/ Spanish Crags: Why all the poo?
Perhaps this is a problem in other places too, and this probably reflects the fact I've done more sport climbing in Spain than in any other country (and popular sport climbing venues in a country with a good climate usually = a greater concentration of people in specific crags than e.g. British trad)...but why is there so much poo in and around Spanish crags?
In Margalef last month, I got lowered off a route at The Hermitage, only to look to my side on the ground and see a big pile of loosely covered poo (tissue paper held in place with a not very large rock). This was basically at the base of the crag, in the middle of the routes on the left had side. On other trips I've seen poo and tissue paper on the side of the path literally two hundred meters from a cafe with a toilet.
It is a cultural thing? Does the poo somehow last longer there because of the dry weather? Is it all in my imagination?
Something they're eating?
British climbers that don't know where the toilets are?
I'd say is the lesser respect for the environment but mostly the higher concentration of people, margalef and siurana being some of the busiest crags in the world, so chances of rogue behaviour is higher.
It's not just Spain. There's lots of crap close to the crags in Kalymnos too, even ones where a flushing toilet is less than 10 mins away. Somewhere like Stanage is just as busy, but doesn't have the turd issue.
It does, mostly sheep though
Whilst I agree that a higher concentration of climbers will have an effect on this, I don't think it's the main cause. I climb at a lot of the smaller crags around Granada which don't get many non-local visitors and they suffer from the same problem.
Catalunya has a lot of climbers stopping in vans around the climbing areas. Doesn't happen so much in the UK, although a few exceptions like Portland and Bosigran have the same problem apparently.
In Siurana it'll be because of he unregulated use of every parking spot as a make shift camper van site. Things are a bit more regulated in Margalef but I'm not sure the alloted sites have sufficient toilet facilities (they were building a toilet block in the van site by the dam last I was there but not sure what state that is in). I've no idea why these areas don't charge camper vans and provide toilets (or make them use actual sites as in Rodellar).
> they were building a toilet block in the van site by the dam last I was there but not sure what state that is in)
Turkish style toilets installed. Even when there's plenty of room on the campsites, which are pretty cheap, a lot still use the laybys even though it's officially banned.
Lower rainfall means poo and paper sit around for longer? I'm sure the UK has it's share of selfish pooers!
I guess it's a combination of everything mentioned about, but more cultural than anything, it does seem the Spanish will literally shit on there own doorsteps. About two years ago a crag clean up event at Margalef was organised around a bank holiday weekend, which attracted a huge influx of climbers. The campsites were full and a lot of wild camping mainly Spanish vans, in the town and around the climbing areas. It was ironic the amount of crap, literally, after the weekend, was unbelievable. Most of this was within a metre out two of where vans had been parked.
Here's a nice eco loo at the base of Baume Rousse, Haute Provence. Better looking than a pile of poo
Yes, people do it at Portland even though it’s a 5 min drive to the town to use the loo in the Tesco and perhaps get some provisions, or to drop into one of the cafes. Inconsiderate to say the least.
We saw heaps walking along the coast near Deia on Mallorca.
> Yes, people do it at Portland even though it’s a 5 min drive to the town .... <
It does often take far longer overall, especially from the base of a crag, eg back to car, drive, park, toilet, drive back etc. Meanwhile partner is waiting for your return. I'm just making a point and not supporting leaving faeces near the cliff, which obviously should be avoided.
Regarding possibly more mess abroad it may be partly due to frequent British shyness/reserve. Maybe many of us just try and ensure we go after breakfast. I remember walking up to Main Wall with an Austrian lady, suddenly she wasn't there, turned round and she was squatting beside the path oblivious to everyone else.
I remember my 1st trip to el chorro a few years back. One of the crags we visited was despolomilandia (sorry about the spelling) it was a windy day and on the walk in you kept getting this odd sweet odour every now and then. I mistaking thought it was similar to gorse blossom on holyhead that kind of almond/vanilla scent. Any as we reached the crag the path skirted around a screen of larger bushes/small trees and low and behold the source of the odd sweet smell was found..... basically all the poo paper and baby wipes that had been strewn around the hill side had gathered in this one group of bushes I assume carried on the strong wind and had created a literal shit bush. It really was quite staggering the amount of paper and wipes that had collected in this one small group of bushes. Once past it the smell disappeared waiting to welcome you on the return journey to the car. We went back 12m later and the area had been ravaged by a massive wild fire that had destroyed all the local fauna. The small silver lining was it also dealt with all the shit paper!
> Lower rainfall means poo and paper sit around for longer? I'm sure the UK has it's share of selfish pooers!
I agree. People talk about the cultural differences but in my experience there are few (in this regard), and many Spanish climbers are equally as disgusted by their local poo situation - to the extent that where an area has a strong enough community (e.g. Rodellar), organised efforts are have bee made to tackle the issue.
So I agree that the climate is the principal cause, but for two reasons:
i) lower rainfall doesn't wash away poo, as you mention
ii) warmer/drier climate encourages a greater campervan/wild-camping culture, which inevitably means more wild poo.
I actually think the latter is a major issue. The woods around Siurana can be a complete minefield, because of the quantity of campervans and because Toni Arbones (not unreasonably) throws a wobbly when any non-customer arrives to use the campsite's facilities. AFAIK the local council is either ignorant or unwilling to make any effort to install/maintain public facilities.
There are a couple of crags in the Frankenjura, Weissenstein for example, where the local climbers' group have set up portaloos.
The woods just off to the side of the ones where they haven't tend to be an absolute f*cking disgrace. Climbers collectively are going to have to find a way to address this.
There was a thread on UKB about this with some hilarious responses:
It seems there is a cultural difference.
I've been living in Italy for over 20 years, and IMHO 'cultural differences' often stem from the overall politics of the place. Italy is a culture where public toilets basically don't exist. I guess because of the cost. (There are exceptions, but as a rule, there are none). If you need to go, you have to find a bar. So everyone pretty understands that you either pay for a coffee in a bar, or go find somewhere to piss/poo. I have an Italian mate (a chartered accountant) who basically has a poo as a matter of course when we get to the car park to go do a ski tour. And another mate who is a CFO who does the same thing. He also had a poo when we were at the local park, exercising our dogs, 100m from his house. Said he couldn't make it home. Still, that time it was OK, I guess cos his Labrador PROMPTLY ATE IT ALL...My friend Sabrina, a demure, well-spoken lass insisted on pooing once when we summitted a mountain, despite my pleadings that she find a secluded spot on the way down, rather than choosing the precise spot everyone is trying to get to! I'm convinced that if a network of public toilets existed, there would be the same culture (with the odd exception) as in the UK.
And grossest story of all was my Australian shepherd dog chowing down on some human shit some 100m or so before we got back to our car after a mountain walk. I pulled her off it but alas, too late! She'd polished off the lot. Standard fare for a dog, I hear you say, but then she jumped up onto the back seat of our (nearly new) car and vomited it all back up again...
We have Poo Bear here in Margalef, he roams about in a Van, stopping overnight and leaving a nice steamy present in the morning for all to admire.
My dog (Nas) loves Poo Bear, every time we walk around the lovely Margalef paths and Crags, he turns up smiling with a turd between his teeth.
I wouldn't say it is Spanish tradition though.
> ii) warmer/drier climate encourages a greater campervan/wild-camping culture, which inevitably means more wild poo.
> I actually think the latter is a major issue.
We were in Lofoten this summer, poo is a problem there, too. Too many climbers in relatively small areas around the popular crags, too many camper vans.
Oh. My. Days.
> Here's a nice eco loo at the base of Baume Rousse, Haute Provence. Better looking than a pile of poo
I've just learned the proper name of the loo I posted a pic of: A Turdis.
And it WAS bigger inside.
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