/ Bolts at Marian Bach

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Rob Davies - on 04 May 2014
I visited a newly developed limestone crag - natural, I think, almost like a small-scale version of Craig y Forwen - near Castle Inn yesterday and was pleased to experience yet another new location for sport climbing in the area. Not big, but worth a visit. So I'm grateful to the guys who have put in the time, effort and expense to equip the routes.

But I thought that a couple of the routes that had bolts right next to good cracks were outside anything I've experienced in the UK - even if you came across them in Spain they would raise some eyebrows. One is a typical limestone corner with a good crack at the back (given 5, maybe S 4a with gear), the other a crack up a wall (given 5+, maybe VS 4c with gear).

Is there a consensus amongst UK climbers now that it's OK to bolt lines on new limestone crags even where they would be easy to protect with gear?

These two lines have not yet been named, according to UKC. I suggest "The Thick End of the Wedge" would be appropriate!

jezb1 - on 04 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:

I've not been yet, but heard other people saying on FB that they had similar reservations.
stroppygob - on 04 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:

A bolted severe 4a crack /corner climb? Is this what climbing has come to?
Sebastian Fontleroy - on 04 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:

No Trad guys have put the effort in to bring this crag to the fore, so why ask for their opinion if its ok now? This crag would be over-grown and unclimbed now if these lads hadn't put the work in.

Enjoyed finding and climbing at this crag last Friday guys, many thanks.
Rob Davies - on 04 May 2014
In reply to Sebastian Fontleroy:

Agreed, a good effort in cleaning the crag, but surely less effort would have been involved just to do the crack-lines without bolting? It just seems bizarre to do it - I really don't understand the point of doing it this way.

The corollary to your comment is presumably that someone finding a new crag should be free to develop it in whatever way they see fit, regardless of the opinions of the rest of the (UK) climbing universe.
Sebastian Fontleroy - on 04 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:

Your postulation to my preposition is correct and i have no regard to the opinion of the rest of the climbing universe that you refer to. I climb where i like to climb and i enjoyed this crag primarily because of the lack of climbing that had been done there.

Did i give a shit about the choice of route bolted? No, i just turned up and climbed and was grateful.

Go and develop your own crag and i'll come and criticise your bolting decisions.
Rampikino - on 04 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:

Having been there recently it is clear to me that such an argument is a storm in a teacup. The reasons:

1. It's quarried rather than natural limestone. Man made effectively, (yes nature is also responsible), and as such I'm less worried about it.

2. Local context on A55 limestone - generally bolted.

3. National context - bolting limestone is commonplace.

4. Local rock conditions ain't amazing. There's plenty of loose stuff and bolting this particular crag seems to have some sense to it.


Now that's only my personal view having been there. It's a small but enjoyable location and the "feel" of the place tells me that bolts are very appropriate here.
Sebastian Fontleroy - on 05 May 2014
In reply to Rampikino:

> Having been there recently it is clear to me that such an argument is a storm in a teacup. The reasons:

> 1. It's quarried rather than natural limestone. Man made effectively, (yes nature is also responsible), and as such I'm less worried about it.

> 2. Local context on A55 limestone - generally bolted.

> 3. National context - bolting limestone is commonplace.

> 4. Local rock conditions ain't amazing. There's plenty of loose stuff and bolting this particular crag seems to have some sense to it.

> Now that's only my personal view having been there. It's a small but enjoyable location and the "feel" of the place tells me that bolts are very appropriate here.

Well said.
Oceanwall - on 05 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:

Interesting post about a crag I now hope to visit once I am fit after treatment for a brain tumour.
The Ex-Engineer - on 05 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:
A worthwhile question.

If you can easily reach the lower-offs from other reasonably graded routes, then I'd have thought that just placing the lower-offs and having the lines primarily available as top-rope climbs would have been a decent option.

For most climbers, only being able to TR some lines at a crag rather than lead them all, is not really going to detract from somewhere as an easy sport climbing venue. However, not all cracks provide worthwhile leading on gear and most pertinently, if the neighbouring lines are all significantly harder it would be difficult to argue against having the maximum number of routes available for (sport) climbers.

That said, the whole concept of having "top-rope routes" might require a bit more flexible thinking than is currently common at UK crags.
Post edited at 06:24
Rob Davies - on 05 May 2014
In reply to Rampikino:

I'm not a geologist but I'd judge that the cliff at Marian Bach is natural, not quarried - very similar in appearance to bits of Derbyshire "mountain" limestone.

If it does become popular I hope it doesn't attract too many people who don't fully appreciate that a crag, even if bolted, is not a safe environment like a climbing wall. There's still a lot of loose rock (some really big blocks) waiting to fall off.
Rob Davies - on 06 May 2014
In reply to Oceanwall:

I wouldn't make it a high priority!
The Pylon King on 06 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:

If a route has natural protection possibilities then it shouldn't be bolted.

Maybe Stevie Wonder is doing the bolting?


Oceanwall - on 07 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:

Thanks for the warning!
Iwan - on 07 May 2014
In reply to The Pylon King:

I've never understood why people bolt routes when it is possible to top rope them. Anyway, are there any good dry tooling routes at this crag?
DubyaJamesDubya - on 07 May 2014
In reply to Sebastian Fontleroy:
> (In reply to Rob Davies)
>
>
> Go and develop your own crag and i'll come and criticise your bolting decisions.

Since 'developing' a Trad route means not adding bolts I fail to see what you mean.
Rob Davies - on 07 May 2014
In reply to Rampikino:

A teacup perhaps, but hardly a storm, just some mild stirring. I am merely a humble seeker after enlightenment regarding something I really don't understand.

I don't disagree with your point that it is acceptable to use some bolts at a crag like Marian Bach. I went over to the Dark Side some years ago so I can hardly criticise.

But I don't understand why it is thought to be a good idea to place bolts next to a natural crack-line. This is the point on which I seek clarification and no-one so far no-one has addressed it. On slate bolted lines and crack lines exist side-by-side, and that works fine.
Rob Davies - on 07 May 2014
In reply to The Pylon King:

Nah, these cracks are so obvious that even Stevie Wonder would find bomb-proof gear placements.
JM - on 07 May 2014
Who can be bothered racking up to climb some short vs limestone corner in some quarry. It is not like Cenotaph Corner has been bolted. Perspective!

Sebastian Fontleroy - on 07 May 2014
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> Since 'developing' a Trad route means not adding bolts I fail to see what you mean.

I'm not surprised you don't know what i mean. The place was overgrown with ivy, bushes and trees before it was cleaned up and 'developed'. No one would be climbing there otherwise. Do you understand now?
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wynaptomos - on 07 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:
I don't disagree with your point - if it was me, I would not have bolted next to a crack either. However, I think the reasons are pretty clear in that the whole crag has been developed as a sport-only crag - just turn up with a bunch of quickdraws and climb, no need to faff about with a trad rack.

I've no particular objection to it given the context of this being one of the A55 sport venues and it being completely distinct from our bolt-free mountain areas.
Post edited at 14:06
Rampikino - on 07 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:

Hi Rob,

You know it's a fair debate though sadly some people do tend to go to extremes with it. As someone who spent most of his early climbing career (first 15 years or so) solidly on trad and then "discovered" sport later I can say that I have a view of both perspectives. I have bolted routes myself and always tried to do so in a manner that befits the crag and situation.

Yes, trad and bolted routes can exist side-by-side, but do they?

A little peek up the road from Marian Bach at Castle Inn gives us a little insight into this:

54 listed routes, 47 of them bolted, 7 of them trad.
Of the 7 trad routes 1 is E3 the others are E1, VS, 3 x Sev and VDiff

5 of the bottom 8 climbs (by number of ticks) are trad routes. The best placed is the VS at 29th.


My point is that climbers tend to go to crags with a specific mindset - they generally go for EITHER one type of climbing or another. Yes, many will cross over styles while they are there, but with roped climbing it tends to be one or the other. As Castle Inn is a bolted crag, naturally the trad lines tend not to be touched as climbers quite literally vote with their hands and feet.

Yes, fewer climbers means less polish but can also mean routes getting overgrown. While Castle Inn is much more open and exposed, Marian Bach certainly is not and routes that are not climbed regularly are at serious risk of becoming overgrown very quickly.
andrewmcleod - on 07 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:

Has anyone ever actually turned up to an otherwise grid-bolted limestone sport crag to climb some Severe crack climb on trad?

After all, it's not like low-grade trad routes are a rare commodity in this country (unlike low-grade sports routes)...
r0x0r.wolfo - on 07 May 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

Plenty of 5+s at the climbing centre!
The Pylon King on 07 May 2014
In reply to JM:

Lazy perspective.
DubyaJamesDubya - on 07 May 2014
In reply to Sebastian Fontleroy:
> (In reply to DubyaJamesDubya)
>
> [...]
>
> I'm not surprised you don't know what i mean.

?

Rob Davies - on 07 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:

That comment of mine was ill-judged and insensitive. I should have said that Stevie Wonder's guide-dog would be able to place good gear on these cracks.
stroppygob - on 07 May 2014
In reply to JM:

> Who can be bothered racking up to climb some short vs limestone corner in some quarry. It is not like Cenotaph Corner has been bolted. Perspective!

Oh, someone with more balls than the person who needs a climb bolted down to his level ability.

stroppygob - on 07 May 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:


> After all, it's not like low-grade trad routes are a rare commodity in this country (unlike low-grade sports routes)...


"Low grade sports routes" is a contradiction in terms, bolting a severe takes any "sport" out of it.
andrewmcleod - on 08 May 2014
In reply to stroppygob:
> "Low grade sports routes" is a contradiction in terms, bolting a severe takes any "sport" out of it.

Semantics :P

Low grade bolted routes then.
Rampikino - on 08 May 2014
In reply to stroppygob:

Nonsense. There is no dividing line between what is "sport" and what is not. It's a matter of opinion, experience and many other factors that can't simply be pushed into a convenient pigeonhole.

Elitist claptrap.
andrewmcleod - on 08 May 2014
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:
> Plenty of 5+s at the climbing centre!

Plenty of hard routes as well... so why aren't all the trad climbers indoors pushing their grade? Because it is nice to get out once in a while.

Nobody has answered my question... has anybody here ever climbed a Severe (or even anything below HS) crack in a grid-bolted limestone quarry?
Post edited at 13:19
Bruce Hooker - on 08 May 2014
In reply to Rampikino:

> Elitist claptrap.

Bring back ladders I say, even overweight football fans have a divine right to "climb" anywhere... These elitists really get up my nose!
Rampikino - on 08 May 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

Probably - have you been to Calpe?
Rampikino - on 08 May 2014
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

Erm... not the same thing really...
Simon Caldwell - on 08 May 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

> has anybody here ever climbed a Severe (or even anything below HS) crack in a grid-bolted limestone quarry?

Yes, at Harpur Hill and at Giggleswick South. Why?
andrewmcleod - on 08 May 2014
In reply to Simon Caldwell:
Fair enough. Although you do have an impressive number of climbs in your logbook (over 2000 leads/alt leads), and this presumably just the climbs you have logged since you have no trad climbs listed at Giggleswick and only one seconding a VS at Harpur Hill, so if you have only done a handful of such routes then this is presumably a fairly small fraction!

Why do I ask? I suspect that such climbs receive far, far less traffic than the surrounding sport routes; I would also suspect they receive less traffic than they would do if the rest of the crag were not bolted. I am not in a position to test this with statistics.

The problem is, I guess, that easy routes tend to take gear. There will be very few easy routes with big jugs that you wouldn't be able to protect with trad gear easily (except maybe slabs), so if you want sport routes at beginner grades (1-4) they will often be such routes.
Post edited at 14:49
Rob Davies - on 08 May 2014
In reply to wynaptomos:

But what you suggest would be a new precedent in the UK, as far as I know. Maybe I have led a sheltered life and there are other crags in the UK where bolts have been placed next to crack lines - but I haven't come across this situation before.
Rob Davies - on 08 May 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

It's grid bolting that's the problem. If a crag has a mix of bolted and trad and you want to do one of the latter, of course you turn up with gear.
Rob Davies - on 08 May 2014
In reply to Rampikino:

Thanks for taking the trouble to write a considered response.

You can call it a mindset if you like, but I would call it wearing blinkers! The trouble gets worse when people with such a "mindset" mix mostly with people wearing similar blinkers - after a while nobody realises that they are wearing blinkers. Part of the attraction of somewhere like the slate quarries is that you can mix up the style from one route to the next. Are people really so blinkered that they would happily spend a full day on short sports routes in a dump like, say, the Sidings without going completely bananas?

As for the trad routes you mention at Castle Inn, I've never noticed the lower grade ones, so they must be truly scruffy, and the E3 is beyond me. But you won't be surprised to hear I'm glad that the bolting developments at Castle Inn have not (so far - but I'm sure it is only a matter of time) wiped out the VS and E1. As to why so few people do them, one reason may be that there are now a lot of wall-bred climbers out there who don't have the skills/confidence to tackle them.

But in any case the popularity of a climb, or lack of it, is not relevant in my book. If a climb is poor as a trad route it doesn't become better just because it has been bolted. The two bolted cracks at Marian Bach that sparked my original comments are, in the context of a minor crag, worth doing, which is why I think it's a pity they were not left as they were (but I would go so far as to accept the lower-offs gratefully as I have to save wear and tear to my knees!)
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Rob Davies - on 08 May 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

A friend of mine uses the severe corner at Penmaenbach as a warm-up but it's not actually worth doing! Putting bolts in it would not improve the quality, even if it would then get hundreds of ascents.
mrchewy - on 08 May 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

Yes. Chris' Corner S at Penmaen somewhereorother.
andrewmcleod - on 08 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:
> It's grid bolting that's the problem. If a crag has a mix of bolted and trad and you want to do one of the latter, of course you turn up with gear.

I would agree that in a mixed trad/sport crag, people are much more likely to turn up with trad gear and thus much more likely to do such routes.

You may also have a problem with the grid bolting of an entire crag. However, once 95% of a crag has been bolted, I would rather see a few no-starred easy crack climbs bolted and climbed regularly than preserved for the rare trad climb that isn't even a very good climb anyway. If it is a fantastic climb at a suitable valuable grade with 1/2/3 stars then this is obviously potentially different.

Part of it is probably the faff factor... it takes a lot less time to climb a 10m crappy crack climb (say grade 4/5), even when you factor in cleaning the belay, than it does to trad climb it (plus you then have to walk back round). Unless you are basically soloing it anyway, in which case you can still solo it as a warmup - you can't clip the bolts if you haven't got a rope after all! :P
Post edited at 22:10
stroppygob - on 08 May 2014
In reply to Rampikino:
> Elitist claptrap.
Objecting to the bolting of severe 4 a's,ones with readily available crack lines for pro, is "elitist claptrap"? This is where bolted climbing is dragging us down to.

"Bolt Cenotaph Corner now! We'll have none of your trad elitism around here! This is bolted crag for bolting climbers."

Post edited at 22:21
Rampikino - on 08 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:

Hi Rob,

I'm not quite sure that I would go as far as calling it a blinkered view. It's quite understandable that if someone goes to a predominently bolted crag to do sport then they are likely to leave their trad rack at home. This is a mindset rather than refusing to acknowledge that there are other ways to climb. Of course, it's much easier the other way around - ie if you go with a trad mindset they it's easy to jump onto sports routes.

There's clearly not a single answer and the fact is that you will always get very different opinions depending on who you speak to. Some absolutely think that there is no way that bits of metal should be permanently inserted into the rock under any circumstances. Some feel that it should be totally rock-type dependent. Some feel that it should be totally crag dependent. Etc etc. The arguments are broad and there is no single answer.

Just for clarification; of the 7 trad routes at Castle Inn I have done the VS and the E1 and they are both fine routes and definitely not scruffy. The E1 is a fair test with a steep finish and the VS is a pretty good route. To be fair I'm not sure there is a particular will to wipe them out by bolting them, but it's clear from the numbers that they do not get the same amount of traffic as the bolted lines.

My view is not the same for Marian Bach as it is for other locations. My view is based solely on this particular location and area and I think that's a sensible approach - condition of the local crag, local precedent etc. Some might like to be sniffy about bolting low-grade routes or bolting routes that can be led on trad while others would point out that anyone wanting to climb them in the trad style can simply ignore the bolts - especially when they are using the lower-offs and especially when the rest of the crag is bolted.

All that being said, I think the debate is a healthy one. I'm very much for a case-by-case approach rather than a blanket one.
Rampikino - on 08 May 2014
In reply to stroppygob:

Hi stroppygob,

That wasn't my point. My point was that you seemed to indicate that low grade bolt climbs could not called "sport" while I felt that was rather an elitist view. It was separate to whether or not a Grade 4 crack climb should or should not be bolted.
jim jones on 08 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:
In the context of the area don't forget Castle Inn itself was once a mostly bold trad crag once upon a time. Marian Bach is a recent find and has been fully cleaned and bolted. The routes in question could be led on gear somewhere near the suggested grades, however if cleaned and left as trad routes the crag is such a backwater they would most likely never get a second ascent. The crag is very sheltered and an all year round venue also probably the last place in the area to become un-climbable due to weather. It is and probably always will be a backwater, but one with a pretty view and some pleasant short routes with nice moves. The routes overgrow very quickly and climbers should be prepared to possibly clean the routes if visiting.
Post edited at 23:48
DDDD - on 09 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:

You guys should really just get over it. Go to Marian Bach, have a look then make a comment as to whether you think any of the lines are worth doing in a trad fashion - well done to the guys who found the crag, cleaned it and made it accessible. In the context of the area it is a useful addition. Of more concern to me is that the diameter of the steel used in the bolts is too small.
neilh - on 11 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:

Rob. I will bump you up to see if you get anymore responses......not sure I agree with you. Its hardly classic Peak or Yorkshire limestone....
Rob Davies - on 11 May 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

I think you're basically saying in this case it's OK because it's more convenient. I think we'll have to agree to disagree on this!
Rob Davies - on 11 May 2014
In reply to Rampikino:

OK, but I still think it sets a precedent for bolting alongside cracks that I haven't seen elsewhere in the UK, only in France.
Rob Davies - on 11 May 2014
In reply to jim jones:

I think it will get a lot more traffic once it appears in a guidebook, so it will be kept clean more readily in future. I think these climbs at Marian Bach are better than those that have been added in recent years to the sides of Castle Inn.
Rob Davies - on 11 May 2014
In reply to DDDD:

Eh? This is exactly the point of my post - I have been there and think that bolting these cracks is deplorable. I agree that a good job has been done in finding and unearthing the crag.

On the other hand, your comment about the small diamter bolts suggests to me that you are pulling my leg!
Rob Davies - on 11 May 2014
In reply to neilh:

Then why were you muttering "That should never have been bolted" last Saturday?! Agreed, it's not classic limestone, but it's a lot better than some of the horrible places we climb!
Rob Davies - on 11 May 2014
In reply to jim jones:

One of the unfortunate consequences of the long-standing difficult access situation at Craig y Forwen is that people tend to forget that there's a big limestone crag in the A55 area with great (trad!) climbs.
Duncan Bourne - on 11 May 2014
In reply to Rampikino & Rob Davies:

I can see both sides. I agree that if it is quarried and fits into the local ethos then fair enough.

However I do not agree with a blanket "find a crag bolt it" approach without any regard to:-

a) Its place in the environment
b) Its place in climbing history
C) The consideration as to which is appropriate trad or bolt

a) We have no God given right to climb on a particular piece of rock and the argument "if it wasn't bolted no one would climb there" is not an argument to bolt. It may be a good thing that no one climbs there (Lud's Church) for the sake of the plant and animal life that lives there. Also most land is privately owned and access can be a sensitive issue, nothing announces your presence like a bolt and land owners can be twitchy about such territorial markers. The decision to develop a crag bolted or otherwise has to take the above into consideration.

b) To some it is a given that venues that are historically trad should not be bolted but not everyone holds this view so it is worth discussing. I believe that where historically trad areas are under bolting discussion then weight should be given to the historical context and a consensus of the majority sought. It should be born in mind that bolting or even freeing a crag will change the nature of the climbing there.

C) and finally what is appropriate. Sport climbing originally developed in this country in order to give some protection on (mainly limestone quarried) crags that either offered no natural protection or such protection that existed was on loose rock and dubious at best. At first it seemed that we might go the way of Europe and bolt everything but then a growing awareness of our unique tradition of leader placed protection kicked in and the climbing community as a whole rejected the notion of bolting natural crags, especially on gritstone where due to the nature of the rock bolting would not be appropriate (ie break the surface and it weathers very quickly any bolts placed would become unsafe in a very short time). Previously bolted routes were freed (Big Issue) and things settled down.
But what is appropriate? For me I do not believe that a natural or a heavily naturalised crag should be bolted. If it is abandoned and over grown, leave it to the solitude and the lives of the creatures that live there. If it is too bold leave it for the next bolder generation.
Messner in his famous article spoke of the "murder of the impossible" however when one gets to the stage of bolting a perfectly protectable crack then it is the "Disneyfication of the possible". The moment you bolt a rock you create something artificial. It may be fun, it may give a moments sweet pleasure like a fast food burger, but it will be the lesser path taken. I have climbed many bolted routes on holidays abroad, I have enjoyed the climbing, but it is only the trad climbs I did (abroad) that I can remember the names of. I was thinking of this recently and realied that it was because these were the ones where I really had to concentrate on the rock, where it was run out, where gear might go, thinking and planning all the time. With the bolted routes I was always looking to the next bolt and however interesting the climbing that was always the upper most thought. Rather than a painting it was just a join-the-dots problem.

BUT Hey each to their own, if that crack is in place that is already well bolted then it would be inconstant not to bolt it.
neilh - on 11 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:

Told you I would bump it up! Sat and Sun traffic.Off to REI to see if I can get some low cost cams.
jim jones on 11 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:

I think of far more importance is the further bolting of new routes the biggest Limestone crag in Clwyd. The development of Marian Bach is really quite trivial and should be of no real concern in comparison. For anyone requiring windmills check out the routes on Craig Arthur!
Pekkie - on 11 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:

I agree with you, Rob. Easily protectable limestone cracks of whatever grade should not be bolted. Full stop. I've seen it abroad where you get a lovely crack that would be VS at Stoney bolted. It just looks and feels wrong.
DDDD - on 11 May 2014
In reply to Pekkie:

That was the point that I was making about the crack at Marian Bach - even as a bolt route it was very unappealing.
I was also amazed at the number of people returning from sport climbing at that crag.
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andyathome - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Duncan Bourne:

'I do not agree with a blanket "find a crag bolt it" approach'

'BUT Hey each to their own, if that crack is in [a] place that is already well bolted then it would be inconstant (sic) not to bolt it.'

The above seem to be contradictory?

Just what are bolts FOR? I'm old enough to recall that 'we' were told that bolts were required to protect those areas of rock that couldn't be protected any other way (e.g. Malham Main Wall) and would enable the pushing of top-end grades (with a sort of unspoken hint that we couldn't let the French get their own way without competition).

In this thread I hear that bolts are actually placed to enable climbers to not bother carrying heavy kit and having to bother with leader placed protection.

And also to act as a marker that a climb is a 'sport route' (that is not open to trad climbers?).

I feel a separate thread coming on about just WHY we bolt routes (the answer may well be 'so that we can provide "sport routes" for people that want them).

For what it's worth I find the placing of some of the bolts at Marian Bach pathetic in the extreme; the 'equippeurs' should be ashamed.

andyathome - on 12 May 2014
In reply to DDDD:

> That was the point that I was making about the crack at Marian Bach - even as a bolt route it was very unappealing.


What you actually said was 'You guys should really just get over it. Go to Marian Bach, have a look then make a comment as to whether you think any of the lines are worth doing in a trad fashion - well done to the guys who found the crag, cleaned it and made it accessible. In the context of the area it is a useful addition'.

I'm unclear about your opinion.
Rob Davies - on 12 May 2014
In reply to neilh:

Cams? What would you do with those? I didn't think you knew what they are used for.

(Weather here was horrible the weekend just gone - not even fit for bolt-clipping?)
Rob Davies - on 12 May 2014
In reply to jim jones:

Is that bolting activity at Craig Arthur down to GG? But even Gary wouldn't put bolts in next to a crack!
Duncan Bourne - on 12 May 2014
In reply to andyathome:

Start that thread. It's a good question
stp - on 13 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:

It's erroneous to think that bolts are purely for protection where you can't get anything else in. When bolts were first placed in the UK that was the justification but that's going back 30 years.

Sport climbing and bolts place more emphasis on the actual climbing by removing the need to place gear. You tend to get more done, or more climbing at least. The emphasis is more on sheer difficulty. For some that might be a 9a, but for others a severe might be really hard. It's a different approach, neither better or worse. It's just down to preference.

In the UK its long been the consensus that the first ascentionist decides how the route is equipped (at least on limestone) as long as its not done in a way that makes it really hard or dangerous to lead from the ground up.
Rob Davies - on 14 May 2014
In reply to stp:

I think your statements are incorrect, but I would be happy if you can demonstrate that I am misinformed/ignorant, as I am only a humble seeker on the road to enlightenment. Please quote me another example in the UK where the first ascensionist has placed bolts next to an easily protectable crack.

Most of the people on this thread who approve of the bolts at Marian Bach say, if I understand them correctly, that it boils down to a matter of convenience - i.e. climbers nowadays cannot be bothered to carry a rack of nuts and cams to a crag that is predominantly bolted.

There are many routes in the UK, including some on limestone, where the first ascensionist has equipped [or, more accurately, not equipped] a route so that it is distinctly dangerous to lead it from the ground up.
jim jones on 15 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:

> Please quote me another example in the UK where the first ascensionist has placed bolts next to an easily protectable crack.

Is that a serious question?? Visit Portland for starters.
Rob Davies - on 19 May 2014
In reply to jim jones:

Yes, it was a serious question. I have obviously led a sheltered life. I have visited Portland, but I don't remember seeing anything so blatantly silly there. Maybe you see the odd route in Portland that could have been led on gear, but I don't recall seeing any routes with bolts placed next to an easily protectable crack.
Rob Davies - on 19 May 2014
In reply to jim jones:

Thinking about it, if things in Portland have degenerated as far as you suggest, I think the best solution would be to blow up the causeway linking the isle to the mainland, then ask the French to take it over. Thus Portland would no longer be part of Britain - problem solved.

However, as I come from North Wales, I do not think that solution would be acceptable for crags near Colwyn Bay.
USBRIT - on 19 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:

Hi Rob .In a few words... The introduction of indoor climbing has become the death of climbing as it once was..... It seems the majority of todays climbers want the indoors outdoors.
Rampikino - on 19 May 2014
In reply to USBRIT:

Is that true though?

Bolted climbing existed before Indoor Walls so surely this is merely a continuation of the importation of a "foreign" style to certain crags and rock types rather than a direct cause & effect leading from climbing walls to bolted routes outdoors.
In reply to Rampikino:

> Is that true though?

No of course it isn't! :)

Rob - from what I remember this one at the Cuttings (Portland) http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=14187 is a bolted crack. Without the bolts it would probably be about HS.
andrewmcleod - on 19 May 2014
In reply to TobyA:
> No of course it isn't! :)

> Rob - from what I remember this one at the Cuttings (Portland) http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=14187 is a bolted crack. Without the bolts it would probably be about HS.

Not climbed it, but shouldn't 5+ (and comments suggest hard for the grade) translate to more like HVS/E1 for a safe route (according to Rockfax tables)?
Post edited at 13:43
In reply to andrewmcleod:

That's what I thought. I noted that I found various 4+s on the same cliff much harder. Perhaps southerners can't climb cracks? ;)
USBRIT - on 19 May 2014
In reply to Rampikino:
..Also TobyA So there was bolted sport climbs prior to 1969 I do not think so .. I helped to make a indoor climbing wall in that year.. Maybe I am wrong?? ..However I have to remember that currently many climbers think rock climbing just started about 3 years ago !
Post edited at 16:54
In reply to USBRIT:

> The introduction of indoor climbing has become the death of climbing as it once was

Well, in that case everything that has changed climbing "has become the death of climbing as it once was"; harnesses, nuts, sticky rubber, chalk, cams, bouldering mats, videos of people climbing, digital photography, the rise of China as manufacturing power house.

Of course climbing has changed since 1969, but not just because of climbing walls.

BTW, was that the Leeds Uni wall? If so it was still going strong (and polished 15 years ago when I was there).
Mick Ward - on 19 May 2014
In reply to TobyA:

> Rob - from what I remember this one at the Cuttings (Portland) http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=14187 is a bolted crack. Without the bolts it would probably be about HS.

Well it wouldn't be HS. I've done it loads of times. It would be HVS 5a, slightly awkward and certainly hard at the grade if you're not au fait with fingerlocks. Effectively it's a Millstone crack that's wandered hundreds of miles south in search of sun and sea. Who can blame it?

My understanding is that it was retroed under the auspices of the Dorset Bolt Agreement, i.e. perfectly legitimately. Personally I'd have preferred it not to have been retroed (you can get good gear in) although I wouldn't have minded a couple of staples for lower-offs. The top-out looks quite nasty.

Portland cracks which take decent gear are very few and far between. Generally my feeling is that, even on sport crags, it's a shame to bolt cracks which do take decent gear. Co-existence seems to be working pretty well on the slate. Why not take along a light rack for the odd trad crack? If the top-outs are really bad, then pop in some lower-offs.

Just my view and no reflection on Marian Bach, which I've never even been to.

Mick
USBRIT - on 19 May 2014
In reply to TobyA:

Well what I see both here and certainly in the US the majority of "climbers" prefer single pitch climbs (mostly bolted) with lower offs and short walks.. as with indoor climbing walls.Thats the point..
CurlyStevo - on 19 May 2014
In reply to Rob Davies:

somethings is up with the grading there F5 crack should be about VS and F5+ HVS, severe would be about F3+
ads.ukclimbing.com
In reply to Mick Ward:

> Well it wouldn't be HS. I've done it loads of times. It would be HVS 5a, slightly awkward and certainly hard at the grade if you're not au fait with fingerlocks.

Really? I doubt I was having THAT good a day! :) I very rarely find anything easy for grade - being a bit rubbish and all - but that route was a piece of duff; no where close to being as hard as a 'proper crack VS' like The File or the Crank let alone HVS.
andyathome - on 19 May 2014
In reply to Rampikino:



> Bolted climbing existed before Indoor Walls

No it didn't.
andyathome - on 19 May 2014
In reply to USBRIT:

+1

If you understand the jargon you old bugger!
andyathome - on 19 May 2014
In reply to Mick Ward:

> Generally my feeling is that, even on sport crags, it's a shame to bolt cracks which do take decent gear.

Mick - my feelings entirely. I can't help feeling that in the UK context anyone who bolts easy routes which are easily, and well, protectable with leader placed gear should be ashamed.

The Marian Bach bolts, in some cases, seem really quite shameful (and a waste of bolter's money!).

Mick Ward - on 19 May 2014
In reply to TobyA:

> Really? I doubt I was having THAT good a day! :)

Take it from me (or not, as you will) you were having THAT good a day. It happens to us all. (I'm kinda waiting for it to happen to me again, a bit like waiting for The Great Wave in Big Wednesday. It's gonna come...)

At the risk of being reductionist and boring: Bond Street, benchmark HVS of the genre. A few feet of this is harder than anything on Bond Street.

But not, of course, if you're having a particularly good day...

Mick
Mick Ward - on 19 May 2014
In reply to andyathome:

It's a tricky one. I've not been to Marian Bach; I just don't know. I do know that a lot of equippers are amazingly altruistic and want people to have good experiences. They also put in an awful lot of bloody hard (and sometimes dangerous) work.

With classic, ground-up trad, you're doing a FA to follow a line/get to the top, etc. What happens afterwards is somewhat of a moot point. (Will the route get a second ascent? Will it ever get popular?? Etc, etc.)

With equipping, it's a very different ball-game. Often the crags are a bit crappy. Usually there have been some trad incursions. But maybe - just maybe - the place would be better as a sport crag? You're not so much bothered about your ascent, you're thinking ahead to other peoples' probable experiences.

After doing your due diligence, you clean the place up and bolt it. You're then left with stuff that could (maybe has been) tradded and you may be left with stuff (e.g. obviously protectable cracks) which can easily be tradded - and usually has been.

You can then think, "Well, are folk going to take a rack for Cracks X and Y? Or maybe I should do "a good job" [parentheses mine!] and just bolt the whole lot up. After all, the last time anyone tradded here was 197_."

Easy to see why everything can get bolted!

Maybe - and it's just a suggestion - and I'm not going to fly under false colours here, I've placed an awful lot of bolts, we maybe put in lower-offs if there's a dire top-out but otherwise leave protectable cracks?

If you want to do aforesaid cracks, take a rack. Otherwise leave 'em alone. We don't need to climb everything and certainly not on bolts.

Just some thoughts...

Mick





In reply to Mick Ward:

> At the risk of being reductionist and boring: Bond Street, benchmark HVS of the genre.

Oddly, I thought Bond Street was one of the easier HVSs I've done in the UK but anyway... I've done some more research - I might be conflating in my failing memory Chalkie... 5+ and Jam 4. I did them one after the other, but still according to my logbook it was Chalkie that I thought very straightforward for the grade (I had just blown the onsight of the Sod, slipping on the polish and thought that hard for 5+!). Jam was very nice and also straight forward and is actually an even better example for this thread of cracks of around Severe that are bolted - see the pics http://www.ukclimbing.com/photos/item.html?crag=276&route=Jam
Mick Ward - on 20 May 2014
In reply to TobyA:

I'm guessing you're good on cracks! The Sod was never great; now a polished horror. Wouldn't worry about that.

Agree, Jam is an even better example. Trust me though, there are relatively few such cracks on Portland. Generally equippers have probably gone for commonality of style whereas I'd argue that co-existence of styles is preferable. Slate seems to be a very good example of this.

Mick
In reply to Mick Ward:
> Generally equippers have probably gone for commonality of style whereas I'd argue that co-existence of styles is preferable. Slate seems to be a very good example of this.

Same here in Finland on granite crags, pretty much if its a crack line then its trad, if there's no natural gear then it gets bolted. There have been a few case where groups have bolted cracks but normally because they started climbing in Spain or similar and didn't really know much different, but you can get bolts, glue and drill bits from the national climbing association if you keep to their roles which basically follow that ethic. There are one or two areas where you get whole crags that are bolt free, and hence some real scarers, but its not common.

You get a few routes like this http://27crags.com/crags/haukkakallio/routes/dragon which I suspect if not bolted would have been eventually led trad and would be Finland's answer to End of the Affair, but it has has dozens of successful ascents as a sports climb now while perhaps still wouldn't have been climbed if it had been left as a trad project.

And yes, definitely all my hardest leads have tended to be cracks!
Post edited at 11:35
andyathome - on 20 May 2014
In reply to Duncan Bourne:

I did!
andyathome - on 20 May 2014
In reply to jim jones:

> Is that a serious question?? Visit Portland for starters.

I think you will find that the first ascentionists of those routes on Portland DIDN'T place bolts. They were trad. routes that have been retro'd 'because Portland is a sport climbing area'.
jim jones on 26 May 2014
In reply to andyathome:

I didn't actually mention any particular route in my post.

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