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How do I document ‘new’ boulder routes?

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 JoeBonfield 28 Jul 2020

I’m climbing on the Isles of Scilly on an off island called Bryher, I’ve seen a little bit of discussion about the bouldering routes here but there are no recorded routes on the climber’s map. Should I document the routes I’ve climbed? 

I have taken pictures of the routes and used the what 3 words app to record exactly where they are, I don’t count these as first ascents but having not seen any recorded routes on Bryher before should I write them down as First Recorded Ascents instead? Please advise me if you can, it would be great to open the climbing up to more people.

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 Iamgregp 28 Jul 2020
In reply to JoeBonfield:

These routes are problems

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 dunnyg 28 Jul 2020
In reply to Iamgregp:

If you think someone would be interested, or even if you just want to then yes you should!
The easiest way to share them is just upload to UKC, but far more useful would be to make a simple guide. 
With the photos, just put a line where the climb goes, and link it to the name, grade and a short description of the problem. This can all be done in microsoft power point and word, or similar. 
Make a map of where your problems are, and how to access them. This can be as simple as a sketch map, though the more clear the better.
Put all of this together into one document (in word for example) then save it as a PDF.

To make it accessible to others you could publish it on dropbox or a similar service and then make others aware of it by posting on here and other climbing websites.

If you are really keen you could make your own site to host it.

A nice example of simple guides (and a website!) is https://unknownstones.com/, which is a site for yorkshire with PDF topos of loads of bouldering.

I hope that makes sense.

Good luck and enjoy!

Post edited at 17:20
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 andy w bloc 28 Jul 2020
In reply to JoeBonfield:

Is first recorded ascents a category? 

Bryher has been bouldered on before, you might want to think why the problems haven't been documented before. I'd suggest this area is best left as it is, an outlier, a place to escape.

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 HeMa 28 Jul 2020
In reply to JoeBonfield:

If you think they’d be worth climbing by others, then add them. UKC works, but there are better options. I use 27Crags website (or app), which suits you really well as you have also pics and location. 
 

as for FA or FRA, it doesn’t matter all that much. If you record FA and someone comes along and says they did it then and then. Well, guess they should have recorded it, so their bad ;)

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 dunnyg 28 Jul 2020

Also worth considering who owns the land, access rights etc., bird bans etc.. It can be worth keeping it low key and not publishing everywhere!

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In reply to JoeBonfield:

As some have said, maybe the island should be left undocumented so that everyone who visits can experience discovering "new" problems.

So I'd say, firstly have a think about why you want to document them?

If it's only for your own record and maybe for your own future visits - no issues, go ahead.

If it's to publicise the problems then have another think about your experience on Bryher. Would you have enjoyed it more if you'd had a guidebook (or pamphlet or whatever) to hand, or was the experience enhanced because (although you knew people had been before you), every problem you did just might have been the first time a human being touched those holds.

Unless your ego really needs the publicity, use that reflection to guide your decision about whether to publish or not.

You say it would be great to open the climbing up to more people. There's nothing stopping people at the moment, and because of the relative remoteness, a guide isn't likely to be the factor that swings a decision to go to the Scily isles.

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 afx22 29 Jul 2020
In reply to Michael Hood:

I’d be more likely to visit for an area that has defined problems.  

If there was a list, for instance on UKC, I may get an idea of grade ranges and quantity of climbs.  UKC is a great resource for this.  27 Crags and Unknown Stones too.

I don’t see the people who put guides together as egotistical.  I see it as sharing with the climbing community and I’ve very grateful for such people.

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 JoeBonfield 29 Jul 2020
In reply to Michael Hood:

Thank you for this, it certainly is food for thought!

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 JoeBonfield 29 Jul 2020
In reply to Iamgregp:

Forgive me, thanks for the correction.

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 Fishmate 29 Jul 2020
In reply to JoeBonfield:

Without wanting sound pedantic, which of course, would strange on UKC, I think 'first known ascent' is the norm. In France, they use 'first known realisation' when uncertain of previous ascents.

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In reply to afx22:

> I’d be more likely to visit for an area that has defined problems.

Generally I'd agree but I doubt many people's primary reason to go to the Scilly Isles is climbing, more a let's see what's around whilst we're here.

> If there was a list, for instance on UKC, I may get an idea of grade ranges and quantity of climbs.  UKC is a great resource for this.  27 Crags and Unknown Stones too.

A brief overview would certainly detract less from any "unspoilt" experience.

> I don’t see the people who put guides together as egotistical.  I see it as sharing with the climbing community and I’ve very grateful for such people.

I didn't say anyone was egotistical - I was asking the OP to think carefully about what & why they wanted to spread detailed info about a relatively unspoilt area. If they were egotistically desperate to get their name in print, then that would be almost certain to override any other considerations. Also I haven't actually said don't publicise; just think about it and be sure you know why you're doing it and that you think it's the correct thing to do. It doesn't have quite the same considerations as for a new problem at Stanage.

I too am grateful for the people who do document stuff for us to do, I'm definitely more motivated by a relevant selection of routes/problems; but that doesn't mean that everyone is - some like to explore in a much more freehand manner - spaces should be left for them as well (and "well just don't buy the guide" isn't quite the same).

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 davepembs 29 Jul 2020
In reply to JoeBonfield:

Bouldering and climbing has been going on in The Scillies for a fair few decades now. I have pictures of my Dad climbing on St Mary’s in the 50’s and I climbed and bouldered there in the 70’s and 80’s, mainly on Bryher and St Martin’s. I know Shane Ohly has done a lot on Bryher and I think did write about it in OTE 10 or 15 years ago. 
The Scillies are a beautiful place as I’m sure you realise and climbing has always had an exploratory feel about it. I doubt many people would ever go there just for the climbing but those who are there have always enjoyed discovering it for themselves. I think just flagging up that there is bouldering there is enough personally rather than guiding people exactly where to go.

For real discovery check out some of the small Eastern Isles and other outer islets that have sheer rock faces coming straight out of the sea - extreme DWS potential!

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 Will Hunt 29 Jul 2020
In reply to JoeBonfield:

I'd say go for it, Joe. As dunnyg says, have a think about access and put together a PDF describing where to park and how to get to the boulders. Put together some topos showing the route that the climbs take and provide a description, being careful to mention any rules or prescribed starting holds etc. Try and keep the development logical if you can, recording the way that things climb naturally, even if you later add eliminates or variations to make things harder. If you want us to host anything at Unknown Stones then we'd be happy to. It might not be Yorkshire but it would hopefully turn up in a Google search - I know some people have found the European topos on there that way and have had good holidays using them. The problem with hosting things in a dropbox is that they can be difficult to find and often vanish without trace.

If you suspect something has been done before then you can just leave the FA blank or call it a first recorded ascent or whatever - ultimately that's just extra info but the main thing is the documentation of the problems.

I understand the arguments about leaving places undescribed for people to explore to a point, but realistically there is so much rock in the British Isles that there's still plenty of undocumented stuff to go at. It's a bit of an elitist view too. If somebody climbs a 7C on an isolated boulder off the beaten track, nobody bats an eyelid at it being recorded, but people seem to get very distressed by the documentation of some 4s, 5s, and 6s. The people climbing those lower grades are often ill-equipped with the desire or skills to go off exploring so I think it's good to keep describing these lower grade venues to give those climbers plenty to go at (else people end up at the same old honeypots with all that that means for rock damage).

Post edited at 14:31
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 Iamgregp 29 Jul 2020
In reply to Iamgregp:

Christ guys lighten up, it was a joke!

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 JoeBonfield 29 Jul 2020
In reply to davepembs:

It’s good to hear about the history of the place! And how cool that your dad was on the rocks in the 50s. 
I have been coming to the Scillies since I was a kid and have only recently got into the world of climbing: this year was the first time I decided to bring some shoes and a mat with me. I did it with some trepidation however as my prior research didn’t show whether there were problems on Bryher or not (despite my previous years staying on the island I didn’t know what to look for). 
 

My thoughts on documenting problems on Bryher are mixed: perhaps it is true that you wouldn’t come to the Scillies to climb, and only when you are here do you get the thrill of exploring uncharted rocks (probably a rarer experience than I currently appreciate). The Scillies are sadly an exclusive place with time shares and priority booking for yearly visitors so the idea that a guide on Bryher would throw the doors open to the climbing community is naive. That being said, I would have loved to know that there was climbing suitable and safe for a novice like me; and what’s more, having ‘wasted’ trips to promising rocky peninsulas which transpired to be covered in lichen, I think a rough location of where the accessible problems are would encourage people to make day trips from the other islands. The other useful information which I think everyone who climbs on Scilly should know is which spots are unacceptable to climb on, either by land rights or for conservation purposes - and I think that at least this should be crystal clear. 
 

So far I’ve only documented easy boulder problems which have safe fall zones that a mat can be placed beneath. I have absolutely no interest in naming them, it’s certainly not my place to do so given the history of the place. If my effort to put these online encourages newbies who happen to be on the islands to give it a go, and in doing so discover a new dimension to this fantastic place, or gets people over to Bryher from another island then maybe it is effort well spent.

I appreciate the time you’ve all taken to reply here, thanks.

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 Will Hunt 29 Jul 2020
In reply to JoeBonfield:

A well described crag entry on the UKC database has saved me on many a family holiday. Go for it.

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 davepembs 29 Jul 2020
In reply to JoeBonfield:

Seems like a good idea, a few pins in the right place to show where the bouldering is with maybe a description of the kind of grades you’ll find and leave people to work it out themselves from there. Don’t think you’ll need to worry about describing the parking places!
Sounds like my Scilly experience was like yours we used to go every year when I was a kid, mainly because my Dad’s best friend from school ended up living there. They had spent there summers as youths on the Islands daffodil picking (12 week holidays in those days!) and Barry moved out after he finished university to become the Island dentist. I haven’t been back for years, suspect I might regret it if I do, sounds like it’s changed a lot.

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In reply to JoeBonfield:

> The other useful information which I think everyone who climbs on Scilly should know is which spots are unacceptable to climb on, either by land rights or for conservation purposes - and I think that at least this should be crystal clear. 

That is a very good point.

Regardless of what else you decide, access information pointing out where to go and not go would certainly be welcomed by most.

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 Tom Last 29 Jul 2020
In reply to JoeBonfield:

Hi Joe. 
 

If you do write something up and want to check out what’s been done before, then might be worth messaging the user Chimnastics through this website. He climbs and works a fair bit of St Mary’s, though not sure about Bryher. That said, he’ll maybe have a bit of an idea of any active climbers out there on the IoS, maybe some you’re unaware of. 
 

Sounds cool anyway. I wrote up a few problem (there aren’t many) on St Martin’s a few years back and just gave them generic names. A couple of people seem to have done them too and added sitters and the like, so I guess they were vaguely useful.

Anyway, best of luck either way.

Tom

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In reply to Will Hunt:

> put together a PDF describing where to park

LOL - on an island about 1km long 😊

There's no ideal solution for this kind of remote place, over document or under document. Advertise its attractions for more to enjoy and risk the possibility of it getting spoilt v neglect because it just isn't known about and so load elsewhere isn't as spread. The main thing IMO is that the possibilities are considered rather than blindly following what would be the norm elsewhere. And of course regardless of what we all discuss, it is Joe's decision to make - since he's the one who's actually making the effort and is there on the ground.

Post edited at 19:08
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 Eric9Points 29 Jul 2020
In reply to andy w bloc:

> Is first recorded ascents a category? 

> Bryher has been bouldered on before, you might want to think why the problems haven't been documented before. I'd suggest this area is best left as it is, an outlier, a place to escape.

I think a reasonable compromise is to say that there is bouldering on that island and the grades range from X to Y.

People will know they can go there to boulder but at the same time a visiting climber has the pleasure of exploring and discovering for themselves.

Why do we need to classify every single line on every single piece of rock?

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 afx22 30 Jul 2020

I was just thinking - If people want to just explore the boulders, surely they can just avoid using any available topo?  Those of us that like topos and lists can.  Everyone’s happy

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In reply to afx22:

It's not quite the same; the knowledge that there are "defined" lines makes it different.  In some respects it's a bit like saying "you don't need to clip the bolts" on retro bolted routes.

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 afx22 30 Jul 2020
In reply to Michael Hood:

I’m not so sure it’s similar.  A trad climber on a bolted route will be able to see the bolts.

You wouldn’t be able to see defined lines of boulders if you didn’t have the topo (other than chalk residue).

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