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/ Roaches today - “booking the crag for toproping”

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joe king - on 01 Sep 2018

While climbing with my young family today - just trying to get my 7 and 5 year olds into climbing, I noticed that there were 3 top ropes in position around Mauds garden. They had been there for over an hour. Two of them were not being used so I asked the bloke at the bottom of the crag if he would mind if we took one down to climb, after which we would replace it. He didn’t really say much apart from that the group leader had gone for lunch. 

I took one down and climbed the route on lead so I could bring my family up. One of the other party members told my wife “he can’t do that, we are staying in the BMC hut and we have booked this bit of rock” - I was not aware this was now a service offered by the BMC!! 

The leader came back back and said that I should have moved the rope to the side instead of taking it down....we exchanged words and it was clear that we were not going to agree....

Is this now normal behaviour at gritstone crags and was I wrong not to want to climb next to a top rope?

How should I have responded?

Coel Hellier - on 01 Sep 2018
In reply to joe king:

> How should I have responded?

You could have possibly just gathered the top-rope at the top of the crag, so it wasn't in your way, yet could be readily lowered again afterwards. 

Tony Jones on 01 Sep 2018
In reply to joe king:

 

> How should I have responded?

I know I how I would have responded.

 

JoeFoster59 - on 01 Sep 2018
In reply to joe king:

You must be joeking

Pedro50 on 01 Sep 2018
In reply to joe king:

YANBU as we say on MumsNet

joe king - on 01 Sep 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

You can call me a traditionalist but I thought climbs started at the bottom and worked up (mostly!)

the leader did huff about having to walk round to the top! 

joe king - on 01 Sep 2018
In reply to JoeFoster59:

I wish I was joking, but as my 7 year old daughter said in her indignant voice “it’s not fair that they stop other people using the crag”

pebbles - on 01 Sep 2018
In reply to Coel 

The fault here isn't really with the  group being instructed, who sound like complete beginners with no idea of what happens at the crag, it sounds like the organiser didn't brief them properly.  What the OP did sounds pretty reasonable,  he even offered to set their top rope up again after he'd finished on the route! Bit naughty to just leave ropes in position unused for an hour on a popular route really, unless  it was a quiet day with nobody else round.

yesbutnobutyesbut - on 01 Sep 2018
In reply to joe king:

The bloke was a liar and therefore not worth having any dialogue with.

joe king - on 01 Sep 2018
In reply to pebbles:

One of the climbers cleanly top roped the E4  to the left... 

marsbar - on 01 Sep 2018
In reply to yesbutnobutyesbut:

Not even a "yeah, that's not how it works" and a Paddington bear stare? 

Or an old favourite "Pull the other one, it's got bells on" ?  

marsbar - on 01 Sep 2018
In reply to Pedro50:

Mumsnet would be telling him to tell them to "f off to the far side of f, and when you get there f off some more"  I had no idea mums were so sweary.  

Pedro50 on 01 Sep 2018
In reply to marsbar:

I know, once they grow a pair and put their big girl pants on............. 

tom_in_edinburgh - on 01 Sep 2018
In reply to joe king:

> How should I have responded?

Tell him it's not a problem if he's booked it but he needs to attach his official BMC top-rope reservation sticker on the bottom of the route.

 

Post edited at 23:53
Michael Hood - on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

I like that...

You "It didn't have the official BMC top-rope reservation sticker"

Him "Don't be silly, there is no official BMC top-rope reservation sticker"

You "Exactly"

marsbar - on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

That's a great idea.  I'm off to make some "official" this climb is reserved stickers.  Anyone want some  

alan moore - on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to joe king:

>They had been there for over an hour.

I think it counts as crag-swag at that stage....

 

Pursued by a bear - on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to joe king:

I think you responded appropriately. This site being the well-read place that it is, I'm sure the guilty party will get to hear about how other quite reasonable people think he's behaved like a horse's arse.

T.

Trangia on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to joe king:

Group leader "gone for lunch"!!? What the hell?

Where on earth did he go? Find a restaurant somewhere to have a 3 course meal whilst his students and any others wanting the climbs waited for him? Don't group leaders sit down with their students for a flask of tea/coffee, sandwiches and a chat at the base of the crag  like most other folk these days, or did he consider that beneath him?

Blanche DuBois - on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to Trangia:

> Group leader "gone for lunch"!!? What the hell?

> Where on earth did he go? Find a restaurant somewhere to have a 3 course meal ....

Are we entirely sure that this "leader" isn't Bear Grylls?

 

Bulls Crack - on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to joe king:

 

> How should I have responded?

You should have torn him limb form limb, sent his family into exile and sown his land with salt. 

 

On balance a fair response I think

Tom V - on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to joe king:

 

> ...." we have booked this bit of rock” ..............

I wish I had been able to film someone trying that line when Doug was in residence. There's every chance it might have "gone viral".

 

Michael Hood - on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to Tom V:

I think any video of Doug would have gone viral

bonebag - on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to joe king:

As an SPA(RCI)  I have worked on many occasions with climbing groups at the Roaches and other venues in the Peak over the last 15 years and have yet to have a conflict with anyone. It is unfortunate that you should have got into conflict today which is a shame as it gives all of us on both sides a bad name.

Sounds like the person you spoke to was probably an assistant and hadn't been briefed about moving ropes which isn't great.

Moving the rope to one side is a reasonable thing to do rather than take it down or as another poster said gather it at the top of the climb but there is nothing to say you can't take it down either.

I'm also unaware you can book a bit of rock either. Have never done this in all my time as an SPA and never felt the need to.

Yesterday I was working at Windgather Rocks and we moved our ropes as soon as we had finished the session. But to be fair we didn't have anymore clients coming after lunch.

When I'm out personal climbing and see top ropes rigged I try to find nearby routes not being used. I feel uncomfortable with conflict even if I think I'm the one that's right. I guess Chicken Run  left of Mauds Garden or Heather Wall were busy too but don't know as you didn't mention them.

It's a shame any of this happened especially today as the Roaches has only just been opened again for climbers and walkers after the devastating fire of three weeks ago.

Hopefully you wont have a similar experience again and don't be put off by it. We need young climbers for the future.

 

 

John Foster - on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to bonebag:

As an SPA (RCI) my view is that it is absolutely the top priority, and the responsibility of the party leader, to avoid situations like this. That means being hyper-sensitive to the needs of other crag users and making way when appropriate (eg during an hour long lunch break).

If the leader does not take this approach, IMHO, he/she has no cause for complaint if ropes are (re)moved so that another party can lead the climb.  The fact that the party leader remonstrated about this shows how much he has to learn about crag etiquette.  

I would be very aggrieved if denied a brush with Maud’s Garden as a result of such behaviour.

Lornajkelly - on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to joe king:

Absolutely howling at this thread.

This reminds me of a very recent trip to Windgather, with my Mum and Dad.  Dad had his eye on a Mod over to the north end of the crag, but whilst gearing up they were informed by an instructor at the top that this is the designated Ab point for this crag, and we shall have to wait 20 minutes whilst his group abseil down it.  Dad's 62, been climbing since he was about 17, and he (nor I, with my five years' experience) had heard of anything like this on a single-pitch crag.

Perhaps an unfair generalisation of me, but maybe the same person?

To OP, you handled this very diplomatically, and I'm glad you stuck to your guns and did it anyway.  It's probably what I would've done.

Fruit on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to joe king:

“How should I have responded?”

Punched him ;-)

Post edited at 21:09
Tom V - on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to Lornajkelly:

Is it April 1st?

A designated ab point at Windgather?

Fruit on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to joe king:

Another thought....

crag swag - abandoned gear ;-)

Lornajkelly - on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to Tom V:

> Is it April 1st?

> A designated ab point at Windgather?

Our thoughts exactly.  We got bored of arguing with him because he wasn't backing down.  

Hopefully once I've finished my RCI I'll have the credentials to stand my ground in a situation like this, but we shouldn't have to.

spenser - on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to Lornajkelly:

Having done my SPA a couple of years ago I really don't think it gives you any more credibility when talking about crag behaviour than the amount of time you have been climbing, there were a couple of questions about crag behaviour during my assessment, however they're roundly summed up as "Don't be a dick".

The instructor mentioned in the OP sounds like a dick.

Personally I'd have pulled the rope and had the last second climb with it tied to them so it could be replaced, someone informing me that a section of crag was booked would probably earn a firm message sent to their employer.

Michael Hood - on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to Lornajkelly:

Designated by who? would have been my first question.

bonebag - on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to John Foster:

Yes, I agree with you. I think I said in my earlier post that moving the rope was  reasonable to do and also I had never had a conflict  in my 15 years as an SPA. Hopefully that means it is not that common an occurrence as it reflects badly on us as SPA's when it does.  I also said for my personal climbing I would look to adjacent climbs if they were vacant and suitable in order that conflict is avoided and everyone is happy. 

Dave Garnett - on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to joe king:

> the leader did huff about having to walk round to the top! 

Would have been quicker to reclimb the route!

 

jkarran - on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to joe king:

> How should I have responded?

Moving on to one of the less crowded bits would probably have saved some hassle and made for an all round nicer day out for everyone.

If I were for some reason desperate to climb a particular line others were using but not using then having had a chat with them I'd have just flicked the rope aside or pulled it then trailed it back up so the line was left as I found it.

jk

jkarran - on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to spenser:

> The instructor mentioned in the OP sounds like a dick.

Everyone sounds like a dick when described by the person they had a run-in with.

jk

Dave Garnett - on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to jkarran:

> Moving on to one of the less crowded bits would probably have saved some hassle and made for an all round nicer day out for everyone.

Although, having gone to the Roaches, options for family climbing were a bit limited by the Skyline areas being closed.

 

tlouth7 on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to Lornajkelly:

Obviously hard to know who got there first if one party was gearing up at the bottom and the other rigging at the top. That said, if they were there first then it was reasonable to ask you to wait. the bit about it being the "dedicated Ab point" is clearly bollocks of course, though the instructor may well have believed it.

To the OP, if no-one was climbing, and upon being asked were not going to climb imminently then I would not hesitate to pull the rope down (unless I could get it completely clear of the route to the side). I would try not to touch their anchor unless it compromised my own, in which case I would rather remove it completely than tamper with it. I would probably not offer to replace their rope but would be happy to ferry it to the top of the route.

I tend to ignore things that members of instructed groups say (unless they are relevant to people's safety), but would expect the instructor to be accommodating, verging on apologetic when they returned. If they didn't make a big deal of it then nor would I, but I would not concede that I had done anything wrong (fine to disagree politely with them on best practice/etiquette).

Sounds like it was all fine really, I hope your kids had a good time.

Andy Gamisou - on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> Would have been quicker to reclimb the route!

Apologies for the minor thread hijack, but I wonder why instructors tend not to do this (at least in my experience).  My regular haunt is frequented by groups, and the instructors always seem to prefer spending 30 mins faffing around at the top rather than spending 5 mins actually leading up a route (it's a sports venue).  Must be some reason for it - my theory is that it's because they aren't particularly competent climbers themselves, but then the routes they set up on are only around f5a, which I would expect even them to be capable of.....

Post edited at 11:32
Tom V - on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to jkarran:

"Meet a dick in the morning and it's just another dick. Meet dicks all day and you're the dick."

Elmore Leonard (though I suspect he pinched it off some Greek geezer)

And it was "asshole" but you get the drift.

Post edited at 11:34
deepsoup - on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to bonebag:

> Yesterday I was working at Windgather Rocks and we moved our ropes as soon as we had finished the session. But to be fair we didn't have anymore clients coming after lunch.

Well obviously you'd want to leave your ropes in-situ while you were having lunch otherwise.  I mean, if you had to undertake the epic trek from the bottom of Windgather back up to the top twice in one day there'd hardly be time for anything else eh?

deepsoup - on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

Being a little bit more charitable perhaps, I think I would put that down to not having anyone else present who can be trusted to competently belay a leader and/or lower off.

jkarran - on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

> Must be some reason for it - my theory is that it's because they aren't particularly competent climbers themselves, but then the routes they set up on are only around f5a, which I would expect even them to be capable of.....

Reasons off the top of my head:

It's not what they're there for, they're there to facilitate others climbing safely. They may not be allowed by their employer or insurer. They're not trained or qualified to teach leading and a demonstration could be potentially construed as such. Climbing up is almost always slower than walking around (walking then abbing to access lower-offs as I presume you describe may be an exception). Leader and assistant engaged in climbing leaves nobody supervising the clients. Lone group leader has no competent belayer and leaves group unsupervised.

jk

Post edited at 12:02
spenser - on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to jkarran:

True, however I have heard various stories of this kind of situation occurring over the years. If the OP was willing to return the routes to their original state after climbing them and no-one was using them. Having reread the post it appears that the person saying they'd booked the crag and the instructor weren't the same person. It's rather more excuseable the person thinking you could book a crag was an inexperienced client, however it's a good opportunity for the instructor to demonstrate good crag behaviour and work around what other people are doing.

Lornajkelly - on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to tlouth7:

They were there first - they'd just done the route on top-rope and were then about to abseil down it.  For this reason we ultimately left them to it; it's mostly the claim of a dedicated ab point on a single-pitch crag that we were protesting.  And that it would take 20 minutes for three people to abseil down one 8m line.  Had the instructor just said "we're still using it, won't be long and then it's all yours" or similar we'd have been happy to wait.  

Andy Gamisou - on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to deepsoup:

> Being a little bit more charitable perhaps, I think I would put that down to not having anyone else present who can be trusted to competently belay a leader and/or lower off.

No - there's always at least 2 instructors, sometimes more.

Andy Gamisou - on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to jkarran:

> Reasons off the top of my head:

Stuff below seems reasonable in most cases, but don't really explain the groups I witness.  Except maybe the insurance explanation, but even then seems a bit dubious.

> It's not what they're there for, they're there to facilitate others climbing safely. They may not be allowed by their employer or insurer. 

Maybe.

> They're not trained or qualified to teach leading and a demonstration could be potentially construed as such.

They certainly teach leading.

> Climbing up is almost always slower than walking around (walking then abbing to access lower-offs as I presume you describe may be an exception).

Walk up the back is easy but you can't just reach the sports lower-offs. They need to set up lower off points a few metres above them lower down to the sports gear, which takes about 30 mins typically.  As I say, the routes in question are pretty easy and only about 14m high.

> Leader and assistant engaged in climbing leaves nobody supervising the clients. Lone group leader has no competent belayer and leaves group unsupervised.

Always more than one instructor, and groups would be able to be left unsupervised (not children, for example).

Suppose I could always simply ask them!

 

Post edited at 13:12
Dave Garnett - on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to jkarran:

> Climbing up is almost always slower than walking around

In the case of Maud's Garden I think it would literally be quicker to solo up it, or, even easier, the corner just to the left.

 

planetmarshall on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

> ... Must be some reason for it - my theory is that it's because they aren't particularly competent climbers themselves, but then the routes they set up on are only around f5a, which I would expect even them to be capable of.....

Seems a bit of a harsh generalization of outdoor instructors. Many are exceptionally competent climbers who could climb E1 blindfolded and in boxing gloves. They've chosen to make their living instructing groups of people who might otherwise be sat indoors watching repeats of Cash in the Attic.

 

Andy Gamisou - on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to planetmarshall:

> Seems a bit of a harsh generalization of outdoor instructors. Many are exceptionally competent climbers 

Ah - agreed.  Apologies to most outdoor instructors.  I was really referring to the instructors that lead the specific groups that I regularly get the chance to watch, although this might not have been clear from my post.  I'm this case their abilities are probably a tad below that of many instructors, but still able to climb f5 I should have thought.

 

Post edited at 14:11
captain paranoia - on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to bonebag:

> Moving the rope to one side is a reasonable thing to do rather than take it down or as another poster said gather it at the top of the climb

Surely, it is the responsibility of the instructor to make sure their gear doesn't get in the way of other people? And, having had someone 'interfere' with their PPE, aren't they obliged to check that it is still safe?

It does seem that commercial instructors are increasingly acting as if they have some sort of priority access. They need reminding that they do not.

nniff - on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to Lornajkelly:

> This reminds me of a very recent trip to Windgather, with my Mum and Dad.  Dad had his eye on a Mod over to the north end of the crag, but whilst gearing up they were informed by an instructor at the top that this is the designated Ab point for this crag, 

It's quite clearly not a 'designated ab point' or even 'the designated ab point';  on the contrary, it is in fact a well-known and publicly-documented route up, with a name and a grade, as evidenced by the guide book.

 

tlouth7 on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to nniff:

But in fairness we would be guilty of hypocrisy if we claimed that those going up somehow had priority over those coming down.

nniff - on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to tlouth7:

True, but the essence of abseiling is descent after climbing up

Tom V - on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to jkarran:

> Reasons off the top of my head:

> It's not what they're there for, they're there to facilitate others climbing safely. They may not be allowed by their employer or insurer. They're not trained or qualified to teach leading and a demonstration could be potentially construed as such. Climbing up is almost always slower than walking around (walking then abbing to access lower-offs as I presume you describe may be an exception). Leader and assistant engaged in climbing leaves nobody supervising the clients. Lone group leader has no competent belayer and leaves group unsupervised.

> jk

I suppose it depends on their age but do all clients really need supervision while, say, eating their sandwiches?

earlsdonwhu - on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to nniff:

I suspect the problem at Windgather is that crag top belays can be a BIT hard to find and so, as I  have witnessed, some centres have preprepared 'belay kits' ready to slot into place for their convenience. Obviously, a competent and clued in instructor should be capable of finding alternatives so that other legitimate crag users don't get inconvenienced. A bit of common sense and politeness are all that's needed....but sadly, these commodities seem in short supply sometimes.

Tom V - on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to nniff:

Anyone who feels qualified or  sufficiently arrogant to designate ab points around our crags ought to be fair minded enough to carry the can retroactively for the damage done to Louie Groove and Zapple.

Post edited at 19:12
pebbles - on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to joe king: w

> One of the climbers cleanly top roped the E4  to the left... 

Which begs the question why were they top roping with an instructor? Now I'm just plain curious. All sounds more than  a little odd. Unless the grade was purely for being a long route with f all gear.

Ex Poster 666 on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to joe king:

> One of the climbers cleanly top roped an E4  

Even I can do that, s/he must be good!

 

Dave Garnett - on 03 Sep 2018
In reply to Ex Poster 666:

> Even I can do that, s/he must be good!

Me too generally, but not that one, as it happens.

DubyaJamesDubya - on 04 Sep 2018
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

> Apologies for the minor thread hijack, but I wonder why instructors tend not to do this (at least in my experience).  My regular haunt is frequented by groups, and the instructors always seem to prefer spending 30 mins faffing around at the top rather than spending 5 mins actually leading up a route (it's a sports venue).  Must be some reason for it - my theory is that it's because they aren't particularly competent climbers themselves, but then the routes they set up on are only around f5a, which I would expect even them to be capable of.....

They obviously don't want to use the in-situ lower offs for whatever reason. Either they don't want to wear them out (commendable) or they don't want to rely on equipment they've not set up themselves. 

Andy Gamisou - on 04 Sep 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> They obviously don't want to use the in-situ lower offs for whatever reason. Either they don't want to wear them out (commendable) or they don't want to rely on equipment they've not set up themselves. 

If only.  Their setting up shenanigans is purely to reach the lower-offs, which they then directly use to  top-rope from.  

DubyaJamesDubya - on 04 Sep 2018
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

Ok, well that makes no sense.

Alex Riley on 04 Sep 2018
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

If it's a beginner/intro group, they might not have anyone competent to belay them safely. Pure speculation as I don't know the details, but that would be the only reason I could see.

Post edited at 10:47
Andy Gamisou - on 04 Sep 2018
In reply to Alex Riley:

> If it's a beginner/intro group, they might not have anyone competent to belay them safely. Pure speculation as I don't know the details, but that would be the only reason I could see.

No, most of the groups have at least two instructors (they are often quite large groups).

Because (nearly) all the groups I see at this crag do the practise I describe, I thought maybe there was some "good" reason for it, but the responses seem to suggest not.

DubyaJamesDubya - on 05 Sep 2018
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

If they are big groups perhaps they don't have time to belay each other and don't 'trust' the beginners to belay them.

Andy Gamisou - on 09 Sep 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> If they are big groups perhaps they don't have time to belay each other and don't 'trust' the beginners to belay them.

If they belayed each other then they'd be up and down in about 5 mins, as opposed to around 30 mins, so no.

Niceboy - on 10 Sep 2018
In reply to joe king:

My mate and I visited the Roaches at the end of August and were shocked by the number of groups and top -ropes in place , basically monopolising most of the crag, including groups on the Upper Tier ( Skyline).  This included ropes hanging down routes with no groups preparing to use them ie simply there in anticipation of groups being able to use them later in the day - I counted at least three of these. The only area free from groups was the main crag and only missing from there I would suggest because the routes were too long/ too inconvenient to set up group top ropes!

Taking coachloads of kids to a popular crag is a recipe for winding up other crag users. The people who are organising these groups are not showing any consideration for anyone or anything but their bank balance, I'm afraid. I speak as a retired teacher who has taken groups of kids climbing for over thirty years - never more than a minbus full I may add!

Suggesting that other users should approach the leaders of these groups to discuss the situation is not the answer, as the OP's case illustrates, as the potential for an argument is high. The real answer is to encourage group organisers to consider other crag users more than some of them are currently doing.

This situation came the day after we were gearing up to do a route at Stanage only to have a group leader peer over the top of the route  to say that he wanted to use the route ( 3 star route) to practice some rescue techniques! We had a few minute of impass when a local guy suggested to us what he considered to be an even better route adjacent, to which we acceded.

All a bit disappointing as it was my first trip to the Peak in 15 years ( great place overall though!) as we don't really experience these problems with groups so much in Scotland. - although they occasionally happen  - I'm talking about you Glenmore Lodge!!!.

Post edited at 11:18
baron - on 10 Sep 2018
In reply to Niceboy:

We need a place where we can leave comments about incidents like you described at Stanage.

Maybe something like Trustpilot for instructors.

Too many negative comments and you get to resit your SPA or whatever it's called these days.

DubyaJamesDubya - on 10 Sep 2018
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

True but still potentially leaves the group 'unsupervised'. Anyway I thought you were going to ask them. Let me know the answer if you do.


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