/ Staffin , Skye belay bolts.

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james1978 21 May 2019

So, does anybody know who placed all of the belay bolts up at staffin slips in Skye? We counted 4 pairs all of which were close to stakes/ natural protection. 

Is this the way that Scottish climbing is going? First Diabaig, now Staffin...

Maybe I'm just behind the curve regarding an agreement but I thought that Skye was an agreed bolt free zone...

Post edited at 20:31
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nuts and bolts 21 May 2019
In reply to james1978:

And cue the next episode of the eternal bolt debate. 

My personal view (and that of an old dinosaur who started climbing virtually before bolts were first used) is the whole of Scotland should be a bolt free zone. Grudgingly might accept 'sensible' use in certain quarries but cannot see a place for them on natural crags. 

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james1978 22 May 2019
In reply to nuts and bolts:

I would be tempted to agree with you. I just don't understand why that get placed at an established trad crag with ample options for self placed gear and stakes. My thoughts here at Staffin is that the person involved believes it's a forgotten backwater and that they're going to increase traffic on some slightly dirty routes.

Is the aim just to keep placing them until anybody who is against them becomes exhausted and gives up protesting do you think? 

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nuts and bolts 22 May 2019
In reply to james1978:

Don't think I could reasonably guess what another climber's thought process is but the arguments have raged since the first piton was bashed into the rock. 

Best to just send a report to the SMC and let the political machine work it out. 

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Grahame N 22 May 2019
In reply to nuts and bolts:

> Best to just send a report to the SMC and let the political machine work it out. 

Mountaineering Scotland https://www.mountaineering.scot/ not the SMC. A regular mistake.

Post edited at 11:05
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Gary Latter 22 May 2019
In reply to james1978:

I just don't understand why that get placed at an established trad crag with ample options for self placed gear and stakes. My thoughts here at Staffin is that the person involved believes it's a forgotten backwater and that they're going to increase traffic on some slightly dirty routes.

I know who the local climber who placed them is, but see no reason to name them on here. You are way off the mark on "some slightly dirty routes" - the majority of the routes on the crag, with the exception of the shorter routes at the right end, and Gorbachev and Woman of the Eighties were absolutely filthy and virtually unclimbable.

The climber who added the additional stakes and bolts has spent considerable time and effort over the last year in cleaning up the majority of routes on the crag. As an example, last May I thought I would nip down Experimental Learning (given 4 stars in the SMC selective Scottish Rock Climbs guide) and give it a quick clean. It took about 4 hours, and was completely unclimbable prior to this. 

The bolts were placed in places where the soil was too thin to place stakes. If you don't like the belay bolts, then simply ignore them - they do not in any way alter the adventurous nature of any of the routes. 

I am all for convenient climbing. I'd rather spend my time climbing, rather than faffing about belaying to static ropes rigged to fairly scarce natural belay options. Instead of criticising these actions, you should be congratulating the perpetrator for putting a great deal of time, money and effort into improving a sadly neglected crag. His actions should be applauded.

> Is the aim just to keep placing them until anybody who is against them becomes exhausted and gives up protesting do you think? 

No, to make it a much pleasanter place to climb - what's so bad about that?

Post edited at 11:12
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baron 22 May 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

I give you Scottish Rock volume 2 page 9.

You’ve obviously changed your mind about bolts for belays.

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Gary Latter 22 May 2019
In reply to baron:

> I give you Scottish Rock volume 2 page 9.

> You’ve obviously changed your mind about bolts for belays.

I've no idea what you are referring to? Page 9 has information on Wee Bastards, Mountain Rescue and Grades, but no mention of belay bolts. Please elucidate...

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baron 22 May 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

Sorry, it’s Scottish Rock volume 2 North second edition page 9 Ethics.

It contains the MC of S policy on bolts.

I presumed you agreed with it.

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nuts and bolts 22 May 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

I for one absolutely applaud and appreciate the effort to clean the crag, indeed I think all of us should take some time out on a marginal weather day each season to clean some routes at our local crags. Also, diverging slightly, when climbing I try to garden routes as much as possible especially this time of year when new growth is easily nipped out before it is established (my seconders regularly complain of green dandruff and lumps of heather floating down on them).

The bolting issue is more involved. It sounds from what you say that there may be a good argument for some of them and if I climb there I will probably find myself clipping them. My concern is the precedent that is set - say next year a visiting climber sees an unprotectable line, sees that bolts have already been placed on the crag and then can justify placing protection bolts?

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Gary Latter 22 May 2019
In reply to baron:

> Sorry, it’s Scottish Rock volume 2 North second edition page 9 Ethics.

> It contains the MC of S policy on bolts.

> I presumed you agreed with it.

You are wrong on both counts. The Ethics section is on page 6-7; your presumption is also incorrect.

MC of S is now Mountaineering Scotland, and their 'policy' specifically refers to "Mountain Cliffs and Sea Cliffs"; Staffin Slip South is clearly neither. The guidelines do not address the issue of belay bolts or bolts for abseil anchors, so again not relevant here.

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baron 22 May 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

> You are wrong on both counts. The Ethics section is on page 6-7; your presumption is also incorrect.

> MC of S is now Mountaineering Scotland, and their 'policy' specifically refers to "Mountain Cliffs and Sea Cliffs"; Staffin Slip South is clearly neither. The guidelines do not address the issue of belay bolts or bolts for abseil anchors, so again not relevant here.

Yes, the ethics section is indeed on page 6.

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ianstevens 22 May 2019
In reply to nuts and bolts:

My concern is the precedent that is set - say next year a visiting climber sees an unprotectable line, sees that bolts have already been placed on the crag and then can justify placing protection bolts?

This tired old argument again? Do you have any evidence of this actually happening anywhere with belay bolts or is it just a hypothetical scenario? I think 99.999% of people can draw the distinction between belay bolts and bolting lines. The 0.001% are unlikely to be either trying new lines or placing bolts. To add, I'm unfamiliar with the specific crag but it sounds like next to nobody goes there anyway.

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Coel Hellier 22 May 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

> MC of S is now Mountaineering Scotland, and their 'policy' specifically refers to "Mountain Cliffs and Sea Cliffs"; Staffin Slip South is clearly neither.

The policy seems to me to be badly worded, in that it leaves a grey area about crags that are not-quite sea cliffs and not-quite mountain crags, such as Diabaig and Staffin Slips:

https://www.ukclimbing.com/photos/dbpage.php?id=131109

Post edited at 12:51
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Simon Caldwell 22 May 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

> If you don't like the belay bolts, then simply ignore them

Now where have I heard that argument before...

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nuts and bolts 22 May 2019
In reply to ianstevens:

To say it is a 'tired' old argument is slightly pejorative. It is an old argument so perhaps has withstood the test of time, and no I have absolutely no evidence to back it up nor do I disagree with you that the vast majority of the climbing community are aware of the bolting debate and act responsibly, however that is no reason to stop making the arguments or the balance of the debate will be lost. 

I do take issue with you implication that as it is crag with little traffic then it doesn't matter if it is bolted. Staffin is somewhere that I have yet to visit and the fame of Kilt rock is the obvious honeypot . I am sure that this  proximity has left Staffin Slips in its shadow but I have checked it out on Rockfax and there are 70 routes there - only 5 without any stars so I will be taking some time when I do go there  to check it out.

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fred99 22 May 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

An awful lot that you have said is pretty well exactly what was said regarding the a**hole who screwed up Aldery Cliff (in England).

We can't have individuals doing whatever they please wherever they wish to do so. Agreements of where bolting may take place involve ALL climbers (and to a degree landowners), so for any one person to declare UDI is asking for trouble in future, both at the venue they have chosen and others.

As for naming and shaming - if "Mr. (or Mrs./Miss) X" is so happy to carry out said action, why are they not happy to own up to it ?

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Robert Durran 22 May 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> The policy seems to me to be badly worded, in that it leaves a grey area about crags that are not-quite sea cliffs and not-quite mountain crags, such as Diabaig and Staffin Slips:

Although it is very badly worded, leaving loads of room for interpretation as to what constitutes a mountain crag, I don't think this is the relevant bit in this case - it is the next bit:

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

Of course this leaves open to debate whether belay bolts affect style (again badly worded).

The whole policy is a disaster!

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Gary Latter 22 May 2019
In reply to fred99:

> An awful lot that you have said is pretty well exactly what was said regarding the a**hole who screwed up Aldery Cliff (in England).

> We can't have individuals doing whatever they please wherever they wish to do so. Agreements of where bolting may take place involve ALL climbers (and to a degree landowners), so for any one person to declare UDI is asking for trouble in future, both at the venue they have chosen and others.

First of all I'd like to ask how familiar you are with the specific crag in question under discussion - how many of the routes have you done? Have you ever even been there/climbed on Skye?

I don't know what this acronym UDI you refer to means? - please explain, rather than talk in riddles.

As stated previously, the Mountaineering Scotland guidelines specifically refers to "Mountain Cliffs and Sea Cliffs"; Staffin Slip South is clearly neither. The guidelines do not address the issue of belay bolts or bolts for abseil anchors, so again not relevant here.

> As for naming and shaming - if "Mr. (or Mrs./Miss) X" is so happy to carry out said action, why are they not happy to own up to it ?

Perhaps because of keyboard warriors with no full name or profile (like yourself), who wade into these debates with no actual experience of climbing on the particular crag in question.

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nuts and bolts 22 May 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

UDI is unilateral declaration of independence

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nuts and bolts 22 May 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

I think you are absolutely right not to name the climber in question in this forum which should be for discussion not vilification or persecution.

Just for clarity do you know if he/she discussed the placing of these bolts locally in a public forum (ie not just a group of mates down the pub) and gained prior agreement which would put them in a much better position to refute claims of 'over/excessive/inappropriate' bolting?

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Robert Durran 22 May 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

> The guidelines do not address the issue of belay bolts or bolts for abseil anchors, so again not relevant here.

Indeed they do not, and this is the problem. It is up for grabs.

The issue of belay bolts and abseil bolts needs to be properly addressed and incorporated into the guidelines, because, until they do, this sort of controversy will keep happening.

Having said that, I suspect that most people simply assume that no bolts should be placed on established trad crags for any reason, even though this is not explicitly said in the guidelines.

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L jamessutton 22 May 2019
In reply to james1978:

Hello james1978, Im also called James, and I placed the bolts at staffin slip. I hope this didn't piss you off too much and you still had a good day climbing. Ive lived on skye all my life and just moved to staffin recently so last year we started cleaning up the crag as it was very overgrown and lots of loose rock. Now theres only about 3 routes in the guide I would describe as 'dirty'. We will clean them soon enough. There was only 1 stake at the top near Gorbachev and a couple of little stumpy ones that you could use for routes 1-8 in the guide, set about 25m up steep grass from the clifftop. There are no natural belays above these routes, all the cracks are in shattered rock so you really had to pre-rig a static rope to use this area properly. The 3 pairs of bolts are about 3m back from the cliff top and make belaying pleasant rather than stressful. I placed 2 more above Sasha as previously you only had Gorbachevs lonely stake at a really bad angle. This patch of grass wouldn't take stakes, we tried for ages but its solid rock under the grass. 

I agree with you that staffin slip is a bit of a forgotten backwater, I don't know why, its some of the best crack climbing in the country. And you're right, id like to see more people climbing there so it becomes self cleaning, it would save me about a weeks work at the beginning of the season! I don't regret placing these and I want to assure you that no more bolts will be placed, the crag is all good to go now. 

I understand there needs to be smart guidelines for belays at crags with no natural anchors, like most of skye sea cliffs. Stakes seem to be the accepted norm but sometimes they don't go in. At neist point a couple of years ago all the stakes above the financial sector were removed by the local farmer, I assume he was fed up hitting them with his quad. Although a couple more stakes have been added its still not as good as it used to be, as a result, locals don't go there so much so it will probably get a bit chossy. 

Anyway if anyone wants to chat about this contact me at james@islandscapes.co.uk, or even if you want a climbing partner, I'm at the crag 3 times a week. 

James Sutton

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nuts and bolts 22 May 2019
In reply to jamessutton:

Well done James for coming on here to give a comprehensive explanation of the activities on this crag - you have obviously put in a lot of work and I hope that the crag becomes more frequented as a result - I for one will be making a special effort to visit when I get a chance to get to Skye. 

I still have some reservations regarding the bolts but , as discussed on here, the main problems revolve around poorly written guidelines.

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doughnuts 22 May 2019
In reply to james1978:

I'm sure you didn't notice the new stakes installed at the south of the crack or the fact that most of the routes were clean and and enjoyable to climb. We've been there most days or evenings for the past few months cleaning and climbing and haven't seen any other climber there. As local climbers who are pretty much the only people who climb there we are sure we've  made a good contribution to the crag that we love. But everybody loves a moan I guess...

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Climbpsyched 22 May 2019
In reply to jamessutton:

Nice one James for cleaning the place up! Look forward to climbing there again. It's a cracking crag.

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danm 22 May 2019
In reply to doughnuts:

I'm definitely putting it on the list for my trip in September, thanks for cleaning the routes. Having done a few crag clean ups myself in the past, I know how messy it can be!

Don't think badly or consider as moaners those who've expressed reservations about the bolts. Our trad heritage is worth saving, and if you think about it in terms of the things which make Staffin mean so much to you as a crag, many of those things will be because of it's trad nature, and are therefore worth protecting.

Bolting guidelines often try and make things simple when life rarely is, and as a result sensible solutions can become controversial when they maybe don't need to. That doesn't mean that the sentiment behind having reservations is necessarily a bad one!

Anyway, let's hope for a good summer and that the routes are clean and chalked for when I visit, I'll be the guy making a meal out of everything!

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I’d consider myself generallyvfairly anti-bolt but Staffin and to some extent Neist raise interesting questions.

 I’ve liked the look of Staffin from the guide but am slightly put off by the possibility that everything’s dirty. I get the impression that in many places this would be a major and busy crag more or less to the point of self-cleaning.

Do we prioritise ease of access to this climbing ‘resource’ or say that ethics and location let it remain fairly unfrequented and dirty? I can’t see that it’s ever going to suffer from over-use even with fixed anchors.

Neist is similar if the stakes have been removed permanently (Has anyone talked to the farmer?) 

Disappointed if there’s no safe anchor now for Financial Sector as I was hoping to go there next week.

Not sure what the answer is (though I suspect it doesn’t lie in semantic arguments about a poorly worded bolt policy).

I don’t see this as comparable to Diabaig, where bolts are purely for convenience.

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Cog 22 May 2019
In reply to The Pulsing Motorik of Neu!:

> Neist is similar if the stakes have been removed permanently (Has anyone talked to the farmer?) 

Yes, it wasn't him.

> Disappointed if there’s no safe anchor now for Financial Sector as I was hoping to go there next week.

There are 6 stakes above the sector (three pairs) so most routes there can be climbed.

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Captain Solo 22 May 2019
In reply to jamessutton:

Thanks for making the effort to put forward your reasons for placing the bolts.

I've only climbed a couple of times at Staffin South over the years, 3 years ago around Gorbachev and 8 years ago further along to the right end. Both times I remember that belays were a bit further back but we found something, we've all managed somehow up until now. The last time I was there I subconsciously thought I probably wouldn't rush back due to the fact it was all a bit overgrown, even the ** and *** star routes. The hard fought belays didn't factor in that much.

While I think it's admirable you have taken this crag under your wing and given it a new lease of life I do have reservations of a recent trend. In some ways it is a convenience reason as it's going to be a lot less faff for you if you are going to be climbing there regularly. It's another unilateral decision without consultation within the space of a few months. Who knows, after consultation the consensus may be that to keep the crag in use and clean 3 sets of bolts is a small price to pay but due process wasn't followed.

Guaranteed we'll be debating another bolts at a trad crag scenario before the summer is out.

Ewan.

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henwardian 22 May 2019
In reply to jamessutton:

I've wandered along and looked at the staffin slip crags before when I was living on Skye, I did notice they were dirty and I didn't climb any of the routes in the end, so I can thank you muchly for cleaning the crag James.

In terms of the bolts, I don't agree with adding them. If the stakes need to be 20m back from the cliff edge to go deep enough, so be it. Just write in the guidebook description "bring a 30m static to rig anchors at the top for routes xyz with".

There will always be crags that are more adventurous and crags that are less so. I realise this was done with the intention of popularising the crag by increasing the convenience but I could use exactly the same argument for installing chains at the top of every route so you could climb, clip the chains, lower off and strip gear and then belay your mate while he leads another route - mega convenient if both of you want to bash out the leads. I've climbed for nearly half my life all over Scotland and I can't remember ever being at a cliff where the only anchor possible was bolts (though I'm sure someone will tell me about one I don't know or have forgotten, this being UKC after all!). To me the magic of climbing in Scotland is often the adventure. There are loads and loads of crags that have very convenient approaches, easy belays, etc etc already and I don't think that more esoteric crags should have bolted belays added in the name of making them more mainstream.

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Nathan Adam 22 May 2019
In reply to Captain Solo:

Consensus from who? No one climbs there other than the local guys and a few infrequent visitors. At least with Diabaig there's people around most days of the week in season and enough people have climbed there to be able to draw a general consensus but Staffin Slips? Beyond Gorbachev and maybe some others, most of the routes probably haven't had many more than a few ascents since they were put up in the 80's. How is it fair that people who have not climbed, and never will, at a cliff get a say in the way the locals have decided to go about cleaning it up? 

I've only been to Staffin Slips twice and wouldn't dare think about moaning over a few bolts placed for the convenience of cleaning routes and to back up the rotting and poor in-situ equipment that was already there. Anyone who is that bothered can carry and place their own stakes as they please.

It really is a shame that this is what it takes to get Staffin noticed by the climbing community, if you put those crags anywhere in England or Wales they'd be ruined with polish.

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Joe79 22 May 2019
In reply to Captain Solo:

I find the conception of consensus vs unilateral action a bit out of place here. Who would be suitable consultees given by the sounds of it barely anyone goes there? Also more to the point climbing is not some quasi legalistic process. Ethics are not called rules for a reason. They evolve through trial and error not committee meeting. 

Enthusiastic activists shouldn't need to seek approval before taking positive action to improve the climbing areas they care about. That would just create a ludicrously bureaucratic system where nothing got done. 

Convenience is no bad thing it just needs balancing against other considerations. 

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GrahamD 23 May 2019
In reply to james1978:

It's crap. Trying to conflate the underuse of some routes with lack of convenience bolts is ridiculous. It's on Skye with short midget free visitor season. Someone's vanity project won't change that.

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Andy Moles 23 May 2019
In reply to GrahamD:

How is cleaning up your local crag, and sticking a few bolts in for convenience, in any way a vanity project?

You're also obviously wrong that there is no link between convenience and popularity. Look at all those shite sport quarries in the middle of England. As for the location of Staffin being the explanation for its neglect, I don't see a lack of traffic on other Skye sea cliffs, which are known to be relatively clean and convenient.

This is not a comment on either side of the debate about the bolts, about which I'm ambivalent. 

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Dangerous Dave 23 May 2019
In reply to james1978:

I have climbed here once in May 2011. We did Woman of the 80's a 3 star E3 that by the looks of things on UKC has not been climbed since 2012. I remember it being quite dirty. We also did Gorbachev, which I think was sort of clean. I remember looking at the crag and thinking that most of it looked filthy and I imagine its only got worse.

Areas like this seem like an ideal place to have belay bolts and I struggle to see why it would be a bad idea. I would like to think that we as a climbing community are sensible enough to know where bolts would be sensible and where they would not. 

It is very easy to remove bolts but much harder to place them so in a way I think it will be self policing.

Loch Maree crag would get belay bolts if it were up to me. A couple of bolts is much less intrusive than a pile of rotting tat looped round a wee tree!

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fred99 23 May 2019
In reply to Gary Latter:

> First of all I'd like to ask how familiar you are with the specific crag in question under discussion - how many of the routes have you done? Have you ever even been there/climbed on Skye?

Not familiar with the crag - but remember I was also referring to the effect it could have regarding access elsewhere. And I HAVE climbed on Skye.

> I don't know what this acronym UDI you refer to means? - please explain, rather than talk in riddles.

Unilateral Declaration of Independence - just how uneducated are you ??

> Perhaps because of keyboard warriors with no full name or profile (like yourself), who wade into these debates with no actual experience of climbing on the particular crag in question.

I'm not a keyboard warrior, and it's about time people realised that whatever they do (or support) in one location in the UK (yes - the entire UK !), can be seen by climbers and landowners across the country and used as an excuse for whatever action they wish to take themselves - and actions that reflect badly upon the climbing fraternity as a whole are the best excuse that landowners can grasp whenever they want to eliminate or restrict access.

This goes for bolting, selfish parking, noise (and swearing), leaving gates open, trampling crops, sh*tt*ng "inappropriately" and anything else I've not listed which causes grief.

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Erling Heldaas 23 May 2019
In reply to The Pulsing Motorik of Neu!:

> Disappointed if there’s no safe anchor now for Financial Sector as I was hoping to go there next week.

Most of the routes there are definitely still doable. Leaving a static rope at the top for will make it a lot less stressful to build a belay, but when I climbed there last year we managed fine without. 

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mike barnard 23 May 2019
In reply to jamessutton:

Thanks for owning up. I was climbing with James (the OP) that day and we couldn't understand the need for them. I'm not convinced that trad anchors or stakes couldn't be reached in a single rope length from the base for pretty much every route - certainly we managed fine, and that includes routes at the righthand end. 

I do applaud those who clean routes. I would definitely encourage others to get to the crag as most starred routes are in pretty good condition at the moment and well worth doing. It's a great crag with some stonking lines.

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mike barnard 23 May 2019
In reply to Andy Moles:

> As for the location of Staffin being the explanation for its neglect, I don't see a lack of traffic on other Skye sea cliffs, which are known to be relatively clean and convenient.> 

We were discussing this the last couple of days. It's clearly partly the location (nowhere near a city) but partly that for visiting climbers the premier Skye low level crags are thought to be Elgol, Kilt and Financial Sector at Neist. 

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Simon Caldwell 23 May 2019
In reply to mike barnard:

> the premier Skye low level crags are thought to be Elgol, Kilt and Financial Sector at Neist

I've always found it curious that it's mainly just the Financial sector and the bit near the steps that get busy at Neist. We've been to quite a few other parts, with routes at least as good as those, and never seen more than one other team, usually none.

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Deadeye 23 May 2019
In reply to jamessutton:

Hi James

+1 up for coming and talking.

+2 for cleaning up

Please take the bolts out though. Natural anchors can be arranged.

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Deadeye 23 May 2019
In reply to Joe79:

Individuals deciding, because they're "active", is what produces abominations like red rose speedway

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jpicksley 23 May 2019
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

I've lived up near Inverness for about 7 years now and climbed on the Moray coast and the north east and north west coasts and rarely ever see any other climbers. I'm surprised when I get to a crag and there's someone else there. I think it's a function of a lot of great choice and nowhere near the numbers of climbers in England. Lots of space to spread out. We're regularly on crags that are essentially roadside and are just brilliant and see no one. Plus people are attracted to honey pots. Although even a honey pot in north Scotland seems to be empty. It's great!

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GrahamD 23 May 2019
In reply to mike barnard:

Don't conflate cleaning with bolting, or Staffin on remote Skye with clip up 'sport routes' in  the dense population centres of Englang.

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mike barnard 23 May 2019
In reply to GrahamD:

> Don't conflate cleaning with bolting,

Indeed, any of the routes could have been cleaned without having to place bolts.

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nuts and bolts 23 May 2019
In reply to Deadeye:

Not sure I get the reference, can you enlighten me - what is wrong with Red Rose Speedway? Surely it hasn't got bolts in it. I remember soloing it in the late 90's but obviously wasn't looking for gear.

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mike barnard 23 May 2019
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

Yes, I will have to make an effort to get to other bits of Neist. We checked out the approach to Bays 1 and 2 - seemed pretty hardcore for reaching single pitch routes! Staffin South by contrast is about as easy as it gets.

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Alasdair Fulton 23 May 2019
In reply to james1978:

I fully support the bolting.

I love the feeling of getting to the top of a hard won trad route, finding some suitable anchors, bringing your mate up, walking off, or finding a suitable abseil. But, I've never got the preference of abseil stakes over bolts.

If you step back a moment, consider them on their merits, the argument seems highly flawed. 

Stakes

Pros: "Not bolts", do not damage the rock.

Cons: Visual impact, difficult to inspect integrity, tripping hazard (tenuous), damage to fauna, often not ideal placement/requires vertical grass scrambling, often removed by non climbers.

Bolts

Pros: Minimal visual impact, safe, positioned in a optimal place for belaying, easier to inspect.

Cons: Not permitted due to existing guidelines. Can corrode quickly if wrong metal used/sea cliff environment.

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Le Sapeur 23 May 2019
In reply to GrahamD:

>  It's on Skye with short midget free visitor season. 

Midgets are welcome on Skye. Unless you are the journalist Simon Calder, then Skye is full of them and they are not welcome.

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In reply to GrahamD:

Of course if you live on Skye or thereabouts Staffin is pretty local and crowded middle England is remote.

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Deadeye 23 May 2019
In reply to nuts and bolts:

I meant red rose - carn vellan

Utterly shameful.

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Cusco 23 May 2019
In reply to Deadeye:

Sennen.

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Andrew414 23 May 2019
In reply to jamessutton:

Cheers for cleaning up the crag and placing the bolts lads, alot of good hard work.  I think the bolts are a great addition along with the new steak. 

I have climbed at this crag before and after the Bolting/route cleaning were done, and its a massive difference for the better.  Having safe, bearly noticable bolts to clip after a route doesn’t take any of the adventure away from the route or really impact nature in my opinion. 

Ill happily use them!

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Ean T 23 May 2019
In reply to jamessutton:

I'm ambivalent about the bolts, but that's a great effort cleaning up the crag. Well done James.

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mattbarratt 23 May 2019
In reply to james1978:

I've climbed at this crag a fair bit over the last 10 years. It's a great venue, almost every route is a gem and along with Kilt rock I reckon it makes up the best collection of good crack climbing in the UK. Its also in a lot better state for climbing now than it was 3 years ago. The bolts do mean that you no longer need to bring a separate rope to connect the few good anchors together. I'm all for that convenience, in the same way that I'm all for the convenience of having a road and a van to be able to drive close to the crag. The bolts don't detract in any way from the adventure of the 40 metre route below them. It's also not really going to encourage bolting of the routes since they best be the best protected climbs in the UK as well!

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LakesWinter 23 May 2019
In reply to mattbarratt:

How well something is protected has nothing to do with whether it should be bolted or not......

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Andy Moles 24 May 2019
In reply to mattbarratt:

The stretch of coast from Kilt Rock to Staffin has the potential to be the Indian Creek of Britain. That's not much of an overstatement, with further cleaning and traffic and slightly simpler access to the base of the crags, it could be the go-to venue for high quality single pitch crack climbs in the country.

As to the fact that it's 'remote' to most climbers, people travel a pretty long way to the Creek.

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henwardian 24 May 2019
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

> Stakes

> Pros: "Not bolts", do not damage the rock.

> Cons: Visual impact, difficult to inspect integrity, tripping hazard (tenuous), damage to fauna, often not ideal placement/requires vertical grass scrambling, often removed by non climbers.

> Bolts

> Pros: Minimal visual impact, safe, positioned in a optimal place for belaying, easier to inspect.

> Cons: Not permitted due to existing guidelines. Can corrode quickly if wrong metal used/sea cliff environment.

I have to disagree on the following points:

Inspection/integrity

Stakes are easy to inspect for integrity - you can try and wiggle them and you can visually see the level of corrosion of the surface portion, I  think the area below ground should corrode slower in saturated acidic peat (can't find a google result to confirm that quickly though). If you really want to be sure, bang it a couple of times on either side with a hammer, lift it out, inspect and then bang it back in a foot away - the small hole will close up naturally in no time at all. Bolts on the other hand are impossible to inspect for integrity.

Visual impact:

Totally dependent on where something is. Bright shiny bolts on dark rock can be much easier to see than stakes with a patina of rust that blend perfectly into the heather (or are impossible to see under the bracken), or it could be that grey bolts on grey granite on a cloudy day are very hard to see.

Tripping hazard:

Unless it's in the middle of the path, it's probably surrounded by other trip hazzards like stones, tree branches, uneven ground, etc. If you are wandering around next to a cliff edge and not looking where you are going, I'm probably not going to find much sympathy for you if you trip.

Damage to fauna

Is this really a thing? I'm ready to profess my ignorance.

Safe

No. Just no. I've heard a hundred stories of things going wrong with bolts and had my own experiences of such. I've never heard a story of someone breaking or pulling out a stake and never done such myself. I'm sure that's partly because more people clip bolts more often and I'm sure that people do have stake problems but the experience of climbers just doesn't bear out bolts being safer, let alone safe.

Position

Placement of protection on trad climbs is often not ideal. We are talking about trad climbs, not sport routes. And bolts are just as much at the mercy of the vagaries of conditions in the field as stakes - if the top of the crag has very little solid bedrock then you might not have much choice about where to put the bolts.

Removal

I only know of one place where stake removal is a problem, I've heard of several where chopped bolts are/have been a problem. Is it really a wider problem or just at the Financial Sector? Do you think that someone who objects to climbing would be any less likely to hammer bolts than to remove stakes?

Further bolt cons:

It is impossible for stakes at the top to lead to "lets protect a route with stakes" (I fervently hope!), that is very much not the case with bolts. Even if you feel sure nobody would bolt a route, what's to stop someone putting a full loweroff in rather than just 2 bolts, what's the difference?

Ignorance: People clip bolts without inspecting them or knowing anything about them and blindly trust them, even experienced climbers who should know better. Most everyone I've ever climbed with properly evaluates a stake before deciding to use it and trust it. At a place where a bolt is being used every day like Kalymnos or Siurana, old or suspect bolts are spotted, word gets around, they get replaced, etc. etc. On a crag that gets 4 visitors a year, the deterioration over time of a bolt will continue for a lot longer before it is spotted and even longer before it gets replaced (if it ever does).

Replacement: When stakes rot away they leave nothing but a stain in the soil that gets covered by vegetation and eventually leached away. You can bang in another stake with no detectable sign of the previous if you want to remove the old one too because vegetation recovers. Bolts leave a hole in the rock, often can't be removed (or only with great difficulty) and when they need replaced, it's more damage to the rock.

Bolts do something I don't know much about where they cause ugly streaks of colour change in the rock below them. I don't need to go read about the chemistry to know it looks bad though.

Removal 2: If there is a dispute or a problem at any stage, stakes can easily be removed and practically speaking no trace left after a relatively short length of time. Bolts can't be removed without trace.

TLDR
In the end, all of the above points (mine and yours) are basically aesthetics and quibbling. The heart of the disagreement is about whether you want somewhere to stay a wild and challenging place or to tame it and slowly transform it into something less wild and less challenging and more accessible. Neither extreme is tenable; It's silly to demand that guidebooks be burned, roads returned to nature and the entire Island ridded of signs of human occupancy but it's also silly to demand that all routes be bolted and every crag have a public track to it with a parking area at the end and a tea shop. Everyone is somewhere in the middle and the question of importance is just how much do you want to tame Scotland's wild places?

Post edited at 14:42
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Alasdair Fulton 24 May 2019
In reply to henwardian:

I know you're just trolling, but I'll rise above that and try to address your points.

> I have to disagree on the following points:

> Inspection/integrity

> Stakes are easy to inspect for integrity - you can try and wiggle them and you can visually see the level of corrosion of the surface portion, I  think the area below ground should corrode slower in saturated acidic peat (can't find a google result to confirm that quickly though). If you really want to be sure, bang it a couple of times on either side with a hammer, lift it out, inspect and then bang it back in a foot away - the small hole will close up naturally in no time at all. Bolts on the other hand are impossible to inspect for integrity.

So, you're recommending people now climb with a lump hammer? Or would a sledge be better?

> Visual impact:

> Totally dependent on where something is. Bright shiny bolts on dark rock can be much easier to see than stakes with a patina of rust that blend perfectly into the heather (or are impossible to see under the bracken), or it could be that grey bolts on grey granite on a cloudy day are very hard to see.

So, aye, basically there's f'all between it, case by case and probably more down to the individual judgment of the viewer. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder or whatever.

> Tripping hazard:

> Unless it's in the middle of the path, it's probably surrounded by other trip hazzards like stones, tree branches, uneven ground, etc. If you are wandering around next to a cliff edge and not looking where you are going, I'm probably not going to find much sympathy for you if you trip.

Was wondering if anyone would bite on that one ;-)

> Damage to fauna

> Is this really a thing? I'm ready to profess my ignorance.

Of course! Why is rock held above soil, grass etc. as some last bastion of untouchable medium? It's a bit of bloody rock ffs!

> Safe

> No. Just no. I've heard a hundred stories of things going wrong with bolts and had my own experiences of such. I've never heard a story of someone breaking or pulling out a stake and never done such myself. I'm sure that's partly because more people clip bolts more often and I'm sure that people do have stake problems but the experience of climbers just doesn't bear out bolts being safer, let alone safe.

I'd love to hear those hundred stories. I've tied into some pretty shonky stakes before.

> Position

> Placement of protection on trad climbs is often not ideal. We are talking about trad climbs, not sport routes. And bolts are just as much at the mercy of the vagaries of conditions in the field as stakes - if the top of the crag has very little solid bedrock then you might not have much choice about where to put the bolts.

Thanks for the clarification there. I agree, in some cases bolts could clearly be positioned less favorably that stakes. In general (if we're talking generally, which we're not), stakes are probably preferable. But we're talking about a specific case, where it's been argued that stakes are nigh usuless and very far back from the crag. 

> Removal

> I only know of one place where stake removal is a problem, I've heard of several where chopped bolts are/have been a problem. Is it really a wider problem or just at the Financial Sector? Do you think that someone who objects to climbing would be any less likely to hammer bolts than to remove stakes?

> Further bolt cons:

> It is impossible for stakes at the top to lead to "lets protect a route with stakes" (I fervently hope!), that is very much not the case with bolts. Even if you feel sure nobody would bolt a route, what's to stop someone putting a full loweroff in rather than just 2 bolts, what's the difference?

I have no real issue with a lower-off to be honest. Remember, bolts, lower offs, drill bits, decent drill all cost money. Placing bolts takes time, effort and some level of skill. People very rarely just go wildly bolting trad routes for protection. The odd obscure case aside (Farletter, cave crag (dry tooling)), it just DOES NOT HAPPEN in Scotland, Your fears are unfounded. In fact, I know for sure that the bolters in this case would certainly chop any stray protection bolt.

> Ignorance: People clip bolts without inspecting them or knowing anything about them and blindly trust them, even experienced climbers who should know better. Most everyone I've ever climbed with properly evaluates a stake before deciding to use it and trust it. At a place where a bolt is being used every day like Kalymnos or Siurana, old or suspect bolts are spotted, word gets around, they get replaced, etc. etc. On a crag that gets 4 visitors a year, the deterioration over time of a bolt will continue for a lot longer before it is spotted and even longer before it gets replaced (if it ever does).

Ignorance is ignorance. I disagree entirely. On a less traveled trad destination, the first thing I (and "most everyone" (are we in America?) that I climb with would certainly double check the state if the bolts before clipping. If your climbing partners don't then maybe you should find others?

> Replacement: When stakes rot away they leave nothing but a stain in the soil that gets covered by vegetation and eventually leached away. You can bang in another stake with no detectable sign of the previous if you want to remove the old one too because vegetation recovers. Bolts leave a hole in the rock, often can't be removed (or only with great difficulty) and when they need replaced, it's more damage to the rock.

It's 12mm hole. Jesus wept, I was just up on Lewis and ripped about 15kg of rock from various routes. 4 x 12mm holes. #facepalm

> Bolts do something I don't know much about where they cause ugly streaks of colour change in the rock below them. I don't need to go read about the chemistry to know it looks bad though.

Only the wrong bolts in the wrong place.

> Removal 2: If there is a dispute or a problem at any stage, stakes can easily be removed and practically speaking no trace left after a relatively short length of time. Bolts can't be removed without trace.

One valid point.  4 x 12mm though...

> TLDR

> In the end, all of the above points (mine and yours) are basically aesthetics and quibbling. The heart of the disagreement is about whether you want somewhere to stay a wild and challenging place or to tame it and slowly transform it into something less wild and less challenging and more accessible. Neither extreme is tenable; It's silly to demand that guidebooks be burned, roads returned to nature and the entire Island ridded of signs of human occupancy but it's also silly to demand that all routes be bolted and every crag have a public track to it with a parking area at the end and a tea shop. Everyone is somewhere in the middle and the question of importance is just how much do you want to tame Scotland's wild places?

Ok, this is where I call utter BS! Stakes = reduction of wild and untamed nature just as much as bolts, if not, all your other arguments are null and void as you are basically saying stakes are wilder and less taming, therefore less safe. 

Post edited at 18:41
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Robert Durran 24 May 2019
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

I think the point is that once you accept that belay/abseil bolts for convenience are acceptable in some places, where do you draw the line? And who decides where the line is drawn? There is no doubt that bolts would be convenient on almost every single pitch crag I can think of. Do we just throw in the towel and accept them everywhere?

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Alasdair Fulton 24 May 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

Who decides? We do. It's not solely about convenience. Yes, many crags would be more convenient bolted belays/abb stations, but the current situation works, it aligns with Scotland's "ethos" and should continue (IMO)

No-one is advocated replacing all poor belays with bolts. Why does allowing some sensible, case-by-case exceptions equal throwing in the towel?

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Robert Durran 24 May 2019
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

> Who decides? We do. 

So the current situation continues where an individual or individuals decide to place bolts and then it gets discussed, a vague consensus emerges and either they get chopped (as at Diabaig) or they don't? Is this a good way of going about it? Maybe.......

> Why does allowing some sensible, case-by-case exceptions equal throwing in the towel?

It wouldn't. Throwing in the towel would mean any bolts placed for convenience would go uncontested.

Post edited at 19:31
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mike barnard 24 May 2019
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

> No-one is advocated replacing all poor belays with bolts. Why does allowing some sensible, case-by-case exceptions equal throwing in the towel?

If the belays were indeed that poor, difficult to arrange or the ground above the routes as bad as some seem to imagine, I'd be more sympathetic to this logic. But the crag is as simple as it gets. The stakes are bomber, and reachable in a single rope length from the base. Two equalised slings and you're good to go. There's no shortage of places where you could put in a couple more if required - the crag gives way to moorland! There's nothing even slightly resembling the 'vertical' grass top outs you get at some venues. The walk off is as quick and easy as they come - literally 3 mins back down to the righthand end.

The only exceptional thing is how straightforward and convenient the crag logistics already were. If bolts are 'sensible' even here... 

"the current situation works, it aligns with Scotland's 'ethos' and should continue (IMO)"

Do you mean bolts getting repeatedly placed and then chopped again?  

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aln 24 May 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

> they get chopped (as at Diabaig)

Have Gary Latter's bolts been chopped?

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Robert Durran 25 May 2019
In reply to aln:

> Have Gary Latter's bolts been chopped?

I am told so, yes.

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henwardian 25 May 2019
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

Flora is plants. Fauna is animals.

I'm not going to address the whole lot point by point though, that would just degenerate into acrimony and probably godwins law. Lets just say that I agree with some and disagree with others. It's probably my fault for taking far too much space to elucidate my two main points. They were:

1) You presented an argument for bolts mainly based on aesthetics and function and I was trying to point out that on these bases, there are as many arguments for stakes as there are for bolts.

2) bolts mean a reduction of the wild nature of more remote and/or esoteric crags. I think you got this one but just disagree with it. Really, I think you only need to look at the number of bolted routes/crags in Scotland versus time to see the encroachment of bolts, in the last 10 or 20 years, there has been an explosion in bolted routes and crags, the guidebooks show it and the incredible regularity of debates on UKC shows it.

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aln 25 May 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

Glad to hear it. 

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tspoon1981 25 May 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

You've been misinformed then, I ab'd off them last week. They were neat, well placed, there wasn't the mountains of tat that normally sits on the ledge. They're a sensible, sensitive, option for certain places. This whole "BuT wE mUsT PrOtEc Da Roc At aLl cOsT" is just obtuse, certain venues would and do benefit from the environmental, visual and safety benefits 2 very neat bolts provide. I've been to venues where you're abbing of 7 rusty, equalised pegs with mountains of tat to link everything together, Staffin aside, why are 2 bolts worse than 7 rusty old pegs and the accompanying tat? I'm not talking a wholesale drilling of Scotland, there just needs to be a more open and sensible discussion about belay/rap bolts.

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Robert Durran 25 May 2019
In reply to tspoon1981:

> You've been misinformed then, I ab'd off them last week.

Well that's intriguing. The person who told me they had chopped them even sent me a photograph of the sawn off stubs. I have absolutely no reason to doubt them. Maybe there were two sets of bolts - I had understood that the bolts were at the top of the crag, but from what you describe, the ones you used sound like the midway ledge (?). Or maybe someone has replaced the chopped bolts!

> They were neat, well placed, there wasn't the mountains of tat that normally sits on the ledge. They're a sensible, sensitive, option for certain places. This whole "BuT wE mUsT PrOtEc Da Roc At aLl cOsT" is just obtuse, certain venues would and do benefit from the environmental, visual and safety benefits 2 very neat bolts provide.

For me, and I think many others, it is not about protecting the rock or the environment - it is about protecting the way we climb; the self reliance, the uncertainty that is taken away by bomb proof bolts, the imposition by the bolter rather than something organically maintained by passing climbers. For me, the "mess" of tat is a price worth paying for that. Others, of course, will disagree.

These two completely separate arguments around bolts, ethical (in the climbing sense) and environmental, far too often get conflated and cause confusion in these bolting discussions.

>  There just needs to be a more open and sensible discussion about belay/rap bolts.

Yes there is. I think many people might be more accepting of bolts in exceptional circumstances if there were clear guidelines or safeguards to prevent creeping proliferation.

Post edited at 10:48
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nuts and bolts 25 May 2019
In reply to tspoon1981:

There just needs to be a more open and sensible discussion about belay/rap bolts.

This forum could hardly be more open and if you total the collective climbing experience represented by the posters in this thread I think you could argue that it is sensible also or at the very least well informed.

Personally my preference would be no bolts but I accept that there are many other views and so am prepared to concede that some bolt placements can be tolerated but we then come back to the thorny issue of what parameters are used to make that judgement?

I also think that new placements must always be challenged (as in this case) so that this discussion can be had based on information available in the specific case. 

It's an issue that will never go away and the two sides of the debate will be heard ad-nausium, but as with any political issue the only way to progress is through discussion - vigilante actions, whether it be placing of bolts on ones own volition or the chopping of someone else bolts, will only result in division and upset.

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Robert Durran 25 May 2019
In reply to nuts and bolts:

> Vigilante actions, whether it be placing of bolts on ones own volition or the chopping of someone else bolts, will only result in division and upset.

Even the chopping of bolts placed by individuals or individuals on their own volition? If it is agreed that bolts need some sort of discussion/consensus before placement, then it would seem ludicrous to require discussion/consensus for their removal to restore the status quo.

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Martin Haworth 25 May 2019
In reply to james1978:

I've just spent a few days climbing on Skye. I was struck by how quiet it was, how remote and adventurous some of it felt and by the pleasant lack of bolts, in situ tat, and pegs. What a wonderful place to climb.

So when I saw this post my initial reaction was to be against the bolts, and having had time to consider the points made I am still against them, as I actually like the extra faff and adventure and skills sometimes required to access routes or build belays.

Having said that there are some valid points made by the bolt placer and I can see his point of view even if it's not the same as mine. If bolt placing was left to people like him who seem sensible then I could live with it, knowing it's not going to be abused.

Unfortunately there is vocal and active number of climbers who want to bolt inappropriately and just make climbing "convenient".

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Alasdair Fulton 25 May 2019
In reply to Martin Haworth:

"Unfortunately there is vocal and active number of climbers who want to bolt inappropriately and just make climbing "convenient"."

Really? Can you point to some examples?

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Cog 25 May 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Well that's intriguing. The person who told me they had chopped them even sent me a photograph of the sawn off stubs.  

That sounds like a mess. Did you tell him/her that if they feel strongly enough to start they should finish the job properly?

Post edited at 20:01
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GrahamD 25 May 2019
In reply to Cog:

Bolts aren't their mess to start with. 

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Robert Durran 25 May 2019
In reply to Cog:

> That sounds like a mess.

Why do you say that? It looked like a really good job from the photo - I had trouble seeing the stubbs.

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yodadave 26 May 2019
In reply to henwardian:

> 2) bolts mean a reduction of the wild nature of more remote and/or esoteric crags. I think you got this one but just disagree with it. Really, I think you only need to look at the number of bolted routes/crags in Scotland versus time to see the encroachment of bolts, in the last 10 or 20 years, there has been an explosion in bolted routes and crags, the guidebooks show it and the incredible regularity of debates on UKC shows it.

I do understand where you are coming from but in a country where you are never more than 7 miles from a road "wild" is a very subjective term. When you think about the fact that Patagonia, Alaska, Cirque, Baffin, etc etc are all areas that have the odd bolt it seems odd to suggest that bolt free = wild.

Your use of "explosion" also seems a little over the top especially given that there are still fierce debates over the placement of single pairs of bolts. As others have said the policy is poorly worded and incomplete and it doesn't seem that there is a good forum for having bolting approved/denied. I am convinced that I would not make a good judge of where to bolt in Scotland, (in this case I agree with the bolting), but surely and effective committee could be formed?

The reality is that in the absence of arbitration more damage is being done not less. Bolting and then removal etc etc is far worse that an agreed stance and a single decision.

A possible example of this is Robert understanding the impact of a bolt but not understanding the impact of a sawn off bolt. 

To my mind Robert, Cog is referring to filling around the sawn off bolt with some carefully rock coloured filler/epoxy as its possible to chop a bolt and almost not be able to tell where it was to begin with. I had some stunning examples pointed out to me at a California crag that had suffered grid bolting and was returned to a more appropriate adventure sport climbing amount.

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henwardian 26 May 2019
In reply to yodadave:

> I do understand where you are coming from but in a country where you are never more than 7 miles from a road "wild" is a very subjective term. When you think about the fact that Patagonia, Alaska, Cirque, Baffin, etc etc are all areas that have the odd bolt it seems odd to suggest that bolt free = wild.

I think I come at comparison from the opposite direction - in almost endless wildernesses like the areas you mention (except possibly Patagonia), there is such inaccessibility and such a huge amount of rock that it's hard to imagine them ever becoming crowded or climbed out or the adventurous nature of them being taken away (though I suppose Americans used to say the same thing about the space in the wild west). Whereas in somewhere like Scotland which has a relatively small amount of quality rock (basically because of those darned ice sheets that rounded everying off!) and all of it is, as you say, so easy to access, an active effort to maintain the adventurous nature of what we do have is that much more important. 

> Your use of "explosion" also seems a little over the top especially given that there are still fierce debates over the placement of single pairs of bolts.

Probably, but if you can't be a bit OTT on UKC, where can you ;)

> surely and effective committee could be formed?

Probably, but I doubt it would result in any fewer angry UKC threads :D

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Robert Durran 26 May 2019
In reply to yodadave:

> A possible example of this is Robert understanding the impact of a bolt but not understanding the impact of a sawn off bolt. 

Why do you think that? Anyway, as I said in an earlier post, my objection to bolts is very largely not about environmental impact.

Having said that, obviously I would like chopped bolts to leave as little trace as possible, but the onus should, of course, be on people not to place the offending bolts in the first place - ultimately they are responsible for any environmental or visual impact.

Post edited at 12:02
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yodadave 26 May 2019
In reply to henwardian:

an excellent response, thank you for your explanation. That is a real eye opener for me in terms of the "wild" argument. I more often encounter those trying to tell me how truly wild it is, i far more agree with a "lets protect what small feeling of wild we can" mindset. I would say that stakes feel equally as tame as bolts to me, BUT i have encountered some truly horrific stakes that have no doubt jaded me to them.

As to the nature of UKC, i am sure you are right but for the greater good of Scottish climbing I would love to see some forward momentum on an agreed policy.

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yodadave 26 May 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

Hi Robert, I do genuinely mean a POSSIBLE example as I can't speak to your motivations or intentions, so please don't infer a personal attack.

I specifically didn't say environmental impact because its not the only impact i'm referring to. When I say that damage is being done I mean in an expansive way. So for example, damage to the community, to Scottish climbing, to climbing tourism, to powerful personal experiences, as well as to the rock visually/environmentally, to the history etc etc.

To me personally the impact of a sawn off bolt is a sadness that we as a community can not figure out our different views to a place of consensus where we may not all feel the same but we agree to disagree.

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EmmaAtkinson 26 May 2019

Of course we all have different opinions. I feel pretty strongly about the bolting controversy and want to put some of my thoughts out there too.

The beauty of trad climbing is that you are a visitor to that wild place. And shouldn't leave more than any other visiting creature does.

Yes we leave erosion, chalk marks, in situ tat and gear gets stuck...but we have to draw the line somewhere and for me there is an obvious line between the above and bolts. A bolt is placed deliberately and is permanent. In most cases a bolt is ultimately placed for convenience.

As trad climbers, if bolts become a part of our equipment at crags, then we are no longer just visitors. We have taken some kind of ownership over the place and I feel that's the complete opposite of what lies at the heart of traditional climbing.

We are lucky to still have so many wild and beautiful crags in Scotland (surely that's one of the reasons we love climbing here?) - should we not hang onto that?!

Slight tangent but I don't feel it is too unrelated to mention - given the huge movements currently raising awareness of human impact on the environment (that are actually beginning to get somewhere!) I feel even more passionate that we need to stop acting for our convenience, take a step back and ask if we really need this!?

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DaveHK 26 May 2019
In reply to james1978:

I've not read this whole thread so perhaps this point has been made already.

Why is convenience seen as so important here? We don't trad climb because it's convenient we do it for the challenge/adventure and those things only exist where uncertainty exists and that includes belays as well as runners.

Look at where the desire for convenience has lead us in other spheres of human activity.

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TobyA 26 May 2019
In reply to EmmaAtkinson:

So any stakes should be removed too?

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mrphilipoldham 26 May 2019
In reply to TobyA:

Stakes are not permanent in the same manner as a bolt, and when removed leave only a hole in the earth, which shall fill itself in. Never seen a bolt hole in rock do the same.

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mrphilipoldham 26 May 2019
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

There was a number of climbers supporting the painting of names/numbers on routes to aid in finding the starts of purely for convenience in a thread just the other day. Apparently they spent considerable amounts of time lost, unable to find their starting point. 

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Cog 26 May 2019
In reply to EmmaAtkinson:

> I feel even more passionate that we need to stop acting for our convenience, take a step back and ask if we really need this!?

So we shouldn't drive to Skye? Just leave the crag to James Sutton and other local climbers?

Post edited at 22:58
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Andy Moles 27 May 2019
In reply to DaveHK:

> Look at where the desire for convenience has lead us in other spheres of human activity.

Bicycles, wheelchairs, trains, clocks, knives and forks, plumbing, electricity.

How much convenience is too much convenience? Do you park as close as you can to the crag and rack your harness in order?

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DaveHK 27 May 2019
In reply to Andy Moles:

> Bicycles, wheelchairs, trains, clocks, knives and forks, plumbing, electricity.

Plastic waste at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

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DaveHK 27 May 2019
In reply to Andy Moles:

> How much convenience is too much convenience? Do you park as close as you can to the crag and rack your harness in order?

This is a poor argument for bolts. Racking my gear in order has no impact on the environment and the existence of larger or other environmental ills is not a reason to accept smaller ones. These bolts permanently alter the environment for the sake of convenience for a few climbers. Of course it is a small thing in comparison to other things we humans do but it springs from the same thinking that has got us into out current environmental disaster, the notion that the earth is ours to use and alter at will.

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Andy Moles 27 May 2019
In reply to DaveHK:

> This is a poor argument for bolts. 

It's not an argument for bolts, as I've said already I'm ambivalent.

I'm just making the point that we do a lot for convenience, and it's completely normalised. I would have to ask myself, if one little step towards further convenience seems like a step too far, am I just feeling status quo bias?

But dont drag climate breakdown into a bolts debate.

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oldie 27 May 2019
In reply to EmmaAtkinson:

> Yes we leave erosion, chalk marks, in situ tat and gear gets stuck...but we have to draw the line somewhere and for me there is an obvious line between the above and bolts. A bolt is placed deliberately and is permanent. In most cases a bolt is ultimately placed for convenience. <

In trad I suppose the overriding factor is that one must try to use only natural features for progression and protection: cracks for nuts, and even pegs when absolutely necessary, stakes driven into earth (actually presumably rock splits under the  soil). Altering stable rock, as in chipping and drilling to place bolts, is generally unacceptable for climbing and protection. IMHO bolt anchors should only be used in exceptional circumstances.

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TobyA 27 May 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

How many stakes have you removed? In nearly 30 years of climbing I never removed one. 

It's like the "you can take the abseil tat away" line. Sure you can, but nobody ever does.

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Presley Whippet 27 May 2019
In reply to james1978:

In, out

In, out, 

Shake it all about,

Oh oh the bolty kokey

Oh oh the hokey bolty.

That's what it's all about. 

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mrphilipoldham 27 May 2019
In reply to TobyA:

Removed as a whole, none. I’ve removed the remains of a few that've been well passed their best though. The benefits of climbing in esoteric quarries around Manchester.

Besides which, it’s not the ‘have you’, it’s the ‘could you’. Could you return that patch of grass back to its original state after removing a stake? Yes, always. Could you return that rock back to its original state after removing the bolt? No, never.

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RAB623 27 May 2019

I'd like to offer some alternatives to a few of the statements on this thread:

1) From the number of folk that have been there on this thread, in the logbooks and the many that don't use UKC, I think its a shame to imply/use as an argument the fact that 'no-one goes there'. It's fantastically remote and quiet, but people do go there. I was there a few weeks ago and we were not the only climbing team.

2) There are many on this thread who have done some great work in replacing and renewing both stakes and tat. People most definitely do that. With new tat/stakes many of the crags mentioned in recent debates can be very conveniently accessed, with the added benefit that they can be fully removed/replaced if necessary. What could help is sharing the information more readily when something needs replaced. The new(ish) UKC feature, Beta, could be a good way of doing that.

3) Bolting clearly creates quite an emotional response. Irrelevant of the exact wording of the Mountaineering Scotland bolting policy, someone who puts bolts at an established trad crag is aware of the reaction that will likely take place. Equally those then chopping bolts are aware of their statement. Others are then left with jagged bolt stubs and no trad anchors left (I arrived at the top of Diabaig a few weeks ago to this situation). Maybe this is too hopeful, but before unilaterally bolting or chopping, could we make climbing community based decisions, possibly with the help of an organisation such as Mountaineering Scotland? 

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TobyA 27 May 2019
In reply to RAB623:

Good to hear there are no new insitu trad anchors at Diabeg. I wasn't completely against the bolts for abseiling, but if they were chopped it just seemed ridiculous to go back to lots of tat with now added bolt stubs.

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TobyA 27 May 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

Do you know the "is-ought problem", as David Hume outlined in the 18th century? You can't get an ought from an is, so in this case we know it is possible to remove stakes leaving crags in their 'natural' state, but, you know, it's such a pain and maybe a bit scary if there are no good natural anchors, so nobody, even all the pure-at-heart defenders of the British trad faith, seems willing to say we ought to remove stakes.

My original question was aimed at the female contributor who said the bolts should be removed for environmental reasons, to see if she believed the stakes should come out too. If yes, fine: that seems a perfectly consistent position. 

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mrphilipoldham 27 May 2019
In reply to TobyA:

There’s a bigger picture to the issue than just climbers safety and convenience. Placing a bolt permanently damages someone else’s property, placing a stake doesn’t. If for whatever reason access to these crags should change in the future (whether landowner permission or in law with regards CRoW etc) then bolting is only going to give landowners additional reason to ban climbers. Stakes can (and as has been pointed out, have) be removed with no permanent damage. All hypothetical of course, but all perfectly possible. It’s not just the here and now to be discussed.

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TobyA 27 May 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

There was a post here just the other day about stakes removed by a farmer (can't remember where) because he was angry about damaging a quad bike hitting one in his land. 

It just isn't as black and white as some people make out. I'm in Finland currently where at some crags lower offs were placed as a condition of access because land managers didn't want climbers eroding sensitive cliff top environments.

Post edited at 13:47
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mrphilipoldham 27 May 2019
In reply to TobyA:

That’s the post I was referring to. I’m not here to defend stakes, I’m pointing out the potential long term damage that bolting undoubtedly does. Every single one that is placed results in damaged rock and property. There’s not arguing that point. Stakes on the other hand may have damaged one farmers quad but I’d have thought that the exception rather than the rule.

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planetmarshall 27 May 2019
In reply to TobyA:

I can generally forsee the way most UKC tropes will go, but I genuinely didn't forsee anyone invoking David Hume on a bolts thread. Kudos.

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TobyA 27 May 2019
In reply to planetmarshall:

We've been everywhere else on bolts, so why not swing by the Scottish Enlightenment to see if it helps out. 

Philip, I do see your point but if we're really considering drilling holes "damage to property" I really should 'fess up to having pulled and/or knocked off more weight in rock from other people's cliff-properties over the years than probably even Garry Gibson has displaced with a drill bit!

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Andy Moles 27 May 2019
In reply to TobyA:

> 'fess up to having pulled and/or knocked off more weight in rock from other people's cliff-properties over the years than probably even Garry Gibson has displaced with a drill bit!

Particularly pertinent point when the crag in question is Staffin, which like all dolerite sill crags, will have needed loads of rock levered off routes to make them safely climbable.

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Robert Durran 27 May 2019
In reply to Andy Moles:

> Particularly pertinent point when the crag in question is Staffin, which like all dolerite sill crags, will have needed loads of rock levered off routes to make them safely climbable.

Arguing against bolts on environmental grounds always seems a bit daft to me, both because their environmental impact is tiny compared with what else climbers do at crags and on mountains and secondly because there are very often stronger environmental arguments in favour of them.

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mrphilipoldham 27 May 2019
In reply to TobyA:

Loose rock will always eventually fall by it’s own accord.. ;) 

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Cog 27 May 2019
In reply to Andy Moles:

I've climbed more than 100 new routes on dolerite, probably nearer 200, most of them needed very little rock removed. Many were done on sight.

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RDE 27 May 2019
In reply to nuts and bolts:

I cant comment about the belay bolts as I haven't been there since they were placed, but I can comment that when I was there two or three years ago all the routes were so overgrown as to be virtually unclimbable, certainly mostly very unpleasant. I'd been there soon after the crag was first developed and there were plenty of very worthwhile routes, clean and enjoyable. Credit to the first ascentionists! So we have a dilemma - if we leave the crag to nature some very enjoyable routes are essentially lost, if somehow we make it a more convenient place to climb then perhaps it becomes more popular and we retain the routes. On balance I'd prefer the latter, I can use or not use the belay bolts as I choose (and I wouldn't think badly of anyone using them if they were there). I don't think it at all likely that belay bolts would start a slide towards bolting of the actual climbs. So perhaps let's just leave them in for now - if the routes become more popular then that's good, if not then the bolts will just get hidden by the ever verdant vegetation and we can forget about them!

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mrphilipoldham 27 May 2019
In reply to RDE:

It doesn’t need to be one or the other. What did the FAs that you claim to have respect for use? Clearly not bolts.. 

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mike barnard 27 May 2019
In reply to RDE:

The routes didn't become overgrown because they weren't convenient enough. Arguably the crag is more convenient than Elgol or Financial Sector (no abseiling required), and is definitely much more chilled out than e.g. Kilt main wall. I would guess the lack of traffic has been primarily due to it being seen as less of a 'must visit' venue compared to the above, together with a reputation for being dirty. The best way to make the crag more popular is to clean the routes and then tell folk.

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planetmarshall 28 May 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

> Loose rock will always eventually fall by it’s own accord.. ;) 

In an infinite universe, bolts will also materialize out of solid rock on their own.

There's some philosophy for you, Toby.

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Andy Moles 28 May 2019
In reply to Cog:

I can't argue with that. But it's also true that I have rapped unclimbed lines at Fair Head and Kilt that would seem to me reckless to go at ground-up, with the volume and size of easily removed blocks on them.

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whenry 28 May 2019
In reply to james1978:

In my experience, bolts don't always help keep routes free of vegetation. Keeping the moss and brambles from routes at  Staple Edge Quarry (Ruspidge West Quarry) is an ongoing battle, despite the bolted belays at the top of almost all the routes. Some crags are just prone to vegetation and/or don't get enough traffic to keep it clear; if they're good routes that are worth doing, they'll get done with or without bolts. 

I'm not generally in favour of bolted belays for trad climbs unless there are no good alternatives - part of the experience of trad climbing is the whole experience, and finding/constructing a belay is part of that (and that includes "belays" such as that of Midnight Cowboy (HVS 5b)). I don't know of anywhere where bolted lower-offs has led to bolt runners though - on many mixed crags such as Wyndcliff Quarry though, bolts have proliferated. But as a principle, I'm concerned that allowing some bolted lower-offs in one or two places sets a precedent and we end up with it becoming the norm. However, the South Devon Fixed Gear Policy seems like a sensible approach that perhaps should be replicated elsewhere if there really is no alternative:

"Belay bolts set back from the crag top should be allowable where other belay solutions are failing. Bolts in bare rock will provide a long term solution and will be easy to find. This will apply to natural sea cliffs in a change to existing policy. The following safeguards apply:

a. Bolts must be set back from the cliff top so as not to encourage top roping or a ‘lower-off mentality’.
b. Bolts should not be used where adequate natural protection is available. This protection includes threads, good quality pegs, nuts, cams and good quality stakes."

I think it's a reasonable compromise. For those that want convenience, stick to bouldering - then you wouldn't have to faff about with any gear at all! ;)

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In reply to Andy Moles:

Reminds me of an observation in Iain Peters’ legendary N Devon guide, along the lines that many a climber in those parts had spent hours cleaning some precious project, “....only to discover that Fowler had already climbed the line au naturel.”.

Presumably he meant ‘without cleaning’ rather than ‘naked’, though in North Devon one can never be sure, of course.

jcm

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Sandy Valtos 28 May 2019
In reply to nuts and bolts:

Just for clarity do you know if he/she discussed the placing of these bolts locally in a public forum (ie not just a group of mates down the pub) and gained prior agreement which would put them in a much better position to refute claims of 'over/excessive/inappropriate' bolting?

 We dont have a pub in Staffin but we do have five Churches.

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peter.herd 02 Jun 2019

The bolts have been placed where access to stakes and natural gear is difficult or time consuming. Fine if you want to spend the day crawling up and down a grass slope in rock shoes after each route and get some more practice equalising your 60m static with an overhand knot.. 

For those of us who want to maximise on going climbing and are comfortable with our ability to build anchors, this is not appealing and unnecessary. Where there are good stakes in close proximity to the top of routes, these are still in place and still very much the go to belay. 

Staffin is an easy access crag, 10 minutes from the road. We are not talking about a remote and wild mountain venue where you travel to do one route. Part of the brilliance of this venue is being able to do another 30m pitch of perfect hands with cramping triceps as the sun sets over Harris. This is what I would consider the priority! 

"the whole of Scotland should be a bolt free zone" clearly well out of touch 

Regarding the argument of consulting the MS - perhaps reasonable in theory but you only have to consult UKC to see that the majority of folk who engage in these debates are not actually regular climbers at these crags.

You only have to look to the development of sport climbing in the NW Highlands or on the Aberdeenshire coast where the protagonists developed crags 'under the radar' which are now widely popular and celebrated, despite a handful of neigh sayers who never happened to get round to climbing 'potential' trad routes on these steep blank walls. These protagonists also happen to be some of the most active trad climbers in the recent history of Scottish climbing!

The Highland climbing scene is still very much limited re no. of regular activists and overall standards are low because people cant be bothered driving further than Moy or being more adventurous than visiting Diabaig. There is not a risk of bolts appearing on Ben Loyal, Rubha Hunish or on the N Face of Sgurr Mhic Coinnich.

As for the long term impact of bolts vs other climbing protection or climbing at all.. the permanently destructive and unsightly process we engage in when opening new routes on a crag that hasn't been touched for a few thousand years by levering tonnes of rock and vegetation off it then plastering it in chalk is by far more damaging from an environmental stewardship perspective than placing a marine grade steel bolt in a 12mm hole. 

I am one of the people engaged in cleaning and climbing rarely travelled or new routes on the NE coast of Skye and can attest to the fact that these bolts are a welcome addition to the crag along side the massive effort the locals from Portree are putting in to development.  

Anyway, off to clean and climb at Staffin now. 

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Captain Solo 03 Jun 2019
In reply to peter.herd:

A sizeable section of your argument refers to sport climbing development (potential trad routes, low standards etc) but this is not the issue here at Staffin. It is purely convenience. Belays are trickier to find and take a bit more time but not impossible, I haven't had to use a static rope there either.

I fully agree that any consultation facilitated by MS (they prefer that bolting issues are self-regulated) should involve climbers who have visited the crag and FAs if possible. Whether a 'have you climbed there?' tick box is enough I don't know. Every crag is different and familiarity with its particular circumstances are essential. Yes there are some vocal people here on this forum who haven't climbed there but also some, like myself, who have registered their opposition.

What I am most concerned about is the bolt first and ask questions later (mostly not asking) that is creeping in and will potentially spread. The 8 marine grade steel bolts and 12mm holes in Staffin are first and foremost for the convenience of a small handful of local climbers. This approach can easily be taken by others across the land and you will have no control over it, any single pitch trad crag could be made 'more convenient' by local enthusiasts.

All this doesn't detract from the huge efforts to clean up the crag which was badly needed and everyone is quite rightly applauding. It should not however distract us from the serious issue of placing convenience ab/ belay bolts at established bolt free crags unilaterally.

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peter.herd 03 Jun 2019

It's all climbing and all relevant to the broad argument of how we consider climbing in the UK. It's important to present the big picture because people are not exclusively trad climbers. 

A chunk also refers to convenience.

Of course you might substitute a pre-rigged static rope for your leading ropes but as already outlined this works well on the main sector and much less well on the N end where anchors are a long way back.  Most people carry a rigging rope. 

The bolts are convenient and sensible at this section of this crag.  They are useful for everyone. There is nothing about this case to suggest that people will put bolts in stupid places. 

Cleaned a great looking 50m finger crack on the main sector yesterday. Should be around E4. Big stakes a couple meters back from the edge too. 

Pete

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Andy Moles 03 Jun 2019
In reply to Captain Solo:

Can you conceive of a consultation process that would a) ever reach agreement, and b) carry enough authority to overcome the same kind of pushback that is happening now?

If consensus is required for action, things will always default to status quo.

I think I'm happier with the idea of committed and experienced climbers making informed decisions. Provided it doesn't cause notable harm to the environment or to access relations, of course. Sure, sometimes someone will do something daft that oversteps the mark, but as long as that remains a rarity I will take it over a stifling process of authority.

P. S. I checked out the bolts for myself the other day, and I remain ambivalent. Many of the points raised against them are spurious. No one but climbers will ever see them. They have damaged the rock less than my climbing a new route and knocking a few holds off did. I wouldn't have minded too much having to mess around with some rope at the top, but I'll happily use them. They won't change the character of the routes, and if I get to enjoy one more climb in the day because of them then my  overall experience may well be enhanced, not diminished. I go cragging mostly for the climbing. However, they are not necessary. 

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