UKC

Idwal Slabs Descent Vandalism

 C Witter 08 Jun 2021

Climbing at the Idwal Slabs last week, I half-noticed strange "crampon scratches" on the descent. The pattern was really odd, though, so I looked a bit closer and realised that someone had gone up the descent scramble and deliberately chipped all of the polished rock, in an attempt to texturise it.

Before we get into one of those stupid, relativistic debates typical of UKC ("well, polish is man-made... blah blah blah") let me just say unequivocally that this is vandalism, that it is destructive, that it is unhelpful and that there should be no tolerance for this kind of outrageous behaviour.

Whichever moron thinks they are "helping" by doing this - please desist. Your behaviour is completely unacceptable.

Post edited at 11:42
In reply to C Witter:

Wow.  Seriously?

In reply to C Witter:

That's absolutely ridiculous... Do you have any photos? I'm off to sharpen my pitchfork.

 C Witter 08 Jun 2021
In reply to pancakeandchips:

I didn't take any, I'm afraid. Someone else may be able to! They were very dense little chips, which still looked white - i.e. possibly quite recent.

I can only imagine that it must have been someone who thought it was worth their while... i.e. someone who regularly uses that descent. Possibly with novices in tow...

Or else, perhaps someone was experimenting; I have heard suggestions along the lines of "is it not possible to roughen up polished rock?" on UKC. Either way, it's not a good precedent to set. Next we'll have chipping on classic rock routes... to "revitalise" them.

 Tom V 08 Jun 2021
In reply to C Witter:

Is it different/better/ worse than , say, replacing tat with a bolt on a popular descent abseil station?

 Lankyman 08 Jun 2021
In reply to Tom V:

Sounds like the thin end of the wedge to me. I wouldn't be surprised if a Stannah stair lift is next on the cards. 

 Sean_J 08 Jun 2021
In reply to Lankyman:

Stairlift? A massive metal slide would be way better.

 Albert Tatlock 08 Jun 2021
In reply to Sean_J:

Only if it deposits you in Lyn Ogwen.

In reply to C Witter:

Different from what you spotted, but...

... we spent last weekend doing some big mountain routes on Tryfan, Glyder Fach and Craig yr Ysfa. There were crampon scratches everywhere on North Ridge of Tryfan, Bristly Ridge, Y Gribin, Dolmen Buttress and the path over Craig yr Ysfa. It did occur to me that this particular form of 'rock erosion' shall we call it, is strangely tolerated by the climbing community.

I fully agree that artificial scratching up of holds is not acceptable but I bet your average non-climber couldn't spot the difference between that and the average crampon scratch.

Alan

 profitofdoom 08 Jun 2021
In reply to Albert Tatlock:

> Only if it deposits you in Lyn Ogwen.

Llyn Ogwen

Thank you

 Tony Buckley 08 Jun 2021
In reply to profitofdoom:

How do you know he mistakenly spelled the name of a geographical feature when he could be referring to an accommodating local lady?

T.

 profitofdoom 08 Jun 2021
In reply to Tony Buckley:

> How do you know he mistakenly spelled the name of a geographical feature when he could be referring to an accommodating local lady?

> T.

Errrr I'll take that gamble. Also I haven't seen a Lyn on my 10 zillion visits to Ogwen.......

 Tony Buckley 08 Jun 2021
In reply to profitofdoom:

Ah well, there's those that have, and there's those that never will.

T.

 Albert Tatlock 08 Jun 2021
In reply to profitofdoom:

Oops,Sausage fingers, small screen 

 C Witter 08 Jun 2021
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

Actually, I think they would. This is very systematic, whereas crampon scratches tend to be much more irregular and dispersed. I agree that a debate needs to be had about the issues arising from winter climbing on popular summer routes in lean conditions. Fundamentally, though, crampon scratches, like polish, are incidental, whereas this was deliberate, calculated and widespread modification of the rock for the sake of imaginary convenience.

 Tom V 08 Jun 2021
In reply to C Witter:

And I ask again, how different is modifying the rock " for the sake of imaginary convenience" different from placing a bolt on a descent which had previously been cluttered with all sorts of ab tat? I got plenty of dislikes last time round but no-one explained the difference.

In reply to Tom V:

Neither is acceptable in Cwm Idwal so I'm not sure why you're asking the question. You're probably getting downvotes because you're changing the subject to ride your own hobby horse.

 GrahamD 09 Jun 2021
In reply to Tom V:

The clue is in "previously".  However pointless abbing is on that descent, the placement of tat is not irreversible. 

In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

I wrote a letter to Climber and Hillwalker back in the early 90s in response to a letter the previous month making the same point about crampon scratches on the Cobbler. Perhaps it's having started serious climbing in Scotland and having been winter climbing basically as long as I've been rock climbing, but I've never really been able to get worked up about crampon scratches. Look at the path between, say, the top of Tryfan and the bottom of Bristly ridge. That eroded motorway is made by summer hillwalkers, scramblers and even rock climbers but because that's on grass and scree not on rock, no one gives it a second thought. But as soon as there are some crampon scratches on a bit of rock, people get quite het up about it. I think people "winter climbing" when it's not really in condition and stripping turf and other plants off routes is a much more serious issue. 

Crampon scratches on proper winter routes done in proper winter conditions can be 'tolerated' I suppose in a similar way to how we 'tolerate' lots of bolts on cliffs that are accepted as sport climbing venues?

In reply to TobyA:

I find the crampon scratch argument hilarious and very, very flawed. More people rock climb than winter climb so it attracts a strength in numbers and everyone enjoys a rant and a PTB. 

Climbing is traditionally about doing things the harder way. Don't walk around, climb up. Don't aid, free. Climb eliminates. Solo routes. Don't use that side runner, even if it will save your ankles. Winter ascents of rock routes are a progression of this. 

The impact of crampon scratches is purely aesthetic and only impacts within the climbing community. You have to be very close up to see them, just like nut and cam scarring or foothold polishing. 

Other factors are studiously ignored. Blind eyes turned to trundled boulders, new footpaths, permachalk. These are the visual aspects of climbing that impact on the wider community and cause reputational damage. Remember Robin Hood Stride a few years ago? Permachalked holds chipped away by an angry somebody. 

Look at the bowderstone, climbers are minority users of this but their visual impact is huge. 

As for the idwall hold, I wouldn't lose much sleep over it. 

Take a cordless grinder and some polishing discs and restore it to its former glory if you feel so strongly. 

 C Witter 09 Jun 2021
In reply to Presley Whippet:

You don't seem to have any principles to offer - only relativism. "These things are bad", the argument goes, "so why worry about that?"

The "leave no trace" ethic is not based on ignorance and wishful thinking; it is precisely a response to the recognition that we do dramatically impact these landscapes where we pursue our various passions. It's precisely because we recognise the collective damage that we try to encourage individuals to take responsibility for their actions and, as far as possible, to minimise their impact.

In this case, though, it's not about minimising impact: it's about the entitlement one individual felt to go and vandalise this landscape that belongs to us all, presumably on the basis that "they know better". I honestly don't see how this could have been anyone other than an experienced mountaineer who thought they had a special right to contravene a well-established, collective code that commands a broad consensus.

In reply to GrahamD:

The last time I came down that way I did ab from a perfectly positioned rock spike which had obviously been used many many times before. No need for tat, certainly no need for a bolt, and if the scramble off is now too difficult for the person who decided to scratch up the holds maybe they should have thought about doing the same. Surely the vast majority of people using that descent have a rope with them? And those that don't should be competent and confident scrambling down the tricky section despite the polish.

In reply to C Witter:

My point is that this one hold or those few scratches which invoke so much ire miss the point completely.

All it takes is for a group similar to friends of the lake district to take issue with the brightly coloured, shouty gang who paint the cliffs white every dry spell and we have real trouble in our hands.

Whatever your views are on it, they tried it with the 4x4 users, we could be next.

Save energies for the real threats to climbing. 

 gethin_allen 09 Jun 2021
In reply to pancakeandchips:

> The last time I came down that way I did ab from a perfectly positioned rock spike which had obviously been used many many times before. No need for tat, 

Me too, takes seconds to put a rope on when you're carrying it anyway and is a lot easier than tidying up after an accidental slip. 

 Myfyr Tomos 09 Jun 2021
In reply to C Witter:

Imagine what it would be like if we still used nails!


 Jon Stewart 09 Jun 2021
In reply to C Witter:

> You don't seem to have any principles to offer - only relativism.

Why do principles beat pragmatism? They don't.

Any principle you can come up with will be defeated on close inspection. E.g. "leave no trace" (OK, wash chalk off a multipitch route?); "don't damage the rock" (OK, so no gear at all then?). A pragmatic approach along the lines of "crampon  scratches are an acceptable downside of enjoying the mountains, but deliberately creating visible scratches all over the descent from Idwal Slabs is acting like a cock" will do just fine.

 C Witter 09 Jun 2021
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> Why do principles beat pragmatism? They don't.

Mine was a critique of 'relativism' - not 'pragmatism'. Or, to put it differently, I don't think we should give in to cynicism. Principles are a horizon to orient oneself by, but you'll see if you read what I wrote more closely that I'm arguing for a pragmatic approach underpinned by collective principles. All you're arguing against is absolutism, which is not what I've suggested at all. But, this is all inconsequential, anyway, as really Presley was just having a dig at the fact that there are now enthusiastic young people enjoying bouldering in greater numbers. Why am I even responding? The bait of being misrepresented...

 Jon Stewart 09 Jun 2021
In reply to C Witter:

> Mine was a critique of 'relativism' - not 'pragmatism'. Or, to put it differently, I don't think we should give in to cynicism. Principles are a horizon to orient oneself by, but you'll see if you read what I wrote more closely that I'm arguing for a pragmatic approach underpinned by collective principles.

Yes, fair enough.

> All you're arguing against is absolutism, which is not what I've suggested at all.

True.

What I was responding to was your demand that others "bring principles" which I feel is totally the wrong approach; because while it may be possible to elegantly blend principles and pragmatism, that's not what people generally do. They tend to belligerently bang on and on self-righteously about "NOT DAMAGING THE ROCK" as they slam their cams into breaks and fall off on them, day in, day out. 

Post edited at 11:52
 ianstevens 09 Jun 2021
In reply to Tom V:

> Is it different/better/ worse than , say, replacing tat with a bolt on a popular descent abseil station?

The day everyone gets over themselves and bolt goes into these places the world will be a better place

 Tom V 09 Jun 2021
In reply to ianstevens:

That may be so, in which case a bit of reshaping the rock can hardly be seen as worse; after all, we don't usually climb for the aesthetic pleasures of the walk off.

 Cobra_Head 09 Jun 2021
In reply to Tom V:

> And I ask again, how different is modifying the rock " for the sake of imaginary convenience" different from placing a bolt on a descent which had previously been cluttered with all sorts of ab tat? I got plenty of dislikes last time round but no-one explained the difference.


Well, think about it?

It really shouldn't need an explanation.

In reply to C Witter:

You really have misunderstood. 

In reply to C Witter:

Sorry to labour the issue, but the phrase crampon scratches is repeatedly used. Please can you be clear, could this be a collection of literal crampon scratches from people ascending the gully in winter or as far as you can see... are these definitely intentional chipping/roughening/chiselling etc

Also what do you mean by the descent scramble?

just the gully up to Cwm Cneifion or do you mean the last bit descent route from top of slabs when you clamber down into that gully

I'm struggling to get my head round someone "improving" the gully, and similarly the descent into the gully. I just thinking "surely not" and "why????"  If anyone is capable of the ordinary route (or more) then they're surely capable of walking off to the gully. I know how polished the rock can be but..  but....

 Tom V 09 Jun 2021
In reply to Cobra_Head:

> Well, think about it?

I've thought about it quite a lot.

In general, (not just the Idwal descent) I don't see the roughing up of a polished hold on a descent  to be unacceptable. I would also support trundling loose blocks from popular descent routes. If both these measures meant that people continued to use walk offs and descent gullies rather than resorting to abbing down routes I would consider it justifiable. If a strategically placed bolt also encouraged people to use a descent path in preference to abbing down the crag face then I would also reluctantly support that.

Post edited at 16:57
 GrahamD 09 Jun 2021
In reply to ianstevens:

> The day everyone gets over themselves and bolt goes into these places the world will be a better place

Why a bolt ? a helter skelter would be more fun and a lot safer.

 C Witter 09 Jun 2021
In reply to CantClimbTom:

> Sorry to labour the issue, but the phrase crampon scratches is repeatedly used. Please can you be clear, could this be a collection of literal crampon scratches from people ascending the gully in winter or as far as you can see... are these definitely intentional chipping/roughening/chiselling etc

Definitely intentional chipping. Looks like the rock has developed an extreme case of chicken pox. Not natural or crampon scratches.

> Also what do you mean by the descent scramble?

> just the gully up to Cwm Cneifion or do you mean the last bit descent route from top of slabs when you clamber down into that gully

The latter. I.e. After continuation wall, walk left and down to find a spike which people ab off or a short (8m) scramble into the gully.

> I'm struggling to get my head round someone "improving" the gully, and similarly the descent into the gully. I just thinking "surely not" and "why????"  If anyone is capable of the ordinary route (or more) then they're surely capable of walking off to the gully. I know how polished the rock can be but..  but....

I know, I know... me too! Go take a look and post some photos for us. Ta!

In reply to TobyA:

I would have thought the real issue with crampon scratches is whether the summer route "beneath" is affected in difficulty by the scratches - possible I suppose, but would take a lot of scratches unless one was particularly lucky (or should that be unlucky).

In reply to Michael Hood:

> I would have thought the real issue with crampon scratches is whether the summer route "beneath" is affected in difficulty by the scratches.

Why should that matter? I issue is almost entirely aesthetic.

In reply to Tom V:

> If a strategically placed bolt also encouraged people to use a descent path in preference to abbing down the crag face then I would also reluctantly support that.

I would have though the only possible justification for an abseil bolt would be to encourage people to abseil down a crag rather than erode a descent gully or path (ie on environmental grounds).

 Jamie Wakeham 09 Jun 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I would have though the only possible justification for an abseil bolt would be to encourage people to abseil down a crag rather than erode a descent gully or path (ie on environmental grounds).

A few years ago, at sunset, I was 'assisting' a party down from Idwal, none of who had headtorches (or much of a clue what they were doing).  Their mates panicked and called out Ogwen Valley MR, who met us on the path below the abseil/scramble.  They said they were very keen for a single bolt to be installed there, as they reckoned it would drastically reduce their callouts, if only by reassuring spooked beginners on their first mountain day out that this was indeed the right way to go.

I leave you to judge the thinness or otherwise of that wedge...

In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

> I leave you to judge the thinness or otherwise of that wedge...

The last place a bolt should be placed on safety grounds. If beginners get spoonfed this sort of thing, it is pretty much asking for the wedge to thicken.

 Tom V 09 Jun 2021
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

I've never understood the self imposed morality of bolts and rock types.

If your example had been a limestone crag with a descent gully which had required more than its fair share of MR turnouts then the suggestion of a well placed bolt would probably earn quite a bit of support. But on igneous rock it is regarded as being beyond the pale. It would be hard to explain the morality issues involved to someone who is not a climber without resorting to " This is the way it's always been. A consensus has been arrived at in the climbing world and outsiders have no say in it"

 Tom V 09 Jun 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

Disagree totally. The FIRST place a bolt should be placed is on safety grounds. All other placements are made to pursue personal vanity projects where people want to climb a line but aren't willing to do it with natural protection.

Look at limestone crags. The wedge is pretty thick already. How did we arrive at this consensus?  ( genuine question, not rhetorical)

In reply to Tom V:

> I've never understood the self imposed morality of bolts and rock types.

It's not specifically rock tyoes; it is the established ethics of the crag or area.

> It would be hard to explain the morality issues involved to someone who is not a climber without resorting to " This is the way it's always been. A consensus has been arrived at in the climbing world and outsiders have no say in it".

It wouldn't be resorted to - it would be given as the primary argument.

In reply to Tom V:

> Disagree totally. The FIRST place a bolt should be placed is on safety grounds.

Disagree totally. 

All other placements are made to pursue personal vanity projects where people want to climb a line but aren't willing to do it with natural protection.

Yes, that is in places where there is a consensus for sport climbing.

> Look at limestone crags. The wedge is pretty thick already. How did we arrive at this consensus?  ( genuine question, not rhetorical)

A long and tortuous path to accommodate the demand for sport climbing.

 Tom V 09 Jun 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

The primary argument wouldn't hold water in a broader discussion.

I'm surprised that you don't think rock types is part of the issue: it certainly seems to be the case in the peak and Yorkshire.

In reply to Tom V:

> The primary argument wouldn't hold water in a broader discussion.

But it is not a wider discussion; it is amongst the people who climb.

> I'm surprised that you don't think rock types is part of the issue: it certainly seems to be the case in the peak and Yorkshire.

Well yes, rock type does obviously play a large part in whether an area is deemed appropriate for sport climbing.

 Tom V 09 Jun 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

The wider discussion involves bodies who actually have some legal right to specify what can and can't be done on a certain piece of mountain. Like it or not, the climbing community's involvement is only by their leave.

 Tigger 10 Jun 2021
In reply to C Witter:

Hmm, we were there last Wednesday (2nd) and didn't notice anything. Are you refering to what the guide describes as "the easy way off"?

 C Witter 10 Jun 2021
In reply to Tigger:

I saw this on the way down from the Continuation Wall on 4th June. In the Rockfax guide it is the section that is labelled: "Tricky section which is often abseiled", at the top left of Suicide Wall.

 Tigger 10 Jun 2021
In reply to C Witter:

It must have been done either late on the 2nd or on the 3rd. Heavy rain came in late afternoon on the 2nd just as we were approaching Ogwen Cottage from Glyder Fach (after a few link-ups). I wonder if someone chipped the holds as they were caught on the polish in the rain?

Still no excuse for vandalism as there are abseil options.

 C Witter 10 Jun 2021
In reply to Tigger:

Possibly. But, I think it was planned rather than done under duress. Hopefully I'll be back there in a couple of weeks and can take some photos. It's really extensive on that section of rock. Basically, wherever the rock has been polished blue it's been peppered with chips.

 John Ww 10 Jun 2021
In reply to C Witter:

Any chance of the chips being salted and vinagered as well as peppered? 🤷‍♂️

 Sean Kelly 10 Jun 2021
In reply to Presley Whippet:

 "The impact of crampon scratches is purely aesthetic and only impacts within the climbing community. You have to be very close up to see them, just like nut and cam scarring or foothold polishing."

Tell that to those that struggle up Bowfell Buttress that has been savaged by winter climbing. I first did it 50 years ago and again more recently. It's still climbable but the experience blemished by the rock being defaced.

Post edited at 22:05
 GrahamD 10 Jun 2021
In reply to Tom V:

> Disagree totally. The FIRST place a bolt should be placed is on safety grounds. All other placements are made to pursue personal vanity projects where people want to climb a line but aren't willing to do it with natural protection.

Why does anyone think sending beginners down equipped abseils is in any way safe ?

 Jamie Wakeham 10 Jun 2021
In reply to GrahamD:

A stacked abseil with the competent person at the bottom is probably safer than beginners soloing a polished downclimb.

In reply to Sean Kelly:

>  "The impact of crampon scratches is purely aesthetic and only impacts within the climbing community. You have to be very close up to see them, just like nut and cam scarring or foothold polishing."

> Tell that to those that struggle up Bowfell Buttress that has been savaged by winter climbing. I first did it 50 years ago and again more recently. It's still climbable but the experience blemished by the rock being defaced.

The chalk stains on MGC can be seen from cat bells, impacting on many. The impact of the BB scratches is only seen by the climbing community. BB is as good a winter route as it is a summer one, neither should take precedence. 

 GrahamD 11 Jun 2021
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

A "competent person" is not a beginner, are they ? If you have a competent person in your beginner party, they can equally just guide them down the short scramble, without delaying every other party trying to descend at the same time.

 Tom V 11 Jun 2021
In reply to GrahamD:

My chosen method of decent would be a solo scramble down the descent path but where people insist on abbing I would rather it was from a sound anchor on the descent path  than down the crag face.

 Jamie Wakeham 11 Jun 2021
In reply to GrahamD:

Oh, I see your point.  I am usually there in November with university freshers, and it's generally raining(!), and at that point my call is usually that a stacked abseil is safest.

If everyone in the group is inexperienced, then the margin between a wet polished scramble and a quick abseil is certainly closer.

Tom: surely no-one is actually abseiling down Idwal itself, are they??

 Sean Kelly 11 Jun 2021
In reply to Presley Whippet:

> The chalk stains on MGC can be seen from cat bells, impacting on many. The impact of the BB scratches is only seen by the climbing community. BB is as good a winter route as it is a summer one, neither should take precedence. 

You are missing the point. It is not about what is seen but how the climbing itself suffers because of the damage. Chalk is washed off by the winters rains (Vector is an exception), the scratches remains.

In reply to Sean Kelly:

How does the "climbing suffer"? I've done routes close to BB in winter, but not actually BB itself, but generally winter ascents of popular routes tend to (sadly from a winter climber's point of view) make them more rocky - cleaner, as cracks get cleaned out, and all too often turf stripped off ledges.

Has BB got harder or easier in summer because of winter ascents?

 Offwidth 11 Jun 2021
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

When climbing with beginners I've most often been there in November and the safest way is to scramble up so people are not standing around in the cold at the top and bottom as you need to take great care when beginners abseil, which takes time. It takes 10 minutes or less from the start of the descent to reach the cwm and a walk-down. 

The downclimb is very intimidating when you first see it but surprisingly easy when you know it, polish doesn't affect it much.

If the belay was shocking there I'd maybe support a bolt but it's not. I think placing a bolt there will encourage more abseil use and bigger queues and more rescues involving risk of hypothermia. In any case if a bolt gets placed there I'm pretty sure it wont be long before it gets chopped.

 Offwidth 11 Jun 2021
In reply to TobyA:

BB is simply a visual mess due to the scratching. I think its fair game as as a duel summer and winter line as it was always climbed in winter (albeit with nailed boots).

It may have got a little harder but I'd blame people polishing it with dirty footwear in damp conditions before crampon damage. In any case BB is one of the few UK lower grade classics that is majorly soft touch graded as a rock route (HS 4b is a gift)

 Jamie Wakeham 11 Jun 2021
In reply to Offwidth:

I'm not in favour of a bolt myself; just reporting that OVMR are.

In reply to Offwidth:

I thought BB was a Vdiff?

 Tom V 11 Jun 2021
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

No. I meant in general: I thought there'd been an increase in abseiling down crags like the Mot and Tremadoc rather than using descent paths/ gullies. Maybe I was mistaken. 

 Offwidth 11 Jun 2021
In reply to pancakeandchips:

You thought right but all the latest guides have it as HS 4b.

https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crags/bowfell-349/bowfell_buttress-1074

It probably deserves HVD 4a in modern terms but so do a lot of mountain VDiffs.

We seem to be heading to where the Peak BMC guides were in the 80s with some classics overgraded because of complaints and no real grading consistency in that even harder routes at the grades were unchanged, leaving some heinous sandbags. 

 Offwidth 11 Jun 2021
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

I doubt that...maybe some in the team do. I've spent a fair few hours in Ogwen MR base chatting over tea and biscuits. Its a really interesting place to visit with some great artifacts so if invited in always say yes (we went missing a good weather morning with no regrets).

Post edited at 12:02
 Jamie Wakeham 11 Jun 2021
In reply to Offwidth:

It's what they told me as we had the march back down, but it was a few years ago now.  Do they still insist on forcing several cups of ridiculously sweet tea on you?

 Offwidth 11 Jun 2021
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Sweet tea is a good way to stop someone 'bonking' due to cold and low energy. 

In reply to Offwidth:

For the competent, in the dry, the quickest (safe) descent is to solo down Ordinary Route. Even passing other parties coming up isn't too bad since the climbable line on most of Ordinary Route is fairly wide.

Post edited at 13:03
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

I doubt it's MRT policy and more likely the flippant opinion of one team member. I've said similar things to people in jest whilst walking them off the hill.

 Sean Kelly 11 Jun 2021
In reply to TobyA:

> How does the "climbing suffer"? I've done routes close to BB in winter, but not actually BB itself, but generally winter ascents of popular routes tend to (sadly from a winter climber's point of view) make them more rocky - cleaner, as cracks get cleaned out, and all too often turf stripped off ledges.

> Has BB got harder or easier in summer because of winter ascents?

The existing holds have been trashed beyond recognition. Little nubbins of rock are no longer there, just the deep groove lines of the hundreds of crampons. We accept that polish is inevitable on popular routes, as one who climbs at Chudleigh can testify. Chalk can be a problem too, not just unsightly to see. Botterill's Slab was ruined by overuse of chalk followed by drizzle. A very unpleasant experience. Likewise on Vector which could do with someone abbing down with a bucket of water & scrubbing brush!

 Offwidth 11 Jun 2021
In reply to Michael Hood:

I completely disagree. If nothing else it's busy with some less than competent people and stuff gets dropped. Its also pretty rude to do that when it will almost certainly spook some on the route. As a general principle I don't think anyone should be soloing above others unless they chose to start climbing after the soloist.

 C Witter 11 Jun 2021
In reply to Offwidth:

You're right - it's a remarkable idea that people who've just rope climbed up a VDiff slab should then be best off soloing down 140m of Diff, negotiating ascentionists as they do so, when they can walk/scramble uphill for 5 mins, nip down 8m of grade 2 (with or without a rope) and walk the rest of the way down a gentle slope... It's the kind of "logic" that can only be developed through far too long spent breathing the thick fug of nonsense that pervades of the UKC Forums dungeon...

Post edited at 13:51
In reply to Offwidth:

> As a general principle I don't think anyone should be soloing above others unless they chose to start climbing after the soloist.

Why specifically soloists? They are the least likely type of climber to fall off (otherwise they would not be soloing), and, if they do, they don't dislodge others with ropes.

 Offwidth 11 Jun 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

Not specifically but it's much rarer in the UK for roped parties to move in and climb above others on rock climbs. People often chose to climb under others but that's a risk assessment they choose to make.

Maybe I'm sensitive as I've seen so much gear dropped on those slabs (and never any rock). My sensitivity applies to ropes as well, given I was seconds from being killed by a climber leading up from below over my ropes in the Dolomites (he fell on the crux, grabbed my lead ropes and I was yanked backwards having just clipped the belay).

 Iamgregp 11 Jun 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

Well if someone's a couple of pitches up and roped, you'd not expect them to fall onto you starting out on P1, a soloist is falling all the way.

Personally I'd be pretty pissed off with if someone started downclimbing a route I was going up, the risk of them falling, dislodging a rock, dropping something would defo be in my head, not to mention my rising anger at them for doing so.

Completely thoughtless and unnecessary thing to do, especially if there's an easier scramble/walk off.

In reply to C Witter:

> You're right - it's a remarkable idea that people who've just rope climbed up a VDiff slab

Nobody mentioned rope climbing up a VDiff slab - I was assuming far more competence (as in grades in hand) than that.

But I'll take back my "passing other parties" being ok on the way down, it's something I would be unlikely to do nowadays since I tend to totally avoid soloing routes until people have finished on them (unless they insist I nip in-front and are happy to get beta from watching me climb something I've probably done loads of times).

I was remembering back to when I'd done it which was on a slab soloing spree many years ago in my youth, it was certainly quicker, "easier" and more convenient than the normal descent (which you have to scramble up to as well). There probably weren't actually that many on the slabs because it was mid-week.

In reply to Iamgregp:

> Personally I'd be pretty pissed off with if someone started downclimbing a route I was going up.

I agree with that. I just think the worry about people soloing in particular is irrational.

 Iamgregp 11 Jun 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

Yeah I've no problem with people soloing, each to their own. 

 Offwidth 11 Jun 2021
In reply to Michael Hood:

On a quiet day I'd happily solo a route then down OR and up another.

 wbo2 11 Jun 2021
In reply to Tigger:. I wonder if someone chipped the holds as they were caught on the polish in the rain?

That would seem unlikely as outside the winter who actually takes a hammer for a days cragging nowaday.

Is there a picture of these markings?

In reply to Sean Kelly:

> The existing holds have been trashed beyond recognition.

Do you think you might be over egging your pudding just a tad here? Beyond recognition? Has some winter climber managed to pull the whole buttress down or something? You get plenty of crampon scratches on, say, the classic Nevis ridges or Striding Edge, Crib Goch etc. but I can't say I've ever had problem recognising them.

> Little nubbins of rock are no longer there,

Why would that be the result of winter ascents? Using nubbins of rock is pretty difficult in crampons, particular if you aren't on monos, whilst even a matchstick width edge works pretty well. If the nubbins have gone sure that's more likely to be summer ascents breaking them off.

> just the deep groove lines of the hundreds of crampons.

How deep? Are you really saying crampons carve deep grooves in otherwise flat rock? Again there must be something quite particular about the rock on BB if so. I've done a winter route just to it's right and don't remember the rock seeming particularly soft.

In reply to Sean Kelly:

> You are missing the point. It is not about what is seen but how the climbing itself suffers because of the damage. Chalk is washed off by the winters rains (Vector is an exception), the scratches remains.

Actually it is yourself who is missing the point.

Climbers, generally, ukc ranting excluded, tolerate each other very well. The threat to access, use, or indeed the holds themselves comes from outside of climbing, be this overzealous birders, horticultural I St's, environmentalists or otherwise.

As I stated earlier, it is not beyond imagination for a group such as friends of the lake district to take exception to the brightly coloured, shout, jangly folk painting the crags white every dry spell and we really do have a problem.

Best to maintain a united front, rather than resort to finger pointing, factions and other ing within the community. 

 Tigger 12 Jun 2021
In reply to wbo2:

Hmm I bet a fair bit could be achieved with a nut tool and large hex... Or even a rock made of a harder material than the one it's being thrown at?

In reply to Tigger:

Rhyolite (e.g. around Idwal) is a relative of granite but formed by explosive/pyroclastic flows rather than the magma that forms granite. It's plenty hard enough that you'd struggle to do too much to it swinging an aluminium hex. Significant amount of deliberate chipping would take a tool like a hammer etc

 maxsmith 15:25 Sun
In reply to CantClimbTom:

I went down the descent a few days ago and didn’t notice any marks, I didn’t look everywhere though

 petegunn 16:09 Sun
In reply to TobyA:

The last time I climbed BB the crampon grooves were very deep in many places. The start especially were winter climbers can hook the top ledge but then peddle their feet up the wall to gain the top.

Many of the square cut holds have rounded off considerably, some even are 45° slopers! I kid not.

I winter climb and therefore have obviously damaged rock at some point. Theres many great "winter" routes in the lakes but I'm not going to climb them as I have seen the damaged caused, especially over the last 20 years. 

I think that even Sid Cross and Alison would be saddened and ashamed of what is happening to these fine climbs.

In reply to GrahamD:

> Why a bolt ? a helter skelter would be more fun.

Well, Charles Manson certainly thought so.

 Fredt 20:45 Sun

In reply:

> I agree with that. I just think the worry about people soloing in particular is irrational.


In 1978 my wife and I were having an epic on Hope, mainly due to the rain and the lightning. I found a ledge near the top for a bit of respite before the slabby finish and glanced across and was stunned to see a Yorkshire Terrier pottering up Ordinary Route, followed closely by smartly dressed gentleman, in a checked suit with plus fours, pipe in his mouth and I swear he had his hands in his pockets.

 C Witter 22:34 Sun
 C Witter 23:09 Sun
In reply to profitofdoom:

It doesn't look mindless to me: more that someone thought it would "improve" the crag, much as people used to indulge in chipping holds to "improve" a climb. But, it's definitely something to discourage! Otherwise, before long, someone will decide to do similarly on a Classic Rock route...!

In reply to C Witter:

> It doesn't look mindless to me: more that someone thought it would "improve" the crag, much as people used to indulge in chipping holds to "improve" a climb. But, it's definitely something to discourage!......

Thanks for posting, by "mindless" I meant "stupid" or "idiotic", I didn't mean "without thought". I'm sure they did it deliberately (I guess I used the wrong word)

 Maggot 23:29 Sun
In reply to profitofdoom:

> Thanks for posting, by "mindless" I meant "stupid" or "idiotic", I didn't mean "without thought". I'm sure they did it deliberately (I guess I used the wrong word)

Having been a mindless, stupid, idiotic teenager, many many years ago; that looks like the actions of someone sat there bored out of their tiny mind. If it was for added friction, surely it would have been done a bit higher up where it's a bit flatter.

Just for the record, I never sank that low!

Very strange indeed.

 Tim Sparrow 16:48 Mon
In reply to C Witter:

Yes, that’s a bit grim and needless.

It does remind me of my first route, way back in 1973, the Arête at Avon. Renowned for its polish even then, someone had taken a peg hammer to the smooth scoop footholds to “improve” them. I remember thinking even then, it was unnecessary.

 Sean Kelly 17:56 Mon
In reply to petegunn:

> The last time I climbed BB the crampon grooves were very deep in many places. The start especially were winter climbers can hook the top ledge but then peddle their feet up the wall to gain the top.

> Many of the square cut holds have rounded off considerably, some even are 45° slopers! I kid not.

> I winter climb and therefore have obviously damaged rock at some point. Theres many great "winter" routes in the lakes but I'm not going to climb them as I have seen the damaged caused, especially over the last 20 years. 

> I think that even Sid Cross and Alison would be saddened and ashamed of what is happening to these fine climbs.

Well said. I totally agree with what you have written. One really has to view the damage on BB from before the advent of front-pointing and curved axes and what it looks like today, especially on the third pitch. How others can just dismiss this damage in the same way as chalk is laughable. Why has it necessitated an upgrade? And to claim that because it was climbed in 'nails'  that caused the damage initially. That applied to all rock-climbs at the time, and not just winter climbs. And as for blaming dirty rock-shoes for damage to granite compared to axe and crampon carnage. I just wish winter climbers would avoid summer rock classics.Is it too much to ask, but I feel that I am whistling in the wind. There is plenty of other stuff to go at. There might be an exception with the Northern Corries climbed in both seasons, but BB will see more summer ascent that say Savage Slit.

 alan moore 18:23 Mon
In reply to Sean Kelly:

Agree with 100% of that Sean, except Savage Slit has equally been ruined by cramponed ascents of what is, 99% of the time, a rock climb.

 Sean Kelly 18:48 Mon
In reply to alan moore:

> Agree with 100% of that Sean, except Savage Slit has equally been ruined by cramponed ascents of what is, 99% of the time, a rock climb.

I was thinking that the Norries are a major winter venue and witnessed the torquing revolution in winter mountaineering. Bowfell is certainly not a major winter venue.

 LakesWinter 19:11 Mon
In reply to Sean Kelly:

Actually Bowfell Buttress was arguably the hardest mixed route in the UK at the time of the first ascent and was a ground breaking achievement, far more so than it was as a rock climb. Therefore there is an argument that it should be closed to rock climbers to allow the turf to recover and restore its winter glory.

Climbing summer classics in winter though should be avoided I agree.


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