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More on Raven Crag rockfall.

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.

I've started a new thread on this because the info needs getting to as many people as possible. Local stalwart Ian (Blue) Gray has been up to the crag and written a detailed illustrated report (see below) which anyone thinking of climbing at Raven Crag Langdale should read. It is important even if you are not climbing near the rockfall because the normal descent for all routes on the main crag is now very hazardous and should be avoided. Please note that Blue, along with Max Biden, have arranged an ab point in Bluebell Gully which lies to the right (left coming down) of the main crag and this should be used instead of the traditional  descent. Do not attempt to scramble down Bluebell Gully.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/wkflgee7w010zef/Raven%20Crag.pdf?dl=0

Thanks to Blue and Max for their efforts.

1
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Bump.

 

 Luke90 23 Aug 2018
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Thanks for sharing the info.

In reply to Luke90:

You're welcome. A few more responses would help to keep this important information in view for longer. I'm just wondering if the moderator for the crag might add something to the page?

In reply to Rog Wilko:

Well done Rog. Just a relief we don't have to use that death-defying descent any more! It has claimed victims sadly over the years so nature has pushed things along.

DC

1
 C Witter 23 Aug 2018
In reply to Rog Wilko:

So, to summarise what I understood:

1. There was a large rockfall from the ledge above Bilberry Buttress/Revelation, which took the oak tree with it. As a result, these routes are now covered in debris.

2. However, the large block people have traditionally descended onto (the site of fatal accidents) remains there and a descent may still be possible, albeit, signficiantly more exposed and serious, even after debris has been cleared.

3. Separately, as a result of accidents on the usual descent, a "fixed" descent down the gully to the right of Revelation and left of Centipede (looking at the crag) has been established.

Is this correct?

Also, a couple of questions, just out of curiosity...

a) Where was the rockfall from, if the large (split) block remains? Above the large block?
b) The report mentions no good anchors above the traditional descent, but I remember a crack that takes a perfect no.7 - probably two - just before the descent onto the block. Has this been destroyed?
c) I also remember that the gully to the right of Revelation(looking up at the crag) has long had an "abseil station" composed of various bits of tat around a boulder, but I usually avoid this descent due to the treacherous (especially in rockshoes when damp) downclimb to this block. Is the new abseil station above this old one, or is it simply that a stouter bit of tat has been added? I'm afraid I couldn't understand the photo.

Many thanks to Blue and others for the info!
CW

 Andy Hardy 23 Aug 2018
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Bump.

Good work chaps. (I'd love to know why your OP has gained a dislike)

Have you sent this to the BMC / FRCC / other clubs / Facebook?

1
In reply to Andy Hardy:

No, but I'm busy packing to go on holiday at the mo. Someone else?

In reply to Dave Cumberland:

> Well done Rog. Just a relief we don't have to use that death-defying descent any more!

Amen to that! It's always been the most scary thing I ever do on that crag. 

In reply to C Witter:

Answers to 1, 2, & 3 all yes. As for a, b, & c. - I don't know.

 BlueWho 23 Aug 2018
In reply to C Witter

As I wrote the original notes and have been back to the crag today here is latest.

The rockfall is the section of rock immediately to the left (looking inwards) of the split block. It's departure is what makes the pedestal feel very exposed. The pedestal itself is intact and appears not to have been affected but down climbing the back of the pedestal feels more exposed. Technically it is no harder that it was but it just feels a lot more exposed and dangerous.

There are placements above the block which take nuts or cams but then the question is as last man down do you leave the gear or brave the descent without any. I suppose the answer to that is that it depends on competence and confidence. In my opinion it's no place for a novice.

The abseil down the gully has a new anchor. This is currently two loops of 11mm with krabs attached. There is a move to replace these with steel cable but this may take a little while. The original tat in the gully is still there but it's a bit more difficult to get to than the new abseil anchors and particularly so today when rain was making things a bit slippy. The abseil isn't the cleanest one around but it is considerably more survivable than falling off the split block pedestal. The new anchors are right at the top of the gully but do need a little care to reach them particularly in the wet.

There was a large amount of loose rock where the rockfall originated. As of late this morning there is considerably less and a lot of the biggest and most dangerous detritus is now removed. However there is a lot of small stones, soil and sods still there which will wash out over time. I'd suggest that leaving gear immediately below Bilberry Buttress (and the lower right side of the crag) is not a good idea and a helmet recommended if hanging around that part of the crag.

Bilberry Buttress itself appears to be untouched. A lot of the fall hit the arete below the belay at the end of pitch 2. There appears to be loose material on the ledges there. I haven't been up to this area but I think the routes that belay here (e.g. Pluto and BB) should have been unaffected. Anything falling from the split block ledge though might give you a bit of a fright. The start of Revelation is another area where some care and awareness is in order.

 

 IanBKendal 23 Aug 2018
In reply to C Witter:

Question answers: 

a) rockfall occured to the left hand side [facing in] and level with the large block that you lower onto from the ledges above. The missing block used to form a narrow V-chimney that permitted a slightly less exposed route [but damper] than the 'blind' lower onto the pedastal block.

b) The anchors above are unaffected so roping down is still possible although the small 'ledge' to the left [facing in] of the large block is now less stable, much narrower and certainly more exposed.

c) The new abseil point is off a big spike that is higher than the older tat round a small boulder part way down the gully [although it looked that that old tat has been renewed relatively recently]. 25m ab. A single doubled 50m rope is sufficient to get you to the bottom near the start of centipede and the old descent path.

I can confirm that it does seem a lot more exposed now - I wouldn't take novices down there!

 C Witter 23 Aug 2018
In reply to BlueWho:

Thanks, that's very clarifying!

 Jim 1003 24 Aug 2018
In reply to IanBKendal:

I don't know why somebody can't put a bolted descent in that is easy to get too, instead of all this farting about it.

16
 gravy 24 Aug 2018
In reply to Jim 1003:

Yes, you do know why someone can't put a bolt in!

3
 Jim 1003 24 Aug 2018
In reply to gravy:

> Yes, you do know why someone can't put a bolt in!

I don't understand why not, it's taken 2 deaths for a rope sling, and silly comments about descents not being suitable for novices, when actually a dodgy descent isn't good for anybody, as recent events have proved. It's all so non euro cragging....

6
 Martin Bennett 24 Aug 2018
In reply to Jim 1003:

> I don't understand why not, it's taken 2 deaths for a rope sling, and silly comments about descents not being suitable for novices, when actually a dodgy descent isn't good for anybody, as recent events have proved. It's all so non euro cragging....

Dunno whether to like that or condemn it - depends how deeply your tongue is lodged in your cheek!

In reply to Jim 1003:

Because this is Britain not Europe

6
 Jim 1003 24 Aug 2018
In reply to Martin Bennett:

Yes the Lakes is wonderful, extortionate parking charges, steel hawsers instead of of a  couple of bolts, great Lakeland traditions.

5
In reply to Jim 1003:

> Yes the Lakes is wonderful, extortionate parking charges, steel hawsers instead of of a  couple of bolts, great Lakeland traditions.

I'm sure we could all chip in for a one way ticket...

2
 ianstevens 24 Aug 2018
In reply to Jim 1003:

bOlTs ArE bAd AnD rUiN tHe AdVeNtUrE

Seriously, I'm with you. Shitty tat, steel cables? But a bolt in and be done with it. Why make it a bit safer when you could just make it safe?

Post edited at 11:22
7
 John Kelly 24 Aug 2018
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Via ferrata style chain, mind i nearly fell off just getting to the rockstep.

 

 Rick Graham 24 Aug 2018
In reply to Jim 1003:

> I don't understand why not, it's taken 2 deaths for a rope sling, and silly comments about descents not being suitable for novices, when actually a dodgy descent isn't good for anybody, as recent events have proved. It's all so non euro cragging....

Yes, a  bolt belay for an abseil point could go in, but only after due process, otherwise we will have a restarting of all the bolt wars of the early 90's.

Get along to a BMC Lakes area, let the proposal be discussed and voted on over two meetings.

Simple, maybe.

In reply to Rog Wilko:

Forgive my ignorance , it is a long time since I was at Raven Crag but intend to go there in September. Do the climbs on the Left Hand Side (Original Route, Holly Tree Wall, Evening Wall) use a different descent route down by Middlefell Buttress?

 Rick Graham 24 Aug 2018
In reply to keith-ratcliffe:

There are descents off the left and right of the crag, both would take about ten minutes (at a guess, I don't stopwatch the time they take ).

Prior to the rockfall the quickest and most popular descent was a short awkward exposed section then a short steep path down. This was the "split blocks " descent.  ATM there is a new abseil set up by Blue and Max from a large spike/pillar. This ab point is left of Centipede and right of Kneewrecker Chimney. 

Not done it but described as a 35m long abseil. 

Also not sure how solid the rock is on the line of the abseil, Max and Blue have done some loose rock clearance but warn there may be a few lurkers.

Post edited at 16:51
 BlueWho 24 Aug 2018
In reply to Rick Graham:

25m abseil - a single 50m rope will do it. Currently big yellow slings.

Checked it yesterday and it is pretty clear.

Also - even with a fixed line over the split blocks it would still be quite scary. The exposure is quite high and the exit from the ledge by the split blocks would still need some care. I realise that it's been done for many years but I'm not sure that was with the same amount of traffic.

 Si Withington 25 Aug 2018

Has any consideration been given to the ab climbers left from the top (ish) of Evening Wall? Tat in ‘cave’ usually. 

 Luke90 25 Aug 2018
In reply to Si Withington:

I've been wondering why that abseil hasn't been mentioned at all (unless I've missed it?). I used it a couple of times back in May and it seemed like a perfectly reasonable option. I didn't climb anything further right than Holly Tree Direct, so perhaps it's a pain to get to if you're further away from it.

 John Kelly 25 Aug 2018
In reply to Luke90:

I can never find that tat, but I think you and SiW good point, if safe and practical raps off both sides would be handy.

 Max Biden 26 Aug 2018
In reply to John Kelly:

With regard to the new comments about an abseil descent to the left of the crag (i.e. left of Evening Wall), it should not be overlooked that there was a substantial rock fall down onto that abseil line in late 1990s from high up on the left wall of the abseil gully. It was significantly more substantial than has just occurred over on the right and was a spontaneous event occuring on an unfrequented part of the crag. The scars are still visible left of and level with the top of the main buttress and debris showing clean crystalline fracture faces still litter the gully around the start of Evening Wall and adjacent routes. Whilst abseil itself does not encroach onto the face that sheared, the whole of the left wall of that descent gully should be treated with caution and the risk of further rock falls not discounted.

Another concern with abseiling down that area is that anything dislodged whilst descending will ricochet directly down onto people based around or starting the several routes in that area. Although there is a similar risk with using the new abseil on the right, it is probably less because people tend not to base themselves as close to that fall line and there are fewer routes starting nearby.

 John Kelly 26 Aug 2018
In reply to Max Biden:

Agree it's an active gully but if the rap is not actually in the active zone does it make any difference?

Suppose it would increase the footfall in the 'danger' zone but given the quite high volume of traffic in there anyway not sure it's a show stopper.

It's a short rap with modest angle easily accessed from Original route et al

My original post was hedged with 'if safe and practical ' maybe it's not. 

 C Witter 26 Aug 2018
In reply to Jim 1003:

As others have said, it's very possible to walk off the crag - there's no need to abseil off anything; it's not a sea stack. If you've climbed in the Dolomites you'll know very well why we don't want to start putting in bolts and cemented belays for abbing off:

1) because the Lakes isn't the Dolomites, and you can usually just walk off
2) because then the little bit of good rock we have would be full of loose, rusty iron bars, each with a dodgy peg under then and two bolts to the right.

It's tragic that people have died descending Raven Crag, but unfortunately accidental deaths are a part of mountaineering, with or without bolts.

It seems to be that putting in abseils (whether these are bolted or cord or chains) might mean less accidents on a difficult scramble, but meanwhile it might increase the chances of accidents occuring whilst abseiling. Personally, even with the new ab point, I'd still advise less experienced people to avoid the abseil and walk down via Far East Raven.

 

4
 Jim 1003 27 Aug 2018
In reply to C Witter:

^What a load of bollocks...particularly surprising as you obviously know how bad the descent was and how experienced the last person who unfortunately fell was. I can't see what possible harm a bolted descent would do, but can see a lot of advantages, and it appears most other countries can sort this out, why don't you re-invent the charge of the Light Brigade, jolly good show...  

Post edited at 23:39
20
 C Witter 28 Aug 2018
In reply to Jim 1003:

I feel a bit uncomfortable discussing this, knowing that it is a very sensitive issue given the terrible accidents that have occured, resulting in us losing a really great person recently.

But, I would say that the old descent was readily protectable. Since that terrible accident, my system has been to rope up, then protect my less experienced partners with an Italian hitch off a bomber no.7. Once on the ledge, they would sling a spike, attach themselves to it, and then belay me as I removed the nut and then carefully descended. Not 100% bomb proof, but a method to hopefully avoid the possiblilty of falling off the cliff. I'm sure other anchors were possible, as well as other descents. Before that accident "woke me up", however, I used to do that descent unroped - just because that was how I did it the first time, as a novice, when someone else introduced me to the crag and the descent. My understanding was that an unroped ascent was just "how it was done", and that any fear or concern was my problem as "real climbers" just got on with it. So, rather than a lack of protection options, the problem with my approach to that descent was following other people's footsteps, rather than making my own decisions, taking others' habits for granted rather than looking at things with fresh eyes. It's a real shame that it took someone losing their life for me to learn this, but I'm grateful to them for the lesson.

My point here is that the mistake I was making in deciding how to descend was not one connected with a lack of bolts, but something else I was lacking. I hope that sounds reasonable, but if not, then let's respectfully agree to disagree. I can see that bolts have some advantages, even whilst I don't want to see Lakeland trad crags bolted.

And having said all this, I'm grateful for another option being provided - the stout rope/future chain that Max and Blue have installed, which will aid undertaking a safe abseil descent.

Post edited at 08:15
 Jim 1003 28 Aug 2018
In reply to C Witter:

There is definitely a pressure on people to undertake dodgy descents rather than be branded a wimp for putting gear in. Don't really understand it myself, and I wonder how large the pile of bodies at the bottom would be before the BMC or FRCC would decide to install an alternative fixed descent for an obviously dangerous route. In Europe there would be bolts, or cable or a steel rung. I remember climbing on Scafell one weekend and heard a lot of screaming and unfortunately somebody fell off Broad Stand and was killed. A few hours later somebody else fell off and was also killed or seriously injured. I was climbing with a French girl who then undertook the descent wondering why there was nothing in situ. We had just climbed Central Buttress and the most dangerous part of the day was the descent, which also probably applies to any routes on Raven Crag. Of course we cant put anything in to safeguard people, where would it all end? OMG a bolt on Napes Needle? Jolly good show though.

8
 C Witter 28 Aug 2018
In reply to Jim 1003:

Yes, it often does seem that descents are the most dangerous part of the day - and Broad Stand is a pretty notorious accident hotspot. I think in Italy or France there'd probably be something in situ, though this still might not be useful if you turn up on a walk without a harness, etc., unless you put in a fixed-rope or cable to use as a handrail. Interventions of this kind would dramatically change the character of the Lakes and would need consensus - which I don't think they would get.

With regard to Broad Stand, I think it's always possible to do more to advertise the dangers of this route to walkers. But, it is difficult to engage with people outside of the various communities and forums that do exist for walkers/mountaineers/climbers. I feel like the internet is helping people communicate about things like this, though - e.g. FB pages on scrambling or this forum where queries are often posted along the lines of "Would Middlefell Buttress be ok for a novice?"

With regard to climbers' descents, again I think it's about educating people rather than bolts, e.g. a video on descents and their dangers could be added to the excellent instructional video series produced by people like the BMC and UKC, whilst as individuals we can talk about it with our partners, club members and those friends/family members we introduce to climbing.

 Jim 1003 29 Aug 2018
In reply to C Witter:

> Yes, it often does seem that descents are the most dangerous part of the day - and Broad Stand is a pretty notorious accident hotspot. I think in Italy or France there'd probably be something in situ, though this still might not be useful if you turn up on a walk without a harness, etc., unless you put in a fixed-rope or cable to use as a handrail. Interventions of this kind would dramatically change the character of the Lakes and would need consensus - which I don't think they would get.

> With regard to Broad Stand, I think it's always possible to do more to advertise the dangers of this route to walkers. But, it is difficult to engage with people outside of the various communities and forums that do exist for walkers/mountaineers/climbers. I feel like the internet is helping people communicate about things like this, though - e.g. FB pages on scrambling or this forum where queries are often posted along the lines of "Would Middlefell Buttress be ok for a novice?"

> With regard to climbers' descents, again I think it's about educating people rather than bolts, e.g. a video on descents and their dangers could be added to the excellent instructional video series produced by people like the BMC and UKC, whilst as individuals we can talk about it with our partners, club members and those friends/family members we introduce to climbing.

It's not about that though is it? The last 2 fatal accidents were very experienced people. I think my point is somebody has decided that the descent is dangerous enough now to warrant an abseil descent, and I'm saying pity that wasn't sorted before the 2 fatalities, it was obviously very dangerous before.

Post edited at 23:40
1
 cathsullivan 30 Aug 2018
In reply to Jim 1003:

> ...and I'm saying pity that wasn't sorted before the 2 fatalities, it was obviously very dangerous before.

If that was your view, why didn't you install an abseil sooner? Why wait for somebody else to do it and then ask why 'somebody' didn't do it sooner?  I hope that doesn't come across as confrontational ... but I just can't help but wonder who you think is responsible for all of this and why.

I think it's very hard to disagree with C Witter's point that abseil descent is not risk free and we'd all do well to keep remembering that and discussing it constructively.  The decision about the best way to get down from anywhere can only be judged by those who are there, at that time, in those conditions. An ab station being installed will give people more options, and I can see why many people welcome that move, but we all know that abseiling has some risks that need to be managed and to be communicated to those with less experience.  And the decision about what is safest in any specific situation remains something that isn't entirely black and white whether we have abseil stations or not.

Post edited at 11:15
 C Witter 30 Aug 2018
In reply to Jim 1003:

When there are fatalities it's really tough and I don't know who you are or what your relation is to these people, so forgive me if anything I say seems insensitive.

Reading over your response, I think there is a contradiction in what you've said: on the one hand "very experienced people" used this descent and thought it within acceptable limits of risk. On the other, it was "obviously very dangerous" and "somebody" should have done something about it.

I don't think this "somebody" who goes around making crags safe exists. Rather, we are a community who have some broad shared understandings of accepted practice, commonsense, etc. Within that, we all make our own individual decisions - to climb with this person or not, to solo or to rope up, to ab off or to walk down.  Sometimes a terrible accident happens and that understanding shifts. People say to each other: maybe we can do something differently, and someone, almost always voluntarily, takes that task upon themselves (e.g. cleaning a crag, tumbling loose blocks, installing some sound ab tat, updating information about a crag). Having taken that task on doesn't make them responsible. And in my view, nor are the BMC, the FRCC or guidebook writers responsible for the decisions people make.

It has always been possible to descend from Raven Crag by several different scrambling/walking routes and by abseil. The fact that many of us decided to take the "traditional" descent under discussion was exactly that - our decision. And despite the sadness we feel in response to accidents, ultimately, one of the things that is so wonderful about mountaineering is precisely that it is a space in which we are able to regain and assert our autonomy. I'm sure people will continue to use this descent, and it will continue to be their right to make the decision to do so, even whilst it might be a good idea to warn them "it's treacherous down there; it might be better to ab".

p.s.  Just a note: I've not "disliked" any of your posts, as I don't like these kind of passive aggressive responses.

Best wishes,
CW

In reply to Rog Wilko:

I think there is an assumption in the UK that a climb ends at the top of the crag and getting down will be a simple walk off.  Not only do we coil the ropes away, we tend to relax mentally, and we may then not always make good judgements.  However not all descents are simple - the descent from Idwal Slabs is another notorious spot.  

Like many others, I've done that descent from Raven Crag countless times and whilst I've always treated it with some trepidation, like many others I've tended to assume that is a result my own weakness and that I should man up and be able to tackle what is a slightly tricky, but potentially dangerous, scramble without protection.

My guidebook, which admittedly is an older edition, recommends the split blocks descent and strongly discourages taking the path away from the top of the crag.  That advice is repeated in the 2003 FRCC "Lakeland Rock" guide.

Perhaps guidebook writers could be a little more alive to the potential dangers of some descents.  If recommending a descent route which is potentially dangerous, just pointing this out and perhaps suggesting that some parties might wish to rope-up would "give permission" to do so.  Whilst we should all be capable of making our own decisions about safety, peer-pressure and a relaxed state of mind means that all too often we do not.

 

 Jim 1003 31 Aug 2018
In reply to C Witter:

The somebody does exist as you can see from posts above, in this case it was Blue, in association with the BMC.

2
 Jim 1003 31 Aug 2018
In reply to cathsullivan:

> If that was your view, why didn't you install an abseil sooner? Why wait for somebody else to do it and then ask why 'somebody' didn't do it sooner?  I hope that doesn't come across as confrontational ... but I just can't help but wonder who you think is responsible for all of this and why.

> I think it's very hard to disagree with C Witter's point that abseil descent is not risk free and we'd all do well to keep remembering that and discussing it constructively.  The decision about the best way to get down from anywhere can only be judged by those who are there, at that time, in those conditions. An ab station being installed will give people more options, and I can see why many people welcome that move, but we all know that abseiling has some risks that need to be managed and to be communicated to those with less experience.  And the decision about what is safest in any specific situation remains something that isn't entirely black and white whether we have abseil stations or not.

Bollocks, of course it's safer to abseil than use dodgy descents, that's why abseil descents exist, as well as convenience.

10
 danm 31 Aug 2018
In reply to Howard J:

The latest selected guide, the Wired guide Lake District Rock, does exactly as you suggest. In the intro to Raven Crag, at the start of the descent description there is an exclamation mark symbol followed by the word "Care". The warning symbol is prevalent throughout the book to mark descents where extra care is required, Lord's Rake descent off Scafell gets a similar treatment. The skull and crossbones symbol also gets used, notably for the Broad Stand descent where the guide shows the alternative block abseil instead. To me, it looks as though the guidebook writers have gone to great lengths to alert users of dangerous descents, without it taking the guidebook over.

In reply to Howard J:

No doubt all climbers are aware of the fact that the activity involves a degree of risk which can never be reduced to zero if only because of the weaknesses inherent in being a human being such as a propensity to lose concentration or to cease vigilance prematurely. Put briefly accidents willl happen. Climbers, scramblers, walkers all need to take responsibility for their own safety. This is made more difficult when operating in the absence of information, which is why pioneering is more dangerous. What I am saying is that it is futile to try to engineer away all risk because there will always be one more risky spot to be dealt with. Mention has been made of Broad Stand and many pleas have been made to "make it safe", especially after tragic events. Anyone familiar with BS will know that the climbing is not straightforward jug-pulling and the consequences of a mistake are likely to be devastating, and putting in chains or the like would probably attract more suitors and result in just different people suffering injury or worse. Information which gives an accurate idea of the risk is needed and people must then take responsibility for their own actions. 

When it comes to something like the Raven Crag descent I personally believe that the guidebooks have not adequately explained the risk. In view of the attraction of the crag for less experienced climbers  I would favour the posting of a permanent sign at the beginning of the descent, suggesting ways of coping with the risk such as roping up or using an abseil, specifically the recently fixed one in Bluebell gully. There is no real reason for not having a fixed, even bolted, abseil station in such a location. Only climbers would see it and there is at least one precedent in Langdale on Gimmer. I suspect that few climbers familiar with the crag would make use of it, but that would be them taking responsibility (see above). I realise that this isn't entirely consistent with the paragraph above, but it is still largely about giving people the info, leaving them to make their decision. Just one bolt on the split block descent wouldn't help all that much in my view.

 

1
 John Kelly 14 Sep 2018
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Just come down the new abseil, very wet. 

Bloody great ring bolt just above the remaining blocks

 C Witter 14 Sep 2018
In reply to John Kelly:

Someone put in a new bolt?

If so, I can't condemn it, but I really don't think it was needed.

 John Kelly 15 Sep 2018
In reply to C Witter:

Sorry I was very ambiguous

the new abseil is a good thing but it's very wet and has a load of stones threatening.

IMO a bloody big ring bolt above the split blocks would be a better long term solution 

1
 facet 15 Sep 2018
In reply to Rog Wilko:

I fixed/permanent sign is okay, but not a bolt for a safer descent - madness!

 C Witter 15 Sep 2018
In reply to John Kelly:

Thanks for the clarification.

Personally, I don't think a bolt or a sign is needed, and in response to Rog's points I don't think it's at all fair to the guidebook writers to say that the guide isn't clear enough.

We shouldn't start putting signs up above every steep drop or viewing guidebooks as though they obviate the necessity of making our own decisions. If a belay suggested by a guidebook is no longer possible, we shouldn't blame the guidebook; if a block on a route has become loose and dangerous, we shouldn't blame the guidebook writer; if a guidebook points to a spot where people often abseil, and we find only degraded tat and haven't brought any tat of our own, we shoudn't blame the guidebook writer; if we decide to scramble down a precipitous path and find it to be dangerous, again, that is not the guidebook writer's fault.

Rog said that "this is about giving people info", but frankly, no one standing above the scramble descent needed a sign to tell them that it was going to be an awkward and potentially dangerous way down. That has always been obvious. The fact that many of us undertake descending that way anyway is not an issue that needs to be, or can be, "solved" by signs or bolts or recrimination.

I feel quite confused that, despite, e.g. the BMC participation statement and a long mountaineering tradition, people feel "someone" should go around putting up safety notices or equipping Lakes crags with bolts.

1
 facet 15 Sep 2018
In reply to C Witter:

> We shouldn't start putting signs up above every steep drop or viewing guidebooks as though they obviate the necessity of making our own decisions. If a belay suggested by a guidebook is no longer possible, we shouldn't blame the guidebook; if a block on a route has become loose and dangerous, we shouldn't blame the guidebook writer; if a guidebook points to a spot where people often abseil, and we find only degraded tat and haven't brought any tat of our own, we shoudn't blame the guidebook writer; if we decide to scramble down a precipitous path and find it to be dangerous, again, that is not the guidebook writer's fault.

I agree with this completly. But... I think at some accident black spots such as Raven Crag as discussed and Broad Stand common sense should prevail and if an easy solution exists such a bolt or cable which would prevent further accidents and deaths then this should happen. This is were the history/tradition gets in the way of common sense. Would the whole Lakes be worse with 2 fixed bits of gear at these 2 locations - clearly not. How can climbers argue not to do this when fix the fells and the Park Authority are ('trying to help') making massive often unsightly adjustments to footpaths to 'control' errosion.... and zip wires may, or may not come... it just doesn't compute. I suspect if more people were honest its the worry of 'creep' and more and more artificial adjustments being added - which maybe is a valid point but shouldn't stop sensible measures to reduce loss of life in proven accident black spots.

 

2
 C Witter 15 Sep 2018
In reply to facet:

I think these are reasonable sounding points, but:

1) we are not actually agreed on what common sense is, in this case
2) there is no "easy solution" - a good ab station is a partial solution, but not a whole solution - besides which, it's already been done and I'm not speaking against it.

So, I don't think your response actually connects with any of the points I made. Trad ethics are not the problem, here - they 'getting in the way of nothing'. The problem is that, once tragedy happens, people go around blaming each other and proposing "easy solutions" like putting up signs and planting bolts, rather than facing the fact that mountaineering is dangerous and being prepared to learn from it, e.g. by thinking about how we approach risk and how we can improve our personal and collective practices - something which is not the same as saying: lob in a bolt and put in an extra exclamation mark in the guidebook.

 niallk 24 Sep 2018
In reply to C Witter:

> Personally, I don't think a bolt or a sign is needed, and in response to Rog's points I don't think it's at all fair to the guidebook writers to say that the guide isn't clear enough.

> We shouldn't start putting signs up above every steep drop or viewing guidebooks as though they obviate the necessity of making our own decisions. If a belay suggested by a guidebook is no longer possible, we shouldn't blame the guidebook; if a block on a route has become loose and dangerous, we shouldn't blame the guidebook writer; if a guidebook points to a spot where people often abseil, and we find only degraded tat and haven't brought any tat of our own, we shoudn't blame the guidebook writer; if we decide to scramble down a precipitous path and find it to be dangerous, again, that is not the guidebook writer's fault.

Having climbed on Raven’s crag for the first time on Saturday without knowing any of the above thread in advance, the confusing aspect of the FRCC guidebook is the pretty explicit instruction NOT to go up and right from the climbs. Folk on here have suggested a longer walk off that direction is possible. That the scramble is hairy is obvious on inspection.

Whilst you taking your own view on such a walk off is also possible, I guess the suspicion from the description and view is you end up on sketchy intermediate ground, possibly after lots of fruitless travel/scrambling on dodgy ground.

FWIW we opted to explore other options and were thankful for the shiny cable and it’s grotty abseil one time and another party’s fresh static rope/maillon in Raven’s gully.  Though I suspect we would have opted to risk losing a nut on the scramble if forced.

 

Post edited at 23:18
 C Witter 06 Oct 2018
In reply to niallk:

> Having climbed on Raven’s crag for the first time on Saturday without knowing any of the above thread in advance, the confusing aspect of the FRCC guidebook is the pretty explicit instruction NOT to go up and right from the climbs. Folk on here have suggested a longer walk off that direction is possible. That the scramble is hairy is obvious on inspection.

You've somewhat decontextualised this. The guidebook says: "Do not follow the path leading up right from the top of the climbs. That terrace leads into a gully which finishes in very steep ground requiring an abseil." The Langdale Guide also has a picture on p.135 and another on pp.152-153, which show a skull and cross bones above the gully. When I read this, it is utterly explicit to me that the writers are warning the reader not to attempt an unroped descent of the gully. If I understand correctly, this is the same "grotty" gully you abseiled down on the newly installed wire.

FWIW, if you refuse to read a guide carefully, then don't be surprised if you end up confused. FWIW, once you decided to, you managed to make your own decisions, judging the risks for yourself - which is exactly what I propose all climbers should do, rather than blaming guidebook writers. 

 

Post edited at 18:43
1
In reply to C Witter:

Both my guides (the 1999 FRCC for Langdale, and the FRCC "Selected climbs" say "Do not follow the path...) with the word "not" emphasised in bold type.  I don't interpret that as simply advice not to attempt an descent of it without being roped up, it is an emphatic warning to avoid it, with the consequence of finding yourself on dodgy ground requiring an abseil to escape if you ignore it.  That seems explicit enough to me.  The guide does not suggest that it is possible to go beyond the gully to reach a descent route further over, it clearly advises not going in that direction at all.

Of course climbers should make their own decisions and judge risks for themselves.  However the effects of confirmation bias are well known, and it can be difficult to make a decision to get the rope out when you have only just put it away.  It is easy to think of the descent route as 'the easy way down' and to persuade yourself that "we are climbers, we should be able to cope with this" when faced with difficulties, particularly when others are around. 

It is not a question of blaming guidebook writers rather than using one's own judgement.  However, even before the recent rockfall, to describe the block descent where fatalities have occurred to experienced climbers as merely "tricky" seems slightly inadequate. Surely the purpose of a guidebook is to provide information for people who may not be familiar with the crag, and that should include pointing out potential hazards.  A suggestion that some parties might find a rope advisable would be both a reminder and would help overcome confirmation bias by giving "permission" to do so.

 

Post edited at 15:32

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