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/ France: Cote d'Azur - New Rockfax Guide

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HappyTrundler - on 06 Jan 2018
I have about eight Rockfax guides, the most recent I got for Christmas, North Wales Climbs. I am a big fan, great photos, descriptions, the Costa Blanca one is particularly good, I have spent a lot of money on Rockfax guides.

I fancy a first trip to Calanques and Verdon, so didn't hesitate to buy online the France: Cote d'Azur guide, at first sight it looked just as good as the others I have. I have racked my brains trying to get an answer.....why did Chris Craggs think it would be an attractive new feature not to give any route or pitch lengths ?? Hardly a minor detail....ok for him and the guidebook writers to leave that info out, they know the crags very well....for a newbie who is trying to familiarise himself with the crags, area, approach, descent, it frankly ruins the guide for me, I get irritated just thinking about it.

It says at the start, in the 'Topo Key' that on the crag photos there is a red box with 'approximate height', to give an indication. However I counted twelve crag photos without this info. Unforgivably, the biggest crags at Verdon, La Demande P.247, and Le Pario du Duc , P.254 and 255 do not have this information, just a photo with the dotted route line and orange dots for the 12 belays. Unbelievable.

So, what is the reason? Not enough room? Not really, you could even have put the total length by the route name, at least you could approximate the pitch lengths from the photo. Or did you not want to spoil the adventure element for the 0.25% of climbers who don't want to know?

Let's get one thing straight, we all know the pitch / route length is a best guess, and can be 25m out on a single pitch and 300m out on a 10 pitch route. We still like a best guess though.

It is supposed to be a ruddy guide book, how can the route lengths not be viewed as essential info ? How could that be an improvement on previous guidebooks ? It is exasperating. If I had been thumbing through it in a shop, I wouldn't have bought it. Please, don't ruin the next one.

Cheers
7
snoop6060 - on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to HappyTrundler:

You want someone to guess even tho they might be ‘25m out on a single pitch’?!

Route lengths that are wrong are more dangerous than no route lengths at all.

1
jon on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to snoop6060:

> Route lengths that are wrong are more dangerous than no route lengths at all.

Exactly. And I think that's Alan's reason for dropping them.

Chris Craggs - on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to HappyTrundler:

Hi there,
I don't have a copy of either edition of the book here in the Ariege with so can't double check the pages, to see if the heights were in the first edition and got missed off second time around.
Either way I can assure you there was no master-plan, just human error. I apologise for that and just hope that 12 topos with the heights missing out of a 400 page book don't ruin it completely for you.
I'll have a word with Alan and see if we can produce a PDF of the offending pages with the heights added,

Chris
HappyTrundler - on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to snoop6060:

Rubbish...'Route lengths that are wrong are more dangerous than no route lengths at all.' can't get my head around that, what are you on about ??!! I see all your latest climbs and ticklist are hidden.....any reason for that ?!...


22
HappyTrundler - on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to jon:
You agree then, route length and pitch length have no place in a guidebook ?...terrific.....funny how that idea hasn't caught on globally....
Post edited at 17:40
6
HappyTrundler - on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to Chris Craggs:

Thanks for a sensible answer Chris....as I've said, you have done a terrific job with your previous guides....I appreciate that you haven't tried to make yourself right, and admitted it could be an oversight, cheers...
2
teh_mark on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to HappyTrundler:

If you lower off a 27m route with your 60m rope and get lowered off the end of the rope because it's actually a 32m route...just an example. I'd much rather not have pitch lengths than inaccurate pitch lengths, if only because it may well focus the mind more when lowering or abbing.

On a different note, the 'Calanques Climbing' guidebook is fantastic, even if the translation occasionally goes awry. THe area itself is also fantastic, although I can't comment on the quality of the climbing as I broke myself on the walk-in to our first route...
HappyTrundler - on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to teh_mark:

Fair point, there is a lot of rope stretch on a 30m abseil...abseil points are usually pretty accurate compared to pitch lengths....never run out of rope on an abb descent in Spain or Majorca....or UK for that matter....
3
jon on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to HappyTrundler:
> You agree then, route length and pitch length have no place in a guidebook ?...terrific.....funny how that idea hasn't caught on globally....

Don't be too quick with your sarcasm. If you are writing a guide to a small crag that you know inside out and KNOW the lengths of the routes then of course it's useful information. If you are producing a guide to a whole area area and include maybe 2000 or more routes then it's inconceivable that you can check all those routes, estimating is potentially dangerous, routes can get extended, your rope maybe 5 or 6 metres shorter than the writer's for the same nominal length etc etc... I would far rather make my own judgement than take something I read for granted. Tie a knot in the end. Most topos where I live will simply include the length of rope required to safely lower down from all the routes at a crag or sector, which is a far more useful bit of info.
Post edited at 20:26
jon on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to HappyTrundler:

> > Route lengths that are wrong are more dangerous than no route lengths at all.

> Exactly. And I think that's Alan's reason for dropping them.


https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=675401&v=1#x8688820
HappyTrundler - on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to jon:

Unbelievable....you still think you are right....even the author disagrees with you.....so route length and pitch length have no place in a guidebook....why do you bother with a guidebook anyway, if you would 'rather make your own judgement than take something I read for granted' ??....bizarre.....
.
17
jon on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to HappyTrundler:

Maybe you should read what I wrote. Then click on the link.
1
snoop6060 - on 07 Jan 2018
In reply to HappyTrundler:



> Rubbish...'Route lengths that are wrong are more dangerous than no route lengths at all.' can't get my head around that, what are you on about ??!! I see all your latest climbs and ticklist are hidden.....any reason for that ?!...

Oh I like you, you’re feisty .

I just keep them hidden because I’m not into all this social media information sharing nonsense. But I’ll add you as a partner and you can read away.
bpmclimb on 07 Jan 2018
In reply to HappyTrundler:

Although I can imagine some of the reasons for this new RF policy of not giving heights for every route, personally I don't like it - I'd prefer to have the heights and accept that they are approximate.

Would it not have sufficed to include a disclaimer, stating that these measurements are by their nature approximate, and pointing out that the information may be out-of-date (extensions, etc). After all, plenty of other information in guidebooks can be out-of-date - and potentially dangerously misleading.

This hasn't stop me buying a RF guide though, I hasten to add
In reply to HappyTrundler:

A lot of answers have already been given. What Chris was apologising for was the fact that we missed spot heights of some topos in the guidebook, not that we missed adding pitch lengths to all routes. Missing the spot heights on a dozen topos is indeed a mistake, and something I will certainly look at correcting in the master document. Apologies for that.

However, no Rockfax guide has had individual route lengths for the last 10 years. We dropped it after some we heard about some dangerous practices going on with the 2008 El Chorro guide. The reasons are given in the reply Jon linked to above which I will quote again here (with some amendments). The reply referred to the fact that one climber had found the route lengths wrong in the El Chorro guide.

"This was a known issue with this (El Chorro 2008) guide and also the reason that we have stopped including dedicated pitch lengths with descriptions on every guide since 2008.

What happened in El Chorro is that a number of prominent routes were rebolted and extended shortly after we produced the last guide. Obviously there was little we could do about this, but it did wake us up to the realisation that including specific pitch lengths could lead to accidents if people are stupid enough to blindly rely on them.

Other aspects like the fact that people stand in different places when they belay, some people use a lot more rope in their knots, ropes have their ends chopped off and people forget how long they are. Additionally, how long are these ropes? In our tests we found 60m ropes varied from 60m to 66m. On pitches near the 30m limit this can be a crucial difference which makes it even more important for people to make their own minds up about pitch lengths and not trust a figure given by someone else.

Another factor is that checking pitch lengths is extremely difficult to do accurately and has in fact seldom ever been done accurately. The vast majority of pitch lengths in UK guidebooks are at best vague approximations, and at worst massively inaccurate. In trad climbing though people rarely check since it isn't that important but try it one day and you will be shocked how far out they all are.

For the last 10 years we have been putting spot heights on the topos to give people rough indications but leave the actual life and death decision about lowering off up to the person it really matters to."


Since 2008 there have probably been half a dozen threads asking why we removed the pitch lengths, and about the same number questioning the incorrect pitch lengths in the El Chorro 2008 guide. Each time one of us has replied explaining our reasoning and the discussions have never really taken off. My assumption is that people are happy with checking the lengths themselves and most seem to understand the decision not to include pitch lengths with routes themselves. I am happy to discuss this again though if you disagree.

Alan
Bogwalloper - on 07 Jan 2018
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

>

> it did wake us up to the realisation that including specific pitch lengths could lead to accidents if people are stupid enough to blindly rely on them.

>

HappyTrundler ^^^^^

W
In reply to bpmclimb:

> Although I can imagine some of the reasons for this new RF policy of not giving heights for every route, personally I don't like it - I'd prefer to have the heights and accept that they are approximate.
> Would it not have sufficed to include a disclaimer, stating that these measurements are by their nature approximate, and pointing out that the information may be out-of-date (extensions, etc). After all, plenty of other information in guidebooks can be out-of-date - and potentially dangerously misleading.

Most guidebooks contain such disclaimers anyway by necessity since, as you point out, all the information can change, be slightly out or be wrong in the first place. In the reality of the El Chorro lower-offs though this disclaimer didn't stop people blindly trusting the route length information printed in the book, thankfully never with terminal consequences, but certainly a few near-misses.

This policy is a pro-active one to get people to make these key decision for themselves. We have done the same with quoting the number of quickdraws in descriptions. We don't do it any more since a wrong count is worse than no count.

Also, as pointed out already, this is hardly a new policy. We first did it in 2009 in the Haute Provence guide and currently have 21 guidebooks in print without route lengths, and only 6 old ones still in print with route lengths.

Alan

HappyTrundler - on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

Thanks for that, however you say 'no Rockfax guide has had individual route lengths for the last 10 years'....I have the 2010 SW Climbs, the 2013 Costa Blanca and 2013 North Wales Climbs, they all have pitch lengths ?! Or do you mean you put the pitch lengths in but not the route length, just leave the climber to add them up ?!

I think if you asked 1000 climbers, at least 995 would prefer to have the route and pitch length in....we all know it is an approximation and we ultimately have to make our own decisions, not just about that, about bolts, threads, lower offs, route finding....you are better off disappointing those 5 than the 995, because if the 5 didn't buy the guide, it wouldn't impact your business....
4
In reply to HappyTrundler:

> Thanks for that, however you say 'no Rockfax guide has had individual route lengths for the last 10 years'....I have the 2010 SW Climbs, the 2013 Costa Blanca and 2013 North Wales Climbs, they all have pitch lengths ?! Or do you mean you put the pitch lengths in but not the route length, just leave the climber to add them up ?!

I mean individual route lengths for single pitch routes, or figures for the full length of multi-pitch routes. These are the figures we dropped for the reasons given. We do include individual pitch lengths for multi-pitch routes where we know them, especially trad routes. Small 10m to 5m differences in these are less critical and it is useful information. It is sport routes where you lower off on which the subtle differences I have described can have crucial consequences. As for the full length of multi-pitch routes - you can add up the pitch lengths if you want, or look at the red box on the topo. Both will give you a very rough figure that probably isn't particularly accurate but is as useful as one which has been meticulously measured. We do include approximate full lengths in the Chamonix guidebook where the routes are very long.

The long routes you mention in the Verdon don't have pitch lengths because we don't know them. Alan Carne, who was a big help in putting together that section of the guide, didn't have that information. They haven't been dropped from the previous edition, they were not in that either. The fact that those topos don't have red and yellow spot height boxes is a mistake as I mentioned. I have already corrected this in the master document.

> I think if you asked 1000 climbers, at least 995 would prefer to have the route and pitch length in....we all know it is an approximation and we ultimately have to make our own decisions, not just about that, about bolts, threads, lower offs, route finding....you are better off disappointing those 5 than the 995, because if the 5 didn't buy the guide, it wouldn't impact your business....

I would strongly dispute your ball park figure of 995/1000. Check the likes on this thread - there seems to be a lot of support for the policy we now practice. If it was such a big issue don't you think we would have had more people question it over the last ten years?

I have always seen Rockfax as a trend setter when it comes to guidebooks, not a trend follower. We think that it is safer for climbers to make their own decisions about route and rope lengths based on what they see in front of them, not a figure in a book. Removing that figure forces them to do it. That is why we established this policy and we would be happy if other guidebook producers followed us with this.

Alan
Simon Caldwell - on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

Pitch length indications are useful for recent longer sport routes that require an 80m rope or longer. But if you're paying attention even if you find your rope isn't long enough you can construct an intermediate lower off with a maillon or two.

What is more important is abseil descents from multipitch routes - OK, you won't ab off the end of the rope if you've got them knotted, but if you know what rope length is needed before you set off then you can either take the appropriate ropes, or ab down the route you climbed , or bring shoes and walk off. I've no idea if Rockfax indicate this, but not all guides do. We almost abbed off a route in Leonidio with a 70m rope where some of the abs were 40m, and were only spared by meeting someone at the top who'd been warned!
bpmclimb on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:
> I would strongly dispute your ball park figure of 995/1000. Check the likes on this thread - there seems to be a lot of support for the policy we now practice. If it was such a big issue don't you think we would have had more people question it over the last ten years?


Hmmm .... I'm not so sure. I'd much prefer to have individual pitch heights, and so would quite a few people I know who've used RF books. Perhaps people haven't been particularly vocal because it's not crucial - you can get by without them. FWIW that's how I felt when I started using the 2013 Costa Blanca guide after the 2005 one. I much preferred the older book with its route heights. I didn't bother complaining about it, though - I assumed that as it was such a sweeping change in policy, we were going to be stuck with it anyway.
Post edited at 21:04

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