Gritstone: Loving it to Death?

by Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC Oct/2009
This news story has been read 14,398 times

Stanage Showing Signs Of Wear:

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+Damage to Right Unconquerable at Stanage, Peak District, 150 kb
Damage to Right Unconquerable at Stanage, Peak District
UKC News, Oct 2009
© Graham Hoey
Gritstone guardian Graham Hoey dropped us a line at UKClimbing.com to bring some recent goings on at Stanage to our attention.

"As you can see the brushing was pretty thorough..." remarked Graham looking at the famous line of Careless Torque.

Graham also sent pictures of the recently damaged flake of Right Unconquerable, the classic HVS first climbed by Joe Brown.

This perfect flake of gritstone had seen earlier damage (circa 10 years ago) when a car jack was reportedly used to try and remove a stuck cam. A new section of flake has been damaged, probably by a falling climber using a cam for protection. Obviously using cams is standard practice on gritstone and the climber involved is not to blame, but it is a stark reminder of the fragility of our classic routes.

The new damage has sparked a forum thread here on UKClimbing.

"I guess Right Unconquerable is holding up quite well really, given that its one of the most sought after ticks in the country. It's not the most solid rock on the crag - the top half has a tendency towards sandiness, so I'm not entirely surprised." commented local friction addict Adam Long, after looking at Graham's photographs.

However he was less understanding about some over-brushing and chalking on the classic highball problem Careless Torque, one of the most aesthetic lines on gritstone:

"To quote Bernard Manning: It's a fu*king disgrace." he said.

"I can't really understand how people can be so blinkered as to not realise this is unacceptable. I can only assume from the amount of chalk that the route was being tried whilst damp, and from a top-rope." commented Adam.

Get your eyes tested

He went on to describe different ways in which it is possible to minimise damage and visual impact on these classic and beautiful rock formations:

+Brushing and tick marks on Careless Torque, Stanage, 121 kb
Brushing and tick marks on Careless Torque, Stanage
UKC News, Oct 2009
© Graham Hoey
"These hard grit routes are fragile. Pebbles are much less secure when the rock is damp, and the small flakes and crimps on the right-hand side are not very solid and very susceptible to damage when damp. People should not be trying this at all when damp.

This route has now received several ascents ground-up. This should now be the style others attempt it in. Not only is it far more satisfying for the individual, it also protects fragile routes by requiring a certain level of ability up front. The crux of Careless is the start; if you haven't done it you shouldn't be going anywhere near the top.

Tick marks are not damaging to the rock, but to most climbers, and walkers, I think they are undesirable and should be kept to a minimum and removed afterwards. These are way beyond that, most of them are entirely unnecessary to the point of being offensive. This is a piece of natural scenery - treat it with some respect. And get your eyes tested.

I'd encourage anyone who sees other climbers behaving like this to remonstrate with them. 'Foreigners' are often blamed for excessive tick-marks - if that's the case educate them. If the climbing community can't police itself there are other user groups who will be only too keen to do it for us."

There has been a discussion on over-chalking on Careless Torque a couple of years ago on UKBouldering.com.

Photo Gallery - Recent Damage to Stanage:

+Brushing and tick marks on Careless Torque, Stanage, 64 kb
Brushing and tick marks on Careless Torque, Stanage
UKC News, Oct 2009
© Graham Hoey
+Close up of damage to Right Unconquerable at Stanage, Peak District, 168 kb
Close up of damage to Right Unconquerable at Stanage, Peak District
UKC News, Oct 2009
© Graham Hoey
+Brushing and tick marks on Careless Torque, Stanage, 172 kb
Brushing and tick marks on Careless Torque, Stanage
UKC News, Oct 2009
© Graham Hoey
+Brushing and tick marks on Careless Torque, Stanage, 141 kb
Brushing and tick marks on Careless Torque, Stanage
UKC News, Oct 2009
© Graham Hoey
+Brushing and tick marks on Careless Torque, Stanage, 170 kb
Brushing and tick marks on Careless Torque, Stanage
UKC News, Oct 2009
© Graham Hoey
+Brushing and tick marks on Careless Torque, Stanage, 83 kb
Brushing and tick marks on Careless Torque, Stanage
UKC News, Oct 2009
© Graham Hoey

Forums ( Read More... | 61 comments, 16 Nov 2009 )
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