Last Saturday the 2nd of April 60 climbers attended the BMC SW Area Meeting held in Redruth, Cornwall to discuss fixed and drilled protection and the development of sport climbing in West Cornwall. Over the years there has been some highly controversial bolting (and other antics!) in the region and the proposals at this meeting were designed to seek some long-term clarity as to the views of the majority of climbers.
It is important to clarify that this meeting was discussing West Cornwall, as defined by the current CC guidebook (Godrevy Point to Black Head including the Isles of Scilly).
Broadly, the meeting agreed that:
No further fixed protection (bolts or pegs) should be placed.
Existing in-situ pegs should be left to 'Rust in Peace'.
Existing drilled protection may be removed and the rock repaired where possible.
Sport climbing may be developed within inland quarries.
The wording of the motions below is in some cases slightly different to that of the agenda, since a number of clarifying amendments were accepted.
Agrees that all new fixed protection is banned on sea cliffs and natural inland outcrops. It was clarified at the meeting that motion one applies only to fixed protection placements from now on, and does NOT apply to belay stakes at the top of climbs. CARRIED: 41 For, 8 Against.
Agrees that all drilled protection is banned on sea cliffs and natural inland outcrops. No vote taken since motion 1 was carried.
Proposes that all fixed protection is removed from sea cliffs and natural inland outcrops and where damage to the rock has occurred and repair is possible, for that repair to be carried out. NOT carried: 20 For, 21 Against.
Proposes that all drilled protection is removed from sea cliffs and natural inland outcrops and where damage to the rock has occurred and repair is possible, for that repair to be carried out. CARRIED: 28 For, 15 Against.
A working group will now be formed to assess the best way to remove established drilled protection. It was agreed that the working group should be responsible for removal of drilled protection. This should be done responsibly to avoid further damage to the rock.
Proposes that no further work such as: drill protection slots, the creation of artificial holds by chipping and/or by cement construction and/or cleaning with a drill be carried out. CARRIED: Unanimously.
Agrees that climbers may develop sport climbing at certain specific Cornish venues, excluding all sea cliffs, natural cliffs and natural outcrops. The words "sea cliffs" were inserted for consistency with motion 1. CARRIED: 49 For, 2 Against.
The principles governing the designation of a sport climbing venue are: a) whether there are verified and repeated existing trad lines b) whether there has been a history of sports climbing c) the BMC SW Area's approval of the use of the venue in question d) its suitability for sport climbing by comparison to other national sport climbing venues. Proposal to drop this motion was Unanimously Agreed.
Clearly the decision by the meeting to ban future and remove existing drilled protection (on sea cliffs, natural cliffs and natural outcrops) is a disappointing outcome for the pro sport climbing minority but they were praised at the meeting for not taking unilateral action and seeking to discuss their views through the BMC area meetings.
Interestingly, climbers from North Cornwall who were present at the meeting requested a similar debate about the use of drilled and fixed protection in that part of Cornwall.