UKC

Bolts, Cir Mhor/Arran, Scotland's view

 aajr95 27 Apr 2021

Hey everyone, I was able to climb on Cir Mhor for the first time this weekend and it was absolutely amazing day out. I wanted to bring something to peoples attention as I am really confused by the way things seem to work in Scotland.

The aim was to climb Sou'Wester Slabs, but I went too far left and ended up on fourth wall. We debated going back or pressing forward and because it was early and the weather was perfect, we decided to abseil back to the start of the second pitch and correct for the traverse right so we could have some food under the great roof/overhang at the top of the route. We decided to try to come down from the grassy terrace around the back rather than finishing the route.

The first thing I noticed was the amount of tat, slings, carabiners, cord and all sorts littering the mountain when abseiling down fourth wall. We were able to abseil down using 3 redundant bits of kit from fourth wall that were there to begin with. 1 of which seemed to be brand new. Then around on the grassy terrace we saw the same thing, there seemed to be nothing but bits of tat all over the mountain and a brand new abseil carabiner tied around 2 new slings right next to an old abseil sling and carabiner. I noticed this exact thing on the cobbler recently too.

My question is this, why is everyone so opposed to bolts and chains on famous and well traveled routes to be used for abseiling, belay points etc? Surely it would only help to keep the mountain less littered with age old slings, bits of chord, carabiners etc that act as potentially fatal indicators for new climbers or even experienced climbers unfamiliar with the area needing to escape. An abseil station set up by a climber doesn't tell you if they actually got off the route at all from there but you cannot deny it will lead people to try to use it as a spot. Someone familiar with the area could set up bolts in a spot that they know will get you down or to another station to get down etc.

I have had the good fortune of being able to climb in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and their approach to conservatism is very different, but the mountains are much more clear of tat. Clear points to abseil off, belay stations set up at the end of famous routes and abseil stations set up with chains that have been created to minimize the trace left by climbing and minimize the hazard to people less familiar with the area.

Can someone explain to me why there is a regulatory body that actively destroys bolts placed into the wall instead of actively trying to make it a safer, cleaner and more conserved place. I would think that the only reason for cutting a bolt would be to put a new bolt in that is better. Not cutting it and walking away thinking you've been the hero of conservation...

Anyway, I am ready for the onslaught

Post edited at 16:06
 CurlyStevo 27 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

Next time take a pen knife with you and do the good spirited thing and cut off any unneeded tat and take it home. Problem solved.

Post edited at 16:13
 Will Hempstead 27 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

The no bolt policy obviously has flaws which you've highlighted in this post. However, the point is a bolt permanently changes the rock (you could argue a peg does the same but to a lesser extent). If someone wanted to, they should be able to go up Cir Mhor and clear up all the old shit and restore the rock to its more or less original state. The fear is that bolted ab stations will lead to the odd bolted run out, then the odd sport route etc etc.

But why would it be bad to have sport routes in the mountains? As an example, Scotland is well known for its winter climbing, and climbers come from the alps / canada etc to climb here. If we bolted the winter climbs in Scotland, internationally renowned mixed climbing test pieces would become rimed up mid M grades, and we would lose something very special and unique. This also applies to our trad routes. Hence I hope you can see in this respect, that the no bolt policy does conserve.  

 aajr95 27 Apr 2021
In reply to CurlyStevo:

You're not addressing the underlying reason why it is accumulating and it will continue to accumulate after a once over. Problem not solved.

In reply to aajr95:

Visually what's the difference between tat and chains anyway? If you think there's excessive old tat then clean it up, I did last time I was in Arran, it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling inside.

 aajr95 27 Apr 2021
In reply to Will Hempstead:

Fair enough, I think this is a well rounded response to the situation. I appreciate that fear. Do you think the body that is already cutting bolts could just cut the bolts that aren't specifically at belay stations or abseil points and are bolts turning routes into sport routes?

Do you think the issue is how to police it then?

I totally agree that we shouldnt be turning these spots into sport routes and am not suggesting that.

Post edited at 17:00
In reply to aajr95:

What body in the uk is responsible for chopping bolts? I'm south of the border so don't know what MCOFS get up to but I'm pretty sure the BMC place more bolts then they chop!

 fmck 27 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

I dont know what makes me sadder. Sticking bolts into Cir Mhor or the state of the place at present. Souwester slabs was my first multi pitch climb. My first lead. My first multi pitch solo and reverse solo. Arran has been long been known for its bold traditional climbing. Bolts do not belong there. There was one placed but it didn't last long. Used for aid but was quickly freed and chopped.  Did cause a bit of a stir at the time.

I'm as guilty as anyone for abbing off tat I left but it has to be a last resort. I once used a sling to do this during a winter climb in Coire Lan when the weather really crapped out. I was lucky enough to retrieve it a number of weeks later when the weather was more spring like.

In reply to aajr95:

Don't get me wrong, I think trad should stay trad and the character of the routes must be preserved -- But are there any actual examples of carefully/discretely placed bolts for an abseil station (where appropriate) actually being the "thin end of wedge" resulting in a bolt on route and the "inevitable" conversion to sport routes?

In reply to aajr95:

I think you're conflating a couple of different issues here.

One is the aesthetic quality of tat versus bolts. This is a matter of perspective, and plenty of people will argue that tat, which can be easily removed and replaced, is preferable to a bolt which cannot.

Another is the safety issue - that an anchor can be positioned in such a position so as to guarantee descent to the next one. This is definite thin end of the wedge territory - the trad ethic in the UK encourages self reliance, and I suspect many people would resist any attempt to "sanitise" mountain trad routes in this way.

A third issue not mentioned is the issue of responsibility and liability. There is no "authority" as such who would place and maintain bolts on Scottish mountain routes - I don't know what the case is in the US, or how this is handled.

 aajr95 27 Apr 2021
In reply to fmck:

Its a catch 22 for sure. One prevents the other but both are undesirable.

I get the feeling people think that people shouldn't leave gear around but of course gear is going to be left around if there is no safe way to abseil aside from spots. 

In reply to aajr95:

> I get the feeling people think that people shouldn't leave gear around but of course gear is going to be left around if there is no safe way to abseil aside from spots. 

We accept a certain amount of gear being left when people abseil as the price for not sanitising the mountains and dumbing down our experience with bolts.

In reply to CantClimbTom:

See RGolds comments at the end of this thread for a point of view from a very experienced climber the other side of the pond....

https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/rock_talk/mountaineering_scotland_response_to_diabaig_bolts-701571?v=1#x8958109

In reply to Robert Durran:

> We accept a certain amount of gear being left when people abseil as the price for not sanitising the mountains and dumbing down our experience with bolts.

How is replacing tat with bolts for abseils dumbing down?

In reply to aajr95:

What makes you think there is a consensus that we shouldn't leave gear? I've cleaned up a few ab stations on my local mountain crags and replaced them with new bits of static rope and maillons. In a few years time no doubt someone else (or me again) will replace the tat with something new.

 Will Hempstead 27 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

> Do you think the issue is how to police it then?

I dont know loads about what MCofS do, but think its always easier to have a blanket policy than loads of nuances, and I assume this is why they have their no bolt policy.

> I totally agree that we shouldnt be turning these spots into sport routes and am not suggesting that.

To be fair we love wheeling out the 'one bolted ab station leads to grid bolting the whole crag' argument. One way I could see this play out is if novices use a bolted ab station and then return to bolt up a classic rock route not aware of the issue. I would be skeptical of this actually happening (which novice owns a hilti and bolting kit?) but it actually almost did to a local crag. Thankfully the guy thought to ask on a local facebook page before he started drilling.

Chains through natural spikes / threads on Skye are a good example of a more permanent solution which still avoids damaging the rock.

 C Witter 27 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

The major issue here is simply that, despite being incredibly and obviously ignorant, you still think you hold an informed opinion on the matter.

 Kevin Woods 27 Apr 2021
In reply to Will Hempstead:

Speaking of Skye, the not-chained abseils (which is really all but one as far as I'm aware!) are regularly cleaned and replaced. This week, the ridge had brand new static and maillons on Mhadaidh, Bidein etc.

Aajr95 - Clean em out or maybe replace them (or not). Bolts are needless.

Get some rock miles, sense the differences across styles and crags and maybe over time the nuances between climbing areas will start to appear.

This whole argument has gone around in circles a million times before on UKC. You won't find many in favour for Cir Mhor bolts.

 alan moore 27 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

Sounds like the real problem is the lazy toads who cant be bothered to walk down.

If you are unable to down climb Sou' Wester Slabs then there is an easy path back down in Fionn Coire. No tat, no bolts!

 aajr95 27 Apr 2021
In reply to ebdon:

This is a good take. Appreciate the input although, someone who was there before nuts (60s?) would be nearly 100 now!?! I appreciate the point about the progression of change and how quickly the community can change its behavior or stance on something. I think its a good point to make and I think ultimately will be the way people view this stuff all over.

I haven't seen much evidence of destruction of routes in my time. I do think that routes shouldn't be turned into sport climbs though.

Post edited at 18:02
 Tom V 27 Apr 2021
In reply to alan moore:

All that needs to be said.

In reply to Tyler:

> How is replacing tat with bolts for abseils dumbing down?

Because you can be sure that bolts will have been positioned in the most convenient place and you would not normally expect to have to assess their reliability.

 aajr95 27 Apr 2021
In reply to Kevin Woods:

Fair enough. I'm trying to get a feel for it here, seems like people have a different idea of conservation to myself.

It's more about the conservation of the difficulties of the old experience rather than the conservation of the environment itself. At least from what I saw last weekend.

I respect that anyway. Seeing you saying that people are putting in static stuff to abseil from seems to contradict others saying that you should bring a pen knife and clean em up. So for example, climbing in Skye it's normal to have loads of bits around but if people see it in Cir Mhor then it's to be cleaned?

 aajr95 27 Apr 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

So do you think it's more dangerous for people to get comfortable using the bolt stations to abseil than it is for them to have to assess and make a call for an abseil position?

 Eric9Points 27 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

I'll assume you're not taking the piss and try and explain it using an analogy.

If someone drew a moustache on Venus de Milo it wouldn't look good but it would come off and a beautiful thing would be returned to its original state.

If someone chiselled a moustache on the Venus de Milo then it would be changed forever.

Tat is chalk and chiselling is bolts.

Permanent change, no matter how small is objectionable to many people. Even if you can't appreciate that please accept most others do.

In reply to aajr95:

> So do you think it's more dangerous for people to get comfortable using the bolt stations to abseil than it is for them to have to assess and make a call for an abseil position?

I don't know and I don't think it is relevant to the discussion. 

In reply to aajr95:

> I have had the good fortune of being able to climb in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and their approach to conservatism is very different, but the mountains are much more clear of tat. Clear points to abseil off, belay stations set up at the end of famous routes and abseil stations set up with chains that have been created to minimize the trace left by climbing and minimize the hazard to people less familiar with the area.

I haven't climbed much in the US, only at Red Rock. While I appreciated the convenience of the bolted ab stations, I also noted the bolts placed across blank sections of rock (notably I think on Dream of Wild Turkeys (5.10a)) - something that would be considered unacceptable in the UK and a fairly clear example of the "thin end of the wedge" or "dumbing down" as Rob put it.

It's interesting that you use the phrase "minimize the danger" which is very much not the prevailing trad ethic in the UK, unless it's minimizing the danger to ourselves by virtue of self-reliance. Rather it's "maximize the adventure", where managing to approach, climb and return safely from a climb of whatever difficulty level is all part of the experience.

 aajr95 27 Apr 2021
In reply to planetmarshall:

Thats the first example of the thin end of the wedge I've seen. Cheers for providing one.

I appreciate that, I think I said to another person in this thread, I get the sense that people are trying to conserve the experience being as close to the original climbers as possible.

Post edited at 18:47
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Because you can be sure that bolts will have been positioned in the most convenient place and you would not normally expect to have to assess their reliability.

If you think the act of finding a clump of litter on the way down is harder than climbing up then I guess the challenge has been dumbed down. As for assessing the reliability, that's not hard either but the penalty for getting it wrong seems a bit harsh.

 Kevin Woods 27 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

> Fair enough. I'm trying to get a feel for it here, seems like people have a different idea of conservation to myself.

The best kind of conservation would be zero trace. Your thoughts on bolts contradicts this. (As with Skye anchors, too! More below)

> It's more about the conservation of the difficulties of the old experience rather than the conservation of the environment itself. At least from what I saw last weekend.

It's about both. And it's not the old experience, it's the experience.

> Seeing you saying that people are putting in static stuff to abseil from seems to contradict others saying that you should bring a pen knife and clean em up. So for example, climbing in Skye it's normal to have loads of bits around but if people see it in Cir Mhor then it's to be cleaned?

If I climbed a route covered in rotting tat, multiple backups, rusted old biners, I wouldn't have a question about taking along a knife and cutting it all away. I do this from time to time. Sometimes I'd replace multiple worn pieces with a single fresh - depends on location and situation.

I haven't done Sou'wester Slabs so not a clue if there's a 'good' reason for all this tat (?!) but it shouldn't be the norm on mountain crags. You get it sometimes - where it is, it's just mess. In which case, pull it out. Old Man of Hoy is a horrific example. Don't pull it out there because you need it to get back down the normal route but someone needs to go up there with fresh static and do a big job with the knife. It needs it.

Skye is a slightly different one. There are multiple points along the ridge that are commonly climbed and abseiled and regularly used by scramblers and commonly by the guides. Very often multiple times a day. They're proper bottlenecks, unlike any other ridge in the country. It would make no sense to be placing a lump of static rope for the next person to 'clean' it, only to require another load of static to replace it. They generally aren't rotting (the way you find at random points on random crags). It becomes a workable middle ground. Folk keep the ab points tidy, as safe as possible and in the ultimate-long-term it will leave zero trace.

One more thought; if you are interested in efficiency and quickness, consider when you get to the top of a route, establish some kind of anchor, ab off, do your multiple routes for the day then retrieve the anchors only at the end of the day. Folk spend inordinate amounts of time faffing with walk offs, shoe changes and time just runs away. This can get serious amounts of climbing done.

Mountain crags; just expect to climb up until you're on top. Bring a small bag for shoes for the second to carry.

Definitely don't use a drill. Things aren't perfect but they work pretty well the way they are. I don't see that a drill solves much.

In reply to Tyler:

> If you think the act of finding a clump of litter on the way down is harder than climbing up then I guess the challenge has been dumbed down. As for assessing the reliability, that's not hard either but the penalty for getting it wrong seems a bit harsh.

It's not about making it harder. Just the principle of self-reliance.

In reply to CurlyStevo:

> Next time take a pen knife with you and do the good spirited thing and cut off any unneeded tat and take it home. Problem solved.

Yes and now you've asked that this be done and solved the issue, maybe you should ask people to stop littering to fix that problem, or ask fat people to eat less to solve the obesity crisis. 

In reply to Tyler:

> ...the penalty for getting it wrong seems a bit harsh.

Well, that's climbing in a nutshell, really...

In reply to Robert Durran:

> It's not about making it harder. Just the principle of self-reliance.

Clipping a bolt instead of a load of tat does not make you more self reliant. People are reliant on the tat because they have read about it in guide books. It's just a bit more safe, a bit more sustainable and bit less visually intrusive. We won't agree but whilst the UK fetishises trad as absolutely anything goes as long as you don't use a bolt I'll continue to shake my head and occasionally pop up on these sort of threads.

In reply to planetmarshall:

> Well, that's climbing in a nutshell, really...

Oh well done to all this people who had the foresight to add to the tat to ameliorate the risk or those lucky enough not to suffer an accident. To those who got it wrong, f*ck ya, that's part of the game - except it isn't really, is it? 

Post edited at 19:05
In reply to Tyler:

> Clipping a bolt instead of a load of tat does not make you more self reliant. People are reliant on the tat because they have read about it in guide books. 

Nobody should rely on tat. People should actually remove it where possible!

In reply to Tyler:

>To those who got it wrong, f*ck ya, that's part of the game - except it isn't is it really is it? 

A harsh way of putting it, but managing risk is a big part of the game. 

 Martin Bennett 27 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

> This is a good take. Appreciate the input although, someone who was there before nuts (60s?) would be nearly 100 now!?!

Your maths is as questionable as your ethics. I started in 1965 just as alloy wedges began to replace hexagonal machine nuts. I'm still climbing. I am comparatively venerable but no effin way near 100.

Post edited at 19:08
In reply to Robert Durran:

> People should actually remove it where possible!

How's that working out?

In reply to Robert Durran:

> >To those who got it wrong, f*ck ya, that's part of the game - except it isn't is it really is it? 

> A harsh way of putting it

That's what's being said

> but managing risk is a big part of the game. 

Bit of a grandiose way of putting it. 

In reply to Tyler:

> How's that working out?

Not very well. Threads like this might educate a few more people though.

 C Witter 27 Apr 2021
In reply to Tyler:

> Oh well done to all this people who had the foresight to add to the tat to ameliorate the risk or those lucky enough not to suffer an accident. To those who got it wrong, f*ck ya, that's part of the game - except it isn't really, is it? 


I will agree with you when the death toll starts mounting... but, where is there any evidence of that? Um...?

In reply to Tyler:

> That's what's being said

Who is saying that? I doubt anyone is. I think you are just twisting words.

> Bit of a grandiose way of putting it. 

Not really, but maybe you prefer "looking after yourself".

In reply to Robert Durran:

Yep, it's certainly opened my eyes to the scourge of abseil tat, time to look for a neater alternative.

 C Witter 27 Apr 2021
In reply to Martin Bennett:

> Your maths is as questionable as your ethics. I started in 1965 just as alloy wedges began to replace hexagonal machine nuts. I'm still climbing. I am comparatively venerable but no effin way near 100.


Don't worry - this is someone who thinks you have to tie a carabiner to a piece of tat and who couldn't find their way up Sou'wester Slabs with a guidebook... I'm not even sure they actually visited Scotland - they were probably lost somewhere around Derbyshire.

Post edited at 19:28
 fmck 27 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

This isn't the first time abb bolts have been on this forum about Cir Mhor.

To be honest it probably be beneficial to have a stainless chain ( No need for bolts) at the bottom of 3 tier chimney. A further chain to replace the tat at the thread on top of belay 2 on West flank route. This is the Express route down from there for folks in the know.

In reply to ebdon:

> See RGolds comments at the end of this thread for a point of view from a very experienced climber the other side of the pond....

Thanks. That was a good argument well made.  It moved my opinion. I'm still open to bolting *some* abseil anchors if discrete but I now conscious of the distinction between convenience anchors versus where descent is impractical or impossible other ways (which is rare). I'm not supportive of bolting convenience anchors so after reading I'm now a bit less enthusiastic for anchor bolting

In reply to fmck:

> To be honest it probably be beneficial to have a stainless chain ( No need for bolts) at the bottom of 3 tier chimney. A further chain to replace the tat at the thread on top of belay 2 on West flank route. This is the Express route down from there for folks in the know.

Well I hope they would get promptly removed. They may not be bolts but a convenient "Express way" would be totally out of place here. As was said earlier, what's wrong with going to the top and walking down? If that is too much hassle or abseiling too much faff for someone then maybe go somewhere else to climb.

Post edited at 19:51
In reply to fmck:

>.. .. be beneficial to have a stainless chain ( No need for bolts) ..

​​Definitely stainless chain is or even stainless steel wire rope is better than bolts when possible. Just to mention I bought some 10mm welded link marine stainless chain of exactly the same type you'd want for belay/ab anchors  - not for a rock climb don't freak out!! And at near £20 a metre and really heavy, for someone to go and equip that on a route somewhere remote would be a generous undertaking for them to do!

 fmck 27 Apr 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

It's a long and very dodgy gully descent. A lot of the climbs end  at the same point. We used walk down at the end of the day with the top sling. We did shout to other climbers in the area we were still using it. Most the time we would just be messing about. You get to test some mental friction areas on blank areas. I was even trying out the all 5 contact moves on some of that stuff. 

In reply to fmck:

> It's a long and very dodgy gully descent.

You can go to the top and walk round. Some mountain crags aren't naturally convenient. I don't think there is ever justification for chains or bolts - just what climbers carry anyway.

 fmck 27 Apr 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

Robert 

It's a place I have spent so much time on it's my backyard. I Started climbing there as a school boy 1982. I have worked the place and contributed with previous and new guide books. Respect to these guys all over the globe who have been involved. In particular Mr A Walker (Nz) and Mr Little who will never place a bolt again or rivet. He he!

In reply to fmck

> It's a place I have spent so much time on it's my backyard. I Started climbing there as a school boy 1982. 

Funnily enough I also first climbed there in 1982 just after leaving school. I had just finished with my Munro obsession, so had never been to Arran. We had perfect weather ticking classics, ending with South Ridge Direct which was the biggest thing I had ever undertaken. Happy days!

Post edited at 20:49
 aajr95 27 Apr 2021
In reply to fmck:

If chains with no bolts are the answer I'm all for it. At least stainless steel only degrades with use and not the elements. Someone willing to bring chains up will probably have some strong experience of the area. Some chains around the grassy terrace behind the great roof too would be very handy for getting down if time becomes an issue.

Something needs to replace the current system of tat everywhere and it isn't some local cleaning it up once in a blue moon judging by the state of the place last weekend.

 Marek 27 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

> Something needs to replace the current system of tat everywhere and it isn't some local cleaning it up once in a blue moon judging by the state of the place last weekend.

It's funny how cleaning up litter is always somebody else's job. I thought we were all responsible for the state of our (climbing) environment? Did you do anything to help clean up, or is tutting on the internet more satisfying?

The solution to rotting tat (except in special cases) is not bolts or even chains - it's simply to remove anything you wouldn't trust yourself. As in 'be a responsible member of society'. It's not hard.

Post edited at 21:15
 aajr95 27 Apr 2021
In reply to Marek:

And have hundreds of pounds of gear degrading outdoors throughout the year instead of a robust solution that lasts as long as rock itself?

That is definitely not the solution and if you think it is, you only have to open your eyes to the state of the place to realize how that attitude has fared.

In reply to aajr95:

> And have hundreds of pounds of gear degrading outdoors throughout the year instead of a robust solution that lasts as long as rock itself?

I would much prefer to have something that rots, maintained organically by climbers just doing their thing, rather than a "robust solution" imposed on us and removing individual responsibility. Nobody should go climbing in such a place reliant on others having equipped a descent.

 GrahamD 27 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

Do you have any idea how much nylon tape you get for hundreds of pounds.  Or the lifetime and cost of bolt lower off stations come to that ?

 Yohan 27 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

I think its ironic that if I placed 20 bits of shitty tatt on a route chances are it would just degrade in situ- Folk would just climb past it. If I was to invest in a marine grade chain carry it up a route and attach it with a suitable mailon and locktite it somone would be up the following weekend with a cordless angle grinder to remove it. 

For the record I would do neither and actively remove shitty tatt, but that doesn't change the above. 

How much tatt did you remove? 

 aajr95 27 Apr 2021
In reply to GrahamD:

Are you suggesting slings and chord is going to cost less in the long run than stainless steel bolts or even chains wrapped around pillars?

Post edited at 22:41
 Marek 27 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

> Are you suggesting slings and chord is going to cost less in the long run than stainless steel bolts or even chains wrapped around pillars?

Talk about moving the goalposts! I though your original rant was about how untidy the tat was and that the 'locals' weren't doing their job of removing it? So now it's an economic argument that tat is more expensive than chains or bolts?

In reply to aajr95:

> Some chains around the grassy terrace behind the great roof too would be very handy for getting down if time becomes an issue.

That is one of the most alarming suggestions of this entire thread.

 Kevin Woods 28 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

You didn't read anything I wrote did you?

In reply to Marek:

I think the system of slings/tat works rather well. Most climbers when descending make a judgment as to what to use, what to cut away and what to replace. It's a kind of self-policing system. 

 fmck 28 Apr 2021
In reply to John Stainforth:

I kind of viewed this the same. Tat never seemed to stay on Cir Mhor for any length of time except the odd ones that were of use. My memory was top of pitch 2 on West flank route for fast descent abb. Bottom of layback crack SR direct but was useful as a belay back up. Crux pitch on Bluff as it was a welcome runner if not in a dodgy state. The Y crack would from time to time but nothing ever lasted there. I have like everyone else removed stuff that was dis-functional. I kind of hope aajr95 just happened to be there after a isolated incident.

 Marek 28 Apr 2021
In reply to John Stainforth:

> I think the system of slings/tat works rather well. Most climbers when descending make a judgment as to what to use, what to cut away and what to replace. It's a kind of self-policing system. 

Exactly. The OP was spot on in identifying the problem (excess rotting tat), a bit confused in working out the root cause (locals not cleaning up) and then went ballistic on a solution (bolts). I'm sure they meant well, but as someone observed a long time ago: more misery has been cause by well-meaning people doing the wrong thing for the right reason, that by all the evil people put together (or words to that effect).

I'm tempted to associate the 'tat problem' (if there is one in general) with the slow demise of club based introductions to mountaineering. More people these days get into climbing via walls and crags and don't get taught about the 'tat removal protocol' on multi-pitch mountain routes. I've certainly never seen it mentioned in any 'how to climb' website or even book. Perhaps I'm wrong, it's a guess.

 Marek 28 Apr 2021
In reply to Marek:

> ... I'm sure they meant well, but as someone observed a long time ago... 

Ah yes, Samuel Johnson: "Hell is paved with good intentions."

 Jim Lancs 28 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

One massive problem I have with 'ab stations' is there's no criteria for deciding which are 'essential' and which some people consider 'necessary' for convenience. I'm always amazed by the amount of abseiling that happens on crags these days even when the walk off is probably quicker or the easier final pitch should be done simply to aesthetically complete the route, etc.

If there was a bolted ab station at every point 'someone' wanted one for convenience, or in case they 'run out of time', or get caught in the rain, or don't want to do the following pitches, or don't like walking down in rock shoes, or . . . . then they're going to be everywhere. And who decides which are valid and which are not?

Tatt left behind might be tatty, but when the pendulum swings back and more climbers appreciate that abbing off everything only feels normal because of lowering off walls and sport, then the problem will naturally disappear, where as bolted abstations will remain forever as testament to what I hope is this passing fad.

In reply to aajr95:

The only time I've ever climbed on Cir Mhor was in 1983 - we did Sou' Wester Slabs, South Ridge Direct, and West Flank Route - and I don't remember ANY tat at all. In fact, the reverse: next to nothing in situ making belaying difficult throughout, except on SWS. The whole thing was spectacularly pristine. I was so enthusiastic about the climbing that I wrote a fantastically detailed account in my logbook, and WFR runs to four pages! But the main point is that there is NO mention of any pegs anywhere, and much mention of using Friends in tricky placements.

I guess it's simply another example of the general drop in standards in everything in life now, in this new, mediocre Johnsonian age.

 Kevin Woods 28 Apr 2021
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

To be fair I was on Cir Mhor in 2016 and don't remember seeing any tat anywhere. Pretty sure we built every one of our belays.

In reply to aajr95:

> I have had the good fortune of being able to climb in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and their approach to conservatism is very different, but the mountains are much more clear of tat. Clear points to abseil off, belay stations set up at the end of famous routes and abseil stations set up with chains that have been created to minimize the trace left by climbing and minimize the hazard to people less familiar with the area.

The different cultures are interesting but I think our rather fundamentalist attitude in UK is down to the limited resources of what we like to think of as unspoilt wilderness (but which is, of course, rarely anything approaching it).  That said, when an area in the US is designated wilderness you aren't even allowed to use power tools to cut up a fallen tree blocking a trail!

I don't think there's anything intrinsically ridiculous about what you are suggesting, it's just not how we do it.  I'm pretty bolt-sceptic when it comes to changing the character of a trad route, or providing an easy descent just for convenience.  I've only done a few of the classics on Cir Mhor; Sou'wester Slabs, South Ridge Direct, West Flank Route, but it never occurred to me to abseil down anywhere and I don't recall any of the belays requiring in situ tat (but I might be wrong about that), so it's a bit of a mystery to me why it accumulates.

However, I do think that it's completely possible for a bolted abseil point to be the best solution for conservation reasons.  Far better to have a safe, convenient descent than to have fragile ecosystems trampled over and destroyed, multiple paths created by climbers where none existed previously.  I think a bolt can be used to protect a pristine environment, and I think this is more widely understood in the parts of Europe and the US.  It's certainly an argument I've had in South Africa.

Sadly, here it usually comes come to a shouting match between the Luddites and the Vandals.  It's thin end of the wedge, all or nothing, extreme sport suburbanisers versus the priesthood of the sacred rock, which is ironic given how many shades of grey it comes in.     

 Marek 28 Apr 2021
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> However, I do think that it's completely possible for a bolted abseil point to be the best solution for conservation reasons.  ...

Quite right. So the 'follow-on' discussion could be (should be?) on the criteria used to decide whether to put in some semi-permanent metalwork or not. I guess I'm a soft-Luddite in that I would bias the criteria in the direction of there needing to be a clear and unambiguous environmental problem with the non-bolted (trad?) solution (walk off, use/remove tat) before contemplating bolts or even a chain. I don't see 'convenience' as being a good justification. Others of course will differ.

  

In reply to Kevin Woods:

> To be fair I was on Cir Mhor in 2016 and don't remember seeing any tat anywhere. Pretty sure we built every one of our belays.

But it's precisely SINCE 2016 that things have gone so wrong. Before midsummer that year the UK was a very different place.

 Kevin Woods 28 Apr 2021
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Not to turn it into politics (a fair gear shift) but Scotland voted against all that s*** in every direction, every time. Has the rot filtered through society enough to get to the Isle of Arran, climbers and their abseil anchors? That's a fair leap to make, I'm not seeing the link.

In reply to Kevin Woods:

OK, let's leave it as a strange phenomenon, still in need of explanation.

 gravy 28 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

Absolutely no bolts on Arran please

 Kevin Woods 28 Apr 2021
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

This thread is odd, almost parody.

 alan moore 28 Apr 2021
In reply to Kevin Woods:

> This thread is odd, almost parody.

Because the OP was just bait....

In reply to alan moore:

I see no reason to believe that the OP wasn't being serious. 

 Kevin Woods 28 Apr 2021
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

I do. A beginners logbook (now private) which a few easy outcrop leads in it, and a couple random convenient (film?) pics of Arran. I thought maybe at first, based on the first post. But beginners are never arrogant and mouthy about ethics. Aajr95 is free to prove me wrong.

In reply to Kevin Woods:

Naive rather than arrogant, I would say.  It is not an unreasonable question, and the answers are as more to do with tradition and ethics than they are with practical issues.  As rock climbing becomes increasingly divorced from mountaineering (in fairness, a trend which has been going on for decades) and as bolts and the convenience of sport climbing become more widespread, this sort of question is becoming increasingly common.

The point of mountaineering is adventure.  You don't lug your gear all the way up Glen Rosa simply to tick a grade.  Sou'wester Slabs in particular presents no great technical challenges (even I can get up it) and the adventure comes from committing to it and needing to be self-sufficient. You not only have to be able to achieve the grade but you need to be able to look after yourself in a mountain environment and if necessary get yourself out of trouble using only your own resources and what the mountain offers.  Providing convenient descent points in case you need to bale out removes that self-sufficiency and sense of adventure.  If you can walk away at any time it's not an adventure.It is no different for the harder routes.

OK, the "adventure" is a bit contrived compared with what we may find in the Alps and the Greater Ranges, but we have to make the best of what we have in the UK, even if that means applying contrived and possibly illogical rules to how we carry out our activity.  

I'm not dogmatic about this by the way.  I'm prepared to accept that there may be situations where a discreet bolt or chain is the pragmatic, least bad solution.  The obvious candidates are heavily-used descents where abseil is the only option, and a fixed anchor reduces delays and avoids clusters of tat.  However these are relatively few.  I can see no justification on a mountain like Cir Mhor which can be walked off.

In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> But it's precisely SINCE 2016 that things have gone so wrong. Before midsummer that year the UK was a very different place.

Yes, we can now put proper British bolts in the mountains. None of this foreign muck.

 aajr95 28 Apr 2021
In reply to Marek:

I never said anything about locals removing it, seems like you're misinterpreting what I said to align with your deluded narrative. I said there wouldn't be a need to have any gear left anywhere if there was well thought out abseil and belay stations, like that which exists in other parts of the world with great success.

The mountain would be cleaner. It's quite simple really. It's nobody's "job" to clean it and you can think giving it a once over the odd time you're out is "helping" but it'll just keep happening, keep getting worse and building up. Bits will end up in unreachable locations and the entire mountain will continue to be littered with climbers tat.

 aajr95 28 Apr 2021
In reply to Howard J:

Why is that alarming, you can abseil down in one 35m stretch from that area.

In reply to aajr95:

Because you have moved on from your original conservation argument (whitch makes no sense to me as what's the difference between chains and tat?) To an argument based on purely making the mountain more accessible.

In reply to aajr95:

I think you're fundamentally wrong on a point here, its everybody's job to clean it up, whether that's litter or tat. There is no higher authority in the UK who will do this for you it's all our responsibility.

 aajr95 28 Apr 2021
In reply to Dave Garnett:

I think you've hit the nail on the head Dave. Great post. I agree, it seems to be a shouting match with cookie cutter arguments being made all over. I think you only have to look at other parts of the world with massive climbing communities to see how successful their climbing culture is, their conservation is and also seeing they have dreaded evil bolts.

I think your point saying "it's not how we do it" is interesting. I believe takes like this will fade as the sport becomes more widely adopted, is considered less of an extreme sport and more of a mountain hobby and ultimately, becomes much more inclusive. I think you are correct as are many other parts of the world that have accepted bolting is the least invasive way to have people use a mountain and leave no trace. There is no point where people quit climbing and we go up, clean the mountain and pretend nothing happened. There will always be stuff up there, whether its tat, chains, wire or bolts.

I think there has been a massive increase in the number of people climbing, especially with all of the mainstream content coming out related to it, for example free solo or the dawn wall being some of the most viewed films on Netflix. Those who desire to keep their mountains exclusive and exclude new climbers from taking part will eventually realize the mountain belongs to nobody and the best way to keep it clean, safe and clear of accumulating trash is to install bolts like other parts of the world have accepted. 

Post edited at 13:20
In reply to aajr95:

Its nothing about keeping it exclusive, and all about maintaining the adventure. As you have had explained, at length, above. FFS

 aajr95 28 Apr 2021
In reply to ebdon:

You're trying to run this into the ground and I appreciate the last ditch efforts to subvert the discussion into minutiae but you have totally failed to see a broader perspective on this discussion. I think you need look no further than Dave Garnett's post to gain an understanding of what's really being discussed here.

 SFrancis 28 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the wee donkey...

Climbed South Ridge Direct and Sou'wester slabs last September, think i saw one or two threads threads in place. Don't remember seeing much tat at all.... 

It's really hard to believe this is not a wind up, trying to incite angry responses. 

 aajr95 28 Apr 2021
In reply to SFrancis:

You've only yourself to blame if you are getting angry. This is a valid thing to be discussing and emotional responses usually arise from a lack of understanding.

Post edited at 13:25
 galpinos 28 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

I think few climbers consider it "an extreme sport", they would just call it a sport/hobby/interest/pastime. That has no bearing on the desire to keep our mountains bolt free, the desire is to promote the self reliance that is (was?) a cornerstone of trad climbing. The "ethic" of "no bolts on mountain crags" is not one of elitism or exclusivity, but an attempt to maintain the adventure and aesthetic of the mountain crags. Bolted abseils, bolted belays, bolted routes etc will proliferate but I hope that they will be confined to outcrops and not the mountains in the UK.

The barrier to entry is knowledge and experience, which are gained through the "apprenticeship" of learning to climb and are a pure joy to amass over time. Don't dismiss that.

Bolted/chained abseil stations are seen by many as "trash", abandoned on the crag leaving a permanent scar.  It will take a lot better case than that which you have presented to convince people otherwise.

In reply to aajr95:

Allright! No need to get all angry.

I'll let Dave speak for himself but I think Dave is talking about bolts at the top of climbs to avoid people walking through protected environments, I.e Sargent crag slabs (whitch almost no one has a problem with) which doesn't really apply in your example.

I will admit I really don't understand your argument, I thought I did so sorry if I miss understood. Is it:

Tat is visually intrusive and bolts would be neater

These climbs would be much better if they were made more accessible by the addition of bolted belays

Bolts are safer therefore better

Walking off cause environmental damage and should be avoided.

All are valid points but I think there getting a bit mixed up here.

In reply to ebdon:

I should have also added (I think) I am in agreement with Dave and can think of several places where bolted lower offs would be great for stopping climbers thrashing around through nature reserves, allthough Arran isnt one of them.

 aajr95 28 Apr 2021
In reply to galpinos:

Regarding the "extreme" sport aspect, I am more so talking about people who are not climbers seeing it as not extreme. People who aren't climbers yet but who you will see on the mountain in the years to come.

I agree the case I have made obviously doesn't have popular support on here and I am under no illusions that it does. I have also not heard a case that has been convincing for me either on here. Pen-knives, edge of the wedge etc doesnt really make a valid case when the mountain looks like t did last weekend. I am quite surprised at the emotional backlash from people, seems as though they are trying to "teach youngsters lessons" or something like that.

I agree regarding the apprenticeship point and a post on forums definitely isn't where most new climbers are getting their information if any are at all. People get their climbing habits from the person they do their "apprenticeship" with. My apprenticeship happened to be in Yosemite and Tahoe with a friend of mine where conservation of the experience, conservation of the environment and bolted abseils and some bolted belay points seem to exist in harmony.

If you're going to have "trash" up on the mountain, you might as well have something that is well thought out instead of a litany of slings, carabiners and other trash lying around.

 Darron 28 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

aajr95 is beginning to sound like an old (now banned?) forum regular. 

 fmck 28 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

> Why is that alarming, you can abseil down in one 35m stretch from that area.

Yeh but then your on the wrong side from where you started. It would also not save you much time than scrambling down "Old East". If you were wanting to do a climb on this side.

If your only out to do Souwester slabs its far better to complete the upper section of South ridge. Its no harder than V Diff.

 aajr95 28 Apr 2021
In reply to ebdon:

Yea I think all this boils down to is an unfortunate shouting match between people. I appreciate that you have had another look and I think the discussion is much better served like this

Yup, those are generally some individual things I brought up. The broader point that I am trying to make is that bolts with a couple of chain links in known abseil locations (eg places with the most consistent tat build up) would lead to a less littered environment.

I believe where people are disagreeing with me is on the point of the permanence of bolts, which I respect. I get the idea, bolts are scars and permanent, which they are if you think about it romantically. I'm not sure people making this point have every seen how old bolt holes are filled, becoming completely invisible using grit from little pockets. Here is a great example of a free for all with loads of half-assed bolts being addressed by people with experience. youtube.com/watch?v=5y-I7KqdDsA& (yes they are high-lining but the bolting procedure is the same)

The other point i think people disagree with me on is the experience aspect. People on here feel the experience is cheapened by the use of bolts to abseil but I feel the experience is indifferent to the way down or to the anchor. They are 2 technicalities of trad to me. The anchor is a safe space, whether its 3 cans, 3 nuts, a giant sling around an immovable rock or a bolt, I don't think anyone is going to have a different day when it comes to the actual climb and experience.

But I respect people's views on here. I think I have failed to convince anyone but at the same time a lot of the arguments made on here have failed to convince me that the tat method is any better.

 aajr95 28 Apr 2021
In reply to Darron:

You ban people for having discussions about methods of protection?

In reply to aajr95:

> I think you only have to look at other parts of the world with massive climbing communities to see how successful their climbing culture is, their conservation is and also seeing they have dreaded evil bolts.

Well, it's pretty varied isn't it?  There are many areas that are just as strict as the UK in their no bolting ethic, and I have to say, most of the fixed anchors I've seen are purely for convenience.  And, most countries simply have a lot more mountains and crags and there is less pressure (so far) to preserve a limited resource.  

> I think your point saying "it's not how we do it" is interesting. I believe takes like this will fade as the sport becomes more widely adopted, is considered less of an extreme sport and more of a mountain hobby and ultimately, becomes much more inclusive.

We'll see.  Indoor climbing, bouldering, and, to some extent, sport climbing are certainly having a boom.  I'm not convinced there's a sustained increase in the popularity of trad climbing or alpine mountaineering.

> I think you are correct as are many other parts of the world that have accepted bolting is the least invasive way to have people use a mountain and leave no trace. There is no point where people quit climbing and we go up, clean the mountain and pretend nothing happened. There will always be stuff up there, whether its tat, chains, wire or bolts.

I think you're overplaying my environmental argument.  I don't see much evidence that most bolting is done because it's less invasive and I'd be even more in favour of fixed chains that weren't bolted.  I was arguing that a couple of carefully considered bolts with a chain weren't necessarily the end of mountaineering as we know it, where the result was less environmental degradation overall.   

> Those who desire to keep their mountains exclusive and exclude new climbers from taking part will eventually realize the mountain belongs to nobody and the best way to keep it clean, safe and clear of accumulating trash is to install bolts like other parts of the world have accepted. 

I don't think this has anything to do with exclusivity and here you do seem to falling into the dumbing down argument.  I'm certainly not in favour of routinely installing fixed gear on descents in order to encourage into the mountains people who don't know how to get down safely otherwise.  

 aajr95 28 Apr 2021
In reply to Dave Garnett:

Fair enough! Points taken. Often the best views are those which take nuance from all sides and I appreciate the input.

It has informed my view the most in this thread.

 aajr95 28 Apr 2021
In reply to fmck:

I wasn't the first to do it as there is an abseil station set up at the 3 tiered chimney and around the corner. Both of which had old and new slings and carabiners on them.

So regardless of the endless ways of escaping the mountain, there is still people using those spots and gear is still accumulating there.

 Marek 28 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

> But I respect people's views on here. I think I have failed to convince anyone but at the same time a lot of the arguments made on here have failed to convince me that the tat method is any better.

It's not so much a case of 'better', but that the 'tat method' - as you call it - has worked perfectly well in the context of Scottish mountains and elsewhere for decades. Yes, it relies on climber taking collective responsibility to look after their environment (by removing old useless tat) and that obviously has gone wrong recently according to your original post. My (and others') point was that you should perhaps look at why a proven process that work well for decades failed in this case and address that (e.g., by education) rather than import a new process which may or may not have worked elsewhere, but is clearly against the local ethics and culture.

In reply to aajr95:

> The other point i think people disagree with me on is the experience aspect. People on here feel the experience is cheapened by the use of bolts to abseil but I feel the experience is indifferent to the way down or to the anchor. They are 2 technicalities of trad to me. The anchor is a safe space, whether its 3 cans, 3 nuts, a giant sling around an immovable rock or a bolt, I don't think anyone is going to have a different day when it comes to the actual climb and experience.

It sounds like you're just trolling now. It's been explained to you repeatedly that others value the adventurous aspect of trad - having "safe space" bolted belays on mountain crags is completely contrary to this. If you want that convenience go and climb something else. Climbing in the mountains is about far more than just making the technical moves - on UK mountain crags there is a long history and tradition of people taking responsibility for themselves and their environment. That includes making your own decisions about when and where you ab and also when it's appropriate to clean up old bits of tat.

In reply to aajr95:

> You've only yourself to blame if you are getting angry. This is a valid thing to be discussing and emotional responses usually arise from a lack of understanding.

You are the one showing a spectacular lack of acknowledgement, let alone understanding of the case against bolts and chains in the mountains. It is hard to believe you are for real.

Post edited at 14:21
 aajr95 28 Apr 2021
In reply to pancakeandchips:

I think you missed the point of what I'm talking about. My post was explaining how I view a bolted anchor, a 3 cam anchor, a 3 nut anchor or an immovable sling anchor as a "safe space" and explaining that is where the disagreement seems to be coming from. I am pointing out others feel a sense of adventure tying a sling around a pillar and bringing up a second, I feel indifferent if I'm using a sling, cams, nuts or a bolt at anchor points, its the safe space and I will set it up as such regardless. That is what I mean by a "technicality of trad"

I am not in favor of treating a day out in the mountains the same as a gym sport route which you seem to be implying. All about the sequence, no thank you. To me its all about the adventure. All I am saying is that we seem to disagree about the sense of adventure from belaying and abseiling off spots that others have left gear at or if there were bolts there and the impact on the sense of adventure.

 aajr95 28 Apr 2021
In reply to Marek:

> Quite right. So the 'follow-on' discussion could be (should be?) on the criteria used to decide whether to put in some semi-permanent metalwork or not. I guess I'm a soft-Luddite in that I would bias the criteria in the direction of there needing to be a clear and unambiguous environmental problem with the non-bolted (trad?) solution (walk off, use/remove tat) before contemplating bolts or even a chain. I don't see 'convenience' as being a good justification. Others of course will differ.

I think we should just move forward from here as the discussion has become immobile. I understand people's stance on bolting mountains and will respect that while in the UK.

I also think the discussion is healthy.

Post edited at 14:38
In reply to aajr95:

It's a bit rich to claim that I missed *your* point and then to go on and repeat the same nonsense that I was replying to in the first place. Definitely a troll.

 aajr95 28 Apr 2021
In reply to Howard J:

I have moved from California to Scotland over the winter so you are right to say naive about UK ethics. One can understand coming from a climbing culture and outdoors culture so focused on conservation I find it strange to see the accumulation of litter all over the mountain to be considered good because at least it isn't fixed.

I respect your view and if people here want to avoid bolts to make them feel like they're making it more adventurous fair enough. It doesn't need to be bolts to prevent the accumulation of tat on a beautiful mountain.

 Martin Bennett 28 Apr 2021
In reply to Tyler:

> Oh well done to all this people who had the foresight to add to the tat to ameliorate the risk or those lucky enough not to suffer an accident. To those who got it wrong, f*ck ya, that's part of the game - except it isn't really, is it? 

You don't get it do you? Yes it is, yes it is, yes it is the game. I'd replace your unsympathetic profanity with "Oh hard luck, that's a pity" but if you set off on a route knowing there are fixed descent points it's no longer a "trad" climb in the true sense of the term since all doubt about the outcome is removed - commitment not required. And where's the fun in that? You've reduced it to a simple and convenient exercise in technical capability, albeit one undertaken in an enjoyable way in wonderful surroundings.

Post edited at 15:36
In reply to aajr95:

> I have moved from California to Scotland over the winter so you are right to say naive about UK ethics.

It is a pity you didn't explain that from the start. You might have found people having a little more patience with your lack of appreciation of the way we do things.

Post edited at 15:33
 galpinos 28 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

I think there are a couple of points conflated in your reply. I have to actually do some work today so apologies if I'm making points you've answered already!

1. Your "case" for bolts has to be better than the case for tat. No fixed anchors in the mountains is the status quo. To change this, you have to convince the community, they don't have to convince you.

2. There is no excuse for tat all over the hill/crag/mountain. I carry a knife (and sometimes new tat) if there is a known "fixed" abseil point and attempt to leave the route is an as clean as possible state, as would most people. I have yet to visit Cir Mhor and my planned trip was delayed by Covid. My intention had been to downclimb Old East, is this not the easiest way down?

3. What you are describing, multiple abseil points in multiple locations, would not be sorted by a single bolted abseil station. Are you intending to have a bolted ab at every location their was tat? If not, and you are advocating just for one fixed ab station, the ethic would be for it to be removable rope. I see no reason to change this position.

Anyway, welcome to the UK, UKC and I hope your robust welcome hasn't put you off. We're all nice really! (Well most are, actually, maybe most is pushing it, some of us are nice...)

 aajr95 28 Apr 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

I'm not sure it would have helped I haven't got much love for being a yank so far

 aajr95 28 Apr 2021
In reply to galpinos:

1. I agree, I think the outcome of this conversation is basically "different folks, different strokes" or more so, different climbing communities, different desires. Coming from a different climbing culture, I would view slings, old gear in the wall and what not as bad conservation. Obviously in the UK the view is any bolting is bad conservation. I don't think it'll be me that convinces people but maybe one day I'll be on the forums talking about the old no bolt days. Maybe not, time will tell. Regardless, I was only raising the discussion and have no intention to act on anything without community approval. I'm going to enjoy myself out here in line with the community ethics as I did in California in the past.

2. Fair enough, I look forward to seeing the place freshened up post Covid when more people get out there. Hopefully it will be net positive and not negative! I will bring a knife with me next time. I have never needed one in the states on climbs, I would leave it in the tent / car.

3. I respect that people want to put ropes there and not bolts. What is the ethic regarding non-fixed chains? This thread has confused me as to the stance on it. One part of me says that it aligns with all of the ethics, another part of me says that if it were to be done, someone would come up and chop em out a day later.

Thanks for the welcome. I'm here to experience a different type of climbing for sure. So far I've seen 2 different extremes...

One extreme was a man taking his son off belay to take a phone call and the kid taking a 5 meter ground-fall (the first and only proper ground-fall I've seen) in a local quarry followed by him yelling at a mountain guide who had a group out for the day to f* off when confronted about it. It was truly scary.

The other extreme was one of the most beautiful mountains and places I've ever been, what felt like the edge of the earth in Cir Mhor.  Amazing experience. I look forward to more things like this around!

I'm glad the conversation has ended as it did, appreciate the patience and the discourse. Hopefully I'll catch you up on the mountain in a post Covid world. Cheers Galpinos!

In reply to aajr95:

> I have moved from California to Scotland over the winter so you are right to say naive about UK ethics. One can understand coming from a climbing culture and outdoors culture so focused on conservation I find it strange to see the accumulation of litter all over the mountain to be considered good because at least it isn't fixed.

Californian ethics at Tahquitz are pretty hardcore in my experience.  Bolting barely tolerated and only without drills and while on the lead!

In reply to aajr95:

Out of curiosity who equips and pays for bolted belay stations in the Sierra Nevada? Local guides? but then I guess you open a whole new can of worms re commercialisation. One reason british mountain crags will never get bolted ab stations is that no one wants the thankless and expensive task of installing them!

 Marek 28 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

> The other extreme was one of the most beautiful mountains and places I've ever been, what felt like the edge of the earth in Cir Mhor.  Amazing experience. I look forward to more things like this around!

In that case I would heartily recommend you get out to the Outer Hebrides (e.g., Harris) when you can. You're very lucky to be living with places like this on your doorstep!

In reply to aajr95:

>  Obviously in the UK the view is any bolting is bad conservation.

No, I don't think that is the case at all. The anti-bolt position is not an environmental or conservation one; it is about preserving the ethos of self-reliance in how we climb. It is actually probably a sacrifice of conservation in order to do this.

 Marek 28 Apr 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

I think we're tripping over the fact that 'conservation' means different things to different people - and it's not just a transatlantic thing. It can be anything from 'removing human influence from the natural world (sic)' to 'keeping my playground looking nice'. It can be biological or cultural. It might be preserving the status quo or it might be recreating some imagined past utopia.

As ever, semantics is at the root of so many arguments!

Post edited at 17:41
 GrahamD 28 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

I'm pretty sure there aren't any unavoidable abseil points up there so really the only debate is whether someone should tidy up and remove the tat.  Near permanent abseil stations aren't even part of the debate.

 aajr95 28 Apr 2021
In reply to ebdon:

Its all done by good seminarians but if locals think the person who did it didn't have the "right" to do it, they'll remove and fill the holes. The right is usually based on local guardians or people who use the routes very regularly and not any governing body or policy. They use mountain project like we use UKC but usually the community will make a call rather than there being a governing body that makes the call or has any policy, like the no bolting policy you guys are talking about. National park authorities say "no power tools" and it makes sure that casuals don't come in with a drill, only people willing to drill a hole in rock using hand tools. Outside of national parks it's self regulating.

If a bolt is placed with bad execution or is amateur, but the locals like the idea of the bolt, they will reuse the hole and make it safer. My understanding of the people who consider themselves to be guardians is that they want to keep the trad experience there while also keeping it safe for people.

If the locals like a bolt placement theyll just leave it. All done by Californians for Californians. I think its a good live example of a stable free for all.

People would be more willing to put the money and time in if they didn't think someone would go up and chop em in the same week. I don't think the financial investment would be too big of a deal considering the alternative is leaving slings and carabiners around. A good brand steel hangar and maillon cost 20 or so if I'm not mistaken.

Anyway that's the way it works out there. You're not encouraged to do it, but if you feel like you should in certain spots, the community will usually get behind it if it makes sense.

 aajr95 28 Apr 2021
In reply to Marek:

Cheers! Can you give me any ideas for spots to try?

In reply to aajr95:

> Why is that alarming, you can abseil down in one 35m stretch from that area.

Because, as I said in another post, climbing on mountain crags is about adventure.  It's not an adventure if you can walk away when it gets a bit difficult. Having a permanent anchor for convenience simply because it would be "very handy for getting down if time becomes an issue" detracts from that adventure.  If you need to escape from a route (which I have done on more than one occasion), you should have the skills and resources to do so without needing a fixed anchor, and that becomes part of the adventure too - sometimes the most memorable part.

The correct piece of kit for when time becomes an issue isn't a bolt. It's a headtorch.

If bailing out means leaving a bit of tat, or even a bit of gear, so be it.  Someone will soon be along to remove it (see the "crag swag" thread). Our ethic puts greater importance on self-reliance.  Our mountains and mountain crags aren't very big compared with others, so maybe we have to make it a bit harder for ourselves by imposing slightly artificial and sometimes illogical rules, but that's how we do it.  Other regions, especially where the adventure is more inherent, may do it differently.

I'm not a regular visitor to Arran, but I wonder if you may just have visited on a bad day. I'm not conscious of seeing a lot of tat in the mountains, and when I do it's usually apparent that it was to escape from the climb rather than being an established descent route.  As I also said earlier, I'm not absolutist about this and there may be situtations where a fixed chain or bolt is the least bad option, but these should be few and far between

Post edited at 19:12
 Darron 28 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

Now you have revealed your are new to our shores I would like to apologise and refute my suggestion that you are an old poster trolling.

You’re still wrong about bolts on mountain crags though😂.

In reply to aajr95:

Having lived and climbed in North America for 25 years, I would say you are over-simplifying the situation and interpreting it rather in your own way. Outside of the National Parks there are plenty of places (State Parks, National Forests) where bolting is either banned or regulated. It is not a stable "free for all". The Access Fund does a great job in ensuring that there is maximum cooperation and consultation between all custodians and users of climbing areas. Most US climbers who are serious about climbing away from sport-climbing venues support that organisation.

 Marek 28 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

> Cheers! Can you give me any ideas for spots to try?

It's more a case of 'the whole is greater than the sum of the parts'. Barra is nice, if only to see the 'airport'. South Uist is very quiet - The machair on the west coast in spring, the mountains on the east coast (a north-south traverse is good). Harris is all stunning, but is relatively popular, so avoid July/August. Endless west coast to explore from the beaches in the south up to areas like the Mangersta/Uig sea-cliffs in the north. The Harris east coast is good too and quite different. And of course the hills in the middle. Lewis has it good areas too, mainly on the east coast north and south of Stornoway. At the other end you have Pabbay and Mingulay - small islands with fantastic sea-cliffs. The list could go on.

What you might do depends very much on your interests and capabilities, so you'll have to figure that out yourself. But I don't think you'll be bored.

In reply to Marek:

> Lewis has it good areas too, mainly on the east coast north and south of Stornoway.

Do you really mean that? I've never heard much mention of the east coast. The west coast is probably Britain's finest coastline with rocky headlands, fabulous beaches and endless fantastic climbing with a great spread of grades.

 Marek 28 Apr 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Do you really mean that? I've never heard much mention of the east coast. The west coast is probably Britain's finest coastline with rocky headlands, fabulous beaches and endless fantastic climbing with a great spread of grades.

Yes, you're right. I always get confused where North Harris ends and Lewis begins. Mangersta is Lewis not Harris. All fantastic stuff! If you've never been up to Tolsta (north of Stornoway) it's well worth a visit.

 C Witter 28 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

> You've only yourself to blame if you are getting angry. This is a valid thing to be discussing and emotional responses usually arise from a lack of understanding.

Mein Gott... 

 C Witter 28 Apr 2021
In reply to galpinos:

> I think few climbers consider it "an extreme sport", they would just call it a sport/hobby/interest/pastime. 

I would have thought most would call it a passion.

In reply to C Witter:

> I would have thought most would call it a passion.

Yes, 'hobby, interest and pastime' are all too weak to describe its intensity and range of emotion, and 'sport' is too narrow to capture the full breadth of it, encompassing its adventurous, exploratory and dangerous aspects.

 fmck 29 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

Anyway did you get over to Evening Traverse as planned? It's worth even a day trip back if not. Angel's pavement as an initial start is best as the bottom is a bit scrambly.

 Martin Bennett 29 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

Your final sentence shows how, despite our exhortations, you've still failed to grasp,  or at least agree to embrace, the British ethic. It's not a question of which is better. Both are bad. It has little to do with conservation and much to do with maintaining a sense of adventure through commitment and self reliance. 

 Martin Bennett 29 Apr 2021
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Not a 

> The only time I've ever climbed on Cir Mhor was in 1983 - we did Sou' Wester Slabs, South Ridge Direct, and West Flank Route - and I don't remember ANY tat at all. In fact, the reverse: next to nothing in situ making belaying difficult throughout, except on SWS. The whole thing was spectacularly pristine. I was so enthusiastic about the climbing that I wrote a fantastically detailed account in my logbook, and WFR runs to four pages! But the main point is that there is NO mention of any pegs anywhere, and much mention of using Friends in tricky placements.

> I guess it's simply another example of the general drop in standards in everything in life now, in this new, mediocre Johnsonian age.

No tat in 1966 when we did the first two, nor in 1975 on W Flank. No cams either, incidentally. Been back on S Ridge Direct in 1975 and again in 1988 and never saw any fixed gear of any kind. Nor did we on any occasion feel the need of an abseil descent but just found our way to the base in the time honoured way. 

I agree entirely with your general assessment of the age but think the slide might have begun prior to Johnson, however much I'd like to blame him for everything. It's pretty certain that after my generation and the next are gone it'll be a free for all, outcomes will rarely be in doubt and the priorities will be convenience, safety and conservation to the detriment of adventure. In my view the climbers of tomorrow will have a lesser experience because of it.

Post edited at 13:23
 El Greyo 29 Apr 2021
In reply to aajr95:

It seems to me that your argument is that you found some unsightly tat and thought 'Wouldn't bolts be better here instead' whereas my reaction would be 'why is there tat here' followed by removing it.

There are locations where fixed abseil anchors are necessary - Old Men of Stoer and Hoy or the Inn Pin for example - where there is no safe alternative descent. Also places like Sergeant Crag Slabs where a fixed anchor is there for conservation reasons, instead of the previously used descent. 

But I'm very uneasy about fixed anchors - be they loads of tat, robust static rope, bolts or chains - where they are placed for convenience, and I would say it is very much against the trad ethos in this country, particularly in the mountain environment such as Cir Mhor. Yes, several climbs do not end at the top and the walk off requires carrying on up a VDiff followed by walking off (or is there a nasty scramble off, I forget?). But that is part of being in the mountains!

If you want to get a few more routes in by abbing, then place your own anchor and remove them after the last climb, make your way to the top and walk round. The mountains aren't there for anyone's convenience. 

In reply to El Greyo:

The thing about Cir Mhor is that it's perfect as it is. I remember the descent route down the terrace westwards above the main crag was perfectly straightforward. The rock on the routes is wonderful unblemished granite, running to good natural protection (though a bit spaced in parts). To put extra bolts in now, after people have climbed there just fine, without problems, for many decades, would be like putting sugar into a very expensive vintage wine to make it allegedly have a greater appeal to wider range of people.

 fmck 29 Apr 2021
In reply to Martin Bennett:

There was a nut at the bottom belay to the layback crack. It probably would need tools to remove. It was there 1984 and it was still there about 20 years later. Not sure but think it was a Moac. The thick cord on it was stiff solid last time. The cord might of been within the crack when you passed.

 fmck 29 Apr 2021
In reply to El Greyo:

Quite a number of routes terminate at 3 tier chimney. It wasn't until I did Hammer in the 80s and found a thread sling on WFR 2nd belay that I realised I didn't need to walk round. It's not being lazy as it takes time to get there in the first place. I just wanted to get there light and back down quick to enjoy more granite. 

My family have instructions to spread my ashes there with my dogs when the time comes. If the bolt arrives I promise to use my ghostly spanner on it during use. Be warned!


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