/ Daddy Longlegs Sunday 20th

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Alasdair Fulton - on 21 Nov 2016

Who were the clearly strong and capable muppets who were climbing the very black, very dry, and very "not in condition" daddy longlegs on Sunday?

Get a grip! The rest of the crag was borderline enough, but that was taking the piss!

Sorry for the low-res photo....

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/9ENettxYHufXyNemcYQv_sWAoo7IlJLSlufdJFz5lTVqVtGTwQrZmeeMApEKxDWPFO...
Post edited at 22:10
Dave Kerr - on 21 Nov 2016
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

I've put the kettle on. Who's got the biscuits?

Sophie G. - on 21 Nov 2016
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

Looks absolutely fine to me

<runs away very quickly>
Fergal - on 21 Nov 2016
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

It's not a dry tooling venue then? first dusting, primo nick innit.

Some muppets were even climbing gullies, WTF.
Misha - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:
That's what I thought. I'll see if I can upload a couple of photos as well. As you say, it was a bit marginal on most of the crag, so why choose one of the least wintery routes... For anyone after hard stuff, the Pic n Mix buttress was well rimed up. I think there's a vague line between what is and isn't in but there's got to be a line somewhere!

May be I'm just being traditional but surely if you're going winter climbing it's got to look and feel wintery, otherwise might as well go to Newtyle! I know it's not just about whether it's white - apparently there was some verglas on the route and you could see some snow in the cracks and on ledges, but on the whole it looked pretty bare.

At the end of the day, people can do whatever they like and at least any turf on the route will have been bomber (it was on the route we did). However I'm curious why some people don't seem to be bothered if a route doesn't really look wintery. Isn't that a fairly key feature of Scottish winter climbing? If we were in Chamonix, it would be different - but we aren't!

It was very snowy on the Ben on Saturday by the way but there was hardly anyone there. Longer walk in I guess...

I was the belayer on the route to the left of Bulgy. One of the reasons we chose it was it looked like one of the more wintery lines there.

planetmarshall on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

> Who were the clearly strong and capable muppets who were climbing the very black, very dry, and very "not in condition" daddy longlegs on Sunday?

The ascensionist reported that the rock was verglassed, so it certainly wouldn't have been dry. The litmus test used to be that it should be easier to climb with axes and crampons than in rock boots. Given the presence of verglas and frozen turf, that would certainly have been the case.

Maybe judgement, if people must judge, should be withheld until all the facts are known, rather than just a half arsed guess from a photo.
Dave Kerr - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to planetmarshall:

> The litmus test used to be that it should be easier to climb with axes and crampons than in rock boots.

It needs to look wintry too and it's perfectly acceptable to get the pitchforks out for that on the basis of a photo.
Dave Kerr - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to planetmarshall:

> The litmus test used to be that it should be easier to climb with axes and crampons than in rock boots. Given the presence of verglas and frozen turf, that would certainly have been the case.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUOrZ1uz51s

planetmarshall on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Dave Kerr:


"Easier" not "Only possible"

Nice hats.
AlH - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Dave Kerr:

Wullie Gorman! Love watching that video and then seeing him still going strong down at the wall
Alasdair Fulton - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to planetmarshall:
So instead you judge from behind your PC. F*ck right off. We were in the corrie, doing other routes in very marginally acceptable (but also frozen solid etc.) conditions. Here's my reply to the faceshite thread you were referring to:

> [Name redacted as it's not necessary], the "it doesn't do any harm" line of reasoning is bollocks, particularly so at a venue like Lochain and Andrew Marshall has shown precisely why it's bollocks - because it moves the boundaries of what's considered acceptable in the eyes of other climbers, climbers who may be less experienced and still forming their opinions of when it's acceptable to call it "winter climbing". Because you were on a quite hard and well respected route, people look up to you as "someone who must know what he's doing". If you'd climbed a black, but frozen route in an obscure coire and again not blogged about it, not logged it on UKC then I could see your logic - the route isn't harmed, neither is the national climbing "ethic". In that case it's only yourself you're cheating thinking you've climbed the route at the grade...

> Across the other side there were many teams who were all a wee bit dubious about starting up routes due to the extreme thinness of the hoar/rime. But we were all agreed that your two were totally taking the piss and that the line of acceptability had been crossed.

> If you want to climb "away from the open eye" then dinnae go to the Norries on the first cold weekend of the year!!
Post edited at 08:20
Dave Kerr - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to AlH:

> Wullie Gorman! Love watching that video and then seeing him still going strong down at the wall

I saw him down the wall in October, he's an inspiration but don't tell him I said that because he'd probably cringe to hear it!
Jamie B - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

You undermine an otherwise excellent reply with an unnecessary "f*ck off". Shame.
Robert Durran - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to planetmarshall:
> The litmus test used to be that it should be easier to climb with axes and crampons than in rock boots.

If not, then it should be in my opinion. Anything else is just contrived and seems to me to undermine the authenticity of the game.
Post edited at 09:02
planetmarshall on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

> the "it doesn't do any harm" line of reasoning is bollocks...because it moves the boundaries of what's considered acceptable in the eyes of other climbers, climbers who may be less experienced and still forming their opinions of when it's acceptable to call it "winter climbing".

I disagree. We're human beings, not automatons incapable of making anything other than binary decisions based on strictly defined criteria. We all know that whether or not a route 'looks and feels wintery' is entirely subjective - you say yourself that conditions were marginal. Another observer could well have decided that everyone in the corrie was on the wrong side of that line.

Climbing black rock, verglased or not is not to my taste but I'm certainly not going to judge those who decide otherwise, when their ascent harms no one. Ironically had they been climbing a snowed up route with unfrozen turf that would have been a different matter, potentially ruining future ascents and causing environmental damage, despite the fact that it no doubt 'looked wintery'.
Alasdair Fulton - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Jamie B:

Aye, fair enough...probably not required.
Alasdair Fulton - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to planetmarshall:
Wow, "automons"..."strictly defined criteria". It's not like I used photoshop to get the rgb value of the colour of the rock!

Yes, the "line of acceptability" is not solid, cast in in stone - each person has their own personal take on it. But, and here's where I think it matters - the vast majority of the people who spoke about conditions in the coirre on the day agreed - those guys were clearly on the wrong side of the line.

Bringing up the old "but it can be white and unfrozen" as a line of argument to allow frozen but black to be considered acceptable is missing the point.

.........................................

1) The fundamental "ethic" of winter climbing is the the route is frozen. No iffs, no buts. Turf solid, blocks frozen in place. No winter climbing can be done when it's > 0c. I don't think anyone will argue with that? ***

2) The next step in the hierarchy of acceptability is: "is it sufficiently wintry enough for me (the climber) to consider it a valid ascent". This is the much more subjective, personal judgement and it seems to differ a fair bit depending on venue. Onlookers can't always tell how wintry it actually is etc. etc.

I think it's important to try to ensure both points are met.

It is on this second point that I feel that ascent of Daddy Longlegs crossed the line. Yes, point 1 was satisfied, but the "general consensus" was that point 2 was not satisfied.


*** mixed routes! (clearly ice/neve routes can, on occasion, be climbable in warmers temps if you're that way inclined...)
Post edited at 10:28
Steve Perry - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Alasdair

> 1) The fundamental "ethic" of winter climbing is the the route is frozen. No iffs, no buts. Turf solid, blocks frozen in place. No winter climbing can be done when it's > 0c. I don't think anyone will argue with that? ***

You can climb above 0C if you're trying to get a pure ice route done before it falls down in the sun. We did this last year with a 3am start.

Alasdair Fulton - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Steve Perry:

That thought popped into my mind just after I'd posted it, hence the *** and the note at the bottom...

Ben Nevis ice can be great in high pressure, low humidity days even above freezing.
Steve Perry - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

Yes, if something has been in fantastic winter conditions it probably isn't going to disappear that quickly a degree or two above zero, especially without any sun.
dek - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Dave Kerr:


"Ye can faw on that wi.....impunity!" ....not heard that said for decades, Brilliant! :--)
planetmarshall on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

> 1) The fundamental "ethic" of winter climbing is the the route is frozen. No iffs, no buts. Turf solid, blocks frozen in place. No winter climbing can be done when it's > 0c. I don't think anyone will argue with that? ***

> 2) The next step in the hierarchy of acceptability is: "is it sufficiently wintry enough for me (the climber) to consider it a valid ascent". This is the much more subjective, personal judgement and it seems to differ a fair bit depending on venue. Onlookers can't always tell how wintry it actually is etc. etc.

> I think it's important to try to ensure both points are met.

> It is on this second point that I feel that ascent of Daddy Longlegs crossed the line. Yes, point 1 was satisfied, but the "general consensus" was that point 2 was not satisfied.

I don't think there's anything unreasonable about that - the only thing we seem to be debating is whether or not violating the general consensus merits a full blown UKC witchhunt, complete with an offer to post high-res photos. When no harm was really done, I say no. If this time next year dry toolers are busy scratching their way up Savage Slit in the middle of Summer, I will happily stand corrected!

Alasdair Fulton - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to planetmarshall: Agree that a witch hunt is not required. As you'll have seen on the facebook thread, it seems as if everyone's kind of on the same page. And you'll note no names have been posted on here - it's not that relevant who it was.

I think the point has been made, well received and we can all o back to sharping our tools for next weekend - let's just hope for some humidity to whiten everything up a bit!!
Robert Durran - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

I think it is important to be clear that the unfrozen turf thing and the wintery appearance/easier in crampons stuff are separate issues and should not be conflated. Climbing on unfrozen turf on a crag buried in powder is clearly a winter ascent, but one that, by consensus, should not be taking place in order to protect the turf. The wintery appearance/easier in crampons stuff is about whether or not an ascent does count as a winter one.
Robert Durran - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to planetmarshall:

> When no harm was really done, I say no. If this time next year dry toolers are busy scratching their way up Savage Slit in the middle of Summer, I will happily stand corrected!

Why shouldn't someone tool their way up Savage Slit in summer when no more harm is done than in winter?

Alasdair Fulton - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

Precisely why I said that first it must, must, must be frozen.

But I think (me, I, I think) both conditions should be met before stepping off the ground (or backing off...obviously we can find unfrozen turf 5m up or whatever).

I don't think dry tooling of frozen routes should be taking place in Scotland but you may think differently.
Robert Durran - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

> Precisely why I said that first it must, must, must be frozen.

Sorry, yes, I'm sure you know the distinction and my post perhaps should not have been replied to you specifically, but I've regularly seen confusion over this.
Misha - on 22 Nov 2016
planetmarshall on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Why shouldn't someone tool their way up Savage Slit in summer when no more harm is done than in winter?

Bad example I guess. I suppose it might count as evidence that the behaviour of climbers operating at the upper end of the grade spectrum is influencing those at the lower, which is one of the ethical concerns.
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Robert Durran - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to planetmarshall:
> Bad example I guess.

Why? I find it hard to think of a better example.

> I suppose it might count as evidence that the behaviour of climbers operating at the upper end of the grade spectrum is influencing those at the lower, which is one of the ethical concerns.

Why is that a concern?
Post edited at 12:09
Alasdair Fulton - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

Do you just do this for fun? Flying the flag for the summer drytoolers?

My own reasoning for why I think it should be considered unacceptable is as follows:

Winter climbing trashes the rock. Whether it's dry, icy, hoared, snowy - inevitably some wear and tear occurs. On rank chimneys etc. it's not really going to bother anyone, but a lot of summer routes are now climbed in winter as a matter of course.

If we restrict ourselves to properly winter conditions, many fewer ascents will occur each year, reducing the damage.

A secondary reason is, that it sends a message to newer climbers that it's ok to just get on climbs in any old condition and therefore turfy routes are potentially more likely to get trashed in the process.

I.e. upholding the "wait until it's ready" mindset.
Robert Durran - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:
> Do you just do this for fun? Flying the flag for the summer drytoolers?

No, I'm playing devil's advocate in the hope of getting a better reasoned response than the usual "dry tooling bastards" knee jerk reaction.

> My own reasoning for why I think it should be considered unacceptable is as follows:

> Winter climbing trashes the rock. Whether it's dry, icy, hoared, snowy - inevitably some wear and tear occurs. On rank chimneys etc. it's not really going to bother anyone, but a lot of summer routes are now climbed in winter as a matter of course.

> If we restrict ourselves to properly winter conditions, many fewer ascents will occur each year, reducing the damage.

> A secondary reason is, that it sends a message to newer climbers that it's ok to just get on climbs in any old condition and therefore turfy routes are potentially more likely to get trashed in the process.

> I.e. upholding the "wait until it's ready" mindset.

Thanks. I think that is about as strong an argument as is possible.
However, as long as the floodgates are not opened (and I don't think they would be) I'm not sure I would have an issue with the odd summer tooled ascent of Savage Slit or some other already well trashed route.
Post edited at 12:28
Misha - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to planetmarshall:
Yes some people might have said that nothing was in. But there has to be a line somewhere and I think the team on DL were well on the wrong side of the line. Of course their ascent didn't harm anyone or anything, the turf was indeed well frozen. However this kind of stuff undermines Scottish (British) winter ethics. Or are ethics not worth anything any more? We have something special here, people come from all over the world to experience it. If people want to tool up bare rock, they can do that in Chamonix where the ethics are different.
planetmarshall on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

> Do you just do this for fun?

He does, yes.

planetmarshall on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Misha:

> ...However this kind of stuff undermines Scottish (British) winter ethics. Or are ethics not worth anything any more? We have something special here, people come from all over the world to experience it.

Well yes of course ethics are worth something, otherwise the subject wouldn't provoke such heated debate. But for me the core values of the ethic are

1. Using no fixed gear ( yes, this includes semi-permanent 'tat' )
2. Doing no harm to the environment ( you could argue that the Northern Corries are a complete lost cause in this regard given the proximity of the ski centre ).

After that it all gets a bit nebulous. Is it white enough? Is it frozen enough? Is it OK if I drytool through this roof in order to get to this hanging icicle? I'm not sure it's possible to draw a line in this regard - at some point you have to leave it to individual climbers to make their own judgements, and trust that they'd be willing to leave a venue empty handed if the alternative meant compromising those ethics.
Misha - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to planetmarshall:
I also think it's entirely appropriate to criticise this ascent on UKC. We need to be debating these points to prevent standards slipping.
Dave Kerr - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to planetmarshall:

> > 2. Doing no harm to the environment ( you could argue that the Northern Corries are a complete lost cause in this regard given the proximity of the ski centre ).

I take it you don't use a car then? ;)
planetmarshall on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Dave Kerr:

> I take it you don't use a car then? ;)

I assume this is tongue in cheek, but I think you make a valid point. As climbers we do harp on about leaving no trace despite leaving a massive carbon footprint everywhere we go. I don't claim to be a saint in this regard, but do what I can in terms of sharing lifts etc. I doubt I would avoid using the Ski access road on principle, though. The only time I've ever walked up from Glenmore was when I didn't have a car.
Dave Kerr - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to planetmarshall:

> I assume this is tongue in cheek,

Very much so. But like you say it is a valid point, our activities have massive impacts and all we can do is try to minimise them.
Fergal - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Misha:

Ethical Standards slipped years ago, luckily the vanguard still live by the sword and die by the sword, when Winter proper arrives the wannabes won't be seen for dust.
Lone Rider - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

Unfortunately there are a number of routes that no matter how frozen the conditions are will still get damaged by crampons such as Savage Slit. A coating of rime or hoar is not going to stop crampons or axe damage not matter what. Many of the harder routes are probably in that category being rather clean, steep and not vegetated.

We had hoped to head over to No 4 buttres area in Coire Lochan on Saturday but decided that it didn't look too good for conditions. Having seen a selection of images from that day some routes look all right but others not so.

What is deemed in or not certainly has changed since the 80's and I am not sure for the better. Dry tooling seems to have encouraged more climbing of routes in less than ideal conditions ie lean where it is easier to see the hooks and gear placements.

New winter routes in the Norries seem to have moved more towards that direction as potential for traditional iced up routes have dried up (No pun intended).

Maybe it is just the sign of the times and outside influences such as M routes else where.

But what to do?
alexm198 - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Fergal:

And what exactly is that supposed to mean?
Mr Lopez - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to Lone Rider:

> But what to do?

How about reducing the extent of the damage by limiting the potential number of ascents through a system that means it is ony acceptable to attempt those routes in just a few specific days of the year?

Like, i don't know, maybe ask people to only try them when they look wintry and have a good deal of hoarfrost covering them? If only we had some sort of winter climbing ethics along those lines...

3leggeddog on 23 Nov 2016
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

The turf was frozen and the rock verglassed, this looks like an argument about aesthetics.

Lots of concern over damage to the rock but in the conditions being argued over the damage will be minimal because all the placements can be clearly seen.

It is good to see that the annual rantfest has started though. Green eyed posters fuelled up on jealousy because they couldn't get out generally.
Misha - on 23 Nov 2016
In reply to 3leggeddog:
Alasdair was out that same day, as was I. We just opted for routes that looked more wintery.
3leggeddog on 23 Nov 2016
In reply to

My post was a reply to the general tone of the topic rather than to any individual.

The positive side of all the ranting means that there is climbing to be done.
Wry Gob - on 23 Nov 2016
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

Hey don't get so worked up about it dude - they're only taking the piss out of themselves The best routes will never attract this debate - they're either in, and you can climb them, or they are not, and you can't. Snowed-up rock is different, and one man's taking the piss is another man's fair game.

Personally I wish folk would get this worked up about the real issue which is all the in-situ crap left all over the place - now that is a major problem.

Cheers, Guy
Andy Nisbet - on 23 Nov 2016
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

Curiously enough, it snowed around a foot yesterday from the north and Coire an Lochain is now plastered. Too much snow I would say.
Alasdair Fulton - on 23 Nov 2016
In reply to Wry Gob:

I'm not really that worked up at all to be honest Guy. Just felt I had to call it for what it was and I probably have too much time on my hands just now...

Bulgy certainly had a few fixed pieces - well fixed though!! They'd need some time hanging on a rope to get out I think. I do try to strip whatever I find, when I can.

Alasdair Fulton - on 23 Nov 2016
In reply to Andy Nisbet:

Good to know, should be good for the weekend then. I'm surprised - I didn't think much snow was forecast!
michael83 - on 25 Nov 2016
In reply to Wry Gob:

it's amazing how much in-situ stuff there is on every grade of route! I can't remember the last time i came home from a route without at least two pieces of gear. It's a pain because they more often than not can't be trusted but are occupying a good placement. Case and point was Black Spout Buttress last weekend; came away with a hex and a rotten wire. Worst of it is when you forget to strip it out your rack and only realise you've lugged it with you on the next day out.

Regards the subject of the post and the usual ethics debate. One question that isn't mentioned but might help people in judging what's in and out centres more around gear placement.

If it's as easy, or only very slightly harder, to find and place gear than if climbing the same route in summer then it most likely isn't in condition. If every placement available in summer is available in winter then it is very unlikely to be in winter condition. The snow/ice/rime/hoar should present a significant additional challenge not only to locating axe and crampon placements but also to the placement of protection. Upwards progress should generally be slower as a result.

In short: Looking wintry is quite subjective. However a route that looks (and feels) more serious to climb than if dry tooled is less subjective (in my book anyway).

Hope that helps some folks.

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