone's view on access, but just thought I'd point out it isn't always otherwise on the continent.
In reply to Robbo99
Businesses in communities such as Lochaber are inter-dependent. More people staying for a nice trip away will result in more people undertaking activities in the same way more people doing this VF will look for places to stay. So whilst VD's primary interest is presumably in their own revenue stream there is a genuine collective interest in locations like this and without more detailed knowledge of those involved I'm not sure it is fair to say that benefit to the wider community is merely convenient.
I think you are being unrealistic in objecting to this. The highlands need jobs if communities are to survive and even if this is only one job or less, I can't really see a downside. It is unobstrusive and not spoiling anyone else's enjoyment. Do you also object to every other commercial venture in the highlands (forestry, shooting, path construction, fencing etc. etc.)? If so then I think you are hoping for an impossible-to-achieve wilderness, if not, then why is this particularly terrible and worse than other forms of enterprise?
> . It is unobstrusive and not spoiling anyone else's enjoyment.
That's quite a naive statement, given previous posts, I think it may spoil others enjoyment.
It clearly will be of benefit to guides, they're simply defending their industry.
Yes it will bring a job or two, but then so does Trident.
For some reason, it seems wrong, but then my opinion is on based on, dare I say it, an ethical approach to outdoor pursuits. A steel ladder with punters hanging off a beauty spot that will never be the same, na, not for me.
You have professionals, and then you have some blokes with drills.
I wonder if any stability study was performed on the rock as weaknesses can be below the surface, and by manually drilling into it you may further weaken it....
God, how depressing. I assumed that was a joke until I saw the video.
Well, as someone who lives pretty well as close as you can to the waterfall, runs the Grey Mare's path scores of times per year, but has only really been aware of something afoot from the frequency with which I've seen the Vertical Descents van in the car park this year, I stopped for a good look from top and bottom this evening...
While I could see a rope and some of the staples from the wee side path to the top, I doubt I'd have noticed the metalwork if I hadn't been looking for it. And while the 'work in progress' was rather more obvious from the normal viewpoint at the bottom with tape, 'CAUTION', 'DANGER' and 'MEN WORKING ABOVE' signs, only the same rope hanging down was obvious beyond that and I wasn't certain whether or not I could pick out any of the staples from there.
So how do I feel about it? To be honest, I don't really know and my answer may depend partly on how it all affects the normal access to the foot of the falls (including to the pool for those who want to get that close) and whether it impinges on my normal life in my own 'back yard'. Call that NIMBYism if you like, but I'm not actually saying NIMBY... just that I've yet to be convinced one way or the other!
I developed my climbing skills in Italy nearly 30 years ago, at the time when us youngsters, going round in tight pants and shoes regularly clashed with 'hardcore' trad climbers that really couldn't understand the spit rock wave (later replaced by safer bolting). Most differences were smoothed over by a couple of bottles of beer at the end of the day when we all met up at the same bar after a hard day up on the local cliffs. We were keen, driven and really excited to explore virgin territory and push ourselves to the limits.
Wind back a couple of years - I must have been 13 or 14 - while on holiday some family friends took me to a VF on the Italian Alps. That still is the best memory I have of the many summers I spent there, and spawned my whole climbing experience afterwards.
I'm sure that many can share a similar experience - while I can totally understand the reasons for approving or disapproving this new Scottish VF, I feel that life is about embracing change and look on the bright side.
Lost me there Bruce. So what? Everyone who is introduced to the mountains has a different background. And people's introductions to the world of mountains come in all shapes and sizes. Not every oaf will forget the experience the next night. A proportion of them will think 'actually, that was pretty good' and will be back to the mountains for a more traditional day out instead of getting hammered the next weekend.
Side note: Some climbers gear isn't a million miles away from spiderman costumes.
The big strip of tarmac running across the wilderness of Rannoch Moor that we all drive on is a bigger environmental concern. But I wouldn't want to see it go! I'd say the VF idea sounds good and I'm with Al's comments. I wouldn't want to see lots of them, but that's not on the table anyway.
The longer I've lived in Lochaber the more I can see that people who haven't been lucky enough to be introduced to actually going into the mountains need some sort of bridge to get them past the psychological barrier, if not just awakened to the idea at all. As climbers we know how easy it is just to go and do whatever adventures we dream up, but it's just not like that for lots of folk. Much as climbers cringe at folk wandering about on the Ben plateau in trainers and T-shirt in a blizzard, for me it's far more depressing to see the summer tourists who barely even make it out of their cars. Something that gets people up and into the hills has the potential to change a few lives as it did mine.
On my stag do we went across the wee via ferrata to stay in Steall hut. We drank a lot of beer and fell off the bridge. We should have stopped there before things got bad.
Class... so you are human after all :o)
I hear what you are saying but I don't think this will achieve what you're hoping.
Even if it does, I still don't think this is the right site.
I have to totally agree. As someone who was brought up in Kinlochleven both when Alcan were operating and the decline afterwards. Kinloch was one of the most polluted areas in Europe and it was a good ten years for the vegetation at the back of the fume plant to regrow. They had to tank to old dump with inch thick plastic to stop the pollution leaching into Loch Leven.
I would think the proposed new hydro station with the pipeline down form Loch Eilde will be a much more of an eyesore than a few staples.
This guy would sell his own mother for profit, who does he think he is? It's one of the largest falls in Scotland, he says, right before he f*cks the whole thing up, surely the people of Kinlochleven don't want to be the next Blackpool with hoards of stag party's pissing in the streets, dressed up as complete tw*ts. If they want to improve the local economy they are going about it the wrong way about it imo.
> This guy would sell his own mother for profit, who does he think he is? It's one of the largest falls in Scotland, he says, right before he f*cks the whole thing up, surely the people of Kinlochleven don't want to be the next Blackpool with hoards of stag party's pissing in the streets, dressed up as complete tw*ts. If they want to improve the local economy they are going about it the wrong way about it imo.
Interesting dilemma this. I've just come back from Lauterbrunnen (Eiger, Monch etc) where pretty much every scenic wonder has its own rack and pinion railway, cable car or klettersteig (via ferrata). The valley is stunning to look at but it had completely lost any sense of wilderness and most of its raw appeal (to me). But my experience of living in similar places (Dales, Lakes, HIghlands and Islands) suggests that most genuine locals, lacking the economic and educational capital as well as the idealistic middle class sensibilities of offcomers like me, will welcome any development which brings jobs and tourist money. Can you blame them when the alternative may be to become a forced migrant (if only to the city)?
VF are not that intrusive. As a general rule they are hardly visible from the valley and once the staples and cables have weathered in you'd be hard pressed to pick out the line even if you were looking for it.
I think we can be too precious about this sort of thing and believe there is scope for more in the UK.
Agree. Looks fun as well! I don't hear people complaining about footpaths eroding away the hillsides of our most popular mountains - a much greater visual impact. I
> This ticks all the boxes:
God forbid that anyone would look to make money out of the outdoors. As for the locals, they should eek out a meagre existence from sheep farming.
I rented a house in Kinlochleven last year a couple of hundred metres from the proposed VF. Kinlochleven is in beautiful countryside but it's not exactly a beauty spot itself, there's plenty of evidence of it's industrial past. There used to be a hotel at the top of the path above the waterfall: the area the VF is getting built is more like a park in a small town than a pristine wilderness.
I doubt Kinlochleven will ever be mobbed by stag parties. It's too far from major cities, there's maybe two pubs a campsite and few B&Bs. More likely that some of the climbers and walkers that spend money at the Ice Factor will drop a bit more to climb the VF and the local guides will have an extra place to take clients.
FWIW you can double all your guestimates there!
> FWIW you can double all your guestimates there!
Oh, in that case you book the stripper and I'll bring 200 cans of Fosters and some fluffy handcuffs.
What date? :-P
In my option this has been blown totally out of proportion because:
1. The locals are in favour as another activity to bring in tourists and thus jobs. (The path to the waterfall is only gravelled due to a job creation scheme)
2. The environmental damage is minimal in comparison to that of the industrial past, West Highland Way, Scottish Six Days Trials / Pre65s / Pollock memorial and the mountain bike events held in the village.
I have always thought a dry ski slope down the back of the Ice Factor would be great.
Ermm, sport routes cost a lot of time & money... Fences & fees there too?
People here need to seriously get over themselves. Its a great project and the sort of thing which the Fort and G Coe needs someone with some gumption and forward thinking. Tourism is vital to this area and this is the sort of thing which brings people here and keeps them here and doing things here. Its pathetic to see people whining and also people who don't live here about bolts and ethics Fort William and Glencoe could be a real tourist trap, but its not because people start crying the moment you mention bolts, a hut on Ben Nevis, signs on the Ben so people can guide their way. We need to accept that this area is a good way to generate tourism if you want quite then head to the Grey Corries or beyond !
Amazing! Some sense can be talked on UKC. Despite being someone who would happily see bolts on most gritstone quarries, I was horrified by this. Having read the thread I can see the arguments on the other side and I guess it is difficult to object to. I've been to Kinlochleven maybe 20 times over 30 years and never once been to GMT: maybe as a young Scout I might have enjoyed the experience of VF.
Destruction of the natural environment? Have you listened to yourself. The environment will still exist after this. You personally cause more damage going winter climbing than this will do.
To OP, well doen Ben and team. Ben is totally committed to Lochaber and I commend his efforts. The Ice Factor did a lot to put Kinlochleven partly on a new route after the smelter shut and this will help.
Well said Al H! Ignore those with a victorian view of the Highlands that says it's just one big play ground.
> I am not sure I understand your point Nick...?
> Rucksacks for profit vs restricted access to local landmark and introduction of unsightly infrastructure for profit. Apples, oranges.
Who is restricting access? Or this a prediction of your and if so based on what?
There is no problem with this being commercial. That's how 99% of the land is run.
> I think you are being unrealistic in objecting to this. The highlands need jobs if communities are to survive and even if this is only one job or less, I can't really see a downside. It is unobstrusive and not spoiling anyone else's enjoyment. Do you also object to every other commercial venture in the highlands (forestry, shooting, path construction, fencing etc. etc.)? If so then I think you are hoping for an impossible-to-achieve wilderness, if not, then why is this particularly terrible and worse than other forms of enterprise?
Very well said Martin, I fully agree with you there.
Presumaly poor Milesy objects to his local chip shop as it is commercial too.
It appears there's an easy solution to restricting access to it by not equipping the 1st 5 or 6m of steep terrain.
My only negative thoughts on it are that the rungs are too close together, and that the cable is poorly placed and too tight, hindering free running of the leashes. If the vertical cables are fixed this tight, then a faller would be arrested by the bolt fixing rather than a loop in the cable as happens in modern VF's.
Not something I'd rush back to do once its finished though.
Mainly because I have a very close connection to the village, which I have family members and been up to many times, and especially visited the very waterfall, which I doubt many people on here have been too!!
Firstly after the closure of the factory the village has suffered, especially on employment and financially. There has been many tried and tested ways of plugging this gap, from breweries, nurseries and other small funded projects that sadly just haven't lasted due to its position and lack of traffic the village gets. Apart from the WHW and Ice Factor not many people venture into the village and spend their money.
My personal opinion is in favour of the scheme, but only if VD encourage their customers to stay or spend the money in the village and not else where. I think this is something that should be encouraged more especially to victors of the Ice Factor, and praise the local business's for employing local people who have families to support in the area.
The comments about the impact on the natural environment etc is rubbish as face your back to the waterfall and you have one of the most industrial scared areas in the highlands, the factory remains, previously one of Europe's biggest dams just up the valley, which feeds into the pipes, the old railway line and harbour.
I would question people who are against to such a project to, actually come up with suggestions for the community instead as well as questions themselves of how much of a positive impact they leave behind in the areas that we visit as climbers and walkers.....
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