/ Cleaning Boulders - What Is The Etiquette?

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afx22 - on 14 Oct 2016
There's an established 6A boulder problem at a local (Yorkshire) crag that I want to climb. I spotted it back in spring and it was clean (I'd run out of skin at the time), however when taking a look this week, it's covered in moss. Some of it has clumps of moss a good 10mm thick - completely unclimbable.

What is the etiquette with regard to cleaning it up again?

I want to climb it and I'd like others to be able to do so but I don't want to trash the place.
Pilo - on 14 Oct 2016
In reply to afx22:

Usually when something gets cleaned properly it stays climbable for longer than a few months. Clean it just as they did in the beginning. Maybe a bit more if it's a classic so it stays good for other people. Just make sure you don't damage the rock or the friction. Always try to use the kindest brush that does the job. Plastic scrubbing brushes are good.
paul__in_sheffield - on 14 Oct 2016
In reply to afx22:

I think I might probably be a bit of a dinosaur. Me and my better half headed out last month to an obscure Peak bouldering spot. What we found was some good lines and potential for new problems covered in a lush blanket of moss and lichen.
My call was that there is plenty of clean rock in the Peak so we left well alone, packed up and headed elsewhere, and had a great session. Last weekend we were exploring around Ogwen and found some excellent obscure stuff. We managed to get some new stuff done by just cleaning up individual crimps and nubbins.
Don't know about accepted etiquette, but mine is that if you question whether or not to do it, then don't do it.
Paul
2
Lord_ash2000 - on 14 Oct 2016
In reply to afx22:

I'd say unless the place is protected because of some rare plant life/moss grows on the rocks then scrub away.

As has been said above, avoid damaging the rock, moss can grow back but damage to the rock will last much longer. Also you don't need to cleanse the whole rock, just the area needed for the problem. Often is there is a big clump of moss/soil at the top of the problem remove some of this too as it causes water to seep down the face and keeps it dirty and wet even long after rain.
afx22 - on 14 Oct 2016
Cheers guys, I'll give it a clean but be gentle

aln - on 14 Oct 2016
In reply to afx22:

1cm of moss? Rub it off with your fingers.
dr_botnik - on 15 Oct 2016
In reply to afx22:

Once saw someone with a brush they'd bought from Halfords for cleaning car alloys with. Looked ideal.
r0x0r.wolfo - on 15 Oct 2016
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

> I think I might probably be a bit of a dinosaur. Me and my better half headed out last month to an obscure Peak bouldering spot. What we found was some good lines and potential for new problems covered in a lush blanket of moss and lichen.

> My call was that there is plenty of clean rock in the Peak so we left well alone, packed up and headed elsewhere, and had a great session. Last weekend we were exploring around Ogwen and found some excellent obscure stuff. We managed to get some new stuff done by just cleaning up individual crimps and nubbins.

> Don't know about accepted etiquette, but mine is that if you question whether or not to do it, then don't do it.

> Paul

Interesting ethics, I probably would have done the same thing but rather because I don't gnenerally go bouldering equiped to clean a boulder like that off. Do the boulders naturally clean up in summer or do you think that there is a particular rare kind of moss/lichen growing there?
Offwidth - on 15 Oct 2016
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:
Id argue a boulder completely covered in moss in less than a year after being clean is a losing battle (with a few minor exceptions being new birch cover encouraging moss growth). Also the surface must be regularly damp so, damage from regular annual cleaning is pretty likely. If moss is removed and its stays clean for years thats different.
Post edited at 11:34
r0x0r.wolfo - on 15 Oct 2016
In reply to Offwidth:
I think he mentioned new routes. Obviously I have no idea if the moss had been removed before.

I get the idea that a regularly mossy boulder might not be worth the effort. Although if it's just going to left with moss on it anyway then what's the harm?
paul__in_sheffield - on 15 Oct 2016
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:

> Interesting ethics, I probably would have done the same thing but rather because I don't gnenerally go bouldering equiped to clean a boulder like that off. Do the boulders naturally clean up in summer or do you think that there is a particular rare kind of moss/lichen growing there?

Obscure peak Boulders which don't see much/any traffic under tree cover, are never going to clean up unless there's physical intervention.
As I say, I might be a dinosaur.
r0x0r.wolfo - on 15 Oct 2016
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

> Obscure peak Boulders which don't see much/any traffic under tree cover, are never going to clean up unless there's physical intervention.

> As I say, I might be a dinosaur.

I don't think you are a dinosaur, if anything it's a more modern point of view. Climbs used to be excavated if need be, whilst most people stick to the clean stuff now.
BrendanO - on 15 Oct 2016
In reply:

I must get my wife to park her car near some boulders - the moss on it is 1cm thick in places and it could do with a clean up (and no, it's not a V6!).

teapot - on 15 Oct 2016
In reply to afx22:

I find a tea towel better than a brush- brushes tend to get damp and clagged up. A tea towel can be used to scrub off the moss and any scrittle, without causing any damage to the rock. They do tend to wear out though, but are cheap and low weight. Using your fingers just wastes valuable skin!

Cleaning up problems is actually very rewarding and it is amazing how many decent problems are left undeveloped in pretty mainstream places. There is something special about uncovering a gem.

Often once you start looking you will keep noticing lines to be developed. Most of my warm ups recently have been cleaning-up/re-cleaning up problems at crags that I have been climbing at for years but without noticing the potential. Many will have undoubtedly have been climbed before, but it is normally pretty obvious if that is the case.





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EddInaBox on 15 Oct 2016
In reply to afx22:

> What is the etiquette with regard to cleaning it up again?

There's climbing etiquette and there's also:
http://www.ukwildlife.com/index.php/wildlife-countryside-act-1981/schedule-8/

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