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/ PRODUCT NEWS: New Rockfax Guidebooks for 2018

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New guide from Rockfax item, 4 kbRockfax has three exciting guidebook projects for 2018 - a couple of old friends given the full new book treatment, and an exciting development in North Wales where we are expanding our coverage for Llanberis Slate.

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Simon Caldwell - on 09 Feb 2018
In reply to UKC Gear:

The kalymnos guide seems a bit curious, given that there's already an excellent definitive guide which is frequently updated. I don't know what the new one will cost but I can't see it being much cheaper. But presumably you're confident it will sell enough to make a profit, so what do I know...

Tom F Harding on 09 Feb 2018
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

The fact there is an excellent guidebook to an area already has never put Rockfax off...

jezb1 - on 09 Feb 2018
In reply to UKC Gear:

I've got my fair share of RF guidebooks so I'm definitely not remotely RF, but a slate guide??

The Ground Up one is awesome, a RF for slate doesn't sit well with me.

In reply to jezb1:

The GU Slate guide sold out last year and has been unavailable for a while now. It was a great guide but there has been so much development that a reprint wouldn't work and our understanding is that a new edition is a long way off, if at all. We also had a fairly detailed Slate guide on the Rockfax app for the last year and it will be relatively easy for us to make this into a full book.

We have much the same situation with Kalymnos - a full guide on the Rockfax app for the last year, but plenty of new development. The area is a world famous destination that can easily support and benefit from having two guidebooks. In fact, we were asked by the local tourist office to produce a print guide way back in 2002 but it has taken a little longer than we anticipated.

Alan

jezb1 - on 09 Feb 2018
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

Thanks for taking the time to reply Alan

DanielJ - on 09 Feb 2018
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

What happened to the RF Finale and Oltre Finale guide? Is it canceled?

In reply to DanielJ:

> What happened to the RF Finale and Oltre Finale guide? Is it canceled?

Still 'work in progress' although it has got somewhat delayed owing to the commitments James 'Rushy' Rushforth. I am hoping to help him get things back on track this spring but it won't be finished this year for sure.

Alan

Christheclimber on 09 Feb 2018
In reply to UKC Gear:

Can you please tell me if Rockfax will be contributing any of the profits made from the new Kalymnos guide to the local bolt fund/s and if so what percentage? Thank you.

Chris

 

In reply to Christheclimber:

> Can you please tell me if Rockfax will be contributing any of the profits made from the new Kalymnos guide to the local bolt fund/s and if so what percentage? Thank you.

We will be using a similar system to the one we have used on all our recent guides and donating an amount from the first 2000 copies sold to a local bolt fund. After that it will be made on a more ad-hoc basis which we usually base on online sales. We also have a little extra money in a pot already from Kalymnos app sales over the last 12 months. Which bolt fund is not decided yet - the politics of this on the island are rather complex to say the least. 

The reason I am not able to give an exact figure is that we make different donations depending on who we are working with. For example, in Mallorca we paid some invoices for bolts, in the Côte d'Azur we pay a local club, in the UK we tend to just drip feed various bolt funds via Paypal, for the Dorset path restoration we have a ring-fenced fund with the BMC.

For more information on all our contributions over the last few years - https://www.rockfax.com/news/category/donations/

Alan

Post edited at 16:01
snoop6060 - on 09 Feb 2018
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

> in Mallorca we paid some invoices for bolts, in the Côte d'Azur we pay a local club

How much in actual money?

AP Melbourne on 09 Feb 2018
In reply to snoop6060:

> How much in actual money?

I would've thought that's none of your bl**dy business TBH snoop6060, just be thankful that a donation was passed on.

AP.

In reply to snoop6060:

Plenty of posts here about the donations Rockfax makes: https://www.rockfax.com/news/category/donations/

Rick Graham on 10 Feb 2018
In reply to AP Melbourne:

> I would've thought that's none of your bl**dy business TBH snoop6060, just be thankful that a donation was passed on.

> AP.

To be fair Andy, I think snoop raises a very valid point.

Is the amount of monies coming in to bolt funds sufficient to maintain  routes long term?

 

wbo - on 10 Feb 2018
In reply to Rick Graham:it's not only for Rockfax to provide any money though. 

 

Rick Graham on 10 Feb 2018
In reply to wbo:

Is the amount of monies coming in to bolt funds from all sources sufficient to maintain  routes long term?

Edited to take in your point.

jon on 10 Feb 2018
In reply to Rick Graham:

> Is the amount of monies coming in to bolt funds from all sources sufficient to maintain  routes long term?

If equippers changed their thinking from short term to long term - all stainless (titanium by the sea) glue-ins, stainless maillons with rings on belays - then maintenance would/should be virtually zero. Just adding rings to maillons on belays must lengthen their life by about x10. 

 

johncook - on 10 Feb 2018
In reply to Rick Graham:

I know very few climbers who actually contribute to bolt funds, but I know a lot who complain about the bolting. I know several climbers who don't buy guidebooks, but use others purchases, and then complain about the quality. The minority are therefor supporting the majority, in my experience!

If every climber who climbed a bolted route in an area contributed £5 bolt funds would be in a great state. We should all be working towards keeping climbing moving forward either by contributing to various aspects, eg. the BMC Access efforts, bolt funds, crag clean ups etc, or buying product from good companies who support climbing, eg the various guide book producers, commercial companies. Yes, these people make a profit but without them there would be no products and we would still be in the 1950's making our own kit!

Rick Graham on 10 Feb 2018
In reply to johncook:

Nicely explained.

Regarding the £5 suggestion, I have been pushing in Cumbria the " penny a clip " concept.

 

As an example, a short route with 8 bolt runners and two in the lower.

10 bolts so a 10 pence contribution to the local bolt fund for each climber.

More ballpark figures, typical cost of equipping route 10 * £10 = £100,

so after a thousand paying ascents monies available for replacing the then worn out gear.

 

Typical replacement every twenty years, and only fifty ascents per year to total 1000.

It may be if everybody contributed the ballpark headline starting concept of a " penny a clip " could be reduced to a penny a route. 

As ever lots complicated by actual costs, different income sources, and percentage of climbers who will make no contribution.

snoop6060 - on 10 Feb 2018
In reply to AP Melbourne:

I ask as people should be able to make an informed choice on guide purchases and consider who is contributing to the continued maintenance of these places. Climbers should be of course. But guidebooks directly profit from these and should be contributing and not just a token gesture. The kalymnos app for example contributes 100% of its profits and is pretty good. 

The main guide has paid €5000 / year according to this: http://climbkalymnos.com/bbpress/topic.php?id=6222 

So if rockfax is keen on a slice of this pie then how much is it gonna be contributing? Their guide will no doubt be popular. Not least as the local guide is 40quid. 

 

 

Post edited at 12:01
carl dawson - on 10 Feb 2018
In reply to snoop6060:

It is indeed a reasonable question to ask about the relationship between guidebook profits and route maintenance in order that climbers can make informed choices between guidebooks purchases.

As Aris and Katies' neighbours on Kalymnos during the period 2010-1017, I can confirm that sales of their definitive guidebook did indeed result in huge piles of bolts lying around the place ready for reequipping. We were encouraged to dip into these piles... and did.

One of several things that concerns me about a Rockfax Kalymnos guidebook is that its publication will create a zero sum game: sales of the Rockfax volume will inevitably reduce sales of the excellent local guidebook and so cut the number of bolts available from that quarter. Fact.

Snoop6060's question is therefore reasonable. Climbers should know whether their choice of guidebook is having a positive or negative impact on the finances available for re-equipping on Kalymnos.

Post edited at 13:32
Wiley Coyote2 - on 10 Feb 2018
In reply to UKC Gear:

I am not anti-Rockfax, indeed a quick glance at my guidebook shelf reveals at least least eight of their guides currently on the go and others have been replaced/retired/binned over the years. So in my time I have  bought my share.  I also believe that Rockfax has been a major force in improving guidebooks in recent years.

However, I also think Rockfax should be careful about where it publishes. For areas where there is a gap -eg no selected guide - or  locals have been slow to update, re-publish or innovate, as with Northern Limestone, it seems fair for Rockfax to step in and I have been quick to buy. But where locals are doing a good job, as they certainly are in Kalymnos,  there is no such justification.  There is already a comprehensive, regularly updated, high quality local guide which supports the very expensive bolting we all enjoy. As a regular visitor to Kalymnos over several years I see no need for a second guide. For Rockfax to step in and  Hoover up part of what is obviously a very lucrative area in completely unnecessary, does a disservice to climbers  and can only be viewed as a money grab.

A Rockfax version can only divert money from the locally-produced guide, which will have an inevitable knock on effect not only on the bolt fund but also  lead to slower re-prints and updates as copies take longer to sell. Since Rockfax will be competing with the local guide  it too will sell more slowly and its reprints will also be delayed by that (Rockfax Costa Blanca, for example is already 5 years old and hopelessly out-of-date).

It is also worth saying this comes at a time when  the sales of the local Kaly guide are already under pressure from the  number of climbers  opting to visitLeonidio and other newer Greek destinations.

I, for one, am not convinced by claims that unspecified amounts will be given to some bolt fund or other. Until I know how much ofthe price I pay is going to the bolt fund I will be sticking with the local version as my way of chipping in - as I have with local guides since we discovered Provence way back in the 80s

Post edited at 14:12
In reply to carl dawson:

> Snoop6060's question is therefore reasonable. Climbers should know whether their choice of guidebook is having a positive or negative impact on the finances available for re-equipping on Kalymnos.

Hi Carl

I am not able to answer this question yet since we haven't actually made any money from Kalymnos guides yet (apart from a small amount via the app which I have in hand and will add to the total when we publish the book). Looking at the figures though I am confident that there won't be a shortfall in contributions overall. If there is then I am happy to revisit our contributions if the relevant bolt funds supply me with figures. I am currently in negotiation with one of the three bolt funds to arrange how this is going to work.

Alan

In these discussions people always focus on the direct guidebook - bolting link and this is understandable. However Rockfax/UKC is a business and it is only by behaving as a business that we are able to do the things we do.

I have made the point before that UKC would not exist if it wasn't for Rockfax. Innovations like establishing UKC, creating the UKC Logbooks and the Rockfax app have only been possible because we have invested in the business.

It also works on a publishing level. The guidebook innovations, the sustainable coverage, the smaller niche guidebooks, the online public feedback systems and everything else we do are only possible because we have a professional approach with full-time employees and associated business costs.

This is what we do with our profits. We invest and innovate and create things for climbers. We have a great team and their creativity is only held back by the fact that there simply isn't enough time (or money) to do everything we want to do.

Barely a week goes by without someone asking about the Android app. I can assure you that it would be available now if we had the resources to employ another developer, but we don't, we work with the resources we have. There is no other UK guidebook producer that could possibly develop an app as sophisticated as the Rockfax app. We probably made it too complicated to start with but that was because we had the ambitious staff and investment to do that.

People want the stuff we do. They visit the web site over 1 million times a month. They log thousands of ascents a day. They read our news and articles. They buy our guidebooks. They download our app.

This is good but just because we are successful doesn't mean that we are swimming in excess profits. The only thing in that list above that people pay directly for is the guidebooks - the rest are initially only a cost to us. No-one gets an unreasonable salary, we don't have any third party share holders, bank loans or property mortgages, so everything we make gets reinvested back in the business to make more good stuff. 

In the last 5 years we have been doing better which is why we have been able to significantly increase our contributions to bolt funds and access projects. None of the areas we have given money to have complained that the sales of our guidebooks have damaged their bolt funds, in fact they have all been extremely grateful. It has universally been the case that discussions like this one have been about what might be and not about what has come to pass, however I am a very approachable person and willing to discuss problems our books cause. In my experience though, a shortfall in bolt fund money is not the reason that other guidebook writers object to our publications.

Alan

Post edited at 16:39
Wiley Coyote2 - on 10 Feb 2018
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

> However Rockfax/UKC is a business and it is only by behaving as a business that we are able to do the things we do.

I understand Rockfax is a business - indeed I'm a regular customer. If you are saying your Kaly guide is a necessary revenue stream needed to support UKC , as you seem to be, why not say it explicitly? Then everyone can make their purchasing decision on transparent info : whether to  put all their money to the local guide or to support UKC and its many useful services with a smaller proportion going to local funds?

 

>  We have a great team and their creativity is only held back by the fact that there simply isn't enough time (or money) to do everything we want to do.

If time is a serious constraint why waste it duplicating something that is already working  very well?

 

 

Post edited at 16:44
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

> A Rockfax version can only divert money from the locally-produced guide, which will have an inevitable knock on effect not only on the bolt fund but also  lead to slower re-prints and updates as copies take longer to sell. Since Rockfax will be competing with the local guide  it too will sell more slowly and its reprints will also be delayed by that (Rockfax Costa Blanca, for example is already 5 years old and hopelessly out-of-date).

I think that areas with two guides tend to have more up-to-date coverage.

It is also not the case that a Rockfax sale means a lost other guide sale. Many people buy all guides. Others in groups will buy an extra one. Others will be promoted to visit the area having not considered it before.

Alan

In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

> I understand Rockfax is a business - indeed I'm a regular customer. If you are saying your Kaly guide is a necessary revenue stream needed to support UKC , as you seem to be, why not say it explicitly? Then everyone can make their purchasing decision on transparent info : whether to  put all their money to the local guide or to support UKC and its many useful services with a smaller proportion going to local funds?

I guess that is what I am saying although I have no real idea how much other guides give. Also, a smaller proportion doesn’t necessarily mean a smaller final total in the relevant fund.

Alan

Post edited at 17:46
Rick Graham on 10 Feb 2018
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

> I think that areas with two guides tend to have more up-to-date coverage.

> It is also not the case that a Rockfax sale means a lost other guide sale. Many people buy all guides. Others in groups will buy an extra one. Others will be promoted to visit the area having not considered it before.

> Alan

I have just reread my copy of the  original Rockfax Yorkshire Limestone 1990. This was before Alan was involved IIRC.

" Once climbers get themselves organised to formally re equip routes and start a re equipping fund, Vertical Brain ( rockfax ) will make contribution to this fund..... "

So it has always been Rockfax/ Vertical Brain's intent to assist with re bolting funding / bolt funds.

To be fair to Alan, Rockfax guides also mention the existence of other guidebooks to the area covered and promote their purchase.  I don't think that many "local" guides reciprocate this free advert.

It is good that the various funding streams are openly discussed. 

All we all need is a sustainable system where sufficient funding allows bolts to be maintained in a safe condition. We may even get a surplus to fund new areas/routes.

All this probably means that as well as buying guide (s),  climbers also have to put money directly into bolt funds. All sports climbers, not just a minority.

paul__in_sheffield - on 11 Feb 2018
In reply to UKC Gear:

Bit of a long shot, but will there be a new Lakes Bouldering in the pipeline at any time?

paul

Wild Swan - on 11 Feb 2018
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

New 'bumper-fun' Lakes Bouldering due from Vertebrate in the summer...

 https://www.v-publishing.co.uk/books/categories/climbing/lake-district-bouldering.html

 

 

paul__in_sheffield - on 11 Feb 2018
In reply to Wild Swan:

Brilliant news, didn’t know it was in the pipeline.

don’t say it too loud, but I’m a bit bored with climbing in the Peak, so we’re planning to spend weekends in the campervan up in the lake this year and xplore.

nb - on 11 Feb 2018
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

> Rockfax/UKC is a business and it is only by behaving as a business that we are able to do the things we do.

Rockfax may be a business but- in the vast majority of cases - equipping and maintaining crags is not. It's done by volunteers working long hours for no material gain. The least visiting climbers can do is to ensure that they contribute to the cost of the equipment they clip. Many areas do this via the sales of local guidebooks. A business stepping in to make profit from this set-up must ensure it doesn't divert funding.

Businesses do market research and impact assessments and then implement strategies, but you say you have "no real idea how much other guides give" and can't provide any details of how Rockfax will generate money for the Kalymnos fund. 

You also say that Rockfax will contribute once it starts making a profit. How many guide books have to be sold before this happens? (Genuine question btw) Each one of these guidebooks is taking away a contribution which would be made via the sale of the local guidebook.

> I have made the point before that UKC would not exist if it wasn't for Rockfax. 

The argument that Rockfax funds UKC is frankly disturbing. Money spent by climbers on guidebooks in continental Europe traditionally goes towards helping equip and maintain the crags, not subsidising a media outlet in a faraway place. 

It is commendable that Rockfax now recognises its responsibility towards supporting local bolt funds and has increased donations. However, having checked out the information on the website, I find it short on verifiable details. Complete transparency is the key to this issue, and very easy to provide. Of course private businesses have no obligation to do this, unlike the local non-profit organisations which often fund bolting through guidebook sales.  Given the choice, I know which one I'll be supporting!

walts4 - on 12 Feb 2018
In reply to UKC Gear:

In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

> After that it will be made on a more ad-hoc basis which we usually base on online sales.   

 

Surely online sales of Rockfax guides must be a fairly small percentage of the overall sale numbers???

 

Big Lee - on 12 Feb 2018
In reply to Rick Graham:

> Regarding the £5 suggestion, I have been pushing in Cumbria the " penny a clip " concept.

Good suggestion. To be honest I'm surprised that guidebook sales are still the main contributor to bolt funds in some places. A bolt fund via PayPal or even crowdfunded would be a much more transparent way to donate and easy to promote in guidebooks. Bolt funding contributions from book profits are never going to be a fixed donation because profits vary. Knock £* off the book and ask for a £* donation per visitor. Sure there will be people who don't donate but then there's also a lot of people who share a guidebook with a partner and therefore contribute nothing. I know plenty of people who visit Kalymnos in groups and they definitely aren't buying a guidebook each.

I would have expected a new guidebook, like the aforementioned, to increase visitor numbers despite there already being an existing guidebook. New guidebooks inspire new visitors. That means more money into the local economy. People obviously spend considerably more during a week's holiday than than they do on a guidebook. When the Chamonix guidebook came out every man, woman and dog seemed to visit Chamonix despite there already being a plethora of guidebooks on the market. The same with Lofoten last year.

steveriley - on 12 Feb 2018
In reply to UKC Gear:

Clearly the best way of supporting a bolt fund is to support the bolt fund and send some cash direct. Funnily enough I was chatting to a Rockfax author in a muddy field on the start line of a race yesterday. He doesn't strike me as the evil genius type but I'm a poor judge of character.

In reply to steveriley:

> Clearly the best way of supporting a bolt fund is to support the bolt fund and send some cash direct. Funnily enough I was chatting to a Rockfax author in a muddy field on the start line of a race yesterday. He doesn't strike me as the evil genius type but I'm a poor judge of character.

Absolutely. This is a great system and one we have got working reasonably well in the UK. Most of the regional bolt funds have PayPal pages and we set up http://UKBoltFund.org to bring these all together.

Curiously though, this isn't the case in France (or Kalymnos as far as I am aware). It always seemed odd to me that, if guidebooks were so crucial to bolt funding in France, why is it so hard to get hold of them? Why aren't they promoted and sold more widely? Why don't they promote the local bolt fund within the pages of the books describing what they do, and where you can contribute? I am not aware of any areas in France that are supported by PayPal donation web pages and, sadly, none of the French guidebooks I have here even mention bolt funding inside.

I suspect the reason for this is that the people doing the guidebook have other priorities, but it does illustrate how things could easily be improved with a more professional approach. It also illustrates the incredibly important way guidebooks can help bolt funding by promoting it to the climbers, while they are climbing. We would love to be able to give pages of our guidebook describing bolt funds in the areas we cover, with web links to where people can donate. We can only do that in the UK at the moment.

Alan

jon on 12 Feb 2018
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

> sadly, none of the French guidebooks I have here even mention bolt funding inside.

 

We've been here before, Alan. They do. Surely you've got Vallée de l'Arve. Maybe you've got Grimpe aux Dentelles 2016 or even 2010? Or Escalades autour du Ventoux (St Léger etc).

In reply to jon:

> We've been here before, Alan. They do. Surely you've got Vallée de l'Arve. Maybe you've got Grimpe aux Dentelles 2016 or even 2010? Or Escalades autour du Ventoux (St Léger etc).

I haven't got any of those books so I can't check. Do they describe how climbers can contribute to the bolting? Do they point you at web pages to donate?

The books I do have have no real mention that I can see although it could be buried in intro text. I do have the Kalymnos guide and that mentions briefly in the intro that the book contributes funds to local bolting however there is no mention of any ways that climbers can contribute beyond buying the book.

Alan

jon on 12 Feb 2018
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

No, they point out that sales of the book contribute, which is what I assumed you meant by 'bolt funding'.

In reply to jon:

> No, they point out that sales of the book contribute, which is what I assumed you meant by 'bolt funding'.

That just illustrates my point then - there is no significant promotion of the system and other ways that climbers can help.

This is an great example of something that a more coherent and professional approach from a full-time guidebook publisher like Rockfax/UKC can contribute.

I have made a publicity and contribution offer to Olivier Gaude and Pierre Duret in the Haute Provence area - publicise and promote the message on an international web site as well as offering to make an actual cash contribution. Their replies have been friendly and welcoming but we have still not managed to get anywhere despite Pierre taking my offer to a meeting last year - I haven't heard back. The offer remains open though.

Alan

jon on 12 Feb 2018
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

Yes, I know that and I have a feeling I understand their reluctance to accept, but a public forum is probably not the best place to discuss it...

Martin Hore - on 12 Feb 2018
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

I've made two climbing trips to Kalymnos, both excellent. It seems to me that Kalymnos is quite special. It is a relatively poor part of a relatively poor country and climbers make a significant contribution to the local economy (rather than a fairly insignificant one in most climbing areas).  The local population reciprocates by making climbers extremely welcome including excellent signed access to all the crags, as well as ongoing crag development and equipping. 

It may sound harsh, but in my view Rockfax should endeavour to ensure that each copy of their new guide contributes as much to the local economy as does each copy of the local guide. Otherwise, this is exploitation which is hard to justify.

I like and use Rockfax guides, both to UK areas and abroad. I'm a regular user of UKC and appreciate the financial contribution that Rockfax makes to this website. But Kalymnos is a special case, and UK-based businesses and UK climbers should, in my view, tread with care.

Martin

In reply to jon:

> Yes, I know that and I have a feeling I understand their reluctance to accept, but a public forum is probably not the best place to discuss it...

Well in the absence of any other communication, it is the only place I have got. Forgive me for using this opportunity to publicise the fact that we are trying to help but struggling to get anywhere in some areas.

It also underlines my point that bolt-funding is not the reason most guidebook writers object to someone else producing a guidebook for their area. They just don't like it, and I can understand that emotion, but I feel overall our publications and other work provides a positive enough contribution to overcome this particular objection.

Alan

In reply to Martin Hore:

> It may sound harsh, but in my view Rockfax should endeavour to ensure that each copy of their new guide contributes as much to the local economy as does each copy of the local guide. Otherwise, this is exploitation which is hard to justify.

I will endeavour to make sure that there is no short fall. I would like to point out though that there won't be a single cafe, accommodation, shop or bar owner on the island who has an objection to this guidebook. More guidebooks means a wide reach and more climbers and this only benefits the local economy.

Yes, it is a special case, and the economy is incredibly dependent on climbers, so why wouldn't you want it publicised more widely?

Alan

 

nb - on 12 Feb 2018
In reply to Big Lee:

> New guidebooks inspire new visitors. That means more money into the local economy.

I think this is where the great gulf is between the Rockfax vision and the vision of a lot of European climbers and local residents.

Two of the three examples you give - Chamonix and Kalymnos - are already saturated. In both places queuing for routes is common. Kalymnos is becoming more polished by the day. Do Lofoten climbers/residents crave more visitors? I really doubt they see climbers as a great financial opportunity!

Many places in south-east France are the same, with access issues compounding the problem. Quite simply, an awful lot of venues just cannot absorb more visitors without creating problems with residents and other land users.

The 'local economy' argument is a favourite with Rockfax, however the reality is that Rockfax promotes one area one year, then promotes another area the following year. This isn't great for sustainable local investment in tourist infrastructure. (Kalymnos and Chamonix are obvious exceptions, although this has more to do with the quality of the climbing than any guidebook.) 

A much more sustainable model is that developed by Orpierre, where the local council has invested long-term in promoting climbing in the area.

But at the end of the day economic arguments don't really cut it with locals. Most people would prefer their crags weren't over-run with visitors. Local bolting associations must keep a balance between generating funds, respecting other land users and ensuring the area doesn't attract too many people. With Rockfax it's often just lose-lose-lose!

As for bolt funds, this may be an effective model in the UK (although not according to several popular comments above), but until now it hasn't been the European way. If sport climbing was driven by aggressive market forces Rockfax could, of course, legitimately try to push this model. It would certainly benefit from it financially. However, I think most climbers agree that an ethical stance which respects the local consensus is preferable. Unfortunately, convenience often wins out in the end! 

Maybe internet crowd-funding will fundamentally change the way bolts are paid for on the continent, but that shift should come from local communities, not business owners.

Edit to add: ...because it's the locals who put in the hard graft to equip and maintain the crags, not the business owners!

Post edited at 13:16
nb - on 12 Feb 2018
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

> there won't be a single cafe, accommodation, shop or bar owner on the island who has an objection to this guidebook. More guidebooks means a wide reach and more climbers and this only benefits the local economy.

With this reasoning we should bolt Pembroke. Would be great for the local economy. All those Euro-climbers looking for some quality, summer sport climbing with reasonable temps. Why let local ethics get in the way of a sound business model!

 

planetmarshall on 12 Feb 2018
In reply to nb:

> I think this is where the great gulf is between the Rockfax vision and the vision of a lot of European climbers and local residents.

> Two of the three examples you give - Chamonix and Kalymnos - are already saturated

Chamonix perhaps, but Kalymnos? Hardly. Go ask a few of the local business owners in Massouri whether they would like more climbers in the area. I'm pretty sure I know what the answer would be.

planetmarshall on 12 Feb 2018
In reply to nb:

> With this reasoning we should bolt Pembroke. Would be great for the local economy.

Absolutely, and with all that new money they could construct a huge strawman....

 

nb - on 12 Feb 2018
In reply to planetmarshall:

> Absolutely, and with all that new money they could construct a huge strawman....

Actually it's the same argument that you and Alan use - ie. putting the economy before the ethical stance of the local climbing community. All I've done is change the location! Don't like it anymore?

 

jimtitt - on 12 Feb 2018
In reply to nb:

As you´ll have noticed your views aren´t exactly winning in the popularity stakes!

"Money spent by climbers on guidebooks in continental Europe traditionally goes towards helping equip and maintain the crags," is incorrect, I´ve a fair collection of guides to much of continental Europe and not one has any connection with the bolt-funds or whatever. 

"It is commendable that Rockfax now recognises its responsibility towards supporting local bolt funds and has increased donations. However, having checked out the information on the website, I find it short on verifiable details. Complete transparency is the key to this issue, and very easy to provide."

It isn´t easy to provide nor is it potentially desirable. All parties need to be informed beforehand that details of money donated or received will be made public before anyone would agree. I have provided some of the bolts for Rockfax as their contribution to bolt funds and would refuse permission for details of the transaction to be made public as my discounts to customers are private. Rockfax would be commiting commercial suicide if they published details of the numbers of guides sold and the profit margins they operate on and so generalisations are all you will ever get.

Guidebook sales are never going to be a sustainable source of income sufficient to maintain the sport-climbing areas in Europe for several reasons; the sales of guides are completely out of sychronisation with the need for funding and the plethora of alternative sources of information makes the information about an area freely available through other media. Having developed a few areas myself I know the best solution is to put guide production in the hands of professionals and hope the climbing community finds better ways of funding their hobby. An industry levy on the sales of climbing equipment, clothing and climbing schools/holiday companies etc would be a good start.

Rick Graham on 12 Feb 2018
In reply to jimtitt:

> As you´ll have noticed your views aren´t exactly winning in the popularity stakes!

I do not think nb cares what folk think. He is entitled to his opinion and IMHO makes some very valid points, bless him.

Rick Graham on 12 Feb 2018
In reply to jimtitt:

> Having developed a few areas myself I know the best solution is to put guide production in the hands of professionals and hope the climbing community finds better ways of funding their hobby. An industry levy on the sales of climbing equipment, clothing and climbing schools/holiday companies etc would be a good start.

A good suggestion from you, Jim.

So how many ways of potential funding?

Guidebooks

Individual donations to bolt funds

Industry levy as suggested by Jim

BMC

Local businesses

Any more?

 

Post edited at 19:55
Wood for Trees on 12 Feb 2018
In reply to Rick Graham:

Having a Seb Grieve 2.0 Cash Collector 2000 does wonders for the bolt funds around Yorkshire and the Peak 

 

nb - on 12 Feb 2018
In reply to jimtitt:

> As you´ll have noticed your views aren´t exactly winning in the popularity stakes!

To read my views without the mandatory UKC mob lynching, check out: Wiley Coyote2 14:10 Sat and carl dawson 13:30 Sat

> "Money spent by climbers on guidebooks in continental Europe traditionally goes towards helping equip and maintain the crags," is incorrect...

jon 11:12 Mon 

I'd be interested in hearing about your experiences of bolt funding in Europe. Where does the money come from?

> Rockfax would be commiting commercial suicide if they published details of the numbers of guides sold and the profit margins they operate on and so generalisations are all you will ever get.

Who cares about profit margins? The only thing that matters is actual donations. Clarity on this would only be commercial suicide if it turned out they weren't on a par with local guidebooks!

> Guidebook sales are never going to be a sustainable source of income sufficient to maintain the sport-climbing areas in Europe 

Back in the real world it actually works very well. From Carl Dawson's post: "As Aris and Katies' neighbours on Kalymnos during the period 2010-1017, I can confirm that sales of their definitive guidebook did indeed result in huge piles of bolts lying around the place ready for reequipping. We were encouraged to dip into these piles... and did."

Also works a treat in my home area: https://www.escalade-74.com/topos/topo_arve.htm The bolting is top notch. 

> An industry levy on the sales of climbing equipment, clothing and climbing schools/holiday companies etc would be a good start.

Wonderful idea, now what?!

 

r0x0r.wolfo - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to UKC Gear:

About the Kalymnos guide. I must admit, I'm a little conflicted with this issue, having previously argued that Rockfax has injected some life into some areas with poor, infrequent and overly delayed guidebooks. 

So what do I know? 

  • Kaylmnos has a fantastic guidebook written in English which is regularly updated more often than any Rockfax publication I can think of. It's a rapidly developing area so that shouldn't be a surprise.
  • I can't stress enough how good a guide the 'local guide' is. It rivals Rockfax's work and that really is a compliment. I found the crag planner indispensible on our trip. Local businesses are advertised usefully and unobtrusively at the back.
  • Kalymnos is well bolted, route maintenance is good and the current guide contributes greatly to that. 
  • Kalymnos is very busy during peaktimes, you may have to queue for routes, there is usually a climbing festival in October. Scooters virtually stacked ontop of eachother is what you will see as it's more space efficient than cars. 
  • Chris Craggs is acknowleged in the local guide for helping with suggestions, comments and corrections. 
  • UKC published a destination article shortly after the 2010 edition of the local guide was published (written by Robbie Phillips).
  • Contrary to stated above, it is not a zero sum game, and Rockfax's book and subsequent marketing will likely draw in more people to Kalymnos. However, the truth is, it will impact sales of the local guidebook, as inevitably climbing book sales will not double. Sales to British climbers in particular will be largely affected. 

If I'm honest, it's not an area I would have asked Rockfax to cover any time soon. I don't feel like much is being added, as it is an already an excellently served area.

I think the local guidebook will provide fierce competition, but if it's forced to cut prices, I do wonder if that ~€5,000 a year will be cut into, compensated either wholly or in part by Rockfax donations. 

It's my conclusion, that there are many destinations which would be profitable that could have been shown a bit of love first. If that wasn't true then Rockfax wouldn't have a publication schedule projecting years into the future.

So I can only think that Kalymnos must look very lucrative. Will Rockfax make a better book than what's already on offer? I'm not sure.  

Post edited at 00:32
Wiley Coyote2 - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:

>

> Contrary to stated above, it is not a zero sum game, and Rockfax's book and subsequent marketing will likely draw in more people to Kalymnos.

 

I agree with almost every word of your comprehensive and thoughtful post with the exception of this paragraph. I find it almost impossible to believe the Rockfax guide will bring in new people. I have visited the island  more than half a dozen times and met climbers from all over Europe, the US, Oz and NZ. Kaly is already one of the best known and most visited climbing destinations in the world. Any serious climber who needs the Rockfax to alert them to its existence must be living on the Moon

 

In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

> I agree with almost every word of your comprehensive and thoughtful post with the exception of this paragraph. I find it almost impossible to believe the Rockfax guide will bring in new people. I have visited the island  more than half a dozen times and met climbers from all over Europe, the US, Oz and NZ. Kaly is already one of the best known and most visited climbing destinations in the world. Any serious climber who needs the Rockfax to alert them to its existence must be living on the Moon

Every area receives increased interest when a new guidebook is published. It is not about whether people are alerted to its existence (there are countless areas I have heard of and not been to) it is whether people are inspired to make a trip or, more likely, a return trip.

Alan

In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:

> It's my conclusion, that there are many destinations which would be profitable that could have been shown a bit of love first. If that wasn't true then Rockfax wouldn't have a publication schedule projecting years into the future.

> So I can only think that Kalymnos must look very lucrative. Will Rockfax make a better book than what's already on offer? I'm not sure.  

There are many areas that we could produce guidebooks to but it is a very lengthy procedure. We have been working on Kalymnos information since 2002, and had a full digital guide for the last year, so this one has been relatively easy to convert into a print guidebook (and adding a bunch of new stuff). I am convinced that this will be a benefit to the island. 

On the subject of future guides; Chris is currently in Tenerife checking that out since it has struggled to keep up consistent coverage. Mark is putting the finishing touches to an El Chorro guide - a world class area like Kalymnos that has had three guides but is now badly in need of a new edition.

It is a funny sport climbing. We spend ages singing the praises of our favourite areas, promoting them in articles, uploading photos, sharing our trips with our friends. The tourist boards bend over backwards to come up with slick slogans to attract people to an area, beautiful moody videos and spending thousands on advertising. Yet we struggle to see the benefits of the most effective marketing tool for climbers - the guidebook.

Alan

nb - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

> we struggle to see the benefits of the most effective marketing tool for climbers - the guidebook.

Others struggle to see the benefits of the most effective financial tool for ensuring that the crags are developed and maintained - the local guidebook!

Is marketing the crag really more important?

jimtitt - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to nb:

> Back in the real world it actually works very well. From Carl Dawson's post: "As Aris and Katies' neighbours on Kalymnos during the period 2010-1017, I can confirm that sales of their definitive guidebook did indeed result in huge piles of bolts lying around the place ready for reequipping. We were encouraged to dip into these piles... and did."

"The good news is that funding for an official rebolting project has been approved and will be implemented in Kalymnos later this year. After many years of emergency route maintenance done by volunteers, this year funding through a proper EU program will be provided via a local contractor to use primarily towards route rebolting and additionally toward some new routing. Works will start in the summer and must be completed by the end of the year. Overseeing the project will be Aris Theodoropoulos alongside a team of other qualified, experienced equippers, including members of the Kalymnos Rescue Service.
 
For the record, the last official rebolting program was nearly five years ago, so to say it’s long overdue is an understatement. "

"No doubt this rebolting program is a very good thing for Kalymnos, but it will only help to rebolt about 10% of the total routes. And the fact is that funds for rebolting are almost non-existent."

So either the sales of the Kalymnos guide are providing a sufficient revenue stream to maintain the fixed equipment and an alternative guide will prevent this OR the funds are almost non-existent anyway and a €150.000 EU grant was required to perform only 10% of the work. Considering that the initial development of Kalymnos and publiction of the guide was only possible with grant aid from the EU and re-bolting is also being done with EU money the idea that guide sales are a sustainable model for development and maintenance of sport climbing areas seems somewhat dubious.

In reply to nb:

Neil, are you willing to publish your own financial records for donations to bolt funds? I can see that you're obvioulsy supporting of buying local guides, which is great, but as a professional working within that environment I would hope that your own contributions extend far beyond that. If not it seems to be a case of pot, kettle, black.

In reply to jimtitt:

> So either the sales of the Kalymnos guide are providing a sufficient revenue stream to maintain the fixed equipment and an alternative guide will prevent this OR the funds are almost non-existent anyway and a €150.000 EU grant was required to perform only 10% of the work.

My understanding was that the amount was €300,000. A great effort in securing these funds and in carrying out the rebolting work. There is a list of around 400 routes that were bolted or rebolted here - http://climbkalymnos.com/list-of-rebolted-routes-and-answers-to-other-frequently-asked-questions/#more-10018 although whether that is full use of all the money I am not sure since that does seem to be rather a lot per route - €750/route or €375/route if your figure is right.

The amount does put in perspective the figures that can be generate from guidebook sales though which supports Jim's point.

Alan

nb - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Hi Rob, just off now to check out sport climbing potential in Iraqi Kurdistan. Literally sitting in the aeroplane as I type! Would be happy to work with Rockfax on developing the area. No local guidebook to worry about. If anywhere needs a boost to its local economy, it's this place. Jump on a plane and get yourself out here. It'll be fun!

Edit to answer your question: I'm a mountain guide, I don't work on sports routes! However, a lot of sport routes in France, Italy, Switzerland are bolted by guides. If ever you go to Pont des Gets, you can give me a little thought!

Post edited at 10:26
nb - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to jimtitt:

> "The good news is that funding for an official rebolting project has been approved and will be implemented in Kalymnos later this year. After many years of emergency route maintenance done by volunteers...

Well done the EU and the local bolt fund for providing emergency cover. 

But especially to the volunteers. The size of the budget required for this overhaul really shows how much climbers owe them. All the more reason to ensure we support their work.

Gonna have to go into plane mode now!!

 

jimtitt - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

A well, there´s a certain lack of transparency here!

It has been stated (i.e you can read it on the internet) that the actual sum spent (for whatever reason) was €50.000

One can also read that 297 routes were rebolted and 100 new routes established.

It is also stated that the guide revenue provided around €5.000 per annum for bolts

The nub of the matter is we are developing hugely expensive climbing areas in regions with little or no local climbing infrastructure and therefore limited availability of volounteer manpower and finance. As these areas inevitably become mature the guide sales drop since potential visitors are going to fresher fields and there is little new development to encourage repeat visitors to buy new editions. This occurs typically in 20-30 years, precisely when major rebolting starts to become an issue so the revenue has dropped exactly when it is most needed. Whether any area has ever been self-financing from guide sales is extremely unlikely  as the numbers just don´t add up, especially as the trend is inevitably to move toward professional bolt installation for either legal reasons or just simply the lack of unpaid manpower. At a conservative rate of €250 per route to rebolt Kalymnos is going to cost around €650.000 and even if guide revenues remain constant there will be a shortfall of €500.000 in 30 years time.

While every bit helps (i.e guide revenue, private donations etc) we need to find a more reliable source of funding if we want to keep developing new areas and enjoy the existing ones.

nb - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to jimtitt:

Istanbul passport queue.

While it seems we can thank the EU for funding a major rebolting effort on Kalymnos carried out by a private contractor, I have a funny feeling we'll be relying on local volunteers for the vast amount of bolting in most other areas.

I agree that we need to find ways of funding the equipment, and make sure we contribute fairly. Every climber has a responsibility to find out how this is done in the areas they visit, whether that be through sales of the local guidebook, donations to area bolt funds, or whatever else the locals have devised to keep the money coming in.

nb - on 14 Feb 2018
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Hello again Rob

Alan seems to be very concerned by the idea that guides/rock climbing instructors do not pay their way with regards to equipping crags. Let me explain to you how the situation works in France.

The vast majority of formal rock-climbing instruction in France is done in groups, at beginner areas, and is usually organised through the guides' offices themselves. This includes work done for schools and holiday centres. The guides/instructors equip and maintain the sectors they work in and finance this through commissions that each guide/instructor pays to the office, with perhaps some help from the council and local club. Amateur climbers are of course also welcome to use these areas and topos are sometimes even provided free of charge by tourist offices. 

The reason Rockfax has had bad press in France is that they come in after all the hard graft has been done to equip an area, assess its potential for profit, cherry-pick the best crags, and then package them in a glossy book which competes with the local one. They tend to target crags in the mid to high grade range, which often depend on guide book sales to buy bolts. Surely you can understand the animosity! Alan assures us that this is changing and Rockfax are contributing fairly. People would like this to be done transparently.

Now this place I'm heading to in Iraqi Kurdistan is a clean slate - no bolts, no topo, no guides/instructors, not many climbers...

If I find decent rock and Rockfax is genuinely interested in helping climbers and local economies (which are under enormous pressure from the refugee crisis) then this would be a great opportunity to do just that. This is a genuine proposal btw.

Or is Rockfax just interested in its tried and tested business model? ie. Concentrating on the final stage of the crag development process, the only one which can be easily monetised.

I look forward to hearing from you

 

Big Lee - on 14 Feb 2018
In reply to nb:

> If I find decent rock and Rockfax is genuinely interested in helping climbers and local economies (which are under enormous pressure from the refugee crisis) then this would be a great opportunity to do just that. This is a genuine proposal btw.

Or you could just do the world a favour and put some topos on 27crags or similar yourself. No publisher is going to contemplate a guidebook to an area where the FCO advices against all but essential travel. Not that I think your proposition is serious (it comes across as quite condescending).

nb - on 14 Feb 2018
In reply to Big Lee:

Totally serious Big Lee. To get some topos you first need routes; to get routes you need to invest in bolts and put in graft, liaise with local authorities. I'm thinking Rockfax could get involved with the whole package this time, rather than just wait until everything's ready to publish a guidebook. Alan is consistent in his belief that sport climbing venues can help local economies grow, and says he is willing to invest in infrastructure. Where better than here? Kurdistan Regional Government is encouraging foreign investment. No westerner has ever been kidnapped/attacked in Iraqi Kurdistan in recent years; in fact the plane across had quite a few British workers on board.

If you think I sound condescending, it probably says more about your opinion of Rockfax than mine. 

 

 

jezb1 - on 14 Feb 2018
In reply to nb:

Enjoy Kurdistan, really enjoyed my time working there. Amazing scenery and people, shed loads of potential. 

Mick Ward - on 14 Feb 2018
In reply to Rick Graham:

> Regarding the £5 suggestion, I have been pushing in Cumbria the " penny a clip " concept.

Rick, I think with the 'penny a clip' notion you've captured something really important. For me it has several very useful facets.

1. Relating the money to something tangible 'makes more sense', i.e. it's not arbitrary.

2. It's a small amount, so you don't have to think much about it (although there's a downside to this, which I'll come to).

3. If many of us 'just do it', the cumulative effect will be enormous.

A suggestion - what if we all do a standing order for £5 per month to our local bolt fund (I do)?  Even the most impecunious among us will hardly miss that amount. It means that we don't have to work out the bolts/pennies and we don't have to think about anything. Once done, we can just forget about it. But that £60 per person per year is going to add up. ("A billion here, a billion there, sooner or later it adds up to real money." Nelson Bunker Hunt.) If loads of us do it, it'll really add up. And it will give bolt funds regular revenue streams, rather than just one-offs.

If our local bolt fund is loaded and some other poor sods' are skint, then send it there instead. What about visits to other areas?  Give £10 per week to the local bolt fund. (By the time you've had a coffee and a piece of cake, you've probably spent more on one visit to a climbing wall.)

None of this precludes extra one-off donations. But surely regular affordable payments must be the way forward?

Mick

 

john arran - on 14 Feb 2018
In reply to nb:

It's possible that the situation you describe may not be as representative of France as a whole as you think, or perhaps only really applies to certain beginner sectors at certain crags. Here in Ariège a lot of equipping is done by self-funded individuals, myself included, although in other cases funding might come from a commune or other grant.

nb - on 14 Feb 2018
In reply to john arran:

Very possibly. My experience is mostly with south-east France. You should get yourselves a topo on the go, help buy some bolts. Seems a shame that the people who put in the work also have to fund the equipment.

 

john arran - on 14 Feb 2018

In reply to jon:

Fair enough, but what proportion of French crags do you think that applies to? I'd be amazed if it came to more than 1 or 2%. Chamonix isn't really France, is it? ;-)

john arran - on 14 Feb 2018
In reply to nb:

>  You should get yourselves a topo on the go, help buy some bolts. Seems a shame that the people who put in the work also have to fund the equipment.

As it happens, I helped write the Rockfax guide to here, which is the only book available to the whole area, and that brings in a few pennies. So a fine example of Rockfax supporting local equippers! ;-)

nb - on 14 Feb 2018
In reply to john arran:

> Fair enough, but what proportion of French crags do you think that applies to? I'd be amazed if it came to more than 1 or 2%. Chamonix isn't really France, is it? ;-)

I was talking about the whole of south-east France ie. Chamonix to Nice via Valence and Marseille

nb - on 14 Feb 2018
In reply to john arran:

> As it happens, I helped write the Rockfax guide to here, which is the only book available to the whole area, and that brings in a few pennies. So a fine example of Rockfax supporting local equippers! ;-)

Fine example indeed, as long as it's bringing in more than a few pennies ;)

 

 

 

jon on 14 Feb 2018
In reply to john arran:

 

> Chamonix isn't really France, is it?

Well, if you walk down the main street you could think it was somewhere in the UK!


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