/ Less Trad climbers, why should I care?
What I wonder is this, why should I care if Trad climbing declines. So long as I have a partner to go climbing with, does it matter and should it matter to me if there are less Trad climbers?
Only in so much as the gear will cost more. Otherwise I don't see it as necessarily a good thing to positively promote it. Its not a competition to see which activities can attract the greatest number of participants.
There's one reason I could imagine someone might care:
Without a meaningful number of trad climbers, it would seem logical to bolt more and more trad climbs.
I have little urge go promote any sort of climbing, but then I like empty crags :)
There is a bright side though, when no one is left in your country to climb unbolted rock above 8m, you'll be able to amaze crowds as you risk your life with pro not even rated to 20kN.
I don't believe it would be a decline in trad climbing even if the numbers dropped.
I don't believe the numbers of trad climbers are dropping.
I wouldn't be surprised if the proportion of "climbers" climbing trad is dropping but this is a statistical artifact of the number of indoor climbers increasing sharply.
If people want to spend their time climbing on plastic or in scrotty sport quarries and miss the point about climbing by not climbing trad it doesn't amount to a decline in trad and it doesn't bother me.
I do think there remains a skills gap between plastic and trad that used to be filled by clubs but isn't filled by gyms. Probably because a large proportion of people who go to climbing gyms thought climbing indoors looked fun but where never particular bothered about climbing outdoors.
Yawn, someone else made that point and deleted, but if it makes you happy.
What an odd statement.
Maybe it's you who's missing the point about climbimg? With a 1 sided and negative attitude about other styles of climbing.
I was quite happily investing my time in a pointless activity. How wrong I was. :)
After ten years of 'trad' climbing and rarely leading anything harder than HVS I'm a convert to bouldering and sport climbing. Its improved my rock climbing no end and has brought trad routes which I previously thought impossible within my grasp.
I'm almost (but not quite) at the stage where I'm considering going on a sport climbing trip next winter rather than go to Scotland but only if next winter is as pish as the last one...
I live and train in London so I meet a lot of people at the walls who almost never climb outdoors and were put off going back to Swanage because of the 'walk in' but each to their own.
Surely we all benefit if there is a strong sport climbing and bouldering scene in the country as it will drive up standards?
I'd personally like to see clubs become more inclusive and less elitist eg. subsidised training courses for people wanting to learn how to be safe in the mountains and on sea cliffs. Look at the difference between the French alpine club and the Alpine Club? One makes you submit a CV to prove that you are an alpinist, the other gives people the opportunity to become an alpinist.
Lets do a rough straw poll here:
If you could only chose one would you say you were a Trad, Sport or Boulder climber? If an indoor bolt climber who intends to climb outside please chose between Trad or Sport for your main outside ambition.
For me it's Trad
Mick is making assertions he can't prove and are misleading and sometimes wrong. He is certainly wrong about UK trad as there is no evidence whatsoever trad is in decline here. Changes in popularity are often really due to crags going in or out of fashion and the rise of bouldering (a long standing subset of the trad game). What does exist in the UK is a desire to sports climb which is not met by the quality or quanity of venues at the most popular grades. Is this defecit of punter sports climbs part of why trad stays more popular in the UK? Sure it is but that is our history and Mick knows this so his arguments are dishonest. The situation in the US is more complex but like the UK such arguments can be a thinly disguided push for convenience retrobolting and like in the UK such arguments are rightly resisted.
> Surely we all benefit if there is a strong sport climbing and bouldering scene in the country as it will drive up standards?
How exactly does that 'benefit' us 'all'?
Trad, for what it's worth, but it's a really tough decision and I'm glad nobody's forcing me to make it!
I find this odd. What if you are an indoor climber who doesn't have any 'outside ambition'? While indoor climbing started out as a way of training for outside climbing during the cold/wet months (in the same way that outcrop climbing was at one point seen mainly as training for the Alps) I think it's now pretty well established as a discipline in itself. I think your initial question would be better phrased to include indoor (maybe further broken down into boulder, lead and speed) alongside trad, sport and boulder (outdoor).
I agree it's tough! As soon as I started I realised this. Indoor bolted probably falls loosley into "sport".
Maybe the question should be a choice between
Because the point is to try and see if Trad is declining?
But then there's people who dabble in all or more than one disciplin!
I shall be kinder next time some Uni student comes on here with a survey, they aren't easy to construct! :)
Please explain how this benefits me?
At one of our local crags most of the 6's have been bolted by a guy who climbs 8c and the bolting is just like it says on the tin - great for someone who climbs 8c - runout and awkward for someone who climbs 6a+.
Agreed! And that's before we get into all the more subtle biases that you can create with poorly worded/ordered questions...
Yeah, Trad or 'Other' would probably be sufficient for this purpose, not that many people are likely to respond. You're more likely to get replies (like mine :p) criticising the question!
It's a daft argument anyway trying to pigeonhole climbers.
I'm a climber - there's not one genre I don't like.
Don't like trad. Not enough health and safety directives involved in it for my liking.
Its my best from the 3 (bouldering and sport climbing) in the north east, theirs loads if triad climbers
I don't believe the number of trad climbers is dropping. ;oD
Climbers clean routes, put up new routes, offer different climbing experiences, get involved in projects, invite you to parties, post meaningless drivel on UKC, and give you cafe beta when you're on the road.
I don't believe a number of trad climbers are dropping.
As I am relatively young (I'm 21 now) and was introduced to the wall first (rather than a crag), I think that sport climbing is more attractive for people who has never climbed outdoors. It is also way much cheaper.
I like sport climbing and I definitely want to try some trad climbing, but I can't afford trad climbing protection just now (I'm studying full-time and working part-time). However, I do not know anyone who climbs trad. Some friends boulders or sport climbs, but most of them have been only to one climbing wall at all. It seems that using lower off points or abseiling is rather difficult for some people!
I guess it is safe to say that sport climbing is being more popular than trad climbing as the experience is similar to climbing at the wall. The question rather to freshly bolt some crags or not is difficult to answer. Personally, I would like to see more sport climbing crags.
> I don't believe a number of trad climbers are dropping.
I can't believe a number of trad climbers are dropping.
Trad for me.
I have occasionally 'accidentally' sport climbed, in the USA, but felt as if I had cheated. Spoilt the climb, when I saw a bolt.
I never boulder. To me its like having a choice of eating at any restaurant you want, and choosing McDonald's.
What's often forgotten is that the term "trad" (traditonal) originated in the States as a means of differentiating how climbs were bolted NOT whether they were bolted.
A traditional route was one on which bolts were placed on the lead either from a natural stance or hanging from a skyhook. The alternative method, known as "trickster" involved placing the bolts from an abseil rope.
Back on topic: Are there less trad climbers? Maybe, maybe not, what's more likely is that the proportion has lessened as other genres have been invented or become more popular.
Join a club. Then you'll know trad climbers and be able to borrow kit and get advice as you start leading trad. Easy to find your local club through the BMC website.
I also don't believe the number of trad climbers is falling (except possibly as a fraction).
I only really do trad because a) there is lots of trad round where I am, and not much (easy) sport, and b) because I want to expand my skill set so I can (in the future) apply it to what I consider more 'worthwhile' aims such as proper every-hold-is-crumbly esoterica or proper mountaineering - not getting up an 8m face where I can walk round to the top in 2 minutes :P
But it can still be fun. Mostly trad takes a fairly long time to learn for not so much benefit in climbing ability, and until you are good at it there is much opportunity for faff.
For example on my four-day climbing trip recently I climbed 9, 7 and 10 routes, respectively, on the three sport climbing days (and that wasn't being particularly efficient), and two routes on the trad day - admittedly with a lot of extra faff on a busy cliff taking up three seconds at a time (extra ropes!), and then setting up a group abseil (safely but ineptly).
This must be balanced against the fact that one of those two trad routes was Under Milk Wood, which I will remember for a long time :P
There is plenty of room in the world for lots of climbers of different sorts! But it should probably be balanced by the realisation that the vast majority of climbing in the UK is probably pretty poor - your average crag is not a classic. Hence why the popular crags are always busy, while the less popular crags are overgrown...
Not another fast food analogy, applied to a type of climbing you don't happen to like. :)
This. Also, once you've got enough gear to do sport leading, you don't actually need that much more to have a basic trad rack.
(Sorry to butt in with unsolicited advice...)
Generally sound post. One thing...
Would you also say that there's plenty of room in the UK on reasonable rock at decent venues for lots of climbers of different sorts? The impression that I get is that low grade sport climbers are mostly stuck with a fairly small set of often not particularly inspiring crags, and as far as I can tell, about the only way that that's going to change in quite a lot of the country is if someone retro-bolts some trad crags.
Yes, although to avoid being too controversial in one post I wasn't going to bring that up :P
On the plus side I'm not sure low-grade sport needs to be that 'inspiring'; it just needs to be available.
"It (sport) is also way much cheaper" - not correct.
Threads, slings, a few nuts, a few hexes, that will get you safely up quite a bit of VS single pitch for example. About a 100 quid.
Sport: Set of 7 quickdraws, 80 quid or more (and that´s if you´re sharing gear).
And don´t forget if you go tradding with masses of famcy gear you´ll just as likely get teased and slagged off anyway.
Well, I was trying to put it as neutrally as possible. But it does seem a bit naive to expect that if the proportion of British climbers who climb sport but not trad continues to increase, people won't start to wonder why 99% of the good rock is still reserved for the ever-dwindling number of traddies.
in reply to PPP,
Or alternatively you could just say hello etc, to older and proficient looking climbers at your wall. If you hit it off, then see if they climb trad, and then if yes, see if you could go climbing with them. What can I say, it worked for me*. (Tip: get a car if you havent got one/learn to drive).
Disclaimer * Joiniing a club could be a more socially acceptable way of doing it in Britain nowadays.
This is highly selective analysis... sport is definitely much cheaper than trad when compared fairly. I mean to do trad you basically need a sport rack plus gear, as you need quickdraws anyway unless you are going to do weird things with lone snapgates into nuts...
No, it may get you up a VS safely (although with no quickdraws...) For a novice it would be better to have more than a 'few' nuts. I would love to see your price breakdown for a few slings, maybe one nut set and some hexes for less than £100. THEN you still need to buy quickdraws or at least a set of crabs! This is an absolute bare-bones rack anyway which will not get you up everything or at least not get you up a lot of things at the grade; with sport once you have a set of draws you can do anything with that number of bolts or fewer; no further investment is needed whereas you always seem to 'need' more trad gear... I would hate to try and climb anything easyish on Dartmoor without my cams as I prefer not to make life very difficult for myself!
A set of 7 quickdraws (less than £80 if you shop around) will actually get you up a significant fraction of sports routes. 10 quickdraws (£100 for a reasonable set) will get you up almost everything easy; one sling and crab is an extra £15? £115 all in, to do 80-90% of the route I have ever done. Get another 4 quickdraws and you can probably do just about everything.
Definitely applies to me but never happened yet (from people I don't know at least)... :P
And don't forget ropes...
If you are an indoor climber, you often already have a single rope for sport. You can use this for trad as well, but it is better to get doubles and unless you have a lot of long quickdraws/extenders it is going to limit what you can do...
Your argument presupposes that the majority of the rock available in the UK that abounds with great trad lines would make even halfway decent low grade bolted climbs (for convenience climbers, not sport climbers). This ain't France or Spain - we don't have the same rock resources.
It also presupposes that we should always sink to the lowest common denominator - bit like choosing to build Alton Towers them parks all over national parks because they are more popular than mountains.
> Well, I was trying to put it as neutrally as possible. But it does seem a bit naive to expect that if the proportion of British climbers who climb sport but not trad continues to increase, people won't start to wonder why 99% of the good rock is still reserved for the ever-dwindling number of traddies.
As neutrally as possible? Hahaha bl**dy ha
I feel that I'm enjoying climbing more now since I've tried other disciplines and its greatley improved my overall standard.
I was only ever interested in winter climbing and mountaineering when i started out and would have considered a day working a route a waste of time.
You probably dont realise how lucky you are having 'local' crags. Mine are at least a two hour drive away.
Sorry your local bolting activist did a bad job, maybe you should rebolt them to a better standard?
I'm not saying we "should" do anything - only that it's a bit short simplistic to assume that more people climbing sport but not trad would just mean longer queues at Horseshoe and shorter queues at Stanage.
I didn´t say less than 100 quid, I said about a 100.
But, my point is that it´s wrong to say that to start trad climbing you need even a half-trad rack for yourself. Like I said, after basics like shoes, harness, belay device, biners, a few slings, a car is probably the most useful thing, sorry to prejudice the under 16´s. Plus you are best advised to go with people who are already experienced and they´d share their gear with you anyway. Hell they´d probably prefer it.
You can probably get a decent runabout (not including insurance and petrol) for the price of a full set of top of the range friends... no?
I'm not sure, there must be a minimum level of 'inspiringness' for an outdoor low-grade sport venue to be more attractive than the local climbing wall. Trad, on the other hand can't be done indoors so it has a lower barrier. Which is something of an argument for leaving 'uninspiring' quarries near cities for trad.
Can you link to Mick's thread please.
Trad in decline is just waffle unless someone has actually has some numbers.
Mick and a UKC thread with waffle, nothing new there.
Keep those site stats up on the climbing threads as its been flagging again.
What a pity. Wouldn't it have been preferable if he'd left the routes to be more appropriately bolted - or bolted them more appropriately himself?
I had never trad climbed before I moved to the UK (us contineltal don't even get a chance to try unless you're very lucky about whom you know).
In fact I was about to give up climbing altogether because, I was not improving, getting bored of the samey nature of the climbs in my area.
The fact that I have been here 12 years and counting accounts a lot to trad climbing (and Scottish winter).
There will always be a small number of climbers who switch from mainly sport to trad. It might become less but it won't disappear IMO.
You get less mileage, however. If you couple this with a not ideal climate, it can be dispiriting and I see why people turn to it.
We just need enough of us to climb so that mountain routes don't get too dirty!
So Mick Ryan not Ward. Yes, that has some pretty huge waffle potential.
Yes, it is a fine balance between the routes staying sufficiently clean and not having to share the crag too often with another party.
But by that logical most indoor climbers already have all the gear they need to sport climb - a harness, a pair of shoes, a belay device plus a more experienced friend. Or if a pair are sharing gear, then they only need 4 quickdraws each, plus a sling and a carabiner. One of them presumably already has a rope if they are leading...
Well yes, but this just makes sports climbing even more attractive... buy the car instead of the rack!
Trad climbing is a lot more expensive than sport for any given pair of climbers (probably even if you do it with two seconds and divide the cost of the rack by 3).
The evidence for the comparative decline of trad climbing is available on any mountain crag. 2 and even 3 star routes covered in grass and moss and a dwindling band of the hard core doing their best to keep them clean. As for 1 star and no star routes on the high crags - well unless they are on naturally clean rock you can forget it. And yet in terms of pure rock quality these routes are among the very best.
I really like sport and bouldering but I also think it's worth encouraging and supporting people to try trad climbing for three reasons
- an large active core of trad climbers helps to keep the routes in a good state for the benefit of everyone
- trad climbing is at the heart of our traditions and history, its full of characters and anecdote, it helps people to see climbing as more than just another 'sport' or gymnastic challenge
- trad climbing is great fun and lots of climbers may be missing something they would really enjoy, which is simply just a bit of a shame.
Oh yeah, and as a previous poster noted when comparing UK clubs to those in Europe, it really is time for the Climbers Club, the FRCC etc to wake up - take a look at the ageing and declining membership.
As a CC member of quite a few years I want my club to actively advertise the fact that we are friendly, we have amazing huts, great guidebooks etc etc and that we want new members, especially young people and women.
I also want it to be even easier to join the club: bollocks to proposer, seconder, prospective member meets etc. Lets just set a modest requirement in terms of experience and let people self declare when they apply. If they turn out to be tossers (unlikely), we can always kick them out later.
Are these types of climbing mutually exclusive? I don'boulder, but I will take trad when I can, sport when it's there. Does that make me a biclimbual?!
Isn't it the case that membership of the CC has been rising quite a lot over the last decade?
No, my previous analogies have been the masturbation vs real sex analogy, the Facebook vs meeting people analogy, and the mp3 vs live concert analogy. This is the first time I've used the fast food analogy.
Sorry, wasn't aimed directly at you.
Is cost really a barrier for people to climb trad these days?
Without wishing to play the 'ee in my day' card, but nearly all of the people I knew and climbed with, didn't have a pot to piss in most of the time - especially in the early days. We hitched everywhere, and if someone did have a car, it was a beaten up death trap with barely a 50/50 chance of getting us to the crag.
Yet we all had enough gear, whether it was a day on Stanage, multi-pitch in Scotland or big Alpine routes.
I wonder whether most climbers actually need the huge amounts of gear they think they do. Remember, it's a day out in the Pass, not 3 days on Salathe Wall.
Agreed. Work (and injury) has kept me from climbing much recently, but I've noted on my very few trips out in the last 2 years a huge decline in crag usage.
Last year, for example, I spent a beautiful summer Saturday on Milestone Buttress. Couldn't believe we were the ONLY pair on it all day. Fifteen years ago there'd have been queues all day for every "known" route. There were about 8 boulderers just next to the road, though.
Earlier I'd been at Sennen, again on a lovely weekend day, and expected the place would have been heaving, as it would have been 15 years ago. Three pairs initially, and another group of 4 arriving later.
Both very accessible venues.
Maybe some feel that they've got to have a full rack of cams before they'll head out.
You miss the point. Mr McCleod is actually pushing an 'I want more bolted climbs and I'm a lazy F. pr*t' agenda. The 'trad climbing is SOOO EXPENSIVE!!!' comments are just part of the campaign.
That's a bit harsh.
I think it is a very (modern) British thing, this endless talking about "trad" versus "sport" climbing. (For many, the labels themselves are cringe-making.)
Categories of rock-climbers probably go something like this:
Trad climbers who sometimes climb some closely-bolted (=sport) climbs, but don't make a big issue of it.
"Sport" climbers who do some "trad", but don't make an issue of it.
I small category of climbers who label themselves as "sport" climbers and have done virtually no trad climbing.
I sizeable group who just climb "trad" because it doesn't even cross their minds to go to "sport" crags
A very small group who only climb "sport" and make a big issue of it, especially on UKC.
Whilst the quantity of sport routes has vastly increased, I am unconvinced that trad climbing is really diminishing - the choice of venues nowadays in both categories is so vast. Many British climbers head for continental Europe or North America in the summer for their "climbing holiday" for the quality and quantity of the routes and much better weather.
In North America, I see the opposite trend: young climbers who have taken the typical modern path from climbing wall to sport climbing, who quickly find they have to learn how to climb trad proficiently in order to be safe. This is partly because there is a vast grey area in the US between pure sport climbs and trad climbs: trad climbing with widely-spaced bolts or occasional bolts. These are often pretty serious trad climbs in which one could get into very serious difficulty without knowledge of trad protection and belaying techniques. So in North America one meets lots of young sport climbers getting into trad climbing. Another driver in this direction is the simple fact that a majority of the best lines on the larger crags and mountains are "trad" climbs.
Actually, the very small group who only climb "trad", and make a big issue of, especially on UKC, are infinitely more tedious than their sport counterparts.
Seems to me that the majority of UKC news releases relating to someone pushing the boundaries are for sport climbing. We have notably had McClure on Strawberries recently but otherwise marketing knows where it's at :(
I'd say a 100 extremes in a day was pushing the boundaries too.
I actually don't know any of the "groups" John has mentioned. I do know a lot of climbers though. Some are really good and fairly well known most are average. Some did the business BITD and are still doing it now. E6, E1, 7a, 8a, Font etc etc . They are just climbers.
Agreed it's a notable event in trad activity but not actually pushing trad grades.
The link between sport and competition is unmistakeable - thats where the glamour is.
It must be a very small group as I don't see any on here or in real life. There won't be even splits in how everyone proportions their climbing but even the most ardent trad climber does some bolted/sports routes. Hell, even Ken Wilson does!
Trad climbing expensive? You don't know the meaning of the word, you want to try cycling (road or MTB)! Not aimed at you Jonny :-) It may be more costly than sport but it's hardly bank breaking - I built my rack up over a period of years so the cost never seemed that bad. It's almost like it's another excuse not to step outside the comfort zone.
Many years ago when indoor leading walls appeared I thought that they would lead to an increase in accidents when those climbers moved outside. There were no easy (sub 7a) sports routes then, it was all geared (badly) towards harder routes and more experienced climbers. What I didn't see coming was the bolting of what had previously been dismissed as crap venues to provide "wall bred" climbers a step outside. Some of those venues have turned out to be better than we had thought (Robin Proctor's Scar), others, mainly quarries it has to be said, are still crap.
Yes you are right but debates on these issues are far from new and having seen his stance on this over several of these I feel he is being less than honest in his real motivation, which he has openly admitted, is that he would like to see retro-bolting of trad crags because he prefers sport.
It must be nice for that to be a convenient argument for you .Not sure if the 'F.' is 'fat' or 'f-ing' though? It would be nice to get clarification. Actually my contribution to this thread was spurred entirely by the argument that trad is not much more expensive than sport, which is clearly by any fair comparison.
I have a lot of student friends. For most of them the cost of a trad rack is generally pretty difficult to manage, while most can generally manage a rope if they are keen. This, and my previous comments in this thread, would seem to be fair on a thread talking about the decline of trad where the relative costs has been discussed as a factor?
Off-topic response (since I have been accused on being on a campaign):
The fact that as the climbing world stands at the moment there will be more bolted climbs in the future, regardless of what you or I want. There are, as I have always argued, extremely good arguments against bolting in some cases - indeed the default should be not to act unless certain. Sadly these are not usually the arguments that the sport-is-crap religious trad zealots (fortunately a minority, even on UKC).
For the avoidance of doubt, any of the following 'arguments' are not arguments in favour of not bolting; they are either just denigrating other people, ignorant, or daft:
- 'convenience climbing'
- the 'fast food' argument
- only trad is 'true' climbing
- 'bolting down to your level'
- any semantic debate about 'bolted climbing' vs 'sports climbing'
- I'm sure I've missed a few...
Any of these may potentially trigger a response from me, not because I am on some campaign to retrobolt everything, but because they are stupid arguments.
From the view of someone fairly new to climbing who does a bit of everything, they give trad a bad name. If your one of your major arguments against sport is that it is 'lazy' (assuming your insult against me is related to your bolted climbing comment) then you aren't going to win any friends amongst the mythical 'sports climbers' (NOT A REAL SPECIES). People have made mistakes when bolting stuff before, but by and large I think, due to reasonable compromises and debate, the current state of affairs is pretty reasonable.
Bolt the grit? No. Bolt the Dartmoor tors? Of course not. Bolt the UK mountains? Generally not. Bolt some new unclimbed crag? Not necessarily, depends on the context. Bolt some crappy crack line in some crappy entirely grid-bolted quarry? Maybe? Every case just needs to be taken individually with reasonable consideration or debate, then everyone (well, most people) can get on :P
I also recognise that UKC is not the real world :P and my arguments on here should be viewed in light of that - they are responses to other comments made on here. If I think some of those arguments are crap I will say so - that doesn't mean I will, being enraged by the discussion, grab a drill and start putting holes in the grit :P
So perhaps I am on a campaign - a campaign against stupid arguments :P
I think you are more or less saying the same thing that I am saying. All the climbers I know have regarded themselves as just climbers. My groupings were very vague (that's why I stuck in the "probably" and "something like") I am a bit surprised, though, that you haven't met the top two groups on my list: trad climbers who sometimes climb some sport climbs, and sport climbers who do some trad, neither group making an issue of it.
As long as no-one is suggesting they (whoever "they" are) retrobolt everything since there're not enough trad climbers left to care, then I'm not bothered who else wants to trad climb. More or fewer, good for them.
Bolt the grit? No. - Keyhole Cave, Milstone? Wilton? there is a creeping list forming?
Bolt the UK mountains? Generally not. That leaves the possibility of a small enough gap in a can of worms for someone to wriggle through!
Bolt some new unclimbed crag? Not necessarily,So is this based on a 'who gets their first - Sport or Trad?
depends on the context. Who's context?
Bolt some crappy crack line in some crappy entirely grid-bolted quarry? Maybe? Why do you need to bolt a crack line?
Every case just needs to be taken individually with reasonable consideration or debate, These are unfortunately completely immeasurable criteria.
There were certainly plenty of trad climbers on Mingulay and Pabbay this year - proper queuing for routes. I think there were 50 climbers on Mingulay the week before we arrived. Doesn't strike me as a sport declining in popularity if that many folk are heading out there.
I don't know - the grit is a long way away and I know even less about these places than I do about other things (which is not a lot). I do know enough to know you would need a blo*dy good reason for a bolt (e.g. completely impossible top-out due to lack of access from above or something).
I am under the (quite probably mistaken) impression there is some bolted mountain stuff in Scotland? It is always silly to make rules that have already been broken. Plus does the slate count, as it is in a mountainous area even if it is quarried :) but the general principle (no mountain bolts) is clear.
My understanding is that this is pretty much what currently happens - and I'm not sure I agree with that. If a new crag is discovered with what would genuinely make great trad lines, I'm not sure that just because there are no recorded trad routes means it is free reign for bolting. In other words, I think FA bolting and retro-bolting need the same amount of consideration (which is not to say the history of the route should be ignored, and will obviously be a significant factor in a retrobolting debate).
Climbers :P who else? Plus obviously the other context of access issues/legality.
Why do you need to bolt anything? You don't. Why do you need to put gear in anything? You don't. In both cases we sometimes do it anyway. If you don't understand the motivation for bolting the non-crack line next to the crack line, you don't understand the motivation for bolting the crack line. A lot of easy routes are not bolted because they are hard to protect, but only so they can be climbed as sport.
Obviously if something is an easily protected trad line, then the quality of the trad route is a factor in the bolting decision. The non-crack line may be a technically easy but unprotectable horror (good sport candidate). It may be the crack line eats gear and provides a three-star trad experience (leave trad?). Or it may just be another bag-of-sh*t Severe (or a pleasant 3+ for a beginner?).
Indeed! Which is why hard and fast rules don't work for all situations, and each situation needs to be judged individually! You can have some reasonably hard rules (no grit bolts) but most situations are much harder to define rigidly (are bolts OK on limestone? in quarries only? etc), so we shouldn't try.
Always insisting on rigid rules will make that person look silly eventually...
You need to study harder. The difference in cost between a basic sports rack and a basic trad rack is trivial in any case and especially so when you take into account the reduced lclmbing travel costs of more venue opions and indoor wall charges. To top-rope trad is cheaper stil: you often just need a length of old rope and a krab, set to length over the crag top from a boulder or tree.
As to if Trad is less popular, that can be debated, but some people within Climbing have a belief this is the case.
Other than some routes getting vegetated and the possibility of the bolters gaining sway , nothing in this thread leads me to believe that I should personally care if there are less Trad climbers, though I can see benefits in it, ie Crags to myself.
People never ever started trad climbing by going out and buying a full rack of gear. They started by meeting other trad climbers and climbing using their gear.
How did you get into trad in the first place? Did you have to buy all your gear before you could climb?
And also, there is a difference between what you need, and what you choose to get. I've been climbing for over 20 years and have never bought a cam (but have been given plenty as people have upgraded to better cams). I must admit that I am probably on the extreme end of the scale when it comes to having no desire at all to buy stuff! :-)
Here is the link to the BMC clubs map - it's a great way to get into climbing and share lifts, gear and experience and make some long lasting friendships. Also, if you are studying, doesn't your uni have a mountaineering or climbing club?:
I've also done the rounds of Lakeland crags and generally they were dirty and under populated then. I tihnk it's always been that way for the majority of crags. Dow Crag on a bank hol - very few people, Gimmer, noone.
+1 for Offwidth here
I know its a cliche the old timers (like me) roll out, but I was particularly strapped for cash when I started, and climbed in trainers and direct tie in to the rope instead of a harness for a while. Some second hand Moacs and various old nuts and slings picked up here and there got us into the extremes (in a Whillans harness for some of them) my nut extractor was a flat plate shelf bracket. You have to bear in mind the majority of climbs were put up before Friends and Wires and Helium Crabs and £140 sticky rock shoes. Trad really doesn't have to be expensive.
As bouldering is the purest form of trad ;-) I would suggest, like me you go over to the dark side.....bouldering is way the cheapest if that's your metric, particularly if you adopt the 80's approach of just boots and beer towel...
Equally true of climbers doing sport! But someone has to own a rack at some point, and that means a set of quickdraws either way plus extra stuff for trad...
I guess you are arguing that the cost of a trad rack is not a factor pushing people away from trad, not that the total cost of trad is not greater, at least for relatively new climbers who only climb with more experienced people. I have only been climbing for ~2 years though and have already taken less experience people out on sport and trad trips; if I was a poor student I would probably not have a rack so it would have to be sport. So if there is an effect it probably only matters once people start to get independent.
If you don't at least own a harness and shoes climbing indoors can be excessively expensive. Like many people though I am lucky to be part of a club (a Uni club). Actually I got cams first, since the club had nuts etc but no cams, but the rest followed shortly thereafter. Unlike the students in the club though I have a job!
I'm sure I could could go climbing on easy Dartmoor granite routes without any cams, just making good use of my trusty Torque nuts, but I fear it would either be a much more faffy experience or a much more terrifying one... I'm sure my nut skills could be improved (and place nuts wherever I think possible) but I'd still rather have the cams!
Cams are the least essential piece of gear that I own. They are the very last things I'd buy if I was strapped for cash. At a very rough estimate I would say that 90% of routes are easily protect able without(:not based on any scientific evidence I should add)
Don't uni clubs have a pool of gear any more? When I started climbing as a student very few of us had our own gear, we relied on the club to provide ropes and rack and also tents and other camping kit. As and when we could afford it we began to acquire personal kit such as shoes, harness and helmet, but I'd been climbing for three years before I had any lead gear, and didn't buy my own rope until I started working. Of course in those innocent days before health and safety we didn't have to worry about keeping track of usage of club gear - it all got thrown in a bag at the end of each trip and left to fester in a cupboard somewhere. We all managed to survive.
I suspect the real issue is not so much the cost of trad gear but lack of knowledge how to use it. Young climbers seem perfectly happy to meet up with total strangers at the wall or through the internet, but that way they are most likely to meet other climbers who are just like them. They appear reluctant to approach older climbers who might be able to teach them something. They also seem to be reluctant to get involved with clubs, which would solve all their gear and travel problems.
You don't need any scientific evidence. The vast majority of mainstream trad routes have been climbed without cams for donkey's years.
What do you usually climb on? I generally trad (up to VS) on Dartmoor granite and Dewerstone granite - Dewerstone granite takes nuts and cams in equal measure, in Dartmoor it seems to be much less nut-friendly on the routes I have done. Conversely when I did two routes at Three Cliffs (Gower, limestone) I was surprised that I basically placed no cams and all the gear was fiddly small nuts. Finally got to use some of my peenuts and micro wallnuts though; never find anywhere for them down here...
edit - I'm not saying that you need cams to climb a route which as someone below has pointed out. Just that particularly on some rock types you would be silly to leave them behind if you had them, and on some routes you would significantly decrease your protection opportunities if you didn't have some...
Mine does - minus cams as historically they have always gone walkies...
Actually based on my single-point experience at one Uni club in the most part it is because they prefer bouldering and/or don't like the faff! :P
Not sure I would/could convince many climbers to do that now!
As it has become more mainstream, most climbers are less 'adventurous' (foolhardy?) than the early pioneers who were (by all accounts) more of a rebellious minority. Personally, I'm with the less adventurous types and very happy with that!
True, but in a lot of areas, someone climbing with a modern guidebook but no cams is going to sandbag themselves quite spectacularly from time to time.
The thing that I find a bit odd about the whole "trad is really expensive, sport is relatively cheap" is that a basic sport climbing setup - harness, helmet, shoes, quickdraws, rope, belay plate, krab - is actually relatively pricey, and adding in a set of nuts and the cheapest set of three cams you can find online should be significantly easier than getting the sport stuff together was, even if you ignore the option of joining a club or borrowing gear.
From scratch I would agree (although how many sport climbers actually wear a helmet :P PS I always do), but for people moving from indoors to outdoors they will likely already have the harness, shoes, belay plate and krab, and quite possibly the rope.
Shame, they might learn how to place gear properly, and open up a whole new world of brilliant climbing at all grades.
Exactly how far back are you going - Victorian era?
Trad climbing has been mainstream for decades.
This is always the problem when people run before they can walk :-)
Or indeed treat a guidebook as anything other than a guide.
People seem to want to know every hold, sequence and runner placement in forensic detail in advance these days.
God I'm glad I'm an old fart from the old days :-)
I meant tying in directly!
I meant climbing in general has become more mainstream, as a larger fraction of the population have tried it, more indoor walls have opened, more commercial providers of outdoor rock climbing etc... and just more climbers!
I dont know where you are getting all this information from. In my experience trad climbing is no more mainstream than 30, 20 or 10 years back, even if indoor climbing and bouldering is. If anything clubs were healthier back then, albeit for student clubs a bit ramdom on the safety and ethical front. You keep going on about cost but trad remains cheap as a sport or activity. With slings and nuts/hexs and cams its obviously best to build in increments (a process that in other activities is not always possible). Climbers will let you use their gear though a club, UKC lifts and partners or whatever (ive climbed with strangers I met at the crag) if you climb with them. You can split most costs across a pair or a group. By far the majority of the cost is travel and all but this is cheaper than the annual phone contract virtually everyone shells out for these days.
Just the general impression from reading UKC and descriptions of the history of climbing in the UK (so not exactly the most reputable source). I meant (if failed to explicitly state) climbing in all its myriad forms has become more mainstream (not singling out trad) - am I wrong (quite possible, quite common!) in thinking that there are more climbers now than in the past?
I agree though, climbing is not a particularly expensive sport compared to some. I went scuba diving recently, then had a look at the prices for gear. Even though there is also an excellent club network for that, there is no way I could afford the gear unless it was the only thing I did (no more climbing/outdoor gear!) and scrimped and saved, and even then...
I got into climbing after 10 years of fencing, another sport with a strong club culture where the gear is not cheap but is not as expensive as some -between £400 and £800 for a full set I guess? But like in climbing each individual bit is not that expensive and you can build up.
And my SIM-only phone contract (loyalty I-phoned-them-up-and-told-them-I-wanted-to-quit deal) is ~£8/month for 800 minutes :P
Have to disagree, as an ex poor student, I could only do trad as I needed a car to get to the sport. Cost of a car/insurance > trad rack.
Not to mention the the whole top roping thing. Static, a few slings and crabs along with your standard indoor leading gear.
'Only' 8 quid a month is close to a hundred a year and then you need a phone to put the sim into. Its fair enough if you dont have access to good broadband but if you do, as students always do, phone contracts are really a luxury for most. Climbing hardware and ropes are less than 100 quid a year steady state on your own let alone split and as we have discussed at length climbers will help the keen beginner build to that. I'm a professional and my last two phones were effectively free as the cost was less than the free texts and minutes I got with the 'purchase' and its nearly always used on receive. I use broadband at home or work to send all but super urgent stuff.
As for climber numbers, there are more now but I'd say not that many more outdoors, even including the strong growth in boulderering and sport, in the three decades I've been involved; the real boom is all indoors. Basic hardware has got better and slightly cheaper in the same time
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