/ napes needle descent

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TomG@work on 30 Mar 2004 - mail.environment-agency.gov.uk
Fancy climbing the needle but have heard that the descent can be dodgy and theres a specific way of abbing off due to lack of suitable anchors.If anyone knows anything more it would be greatfully received.
Cheers
Tom
Anonymous on 30 Mar 2004 - dyn066058.shef.ac.uk
In reply to TomG@work:
see the needlesports website
The trouble with cake on 30 Mar 2004
In reply to TomG@work: there's a good section of advice on the needlesports website. What we did was to climb to the shoulder under the top block. Belay. Lead to the top. The person on the top passes a loop of rope under the lip at the back of the summit block and ties it off to themsleves. Then the person on top passes another loop to their partner on the ledge who ties it off to a runner in the horizontal crack (bomber medium hexes). Bingo, belay on. Down climb the top block with a belay from below, person on ledge can help the leader reverse the mantleshelf (the only hard bit)

Downclimb from the shoulder placing gear (VDiff)

TomG@work on 30 Mar 2004 - mail.environment-agency.gov.uk
Cheers for that, useful stuff. So when you drop a loop to the second is that in front of you?or can the second circumnavigate the needle in anchor the loop behind the leader?


Does that make sense?
Tom
Gordon Stainforth - on 30 Mar 2004
In reply to The trouble with cake:

The adventurous way is to abseil. You drop a huge loop of rope down under the overhang of the top block, then holding it under tension, bring the ends up on the Needle ridge side (fitting into a small but sufficient notch), over the top of the block and down the Wasdale side. Put your weight on it gently ... quadruple check ! .. ab ... then just one little flick when you're down will bring the whole rope down.. Take care!
Neil Conway - on 30 Mar 2004
Jamie B not logged in on 30 Mar 2004 - modem-2330.alligator.dialup.pol.co.uk [webcacheB14a.cache.pol.co.uk]
Sounds like a faff and a half.

Playing devils advocate, I'd suggest there MIGHT in these particular circumstances (popular route, congestion, unsafe practices) be a case for a ring bolt on the top?

JAMIE B>
Gordon Stainforth - on 30 Mar 2004
In reply to Jamie B not logged in:

Please, that would be just pathetic and the end of British rock climbing. Just as it was the start of British rock climbing when Haskett Smith soloed it on sight in 1886.
Jamie B not logged in on 30 Mar 2004 - modem-2330.alligator.dialup.pol.co.uk [webcacheB14a.cache.pol.co.uk]
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

There would be a certain ironic symetry to it, I grant you.

Not neccessarily in favour BTW, just floating the notion.

JAMIE B>
Gordon Stainforth - on 30 Mar 2004
In reply to Jamie B not logged in:

Sink the notion immediately!
TomG@workagain on 31 Mar 2004 - mail.environment-agency.gov.uk
So basically you down climb it then?Doesnt sound much fun but then i guess its preferable to a rapid-free-descent with an abrupt landing.
Agree with the opinions on bolting it.I havent climbed it before and would be very saddened to get to the top and find a nice shiny ring to ab off.At least this way i know the various ways of descent and can make my own judgement when im there.Bit of adventure innit!?
TomG
ps cheers for the info
LakesWinter on 31 Mar 2004
In reply to TomG@workagain: down climbing is no problem, down climb the arete not the wasdale crack, its only about diff and has gear. The only hard move is the mantleshelf directly above the belay ledge. You can jump on your mate for this if you are last one down
rich on 31 Mar 2004
In reply to TomG@work: we simultaneous abseiled it using each other as counterweights over the 'mountain buttress' and 'valley' sides if you see what i mean - not for the first time i expect as there are two shallow grooves in the edge - that website warns against that so probably not a brilliant plan
Greg C on 31 Mar 2004
In reply to rich: Last time I was up there I was quite supprised nobody fell off and killed themselves, there was about 8 numskulls faffing around up there for about an hour.

I say put a bolt in it or at least a good 30cm peg
rich on 31 Mar 2004
In reply to Greg C: you could hollow it out and install a lift i suppose ;¬)
Greg C on 31 Mar 2004
In reply to Greg C: Actually better put two in, its a new health and safety rule that all lower offs need two anchor points.
Etak - on 31 Mar 2004
In reply to TomG@work: VDiff asscent, VS decent

(while your putting that bolt in, probably worth taking a sand blaster to the whole thing as it is now a bit polished!)
JDDD on 31 Mar 2004
In reply to Jamie B not logged in:
> Sounds like a faff and a half.
>
> Playing devils advocate, I'd suggest there MIGHT in these particular circumstances (popular route, congestion, unsafe practices) be a case for a ring bolt on the top?
>
> JAMIE B>

In a small kind of way, I am with you on this one. I am fed up with all this "British tradition" stuff a lot of which is complete bollocks. If we kept to "British tradition", we would still be eating lard for tea, working down t'pit and t'mill, living in 2 up 2 down hovels and generally standing still.

Napes Needle is a right faff to get down from and very frustrating to any parties waiting to come up. A bolt at the top would mean that you could enjoy the climb and then get on with something else.

Alas I fully conceed that this is not in the "British" spirit and that getting off such a climb in the most inefficient and scary / dangerous way is what makes us all British and fit to rule the world. I will therefore not persue this argument any more, nor will you see me up there in the middle of the night with a drill, but I thought I would support this idea.

Flack gaurd now at the ready. Fire away!
Anonymous on 31 Mar 2004 - 212.125.89.212 whois?
In reply to Greg C: Yeah, put a bolt in. It'll be an excuse for 50 people to get up there within the half hour and smash it off.
richard bradley @ work on 31 Mar 2004
In reply to Jon Dittman: I would have to agree with you on this.
timeandmagic on 31 Mar 2004
In reply to richard bradley @ work:

I kind of agree, I'd rather see a safe belay than a dead or injured climber.

I also believe that rock should not be bolted, but left for somebody who can climber better.

I also have no hesitation on using bolts in the Alps.

It's a fine line.....
Gordon Stainforth - on 31 Mar 2004
In reply to Jon Dittman:

Sorry, John, don't agree. Napes Needle is not a faff to get down from at all if you abseil. I have always been a very cautious, safety -conscious climber and found the abseil perfectly acceptable, indeed very satisfying, because the rope can just be flicked off without leaving any gear or tat behind. With a double rope you can use one as a safety rope for the first person down (with the other still belayed with a tape sling round the slight spike on the Needle Ridge side) - to test that the system really is OK.
Gordon Stainforth - on 31 Mar 2004
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

PS How is it that people abseiled off it for years and years without any fatalities, and suddenly towards the end of the C20th - when climbers were generally a lot more competant - it became dangerous??
Anonymous on 31 Mar 2004 - modem-3456.lion.dialup.pol.co.uk [webcacheB05a.cache.pol.co.uk]
In reply to Jon Dittman: I agree. Whilst you are at it what about a bolt on Raven Crag? Without the tree to give some sense of safety that descent would be quite "entertaining". All this talk about how the good old days didn't cause any trouble is rubbish. Junior doctors used to work 80-100 hours. That was thought OK by the powers that be (that means the old codgers), now it is being realised how stupid the "good old" values are. Times move on and there is nothing cissy in being safe. Putting a bolt on top of NN won't make many more people get up it, it will simply make it safer for those who do go there to get back. And before you ask, I've been up it twice. Once I downclimbed from the shoulder, and the other I abbed off a sling that the next party dropped down to us.
Anonymous on 31 Mar 2004 - 212.125.89.212 whois?
In reply to Anonymous: When are you people going to realise that trees make better bolts. PLANT TREES MY FRIENDS -esp. on crag tops.
Greg C on 31 Mar 2004
In reply to Anonymous: Nah, just put bolts in they don't take years to grow

LakesWinter on 31 Mar 2004
In reply to Anonymous: the point is there is no need for the bolt unless you are a complete retard in rope management. This isn't some knee jerk reaction, I just don't see the need, if you can't figure out how to get down, don't do it. Some rap stations on very popular routes in the alps it makes sense to bolt to stop a build up of rotting tat, e.g. the one on the index in chamonix. (btw I am against any other alpine retrobolting).
geordie on 31 Mar 2004 - cache-loh-aa07.proxy.aol.com
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
> (In reply to Jamie B not logged in)
>
> Please, that would be just pathetic and the end of British rock climbing. Just as it was the start of British rock climbing when Haskett Smith soloed it on sight in 1886.

Haskett Smith did not make the first ascent of this route!!! If he claimed it today no-one would believe him. No evidence whatsoever - including the supposed handkerchief he placed on top that no-one ever saw! ( It could also be thrown on from Needle Ridge or even from the Shoulder of the route ie. 10ft below the top.)
The ascent goes something like - got up at 5 in the morning to to do a route on Buckbarrow then 'not feeling too well' he walked alone over into Ennerdale then back up and over Gable and down Needle Ridge. (A long enough day for anyone without even thinking of climbing afterwards.) Then decided to make a truly ground breaking ascent which even today is a very intimidating piece of rock - and considering no-one had ever climbed anything of this nature before. Not only that but he reversed the route. All with the most rudimentary footwear. Haskett Smith hadn't led anything of this nature or standard before. He had made first ascents of various gullies however although none with anything like the exposure and seriousness of the Needle and none of them solo. The route is in full view of Wasdale and although there would certainly be fewer people around at the time no-one saw any part of the ascent. Haskett Smith climbed nothing more of this style or standard although he did climb with several other pioneers of the day.
While at university (not an outstanding success with a very poor third class degree) he claimed to have broken the college long jump record- in practice - again no proof. He never went back to solo or lead the climb again although he did follow others up it.
There is more evidence if you would like me to pontificate further. But Haskett Smith DID NOT make the first ascent of Napes Needle.
Gordon Stainforth - on 31 Mar 2004
In reply to geordie:

Wow! Ducks head back below parapet.
Gordon Stainforth - on 31 Mar 2004
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

PS. Even if Haskett Smith did not make the first ascent - and there is no record of any doubt by his friends and colleagues is there? - it cannot be denied that within about five or six years (i.e about 1891-2) it was being climbed (i.e soloed) quite regularly by the top contenders such as Godfrey Solly, Norman Collie, the Hopkinson bros, and Owen Glynn Jones. And that tradition carried on for many decades, long before any adequate protection or belaying techniques were devised.
sutty on 31 Mar 2004
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

One thing the people decrying a bolt on the top will not do, and that is give up the modern runners and rock shoes they wear. If bolts are banned so should all developments in gear since NN was first climbed;-)
Rob Naylor - on 01 Apr 2004
In reply to geordie:

We've been through all this before....it was a complete waste of time on my part, wasn't it, as you've virtually repeated your post in:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=12010&v=1#157471

Just to take a couple of salient points from that thread:

(Re your assertion that he never climbed anything near the grade before)

RN: H-S put up the West Jordan (VDiff) in 1882 and Needle Ridge (VDiff) in 1884. The original route up the Needle was given as VDiff for years, gradually being upgraded as it got highly polished. H-S later put up several Severes (eg North Climb with Slingsby)which were certainly fully witnessed by others.

H-S's own account of his ascent (page 78 of Hankinson's "Early Tigers") is so detailed about the holds used on the upper section ( "...at the foot of this side there appeared a protruberence...feel the edge and prove it to be not smooth and rounded as it might have been, but a flat and satisfactory grip..." etc)that it beggars belief that he was never actually *there*. The protruberence he mentions and the flatness of the edge he used to top out aren't apparent until you actually get up there! The handkerchief was held in place under a stone.

If he lied about being there, how come he was able to give a *correct* hold-by-hold description of how he did it?

OK, you don't seem to like the man, and the way your posts come across indicate that you have a bit of a chip on your shoulder about "class". Fine...I don't know much about the guy other than what I've read, and I've no idea whether I'd've liked him or not. So what if he *did* "only* get a 3rd class degree? You don't need to be an intellecutal giant to climb well.

Needle Ridge and West Jordan at V Diff are the same grade as the Needle, both climbed prior to the Needle, and both soloed. H-S didn't start to use a rope until the late 1880s. His comment after his early ascents with his brother and Robinson was:

"In those days we were heretical in our attitude to use of the rope. Not having one ourselves we were inclined to scoff at those who had; and in the gall of bitterness we classed ropes with spikes and ladders, as a means by which bad climbers were enabled to go where none but the best climbers had any business to be".

One has to ask why, if H-S was such a mediocre, non-leading climber of little talent, contemporaries such as Slingsby, Collie, Jones and Oppenheimer rated him so highly? It wasn't "done" to do people down in print then (though Crowley would have, I'm sure, if there was anything to "do down"...he assassinated Jones's character quite thoroughly)
but had H-S turned out not to be climbing at a standard which made his early exploits believable, these guys would have just ceased to associate with him, which they didn't. These people didn't "suffer fools gladly" and it would have quickly been apparent to them if his earlier claims had been exaggerated.



You didn't have an answer to these (and the other) points when they were first made, but you're still repeating your assertions without any apparent foundation other than your personal incredulity that a somewhat lazy "toff" could have done something like that!
Stephen Reid on 01 Apr 2004
In reply to all:

Hey just because it's "on the web" doesn't mean it's 100% true! In other words, of course you can simul abseil off the Needle, you can probably BASE Jump off it for all I know. My (slightly tounge in cheek) "How to Get Down off Napes Needle in Ten Easy Lessons" as mentioned above is simply the safest way down (in my humble opinion). I put this on the web because I was fed up with being asked - though to be honest if you can't work out how to get down safely without being told, then you probably shouldn't be up there in the first place.

And as for bolts - flipping heck - people have been climbing Napes Needle for over 100 years, mostly with considerable less gear than you will probably cart up there. If you want bolts go to Spain - Jeez..
Anonymous on 01 Apr 2004 - cache-loh-aa07.proxy.aol.com
In reply to Rob Naylor:
> (In reply to geordie)
> RN: H-S put up the West Jordan (VDiff) in 1882 and Needle Ridge (VDiff) in 1884. The original route up the Needle was given as VDiff for years, gradually being upgraded as it got highly polished.-
The style and exposure of The Needle is light years different from these gullies and is far more serious and intimidating now and then.
H-S later put up several Severes (eg North Climb with Slingsby)which were certainly fully witnessed by others.
> -
nb. he followed Slinsby et al up those routes.
> H-S's own account of his ascent (page 78 of Hankinson's "Early Tigers") is so detailed about the holds used on the upper section ( "...at the foot of this side there appeared a protruberence...feel the edge and prove it to be not smooth and rounded as it might have been, but a flat and satisfactory grip..." etc)that it beggars belief that he was never actually *there*. -
The article was written long after the first ascent after Haskett Smith had followed others up the route.
The protruberence he mentions and the flatness of the edge he used to top out aren't apparent until you actually get up there!The handkerchief was held in place under a stone.
> -
No-one ever saw the handkerchief and the 'pruberence' would have been noticed on subsequent ascents when he followed others up the route
> If he lied about being there, how come he was able to give a *correct* hold-by-hold description of how he did it?
>
HOW COME HE COULDNT EVEN REMEMBER THE DATE HE CLIMBED THE ROUTE? I am sure that a route of this nature would be endelibly etched on the memory of any climber. A check with the met. office would probably reveal very poor weather at the time?!
> OK, you don't seem to like the man, and the way your posts come across indicate that you have a bit of a chip on your shoulder about "class". Fine...I don't know much about the guy other than what I've read, and I've no idea whether I'd've liked him or not. So what if he *did* "only* get a 3rd class degree? You don't need to be an intellecutal giant to climb well.
- I never said I didn't like him just that I doubt his claims. - The other information just goes to further underline the doubt.
>
> Needle Ridge and West Jordan at V Diff are the same grade as the Needle, both climbed prior to the Needle, and both soloed. H-S didn't start to use a rope until the late 1880s. His comment after his early ascents with his brother and Robinson was:
>
> "In those days we were heretical in our attitude to use of the rope. Not having one ourselves we were inclined to scoff at those who had; and in the gall of bitterness we classed ropes with spikes and ladders, as a means by which bad climbers were enabled to go where none but the best climbers had any business to be".
>
> One has to ask why, if H-S was such a mediocre, non-leading climber of little talent, contemporaries such as Slingsby, Collie, Jones and Oppenheimer rated him so highly?
- There is no evidence to show that these people did rate him highly either as a climber or as a person

> You didn't have an answer to these (and the other) points when they were first made, but you're still repeating your assertions without any apparent foundation other than your personal incredulity that a somewhat lazy "toff" could have done something like that!
- I have never mentioned 'class' or 'toff'. The evidence is overwhelming that H-S did not have the ability to climb this route and from what we know of his background and character may well have spuriously claimed the ascent.

Gordon Stainforth - on 01 Apr 2004
In reply to Anonymous:

> The evidence is overwhelming that H-S did not have the ability to climb this route and from what we know of his background and character may well have spuriously claimed the ascent.

An assumption you are making is that the route was as technically difficult on the first ascent as it is now. I believe the very small polished, rounded bobble you have to step up on at the crux may have been a quite large, positive spike that a nailed boot could be slotted over with total security. He did several other pitches that were about the same standard (V diff)

Anonymous on 01 Apr 2004 - host81-152-192-255.range81-152.btcentralplus.com
In reply to geordie:

If you stuck to relevent details your argument might be more pesuasive, but by bringing in things which are totally unrelated to the climb you proove yourself to be a tw*t. For example, please explain how a "very poor third class degree" has any bearing on whether he did or did not climb the route.
Anonymous on 01 Apr 2004 - host81-152-192-255.range81-152.btcentralplus.com
In reply to Anonymous:

> PLANT TREES MY FRIENDS -esp. on crag tops.

Trying to plant a tree on the top of Napes Needle would be a frustrating experience I think.
Gordon Stainforth - on 01 Apr 2004
In reply to Anonymous:
> (In reply to geordie)
>
> For example, please explain how a "very poor third class degree" has any bearing on whether he did or did not climb the route.

Nor the fact that he can't remember the date. Joe Brown, for example, is notorious for not being able to remember the exact date he did some of his most notable routes - he's sometimes not even sure which year it was!
Jamie B not logged in on 01 Apr 2004 - modem-2277.elk.dialup.pol.co.uk [webcacheB15a.cache.pol.co.uk]
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

The arguments for letting the traditional values of mountaineering competence rule with regard to Napes Needle are strong, however they would be more so if it was actually a mountain. If there were physical space for all the teams liable to be converging on each other on a busy day there would be no problem, nor if following parties had the sensitivity to wait for the team ahead to complete their descent before emabarking on their ascent. Or even to go and climb something else. To me the proliferation of would-be ascencionists and their crowding and marring of each other's experience is the greatest sadness, not the possibility that a bolt might represent pragmatic policing of this phenomenom. Does that make sense?

I also find perverse amusement in the thought of placing a Prince Albert on Haskett-Smith's phallus.

JAMIE B>
Gordon Stainforth - on 01 Apr 2004
In reply to Jamie B not logged in:

Cough, cough... I think the point about HS was that he was NOT climbing a mountain, but a difficult rock feature, a minor pinnacle, for the first time, as a new kind of sport.

To be serious: can't you see that a bolt at the top would make the v problem you are talking about a 1000 times worse?

I have no sympathy for people who fall off Napes Needle (and hurt themselves). For the very reason you have given.

Re. Prince Albert. I've never thought of it that way (oh, so obvious!) But I will always argue for in favour of an Albert-free ascent.

Rob Naylor - on 01 Apr 2004
In reply to Anonymous:
> (In reply to Rob Naylor)
> [...]

I answered these points on the previous thread about this, referenced above. You weren't able to refute my answers properly then, so why trot out the same old discredited arguments again?

> The style and exposure of The Needle is light years different from these gullies and is far more serious and intimidating now and then.

er, I don't recall Needle Ridge being a gully?
And East Jordan climb, which H-S did in 1882, isn't a gully either. It's given MVS today.

You said in our previous exchange that H-S could only do these climbs because he was "part of a strong team". I pointed out that (a) this "strong team" consisted of his younger brother, and (b) in any event, these climbs were soloed since the Haskett-Smith brothers didn't start using a rope until the late 1880s.

I said also (my comment on the previous thread) "H-S later put up several Severes (eg North Climb with Slingsby)which were certainly fully witnessed by others."
> [...]
> nb. he followed Slinsby et al up those routes.

You said this, too, in the previous thread. Then, as now, I pointed out that Haskett-Smith appears first in many of the listed climbs, which is an indication of the leader. I also pointed out before that in the list for one climb of a comparable standard (I forget which...it's on the other thread), attributed to H-S and Oppenheimer, it's explicitly stated that "Oppenheimer led the cave pitch". Why would this have been noted, if Oppenheimer'd also led the other pitches?

You never came back with any evidence at all that H-S hadn't led these routes, yet you still continue to assert that he followed others up them . Evidence please?

> [...]
> The article was written long after the first ascent after Haskett Smith had followed others up the route.

er, funny, you state in the other thread that H-S only ever made one other ascent, as an old man, on the 50th anniversary of his first ascent. A few "variable facts" going here, methinks.

> [...]
> No-one ever saw the handkerchief and the 'pruberence' would have been noticed on subsequent ascents when he followed others up the route

See above he his repeat of the route.
> [...]
> HOW COME HE COULDNT EVEN REMEMBER THE DATE HE CLIMBED THE ROUTE? I am sure that a route of this nature would be endelibly etched on the memory of any climber. A check with the met. office would probably reveal very poor weather at the time?!

Several top climbers in more recent times (Joe Brown, for example) have been quite vague about the exact dates of some of their new routes.
> [...]
> - I never said I didn't like him just that I doubt his claims. - The other information just goes to further underline the doubt.

No, but on the previous thread you continually castigate him for being lazy, having obtained a poor degree and being rich. Tends to sort of give an impression of your feelings for him.

> [...]
> - There is no evidence to show that these people did rate him highly either as a climber or as a person

Except that they continued to climb with him for years afterwards, some of them mentioning him positiviely in their own writings. Would climbers of the calibre of Oppenheimer and Slingsby *really* have consented to follow uo new routes a man who they *didn't* at least rate as their equal in climbing skill? Get real!

> [...]
> - I have never mentioned 'class' or 'toff'. The evidence is overwhelming that H-S did not have the ability to climb this route and from what we know of his background and character may well have spuriously claimed the ascent.

You didn't explicitly use the words "class" or "toff" but you did make it quite clear that you thought of him as an "idle rich" person. Where's this actual evidence you keep talking about? Every point you've brought up on this thread and the other has been refuted.
Anonymous on 03 Apr 2004 - cache-loh-aa07.proxy.aol.com
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
> (In reply to Anonymous)
>
> [...]
>
> An assumption you are making is that the route was as technically difficult on the first ascent as it is now. I believe the very small polished, rounded bobble you have to step up on at the crux may have been a quite large, positive spike that a nailed boot could be slotted over with total security. He did several other pitches that were about the same standard (V diff)

The small bobble may have been a spike but there would have been lichen on the rock. With a belayer and even the most rudimentary gear the route is v.diff however as a solo this route is in a different class to the early gullies which is the whole point about this route as 'the birth of rock-climbing@
geordie on 03 Apr 2004 - cache-loh-aa07.proxy.aol.com
In reply to Anonymous:
> (In reply to geordie)
>
> If you stuck to relevent details your argument might be more pesuasive, but by bringing in things which are totally unrelated to the climb you proove yourself to be a tw*t. For example, please explain how a "very poor third class degree" has any bearing on whether he did or did not climb the route.

A third class is a relevant feature. H-S was either not very bright or very lazy. Ref. the early start, the climb on Buckbarrow the long walk , descent of needle Ridge etc. then climbing the Needle. Having 'forgot ' the date is not very bright and his credentials are such that he would not have been willing to put in the effort.
We don't question Browns routes as we know of his ability and truthfulness from many witnessed ascents.
Shame your arguement has to descend into name calling. All the facts are relevant.
Geordie on 03 Apr 2004 - cache-loh-aa07.proxy.aol.com
In reply to Rob Naylor:
Rob you are obviously as passionate for this issue as I am against. Shame you live on the other side of the universe for us to meet and discuss over a beer. Although I was at Bowles last week for the first time in 20 years.
Cheers
Rob Naylor - on 03 Apr 2004
In reply to Anonymous:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth)
> [...]
>
> The small bobble may have been a spike but there would have been lichen on the rock. With a belayer and even the most rudimentary gear the route is v.diff however as a solo this route is in a different class to the early gullies which is the whole point about this route as 'the birth of rock-climbing@

As I keep saying, several of his earlier routes were *not* Gullies. Some of them were easily as difficult (East Jordan at MVS) and done without rope, which he didn't start using until the late 1880s. Why do you choose to keep repeating this "gully" business and the "solo" red herring like some sort of mantras when it's been repeatedly shown that you're plain wrong on both counts?

The "point" of this route as the "birth of rock-climbing" for its own sake has been over-estimated. The reason it got such a reputation was that it was (and is) *photogenic*. The Wadsale group (and groups in Wales and on Skye) had been climbing rock routes "for their own sakes" rather than to reacha summit since the 1870s.
sutty on 03 Apr 2004
In reply to Geordie:

obviously you have researched this extremely thoroughly as you seem to make all the other book writers, and the FRCC into liars or lazy in their research.
Get a life, accept things or show proof everyone else is wrong.
PS. you may be the new Galileo.
Rob Naylor - on 03 Apr 2004
In reply to geordie:
> (In reply to Anonymous)
> [...]
>
> A third class is a relevant feature. H-S was either not very bright or very lazy. Ref. the early start, the climb on Buckbarrow the long walk , descent of needle Ridge etc. then climbing the Needle. Having 'forgot ' the date is not very bright and his credentials are such that he would not have been willing to put in the effort.

The 3rd Class is rrelevant, even if true. One can be intellectually lazy (or not very bright) yet physically very powerful. H-S was a well-known college athlete at Oxford. He was an excellent hurdler and hammer-thrower, and was an outstanding long-jumper, so whether intellectually lazy or not particularly bright, there is little doubt that he was not *physically* lazy, so your assumption (and that's *all* it is, an assumption, not "evidence") that he wouldn't have been willing to put in the effort seems ludicrous.

In any event, the sources I have both say that he graduated with a respectable 2nd Class degree in Classical Moderations in 1880. They also say he was noted for his erudition and wit, able to quote at length from Homeric classics in the original Greek, and was the main organiser of the early "Reading parties" at Wasdale Head (" for 8 hours every day we absorbed Plato and Aristotle and for 6 or 7 we scoured the surrounding fells and climbed furiously"...hardly the lifestyle of a fundamentally physically lazy man, or of an intellectual midget).

So, what's your source for his 3rd Class degree, please?

And your earlier comment that he "claimed that he broke the university long jump record, but no-one saw him do it" has to be questioned, as well. Again, the sources I have indicate that he broke the record during a practice session attended by several people (and it would have taken 2 people to measure the jump) and that the only reason it didn't go down as a university record was that it *was* in a practice session, not during competition.

He seems to have been remembered in the writings of his contemporaries as a very self-effacing man who was not at all given to bragging or exaggerating his exploits: rather the reverse...he tended to undeplay what he'd done.

> We don't question Browns routes as we know of his ability and truthfulness from many witnessed ascents.

So, given the above points about his education and athletic ability, and given that H-S was also witnessed (by his brother and by FH Bowring among others climbing solo at a standard easily equal to the Needle's difficulty, why do you find it necessary to question his ascent of the Needle? Do you have any evidence beyond a vague, and probably incorrect innuendo about him "claiming" a long jump record that H-S was ever shown to be untruthful?

And again, why would people like Oppenheimer, Slingsby, Bowring, Robinson, Jones and Crowley have consented to climb with him as their leader if they hadn't been utterly confident of his abilities? In those days it was "the leader must not fall" and "one off, all off" in most cases, so compete confidence in your leader was even more important than than it is now.

> Shame your arguement has to descend into name calling. All the facts are relevant.

*Your* facts seem to either be questionable, or not facts at all, just assumptions and opinions pulled together from a string of innuendo. For some reason you keep repeating them, even after they've been questioned or refuted. Why?
Rob Naylor - on 03 Apr 2004
In reply to Geordie:
> (In reply to Rob Naylor)
> Rob you are obviously as passionate for this issue as I am against. Shame you live on the other side of the universe for us to meet and discuss over a beer. Although I was at Bowles last week for the first time in 20 years.

I'm actually not that "passionate" about whether H-S soloed Napes Neddel or not. what I *am* pasionate about is the general early history of rock-climging, and also about *accuracy*. If you had come up with any concrete evidence that H-S *didn't* solo the Needle, I'd have been happy to take it on board, but what you've come up with is either not "evidence", or it's easily refuted 9without you having ben able to overturn the refutations) or, in some cses, when I've dug deeper ( the long jump and degree class, eg) the "facts" behind your opinions are themselves questionable.

Now, proving that he *did* only get a 3rd, and that he *did* claim a long-jump record which no-one else witnessed will not in themselves indicate one way or the other whether your main argument has any substance, but at least they'll establish that your research is thorough....I'm willing to be shown to be wrong on either of those points if you can give me some citations.
Ridge - on 03 Apr 2004
In reply to geordie:
A third class is a relevant feature. H-S was either not very bright or very lazy.

I only got 6 'O' levels and never went to Uni. I also like to watch telly whilst quaffing beer and eating crisps.
If I manage to do the Needle will this change matters?
Rob Naylor - on 04 Apr 2004
In reply to Rob Naylor:

Actually, Geordie, in the matter of Haskett-Smith's degree class, we *both* appear to be correct. As far as I can ascertain, he took 2 degrees, a 2nd class in Classical Moderations in 1880 and a 3rd class in Literae Humaniores in 1883.

The fact that one of his degrees was a 3rd is still irrelevant to whether he would have had the impetus to spend a long day out in the hills with a headache, though.

From what I can see, he was neither intellectually lazy nor intellectually lacking. His main interests were etymology and genealogy, and he was a very prolific writer of articles for journals in those disciplines...hardly the mark of someone intellectually lazy.

I know one person who got a 3rd for his first degree and later went on to win the national prize for top performance in post-grad professional examinations against almost 2000 other candidates, the vast majority of whom would have had 1st or 2:1 degrees. His marks were some of the highest ever recorded by the Institution concerned. I know another guy who's formal education finished with 3 CSEs. He later became a senior manager with a top international company, an acknowledged technical expert in his field and wrote quite a number of erudite and well-received academic papers about new techniques he'd developed. So what is your point in continual harping about the fact that *one* of H-S's degrees happened to be a 3rd?
Gordon Stainforth - on 04 Apr 2004
In reply to Rob Naylor:

H-S was far from intellectually lacking, in fact his two climbing guidebooks that made up 'Climbing in the British Isles' remain, as Jim Perrin puts it, 'the most witty, erudite and readable of all geographical surveys of British rock.' He had an obsession with etymology, quoting such English antiquaries as Leland, Camden and Fuller, and was frequently witty. Of the people of Bethesda he said, 'The natives are polite, and would willingly give any information; but they cannot speak English, and do not possess the information.'

His long description (over 500 words) of the first ascent of Napes Needle is far too detailed and accurate - indeed accurate down to the very last detail - to have been made up. None of his contemporaries questioned it. Although he says he made the ascent 'about the end of June 1886' others surmised that it must have been on June 27th. Haskett-Smith also records meticulously the subsequent four ascents: March 17, 1889 by G Hastings; June 22, 1889 by F Wellford; August 12, 1889 by J W Robinson; and March 31, 1890 by Miss Koecher (the first ascent by a woman)

Rob Naylor - on 04 Apr 2004
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Another example of his wit is his comment when he heard that Winthrop Young had been appointed Reader in Comparative Education:

" It is good to hear that the comparatively educated, of whom there are so many, are to have something done for them at last".

And to have the wit to shout out, whilst in the process of nearly being killed by a large falling rock: "autis epeita pedonde kulindeto laas anaides" ("the misbegotten rock came bounding down again to level ground"...a quote from Odysseus' observation of Sisyphus in Homer), smacks of a certain level of erudition, I think.
Marc C - on 04 Apr 2004
In reply to Rob Naylor: Yes, but had he simply shouted out 'Rock below!', several climbers below him might have understood and taken evasive action, thereby saving their lives.
Gordon Stainforth - on 04 Apr 2004
In reply to Rob Naylor:

To put it mildly!

Another example of his wit was his quip when he repeated Napes Needle for 'jubilee' ascent in 1936 - 50 years after first climbing it - at the age of 76. Someone in the large crowd of spectators shouted up 'Tell us a story, Mr Haskett-Smith!' He immediately replied: 'I have no story - this is the top storey!'
Gordon Stainforth - on 04 Apr 2004
In reply to Marc C:

Marc, no one was hurt, and his learned colleagues probably did understand with amusement just what he meant!
Gordon Stainforth - on 04 Apr 2004
In reply to Rob Naylor:

Further historical note on H-S.

The other great early pioneer of Lakes' rockclimbing, the local dalesman John Robinson (who made the fourth ascent of the Needle), became one of H-S's closest friends. In 1884 they looked at the Needle together, made the first ascent of Needle Ridge, and then made many bold explorations on Pillar Rock and Scafell. They were very different in manner: Robinson, neat, careful, meticulous, Haskett-Smith daring and rather dangerous. When Robinson told one of the local Wasdale guides, Jackson, about one of their escapades on Scafell Pinnacle, Jackson said:

'In my opinion yon Askatt Smith will break his neck upon some of yon crags before long.'

If one studies the literature on the subject properly a very different picture of H-S emerges than the one that Geordie has been trying to paint.
Gordon Stainforth - on 04 Apr 2004
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Further historical note 2. (A bit of a clincher this.) When H-S made the first ascent in 1886 he left a handkerchief on the top that could be clearly seen 'fluttering in the breeze' from below.
Rob Naylor - on 04 Apr 2004
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Geordie says that no-one except H-S ever saw the handkerchief. I haven't noticed in the material I've got anywhere where it states that the hanky *was* seen by anyone else.

Fairly irrelevant whether it was or wasn't to me, though. There is simply:

(a) no record that H-S lied, bragged about or exaggerated about anything else he'd done.

(b) very definite records that his contemporary climbers and the next generation admired him and were happy to have him on their ropes.

Geordie just has a chip on his shoulder for some reason, and despite his arguments having been refuted several times in the past just continues to repeat them as if the refutations had never occurred.
joe at home on 04 Apr 2004
Going back on-topic: I'm worried that if I try The Sloth using old-fashioned protection then I might hurt myself should I fall off. So I think I might bolt it up, as I'd rather see a line of bolts than a dead or injured climber.

Or should I just not try climbing it if I'm not sufficiently competent to work out how to do it properly?
;-)

Gordon Stainforth - on 04 Apr 2004
In reply to joe at home:

The latter, otherwise you have completely misunderstood the sport of rock climbing. It's just like saying re. swimming, Should I stick to water wings, or should I learn to swim properly before I try swimming any distance in the sea?
Gordon Stainforth - on 04 Apr 2004
In reply to Rob Naylor:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth)
>
> Geordie says that no-one except H-S ever saw the handkerchief. I haven't noticed in the material I've got anywhere where it states that the hanky *was* seen by anyone else.

No, but equally, no record that it was *not* seen by anyone else. It seems highly likely to me that H-S would have been talking about it at the ODG when he got back and that it would have been seen by others (there were such things as telescopes, and it is certain that the ODG hotel would have had one.)
>
> Fairly irrelevant whether it was or wasn't to me, though. There is simply:
>
> (a) no record that H-S lied, bragged about or exaggerated about anything else he'd done.

There is a very good, detailed, vivid account of a first ascent by H-S with Oppenheimer in about 1906 (in Oppenheimer's 'Heart of Lakeland') in which H-S led all the way.
>
> (b) very definite records that his contemporary climbers and the next generation admired him and were happy to have him on their ropes.

Yes, no record of any doubts about it whatever. O G Jones (the leading climber of the age, and the very opposite of a bullshitter) in his 'Rock Climbing in the English Lake District' of 1900, has it down as a categorical fact and goes on to describe the first ascent as 'one of the most daring things that have been done in the Lake District.' He talks about the early ascents, including his own, in considerable detail in Chapter XI, 'The Gable Needle'.

George Abraham, in 'British Mountain Climbs', covers it in very similar terms.
>
> Geordie just has a chip on his shoulder for some reason, and despite his arguments having been refuted several times in the past just continues to repeat them as if the refutations had never occurred.

Very strange. The climbing equivalent of the doubters that the Americans landed on the moon in 1969.

joe at home on 04 Apr 2004
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Haha. Sorry Gordon - just having some fun with a direct quote from earlier in the thread. No intention of bolting anything - and three successful trips up the Sloth are quite enough!

I've been up the Needle several times. It's getting very polished, but there's absolutely no justification for a bolt where a small amount of basic rope skill suffices.
Gordon Stainforth - on 04 Apr 2004
In reply to joe at home:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth)
>

Yes, I thought you were joking, but you can never quite tell here!
>
> I've been up the Needle several times. It's getting very polished, but there's absolutely no justification for a bolt where a small amount of basic rope skill suffices.

Exactly.


sutty on 04 Apr 2004
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Blonde moment here Gordon;

there were such things as telescopes, and it is certain that the ODG hotel would have had one

Possibly the Wasdale head?.
Mooncat - on 04 Apr 2004
In reply to sutty:

LOL!! good spot, that would have to be some telescope.
Gordon Stainforth - on 04 Apr 2004
In reply to sutty:

V blonde moment, slightly rouge tinged I think.
Geordie on 05 Apr 2004 - cache-loh-aa07.proxy.aol.com
In reply to Rob Naylor:
Rob & Gordon
your evidence is certainly becoming more weighty however still not absolutely convincing. I haven't got time at the moment for more research or arguement but will be back! Unfortunately like you I am an old anorak sadly interested in our climbing history which if we are not careful to record acurately will be lost to future generations.
Cheers
Gordon Stainforth - on 05 Apr 2004
In reply to Geordie:

You should refer to, before passing judgement:

Climbing in the British Isles, W P Haskett Smith 1894, 1895 (including Jim Perrin's introduction, 'Playful Progenitor'.)

Owen Glynne Jones, Rock Climbing in the English Lake District, 1900

Lehmann J Oppenheimer, The Heart of Lakeland, 1908

George Abraham, British Mountain Climbs, 2nd ed. 1923

and also the very thoroughly researched work of Alan Hankinson, based on (as well as such books as the above) all the relevant journals (eg. FRCC), the Climber's Book from the Wastw*ter Hotel 1890 - 1919, and diaries, including that of J W Robinson:

The First Tigers, 1972 and
A Century on the Crags, 1988


TomG@work on 07 Apr 2004 - mail.environment-agency.gov.uk
Jeezy Creezy!
You ask a simple question and unearth a whole barrel of ethical/historic worms.
Thanks for all the posts with useful info, much appreciated.I'll be honest,i've only skimmed over all the other posts but it looks like this is quite an interesting subject.Might do a bit of research into it myself
Cheers
Tom

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