Manchester University Mountaineering Club will be heading to Castle Naze tomorrow (11/10/2020) for the day. We'll be setting up top ropes to stay socially distanced. Everything we're doing will remain within the BMC covid guidelines. Apologies for any inconveniences this causes anyone
Are you sure that you are saying within the guidelines imposed by the government?
From the .gov website
"Social contact restrictions
If you live in one of the affected areas, in order to help prevent the spread of coronavirus you must not:
meet people you do not live with in their home or garden, whether inside or outside the affected local areas, unless they’re in your support or childcare bubble"
"In the affected local areas, we also advise that you should not:
meet with people you do not live with, unless they’re in your support bubble, in any public venue."
I wouldn't have even bothered giving a courtesy message on UKC if i were you. I'm sure you'll get more plastic COVID police slagging you off for this.
Have fun climbing.
> I wouldn't have even bothered giving a courtesy message on UKC if i were you. I'm sure you'll get more plastic COVID police slagging you off for this.
> Have fun climbing.
Could be more of an issue if the real police decided they were in breach of the rules.
Not sure the university would be too keen on the exposure either.
It probably would be better to not advertise these events on UKC
Have you read this?
The exemption which allows more than 6 to take part in activities organised by a formal sports club and with a risk assessment still applies.
Expect to be met with locals waving pitchforks though.
> Have you read this?
"You can continue to take part in organised sporting or licensed physical activity in groups of more than 6 outdoors and up to 6 people indoors (for over 18s)."
Restrictions on car sharing still apply though, and given the limited parking and the smallness of the crag I wonder if Castle Naze is a sensible choice?
> It probably would be better to not advertise these events on UKC
Agree with that
Might be worth reading the exemptions as well which will clear up any confusion
> Have you?
> "You can continue to take part in organised sporting or licensed physical activity in groups of more than 6 outdoors and up to 6 people indoors (for over 18s)."
Reading further and each individual sport needs to submit an Action Plan to the Government before that sport can commence.
There is a list of Governing Bodies that have done so and as far as I can tell, there isn't anything that allows organised climbing as there is no relevant Body in the list.
I assume that the BMC should have done so on behalf of climbing, etc. and they definitely aren't on the list.
Regardless of exemptions for affiliated club following governing / representative body guidelines, given the case numbers associated the university and recent high profile issues, I’m surprised that this has been sanctioned by the University / Union.
That is team sports and I don’t think climbing will be classified as a team sport. I have been organising COVID compliant athletics. England Athletics aren’t on that list either, but they have definitely got the appropriate approvals.
To be fair, the guidance from all sides is confusing and often contradictory and massively open to interpretation.
The interpretation being the big issue because if one person thinks it's problem and then sticks it on twitter where it subsequently gets picked up by a tabloid hack, the next thing you know it's everywhere.
The police would have nothing to say. Outdoors in public spaces it is only guidance, not rules. The legislation only covers indoor settings (and private gardens), which is why the final paragraph in the guidance you quoted says "advise" rather than using the word "must." (Edit to clarify: this comment is in response to your quote about socialising outside of your household.)
The national rule of six does still apply though, or 30 if they are an organised club with a risk assessment.
As long as none of the students are currently symptomatic or supposed to be isolating then good on them for going and I hope they have a good time, they must need it.
The BMC posted guidance on their website explaining what climbing clubs needed to do to adhere to the guidance for taking out larger groups a few weeks ago, including a link to some extra info on the sport England website. So I'm sure they've done what they need to do.
> Have you?
I'm not thinking of being responsible for taking [however many people it happens to be] out of an area with a local lockdown and into one that's competitively covid free.
So much negativity, it's depressing.
A decent weekend of weather, a relatively local crag, a plan within the guidelines, a public notice to discourage other paranoid people from going to the crag. Is this actually a problem?
These are likely to be the more active and switched on students attempting to enjoy the outdoors before a very long winter. Far better than most other sports or going on the p1ss.
'Local lockdown?' In Manchester? It just a headline. There's some subtle changes to normal life, which is effectively no parties or going in others folk's houses. You can still go to the pub for 90% of the opening hours, play rugby, work in a factory, stay in a hotel, go for an indian, go to the cinema, and do practically everything you can normally do as long as you're 2 metres apart.
Including climbing. In groups of 30, if you're in an organised club and follow the guidance.
If people feel the need to shame someone, start with the millions of clueless over 70's who are still pottering around shops and stand a genuine risk of the virus killing them.
> Are you sure that you are saying within the guidelines imposed by the government?
> From the .gov website
> "Social contact restrictions
> If you live in one of the affected areas, in order to help prevent the spread of coronavirus you must not:
> meet people you do not live with in their home or garden, whether inside or outside the affected local areas, unless they’re in your support or childcare bubble"
> "In the affected local areas, we also advise that you should not:
> meet with people you do not live with, unless they’re in your support bubble, in any public venue."
This all becomes much clearer when you realise that 'social' contact and 'exercise'/'sport' are treated completely differently in the guidance and regulations.
The intent is to minimise all social contact outside household groups, whilst still allowing people to exercise sensibly with others. The BMC guidance follows this. You can climb indoors & outdoors in groups of 6. You can organise groups of up to 30 using the BMC guidance.
Can't believe that no one's mentioned that Castle Naze isn't great for setting up top ropes? Belays are often in questionable rock and there's a stake above the already polished to buggery Scoop Face.
Just to clarify.
You won't read the guidelines that actually apply to the situation the OP is talking about.
But you will read the guidelines that don't apply to the situation the OP is talking about.
> This all becomes much clearer when you realise that 'social' contact and 'exercise'/'sport' are treated completely differently in the guidance and regulations.
> The intent is to minimise all social contact outside household groups, whilst still allowing people to exercise sensibly with others. The BMC guidance follows this. You can climb indoors & outdoors in groups of 6. You can organise groups of up to 30 using the BMC guidance.
This is not really all true. Social contact in the regs is not defined by a location. It can be anywhere and includes when playing sport.
In Manchester you're correct you can climb indoors in groups of six because social contact outside of your household group is only banned in private dwellings. In Liverpool and the NE that's already not the case. Indoors it's household groups only unless you are in work or education. The Hangar have had to start telling people they can't allow mixed household groups to come together.
To the OP:
I think you missed something off about not hogging the crag, being courteous, letting other users climb and trying not to inconvenience other people (as per BMC guidelines).
After all the point about posting here is not to act as if you have booked exclusive access to the place and to acknowledge you don't have carte blanche over the crag.
Anyway it looks like a nice day tomorrow, have fun and thanks for advertising the trip.
To be honest, while it is courteous to post about it here, even pre-COVID it genuinely doesn't matter what crag you pick and what you intend to do there always is something bitching about it, so while I still think it's the right call to publicise it, JWhittaker has a point there. We had that happened on multiple occasions with my old climbing club and we don't even set up top ropes, it's all lead/second pairs.
Just go back and read what I posted, smartarse.
Not so strange, eh?
So basically you is going, so f*ck you. No worries its the middle class way.
> The Hangar have had to start telling people they can't allow mixed household groups to come together.
thanks, I was wondering about this as it’s surely only a matter of time before other areas have the same restriction.
I apologise. Given the fact that you posted a link to the government page on the local restrictions in Manchester, I assumed you had read them.
slab_happy then posted a link to the relevant page that outlined how organised sporting events are able to happen. To which he asked if you had read them, and you replied 'no'.
From your first post, I got the impression that you didn't think it would be within government guidelines. But, from links posted organised sporting events are allowed.
What I found strange is that you neglected to read the relevant page that relates to the activity the OP is talking about, even though you decided to start a discussion about the legality/guideline compliance of a trip like this.
> I'm not thinking of being responsible for taking [however many people it happens to be] out of an area with a local lockdown and into one that's competitively covid free.
I think this is the part you want me to go back and read? Yes, I read it. But they are going to a crag for god's sake not having a party in Buxton.
One could have an argument until the end of time about what should be/shouldn't be allowed, what should close and who shouldn't be able to go where. Football, Rugby etc have been going on and I'd argue that there is a greater chance of transmission there than in climbing. However, the fact is the government have decided that activities of this sort can happen.
No doubt the club will be following all the guidelines set out to limit transmission so, to be honest, I don't see why you have a problem with it. Unless of course, you were planning on going to Castle Naze tomorrow.
I agree with what Steve Clark mentioned about it probably being a good thing for uni students to get out in a covid compliant environment rather than being cooped up or be actually breaking covid guidelines because they have nothing better to do.
So yes we could do it your way and lock every uni student away, not allowing them any social interaction, but I can guarantee their mental health will be a damn sight worse.
You suggest in your ‘Who’s not going to the wall thread’ that climbing indoors isn’t COVID safe at the moment, then have a go at these guys for wanting to get outside (whilst sticking to the current BMC guidelines)?
If you choose not climb right now that’s totally fair enough, but we’ve all got to stay (relatively) sane somehow
Lay off the moral outrage
Well if youre taking it in that direction..
Then get back in your box you complete bell end.
Sign of the times, 30 students all with independent non shared transport.
> If people feel the need to shame someone, start with the millions of clueless over 70's who are still pottering around shops and stand a genuine risk of the virus killing them.
You can't have the precious economy going if you want to preclude "millions" from spending money in shops. With the best will in the world, a bunch of students spending their loans on cut price beer in Wetherspoons ain't going to do it.
I'm sure what you are doing is legal, given new restrictions aren't coming into force before next week, but given how paranoid MU is about students mixing outside their social bubbles, I'm surprised the university sanctioned this meet.
Given what you are doing is highly likely to be illegal from next week, iand given the rate of infection in MU students, s this any better than a last weekend blowout in 'Spoons?
Illegal? Not yet. Antisocial and thoughtless?...
You make some good points. Castle Naze is a delightful crag. Some cracking VS+ climbs although the ones below that grade are really tough. Not much quality in the Vdiff sector in my opinion. Very diffiernet V Diffs to Windgather for example.
I agree with you regarding the very limited parking. Only enough room for around six cars if I remember??? Dropping people off might work if that could be done Covid compliant??
I always find it irritating where parking at any crag is monopolised by any single group. That applied pre Covid to be honest.
Good luck to all who are trying to get out and enjoy the crags where possible. Just take into consideration the overall picture and effect it may have on all who may be affected. (Infected)
I suspect that they'll hire a minibus if there's a lot of them. As far as I'm aware this isn't restricted - there were a couple of minibuses in use for some kind of club outing when I was climbing in Yorkshire recently.
Whether a minibus full of students is a good idea or not is another matter!
> You can't have the precious economy going if you want to preclude "millions" from spending money in shops. With the best will in the world, a bunch of students spending their loans on cut price beer in Wetherspoons ain't going to do it.
A hospitalised older person will cost the economy far more than any VAT, corp tax and associated employment taxes they may generate. Brutally, if they're dead, they won't be shopping in 2021. If they're in hospital, other people needing cancer diagnosis & treatment are negatively affected.
There's no reason for them to be locked in their houses, but there is a high level of ignorance by many. There should be no need for them to going in to chemist to collect prescriptions for example. Meeting up with friends can happen in a socially distanced way in a park, rather than in the local cafe.
As I understand it, people with underlying health conditions & the over 80's are at FAR higher risk of death or long hospital stays. I don't think many actually take this on board and perhaps this needs to be spelt out with some practical training by their doctors or PHE, rather than some small print on a website.
And there are millions of these at risk but unaware people in the high street, you say ?
> And there are millions of these at risk but unaware people in the high street, you say ?
In my limited exposure to it, yes. I run a small construction firm, and we've spent a lot of time recently in small town GP surgeries & pharmacies fitting glass protection screens & modifying room layouts. There is a worryingly large number of older folks just wandering in with no regard to PPE or self preservation. More recently, these buildings have started having dedicated staff to manage people before they enter the building.
It doesn't seem to be happening in the larger towns & cities (Preston, Blackpool & Lancaster near us), older people seem to be avoiding them. Outside of term, Manchester city centre was noticeably quieter than the surrounding smaller town centres.
The smaller towns, with higher retired populations (St Annes, Cleveleys, Kirkham), there are a lot of retired people out and about. These don't seem to be essential trips, just general shopping and socialising. Generally, people just carrying on as normal. Mask wearing at <50%. I don't blame them, but the message is clearly not getting through.
This seems to be backed up by feedback from retail. One of our customers runs a franchise of 25 o2 mobile phone shops in the north-west. He's noticed a real downturn in his high-rent shopping centre stores, whilst the local small town shops are busier than ever. Older people avoiding the journey and seeking out their local shop.
> I suspect that they'll hire a minibus if there's a lot of them. As far as I'm aware this isn't restricted
Like much of the guidance I don't think this is actually illegal, but we are asked not to share private vehicles with people outside our household bubble. I believe some minibus firms have been installing dividers, but capacity is reduced, so a 12 seater bus can only carry 6 people.
I think the objections to Castle Naze for a visit of this nature are less to do with Covid than the nature of the crag itself, for the reasons already given.
Of course it's better than a weekend in Spoons!
I don't know the crag, so can't comment on the appropriateness of that, but if they are outside climbing rather than hanging around uni halls or pubs then they are being FAR lower risk! Outdoors is minimal risk and I think should be encouraged for all! Stay outdoors, not in pubs or cafes or shops!
To the OP, I hope you are able to manage the group in such a way that other users are not put out and I hope you all have a lovely day!
> Restrictions on car sharing still apply though, and given the limited parking...
They'll probably be cycling there...
Thanks for telling us.
Thanks for having done the risk assessment and complying with guidance.
Hope you had fun.
> I suspect that they'll hire a minibus if there's a lot of them. As far as I'm aware this isn't restricted - there were a couple of minibuses in use for some kind of club outing when I was climbing in Yorkshire recently.
Can we please not sink to pitchforking people on "I suspect"?
Jeez, that's a lot of words in my mouth. Speaking as someone who has organised public events during pandemic regulations, I asked whether the organisers had done their research as the trip seemed to be pushing boundaries. It's not my job to read the guidelines for them, is it?
Anyway, glad you got all that off your chest. Hope you didn't get too red in the face while typing it.
> I agree with you regarding the very limited parking. Only enough room for around six cars if I remember??? Dropping people off might work if that could be done Covid compliant??
It's not a great choice for a club meet to be honest, it'll be hard to spread out while still being courteous to other climbers who have just as much right to be there.
On the subject of parking, it is possible to park at Chapel en le Frith station from where it's about a 30 min walk up the hill to the crag.
Sorry, I never saw this post before Sunday. The reality of the MUMC heading to Castle Naze was this. A team of two show up for a nice day of climbing (me and a buddy). 30+ people show an hour after we had started, throwing top ropes down, and showing no regard for social distancing. We did not feel safe from a COVID perspective, or fancy our chances of getting on any further routes. We felt forced to leave. One could debate crag etiquette, or if Castle Naze if a good venue to support that number of people. I can see no defense that this was a sensible decision considering COVID.
> Sorry, I never saw this post before Sunday......
Not sure what you have to apologise for!
The OP clearly has some sense of responsibility, hence the post - but the reported behaviour at the crag suggests this is the equivalent of shouting 'below' as you chuck your rope down onto someone's head!
Why Castle Naze? What was plan B in case there were already a dozen or more people there?
This is not an anti-uni groups post - just an anti-antisocial behaviour post.
Not sure what the four (so far) dislikes were for. Suggesting that people walk more than 30 minutes to a crag in the Peak?
I think you've missed the point of what I was trying to say. I was asking why you would link a document that doesn't apply given there is another that sets out different guidelines that are appropriate for the event.
> Speaking as someone who has organised public events during pandemic regulations
So you will be aware of the exemptions.
> Anyway, glad you got all that off your chest.
I was trying to convey in full where I was coming from because clearly there was a misunderstanding. Next time I'll keep it short and sarcastic if you would prefer?
> Hope you didn't get too red in the face while typing it.
My face was suitably pale. Thank you for your concern though.
Is it worth writing to the MUMC about this and possibly the uni itself? Use this forum topic as an indicator about the suitabilty of the crag as well as the concerns about Covid compliance.
I was doubtful about Castle Naze as a venue for large groups in the first place but 30 sounds well over the top. Larger crags can take that number by spreading out along the crag but certainly not Castle Naze, especially if it has been compounded by top-ropes.
Difficult for you to tell but did they take up the parking spaces as well?
Don't wish to be a killjoy as an ex-student and a member of a club where we have ran events with 15-20 climbers. We did, however, spread out over the crag and never used small crags for large groups.
From your description it sounds like a poor show from the club. I would hope that they would read this and hopefully respond with their viewpoint.
Crap choice of crag for a group. I didn't bother to post last night as it was Sunday night, had already happened and I had no idea about the size of the group involved. Optimistially, I assumed that someone somewhere had considered the suitability of the crag for the planned gathering. Castle Naze for 30+ students? Really? Do you honestly think that's fair on anyone else who happens to be at the same crag?
It's got nothing to do with covid, and everything to do with screwing over other people.
Yes please, short and sarcastic would suit me much better than having to read the several hundred, largely misplaced, words you've typed. If you remember, all I asked was whether the organiser was aware of the guidelines!
I've just bet a fiver that you're a MUMC member. Can you settle the bet for us?
> Sorry, I never saw this post before Sunday. The reality of the MUMC heading to Castle Naze was this. A team of two show up for a nice day of climbing (me and a buddy). 30+ people show an hour after we had started, throwing top ropes down, and showing no regard for social distancing. We did not feel safe from a COVID perspective, or fancy our chances of getting on any further routes. We felt forced to leave. One could debate crag etiquette, or if Castle Naze if a good venue to support that number of people. I can see no defense that this was a sensible decision considering COVID.
On the other hand, if you and your mate were the only other people there, then it was nearly an awesome choice for a crag.
We arrived early, and left early. I couldn’t tell you if others had to change plans. Castle Naze would feel busy with 4 pairs of climbers. Whilst I applaud your efforts to find an upside, I would find it hard to do the same. Maybe an organised event of 30 odd people showing up at small crag could be viewed as exercising ones right to enjoy the outdoors, and if you try hard enough you could find no explicit reason not to do exactly as you may want. Or it could be viewed as a selfish, ill conceived idea in these times. In terms of view point, we may each have an opinion on the monopolisation of a crag by a group with top ropes, and how that may impact those who wish to climb in good style, ground up on lead. Organisers would also have a duty to ensure a suitable venue for group use, or perhaps if numbers too great, then even multiple venues. In terms of social distancing there was none, not 2 meters, not 1 meter plus, not a single face covering present. I live in a household with an extremely vulnerable person (transplant patient), so my lockdown was longer, and I have to make adjustments to my climbing plans thereafter (limited partners/ wearing of face masks while climbing). I am a big hairy guy, COVID is unlikely to ruffle my feathers, but it would likely have devastating a effect on loved ones, and vulnerable people in the community generally. Yes I have the local knowledge and flexibility to move on to a different crag, should I have too? No pitchforks were needed, though as much of this discussion seems to be over rights rather than the right thing to do, I do reserve the right to defend my rights with the aforementioned hay moving instrument. The only fact of the matter is two climbers out for a quiet day, were made to feel so uncomfortable by the size of an organised group, they felt they had no other choice but to change venue. Neither of us are particularly sensitive individuals, but we quickly came to a consensus. The outdoors is not a commodity, trad climbing is not a sport, it’s a game derived from mountaineering, with self imposed rules, and ethics. Ignoring the rules of the game irrespective of perceived rights will rightly generate some passion.
> We arrived early, and left early. I couldn’t tell you if others had to change plans. Castle Naze would feel busy with 4 pairs of climbers.
It's worth mentioning that Castle Naze is not just popular with climbers. It's an Iron Age Hill Fort of historical interest, and there is a fine walk around Combs Moss to the trig point at Hob Tor, commanding excellent views of this part of the Peak (walks here are in at least a couple of popular Peak walking guides).
It is not unusual for the parking to be busy without anyone actually climbing at the crag, especially on a nice day. This being UKC, it's easy to forget that as climbers we don't have exclusive access rights to many popular climbing venues.
'We'll be setting up top ropes to stay socially distanced. Everything we're doing will remain within the BMC covid guidelines.' [The OP.]
> In terms of social distancing there was none, not 2 meters, not 1 meter plus, not a single face covering present.
> I live in a household with an extremely vulnerable person (transplant patient), so my lockdown was longer, and I have to make adjustments to my climbing plans thereafter (limited partners/ wearing of face masks while climbing). I am a big hairy guy, COVID is unlikely to ruffle my feathers, but it would likely have devastating a effect on loved ones, and vulnerable people in the community generally.
> The only fact of the matter is two climbers out for a quiet day, were made to feel so uncomfortable by the size of an organised group, they felt they had no other choice but to change venue.
This can never be right. COVID makes it far worse.
> The outdoors is not a commodity, trad climbing is not a sport, it’s a game derived from mountaineering, with self imposed rules, and ethics. Ignoring the rules of the game irrespective of perceived rights will rightly generate some passion.
Totally agree with you. It seems however that the outdoors is increasingly being treated as a commodity, more so this year perhaps than ever before (e.g. the Lakes, North Wales, Lulworth). Once you negate the concept of society (Margaret Thatcher), the door's wide open to individual selfishness and commoditisation of anything going (including the outdoors).
The selfishness may be not disguised at all, ("F*ck you, mate!") or it may be, 'Apologies for any inconveniences this causes anyone' [the OP].
A future polititician in the making?
> I can see no defense that this was a sensible decision considering COVID.
It's definitely well-ventilated.
> The selfishness may be not disguised at all, ("F*ck you, mate!") or it may be, 'Apologies for any inconveniences this causes anyone' [the OP].
As the OP doesn't seem to have returned to this thread and has made no attempt to respond to comments, either before or after the event, that is certainly a possible interpretation.
Even in normal times, this would have breached recognised good practice for large groups. Covid just magnifies that, and turns what would be bad manners into something worse.
> Even in normal times, this would have breached recognised good practice for large groups. Covid just magnifies that, and turns what would be bad manners into something worse.
I wasn't there, so I don't know, but I find it quite difficult to believe that there wasn't somewhere where a pair could climb at least two metres away from the students. It's not that small a crag - there are about 90 routes spread over five areas, although I can see that it would be frustrating to have routes you planned to climb being monopolised by a group.
Everyone's risk tolerance is different, and I completely understand why Wayne S might have felt uncomfortable, but I can also understand why Castle Naze might have seemed a reasonable choice for a university group. The parking might have been an issue, but they could have dropped people off and parked the bus down in Combs.
I'm sure MUMC could have done some things better but no-one has a right to exclusive use of a crag and what seems to me a genuine attempt to communicate ahead of time has resulted in the usual witch-hunt of a student group, with an added topping of COVID-shaming.
> I'm sure MUMC could have done some things better but no-one has a right to exclusive use of a crag and what seems to me a genuine attempt to communicate ahead of time has resulted in the usual witch-hunt of a student group, with an added topping of COVID-shaming.
Dave, the 'genuine attempt to communicate ahead of time' was mid-afternoon the previous day. Seemingly the OP has not chosen to communicate any more. Seemingly the OP breached his/her chosen guidelines re the BMC Covid advice. Sorry but I'm not at all impressed.
You say 'the usual witch-hunt of a student group' and yes, this has happened. Conversely I've mentioned several times on here going past the Sea Walls at Avon some years ago and encountering groups of freshers getting climbing instruction by Bristol uni climbing club. I've never seen a better managed setup with more competent instruction. It was absolutely first-class.
I accept we all have good days and bad days - that's just the way life is. But if we don't learn to do a bit better, our world will go to hell on a handcart - which sadly is what seems to be happening.
Would simply ask the OP to have a wee think about things. I'll say no more on this thread.
Wise words as always, Mick,. And, as I say, I wasn't there.
I hope that the OP approach was informative rather than just, We are coming so watch out.
I notiice that the OP is a competent climber himself but his only post seems to be the short term notice of the Castle Naze meet. Like Mick Ward's point I do hope that MUMC see the mainly constructive feedback on this post and take it onboard.
It's not that small a crag - there are about 90 routes spread over five areas,
True on paper, but not really in practice. The routes to the right are mostly shorter, and (perhaps unjustifiably) are neglected. Ascents logged in UKC are numbered in tens, those in the main area have more than a thousand. It perhaps doesn't help that they are not in the Rockfax. That reality is that people go to Castle Naze for the Pilgrims Progress/Scoop/Nozag areas - does it really make a difference if you feel forced to go to a different crag, or simply to an inferior buttress?
Of course no one has exclusive rights to a crag, but the problems caused by large groups (and student clubs are not the only ones) are well known and guidance is in place to mitigate these. The onus should be on the group to spread out, not on other climbers to find a different part of the crag. Covid social distancing just makes this even more important.
Whilst Castle Naze is considered a low-grade crag, I question whether it is a good spot for novices, which I suspect many of this party will have been. Indoor climbing is little preparation for the mysteries of gritstone. Many of the routes are quite technical, which makes them quite tough for the grade, even on a top-rope. The top is loose, and belays can be hard to find. I think it is reasonable to question whether this is a suitable spot for a university freshers' meet, even in normal times.
The BMC Covid guidelines under which larger groups are still permitted requires organisers to consider the suitability of the venue and to avoid popular areas at busy times. The manadory risk assessment goes into this in more detail. Again, I think it is reasonable to question whether the organisers have considered this properly, or whether they thought posting a warning here was sufficient.
Hi Dave, I have probably said my bit, but in regard to could we find space to climb? No. We were crowded in on simply trying to retrieve rucksacks. The col at the entry to the crag was blocked by shoulder to shoulder individuals, necessitating we scrambled out past to rejoin the path. My risk tolerance is ok, I manage the COVID risk when climbing pretty well usually, I see what sensible is when I go into work. What I witnessed Sunday was the very definition of a super spreader event, with no possibility to manage risk, or to continue to keep ourselves to ourselves. I have managed to share crags with others for well over 20 years. I have changed plans when venues are already busy on arrival pre COVID. I am really not sulking over a crag being a bit busy, that’s life. This was different.
> Dave, the 'genuine attempt to communicate ahead of time' was mid-afternoon the previous day. Seemingly the OP has not chosen to communicate any more. Seemingly the OP breached his/her chosen guidelines re the BMC Covid advice. Sorry but I'm not at all impressed.
Why should he have given more notice? His group, a uni group or not, doesn’t need anybody’s permission to be at a crag. Nor, despite all the bleating about styles, quiet days, commodities, trad not being a sport and the rest, is there any hierarchy, which dictates that a uni group should defer to a single team who had hoped they’d have the crag to themselves. Climbing, however much people want to pretend otherwise, is just a variety of ways of dicking around on bits of rock, which usually don’t belong to anyone.
The OP has said they would be acting within Covid guidelines (which I don’t think includes wearing masks outside). We have nothing to contradict that other than the word of one person who left the crag. Which is exactly what he should have done if he didn’t want to share it. It doesn’t sound like he made any effort to communicate with them about access to routes he wanted to climb.
I’m not surprised he hasn’t returned to the thread. I wouldn’t have. He tried to do the right thing and got a whole load of completely unjustified crap for it, plus a lot of ill informed judgemental crap based on nothing other than speculation. If he hadn’t have started the thread, I’m sure we’d as lo be reading about it anyway and he’d be getting criticised for not giving notice.
> Hi Dave, I have probably said my bit, but in regard to could we find space to climb? No. We were crowded in on simply trying to retrieve rucksacks. The col at the entry to the crag was blocked by shoulder to shoulder individuals, necessitating we scrambled out past to rejoin the path.
OK, I stand corrected. Sounds like it was unreasonable.
No worries, I would have been thinking whinging git myself!
I take it you aren't familiar with the BMC group guidelines or how University groups are affiliated and get funding for training ? Its quite clear how groups are asked to conduct themselves in a sympathetic and responsible manner, neither of which appear to have been the case here from the witness who has quite calmly and clearly explained what he experienced.
There isn't anything ill informed or crap here ... its not opinion its clearly set out and has been an ethos and etiquette of climbing instruction and clubs for well over 50 years.
It should also be noted that the exemption allowing organised sporting activities to take place with up to 30 people is dependent on clubs following the protocols laid down by the appropriate organisation (the BMC in this case). As well as carrying out risk assessments and keeping records, organisers are expected to actively manage the risk while the activity is being carried out.
And folk wonder why the virus is ripping through universities, forcing local working populations into lock down, while students still head off for a bit of cragging at the weekend!!
One of those links is to your personal computer....
A couple of thoughts.
Since this is presumably a 'freshers meet' throwing together students from a variety of halls of residence is this not an opportunity for virus spreading?
Would it not be better to disperse over a variety of crags in smaller groups? I realise that if you've got a large number of novices with a small group of 'experienced' climbers that might be problematic. And that, obviously begs another question. Could you 'stagger' the meet over two or three weekends?
'Setting up top-ropes' that might inconvenience other climbers is not especially good practice even if you apologise in advance on UKC.
Sorry to be a damp squib.
I can’t see anything in any of what you’ve sent me that, even on the basis of what Wayne says, they have acted inconsistently with. His main issue is the Covid situation, which is totally understandable. He left the crag which was probably the right thing to do in the circumstances.
People just don’t like uni groups at crags. I’ve got no vested interest in defending them. I’m not a student and don’t know anyone who is anymore. But a lot of the criticism in this thread is unnecessary.
Nope, the right thing to happen in the circumstances is the group cheerily gives sufficient space to the independent climbers, maintains friendly and responsible social distance from them and each other and proactively maintains this letting the independent climber know that they will happily move out of the areas they want to climb in.
Basic good manners, a bit pumped up on covid steriods, and good group management.
You can't push people out of the outdoors by unsafe, "I'm alright jack" social bullying. Grow up.
> Nope, the right thing to happen in the circumstances is the group cheerily gives sufficient space to the independent climbers, maintains friendly and responsible social distance from them and each other and proactively maintains this letting the independent climber know that they will happily move out of the areas they want to climb in.
How do you know they didn’t, or weren’t willing to, do this?
> How do you know they didn’t, or weren’t willing to, do this?
I can't speak for gravy but I feel that I know this on account of taking the one person posting here about it who was actually there at his word. His account seems completely credible to me, you seem to disagree but I see absolutely no reason to doubt that he's telling the truth.
It seems a shame, based on previous threads on here (and on actually bumping into them once) I believe MUMC used to be very much better than this. I hope it's just a Covid-induced wobble and they'll be able to return to previous good form sooner than later.
Yeah , I totally understand where its so difficult to interpret (rolls eyes)
"Choose your venues carefully, can they handle the numbers you’re taking or are you better splitting and heading to different places? Even at a large crag, split into smaller teams and spread out. When working with novices, make sure they know about crag etiquette"
If there is nothing wrong here then I propose you drop an email with a link to the thread to these nice folks in the media. If as you say there is absolutely nothing wrong they wont be interested.
To be fair I have no doubt if we had voiced a concern, it would have been heard, problem was it would have been a moot point given the numbers in attendance. Some guys did come over and warn us of the numbers planning to attend.
> If there is nothing wrong here then I propose you drop an email with a link to the thread to these nice folks in the media. If as you say there is absolutely nothing wrong they wont be interested.
F*ck me. This thread just jumped the shark.
> If there is nothing wrong here then I propose you drop an email with a link to the thread to these nice folks in the media. If as you say there is absolutely nothing wrong they wont be interested.
Got to say, "if there's nothing wrong they won't be interested" seems like a VERY big reach with The Daily Mail.
Forget nuanced questions of responsible meet management -- I'd expect "Thrill-seeking students spend taxpayers' money risking lives on Britain's most dangerous mountain" and a photo of Alex Honnold at least.
> I can't speak for gravy but I feel that I know this on account of taking the one person posting here about it who was actually there at his word. His account seems completely credible to me, you seem to disagree but I see absolutely no reason to doubt that he's telling the truth.
I don’t dispute that he’s telling the truth. But the main thing he says is that he left immediately, seemingly without engaging with the group because of concerns about someone he lived with. So he’s not in a position to comment on how they behaved for the vast majority of the time they were there.
> It seems a shame, based on previous threads on here (and on actually bumping into them once) I believe MUMC used to be very much better than this. I hope it's just a Covid-induced wobble and they'll be able to return to previous good form sooner than later.
> The OP has said they would be acting within Covid guidelines (which I don’t think includes wearing masks outside).
As someone who joined the thread to point out that a club meet was permitted by current regulations if it followed the BMC's Covid guidelines, I'm disappointed to see that -- if Wayne S's description is accurate -- it really didn't.
"In line with government guidance there is an upper limit of 30 people allowed to meet in the outdoors for organised activity. This number includes any volunteers and leaders in the group.
This figure of ‘30’ is the absolute maximum to meet with government regulation in England and Wales, it should not be seen as a recommended figure to achieve for a group.
The greater the number of people in a group the greater the risk of transmission, therefore it is advisable to reduce the numbers in any group for the safety of everyone. We also encourage you to seriously consider smaller group sizes in order to reduce the impact upon the environment and bearing in mind the activity type and location.
However many are in the group, particular care must be taken at the start and end points, at pinch points (such as the base of crags, gates & stiles), and at rest breaks to maintain social distancing - split the group into smaller sub-groups if necessary."
"Being aware of and trying to avoid popular areas at peak times is crucial in order to retain access to the places we love and to limit the spread of COVID-19. To make social distancing easier avoid busy areas and narrow footpaths and ensure you are aware of any localised COVID-19 restrictions.
Consider the travel options for participants – with restrictions to car sharing will there be sufficient car parking at the venue for everyone to come in their own cars, or will public transport options be sufficient for those who need to use it."
"As a general guide aim to stay 2m apart from people outside of your household, where this is not possible, maintain a distance of 1m+. Distances of less than 2m should only be used for a brief time, such as passing the belayer at the top of a climb. "
"Avoid very popular areas: seek out less frequented venues, be flexible and have backup plans to avoid overcrowding."
I know it's all framed in terms of "seriously consider", "try to avoid", etc. rather than flat prohibitions, but "take circa 30 people to a very popular small crag (with limited parking), abandon social distancing, and crowd together so much that it blocks the path and other people have to scramble around in order to get out" is clearly not in keeping with the intent of the guidelines.
Even if the meet organizers started out with the best of intentions, it sounds like they didn't consider some major things in their planning and didn't manage things well at the crag. It's easy to fall back into old habits and forget about social distancing outdoors (and it is lower-risk -- which is not the same as no risk).
But this didn't happen the way it was supposed to.
I apologise.... one must never go "Full Daily Mail" my point was to slap back at the somewhat illogical and over the top responses of the Gazbo.
in Reply to Waybe S. : I would think that if you are having to warn someone about numbers at a crag then there is something fundamentally wrong with the numbers in the first place.
If ever there was a time to cut University Clubs some slack, this is it. Freshers in Tier 2 areas are being bubbled with 4 or 5 people they've never met before, lectures on-line, social activities cancelled, and the prospect of the university life they've dreamed of receding over the horizon.
Yes, I agree Castle Naze wasn't a great choice of venue. But the organisers aren't professional outdoor instructors. Nor are they organising a fresher's meet for their own gratification. They're students, volunteering their time in incredibly challenging circumstances in attempt to give others the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.
On the flip side if there was ever a time for University groups to act like adults and do some research before dragging a large group of people to a small crag with minimal parking where there isn't alot of room to spread out or stay socially distanced from others, this was it.
They aren't professional outdoor instructors but they still have to do a certain amount of planning for group trips and in the current climate even more so.
When do University students start getting treated like the adults they are and not helpless children stuck in a foreign city??
Whilst I might want to cut some slack, I’m not sure your point is very compelling. I assume these bubbles students are enduring are formed to limit the spread of Covid? Meeting 30 strong and not observing social distancing does somewhat make a nonsense of this?
I have one other pertinent point to add on the subject of the plague: it was barely six months ago that walkers were being drone-shamed at Curbar by Derbyshire Police despite complying with all laws. How do people think the passing public are going to perceive such apparent disregard?
That, really, is a problem for all of us.
I’m sure that most disagreeing or raising arguments would agree that it would be less of an issue if a representative of the club were to reappear and enter discussion* – either with explanation, or counterargument, or apology.
To that end, and given that the club don’t seem to publish any contact details on their website, I’ve emailed the university and politely summarised the arguments, with a link to the thread. I believe it has been brought to the club’s attention – so maybe someone from the club will read and respond to us.
I realise that they have no obligation to do so, but it seems like a more productive thing for both sides than to shout amongst ourselves in the UKC soundproof room while the club remain ignorant of the perceived transgressions.
* - similarities with the BMC?
UKC forums truly are the Daily Mail of climbing.
I'm not the OP, but I've spent the last few years organising meets and clubs for MUMC, and I'm going to break this all down and try to address everyone's concerns and questions. I'm going to put to bed all the inaccuracies OP is being criticised for because UKC loves to speculate and then judge. I'm also frankly sick of all the abuse people give Uni clubs for running large fresher's trips in general, and not just this year with COVID, so I'll probably rant on about that at the end. So if you keep reading the brick wall of text that I'm about to post, then you have that to look forward to as well.
And if you've been posting and criticising our activities, and don't have the decency to at least read this comment... kindly stop posting and leave. If you don't read this whole post and continue to comment and criticise, then you are part of the willfully ignorant mass responsible for the slow and sadly seemingly inevitable decline and dumbing down of humanity. Congratulations.
OP made a courtesy post, as we always have for trips where we take large numbers of people to individual crags, to inform others that we will be there on that date at that time. These posts are not some entitled "typical middle class" announcement that the crag is ours for the day. They are intended to be heads up that there will be large numbers of people at that place at that time. The intended outcome is to save those who prefer quiet crags wasting time if they'd rather be elsewhere. We are not required in any way to make these posts, but we do, and always have to try and be courteous of such people. Why some people are taking issue with this concept is beyond me. Those who then make judgements about OP being 'middle class' or 'a future politician' must be making some sort of concerted mental effort to find a way to put a negative light on posts that are intended to be considerate of others. However, I do agree that the afternoon before the trip may be a little late to make such a post, and for this I apologise. We normally post further in advance.
As for everyone who questions how could this meet possibly be within guidelines... It is. I've had to sit through numerous zoom meetings with the University, read countless guidelines from the Government (national and local) and from the BMC to ensure that we can continue some of our trips, because we've had to cancel most of them.
Apparently there is at least one person on this post who has shared their thoughts on how they personally deemed us to be recklessly outside the guidelines, without actually having read them. If they could please write to me to share how they can have such detailed knowledge of something without actually having to research it, I'd be very grateful. Such a skill would save me a lot of time and effort. For those that may have not had the time to read guidelines, but found the time to post, here are links to, and explanations of our compliance with, the guidance.
Here are the local guidelines: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/greater-manchester-local-restrictions#team-sport-and-physical-activity
Here are the BMC guidelines: https://www.thebmc.co.uk/covid19-restarting-club-meets.
Here are the Sport England guidelines on group size: https://www.sportengland.org/how-we-can-help/coronavirus/return-play
And here are the government guidelines: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-phased-return-of-sport-and-recreation/guidance-for-the-public-on-the-phased-return-of-outdoor-sport-and-recreation#travelling-for-physical-activity
Climbing is very reasonably considered to be a sport (it's in the Olympics, after all). I would even dare to say a team sport, considering that climbers are somewhat dependant on a competent belayer if they value having intact bones. Though people may personally disagree on this, the BMC does take considerable chunks of funding from an organisation called 'Sport England', which has benefitted a lot of climbing activities (https://www.thebmc.co.uk/11-bmc-things-funded-by-sport-england). But anyway, to summarise:
MUMC is a formally organised club. All attendees are members.
The trip is outside, and as such is allowed to be more than 6 people.
I personally wrote the risk assessments, which have been vetted by our university.
The BMC has published guidance on how to run trips.
The BMC, Sport England, and the Government gives a maximum number of 30 people for a meet. We limited the maximum possible number of people present to 30, including leaders, though we actually took fewer than this (contrary to popular speculation!)
The BMC encourages low risk routes and forms of climbing - partly why we chose to use topropes.
The BMC discourages (but doesn't ban) car sharing, and public transport. We chose public transport, as this is more in line with government advice. Good news for those worrying about us exercising our equal right to theirs on occupying public parking at the crag - this was another reason we went for trains.
The BMC states that proper consideration must be given to where trips are hosted, which I will discuss shortly.
I think I'll leave it there, as I feel I've addressed most of the main points people were wondering about. Any other questions, feel free to ask.
In addition to complying to all of the above, I also had to comply with the extra rules and regulations set out by the university. This included implementing a second track and trace system, that is being used by the Uni sport teams, in addition to NHS test and trace. We also had to ensure that any students attending were not meant to be staying in their halls because of their own COVID status, or the COVID status of a flatmate. Some of those who attended hadn't actually been outside for two weeks before this trip.
There's been a lot of talk about what poor Castle Naze did to deserve being the target of MUMC's fresher's trip. Trips like this are always difficult to organise and co-ordinate. Crag options are inherently limited. It has to be somewhere that can accommodate a large number of novices as well as anyone else there for the day. In addition, it has to have an appropriate walk in, safe crag tops and bottoms, a large number of good quality easy routes, and good access. Some people have pointed out it may have been better to go to a larger crag and spread out. The logic behind going to Castle Naze was that it was close to a train station, and is a safe crag where it's easy to communicate and see what's going on. It has a good number of routes for us to use, and enough for others. Unfortunately these kind of criteria also to extent define all popular crags in the UK. This is why we went for a smaller one. As one commenter put it - it was *nearly* an excellent choice. We could go to a relatively small crag and bump into relatively few other people, or we could go to Stanage and infect the whole of Sheffield's climbing scene in one go.
The other thing people seem to take issue with is Toproping. I'll explain from a COVID point of view. If we run a trips the way we always have, with one leader to five seconds, every fresher group needs to be with a competent Trad leader and lead belayer. Trad leaders willing to guide freshers up Severes can be hard to find, but it also increases the number of people needed to run a trip. By setting up topropes, we actually reduce (to under 30) the number of people needed to run this trip, as our topropes can be managed by 1 or 2 people, rather than 1 or 2 people per group of freshers. We have however, done topropes before COVID for reasons I'll rant about later, but I want to stress that we always move them when people ask and make an effort to let others present know this. To the poster who said we didn't - I apologise, it's something we try to do.
Despite not having to adhere to the rule of 6, we planned the trip in order to follow it anyway. Obviously this is something that didn't go as expected. In the design for the trip I planned for climbers to be put into groups of 3 and asked to stay in those groups. They would then in their groups rotate around the available topropes, in order to keep distanced, and wear masks when not climbing. This is something I'm planning on addressing for our next trip. Again, I apologise to the gentleman who felt unsafe about seeing mobs of students.
This concludes the part of my novel where I explain how we were actually not breaking rules by organising and carrying out this trip.
Part II is addressing those on this thread who take issue with large groups of students at crags in general, and then spend their free time talking shit on UKC about it. These are thoughts culminated from now spending four years helping people get out and enjoy the outdoors via Uni clubs in a way that's safe, and, importantly, accessible to those who have not had the knowledge, experience, or funds to do so before.
Every year we post about our plans to go to crags and take a boatload of freshers. Every year people come crawling out the woodwork with their close minded thoughts and opinions. Every year we just ignore it. People have criticised OP for not replying and called it a sign of someone with a sense of entitlement. But who can blame him for not replying when he's sacrificing his own time for free to get other people into the outdoors and share what he loves and gets nothing but shite from the UKC community for his efforts when he makes a post intending to be considerate of the other people out there who use outdoor spaces.
Every year people talk bollocks about how it's completely unacceptable to take large groups of novices to a crag and throw up topropes. People come on university climbing trips to try something new at a price that they can afford.
Lots of these people will never have had the opportunity to try climbing before, or even the opportunity to visit the UK's amazing national parks before. Uni clubs get people outdoors and into new sports and then when they graduate, into clubs that desperately need more people. I can think of more than one climbing club that has more members die each year than join. And I mean dying of old age, not dying on new hard ascents. If you want to continue to use BMC huts, and to have a community, you need people to join in. If you want natural spaces to be protected and preserved, you need people to experience them to get them to give a shit about protecting them. This ALL begins with peoples' first steps into the outdoors. Not everyone had their parents, or their mates take them out when they were kids.
Students have just as much right to be there as you do, even if it is in a large group. I have a feeling the mass trespass of Kinder Scout - which I imagine the salt of the earth posters of UKC consider a triumph, achieving everyone equal access to the outdoors, would have been much less effective if it were an event made exclusive to only 10 crusty old blokes because large groups are 'poor etiquette'.
If you're worried about the impact of a large group of people in terms of leaving litter behind, or stomping around where they shouldn't, then that's a valid reason for concern. But considering students tend to be 'annoying leftie hippie types that don't even eat meat' they actually tend to be more environmentally minded than you might want to think. Maybe you might want to be more concerned about the increased traffic in general, from everyone in public spaces and maybe... just maybe, do something to implement change about it, rather than just bitching on forums and blaming students between posting about how your old solid stem cams have served you just fine these past 30 years and anyone asking advice on buying new ones for their first rack is a square.
Lastly, topropes. People love to post on here complaining about people setting up topropes. Like I harped on about earlier, fresher trips are trips for (wait for it) beginners. If you managed to start climbing and then immediately start leading trad without ever having toproped, then that's quite impressive. For those of us that are mortals, topropes provide a safe way (i.e. some poor leader isnt needing to be lead belayed by a clueless newbie) to get people to start climbing outdoors. It provides a way where experienced members can talk to beginners, teach them how do things properly and show them how great climbing outdoors can be and all the history and ethics associated with it. To those who think that setting up topropes monopolises crags: Students will always move their shit if you ask them to. Try talking to them instead of going 'its fine' and then shitposting here. Like I outlined earlier, we always aim to make this known to anyone looking around at the climbs we're on. In addition to this, I would like to point out that five topropes at Stanage is hardly a takeover, when UKC has over 1000 listed routes there.
tl;dr find something better to do than post on UKC.
Would you like some salt for that large chip on your shoulder ?
Correct topropes don't monopolise a crag , turning up with 30 people to a small crag with a limited number of suitable routes does .
Im curious , you’ve arranged so many trips before then why make so many rookie Trip errors of venue choice , group size , Additional Covid risk assessments , group distribution and parking ? All these points are on the BMC website for you to learn about .
Did you actually read the post?
> And if you've been posting and criticising our activities...have the decency to at least read this comment...
Sorry if m reply zig-zags a bit; I've tried to distil it to the relevant arguments, and explain why I (or why other people might) have a problem with it.
> OP made a courtesy post, as we always have for trips where we take large numbers of people to individual crags, to inform others that we will be there on that date at that time.
The OP posted in a way that you could reasonably read as an instruction to avoid Castle Naze (not the biggest crag) because MUMC were planning on throwing topropes down everything. And never resurfaced to talk about any of the concerns – some valid – that people had in response to this. A forum is, well, a forum. For discussion. Posting a topic invites discussion – and it started discussion. Only the OP never actually came back to discuss it, and when people ask reasonable questions and can't get a reply, they get frustrated and they mae assumptions that perhaps aren't correct. A lot of the vitriol would probably have been completely avoided if they had. A forum post isn't a one-way communique – if you've posted a thread of conversation, you need to come back and converse in it. It’s just polite.
> The BMC discourages (but doesn't ban) car sharing, and public transport. We chose public transport, as this is more in line with government advice. Good news for those worrying about us exercising our equal right to theirs on occupying public parking at the crag - this was another reason we went for trains.
> The logic behind going to Castle Naze was that it was close to a train station.
This wasn't known at the time I posted my thoughts; part of what makes Castle Naze a crap choice for a large group is the complete lack of parking - obviously that wasn't a problem. As above, that'd be an assumption I incorrectly made. I'm sorry for making it.
> It has a good number of routes for us to use, and enough for others.
That's open for debate, and it's a small crag. There's not physically that much space to avoid the thirty other people at the crag, regardless of route choice. You can't just walk around the corner and find peace and quiet if thirty unexpected people (whoever they are) appear at the crag. Stanage, for example, is great for that because even on the busiest summer afternoon, I reckon I could easily find a quiet bit of crag within ambling distance of the most popular end of Popular. You can't do that at Castle Naze. There's not that much crag. That's why I personally think it's a crap choice of crag for a large group.
> As one commenter put it - it was *nearly* an excellent choice.
Nearly – but instead a team already at the crag felt they had to bail. They didn't feel safe at the crag because of the presence of your group. That's really, really bad. That's really unfair on those who have equal right of access as you. Everyone should have equitable access to the crag – and it works both ways, and it goes beyond technicality and extends into the realm of manners and courtesy.
> Part II is addressing those on this thread who take issue with large groups of students at crags in general, and then spend their free time talking shit on UKC about it.
Just to clarify as one of those you're probably trying to refer to: I have absolutely no problem with university clubs: I've climbed regularly with two in the past, as a student and as a random person, including for most of the past five years.
> But who can blame him for not replying when he's sacrificing his own time for free to get other people into the outdoors and share what he loves and gets nothing but shite from the UKC community for his efforts when he makes a post intending to be considerate of the other people out there who use outdoor spaces.
He posted, some people voiced concerns, no reply was forthcoming. A forum post isn't an advertisement – it's an invitation for discussion. People get frustrated and make assumptions when they ask reasonable questions and don't get an answer. Right or wrong, that's just how it is. UKC is a brilliant place when you use it as intended. It's at its worst at times like this. You get out a product of what you put in.
> Every year people talk bollocks about how it's completely unacceptable to take large groups of novices to a crag and throw up topropes. People come on university climbing trips to try something new at a price that they can afford.
I'll summarise the toprope argument in one: if you throw a toprope down a *** classic and everything else that looks good in that area of the crag, and sit below it and that area of the crag in a massive group of loud young people, some people will feel put off from coming over and asking you if they can pull it and lead the route regardless of whether you would be happy to do so or not. That's why some people don't think it's on; it imposes on people. You get bonus points for muddy shoes, trainers and excess chalk. And especially on gritstone – just because. None of that may be accurate in any specific instance – but it's fundamentally why some people don't like it in principle.
Some people are the purest of puritans; they won't like it wherever and whenever you do it. I'd personally suggest you should politely ignore them. Most people are coming from a more reasonable place, though.
> Students have just as much right to be there as you do, even if it is in a large group.
The flip side is that Wayne has just as much right to be there as you do, without being intimidated away by COVID fears when a large group (of anyone) turn up. That's my only argument there, don't misunderstand me, I don't have any fundamental problems with student groups at the crag. I've climbed as a student. I've climbed with students. I just believe in everyone having equitable access to the crag. That wasn't the case here, and that's why I'm posting on UKC about it. And because I'm bored, because I've been self-unemployed for over six months and it keeps raining.
> Lastly, topropes. People love to post on here complaining about people setting up topropes.
> To those who think that setting up topropes monopolises crags: Students will always move their shit if you ask them to. Try talking to them instead of going 'its fine' and then shitposting here.
Some people are grumpy old men and there's just no helping them. Some people are overwhelmingly shy or conscious of seeming unreasonable, so will never ask you if they can pull the rope you've had down Amazon Crack (or should that be Nozag? ) for the last four hours. Not a criticism, just an observation.
> In addition to this, I would like to point out that five topropes at Stanage is hardly a takeover, when UKC has over 1000 listed routes there.
But we're talking about Castle Naze.
Hope you all had a great time at Castle Naze. My introduction to climbing was on an MUMC freshers meet (1974, Stanage, it was very cold and wet). Best wishes to you and all the MUMC from an ex MUMC president.
And to add (TL;DR): we're all at the crag because we love climbing on rock. All of us - me, you, grumpy puritans and student club members alike. The people arguing aggressively about climbing on here are doing so because they're passionate about it. We're all coming from the same place. We just need to be respectful and considerate of one another - both ways, and both at the crag and online. That's the long and short of how I feel about it.
Just to put in my $0.02, I feel like the majority of it has been covered, especially with people hopefully now recognising the thread spiralled into discussion around damaging assumptions, a lot of which turned out to be false (e.g. 30 people, using up all the parking, etc.), so I'll just focus on the main things that I think are left.
> Nearly – but instead a team already at the crag felt they had to bail. They didn't feel safe at the crag because of the presence of your group. That's really, really bad.
At the end of the day, this is one of the worst possible outcomes for any outdoor meeting, some attendees needing to leave 'because' of others. However, there is a balance to be had in the evaluation of this though, sometimes these things are somewhat unavoidable even as unsatisfactory as they are.
If we evaluate what happened here, a University club had a set of people go to a relatively unpopular crag to climb. They also posted a curtesy heads-up (regardless of how people feel about the tone/intention/whatever, notification of sort was objectively given), now of course most of us don't check UKC before going to a crag, so of course we can't blame Wayne for deciding to go despite the warning or anything like that, and neither can we treat it as a free pass to the poster.
But something I often see appear on these forums when it comes to big groups, is treating the group like a single entity. There are of course distinctions to what I'm about to say, but at the end of the day ~20 people appearing at the crag in a group will not be massively different from ~10 pairs of people turning up to the crag for the day. It seems that Wayne's major concerns were over the sheer numbers at the crag and not the specific behaviour, meaning he would have felt like he had to leave even if there were 10 pairs instead of a big single university group. We all agree that the right of equal access to the crag is quintessential, so why do the individuals in the group not have the same rights to be there as Wayne? Now if there was actively anti-social behaviour, purposefully not distancing from Wayne's pair, (or any other uninvolved members at the crag) then of course this would be a different story but that's not been the case.
The other big issue I have with how discussion has gone on in this thread, is that it seems a lot of people are purposefully being pessimistic, assuming a lack of adequate health-assessments, or swamping the parking spaces (can we have some appreciation that a crag was picked that they'd be able to get to sensibly by taking a train and walking). Asking questions around these things isn't bad, but we shouldn't allow ourselves to ask questions, and then while waiting for a response continuously spiral in negative rants building off our own prejudices. Yes perhaps future 'notices' on these forums could include some indication of the clear amount of effort that has gone into planning these things, sharing elements of the risk assessment, assuring people it's within guidelines, but if they do that then that's effort they're choosing to put in for our benefit, it's not required of them, and it's something we should be appreciative of to try and encourage more of this behaviour.
On the topic of behaviour, I want to highlight something Wayne mentioned:
> To be fair I have no doubt if we had voiced a concern, it would have been heard, problem was it would have been a moot point given the numbers in attendance. Some guys did come over and warn us of the numbers planning to attend.
Clearly the group was trying to be sensible, and most of the ranting on this thread has been moot, at the end of the day a pair felt like they had to leave because they're around someone who's vulnerable, this would have happened uni club or not, if the crag had ended up equally busy. That sucks, but within the current times it sounds like the club organised something to mitigate risks for everybody, and even managed to give across an approachable attitude, while purposefully going out of their way to be conscious of others and give a heads-up of the group arriving.
TL;DR Can we stop jumping to random conclusions and being as ridiculous as suggesting to e-mail the Daily Mail and instead stick to asking questions about our concerns to try and encourage everyone to be more empathetic and safe.
If you've done a bit of climbing but still enjoy Castle Naze to such an extent then perhaps you ought consider finding something else to do with your time? Knitting?
On the other hand I do appreciate that it must be simply awful to find your favourite V.Diffs packed with people top roping! Outrageous! I really can't think of any solution to this issue given the dearth of climbing in the Peak District. Whatever next? Fingers crossed the BMC can find a solution.....
Thought to myself this morning "Its about time for the annual ukc student meet shitstorm, best login for the first time this year"
It did not disappoint - bravo all
> ...deemed us to be recklessly outside the guidelines, without actually having read them. If they could please write to me to share how they can have such detailed knowledge of something without actually having to research it, I'd be very grateful. Such a skill would save me a lot of time and effort. For those that may have not had the time to read guidelines, but found the time to post, here are links to, and explanations of our compliance with, the guidance.
Your responsibility in organising a trip like this unfortunately doesn't end with reading the guidelines, that's the easy part. You have a responsibility to implement the guidelines too. I may be wrong but it sounds like a lot of your hard work in arranging this trip was wasted because you treated the planning like a tick box exercise.
I'll add at this point that choosing Castle Naze because of its proximity to a railway station was a very good idea for which you deserve credit. 30 people at a crag with only narrow path next to a steep drop-off, not so good.
The second part of your post degenerates into a rant against people who don't share you overwhelmingly positive attitude towards university climbing club trips. For the record, I'm not one of them. I genuinely believe that uni clubs can do whatever they like as long as they don't impinge on other people's enjoyment and safety.
> Every year people come crawling out the woodwork with their close minded thoughts and opinions. Every year we just ignore it....... Every year people talk bollocks.
I would say that MUMC's reputation has taken a bit of a knock during the course of this thread and the club needed someone to come along and do a mature PR job. I fear afraid that your disregard of the thoughts of people with differing views to your own, combined with name calling and a bizarre reference to solid stem cams, hasn't achieved this or won you any new friends.
> On the other hand I do appreciate that it must be simply awful to find your favourite V.Diffs packed with people top roping! Outrageous! I really can't think of any solution to this issue given the dearth of climbing in the Peak District. Whatever next? Fingers crossed the BMC can find a solution.....
Did you mean to say, "Fingers crossed MUMC will try finding a solution...."?
Firstly, thanks for replying. You are quite right that some of the criticism was unfair, and some of the commentators seemed unaware of the exemptions for organised sports. University clubs do come in for a lot of stick, however they do face particular challenges - most clubs don't have to cope with large numbers of novices all joining together, and students are not easy to control. And full marks for using public transport, which most of us (myself included) did not foresee.
It is never easy finding suitable venues for large groups, even in normal times. You have explained the steps you took when planning it. Nevertheless I still think Castle Naze was a not a good choice. By your own criteria, it doesn't have a safe top, which is loose, and it is a crag where a put on a helmet as soon as I arrive, having witnessed a few near misses. Neither is it an unpopular or obscure crag. It may not be Stanage Popular, but there are usually several parties there, as it is a quick and easy choice for anyone living on the western side of the Peak. With an eye on the BMC guidelines for groups, I think you would have done better going to a larger crag where you could spread out more and where other climbers would have more options to keep away. Alternatively, you could have split the group, either between venues or by going on different days.
When you post an announcement that you are taking a university group to a small crag like Castle Naze, the message that people receive is that you will be monopolising the crag. I don't for a moment believe that was the OP's intention, but that is how it comes across, especially when there is no further engagement. A crag like that doesn't have the capacity for others to comfortably share it with a large group. The fact is that a large group who are mainly toproping has a very different dynamic compared with a similar number climbing in independent pairs, and the impact on other crag users is different. This becomes especially important when social distancing has to be taken into account.
All the planning and risk assessments mean nothing in themselves, they are a means to ensuring that the activity is managed properly on the day, and this is where it seems to have gone wroong. This could be a problem at the best of times, and is one of the reasons university clubs get so much stick, but is especially important due to Covid. Fortunately you have recognised this and no doubt future meets will be better managed.
We recognise that students are having an exceptionally rough time and are facing unprecedented uncertainties. You are also being blamed for the rise in infections, which is possibly unfair but the numbers show that infections are highest in your age group. You have as much right to go climbing as anybody, but all this makes it particularly important at the present that student activities are managed effectively and safely (and are seen to be so), and that takes more than just completing the paperwork.
This seems to me to have been a conscientiously planned trip which took account of the guidelines, but regrettably some mistakes were made both in the planning and in managing the activity at the crag. I'm sure you will do better next time.
Thanks for posting. It strikes me that you did a pretty good job of negotiating the bureaucratic nightmare that organising a group meet at a local crag has become. I wonder how many people posting on this thread would bother to go climbing at all if they had to do the same. Especially if they were limited to getting there by public transport.
You've admitted that you should perhaps have posted your notice a bit earlier (some people have very organised lives and like to plan weeks ahead), but to be fair you're not obliged to give any notice and you certainly aren't obliged to post it here.
The fact remains that a couple of people already at the crag were made to feel uncomfortable and, without being there, I don't know whether your interactions with them could have been handled better (although clearly there was some attempt to communicate with them). You might want to reach out to Wayne S, who seems like a reasonable bloke.
I do think that a lot of the less charitable comments on here are from people who would disapprove of any group climbing, anywhere, at any time and however well organised.
> Now if there was actively anti-social behaviour, purposefully not distancing from Wayne's pair, (or any other uninvolved members at the crag) then of course this would be a different story but that's not been the case.
> We were crowded in on simply trying to retrieve rucksacks. The col at the entry to the crag was blocked by shoulder to shoulder individuals, necessitating we scrambled out past to rejoin the path.
I'm sure it wasn't intentional, but it sounds like plans for social distancing (from others at the crag or each other) effectively went out of the window.
Gettting soaked through on a fresher's trip is a right of passage! We've had to learn to lead with an umbrella on some of our trips!
> As for everyone who questions how could this meet possibly be within guidelines...
You accuse others of "tl:dr" - I suggest you have another look at the thread yourself and pay particular attention to slab_happy's posts: an early one pointing out how your meet could indeed be within the guidelines (at a moment where the OP might have done so, had the OP bothered to engage with the thread at all beyond the initial post), and then a later one expressing disappointment that you clearly failed to adhere to those guidelines this time.
Best of luck with your Froggatt meet. It's a crag that will give you the opportunity to do a much better job than it seems you did on this occasion (and the opportunity to spread out further to some of the quieter Curbar buttresses if needs be). Lets hope you'll be able to do a better job this time and that your group and anyone else who happens to be there (climbers or otherwise) will be able to enjoy a good day out and a much needed breath of fresh air.
The top path is very popular with walkers. Many of them are often quite elderly and I've noticed whilst running that, having relaxed a bit over the summer, people are beginning to really appreciate being given plenty of space again. For the approach, I suggest you brief your groups that they may need to drop into single-file at times and stay well over to one side of the path to let people past with the clearance that they are comfortable with and pay particular attention to the 'pinch points' at gates etc.
> Did you actually read the post?
I don't think he's actually able to. 🙂
Perhaps he needs to wait till mummy gets home
> Best of luck with your Froggatt meet. It's a crag that will give you the opportunity to do a much better job than it seems you did on this occasion (and the opportunity to spread out further to some of the quieter Curbar buttresses if needs be). Lets hope you'll be able to do a better job this time and that your group and anyone else who happens to be there (climbers or otherwise) will be able to enjoy a good day out and a much needed breath of fresh air.
> The top path is very popular with walkers. Many of them are often quite elderly and I've noticed whilst running that, having relaxed a bit over the summer, people are beginning to really appreciate being given plenty of space again. For the approach, I suggest you brief your groups that they may need to drop into single-file at times and stay well over to one side of the path to let people past with the clearance that they are comfortable with and pay particular attention to the 'pinch points' at gates etc.
Worth dropping this in the Froggatt thread as well, in case the OP of that isn't reading here?
That's thoughtful advice for them to bear in mind re: the top path, and also re: Curbar - the Beech Buttress area is only slightly detached from the Chequers Buttress area, and always quiet, so could be good for "spillover" if things get too crowded.
Brookside Buttress at Froggatt might also be worth considering, as it has some nice things on it.
I really appreciate the people who read my brick wall of text, and offered genuine constructive conversation. I admit, I did devolve into a bit of rant grinding my personal axe against those who have a problem with students in general in my last post - like I said, four years of dealing with unfair and uninformed criticism gets incredibly tiresome. Especially given that by this point I've volunteered hundreds of hours for free, and I'm trying to guide the next generation of committee into how to do things responsibly. The vitriol from some users on this thread is overwhelming to those trying to organise student trips for the first time, and drives people away.
For clarification, I'm the poor mug that has to do all the paperwork. Risk assessments, guidance reading co-ordinate first aid and climbing training within the club. However, I don't actually get to go on trips because I have to work weekends. Trips are organised and co-ordinated by our meet secs, whom I advise, having been the meets sec in previous years, and advise on our new plague rules as the person who has to do the paperwork and homework around it.
To provide more context, fresher's trips by MUMC have followed the same formula for years (as far back as the 80s, I believe) where a coach of freshers are taken to the Roaches one week, and another to Froggat the next. Each year we more or less fill these coaches taking up to 120 people over the course of the two trips. Though I believe we are one of the largest student climbing clubs, lots of other clubs do similar. Obviously this couldn't happen this year, so we've had to completely re-write how we do things.
We've gone from a potential max trip attendance of 60+ to around 25. We've doubled the number of fresher's trips, from 2 to 4 to accommodate everyone who wants to come and take them in smaller groups. We've also had to cancel our weekend away trips to the Lakes and North Wales, and severely restrict our indoor meets.
This might explain how it comes across that we've done loads of ticking boxes beforehand but not actually giving a shit when we're out there - lots of thought went into it and caused a complete change in how we do things. It was not just box ticking. Whenever you change something up this radically there's always going to be areas to improve, and it appears that the big one was that we clearly need people to pester people to keep apart. This is something I was informed of when I got home from work and back to my housemates. I've already talked to the guys running our next trips this is something they need to be on the ball with.
Seeing as now we have to operate by trains instead of coaches, it's forced a change of venues. I explained earlier the thought process describing how a smaller crag would potentially be a better choice of venue, though it would seem this line of thought has not gone down well with the community. As such we'll probably be looking to use larger venues for upcoming trips, if that's what the community would rather us do.
As for those who feel that Castle Naze specifically was still a poor choice due to popularity, and that it didn't have some of the criteria I mentioned when we chose venues: The things that make a venue good for trips like this are also a lot of the things that make a venue popular anyway... which makes things harder. Finding a crag that fulfils all the criteria we set out is also hard because, well, crags are never perfect. If they were, they'd have crash mats at the bottom, bomber placements, endless classics, and a top out on the doorstep of a pub. Castle Naze does have falling hazards - all crags do. Especially with beginners on them. People should always wear lids around crags, anyway. They're not cool, but neither are metal plates in your head, as Andy KP put it. Hard to find anchors are another issue - again, we aimed to mitigate this with topropes and minimise people dropping or kicking things off the top. Castle Naze was, in some form, an experiment born of necessity. It appears to not have gone as well as we had hoped. That being said, it wasn't as poor choice as running a fresher's trip to Gogarth, as I heard one University club (which I won't name), did a few years back.
As for monopolising crags:
I'm not going to go into the various arguments on that arise around the fact that everyone has equal access and that people shouldnt impinge on strangers, and strangers shouldnt impinge on you, because we'll be here forever and its all a bit moot, as others have pointed out.
A lot of this ties in with small crag problems. Like I said, we'll probably move back to bigger ones to avoid this issue.
People mentioned that there are some who would feel intimidated or nervous about asking a large group to move routes. This is a difficult proposition to negotiate, because I know we can't say 'you can talk to us, we're not scary', but at the same time, we cant all always modify our behaviours to accommodate the exact vast array of possible social apprehensions of others when we're unaware of them. This problem is perhaps best resolved with the approach of leaving space and routes free of ropes and mobs. This was done at CN, but apparently not by enough. In terms of people being told that we'll happily move to accommodate and then choosing not to ask - well, to be honest the onus is on them at that point. I did double check that our guys went and told people around the crag we'd be happy to do this in response to one poster saying that we didnt. Though they all told me that they had, though I am aware this is of perhaps limited value due to bias and me being told what I want to hear. I actually feel really guilty that we caused someone to bail, to my knowledge this hasn't happened before, and we're trying to modify things to avoid this happening again.
Future heads up posts will be less blunt and more amicable. We have also bought shares in popcorn as highlighted by the first comment in response to our next trip announcement.
Forums are forums and do invite debate by their nature, this is true. Again, sorry that it took ages for you all to get replies.
Edit: Someoen mentioned all risk assessing and plans are nothing if not acted upon - almost everything we did that day was the result of new plans and assessments that have had to be changed or implemented this year. A large number of things were acted on. It's just that one big obvious one (herding the cats) needs improvement
> That being said, it wasn't as poor choice as running a fresher's trip to Gogarth, as I heard one University club (which I won't name), did a few years back.
One wonders whether they might have been employing the time-honoured strategy of making sure that the freshers had all paid their annual subs, then scaring most of them away with the prospect of imminent death.
Thanks for the reply, Despite lots of ranting from both sides some good observation have been made. With some slant in interpreting my words it would appear we took our leave from the crag primarily on COVID concerns, to be clear it was a multifaceted decision based on both top ropes on routes we had wanted to lead, the numbers, and the total lack of social distancing.
I can see from a planning point of view, a great deal of effort was put in. The issue is a plan is just that, the resultant actions and management deliver the outcome. If anything can ruin a perfectly good plan its people! Really there was no distancing, whilst a few busily sprang into action setting up ropes a huge group either sat or stood together at the col at the crag entrance. The worst pinch point. We sat at the top, witnessed a large group with no social distancing, ropes down No Zag, others being rigged. Lets be realistic, there was only one decision for us to make, where are we going, Roaches Skyline, lets go.
Hopefully there are some lessons learnt, and I do appreciate someone taking the time to respond.
UKC Notice, Top Ropes, all appear to be just noise, root cause looks to be a lack of management and control of a group? I suspect this would have been more manageable with a smaller group size.
I will trust that there has been some learning and a slightly different approach will be adopted.
Though please read up RE pitchfork!
Thank you for taking the time to reply. Volunteering can often be quite a thankless task and must be even more thankless if you don't even manage to go to the events that you organise. I hope the Froggatt goes well.
Kendal Mountain Festival is just around the corner and the event is going online this year for the first time. As always, the team behind the festival have been hard at work putting together a programme of films,...