/ Mountaineering Scotland response to Diabaig Bolts

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iainballantyne on 07 Mar 2019

Mountaineering Scotland have made clear the opinions of the climbing community to bolted abseil points at Diabaig and other “Mountain and sea cliffs with a wild, remote character (also reflected in their surrounding environment) and adventurous nature".

www.mountaineering.scot/news/the-diabaig-bolts-what-you-said?fbclid=IwAR23MUoKzc0v7ABrU5rLE-HRZqm3buyZUk6-xKkcGCELGQDpto0W0k4KpAY

Here is the link to the original thread (it was getting a bit long but has some noteworthy opinions):

www.ukclimbing.com/forums/rocktalk/diabaig_bolted_ab_points-694130?v=1

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LucaC - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to iainballantyne:

I saw this on Facebook and this was my reply there. UKC seems as good a place as any to repeat it.

How many of the respondents have actually climbed at Diabeg or used the new bolts? 

We spent some time there a week ago, and bumped into the bolter who was continuing his excellent job of cleaning the crag and taking care of some seriously dangerous rocks at one of the belay ledges. This isn’t someone with a blatant disregard for Scottish ethics, it's a considered action which I think makes the crag better and safer for all who used it. 

Having used the new bolts I think they have been placed sensibly and sensitively and provide a much safer descent option than the old decaying trad anchors which exist. Everyone else using the crag that day, including several qualified MIA and MICs, all agreed that the bolts were a sensible addition, and we all enjoyed a quick descent without worrying about dodgy abseil anchors.

Diabeg isn’t really an adventure mountain crag or sea cliff, it’s practically roadside cragging. We go climbing to have fun, and embrace the risks which come with it. There is no need to make it more risky by forcing abseils off bad threads and fixed, rusty wires. It’s disappointing to me that people sat behind computers can vote on the future of a crag they might have never visited.

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Offwidth - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to iainballantyne:

Any links to their survey methodology? It's possible to get almost any answer on this sort of question depending on who you ask and where and how you pose the question, so such information is a vital part of any result (I support no bolts on Diabeg so am not biased against the result).

Post edited at 12:08
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Offwidth - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to LucaC:

That sort of argument could lead to sections on almost any trad crag being bolted. Its simply not what I think most trad climbers want.

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Alex the Alex on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to LucaC:

There might have been some dogmatic survey responses but its too easy to just dismiss those who disagree with you as armchair warriors. Most of those who answered will have had genuine views and interests. How would you judge entitlement to vote? 

And as for the say of MIC's and MIA's, are they not the ones who would benefit most from a few convenient bolts? 

I had mixed feelings but in the end felt its too much of a precedent. 

Post edited at 12:31
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LucaC - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

And it's not what I want to see either. But I think in this case it is a sensible course of action and has some precedence (the chain at Sharpnose or the Inaccessible Pinnacle?). I was just pointing out that on a random day, everyone using the crag (maybe 12 people) all were in favour and used the new bolts as a descent.

As you say, the methodology is important when making consensus decisions like this, which is why I asked if the people voting have ever visited the crag?   

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HeMa on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

> That sort of argument could lead to sections on almost any trad crag being bolted. Its simply not what I think most trad climbers want.

Well, to be honest now it was about replacing (possibly) manky rap anchors with bolts. Not touching the routes.

I'm all for convinience but also for protection (tradition, rock, plant life). So for a "road side" crag, perhaps fixed anchors are the way to go... and if they are fixed anyway (rusty/manky pins and wires and what not), a bolted anchor might actually be more low-key and low impact. Certainly low visible impact if painted properly and not a horde of bleached tat and pins.

But then again, if there is a reasonable walk off... then there is no need for any kind of fixed anchor. Where there trees at the top (as is the case in Finland), well I'll favour bolts as repeated rappels from the trees an d pulling the rope will actually have a quite big impact on the tree.... not kosher.

Mountains are a different thing... and threre should be *no* fixed stuff... Not on pitch, for rappel or for anchors. And if leaving a pin is needed, you certainly should not leave tat there. Low (visual) impact.

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Alex Riley on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to Alex the Alex:

Should the bolts have been placed? Probably not.

However are the permanent "trad loweroffs" which usually comprise of crap old nuts/pegs and manky tat the answer in Scotland? Is the hole from a removed bolt (that can be filled/reused if removed carefully in 20+ years time) worse than rusted pegs/nut permanently filling placements in cracks in far less time.

I think the environmental/visual arguement is nonsense, in mind it's entirely an historic and ethical discussion that needs to be had.

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mav - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to LucaC:

Precedence is precisely what concerns many people. This creates the precedence that allows bolting at the next crag, which leads to the next. Then because belay bolting is now acceptable by precedence, someone (and MIA wanting to teach multi-pitch?) rocks up to Polldubh and bolts Storm. And on we go. I'd also argue the precedents you quote are different - a cable, sheathed in plastic to avoid damaging rock placed around a belay rock at the inn pinn isn't comparable to bolts placed into the rock at the the top of the crag. And of course, people were using them - it takes a strong-willed person not to use the bolts that are there because they disagree with the principle.

None of that makes these bolts wrong per se. But the arguments you make are the wrong ones. Professionally placed, top quality bolts can enhance, and be of use in certain circumstances. The arguments have to be based around that: are they in line with the type of climbing t the crag, the setting and feel of the crag?; are there suitable belay points rendering them superfluous? and so on...

Post edited at 12:50
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Presley Whippet on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to iainballantyne:

It is Sargent Crag Slabs all over again. 

I'll informed knee jerk reactions to sensible safeguarding of crag users. 

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ianstevens - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

> That sort of argument could lead to sections on almost any trad crag being bolted. Its simply not what I think most trad climbers want.

Absolute rubbish. The use of safe, permanent anchors in place of grotty rope for abseils is in no way analogous to grid-bolting established traditional crags. I go trad climbing for the mental and physical challenge, and to be outside in nice places. I don't go trad climbing to spend hours fannying about with abseils, then risking my neck abbing off grotty, unsightly rope. Personally, I'd like to see all of these shitty bits of old rope removed and replaced with a nice set of rap rings (to use an Americansim) which will, in no way at all, destroy my experience of the actual climbing. 

TL;DR: I don't want trad crags grid bolted, but I do want nice ab points which are safe an discreet. Bolts on top does not equal bolts on routes.

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aln - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to LucaC:

> cleaning the crag and taking care of some seriously dangerous rocks... 

Good work.

There is no need to make it more risky by forcing abseils

How exactly are people being forced into abseils? When I climbed there it was before the ab tat, we walked off. It didn't seem like a particular hardship.

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iainballantyne on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to HeMa:

Pulling ropes that you have rapped around trees should definitely be discouraged although most popular crags which involve abseiling off trees (Dunkeld, ect) seem to either insitu slings/ tat or in the case of dunkeld, steel cable inside pvc tubing with a big maillon which i feel is the most safe and sensible option, whilst also having no detrimental effect to the health of the tree. I think the important thing to note with the use of trees/ blocks being slung as "abseil points" is the anchors can eventually be removed and it will be like they where never there in the first place, where as with bolts they will leave permanent holes (damage) in the rock... 

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HeMa on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to aln:

> How exactly are people being forced into abseils?

If there's an anchor, people will rappel... a lot quicker than walking (provided only one needed) when you're there to climb instead of hanging around ;).

Obviously those teaching also favour anchors, as it is convinience factor for them.

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LucaC - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to mav:

> None of that makes these bolts wrong per se. But the arguments you make are the wrong ones. Professionally placed, top quality bolts can enhance, and be of use in certain circumstances. The arguments have to be based around that: are they in line with the type of climbing t the crag, the setting and feel of the crag?; are there suitable belay points rendering them superfluous? and so on...

I have to say, these bolts are the very definition of professionally placed and top quality.

The old abseil anchors really are pretty rubbish and replacing like-for-like is only going to result in the same situation as they age.

The placements don't change the nature of any of the routes, they are way off to one side next to a grotty gully. They aren't bolted belays for use when climbing, they are clearly the choice descent option.  

If I'm using making the wrong argument in support of this, what do you think is the correct one? 

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Rick Graham on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to Presley Whippet:

> It is Sargent Crag Slabs all over again. 

> I'll informed knee jerk reactions to sensible safeguarding of crag users. 

 The Sargent crag slabs bolts were agreed to protect the SSSI on the descent and maintain access. They were not convenience bolts .

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HeMa on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to iainballantyne:

Try removing a manky pin from a crack... It'll break and rust will keep staining the rock for numerous years after this.

Where as if you remove/chop a bolt and add a bit of glue on the hole, no-one will even notice anything being there.

And tat around a tree is quess what, high visual impact - night gut.

But as said, best option is to leave nothing and have every one walk off... but then you start getting these manky anchors (for convinience or lazyness) and where back at square one...

This kind of thing is best observed by looking at new (badly designed) walkways.... if they don' really fulfil the real needs of people walking there abouts... people will start taking shortcuts accross the greens. So you either change the path layout.. or plant spiky bushes to stop people taking shortcuts...

Perhaps planting thornbushes near the fixed anchors is also the answer in this case ;) 

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Rick Graham on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to LucaC:

The mcos have a policy agreed by its members.Change the policy before you start a bolt war.
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LucaC - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to ianstevens:

> TL;DR: I don't want trad crags grid bolted, but I do want nice ab points which are safe an discreet. Bolts on top does not equal bolts on routes.

Absolutely agree.

>Obviously those teaching also favour anchors, as it is convinience factor for them.

Not actually true. The belays themselves are very easy to construct there and if you're teaching then most likely you'll be having your clients building them to learn about trad anchors etc.

The bolts just make descending an easy and safe. We're all there to climb not hike around exposed muddy paths in our approach shoes. Yes, obviously you can carry your trainers with you, but I would much rather see an easy descent option and climb an extra three pitch route than spend time walking around. We're talking about cragging here after all. 

Perhaps I'm valuing convenience too much, I'm quite happy to have my opinion changed. But the sun has come out and I'm going climbing (but probably won't be abseiling off any bolts today). 

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gravy - on 07 Mar 2019

Should we bolt Tremadog? it fits all the criteria set out here for Diabaig.  There is a an irritating walk off, there is tat used for abseiling in places, the visual impact will be minimal, it would be dead convenient, it's roadside, instructors would love it etc etc.

So "no".

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Alex Riley on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to gravy:

The tat at Tremadog isn't manky crap it's regularly replaced and decent quality (ie full strength rope around trees), as is the case at many crags in North Wales.

The same can't be said for many of the mountain crags in Scotland...

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danm on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to Rick Graham:

> The mcos have a policy agreed by its members.

> Change the policy before you start a bolt war.

Absolutely right. Personally, I'd vote to replace the pile of rotting tat and rusting wires with a bolted abseil, but we are a community which should act on consensus. For me, it's the unilateral action here which is the problem. Pretty arrogant to  bolt without a consensus, and stupid to think it would go unchallenged.

Typing from my armchair, but have climbed at Diabag more than once.

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ianstevens - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to Alex Riley:

> The tat at Tremadog isn't manky crap it's regularly replaced and decent quality (ie full strength rope around trees), as is the case at many crags in North Wales.

> The same can't be said for many of the mountain crags in Scotland...

Agreed - Tremadog is a bad (possibly the worst?) example as the tat is replaced most years at Tremfest. A better Welsh analogy would be Dinas Mot - loads of manky old rope up there which would be better in the bin and replaced with a subtle bolt. 

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Gary Latter - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to iainballantyne:

I received an email late on Monday afternoon from Davie Black, Mountaineering Scotland Access & Conservation; I replied at lunchtime today, but unfortunately he went ahead and posted their statement without allowing me to correct numerous errors - see my reply below:

Good afternoon Davie

Further to your email on 4 March 2018, I have no intention of removing the abseil bolts at either Diabaig or Creag Dhubh.

You persist in consistently failing to acknowledge that the placement of the two bolted abseil anchors on the Main Cliff at Diabaig does not in any way contravene Mountaineering Scotland’s Climbing in Scotland Statement. As I have maintained from the outset, neither Diabaig or Creag Dhubh fall within the guidelines; they are quite clearly neither “sea cliffs or mountain cliffs”.

Your statement says “would ask that any climbers wishing to bolt routes” – I did not “bolt routes” – I placed two abseil anchors, which, as previously stated, do not in any way alter the adventurous nature of any of the routes on the Main Cliff at Diabaig.

Your statement “We advocate minimum impact – which includes in-situ protection.” is completely contradictory: I fail to understand how the replacement of the visually intrusive existing ‘traditional’ anchors, consisting of around 20m of static rope, nuts, peg, rope thread and 4 alloy karabiners with bolted abseil points can be in any way considered more intrusive. The ‘traditional’ anchors were visible from several hundred metres away; the bolts from a few metres. Under the Caring for the environment paragraph within the Climbing in Scotland Statement, it specifically states “avoiding… …leaving visually intrusive climbing ‘litter’’’

Regarding the intermediate abseil anchor from the perched blocks on the first belay on The Black Streak; this is now no longer an option, as the blocks were recently dislodged – one of the blocks in question now resides at the base of Northumberland Wall.

You stated on 18 September 2018 “we have been involved in discussions about bolting policy and consultations generally, and we are establishing a Climbing Advisory Group to look at a whole range of topics.” You later stated on 21 September 2018 “It was for issues like this, among others, that we felt the need to bring different representatives together to talk about the different aspects of climbing development.”

The above Climbing Advisory Group met on 3 October 2018. Who are the “different representatives” and what is the remit of the group? It is over 5 months since the above meeting – exactly what was discussed? – there has been no mention whatsoever of the formation, composition or remit of this Climbing Advisory Group in any newsletters or on the website.

Please ensure that you correct the above fundamental errors in your proposed statement regarding the Diabaig survey results.

Regards, Gary

Post edited at 15:07
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Gary Latter - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to Rick Graham:

> The mcos have a policy agreed by its members.

> Change the policy before you start a bolt war.

It is Mountaineering Scotland, not mcos.

Perhaps if you actually read the guidelines contained within the Climbing in Scotland Statement, you will understand that I did not in any way contravene the guidelines. The guidelines specifically refer to "mountain cliffs and sea cliffs" - clearly both Diabaig and Creag Dhubh are neither.

Read the policy before you post your ill-informed nonsense.

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Robert Durran - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

> "You persist in consistently failing to acknowledge that the placement of the two bolted abseil anchors on the Main Cliff at Diabaig does not in any way contravene Mountaineering Scotland’s Climbing in Scotland Statement. As I have maintained from the outset, neither Diabaig or Creag Dhubh fall within the guidelines; they are quite clearly neither “sea cliffs or mountain cliffs”."

Yes, but it goes on to say: 

"Established (documented) ‘traditional’ and sport venues would be expected to remain in their documented style."

I think that is clearly the relevant bit.

Yes I know the actual routes remain trad if bolted belay anchors are placed, but, for some of us, it undoubtedly impinges on the "trad" nature and experience of the crag.

There is no doubt at all that bolted abseil anchors are more convenient, safer and less visually intrusive than tat, wires etc. but the whole debate hinges on weighing that in this case against the principle of avoiding drilled gear and the precedent it would set on a crag which has always been free of it. 

In my opinion bolts have no place at Diabaig.

Post edited at 15:57
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Davy Gunn - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

Considered reply Gary.  Well done for taking time to look after a venue. 

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El Greyo - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to The Thread:

What is the problem with walking round?

I've been to Diabaig many times and loved the rock and the beautiful location but is probably now 20 years since I last went. We always used to walk round - there were no in situ abseil anchors and I don't think we even considered that there could or should be. I can't remember the descent but the fact that I can't remember suggests that it wasn't a problem.

The issue to me is not whether there should be in situ bolts or trad anchors but whether there should be any in situ anchors at all? In my view, I see no need. If people want to increase the turnaround between routes then perhaps leave temporary anchors in place and remove them after the last climb (I doubt the speed of abbing is that much greater than walking). 

Diabaig may not strictly be a 'mountain or sea cliff' being a hundred yards or so from the sea and a few miles from a mountain. But I don't see those criteria being the only places we should consider the appropriateness of permanent equipment - they are a guide to the sorts of places that we would like to preserve and I would, without doubt, include Diabaig in those sorts of places. It is beautiful, both the rock for climbing and the location.

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Rick Graham on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to Rick Graham:

> The mcos have a policy agreed by its members.

> Change the policy before you start a bolt war.

Mountaineering Scotland have a bolt policy carried over from their previous guise as MCoS.

Change the policy before a bolt war starts up.

Is that better, Gary ?

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alan moore - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to LucaC:

> and bumped into the bolter who was continuing his excellent job of cleaning the crag and taking care of some seriously dangerous rocks at one of the belay ledges. 

Thats a bit fishy. Did the 'dislodging' of the vibrating blocks happen on purpose and thereby reduce the abseiling options?

To Garry; its odd that you fight so hard for this. Is there a personal beef with somebody or some organisation?

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DerwentDiluted - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to iainballantyne:

First Colin Jordan, now this. Who'd have thought Diabaig would be such a hotbed of controversy.

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gravy - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

There are some weasel words here:  I understand the purpose of the guidelines to mean "don't place bolts" and see no need to differentiate between placing bolts for protecting a climbing "route" or placing bolts for protecting an abseil "route". 

The purpose is to stop people placing bolts without consensus and that's exactly what has happened.

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Graeme G on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to iainballantyne:

I have a couple of Gary Latter guidebooks for sale if anyone’s interested 😉

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jonnie3430 - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

Oh dear Gary. These bolts will get chopped, as will others. It sounds like it may soon become necessary for some to add a hacksaw to the pruning saw for the summer rack. Hopefully you'll then tidy the holes left after you drilled them.  

Forgotten examples include Loudoun Hill, bolted a few years ago and chopped soon after. They are not wanted and easily removed.

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jonnie3430 - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to gravy:

Don't forget all the"canyoning," companies that have decided that bolting is well within their ethos (of making money from punters on wet days,) and have bolted loads of gullies.

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ashtond6 - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to jonnie3430:

> and chopped soon after. They are not wanted and easily removed.

you sure about that? ;-) 

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mrphilipoldham - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to LucaC:

May as well bolt the whole crag then, eh? Save all that faff with trad gear and you'll get another route in on top of the one that you're supposedly getting from a bolted descent.

Post edited at 17:49
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Offwidth - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to ianstevens:

That's not what I said Ian. My point is many non-mountain crags have strict no bolting histories yet sections of many such trad crags have issues with descents and even Stanage has a few small areas with no sensible belay. Ignoring local ethics for the moment there is clearly never a need for bolt belays where descents are easy and belays are reliable.

So how do we draw the line?  I would be loathe to dump our unique national trad history for minor improvements in safety and convenience. We also need to 'carry' the vast majority of trad climbers with any proposals or currently most such  bolts will end up being chopped by individual activist action, potentially leaving a biggger mess than the old alternative. At most trad crags south of the border discussions at BMC area meetings would be against such bolt belays. However specific cases have been agreed for fixed gear for good reasons (especially no safe way off; no safe belay) and some bolts seen as a worring precendent by a few have been discussed and agreed to not have significant enough concerns to remove.

I'd add there is no such thing as a safe abseil.... way too many accidents occur which would never have happened if the climbers walked down, so convenience bolted abseils are actually going to increase risk.

Post edited at 18:05
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LucaC - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

> May as well bolt the whole crag then, eh? Save all that faff with trad gear and you'll get another route in on top of the one that you're supposedly getting from a bolted descent.

No, I don't believe that, and I don't think you believe that it's the argument I'm making. Keeping trad crags trad is clearly the way forward. Removing horrible descent anchors is pragmatic and in the best interest of safety. 

The UK has a great ethic of not bolting climbs, but I'm afraid that I think the idea that descent anchors  need to be made of decaying trad gear is old fashioned and unnecessary. 

>There are some weasel words here:  I understand the purpose of the guidelines to mean "don't place bolts" and see no need to differentiate between placing bolts for protecting a climbing "route" or placing bolts for protecting an abseil "route". 

I think it's two very different situations. There are plenty of crags which would benefit from safer approaches or already have good (well maintained, regularly replaced) fixed gear to access the routes, but where bolting of the climbs would be entirety wrong.  

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mrphilipoldham - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to LucaC:

No of course I don't, there was an element of tongue in cheek. Trad can be labelled 'old fashioned' in itself, if you wished to take such a view point. 

I'm not familiar with the crag, but it sounds like there's a safe walk down 'round the back' in which case any abseil points are merely for convenience and certainly should not be bolted. I would listen to an argument where there was no safe walk off, and no safe gear and/or only a small unsuitable tree. Ultimately though it seems to strike me as odd that you're willing to risk your physical safety on a trad climb, but don't seem to want to in descent for the sake of convenience.

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mike barnard - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to thread:

As I understand it, new trad gear (nuts and presumably slings?) was set up by climbers for the abseil only last year. So the 'rotting tat' argument doesn't really stand. The 'dodgy block' argument doesn't either, since with 60m ropes you could get down in a one-er. The descent as it was was safe and very convenient; the bolts don't make it any more so. I imagine the reason everyone at present is using the bolts is that the trad gear was removed.

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FFS people. You can walk off the crag.

May take a wee bit longer. Your boots may get a bit wet. You may get a couple more ticks.

If any of these are a problem perhaps this just isn’t the crag for you?

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Grahame N - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to iainballantyne:

Every so often a bolting issue like this comes up, and everyone says that consultation should take place (preferably before bolts are placed) and a consensus view taken, but this rarely happens. However in this case a consultation did take place and the consensus was that 74% of 452 responses were against the bolts. A clear majority I would say.

Although no doubt there are some who would still argue that the bolts should remain, and would want there to be a second vote.  Oh no what have I said!

Post edited at 21:13
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Heartinthe highlands on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to iainballantyne:

We will drive up to Diabeg in our cars. We will drive them on tarmac roads under electricity pylons and past new build bungalows. Past the lovely cafe in Torridon  village, full of tourists from overseas who flew on stratospheric jets to get here. 

Remind us Duns Scotus " How many angels can dance on a pinhead?". 

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Robert Durran - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to Heartinthe highlands:

> We will drive up to Diabeg in our cars. We will drive them on tarmac roads under electricity pylons and past new build bungalows. Past the lovely cafe in Torridon  village, full of tourists from overseas who flew on stratospheric jets to get here. 

> Remind us Duns Scotus " How many angels can dance on a pinhead?".

With that perspective on things, we'd just shrug if somebody bolted up every route in the country. Would you be ok with that?

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planetmarshall on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to LucaC:

> Removing horrible descent anchors is pragmatic and in the best interest of safety. 

Is it? It's hard to think of a more dangerous climbing related activity than abseiling. How many otherwise competent climbers have met their end that way? Maybe we shouldn't be encouraging it.

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Heartinthe highlands on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

No Robert , I wouldn't. But I am putting it in perspective. 

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TobyA on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to The Pulsing Motorik of Neu!:

> FFS people. You can walk off the crag.

But people didn't seem to be. They used the trad anchors. I did when I went there. I would have walked if the guidebook had made it clear that was what to do, but there was plenty of tat and insitu gear and I think that was what we understood, I guess from the books - there was no one else on the crag the day I visited, that abbing was normal. 

If there had been no insitu stuff there at all and Gary had come along and started people abbing by putting bolts in then I could get behind chopping them. But when there is a load of tat there, clearly many (most? nearly all?) climbers were abseiling. In which case having less visually intrusive and safe abseil points is something that I find hard to get that upset about it. 

It sounds like someone is going to chop these bolts then presumably more static, nuts and leaver-krabs will arrive back, so there will be tat and bolt stubs, like at Castell Helen from what I remember.

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Paul Sagar - on 07 Mar 2019

a lot of people on this thread could usefully look up the distinction between “precedence” and “precedent”. 

Just sayin’. 

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Robert Durran - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to Heartinthe highlands:

> No Robert , I wouldn't. But I am putting it in perspective.

The appropriate perspective is that of a climbing issue, not of the great problems of the planet.

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rgold - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to iainballantyne:

I'll leave the value judgements to those who understand the local circumstances. 

An absolutely clear message from the US experience is that frequently, bolts beget more bolts, and often a lot more bolts.  This isn't by itself a reason not to install bolts in certain places under certain conditions, but people should realize that bolts will spread and the original reasoning for the original bolts will evolve to include situations the original bolters hadn't contemplated.  That seems to be the way human nature operates.

When it comes to walk-offs vs. rappels, it seems to me that the best compromise, given the increasingly insatiable demand for convenient descents, is to formulate a coherent plan for a minimal number of bolted "rappel highways," which if at all possible are in places where no one will be climbing up.  Combine this with a widespread (hopefully universal) understanding that all other tat and other manky anchors will be removed by anyone who encounters them,  and there is a chance that the cliff will actually end up in a cleaner, less eroded state than if everyone rappels willy-nilly from wherever they choose.

What I've seen over and over, and what you don't want to happen if it can be avoided, is the process of building an outhouse at every pile of shit.  Plan carefully, try for wide consensus, activate support for controlling rogue rappel anchors, and hope that the bolts you do place don't foster a continued outbreak of drilling.

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Presley Whippet on 08 Mar 2019

In reply to

Diabeg is a long way away and despite all the hot air spouted here, I cannot see the bolts being chopped any time soon. 

LFE from the Sargent Crag slabs fiasco, if you do go to chop them, please do a proper job of it and don't go leaving a bigger mess behind. 

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gravy - on 08 Mar 2019

Smacks of the demon cleaner of Aldery Cliff...

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Robert Durran - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to Presley Whippet:

> Diabeg is a long way away and despite all the hot air spouted here, I cannot see the bolts being chopped any time soon. 

I'm surprised this needs explaining here, but how far away Diabaig is depends on where you are. Tricky concept I suppose.

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In reply to TobyA:

I guess that would be ‘the people’s will’, Toby?

;-)

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jonnie3430 - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to Presley Whippet:

Responsibility always lies with the original bolter, especially in this case where they haven't consulted, have gone against the national ethic and have refused to take them out even when asked by the national body for mountaineering. They will always be the stubs of Gary Latters bolts.

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Presley Whippet on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

Thanks for the geography lesson. 

I have a fairly hot temper but I cannot see myself driving for more than an hour to have a tantrum. Not many live within my tantrum radius of Diabeg. Your radius may, of course, be larger. 

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Offwidth - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to rgold:

I appreciate your perspective on this. As a regular SW US visitor I think more brits need to climb at Red Rocks NV... I've seen there: protectable but slightly bold routes completely sanitised by an unnecessary bolt; bolt belays for a new easy sport route placed at the crux of an easy trad climb; convenient abseil descents attracting people incapable of climbing and rapping multi-pitch safely; the 'not climbing on soft sandstone after rain' advice more commonly ignored on bolted climbs...I'm sure there is worse.

I was always happy with the UK ethic of any fixed gear for anchors and the odd bolt being agreed on a case-by-case basis, agreed locally. I thought Ken Wilson and his 'thin end of the wedge' was a bit daft (especially when he was ranting about Portland)  but bolts justified to replace unnecessary convenience tat for a unnecessary abseil descent where there is a walk down is a very problematic precedent for a trad crag. There may be some new local ecological protection issue on the normal descents I might be unaware of but I would have thought that would have been mentioned already.

Gravy mentioned Aldery... there were real issues about reaching (via vegetated loose rock above a parking area)  and using the exposed slippery descent on some routes on that crag... issues that are now even worse.  Despite the mess and the chopped bolts ... a new local consensus has been reached (one as a crag author I partly disagreed with .... I was happy with the old tat on the halfway ledges there, that would still have sometimes been possible on the stumps). 

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DubyaJamesDubya - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to Alex Riley:

> The tat at Tremadog isn't manky crap it's regularly replaced and decent quality (ie full strength rope around trees), as is the case at many crags in North Wales.

> The same can't be said for many of the mountain crags in Scotland...

So you're up for bolting  'mountain crags in Scotland' ?

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DubyaJamesDubya - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to ianstevens:

> Agreed - Tremadog is a bad (possibly the worst?) example as the tat is replaced most years at Tremfest. A better Welsh analogy would be Dinas Mot - loads of manky old rope up there which would be better in the bin and replaced with a subtle bolt. 

Climb at Dinas Mot regularly tat is in excellent condition (but that is irrelevant). I don't want bolts there!

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Gary Latter - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to jonnie3430:

> Responsibility always lies with the original bolter, especially in this case where they haven't consulted, have gone against the national ethic and have refused to take them out even when asked by the national body for mountaineering. They will always be the stubs of Gary Latters bolts.

You really ought to get your facts right before spouting such opinionated ill-informed nonsense. Following discussion with Andy Nisbet regarding replacing a bolt belay at Creag Dhubh, I got in touch with the Mountaineering Scotland Access & Conservation Officer on 14 September 2018 detailing my plans for installing bolted abseil anchors at both Creag Dhubh and the Main Cliff at Diabaig.

As I have repeatedly stated previously, why don't you actually read the Mountaineering Scotland Climbing in Scotland Statement? It quite categorically and specifically refers to bolts on "mountain cliffs and sea cliffs" - clearly Diabaig is neither. Also within that document, under the Caring for the environment paragraph, it again states "avoiding... ...leaving visually intrusive climbing 'litter'" How do the previous 'traditional' abseil anchors, consisting of around 20m of static rope, nuts, pegs and alloy karabiners fit in with this statement?

Again, for the hard of reading, I reiterate, I did not in any way contravene the "national ethic". I know it might be difficult for you and not fit in with your point of view, but please make the effort to actually read the 'policy', 'guidelines', 'Climbing in Scotland Statement', call it what you like, before making such assumptions.

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El Greyo - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

I'm sorry but relying on the strict wording of 'mountain cliffs and sea cliffs' in the Mountaineering Cliffs and Sea Cliffs is arbitrary, pedantic and disingenuous. Diabaig Main Cliff is not a sea cliff because it is 140m from the sea. I see the policy as setting out the kind of environments where bolt may or may not be acceptable. If we only rely on the wording 'mountain cliffs and sea cliffs' then when is a mountain crag a mountain crag? How far from the sea is a sea cliff? There are a whole range of crags in Scotland with different aspects and some will fall in or out of that criteria by a very narrow margin.

The policy also says: 'Crags with good or adequate quality protection within strong natural lines (obvious routes) would be regarded as traditional venues.' and 'Mountain and sea cliffs with a wild, remote character (also reflected in their surrounding environment) and adventurous nature are not suitable locations for bolts,' and there are many ways these statements can be interpreted.

The issue of where bolts are acceptable is inevitably subjective so that is why, in addition to developing policy, we have to use other means to decide - and the most sensible is consensus. MS have carried out a consultation and the result is clear.

I completely agree that the trad anchors sound visually intrusive and ugly. But I don't understand why there need to be permanent anchors at all. There is a walk off - which takes what, about 5 minutes? It you want a faster turnaround between route, set up a temporary anchor, remove it on your last climb and walk down. We seem to be getting closer to a situation where every crag with a few minutes walk off will get fixed anchors.

Diabaig may not be a crag remote from the road but on the Main Cliff, you cannot see the road or the village. All you can see is the loch, some mountains and beautiful highland scenery. 

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Alex the Alex on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

Hi Gary,

Thanks for posting, I think it helps setting out your side of the argument, though i dont think hiding behind the exact wording of the mountaineering scotland policy is particularly useful. They are guidelines rather than law. Though Diabaig isnt a seacliff or high mountain crag, a lot of people do see it as a semi-wild area and feel that bolts , wherever they are on the crag, break that picture of wilderness and more importantly self sufficiency which is a strong part of trad climbing.  

I still have very mixed feelings about it. But at the end of the day a large majority have put their opinions forward in favor of keeping the crag bolt free. Id be interested to hear what your justification is to go against that consensus and why you would put yourself through this palaver for the sake of an easier descent?

Cheers

Post edited at 12:02
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HeMa on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to El Greyo:

> I completely agree that the trad anchors sound visually intrusive and ugly. But I don't understand why there need to be permanent anchors at all. There is a walk off - which takes what, about 5 minutes? 

People seem to feel the need to have one, as it was there. See Toby's remarks as an example.

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jonnie3430 - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

Or you could consider diabeg to be both seacliff, due to its proximity to the sea, and mountainous, due to it's remote nature.  I am aware of the statement, so much so that I try to abide by it! 

Could you perhaps explain who you bolted this for? I assume you've climbed most the route's there, is it so repeat visits by yourself have the slightly less visual impact of the Insitu gear which you must have used many times? Or was it some other reason? You seem to have targeted diabeg and Creag dhubh, why them? What's next on your list? Since when we're you the crag aesthetic and safety police? How do I book your services? Bolted belay at the top of Agags Groove would be handy for the ab down rannoch wall.  How about another at the top of savage slit? Or scabbard chimney?  Tower gap and cuillin ridge abseils must be a priority too?

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rgold - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

> I appreciate your perspective on this. As a regular SW US visitor I think more brits need to climb at Red Rocks NV... I've seen there: protectable but slightly bold routes completely sanitised by an unnecessary bolt; bolt belays for a new easy sport route placed at the crux of an easy trad climb; convenient abseil descents attracting people incapable of climbing and rapping multi-pitch safely; the 'not climbing on soft sandstone after rain' advice more commonly ignored on bolted climbs...I'm sure there is worse.

Yup.  If you want to see the a possible future for the UK, do some climbing at Red Rocks.

To see worse, you might want to see what is happening at Tensleep, a sport climbing area that is experiencing a sudden increase in wholly manufactured routes.  Not content to drill protection, certain developers have decided to sculpt the holds they think are required.  If this seems a long way from UK trad, it is, but I think there is a direct line between the first inclination to solve problems by drilling and the most egregious applications of motorized technology.

A powerful side-effect of sport crag development is that there is an entity called "the community" that is entitled to modifications that render the experience safe and enjoyable.  The drill blunts, and perhaps totally obscures, the idea the climbers, using a set of voluntarily restricted means, deal with whatever nature dishes out.  Nature's "imperfections" can now be "cured" with the drill, and the risk and "inconvenience" that were formerly not simply acceptable, but actually intrinsic ingredients of the climbing experience become annoyances to be wiped out by technology.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that a lot of bolting is carried out by "white knights" who take it upon themselves to make "improvements" they believe to be in the "community interest."  This is almost always done without anything like a serious effort to determine, much less interrogate, the real community, and fails to account for the fact that tradition plays a role which is, in some cases, to shape community opinion and contain community excesses.

I 've been fighting bolting at my home crag, the Gunks, for more than 35 years now.  I console myself with the thought that I may have slowed it down some, but once begun, the process develops a prodigious momentum, and a time comes when, in order to avoid being completely irrelevant, one is obliged to shift from outright resistance to attempting the most effective possible management of the scourge.  And I have to admit, with sorrow,  that there are cases in which the population pressures have made a certain amount of bolted rap lines the lesser of two evils when it comes to environmental impact.

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El Greyo - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to HeMa:

When I climbed there, on many occasions, in the 90s, there were no fixed anchors and I didn't see anyone abbing down - we walked round. There is not a 'need' for anchors. There appears to be a desire for anchors from some, but it is purely for convenience. It's a beautiful and wildish location and we have a tradition that in these places, most people would prefer not to have permanent anchors. And in this case, the MS survey would appear to confirm that.

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yodadave on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to rgold:

A beautifully balanced viewpoint, thank you!

I was a little disappointed that the survey only received less than 500 responses, especially in light of the almost 15,000 people that "like" the mountaineering Scotland FB site.

I think the lack of engagement will only make the issue more contentious in years to come. I would hate to see Scotland drawn into the bolt wars that were well documented across the US in the 80s and 90s

For my part i think bolts have their place but it should be considered, sensitive to the environment and agreed upon with the broadest section of the local climbing community possible. I feel the last part of that is hard in Scotland where the population is so spread out and there is not the same sense of climbing community as I perceive to be happening in the honeypots to the south. Perhaps if mountaineering Scotland did more to facilitate the bringing together of communities consensus and shared opinion might prevail? I can hope......

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ianstevens - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

I do - I think the tat looks awful and a good bolt would be a vast improvement.

BUT... I accept I'm probably in the minority.

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ianstevens - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

> That's not what I said Ian. My point is many non-mountain crags have strict no bolting histories yet sections of many such trad crags have issues with descents and even Stanage has a few small areas with no sensible belay. Ignoring local ethics for the moment there is clearly never a need for bolt belays where descents are easy and belays are reliable.

Thanks for taking the time to clarify my misunderstanding. I think we can agree on your latter point without any issues at all - if descents are easy and belays are good, then clearly there's no need to change the status quo.

> So how do we draw the line?  I would be loathe to dump our unique national trad history for minor improvements in safety and convenience. We also need to 'carry' the vast majority of trad climbers with any proposals or currently most such  bolts will end up being chopped by individual activist action, potentially leaving a biggger mess than the old alternative. At most trad crags south of the border discussions at BMC area meetings would be against such bolt belays. However specific cases have been agreed for fixed gear for good reasons (especially no safe way off; no safe belay) and some bolts seen as a worring precendent by a few have been discussed and agreed to not have significant enough concerns to remove.

Personally, the point I draw the line is where there is the need for an in-situ piece of abseil equipment, rather than old rope/pegs I'd much rather see a bolt installed. I think they're more discrete, and the environmental impact is reduced.

I fully agree with what you're saying re: vigilante bolting. The ethical consensus is against such anchors, and if any are to be placed in future decisions should be site-specific and made through consensus via an appropriate channel (such as the BMC area meetings). I'm not advocating people go out and put bolts in all over shop, rather that they are considered as a viable alternative to old rope and pegs when these pieces of decaying equipment need replacing. 

> I'd add there is no such thing as a safe abseil.... way too many accidents occur which would never have happened if the climbers walked down, so convenience bolted abseils are actually going to increase risk.

Indeed there is no such thing as a safe abseil, but again my view is that bolts are relatively safer than bits of old rope and rusty pegs. Abseiling accidents are a bit of moot point here unless they are related to anchor failure. As above, walking down where possible is always preferable, but where abseiling is the convention replacing anchors with bolts as they decay should be a consideration, I did mention safety but the aesthetics and longevity are my major considerations. Its the route I would favour - replace current abseil points with fixed gear with bolts as they degrade - but I appreciate that I may well be in the minority here. As for convenience, threading a couple of bolts is no more nor less convenient than threading a bit of rope round a tree/spike.

Post edited at 16:07
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Alex Riley on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

I'm saying if a lower off is required to be replaced or installed the best option should be used. By best I mean safest, least environmentally and visually impacting and easiest to maintain/replace in the future.

To clarify I'm not agreeing with lower offs as a principle, if a walk/scramble/climb off is an option then that should take precedence over convenience. 

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mrphilipoldham - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to ianstevens:

Abseiling incidents unrelated to anchor failure are entirely relevant, if there are bolts then folk will be enticed in to lowering off rather than walking precisely because anchor failure likelihood is much reduced. If there’s a perfectly safe walk off, and you invite someone to make an ‘easy’ abseil through providing bolts then you should hope no one does have an accident, I’m not sure I could live with that on my conscience for the sake of convenience. Give them some old tat and they may just opt for the walk instead. 

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tom_in_edinburgh - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to Alex Riley:

> I'm saying if a lower off is required to be replaced or installed the best option should be used. By best I mean safest, least environmentally and visually impacting and easiest to maintain/replace in the future.

I'd like to see a general 'anti-tat' no-littering ethic that random bits of rope, slings etc shouldn't be intentionally left on a crag for long periods of time.   For non climbers tat is unsightly litter, but a bolt at the top of a cliff is pretty much invisible.    

The questions of whether there should be an anchor and what the anchor should be made of should be separated and dealt with one after the other.  The first question is about climbing ethics, the second one is about visual impact and technical effectiveness.

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TobyA on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

Didn't you say you haven't climbed at Diabeg? In which case you're sort of missing the point here - it seems most people were already abseiling, and as a result there was quite a lot of stuff left there at the two ab points, the second of which was also round IIRC a slightly suspicious block. 

Anyway it seems lots of people were choosing to abseil off without there being bolts. 

From the original thread I think I remember that the majority of people who had been there had abseiled. But maybe we should ask everyone here who walked down and who abseiled.

I abbed on my one visit.

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mrphilipoldham - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

What does that matter when the local ethics are inline with national? 

Dinas Mot seems quite similar from what I can tell. It’s near enough ‘roadside’ and there’s a walk off if you scramble up and over the top even though most people ab down gullies to the left or right. Would I like bolts over the sling around a fridge sized block to ab off? No.

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Coel Hellier - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

> From the original thread I think I remember that the majority of people who had been there had abseiled.

Of course most people are likely to do what the guide recommends they do (and most people will be clutching a guide written by a certain Gary Latter which suggests abseiling, though it also gives the walk round as an alternative).

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TobyA on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

I didn't have the Latter guides when I went there 3 summers back, we would have the mid 90s Northern Highland vol. whichever, and Kev Howett's mighty brick from the early 90s.

Did you abseil or walk off?

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Wicamoi on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to LucaC:

Hi Luca, I voted against the bolts and I have climbed at Diabaig half a dozen times. I disagree with you. For me it is important that we try to maintain all the adventure that climbing represents. There are a thousand ways to kill this adventure and organised, safe descents that someone else has created is one of them. I would feel the same about someone building a nice hand-railed descent path. We take our lives in our own hands when we trad climb - that's the point of it.

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TobyA on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to Wicamoi:

> We take our lives in our own hands when we trad climb - that's the point of it.

Not when you're abbing off someone else's manky old tat you're not!

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mrphilipoldham - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

But that’s your choice, you can always replace it, or walk for God’s sake.

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Robert Durran - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

> Not when you're abbing off someone else's manky old tat you're not!

Yes you are. You are free to assess it as unsafe and not ab off it or to cut it away and replace it (what you should do). 

In fact I am more placing my life in others' hands when I assume (albeit usually correctly firtunately) that shiny bolts are safe.

Post edited at 23:38
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TobyA on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

I presume you've done most of the routes at Diabeg. Did you walk down? After doing the routes on that sector?

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Robert Durran - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

> I presume you've done most of the routes at Diabeg. Did you walk down? After doing the routes on that sector?

No, I've always been quite happy to  ab down.

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LucaC - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to Wicamoi:

> Hi Luca, I voted against the bolts and I have climbed at Diabaig half a dozen times. I disagree with you. For me it is important that we try to maintain all the adventure that climbing represents. There are a thousand ways to kill this adventure and organised, safe descents that someone else has created is one of them. I would feel the same about someone building a nice hand-railed descent path. We take our lives in our own hands when we trad climb - that's the point of it.

I do see where you are coming from. I love the British adventure ethic. It would be terrible for bolts to appear on an adventure mountain crag like Beinn Eighe, but I think the UK ethic could be improved with the more pragmatic use of bolts. 

Somewhere in the thread above Castell Helen was mentioned. This is a prime example of a crag which could use two abseil bolts. 7 horrible pegs and a couple of OK wires are safe enough, but why should we make the access more dangerous when theres a simple solution to making it better? I don't see why anyones adventure is diminished by having a safe descent - I can still go and climb an adventurous route which is or isn't protected to the level I choose. Or I can go climb somewhere which doesn't have manky fixed anchors and deal with it myself. 

In the same way, using the new bolts at Diabeg isn't diminishing anyones adventure. It's a safe, convenient and less visually intrusive way of getting to the bottom of the crag. Yes, there's an eroded path (does that not count as construction?) but we're all there to go climbing and have an enjoyable time, not scrabble round in our climbing shoes on a muddy track.

I also worry about less experienced climbers on bad anchors (here specifically and more generally). With the influx of people who are used to climbing walls and who perhaps haven't developed the good judgement not to use poor in situ trad anchors, I think theres an accident waiting to happen. One of the Diabeg abseils is the thinnest little thread but with new-ish 12mm static and two screwgates. Theres no way I would use this one, but to someone who doesn't have the experience it looks like a climbing wall lower off. This one is a time bomb for sure, and I think it would be tragic for an accident to happen.

TL,DR: If crags are going to have fixed anchors, make them as safe as possible, otherwise remove them. 

(edited for poor grammar)

Post edited at 08:43
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TobyA on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

So basically your point is climbers leaving stuff behind is fine, even if it is visually intrusive, as long as it's not drilled stuff? I think I remember you saying that before with regard to pegs.

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Robert Durran - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

> So basically your point is climbers leaving stuff behind is fine, even if it is visually intrusive, as long as it's not drilled stuff? I think I remember you saying that before with regard to pegs.

Generally yes. So pretty much the default position for trad crags in the UK in fact.

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Robert Durran - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to LucaC:

So the gist of your argument is that nowadays climbers can't be expected to know how to use their own judgement, so some places should be dumbed down so that they don't have to learn to do so?

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mrphilipoldham - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

‘Stuff’ can be removed by the landowner or any member of the public who finds it intrusive. Bolts are a little more problematic, and any removal will leave a scar.

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WVRox - on 09 Mar 2019

Placing bolts here would clearly make the descent safer and quicker. Is there any other argument in favour of placing them?

In which case, best get our compressors out and purchase a job lot of bolts, because there’s dozens of equally, if not more deserving cases around the country! Sorry Gary, can you get back over to Lundy, no bolts on routes please, but if you could place some bolts to safeguard the approaches and descents would be great ta. Some of that steep grass can be jolly slippy.

While your at it, a few sign posts on some of the big hills would stop so many folk getting lost, on the Ben for example. Oh, and surely a tea shop at the top would be justified? And there are places on that tourist path that are very rough going, so a spot of tarmac here and there would surely help? (Not all the way, obv, that’d take away the fun). Maybe a hand rail in some places on Crib Goch? 

Sorry, I forgot that reason, unsightliness. God we’re gonna be busy!!

Post edited at 10:37
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ianstevens - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

Read my post. I'm not saying bolts should be placed for easy abseils where walking off is the norm. I'm saying they should be used to replace the old shit littering the place - i.e. where abseils are already established and used - and mainly for cosmetic reasons.

Flip it around - there's a foul looking bit of tat for an abseil that you don't want to use, and the alternative is grotty, borderline grade III scramble down a gully. Someone chooses not to abseil becasue the fixed gear is bad, chooses to downclimb, slips, and dies. How do you justify not installing a bolt?

To reiterate: I'm not an advocate for installing convenience abseils in place of established walk-offs. I'm advocating replacing the plethora of rotting crap that litters the tops of crags in UK uplands with discrete, long-lasting bolts for abseiling alone.  

Edit: typo

Post edited at 10:23
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Robert Durran - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to ianstevens:

> Flip it around - there's a foul looking bit of tat for an abseil that you don't want to use, and the alternative is grotty, borderline grade III scramble down a gully. Someone chooses not to abseil becasue the fixed gear is bad, chooses to downclimb, slips, and dies. How do you justify not installing a bolt?

Extremely easily. A big part of climbing is about taking responsibility for yourself. That's about it really.

Edit: I get the visual intrusiveness argument, but I just think it is outweighed by the arguments against dumbing down with bolts.

Post edited at 10:32
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mrphilipoldham - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to ianstevens:

The gully scramble off Idwal Slabs. First time I did it, it was seriously wet and I was very tired so I abbed off leaving a sling and screwgate behind because I couldn’t make a sound judgement as to whether the rope would a) stay behind the small spike and b) be retrievable. I have since abbed it fine (as I read many do so it’s well established as an abseil) without leaving anything behind.. but because conditions of the rock and climber aren’t always ideal should we install some bolts?

Post edited at 10:39
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WVRox - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

Well obviously!

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mrphilipoldham - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to WVRox:

I'd love to be able to figure out if you're being genuine or not!

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WVRox - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

Come on!!!

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LucaC - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

> So the gist of your argument is that nowadays climbers can't be expected to know how to use their own judgement, so some places should be dumbed down so that they don't have to learn to do so?

I like to think it's a little more nuanced than that, but at easily accessible crags with an abseil descent why shouldn't we make it safe? 

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Offwidth - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to LucaC:

You talk about safe and convenient and yet you defend unnecessary abseils (which are never safe) to avoid a safe and convenient path down. Its easy enough to clip and carry approach shoes or overshoes (or leave spare shoes at the top) if you don't want to get your climbing shoes muddy. You could even set up your own temporary descent station to abseil and remove it at the end of the day.  Bolt belays on a trad crag, against local consensus and where there is an easy walk-down, flies in the face of any UK arrangements for fixed gear and the history that makes our trad climbing special. The only justification I could see for bolts at the top of such crags would be some issue with crag ecology.

Gary's arguments currently look similar to that of a tax avoider... looking for legal loopholes in the strict definition of the guidelines but acting completely against their spirit and the almost certain consensus view. I'm amazed and depressed he posted what he has, as a guidebook producer (unless there is something here I'm missing). It will certainly make me think about if I continue to recommend his guidebooks (and maybe consider the opposite), a position I never expected to be in.

People need to think on the proliferation of bolts on US trad and some of the bolt wars (that continue to this day in places like Joshua Tree) where one climber puts in a convenience rap station (usually against local consensus and sometimes even against park rules... risking access) and once discovered its pretty soon chopped....and repeat .... and repeat...

I agree that single strand sling tat is unnecessarily dangerous... I'd nearly always cut and clear such, if I found it on crags with an easy walk down. Where I find single sling tat is part of an established necessary descent (usually because some ignorant climber has replaced a previous mess rather unsafely) I would preferentially cut and replace it with my spare rap cord. Slings suffer from serious UV degradation and rubbing damage in the wind far more quickly than cord. I've snapped sun-bleached sling tat in my hands.

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mrphilipoldham - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to LucaC:

You use less experience climbers as an argument for bolting abseils. Less experienced climbers are just as, if not more likely to have an accident abseiling due to reasons other than anchor failure. If you invite them to lower off by installing some bomber bolts and they then go and set up their ab wrong and fall to their deaths, would you be happy with that?

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LucaC - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

But this descent (down the direct start to Seniors Ridge) has a huge block which is very easy to put a sling around and it's in a frequently visited location where the tat is often replaced. Theres no need to bolt anything when there is a perfectly good abseil anchor. The problem here is that the Diabeg ones are poor, and poorly maintained. 

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LucaC - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

> You use less experience climbers as an argument for bolting abseils. Less experienced climbers are just as, if not more likely to have an accident abseiling due to reasons other than anchor failure. If you invite them to lower off by installing some bomber bolts and they then go and set up their ab wrong and fall to their deaths, would you be happy with that?

I don't think user error can be accounted for in that way, in this situation. But at least if theres something safe to go off, that's a start.

Taking that argument, what happens if someone tries to repeat my (fictitious for the sake of arguments sake) bold new route and hits the ground from the crux? Is it my fault for finding the line, cleaning it and writing it up in a guidebook?  

Can I clarify why you are so set against bolted abseil anchors? I think they are safe, convenient and don't clutter the mountainside with rotting junk. 

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mrphilipoldham - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to LucaC:

I'm not so against them. I'm so against them where there's a 5/10 minute (I think I read?) walk off, or the possibility to set up an ab station for your visit to remove at the end of the day. 

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tom_in_edinburgh - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

> You use less experience climbers as an argument for bolting abseils. Less experienced climbers are just as, if not more likely to have an accident abseiling due to reasons other than anchor failure. If you invite them to lower off by installing some bomber bolts and they then go and set up their ab wrong and fall to their deaths, would you be happy with that?

That's like arguing that airbags and ABS are a danger for learner drivers so they shouldn't be installed in cars.

If you are going to design a safety critical system like an anchor you should design it to be a safe as is possible within the practical constraints of cost, size, weight and so on.  

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TobyA on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

Anybody who isn't a climber would have quite a lot of difficulty removing the tat at the middle ab point on Diabeg's main face. It's a bit of a disingenuous argument because places where abseil anchors exist are by their very nature places that have difficult to get to for any who isn't a climber. The abseil tat at the top of the old man of Stoer is clearly visible from the mainland. How on earth would a landowner or a member of the public go about removing that?

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Offwidth - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

Being as safe as possible is to never trad climb or abseil.

Bolted abseil stations in the UK are only OK when they have clear logical justification that is accepted by consensus.

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Rick Graham on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to LucaC:

> I don't think user error can be accounted for in that way, in this situation. But at least if theres something safe to go off, that's a start.

> Taking that argument, what happens if someone tries to repeat my (fictitious for the sake of arguments sake) bold new route and hits the ground from the crux? Is it my fault for finding the line, cleaning it and writing it up in a guidebook?  

One reason why the Participation Statement appears in all guidebooks nowadays.

> Can I clarify why you are so set against bolted abseil anchors? I think they are safe, convenient and don't clutter the mountainside with rotting junk. 

There is a tradition in this country of "Leave no trace " for want of a better phrase.

Trad routes have ideally had no fixed gear. The cleaning off the crags of sometimes copious vegetation is often conveniently ignored in this context.

By consensus, after numerous ethical clashes, we now have a situation where both trad climbing and fully equipped sports routes can exist in the same country.

As the varied opinions in this thread illustrate, this consensus is by no means clear, certainly where trad climbing and fixed gear are in close proximity.

On a personal level, having been involved with placing, using, manufacturing and removing bolts for nigh on fifty years, I can assure you that defining a bolt as "safe to use" is a very complicated matter.

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ianstevens - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

> The gully scramble off Idwal Slabs. First time I did it, it was seriously wet and I was very tired so I abbed off leaving a sling and screwgate behind because I couldn’t make a sound judgement as to whether the rope would a) stay behind the small spike and b) be retrievable. I have since abbed it fine (as I read many do so it’s well established as an abseil) without leaving anything behind.. but because conditions of the rock and climber aren’t always ideal should we install some bolts?

You left a sling behind, which is exactly what I'm talking about trying to eliminate. I've gone down that gully both ways, and prefer to abseil (FYI only on the rope, which has never jammed on me) as, like you, I find it preferable. Imagine if we could leave something permanent, non-intrusive and non-degradable to stop you leaving that sling behind... 

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ianstevens - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to Rick Graham:

> One reason why the Participation Statement appears in all guidebooks nowadays.

> There is a tradition in this country of "Leave no trace " for want of a better phrase.

Which is precisely why leaving crappy rope and pegs everywhere is dumb, when a virtually invisible bolt could be installed. 

> Trad routes have ideally had no fixed gear. The cleaning off the crags of sometimes copious vegetation is often conveniently ignored in this context.

Ideally, but as we all know that's not the case. 

> By consensus, after numerous ethical clashes, we now have a situation where both trad climbing and fully equipped sports routes can exist in the same country.

> As the varied opinions in this thread illustrate, this consensus is by no means clear, certainly where trad climbing and fixed gear are in close proximity.

> On a personal level, having been involved with placing, using, manufacturing and removing bolts for nigh on fifty years, I can assure you that defining a bolt as "safe to use" is a very complicated matter.

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ianstevens - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Extremely easily. A big part of climbing is about taking responsibility for yourself. That's about it really.

Not disagreeing. But also our responsiblity as a community to minimise the imapct (visual or otherwise) of the environments we enjoy - bolts instead of tat and pegs are a good way to do this IMO. 

> Edit: I get the visual intrusiveness argument, but I just think it is outweighed by the arguments against dumbing down with bolts.

Glad I've got you sold on one ;) I don't get the "dumbing down" argument though - I go climbing to enjoy the climbing itself, not have some have an hour logistical fanny about to get back down a crag that can't be easily descended. That's where the current fixed gear comes in - a quick look a bit of rope and the rock/tree its attached to before threading my rope through it isn't an intellectual challenge that can really be "dumbed down", it's pretty simple. 

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Offwidth - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

I'd seek consensus to replace the top Stoer abseil point with bolts and chain if I was a local. If that wasn't acceptable maybe some less garish static rope.  The current top abseil station is an embarrassment to trad climbing. It's a clear example where a fixed station is needed and being very visible on a major coastal landmark should be much better disguised.

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TobyA on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

But climbers aren't walking! They are making abseil anchors out of trad gear and leaving them there! If everyone walked off and there was no tat and Garry had come along and bolted there wouldn't be any debate. But even Robert said he abseiled off the insitu gear. This is very specific to this cliff and how people climb there.

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mrphilipoldham - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

But the safest possible descent is a walk, so point invalid. Otherwise, by that train of thought every move on every crag needs a bolt.

Post edited at 12:03
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Rick Graham on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

> if there was no tat and Garry had come along and bolted there wouldn't be any debate.

Bollocks

Always best to put your own opinions and not try to speak for everybody who's opinions vary wildly as illustrated by the length of this topic.

Post edited at 12:06
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mrphilipoldham - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to ianstevens:

But the sling was removed by someone else within days (hours?!), probably much to their delight. It was completely temporary, once it was gone it was gone. Not like unnecessary bolts which as you say, will be there forever more.

Edit - and the sling was only left because in my tired state I couldn’t be sure the rope would stay in place during ab and come free thereafter. The sling didn’t need to be used, theoretically, it was a back up in what at the time felt an urgent situation. 

Post edited at 12:14
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daWalt on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to Rick Graham:

> There is a tradition in this country of "Leave no trace " for want of a better phrase.

no, there clearly isn't a leave no trace tradition, ethic, ethos or otherwise. places are littered with detritus of every sort.

the tradition is that the rock is sacrosanct. unfortunately in some instances this seems to be to the detriment of other things.

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Rick Graham on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

> But the sling was removed by someone else within days (hours?!), probably much to their delight. It was completely temporary, once it was gone it was gone. Not like unnecessary bolts which as you say, will be there forever more.

Rotting away over the years unless properly maintained by a replacement program.

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mrphilipoldham - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

Maybe the message should be to stop systematically leaving gear insitu then, rather than add yet more ‘tat’ to the natural world. Go, set up your anchor, use it, take it with you at the end of the day. 

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mrphilipoldham - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to Rick Graham:

Indeed, the same can be said of bolts and ab tat.

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tom_in_edinburgh - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

> Being as safe as possible is to never trad climb or abseil.

Sure, just like staying and home and not driving is safer than driving.  But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't put ABS or airbags in cars.

There is a valid argument about whether there should be an anchor or not.  But once you decide there should be an anchor left behind on the crag preferring an unsafe unsightly one to a safe one with minimal visual impact is silly.

> Bolted abseil stations in the UK are only OK when they have clear logical justification that is accepted by consensus.

It isn't just about consensus among climbers.   Trad climbers are a minority of people who access the countryside.  Tat is unsightly.  Why do trad climbers get a free pass on the general ethic of 'leave no trace'.  If you aren't a climber bits of old rope left lying about are unsightly litter.

Post edited at 12:13
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tom_in_edinburgh - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

> But the safest possible descent is a walk, so point invalid. Otherwise, by that train of thought every move on every crag needs a bolt.

No.  My point is that *if* you are going to build a semi-permanent anchor then you should build a safe and unobtrusive one.

Whether you should build a semi-permanent anchor is a separate question.

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mrphilipoldham - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

In that case, without a doubt. 

But it seems that at this crag a permanent anchor isn’t necessary, it’s merely for convenience. There’s a walk off, and there’s opportunity to set up a temporary anchor for your visit. Those who leave gear behind should perhaps been seen in the same light as those arguing for bolts.. 

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Offwidth - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

Thats your opinion Tom but most climbers think differently. Thats what consensus is about. Static rope that is roughly the same colour as the rock (or the vegetation on it) is rarely unsightly and many fixed ab stations are completely out of sight for all but climbers. Diabeg almost certainly doesn't need any ab stations at the top in the first place... so do you think we must replace any such lazy convenience arrangements with bolts, irrespective of our history and consensus?

Driving a car is very different from a risk based adventure activity undertaken partly because of the risk. The climbing safety sanitisers simply shouldn't be trad climbing.

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TobyA on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to Rick Graham:

What? You wouldn't object if someone bolts ab stations where there was nothing before but you only object to replacing in-situ trad gear with bolts?!

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TobyA on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

That's fine, i'd agree, but it clearly isn't happening. The case is the people who object to drilled gear don't object to tat been left behind on our cliffs, tat that is often more visually intrusive. Let's start with what the situation is not what we would like the situation to be.

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Rich W Parker - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to Alex the Alex:

No.

MIA and MICs are skilled and informed enough to organise descents that do not rely on bolts, never mind poor trad anchors, such as some that people (unbelievably) seemed to use regularly at Diabaig.

Post edited at 13:31
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mrphilipoldham - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

Surely the situation is that purely for convenience someone has removed tat, leaving no trace of it’s prior existence and then added bolts against the local and national ethic despite there being a perfectly safe and reasonably short walk down?

Correct me if I’m wrong. 

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tom_in_edinburgh - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

> Thats your opinion Tom but most climbers think differently. Thats what consensus is about. Static rope that is roughly the same colour as the rock (or the vegetation on it) is rarely unsightly and many fixed ab stations are completely out of sight for all but climbers. Diabeg almost certainly doesn't need any ab stations at the top in the first place... so do you think we must replace any such lazy convenience arrangements with bolts, irrespective of our history and consensus?

I don't have an opinion about whether an ab station is necessary at Diabeg.  I've never been there.   Whether there should be an anchor is a valid debate and not one I'm qualified to participate in.

If there is to be an anchor then you get to the question of how to construct it.   That's not an ethical question it is an engineering question and its about finding the best available technology based on visual impact, safety, cost etc.   I think that tat is an inferior technology because it unsightly and unsafe.

> Driving a car is very different from a risk based adventure activity undertaken partly because of the risk. The climbing safety sanitisers simply shouldn't be trad climbing.

Are you suggesting that when there are anchors they should intentionally be unsafe so as to make the descent after the climb is over more risky?

The whole people who don't want to get hurt shouldn't be allowed to climb outdoors in the UK argument is crazy.   Climbing is a sport,  it is going to evolve.

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Rick Graham on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

> What? You wouldn't object if someone bolts ab stations where there was nothing before but you only object to replacing in-situ trad gear with bolts?!

If you read both posts,  yours and mine , you will realise I did not imply that.

Any bolts placed at variance with an agreed bolting policy will be controversial.

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Offwidth - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

Again your view. Luckily not consensus. Trad climbing deliberately faces significant risk as a deliberate part of the activity and that is neither glib nor implies willful unsafe practice. Applying judgement to be safe enough is part of that and engineering concepts of maximal safety are just foolish ideas that don't belong, away from the equipment used.

The risks in the more serious aspects of climbing are illustrated well in the YOSAR work authored by John Dill. 

https://www.friendsofyosar.org/climbing

"at least 80% of the fatalities and many injuries, were easily preventable. In case after case, ignorance, a casual attitude, and/or some form of distraction proved to be the most dangerous aspects of the sport." ...... Mostly,  over there,  on good bolt belays.

The implication is risk enhanced motivations in climbing may be compelling but its most important to stay focussed and never feel safe. Climbers pushing limits rather surprisingly have serious accidents much less often than in relatively safe appearing terrain. A safe abseil station is therefore an oxymoron.

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L Pefa on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to iainballantyne:

I think most who are seriously against a bolted ab point on this crag are doing so not for any visual aesthetic but out of trad climbing  ethics - 1) No damaging the rock with unnatural fixtures that cannot be removed. Thereby leaving the route in the same condition for future generations. 2) Making the overall experience less natural or easier/more accessible.ie. Turning it into the equivalent of an outdoor wall 3) Setting a precedent that could open floodgates.

When reading this I initially thought of the ab ring at the top of Auchinstarry and if it's OK there then why not at Diabaig. I think the difference is in location and situation, Auchinstarry is a man made quarry but Diabaig is a natural feature similar to mountains so people will want to keep it as wild and untouched as possible. 

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Gary Latter - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

> Surely the situation is that purely for convenience someone has removed tat, leaving no trace of it’s prior existence and then added bolts against the local and national ethic despite there being a perfectly safe and reasonably short walk down?

> Correct me if I’m wrong. 

Dear Philip

Right, pay attention now, you dullard. Over the last few days you have been continually spouting your ill-informed nonsense about a crag you've never visited, almost 500 miles from your home in the Peak District. I'll spell it out for you:

The 1993 SMC Northern Highlands Volume 1 guide states for the descent: "The best descent is in two abseils down the face; the slings may be in place."    "The descent is intricate and often muddy scrambling. Traverse right from the clifftop and cross the gully to gain a vague ridge. Descend a shallow gully just beyond the ridge (the upper section of the gully right of Condome) until the ridge can be crossed rightwards and finished steeply next to start of Evasion. It is better to abseil down the line of The Black Streak, or to walk over the top and down past Charlie's Tower."

Subsequent editions of both the SMC Northern Highlands South volume, the SMC selective Scottish Rock Climbs and my own Scottish Rock volume all pretty much describe the same descents.

The walking and scrambling descent takes about 10-15 minutes or so; it's not by any stretch of the imagination a straightforward 5 minute walk, despite others rather selective memory.

Therefore, there have been various abseil anchors down the line of the 3 * classic E1 The Black Streak left behind by previous climbers since at least 1993. Over the years I have numerous times replaced these anchors with nuts, steel maillons and 11mm rope several times. Two pegs subsequently appeared at the top anchor. When I removed this anchor in October 2018, there was 17 metres of blue 11mm static rope, a wire nut, 2 pegs, a thread round a another perched block and numerous alloy karabiners. The anchor was clearly visible from the base of the crag, even from the tourist path from Diabaig to Wester Alligin. From this top anchor it is possible to gain the base of the crag with 60m ropes.

Numerous climbers have over the years commented on the precariousness of the perched blocks that comprised the other abseil anchor at the top of the first pitch. I trundled these blocks on my last visit to the crag a few weeks back - I can assure you, it didn't take much effort. 

I think your understanding and perception of risk is pretty skewed if you consider a 10-15 minute walking and scrambling descent down an often wet and muddy gully and slabby buttress safer than a straightforward abseil from unquestionably sound anchors.

You also repeatedly refer to 'lower offs' - this is incorrect, they are abseil anchors.

Right, I hope that's cleared that up...

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TobyA on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to Rick Graham:

It might be you misunderstood the point I was trying to make. I think if someone had just bolted abseil points where there had been no abseil points of any type before (because they weren't needed, or whatever) I suspect most people would say "I think they should be removed - they are unnecessary." But in this case the bolts were placed to avoid the insitu (and by the sounds of it, far more visible) non-drilled abseil points that, from what Gary says above this post, have been insitu in varying forms for over 25 years.

I would still be interested to know among the people who have climbed there, who has done the scramble/walk off? I've only been there once, but we abseiled.

Also, from people who have climbed there more regularly - have there been times when there hasn't been insitu gear left for abseiling?

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mrphilipoldham - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

Gary, don't resort to name calling. I've climbed more than 500 miles from my home, so it's not unreasonable that one day I might have the delight of visiting the crag, hopefully we don't cross paths. 

I haven't referred to 'lower offs' I've described the act of 'lowering off' instead of repeating the word abseil over and over. Variety is after all, the spice of life. 

Is the described walk over past Charlie's Tower the same intricate and muddy scramble, or another option?

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Gary Latter - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

> I haven't referred to 'lower offs' I've described the act of 'lowering off' instead of repeating the word abseil over and over. Variety is after all, the spice of life. 

You would need an awfy long rope to lower off, considering the new abseil anchor is about 20m right of the top of The Black Streak, and it's 55m to the base. I find the verb 'abseil' perfectly adequate for describing the act of sliding down a rope in a controlled manner...

> Is the described walk over past Charlie's Tower the same intricate and muddy scramble, or another option?

Charlie's Tower is on another more extensive crag The South Wall, so a bit of a sponsored walk to walk down the right end of that crag - probably 15 minutes, but I guess it would avoid the scramble.

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Offwidth - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

My biggest memory of risks of the descent were ticks, but you get that walking in and back out. Gary seems to me to be talking up the hassle involved... plenty of crags have muddy scrambly descents. It is a good bit more than 5 minutes. However, none of this means there is a consensus for bolted Ab anchors.

I'm glad he trundled the blocks from the ledge.

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mrphilipoldham - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

Right so it’s been bolted to save a 15 minute walk. If I’d driven the 500 miles to climb some of the excellent looking routes in what looks like a wild and remote spot (certainly compared to my neck of the woods) then I’d personally be hugely disappointed to see some bolts there to abseil from, knowing that even the longest descent wasn’t that time consuming. I’ll say no more on the matter, other than to say your continued efforts to keep the place clean are tidy are to be admired. 

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Gary Latter - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

> Right so it’s been bolted to save a 15 minute walk. 

No, to save continuing to regularly replacing mountains of decaying tat, nuts and alloy karabiners every few years, and also to avoid abseiling down one of the best and quickest drying routes on the crag. I think its safe to say the majority at least agree the bolts are much less visually intrusive, but no doubt someone will shortly appear on here and refute that suggestion...

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EarlyBird - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

> Dear Philip

> Right, pay attention now, you dullard.

Really? I can understand you're a bit sensitive as the subject of a fair bit of criticism on this thread but name calling isn't going to win anyone around. Although I suspect opinions on this one are fairly, er..., fixed.

> I think your understanding and perception of risk is pretty skewed if you consider a 10-15 minute walking and scrambling descent down an often wet and muddy gully and slabby buttress safer than a straightforward abseil from unquestionably sound anchors.

That sounds like an argument for bolted ab stations on the three cliffs in Llanberis Pass.

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rgold - on 09 Mar 2019

> If there is to be an anchor then you get to the question of how to construct it.   That's not an ethical question it is an engineering question and its about finding the best available technology based on visual impact, safety, cost etc. 

Why isn't this an argument for bolting every protection point on every climb, i.e. making all climbs sport climbs?   (With, of course, the usual bolter's claim that if you don't like the bolts you don't have to clip them.)

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fred99 - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

I don't (and indeed am unlikely to) climb at this venue, but this kind of problem is becoming a far too reguIar occurrence, with implications across the country.

I googled your name - it appears that you are an Instructor with a business doing such. It seems more than likely therefore that you are doing this simply to make your job easier (albeit possibly safer - depends on your ability to set up a belay), and (presumably) to hell with what the majority think.

Maybe you should take your customers to some bolted quarry instead. That might satisfy your need to get customers up, down and back home quickly.

Alternatively maybe you should show your customers what trad climbing is all about, and instil in them a sense of nature, unpolluted by we humans.

Of course, you could always do what we have done down south in England for many years now; set up a temporary belay for an abseil (60 metre ropes have been on sale for some years now) on completing route 1, leave it there until the end of the day, and then one person (you ?) can walk down (in approach shoes) the long way whilst the others are coiling the ropes and having a final cuppa.

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Gary Latter - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to fred99:

> I don't (and indeed am unlikely to) climb at this venue, but this kind of problem is becoming a far too reguIar occurrence, with implications across the country.

> I googled your name - it appears that you are an Instructor with a business doing such. It seems more than likely therefore that you are doing this simply to make your job easier (albeit possibly safer - depends on your ability to set up a belay), and (presumably) to hell with what the majority think.

> Maybe you should take your customers to some bolted quarry instead. That might satisfy your need to get customers up, down and back home quickly.

> Alternatively maybe you should show your customers what trad climbing is all about, and instil in them a sense of nature, unpolluted by we humans.

> Of course, you could always do what we have done down south in England for many years now; set up a temporary belay for an abseil (60 metre ropes have been on sale for some years now) on completing route 1, leave it there until the end of the day, and then one person (you ?) can walk down (in approach shoes) the long way whilst the others are coiling the ropes and having a final cuppa.

Ha ha. That's the wonders of being a keyboard warrior and relying on Google and trying to build a case to support you inventive imagination and far fetched theories. I rarely if ever instruct any more, haven't done so for about 15 years or so, so your assumptions are rather off the mark I'm afraid. It was an interesting attempt at constructing an ulterior motive for my actions though, nice try, though unfortunately completely unfounded.

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LucaC - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

> Again your view. Luckily not consensus.

You have to remember your views are your views, and yours alone. Everyone is entitled to them even if they don't align with yours. It doesn't mean that what they believe is any less right or real than your own. 

I asked the question regarding this consensus because, as far as I could see, everyone I have met climbing at the crag used the bolted anchors was very happy with them. I don't know if this is the case, but on UKC it can feel like a certain loud minority makes a large fuss about bolts whilst everyone else goes about their business and enjoys using good anchors when available. 

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DubyaJamesDubya - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

> Not when you're abbing off someone else's manky old tat you're not!


Yes you are and that is the point. Your decision. Are you suggesting that with bolts the person placing them is responsible for your safety?

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Ron Rees Davies - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to LucaC:

> You have to remember your views are your views, and yours alone.

> .....regarding this consensus...., everyone I have met climbing at the crag

That's the point though. It's not one person's view, or the users of a particular crag, that matters. 

It's the overall consensus of everyone with an interest in the use (and abuse) of the environment. 

That would include the landowner, SNH and other interested parties, as well as the climbing community.

What it needs is some organisation that can negotiate and come to an agreed consensus position with all parties..... Which is exactly what MS have done and 74% of respondents said they did not want bolts at Diabaig. 

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Fergal - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

Bravo Gary keep up the good fight, would like to make a more constructive comment, but it's been a few decades since i last visited Diabeg, if i do thanks for your travails in cleaning up this dodgy abseil. 

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LucaC - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to Ron Rees Davies:

> What it needs is some organisation that can negotiate and come to an agreed consensus position with all parties..... Which is exactly what MS have done and 74% of respondents said they did not want bolts at Diabaig. 

But who are these people? For me, this really is the heart of the matter. If MS can turn around and say that the majority of the people who voted are local climbers who use the crag on a regular basis and don't want to see this as a descent option, then thats fine by me.

I do understand consensus after all. But I'm just struggling to see where this consensus has come from since almost everyone I know is in favour of sensible selective bolting.

Perhaps it's my friendship groups/climbing partners/peers, theres always going to be some bias towards getting along with people I agree with! 

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Ron Rees Davies - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to LucaC:

> I do understand consensus after all. 

Your post suggests that you really don't!

> But who are these people? [...If it's....] local climbers who use the crag on a regular basis [.......] thats fine by me.

Maybe re-read my post above....

....It's not one person's view, or the users of a particular crag, that matters. It's the overall consensus of everyone with an interest in the use (and abuse) of the environment.That would include the landowner, SNH and other interested parties, as well as the climbing community.

Consider, for instance, someone who has made a conscious decision NOT to climb there because they don't like the walk off but don't ethically agree with either tat or bolts. Doesn't their opinion count? 

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Wicamoi on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to LucaC:

> But who are these people? For me, this really is the heart of the matter. If MS can turn around and say that the majority of the people who voted are local climbers who use the crag on a regular basis and don't want to see this as a descent option, then thats fine by me.

> I do understand consensus after all. But I'm just struggling to see where this consensus has come from since almost everyone I know is in favour of sensible selective bolting.

> Perhaps it's my friendship groups/climbing partners/peers, theres always going to be some bias towards getting along with people I agree with!

Hi again Luca.

I've already told you I'm one of those people! I'm not that local -very few climbers are - but for a couple of months most years I'm very local.

People get stupid on and with social media. We make mountains out of molehills, and start to imagine there are massive differences between us just because we disagree about something on line. Usually this is far from the truth.

Where are you based? I'm working in Torridon for the next couple of months. Want to meet at Diabaig to climb something, explore descent options and discuss our opinions in a civilised fashion?

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Robert Durran - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to Ron Rees Davies:

> Consider, for instance, someone who has made a conscious decision NOT to climb there because they don't like the walk off but don't ethically agree with either tat or bolts. Doesn't their opinion count?

A very good point. There are many, many routes I will never ever climb unless they are bolted. Does that mean my opinion that they should never be bolted is irrelevant?

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Grahame N - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to LucaC:

> But who are these people? For me, this really is the heart of the matter.  ..............   But I'm just struggling to see where this consensus has come from since almost everyone I know is in favour of sensible selective bolting.

This is really an issue about ethics. Many climbers, you might say those with high moral principles, oppose anything that permanently defiles the precious rock that we climb on. Chipping holds would be an extreme example of this. Bolts permanently damage the rock - even if they are removed and the holes filled-in the rock is not the same as it was before, it has been permanently altered. For a lot of climbers this is an important aesthetic principle. Abseil tat, slings, wires, etc although unsightly do not permanently alter the rock (pegs are a grey area).

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Robert Durran - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> If there is to be an anchor then you get to the question of how to construct it.   That's not an ethical question it is an engineering question.

Do you really not understand that there is an ethical argument against bolts (even if you happen to disagree with it)?

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TobyA on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to fred99:

> Alternatively maybe you should show your customers what trad climbing is all about, and instil in them a sense of nature, unpolluted by we humans.

Oh FFS! There was loads of bloody tat left behind! Climbers had been polluting (to use your term, littering is probably more apt) the cliff for years. At least try and make a logical argument.

I don't know Gary, and as far as I know our paths haven't crossed, but I'm quite amazed that as someone who takes an interest in Scottish rock climbing you had to Google him. He has found and developed dozens of new crags and done probably at least hundreds, if not thousands, of new routes. It doesn't mean you have to agree but suggesting someone acted for financial motives is kinda low.

Post edited at 22:45
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Robert Durran - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to daWalt:

> The tradition is that the rock is sacrosanct.

Not at all. Personally I'm not really bothered at all about the actual drilling of a few holes in the rock. What bothers me is the way bolts in those holes affect the ethics and traditions of how we climb.

Once again, there are two completely separate debates here (and generally) about bolts. The purely climbing ethical one and the visual/environmental intrusiveness one. I think a lot of the confusion is because some people are only arguing with respect to one debate and others with respect to the other. It is possible for someone to have conflicting views on these debates and whether they come down for or against the bolts can come down to whether one view outweighs the other.

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tom_in_edinburgh - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

> Again your view. Luckily not consensus. Trad climbing deliberately faces significant risk as a deliberate part of the activity and that is neither glib nor implies willful unsafe practice. Applying judgement to be safe enough is part of that and engineering concepts of maximal safety are just foolish ideas that don't belong, away from the equipment used.

> The risks in the more serious aspects of climbing are illustrated well in the YOSAR work authored by John Dill. 

A document which begins:

"With these questions in mind, the National Park Service (NPS) has examined most of the serious accidents that occurred in the park during the years from 1970 through 1990."

30 years old.    There are other references which suggest that the risk of trad climbing has fallen dramatically, presumably at least partially due to technical improvements in equipment e.g. table 6 in

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/45198321_Evaluation_of_Injury_and_Fatality_Risk_in_Rock_and_Ice_Climbing  

> The implication is risk enhanced motivations in climbing may be compelling but its most important to stay focussed and never feel safe. Climbers pushing limits rather surprisingly have serious accidents much less often than in relatively safe appearing terrain. 

overall_risk = inattention_risk * anchor risk * (a whole bunch of other risks)

You try and mitigate all of the risk factors.  

 'Oh my god I better make sure the anchors are really shit because otherwise people won't be scared enough and inattention risk will go up' is nonsense.    You might as well suggest they put a rusty spike in place of an airbag  in a car to make sure the driver pays attention.   

Maybe climbers lose attention and have accidents on descent after a climb due to being physically or mentally tired.  The solution isn't to insert additional risk at that point.

It's amazing that anyone would even try and argue against the proposition that if you decide to put in a semi-permanent anchor you should try and make it a safe one.

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tom_in_edinburgh - on 09 Mar 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Do you really not understand that there is an ethical argument against bolts (even if you happen to disagree with it)?

I think it stops being an ethical argument about bolts when the trad climbers agree to have a fixed anchor.   Whether or not to have an anchor is an ethical argument about the style of ascent.   Once you decide the ethical argument in favour of having an anchor then its a technical argument.   An anchor which is unreliable and visually obtrusive is the worst of both worlds.

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Robert Durran - on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> I think it stops being an ethical argument about bolts when the trad climbers agree to have a fixed anchor.   Whether or not to have an anchor is an ethical argument about the style of ascent.   Once you decide the ethical argument in favour of having an anchor then its a technical argument.   An anchor which is unreliable and visually obtrusive is the worst of both worlds

Ok, thanks, so you confirm that you really don't understand that there is an ethical argument against bolts.

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tom_in_edinburgh - on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Ok, thanks, so you confirm that you really don't understand that there is an ethical argument against bolts.

I think that the as soon as you decide to install a semi-permanent anchor for use by other people over a period of months or years it isn't about climbing ethics.   It's not temporary protection for your use or the use of your party, it is something longer lasting that strangers will trust their lives to.  The activity of constructing a semi-permanent anchor isn't a sporting activity it's an engineering activity and engineering ethics apply i.e. you should try and build a good one.

Post edited at 02:26
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rgold - on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to iainballantyne:

Here is some cautionary advice from experience in the US. I want to be clear that this is not slippery slope hypothesizing, it is simply an observation of what has happened at several locales I’m familiar with over the past 25 years or so.

Placing bolts to clean up the messes left by climbers is a losing game.  Climbers will continue to create new messes as the bolts first of all eliminate the concept of the walk-off as an option and second of all make rappelling the de facto way to approach routes and/or return to the base of crags after climbs.  The new messes will cry out for more bolts, which will generate even more rappelling and raise the demand for more anchors.  Pretty soon the vast majority of the climbing community will be rappelling and the walk offs will fade into obscurity and be treated as some sort of alien experience which is not part of the climbing day (you can see that much even in this thread).

I am not exaggerating when I say that the installations, combined with the new ways people get involved with climbing, will create a whole cadre of climbers who are incapable of negotiating the most elementary downward scrambles and who require and demand rappel stations to get them down safely.  And as far as safety is concerned, the increase in rappelling accidents will outstrip anything that happened in the walk offs, even if a significant component of scrambling is involved.

The real problem is climbers propensity to set up and use convenience rap stations. A secondary problem is that bolting will not solve this issue and in fact will accelerate the creation of more rap points.  A tertiary problem is that the installations will create whole groups of climbers who require bolted anchors.  Again, I want to emphasize that I am not hypothesizing here.

There was a touchy interchange in this thread about the role of guides,  I have no idea about the specifics in the case at hand, but in the US a certain number of guides have been the elephant in the room, bolting rappel highways and adding bolted protection to routes to make the climbs safer and more practical to guide.  Whether or not it is an issue in the context of this thread, it is definitely something that needs a lot more open discussion.

Meanwhile, the only answer, in my opinion, is a massive educational drive, supported by guidebook writers and enforced by social pressure to keep areas free of all rappel tat.  Whether such a program is possible I cannot say, at least partially because everyone seems convinced it would fail before even trying.

Discussions like this suggest to me that the UK is at a crossroads of sorts.  I think the US arrived at this point quite a while ago, as our sweeping expanses of crackless granite have made bolting an intrinsic part of the climbing scene since the 1950's,  and so a level of tolerance was already in place when contemporary issues arose. 

In my opinion, we took the wrong turn.  I hope y'all can do better.

Post edited at 06:30
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Robert Durran - on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> I think that the as soon as you decide to install a semi-permanent anchor for use by other people over a period of months or years it isn't about climbing ethics............... it's an engineering activity and engineering ethics apply.

Yup, you definitely simply don't get it; you just restate your opinion without any acknowledgement at all that others might see it differently.

Post edited at 08:26
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Rick Graham on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to rgold:

Your latest post illustrates how good and informative climbing forums can really be, feadback and knowledge from across the world.

Thank you so very much.

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Mick Ward - on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to Rick Graham:

Totally agree.

Mick

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Rick Graham on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to Mick Ward:

My only regret is the typo.

Feedback!

Fat fingers, touch screen and no glasses on, my excuse anyway

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Offwidth - on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to rgold:

Thanks. Again my 20 years experience over there the extra convenience of newer bolted rappels and extra bolts seem to have made SW US trad routes less safe. Self reliance and problem solving is a key requirement in trad and too many of the more recent climbers I've met there seem to have way too little.

A funny but sad illustration was in JT when a group seeemed very agitated that I was leading the single pitch route next to their route. They kept saying from above that I should have asked as they were already on belay (there was a second on their line and I was moving faster) but I couldn't understand why it was relevant: my route was well away from theirs. When I got to the belay ledge I realised they were uncomfortably clustered around a convenience rap anchor, ignoring the fabulous crack lines behind that would have enabled a much more comfortable belay (they had some cams).  The three of them were all at the top when my second started climbing and were still faffing and talking about being safe (and moaning about us) when we walked off. We got back to the base (a complex scramble of about 10 minutes ) well before they had finished rapping down (in an anything but safe way). We soon left as we could not bear to watch any more.

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fred99 - on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

Another point;

Will you, having placed this bolted abseil point, maintain it over the coming years ? This would include testing and/or replacing the bolts (and presumably rings/chains).

Will you also accept any and all blame in the event of its' failure, including all injuries, up to and including death ?

I personally accept the risk of using in-situ protection, whilst knowing that it is impossible to accurately check it. However this will not necessarily be the case for all persons, and more to the point their families/dependents, particularly as time goes on, and as for the legal profession ….

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Oceanrower - on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to fred99:

> Will you, having placed this bolted abseil point, maintain it over the coming years ? This would include testing and/or replacing the bolts (and presumably rings/chains).

> Will you also accept any and all blame in the event of its' failure, including all injuries, up to and including death ?

No. Why should he? Does Gary Gibson inspect and maintain all of the thousand upon thousand of bolts he's placed? Mick Ward? Pete Oxley?

Now you're just being silly...

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Offwidth - on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

Sorry I missed your point on Dill's report being out of date. I've climbed in Yosemite a fair bit and helped at Facelift five times where you get time to chat. The rangers, rescue service, guidebook workers and top climbers I've met and spoken to tell me the counter-intuitive problems he identified that lead to most serious accidents have not changed.

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tom_in_edinburgh - on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Yup, you definitely simply don't get it; you just restate your opinion without any acknowledgement at all that others might see it differently.

I understand the argument, I just don't agree with it.

Tat is visually obtrusive plastic that doesn't belong in the mountain environment and after a few months serves no useful purpose because it can't be trusted.   There's a relatively short period just after it is placed when it is safe enough to use, then a much longer one when it's just unsightly litter. 

This isn't just about consensus among trad climbers there are other groups who go on the hills and are exposed to the visual impact of tat.  There's also the general environmental issue of plastic litter.  

Post edited at 11:41
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Gary Latter - on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to fred99:

> Another point;

> Will you, having placed this bolted abseil point, maintain it over the coming years ? This would include testing and/or replacing the bolts (and presumably rings/chains).

Sure, I'll test it, by applying a load of 75kg* repeatedly, each time I use it for its intended purpose. * approximately 72kg, plus approximate weight of a rack, and perhaps a munchie bar in my pocket. This could be a few kg more, if I happen to have my BMF camera with me, which is getting on for a couple of kg, but I generally use my compact more and more these days. 

> Will you also accept any and all blame in the event of its' failure, including all injuries, up to and including death ?

Erm, let me think about that one...

> I personally accept the risk of using in-situ protection, whilst knowing that it is impossible to accurately check it. However this will not necessarily be the case for all persons, and more to the point their families/dependents, particularly as time goes on, and as for the legal profession ….

Must be some strange atmosphere on Planet Fred, you're clearly trying to imagine lots of random scenarios that don't exist. Next...

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Robert Durran - on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> This isn't just about consensus among trad climbers there are other groups who go on the hills and are exposed to the visual impact of tat. 

Has anybody ever heard a non climber in this country complain about tat on a crag or is this just a fiction invented by pro bolters to promote their case?

> There's also the general environmental issue of plastic litter.  

The fact that it is plastic is completely irrelevant. Yes, there is high profile global issue with plastic waste, but that does not mean all plastic is inherently evil. Would you be happier with biodegradable hemp?

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TobyA on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

UKC/BMC Peak area chair Rob can probably confirm but I believe it has been raised with the NT in Dovedale or Cheedale. Although visually intrusive stuff there will be a mix of trad and drilled.

But that's not really the point is it. When I'm cycling I despair at the amount of litter, but I don't notify anyone about it, well ok I have with serious fly tipping but that's it.

Post edited at 14:41
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tom_in_edinburgh - on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

> The fact that it is plastic is completely irrelevant. Yes, there is high profile global issue with plastic waste, but that does not mean all plastic is inherently evil. Would you be happier with biodegradable hemp?

A biodegradable sling/cord that could be used as tat is a good idea.   Especially if it had some kind of easily visible indication of its condition built in like a coloured thread that would bleach out after a few days exposure in the elements.

'Best engineering solution' as a criterion for choice of anchor material doesn't necessarily mean bolts are the outcome. 

Post edited at 14:42
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Ron Rees Davies - on 10 Mar 2019

> This isn't just about consensus among trad climbers there are other groups who go on the hills and are exposed to the visual impact of tat. 

In reply to Robert Durran:

> Has anybody ever heard a non climber in this country complain about tat on a crag or is this just a fiction invented by pro bolters to promote their case?

If any non climber wanted to complain (about this or any other activities of climbers) it would be to Mountaineering Scotland, and they had an opportunity to do so in the consultation process, as did the landowner and SNH.

Consensus was reached because 74% did not want the bolts. (59% wanted to keep the current tat; implying that 26% want bolts and presumably 15% want everything removed.)

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Gary Latter - on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to El Greyo:

> I'm sorry but relying on the strict wording of 'mountain cliffs and sea cliffs' in the Mountaineering Cliffs and Sea Cliffs is arbitrary, pedantic and disingenuous. Diabaig Main Cliff is not a sea cliff because it is 140m from the sea. I see the policy as setting out the kind of environments where bolt may or may not be acceptable. If we only rely on the wording 'mountain cliffs and sea cliffs' then when is a mountain crag a mountain crag? How far from the sea is a sea cliff? There are a whole range of crags in Scotland with different aspects and some will fall in or out of that criteria by a very narrow margin.

You yourself are indeed guilty of the very act that you accuse me of. From the Oxford English Dictionary: Disingenuous: “Not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does.” Synonyms: dishonest, deceitful, underhand, underhanded, duplicitous, double-dealing, two-faced, dissembling, insincere, false, lying, untruthful, mendacious. I’m perplexed. Please explain in what way have I behaved disingenuously?

From the outset, I contacted the Mountaineering Scotland Access and Conservation Officer (on 14 September 2018), several weeks prior to installing the bolts, specifically detailing my intention of installing bolted abseils at both Creag Dhubh and the Main Cliff at Diabaig.

Part of their initial response: “Our view is that we are not supportive of adding new bolts for abseiling where there is a reasonable walk down. We wish to reduce the clutter on natural features where possible. If it is essential to the route, then that is worth consideration, but only if it is essential.” Their response concentrated on Creag Dhubh alone, overlooking or ignoring Diabaig completely.


They later stated: “What I propose to do is to bring this to our newly initiated Climbing Advisory Group to look at and discuss the way forward – it’s meeting on the 3rd October, which is good timing.  It was for issues like this, among others, that we felt the need to bring different representatives together to talk about the different aspects of climbing development.”

Just to clarify: the abseil bolts at Diabaig were placed on the 5th October 2018. On 22 January 2019 Mountaineering Scotland started an online poll entitled “Bolting Controversy at Diabaig” – three and a half months after the bolts were placed.

When I enquired last week about the formation, composition and remit, and indeed the outcome of the above ‘Climbing Advisory Group’ meeting, part of their response was: “The meeting in Oct last year was an initial discussion about setting up a Climbing Advisory Group involving staff from Mountaineering Scotland, a rep from the SMC and also Glenmore Lodge. Our President Mike Watson chaired the meeting. The specific issue at Diabaig wasn’t discussed but bolting as a general subject was identified as something that a group like this could help advise on.”

> The policy also says: 'Crags with good or adequate quality protection within strong natural lines (obvious routes) would be regarded as traditional venues.' and 'Mountain and sea cliffs with a wild, remote character (also reflected in their surrounding environment) and adventurous nature are not suitable locations for bolts,' and there are many ways these statements can be interpreted.

The above statement is under the paragraph specifically referring to New Sport Venues, so you are indeed being disingenuous in quoting this when you are well aware that it is not relevant. I have not created any new sport routes.

> The issue of where bolts are acceptable is inevitably subjective so that is why, in addition to developing policy, we have to use other means to decide - and the most sensible is consensus. MS have carried out a consultation and the result is clear.

> I completely agree that the trad anchors sound visually intrusive and ugly. But I don't understand why there need to be permanent anchors at all. There is a walk off - which takes what, about 5 minutes? 

Again, as highlighted in earlier replies, your rather selective memory of the descent is playing tricks on you. There have been 'trad' abseil anchors in situ on the two belays on one of the crag classics The Black Streak since at least the Autumn of 1992 - as detailed in the SMC Northern Highlands Volume, published in March 1993. It is clearly not a 5 minute walk, a 10-15 minute often muddy scramble would be a more accurate description of the descent, though I do concede that it is possible to avoid scrambling by a long walk over the top of The South Wall - perhaps 15 minutes.

It you want a faster turnaround between route, set up a temporary anchor, remove it on your last climb and walk down. We seem to be getting closer to a situation where every crag with a few minutes walk off will get fixed anchors.

> Diabaig may not be a crag remote from the road but on the Main Cliff, you cannot see the road or the village. All you can see is the loch, some mountains and beautiful highland scenery. 

On this, I'm happy to say I totally agree. I've spent a great deal of time over the last few years climbing at Diabaig. The bolts were placed as I genuinely believed it would be a vast improvement on the ever increasing amount of highly visible 'trad' anchors, and avoid all the abseilers descending down one of the quickest drying and best routes on the crag.

In reply to Alex the Alex

>Thanks for posting, I think it helps setting out your side of the argument, though i dont think hiding behind the exact wording of the mountaineering scotland policy is particularly useful. They are guidelines rather than law. Though Diabaig isnt a seacliff or high mountain crag, a lot of people do see it as a semi-wild area and feel that bolts , wherever they are on the crag, break that picture of wilderness and more importantly self sufficiency which is a strong part of trad climbing. 

Jeez, you couldn't make it up - I'm being criticised for adhering to the exact wording of the Mountaineering Scotland policy. The problem must surely lie with the inadequacy of the actual policy itself? As stated above and elsewhere previously, the much more visually intrusive 'trad' anchors don't "break that picture of wilderness and more importantly self sufficiency"?

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Robert Durran - on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

>  I'm being criticised for adhering to the exact wording of the Mountaineering Scotland policy. The problem must surely lie with the inadequacy of the actual policy itself?

I may be misunderstanding you here but are you admitting that you may be taking advantage of an inadequate policy, so that, by sticking to it's exact poor wording, you are able to justify the placing of bolts even though the generally understood intention of the policy doers not allow for their placement?

> As stated above and elsewhere previously, the much more visually intrusive 'trad' anchors don't "break that picture of wilderness and more importantly self sufficiency"?

Setting aside the visual question, no I do not think "trad" anchors break the sense of self sufficiency, certainly not in the way that bolts do.  Wire and tat anchors are an organic thing, originally placed by climbers for their own convenience and assessed and maintained or replaced by each climber that chooses to use them; they are an informal solution, a sort of collective self sufficiency. In contrast the bolts are a more or less permanent convenience placed by one person as a more or less imposed convenience for others, thus eroding the necessity for self sufficiency. Nobody ever places bolts on British crags purely to facilitate their own descent from a particular route on a particular day.

Post edited at 17:25
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jonnie3430 - on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

It's alright Robert, he says in this one here that the blocks at the first belay were dislodged, even though he deliberately knocked them off. He's lost it. Gary, please stay away from the rock in future. Or go to another country.

> Regarding the intermediate abseil anchor from the perched blocks on the first belay on The Black Streak; this is now no longer an option, as the blocks were recently dislodged – one of the blocks in question now resides at the base of Northumberland Wall.

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Gary Latter - on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

> >  I'm being criticised for adhering to the exact wording of the Mountaineering Scotland policy. The problem must surely lie with the inadequacy of the actual policy itself?

> I may be misunderstanding you here but are you admitting that you may be taking advantage of an inadequate policy, so that, by sticking to it's exact poor wording, you are able to justify the placing of bolts even though the generally understood intention of the policy doers not allow for their placement?

Ah, I get it, the actual wording of the policy is not really relevant here, it's the much woolier "generally understood intention" that should be adhered to. So therefore it is open to interpretation as you see fit? You're not really making much sense, but seeing as many of the posters on here seem to have failed to actually read the policy in question (all 3 pages of it), and seem more than happy to throw accusations around, why bother.

> Setting aside the visual question

How can you ignore this, when the last two sets of 'trad' anchors were highly visible, to the degree that they were glaringly obvious from the walkers path three or four hundred metres away?

, no I do not think "trad" anchors break the sense of self sufficiency, certainly not in the way that bolts do.  Wire and tat anchors are an organic thing, originally placed by climbers for their own convenience and assessed and maintained or replaced by each climber that chooses to use them; they are an informal solution, a sort of collective self sufficiency. In contrast the bolts are a more or less permanent convenience placed by one person as a more or less imposed convenience for others, thus eroding the necessity for self sufficiency. Nobody ever places bolts on British crags purely to facilitate their own descent from a particular route on a particular day.

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Gary Latter - on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to jonnie3430:

> It's alright Robert, he says in this one here that the blocks at the first belay were dislodged, even though he deliberately knocked them off. He's lost it. Gary, please stay away from the rock in future.

I've trundled lots of suspect blocks from routes in the past, and will continue to do so when I deem it necessary. You should be congratulating someone for taking the time and trouble to remove such dangerous blocks, rather than condemning their actions. You would be looking at multiple fatalities if the blocks in question failed whilst someone was abseiling from them.

Or go to another country.

I do, regularly, and will continue to do so as much as I can. Perhaps if you travelled and climbed in other countries, as I have, you would have a greater understanding and not be so insular in your seemingly narrow-minded outlook? Just a thought, you should give it a go sometime...

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Robert Durran - on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

> Ah, I get it, the actual wording of the policy is not really relevant here, it's the much woolier "generally understood intention" that should be adhered to. So therefore it is open to interpretation as you see fit?

So what did you actually mean when you wrote: "I'm being criticised for adhering to the exact wording of the Mountaineering Scotland policy. The problem must surely lie with the inadequacy of the actual policy itself?"

Do you think the policy is inadequate?

Having just reread it (again!), I personally think it is indeed inadequate/poorly worded and is, as a result, open to interpretation as to whether the bolts you placed are acceptable or not - there is certainly nothing explicit saying abseil bolts are acceptable on trad crags; your interpretation depends on their omission from the statement that they are not acceptable on mountain crags and sea cliffs,

> How can you ignore this <visual intrusiveness>, when the last two sets of 'trad' anchors were highly visible, to the degree that they were glaringly obvious from the walkers path three or four hundred metres away?

I'm not ignoring it (I have already addressed it in a couple of posts). I was just choosing to focus on the self sufficiency issue in this post.

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Matt Podd - on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to iainballantyne:

Classic UKC thread! lots of polarised bolloxs

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Robert Durran - on 10 Mar 2019

In reply to gravy:

> You are turning out to a a titantic bell-end.

Somewhat harsh. He has his reasons. Better to provide counter arguments than insults.

> (a) the bolts are going

Yes, I think so.

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iainballantyne on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to Matt Podd:

What have i done.....😭 I think i might need to watch Bridget Jones Diary and have a good weep to emotionally recover or possibly stop climbing and take up knitting?

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mike barnard - on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

> If you want a faster turnaround between route, set up a temporary anchor, remove it on your last climb and walk down. We seem to be getting closer to a situation where every crag with a few minutes walk off will get fixed anchors.>

Is this not the nub of the issue? People, myself included, are concerned that these bolts will lead to more bolts elsewhere (at the top of other crags). The average climber completing their route doesn't have the option of removing bolts as and when they find them. With trad gear, if someone takes a disliking to the gear they can remove it. (No doubt this would annoy the next climbers who would then have to either leave their own gear and/or scramble down, much as they would have done if they were the first people to climb on the crag.)   

Post edited at 08:03
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Monkeysee - on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to LucaC:

I sold my rack to buy an armchair years ago ! Now I don't climb my hobby is just posting on ukc all day , I have no real views and don't care either way , I just comment on here as something to do 😉 

Most trad crags would benefit from bolted abseil stations but that's just the way it's traditional , character building and all that - if mountain guides want to teach sports climbing go to a sports crag - you'll be doing them no favours when they first go to Gogarth or Pembrokeshire proper sea cliff climbing ! 

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I’m clearly missing something critical in all this.  And I have climbed quite a few of the routes at Diabaig. I enjoyed them so much I can’t remember the walk down spoiling my day even slightly.

We have a 2-pitch Crag with a 15 minute descent. Not untypical for a UK crag.

Some people feel that this is excessively burdensome and rather than choose another Crag whose characteristics better match their inclinations they want bolted abseil fixtures installed.

Assuming no queuing, for a party of 2 this will save exactly how much of the 15 minutes? This is the benefit abseiling will afford. Must be worthwhile, as ‘everybody does it’. Rugged individuals all. 

I see nothing in this making Diabaig a special case. More a test case for convenience abseil anchors.

For the record I’m willing to accept Sergeant Crag Slabs as a genuine special case. Raven Crag not. Open mind on Rhoscolyn. Not too worried about Auchinstarry or Dumbie.

And Gary, why so angry? You must have at least expected some debate, policy semantics or not. My considerable respect for the bulk of what you’ve done is slightly tarnished (though I don’t expect you’ll lose any sleep over that).

Stuart.

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Graeme G on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to Monkeysee:

> Most trad crags would benefit from bolted abseil stations

You’ve clearly never climbed at Neilston!

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Aonach on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to :

There is some guff being spoken on this thread. Looks like someone further up said we'd lose the noble art of walking off. 'Aye they could really walk off in those days". FFS.

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GrahamD - on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to WVRox:

> Placing bolts here would clearly make the descent safer and quicker. Is there any other argument in favour of placing them?

This statement is a fallacy.  As far as I know, there is no evidence that bolts make a descent safer.  Most descent fatalities are from human error and often down to complacency.  If anything, 'safe' bolts encourage this complacency.

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rgold - on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to Aonach:

> There is some guff being spoken on this thread. Looks like someone further up said we'd lose the noble art of walking off. 'Aye they could really walk off in those days". FFS.

If you are referring to me, I didn't say we "would" lose it, I observed that a significant portion of climbers in the US has already lost it. You can huff about guff as much as you want, but I'm reporting actual stuff, not making predictions---no fluff here FFS.

I'd hope that would be enuf said, but to add a touch of photographic weight to the argument, have a look at https://cdn-uploads.mountainproject.com/forum/68116.jpg .  There you will see a ten year-old boy walking down a low-angle slab that has been bolted so that those incapable of this astonishing feat of scrambling prowess can rappel.  The bolts are at the eye level of the child a few feet to the left.  In the argument that accompanied this picture, the bolter said, quite persuasively, that, like it or not, there is now a significant group of climbers who need this type of accommodation.

I could go on and on with examples of this.

Post edited at 22:35
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jon on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to rgold:

Hmmm, but do you think that’s a worry about possible litigation or really concern for climbers’ welfare?

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jon on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to jon:

Dislikes for a perfectly reasonable question, given that rgold is talking about a US crag?

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DubyaJamesDubya - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to jon:

> Dislikes for a perfectly reasonable question, given that rgold is talking about a US crag?

A bit odd.

I don't know but I'd have thought supplying bolts would increase the likelihood of someone other than the climber being held liable. I did read on a different thread that court cases in the US had come down in favour of the 'climb at your own risk' approach.

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Rob Parsons on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to rgold:

> I'd hope that would be enuf said, but to add a touch of photographic weight to the argument, have a look at https://cdn-uploads.mountainproject.com/forum/68116.jpg

Out of curiosity, could you please post a link to the thread in which that bolting decision/photo is discussed? Thanks.

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JLS on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to rgold:

>"you will see a ten year-old boy walking down a low-angle slab that has been bolted so that those incapable of this astonishing feat of scrambling prowess can rappel"

What's that walk like if it rains?

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El Greyo - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

> You yourself are indeed guilty of the very act that you accuse me of. From the Oxford English Dictionary: Disingenuous: “Not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does.” Synonyms: dishonest, deceitful, underhand, underhanded, duplicitous, double-dealing, two-faced, dissembling, insincere, false, lying, untruthful, mendacious. I’m perplexed. Please explain in what way have I behaved disingenuously?

I wrote disingenuous because I couldn't believe that, in Scotland where there are sure a wide range of crags, you would follow the literal word of the bolting policy to the letter rather than understanding that it can only be guidance. I was perhaps in a grumpy mood and thought you were using the letter of the policy as a fig leaf. From your responses, I withdraw the disingenuous accusation, and accept that our disagreement here is due to different interpretations of the policy. 

> Again, as highlighted in earlier replies, your rather selective memory of the descent is playing tricks on you. There have been 'trad' abseil anchors in situ on the two belays on one of the crag classics The Black Streak since at least the Autumn of 1992 - as detailed in the SMC Northern Highlands Volume, published in March 1993. It is clearly not a 5 minute walk, a 10-15 minute often muddy scramble would be a more accurate description of the descent, though I do concede that it is possible to avoid scrambling by a long walk over the top of The South Wall - perhaps 15 minutes.

My memory of the walk down is hazy which is why I posed the 5 minutes as a question rather than a statement. I can see that the walk round may be about 15 minutes but I think the scramble is quicker, if less pleasant. I was younger and more casual about scramble descents in those days.

As for the anchors, yes I remember tat at the Black Streak mid-belay but there were no in situ trad anchors at the top. Just because the guide said that abseiling down the Black Street is possible does not mean there were anchors. 50m half ropes were usual in those days and a two pitch abseil would certainly be more faff and probably take longer than the walk down.

> On this, I'm happy to say I totally agree. I've spent a great deal of time over the last few years climbing at Diabaig. The bolts were placed as I genuinely believed it would be a vast improvement on the ever increasing amount of highly visible 'trad' anchors, and avoid all the abseilers descending down one of the quickest drying and best routes on the crag.

We do actually agree on two things: that Diabaig is a lovely place to climb, and that the trad anchors are unsightly. We have different solutions to the latter though.

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jon on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

Assuming(?) its a bolted crag, I wondered if the equipper felt that it was his duty to provide a safe descent as well as safe protection bolts etc. Of course if it was a trad crag then I can't imagine why anyone would bother.

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gravy - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to jon:

It is a trad crag - that's the point.

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Monkeysee - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to Graeme G:

OK ,,, I'll change that to LOT'S of trad crags 😉

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jon on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to gravy:

I was replying to rgold's post about a US crag, not Diabeg. I assumed that it is a bolted crag, but of course that's just an assumption.

Post edited at 14:26
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rgold - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to jon:

> Hmmm, but do you think that’s a worry about possible litigation or really concern for climbers’ welfare?


Neither.  Climbers incapable of the ordinary walk-off were rappelling from trees that were being killed, and the bolter felt that the rappelling was happening anyway and could not be prevented so bolts were the best solution.

Post edited at 15:55
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rgold - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to jon:

Definitely a trad crag; Stately Pleasure Dome in Tuolumne.  But I understand someone had recently added a bolted sport route, so that sport climbers topping out would have been added to the mix.

As requested, here is the link to the full MP kerfluffle: https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/115175349/rap-stations-at-descent-trees-on-stately-pleasure-dome .

The situation is complex and anyone who can stand to read through it will note that I eventually concluded the no-bolts stance was a lost cause in that case.  But the fact that it is a lost cause in the US, that there are now so many climbers unable or unwilling to undertake descents that wouldn't (and didn't) cause an adventurer to blink an eye a hundred years ago, was precisely the point I was trying to make for this thread, which is to beware of the future you may be shaping unwittingly.  Decisions that seem to make at least some sense from a narrow perspective can unite to produce results no one really had in mind.

Post edited at 16:11
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Robert Durran - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to rgold:

> Definitely a trad crag; Stately Pleasure Dome in Tuolumne. 

Brilliant! I have a confession to make. When I did Great White Book, I was so horrified by seconding the first pitch of protectionless 5.6 laybacking (surely at least E3......... ) that I refused to lead the second one and was then so traumatised that I ended up gibbering and backing off the 5.2 pitch above. The descent "walk" looked little easier and I was very happy to abseil.

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rgold - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

It probably helps to be well-acclimatized to Yosemite granite, in which case those pitches, although fearful-looking when the perspective isn't clear, are so low-angle compared to the usual Yosemite fare that the absence of protection is not an issue.  I don't recall laybacking, it was mostly chimneying lying on your back, which means you can stop and rest at will.   When we did it BITD, we had no wide gear and the pitch was pretty much a solo.

But if the rappels hadn't been there, I have no doubt that you would calmed your jitters and walked off no problem.

Post edited at 16:24
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Offwidth - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

That SPD descent is pretty nasty.

G W B was heaven sent as far as I was concerned... I did sections inside on my front and back, laybacked for a bit and even hopped up at one point and climbed the arete for a few moves because I could. It was so much fun that the slight runouts (only there if you lack monster cams) seemed irrelevant. My only proper jazz offwidth experience (normally they are a real grunt).

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Robert Durran - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to rgold:

> Those pitches, although fearful-looking when the perspective isn't clear, are so low-angle compared to the usual Yosemite fare that the absence of protection is not an issue.

Believe me, when the climbing felt so precarious for the grade, the lack of protection seemed a very big issue indeed.......

> I don't recall laybacking, it was mostly chimneying lying on your back, which means you can stop and rest at will.

Nothing, absolutely nothing would have persuaded me into the horror of wriggling inside those chimney; I have an abject terror of all chimneys.......

> But if the rappels hadn't been there, I have no doubt that you would calmed your jitters and walked off no problem.

Not sure. I think I might actually still be up there twenty five years later!

Post edited at 16:28
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Robert Durran - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

> G W B was heaven sent as far as I was concerned.......

My idea of rock climbing hell........

We did do another route with a higher grade (5.8 or 5.9) next to it which was far more straightforward and much more fun though.

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Offwidth - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

South Crack? .. with the 5.7 (E1 5a ish) slab pitch above the long 5.8 (VS ish) hand crack ....or Boltway with the well protected but slick glacial polish 5.8 (HVS 5b ish) slab crux? All the routes there are well worth doing but its best avoided on a hot still day.

https://www.mountainproject.com/area/105835737/stately-pleasure-dome

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Robert Durran - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

> South Crack? .. with the 5.7 (E1 5a ish) slab pitch above the long 5.8 (VS ish) hand crack ....

Yes, I think that was it. Only marred by having an altercation at the start because we didn't yet know the US ethic of not starting to lead a pitch until the second of a party in front has left the belay at the end of it, and we completely inadvertently jumped in front of another party waiting patiently at the bottom!

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jon on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to rgold:

> Definitely a trad crag; Stately Pleasure Dome in Tuolumne. 

Well that does sort of change things a bit. As I said above, for a trad crag why would anyone bother? Where the bolts added as part of an ASCA policy (I've always understood this to be a replacement like for like policy)? Have they been accepted or is this how the photo cropped up?

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rgold - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to jon:

Check out the link I posted in my reply for more details (a lot more details).  Here is a shot of the kind of scrambling people feel the need to rappel over.  https://cdn-files.apstatic.com/climb/107720467_large_1494207084.jpg .

But unaccustomed Yosemite slabs is a distraction from my point.  I've seen quite a few other examples of contemporary climbers who feel they have to rappel because the walk-offs are too scary or too unusual for them. I've done several such scrambles myself with partners (all of who are better climbers than I am on the real stuff) in which the climbers took one look as I headed down and set up rappels for themselves.  Nothing like this ever happened before convenience rappelling eliminated "ordinary" descents and the ability and propensity to cope with them.

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dr evil - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to iainballantyne:

Hello everybody. I've climbed on the crag, and, yes I abseiled. I also know Gary and love him dearly. Although I think he might be defensive because, deep down, he knows he is wrong.

There are multiple conflicting arguements in this thread:

Aesthetic.

Environmental.

Safety.

Ethics.

and finally: Convenience.

Which is what these bolts are for.

Convenience. Is that why we climb?

As R Gold said in another thread: don't just look at what is in front of you, look down the road.

Trad climbing in the UK is unique; we need to preserve it. The bolting guidelines are ambiguous. How about this as a definition of trad: no bolts

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aln - on 13 Mar 2019
In reply to dr evil:

I agrèe with just about everything you've said. What's Gary's point here? He knew it would be controversial, he could've had a reasoned argument ready to go. But instead he's come on spraying insults around without giving much justification other than hiding behind specific wording.

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Offwidth - on 14 Mar 2019
In reply to rgold:

You are being a bit selective with those photos. The crux areas of the descent are to reach that corner (after which you won't die if you slip) . I'm not defending the tree or bolt rap anchors but as a new visitor that descent looked wild and terifiying, even though its probably only super exposed 5.0 at most for a few moves. Descending all that slab in climbing shoes is also painful (clip your approach shoes on your harness).  If I knew a genuine walk off existed just above (as per the super topo thread) I would have always have used it in preference. That descent for me was as exciting as the first route I did there... sort of part of the adventure of climbing. The descent off Fairview had the same effect... barely climbing but sooo exposed..

The guidebooks were part of the problem for not giving sensible alternatives for SPD; plus knobs on the US forums saying it's all trivial grade 3.

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rgold - on 14 Mar 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

Ok, well, it is many years since I did that descent.  My memory is that you could pretty much sit down anywhere and just stay there, but time may have warped my recollection.  That said, you can head over to the NW and just follow the cairns down and around; that was what we did the first time we were there---perhaps we had the advantage of no guidebook so just asked ourselves "how are we gonna get down from here?" 

We also had the advantage of no rap slings on the tree to cloud our minds and draw us away from the walk down.  With slings on the tree (and guidebooks recommending rappels rather than walk-offs) folks don't even think about walking off.  Then what happened is that the trees on the descent started to be stressed so bolts were put in to save them, including the absurd pair I linked a picture to.  So now there are a set of bolts to rap off of, making a consideration of the walk off even less likely.

The point I made earlier in the thread is that the primary problem is convenience rappelling.  If it isn't possible to reshape climber attitudes about that, I think bolted rappels will probably be inevitable.

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Offwidth - on 14 Mar 2019
In reply to rgold:

You can almost certainly sit anywhere.. as you can on some easy friction slab climbs.. It always left an impression on me and I think its a serious place for moderate climbers where any inexperinced or nervous climbers who have followed up the routes and struggle with slab descents need a clear alternative or should be on a rope. I share your concerns that convenience rap anchors encourage more traffic from such climbers when a walk off is way more sensible. It also removes the skill set building they might need one day to avoid getting stuck and needing a rescue.

Those Yosemite super exposed 4th class slab descents are a walk along a corridor in day at the office for better local climbers, so there is a risk of them becoming blase about how others might find them or even getting into a mindset where risk is ignored (look at Dill's view on this, with all those experienced climbers killed on easy terrain).

Differences in impressions of slabs can be weird. I remember recommending the 5.7 wider water crack on Lembert to a Brit of similar ability and weird taste in wide stuff but he backed off the glacial polished approach slabs before he reached the start belay. In contrast, wasn't  there was almost a tourist solo descent once in trainers?

If you ever visit the UK its good fun to see the rap queue clusterf*ck that happens most sunny days on the Milestone Buttress and Idwal Slabs descents in Snowdonia (where in any queue its quicker and safer to go up a bit and walk round and down). All climbers in the queue will have been on 5.2 to 5.5 stuff. The rap anchors are sometimes in-situ tat that comes and goes; they are not needed and when the queues last to when the sun goes down too often lead needlessly to risk of hypothermia and rescues involving the local MRT. The downclimbs are steep exposed 4th class on good holds that some will want to belay down yet the alternative way is a rambling 3rd class scramble up and a walk down.  Might take some pics of the occasional chaos there for you next time I visit.

Post edited at 08:51
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Robert Durran - on 14 Mar 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

> You can almost certainly sit anywhere..........

Sit down and cry and refuse to stand up again?

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Offwidth - on 14 Mar 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

...... or sit down in quiet contemplation of where you are and how amazing it is.

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aln - on 14 Mar 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

> ...... or sit down in quiet contemplation of where you are and how amazing it is.

That's the best post I've seen on UKc in a long time.

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jon on 14 Mar 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

> ...... or sit down in quiet contemplation of where you are and how amazing it is.

It's certainly a wonderful place, but I don't have any real recollection of that particular descent. However, the descent from Pywiack having climbed the Dike Route... I remember thinking Jeez, I've just climbed up this, now I've got to walk down it! I see the two descents in the database now mention abseils. I don't remember any...?

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Robert Durran - on 14 Mar 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

> ...... or sit down in quiet contemplation of where you are and how amazing it is.


All very well if you're not gripped stupid!

Anyway, I'd rate the Stately Pleasure Dome among the less appealing spots I've climbed in the US, what with the busy road and hordes of tourists just below. Not that it's a bad spot, just that the bar in the US is very high and it's so easy even in Tuolumne to get away from it all.

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And while we’re grumbling about convenience and unsightly tat: fixed Tyrolean at Stoer? Gonnae no’ dae that?

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fatbuoybazza - on 15 Mar 2019
In reply to The Pulsing Motorik of Neu!:

> And while we’re grumbling about convenience and unsightly tat: fixed Tyrolean at Stoer? Gonnae no’ dae that?

How?

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rgold - on 15 Mar 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Anyway, I'd rate the Stately Pleasure Dome among the less appealing spots I've climbed in the US, what with the busy road and hordes of tourists just below. Not that it's a bad spot, just that the bar in the US is very high and it's so easy even in Tuolumne to get away from it all.

That is certainly one way to look at it.  On the other hand, it is a mighty fine setting for a roadside crag!

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Frank the Husky - on 16 Mar 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

Hi Gary. It's been a while since I was at Diabaig, and it was before your bolts, but even then I saw that the obvious thing to do was to install a bolted ab point. The proliferation of piles of dangerous tat on some crags in the name of "keeping the adventure alive" should be a redundant artifact from last century. It was a good move by you and one that will hopefully set a precedent - not everywhere, but certainly there are many places I can think of where a solution like this makes total sense.

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roger whetton on 16 Mar 2019
In reply to Frank the Husky:

Well said Martin!

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Offwidth - on 16 Mar 2019
In reply to Frank the Husky:

Irrespective of individual views on sense, when consensus is mainly opposed we sadly sometimes end up with a mess, as we did at Aldery. Bolts can be discussed sensibly at local area meetings as previous cases have shown (proposals to remove various bolts were democratically denied and proposals to add bolts were similarly agreed).

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GridNorth - on 16 Mar 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

> All very well if you're not gripped stupid!

> Anyway, I'd rate the Stately Pleasure Dome among the less appealing spots I've climbed in the US, what with the busy road and hordes of tourists just below. Not that it's a bad spot, just that the bar in the US is very high and it's so easy even in Tuolumne to get away from it all.

That's interesting.  When I climbed there about 20 years ago we hardly noticed any cars but with you saying that I'm not sure if that's because there was less traffic or we were just so absorbed in the climbing.  I think we did about three routes on there and they were very good.

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rgold - on 16 Mar 2019
In reply to Frank the Husky:

> Hi Gary. It's been a while since I was at Diabaig, and it was before your bolts, but even then I saw that the obvious thing to do was to install a bolted ab point. The proliferation of piles of dangerous tat on some crags in the name of "keeping the adventure alive" should be a redundant artifact from last century. It was a good move by you and one that will hopefully set a precedent - not everywhere, but certainly there are many places I can think of where a solution like this makes total sense.

Again, although I'm not competent to comment on specific situations in the UK, I have to say that I've heard this argument over and over in different contexts in the US.  The basic scenario is that climbers make a mess, typically in the service of convenience.  When enough piles of crap accumulate, the "obvious thing to do" is to drill and replace the junk with some nice shiny bolts and chains. Somehow this drilling is sold by its proponents as necessary and inevitable, and folks who object are always painted as living in a bygone past.

Well, yes and no.  Ageist ad-hominen attacks are a convenient way to dodge the real issues.   Those who have been around long enough understand clearly how utterly unnecessary all the convenience tat is, because they did without any of it for years. And they realize, if they pay any attention to what is going on, that there is no end to the drilling that climber demands for convenience will produce, and that the progression is from rap anchors to belay anchors to protection bolts to hold-sculpting.  Every time the drill comes out, the climbing community---forgetting, if I may say so, the basic defining ingredients of trad climbing---is further desensitized to bolting as a solution to all natural infelicities.

All that said, the problem begins, as I keep saying to little effect, not with bolts but with convenience rap anchors, and if there is a solution to the inevitable scourge of bolts that follows, it will involve a massive climbers social movement to reduce this practice.  The UK, with its clubs and organizations, has a much better chance at pulling this off than the US, which is much more of a free-for-all, and in any case it is probably too late in the game for us. 

In the US, we transitioned from pitons to nuts in just a few years.  A major cause was that a few prominent climbers got behind the idea and sold it to the rest of the country.  It is nearly impossible to communicate what a sea change this was for those of us who went through it, abandoning everything we knew about protection for systems we barely understood and had no experience with.  If anyone had said, before this happened, that such a revolution would occur in such a short time, they'd have been laughed out of the room.   Reducing convenience rap anchors is absolutely nothing compared to this.  I bring this up only to say that climbing communities can make enormous behavioral changes and the idea that one might eliminate convenience rappelling from most crags is not as far-fetched as it might seem at first.

Post edited at 16:20
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Doghouse - on 16 Mar 2019
In reply to rgold:

Well said.

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mike barnard - on 19 Mar 2019
In reply to rgold:

Unfortunately (or not), climbers like convenience and will continue to abseil off their own gear in preference to walking down. When this gear is left, other climbers will use it. If a few others don't like it, they can remove it. Self policing. 

Drawing the line at bolts on trad crags, unless given very good reasons that the crag is a special case (not so with Diabaig), seems a more workable solution than just saying to folk 'don't abseil', which will never work. 

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Jonny on 19 Mar 2019
In reply to rgold:

Great post. Fundamentally, I do think there is an incompatibility in the (trad) climbing community's desire to 'leave no trace' while also maximising convenience and/or safety. Look at cavers and canyoneers to see what 'leave no trace' really means, and then decide what you think about macrame knots and bungee'd fifi hooks for descending your trad climbs. 

I recognise that 'bolt creep' is a thing, but leaving piles of triply backed-up crap on the rock is no solution either. I'd happily go back to the days of fully naked rock (which I never actually lived through), but since many climbs can't be walked off, that would necessarily imply a retrogresssion in modern safety norms.

Post edited at 10:20
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