/ ARTICLE: Like I need a Hole in the Head

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UKC Articles - on 08 May 2017
Toby in Costa Blanca, Spain, 3 kbToby Dunn is a talented climber from Newton Abbot. Having moved north and worked his way through the grades on Yorkshire limestone in recent years, an accident last summer on familiar territory changed his life dramatically. Toby has bravely shared his story in the interest of helping others to avoid the same fate.

In June 2016, my right foot slipped off whilst I was clipping the first bolt of Appetite 7a at Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales. This is the story of my experience. You need to read it so that you reduce the chances of anything similar happening to you, to a minimum.

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tomrainbow - on 08 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Inspiring, thought provoking and brilliantly written Toby. So good to hear you're on the mend. Hope to see you out and about before too long.
lummox - on 08 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Thanks for taking the time to write what I'm sure was a difficult piece Toby. Best wishes for a full recovery and I hope you can get your hands on sun warmed rock again sooner rather than later.
1poundSOCKS - on 08 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

> Climbers, in my experience, all climb for subtly different reasons, and to my mind, those who sneer at the practice of others do nothing but display their own weakness.

Totally agree Toby. And coincidentally this happened to a couple of really nice lads who were trying Yosemite Wall yesterday (same start as Appetite). I didn't hear the full conversation, but somebody was criticising their use of a clip-stick. Really stupid, macho nonsense. And potentially putting pressure on others to take risks they don't want to.
TobyA on 08 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Wow. Get as well as you can soon, Toby, and thanks for sharing.
JayPee630 - on 08 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Brilliant article, best wishes for your recovery. And thanks for writing it.
Ian Broome - on 08 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Hard reading as it could be any of us.
I feel more and more squeamish as i've got older. Strange, I suppose you begin to realise how fragile life is through age?

I wish you a speedy recovery.
ericinbristol - on 08 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Valuable piece thanks.

UKCers may be interested in this thread about an (unscientific) survey I did on helmets and sport climbing:

https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=498264

cb294 - on 08 May 2017
In reply to Ian Broome:

+1, I was just about to write exactly the same.

And of course, best wishes for a speedy recovery to the OP!

CB
Will Hunt - on 08 May 2017
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

> Totally agree Toby. And coincidentally this happened to a couple of really nice lads who were trying Yosemite Wall yesterday (same start as Appetite). I didn't hear the full conversation, but somebody was criticising their use of a clip-stick. Really stupid, macho nonsense. And potentially putting pressure on others to take risks they don't want to.

What absolute cocks. I can't believe that would actually happen.
Gambit - on 08 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Great article Toby. So helpful as it gives me one more reason to mitigate risks and stay healthy. Personally: I will be getting the clip stick, helmet, top rope and bouldering mat out when ever I choose to use them and leaving them behind when I choose not to. It will be my choice, I will make it freely and report it honestly. All the best for your continued recovery. Richard
mikey.cleverdon - on 08 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Wishing you the best and quickest of recovery in what can be a very long road Toby. ?????????keep it going.

Thank you for sharing your story, experience and thoughts on the subject of climbing and the risk we take.

We should never put any pressure on people not perform tasks that will keep them alot safer through fear of judgment, and equally it's understandable that people want to take risks within life, but I agree and believe that alot of people do take unnecessary risk and perhaps are performing in ways without the thought of how much risk they are actually taking.
And certainly not thinking of how they really do affect those closest to you or around you in these unfortunate instances when things do go bad. ????

It will never cease to amaze me how fortunate we really are to have the fantastic NHS services to put us back together and help us when we are down, this and things like a can happen to anyone of us at any time.

If you ever wish to discuss anything in person message or on the phone, I'd be honoured to meet you.

All the best for the future, take every day as it comes.

Mikey

david100 - on 08 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

I have been hurt on the rocks and on the bike. The worst thing for me was not knowing how well l would recover and how long it would take. Modern medicine is a wonderful thing and in time your old life will return and you will be back on the rock again. Keep telling yourself this and you will get through it. I have myself learned the hard way of the stress and disruption it can bring to loved ones. As a result I am proud to say I have walked away from certain disciplines in climbing and other sports in order to reduce the risk. Here is to a full recovery however long it takes.
Jenny Dart on 08 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Thanks for sharing your story Toby. As a Speech Therapist (glad to hear you're off the purée diet!) and a climber I see things on the wards that really make me think about my own choices and the consequences, I think that sometimes people forget about the story of recovery way down the line. I hope I can be like that nurse Zoe in at least someone's recovery in the madness of the acute inpatient world. Thankyou.
elsewhere on 08 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:
Excellent article. Best wishes for your recovery.

Are hospitals on facebook or twitter? Share the story on facebook or tweet to the hospital and somebody will recognise Zoe.
Post edited at 19:34
spidermac on 08 May 2017
In reply to Will Hunt:

I am that cock Will hunt & you did not hear all the conversation the majority of which revolved round the apparent reluctance to place more bolts in the start of some Yorkshire routes to enable them to be led safely without the risk of a ground fall!!!!! This is sport climbing if you want to do bold or dangerous routes then do trad routes there are plenty!!! - when u bolt a route you should not make it artificially dangerous by poor bolt placement. The current state of the start of a lot of these routes is a hangover from the period when sport climbing was taking hold in the UK & people were afraid of being criticised for placing too many bolts. There has been LOTS of additional bolts added to routes in yorkshire since that time - whats the problem with putting a few more in the starts. PS the beef with sticks is that nowadays a lot of people don`t clip the first bolt but 2nd or third!!! or clip up the whole route, Anyway stay safe & enjoy your climbing whatever with or sans stick!!!
Spider
Misha - on 08 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:
Great article.

As far as clip sticking is concerned, there's nothing to debate as far as I'm concerned. Sport climbing is meant to be about technical and physical difficulty rather than being bold, so it makes sense to clip stick the first bolt or two to avoid the risk of groundfall. Some sport routes are still sparsely bolted but clip sticks aren't expensive and most people are happy to let you use theirs if you forget yours, so no excuses for not using one really.

Anyone who thinks people who pre clip the first bolt or two are wimps has a strange understanding of what sport climbing is about - it's not trad! We climb for ourselves in whatever style we think is acceptable and with sport climbing there's no need to take unnecessary risks (in fact that goes for all climbing but of course with trade / winter / alpine some risks will be unavoidable). I'm not saying that sport climbing is entirely risk free but there's not need to make it riskier than it needs to be.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery, Toby!
Post edited at 20:18
Misha - on 08 May 2017
In reply to spidermac:
I agree but placing more bolts involves effort and money, whereas with a clip stick you can sold the issue for yourself. Also with a clip stick you can place a long sling on the second / third / whichever bolt to effectively add a clip in point - I've done that on a couple of the lines to the right of Appetite / Yosemite Wall. It means you can be safer without feeling like you're top roping a fair way up the route!
olddirtydoggy - on 08 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Amazing read, thank you.
1poundSOCKS - on 08 May 2017
In reply to spidermac:

> the beef with sticks is that nowadays a lot of people don`t clip the first bolt but 2nd or third!!! or clip up the whole route

I do that when I fancy. Is that a problem?
Mark Bannan - on 08 May 2017
In reply to david100:

> As a result I am proud to say I have walked away from certain disciplines in climbing and other sports in order to reduce the risk.

I have done just this too, although I feel more relieved to have done so (I now avoid soloing and leading poorly protected routes).

I am very grateful for the second chance I have been given, following pretty much a full recovery from 2 hip and one hairline spinal fracture.

M

Mark Bannan - on 08 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

I feel very touched by your story, Toby and I'm sure you'll make a full recovery in the end.

Although my injuries were trivial compared to yours (2 hip and one hairline spinal fracture), I was out on the rocks and leading within 11 weeks of my accident.

M
Will Hunt - on 08 May 2017
In reply to spidermac:

Ah, now that wasn't the impression given. It was made to sound like you were giving them stick for using a stick.
AP Melbourne on 09 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Illuminating article, well done Toby and all the best.
AP.
Rad - on 09 May 2017
In reply to spidermac:
Using stick clips seems much better than altering routes because then each climber can decide for themselves what they will do. And that's the point, right? Why would you care if they stick clip one bolt or two or three or ten? Neither you nor anyone else should shame someone into making a choice they're not comfortable making. They'd have to live with the consequences of a fall, not you, so maybe leave your attitude at the pub.

Here's a tongue in cheek discussion of cheater sticks vs stick clips: http://www.rockandice.com/climbing-gear-tips/defining-the-cheater-stick-and-stick-clip

And for the author, heal well and quickly. Thanks for sharing your story.
Post edited at 00:54
Scotch Bingington - on 09 May 2017
In reply to spidermac:

> ...... PS the beef with sticks is that nowadays a lot of people don`t clip the first bolt but 2nd or third!!!

Seems a bit odd to be OK with clipping the first bolt when you perceive to be at risk of groundfall, but
think it outrageous to clip the second bolt when you think you might still deck out. I might be wrong, but I can't help think decking out from the second bolt tends to be more painful than decking out from the first. In fact I know it is - personal experience ;-)
Eärendel F. - on 09 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Next question.... Was he wearing a helmet? I am curious...
jamesdyno - on 09 May 2017
In reply to Will Hunt:

Hi will.... I was at the cragg that day and heard the full conversation.... To call some one a 'cock' while having very little of the facts from the conversation is slightly rude to say the least. The bolting in Yorkshire was being addressed and that is what is enforcing the use of sticks. I fail to see why the first bolt on lots of routes is still ridiculous. The fact that two lads that did not have sticks with them and were lucky enough to borrow one from someone still had a moment on that route still goes to show the danger is still present. I hope that everyone can stay safe in what ever manner they climb but until the bolting is properly addressed then conversations like these will rumble on.... Happy climbing folks...
1poundSOCKS - on 09 May 2017
In reply to jamesdyno:

> The bolting in Yorkshire was being addressed and that is what is enforcing the use of sticks. I fail to see why the first bolt on lots of routes is still ridiculous.

A lot the starts at Malham are hard, with bad footholds. I've clipped the second bolt on a few routes because I don't want the risk of decking (the first bolt is useful to keep the rope out of the way). Amazingly this is a problem for some people (or one person anyway). This is exactly the point Toby makes in the article, and is the most important one.

Cheap as chips to make a home made clipstick, and you'd be very unlucky to not be able to borrow one at Malham or Kilnsey if you can't even be bothered to do that. So the high bolts aren't a problem on most routes if you're willing to use one. There are a few routes that could do with a lower first bolt. Directissima and Frankie at Kinsey are difficult or impossible to even clipstick, and the start of one is polished to hell, and the other is a hard boulder problem. But I think a lot of them are fine.

Is there a resistance to adding first bolts on routes such as these? It would be interested to know.
tmawer - on 09 May 2017
In reply to ericinbristol:

I was climbing at Malham 2 weeks ago and was the only person wearing a helmet, and also using a clipstick. I think people should do what they want bearing in mind potential consequences..... Consequences for me is I look perpetually uncool... But I can live with that.

Get well soon Toby.
lionel - on 09 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Thanks for writing this Toby, it is a sobering read. Wishing you all the best in your recovery.
TobyA on 09 May 2017
In reply to Eärendel F.:

He says he wasn't somewhere in the main text, and speculates on the difference one might have made.
Misha - on 09 May 2017
In reply to jamesdyno:
There's an argument that high bolts force people to use clip sticks which makes things safer. Of course only if people use clip sticks in the first place, the issue being that some people don't. A low bolt which can't be clipped from the ground still leaves the possibility of decking if not clip sticked. Meanwhile a bolt which can be clipped from the ground then requires another couple of bolts in rapid succession. So basically the best answer is to get into the habit of clip sticking.
Misha - on 09 May 2017
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:
Frankie is an odd one. It can be clip sticked with the longest stick on the market, otherwise you have to go up the trad corner to the right and then traverse in on the ledge and clip stick from there. It works but a slip while doing it won't be pretty... Then the second bolt is pretty close to the first - reassuring considering how high up you are by then. Then some spicy runouts higher up but at least you won't deck... I think it got done as a trad route (eek!), then retroed and debolted before settling down in its current state - probably before clip sticks started getting widely used though. I suspect few people would mind a lower first bolt but no one is sufficiently bothered to add it and some people are bound to complain...
Post edited at 13:35
1poundSOCKS - on 09 May 2017
In reply to Misha:

> So basically the best answer is to get into the habit of clip sticking.

I agree. And some routes, maybe The Maximum and Austrian Oak are good examples, would be close to impossible to safely bolt and actually climb without using a clip stick.
phil456 on 09 May 2017
In reply to tmawer:

tmawer, helmet and clipstick: sounds cool to me.
)
PeteH - on 09 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Thanks for writing this Toby.

Unless there's more than one Zoe at the LGI on Ward 6, I know her and work with her, and I'll subtly (ish) pass this URL her way.

Pete.
Sutok - on 11 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Great writing and glad to hear your on the mend, sounds like you've had a pretty torrid time as a result of your head injury.

Reading the article has certainly reinforced my belief in minimising risk regardless of whether i perceive it or not.

The only thing I was surprised about is you don't more emphatically emphasise the difference a helmet could have made in this situation.

Big Ger - on 11 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Thanks for sharing mate, a sage story and one with good intent.
duncan - on 11 May 2017
In reply to Sutok:

> The only thing I was surprised about is you don't more emphatically emphasise the difference a helmet could have made in this situation.

All the better for not doing so in my view. The aim (I'm supposing) of the article was to encourage people to think and draw their own conclusions.

For what it is worth, the research evidence suggests this is a more effective strategy than preaching or frightening if you wish to change unhealthy behaviours.
ipblake - on 12 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

I fell off a trad route in the Wye valley, and carefully aimed the back of my head at a rock on the ground. So I was wearing a helmet which partly split and still ended up unconscious for a bit and mild concussion for a few days. So pretty mild... glad of the helmet though
Best wishes for recovery, thanks for sharing!
James Oswald - on 12 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

I'd heard about Toby's accident but didn't know the full extent of the damages - I hope your recovery continues Toby.
I just ordered a stick clip..
Thanks for writing this.
Kafoozalem - on 13 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Thank you for that Toby. Beautifully written and very moving. Good luck with your journey back to the life you love.
Pete
Neil Anderson - on 14 May 2017
In reply to duncan:

I also think it would be beneficial if the media used more images with helmet clad climbers as the norm. This would help to remove the idea that wearing a helmet is 'uncool' which is the impression sometimes given.

over the space of the last decade the wearing of helmets for skiing has become pretty much the norm for the vast majority of skiers, will climbing follow suit ?

Get well Toby and thanks for sharing your story, its a reminder to us all to think about the balance of risk we are comfortable with, and indeed are actually taking.
Toby Dunn - on 15 May 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Thanks for the comments everyone, I really appreciate it. All ok at the moment, hopefully I'll be able to climb again sometime soon. All the best to everyone in their climbing. For what my opinion is worth, I don't think Malham needs lower first bolts. It's the nature of the catwalk that necessitates clipping a bolt or two, not the spacing. If it'd been flat grass, I'd probably have collected a bruise or two, and looked silly. As I hopefully managed to convey in the article, how others climb shouldn't really be anyone elses concern, as long as it doesn't endanger others, significantly inconvenience others, or significantly hurt the environment, and that they are honest about their actions.
Thanks again everyone. Toby
Rock to Fakey - on 17 May 2017
In reply to Neil Anderson:
I started skateboarding at 43, af that age u don't really care whether or not cool trumps safe. I wore helmet, elbow pads, knee pads, and finally got padded shorts, as my hips were taking some heavy landings more than anywhere else, big swolen bruises, from failed drop ins.
I eventually mastered the basics, got confident, and started leaving the gear off.
Doing easy stuff, no need to worry now.
Dropped in, got it wrong, bang went the back of my head. Nothing serious, just lots of fairies dancing around my head. But geared up more often afterwards.
Another time i had something more serious with gear on but it resulted in a face plant, squashed nose and bust eyebrow, from 5 ft above concrete. Helmet wouldn't have helped but that's not my point.

My point is that you could be confident, as warming up way below your grade, done it loads of times etc, so think, nar, don't need my helmet for this, but still slip off and end up getting badly injured or worse.

If you have a helmet, wear it as much as possible. If you haven't got one just cos u don't think its cool, start thinking it's cool instead, and don't worry what your mate thinks. Your mate will probably start thinking it's cool + get one too!

Obviously it'll always be horses for courses, and the risk is less from place to place.
At Malham catwalk (+ many steep solid sport venues) no rock is likely to hit you from above, but i bet it's as polished (on the warm ups) as stoney or Chudleigh there these days.

At Chudleigh last week a large rock was thrown down by kids. They probably saw no one was under it?

I wear my skateboarding helmet for climbing, it's not ideal, it's better than nothing, i'll upgrade soon.
I'll probably need a clip stick soon too, and may be more often clip the 2nd or 3rd bolt.

Thanks for your message Toby, best wishes with your recovery, and look forward to seeing u out on the crags one day soon.
Post edited at 14:08
stp - on 17:31 Mon
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

> I didn't hear the full conversation, but somebody was criticising their use of a clip-stick. Really stupid, macho nonsense. And potentially putting pressure on others to take risks they don't want to.

Criticism is one thing but chopping the first bolt on routes is an even bigger problem. I remember a year or two ago Neil Gresham put a bolt in the start of a 7b at Kilnsey where the original first bolt was stupidly high, above some relatively hard climbing. Then some macho idiot went and chopped it. Not all climbers carry clip sticks and some first bolts are so high that not all clip sticks will reach them anyway. If this country had a more sensible and community minded attitude toward bolting such risks could be minimised.
1poundSOCKS - on 17:33 Mon
In reply to stp:

> Neil Gresham put a bolt in the start of a 7b at Kilnsey

Wasn't it an E5? Can't remember the details.
stp - on 17:49 Mon
In reply to Misha:

>
> Meanwhile a bolt which can be clipped from the ground then requires another couple of bolts in rapid succession. So basically the best answer is to get into the habit of clip sticking.

I think unfortunately there's a lot of ignorance in Britain regarding safe bolting. If you climb in Europe you simply don't need a clip stick because the people bolting routes know what they're doing (most of the time) and aren't bogged down with the anachronistic minimal bolting ethic or trying to prove how bold they are.

On rare occasions you are right and you do need several bolts in rapid succession to be safe. Chiselling the Dragon at Malham is one example. The bolts are close together. The route is safe and extra bolts are not a big deal. This makes the route safer for everyone, even those who don't own a clipstick.

stp - on 17:55 Mon
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

It was 7b in the guide. I think it was all bolts. Possibly an E5 many years ago but as far as I could see it was now a sport route with a very high first bolt. There are a lot of routes at Kilnsey like that. And the idea that we're preserving some kind of boldness is now utter crap because a lot of climbers will just stick clip these nightmare routes anyway.

Personally I think if we accept sport climbing then we may as well make a decent job of our relatively small collection of sport crags, and learn from the Europeans how to bolt routes properly.
ads.ukclimbing.com
1poundSOCKS - on 17:59 Mon
In reply to stp:

> If you climb in Europe you simply don't need a clip stick

A vague statement that can neither be proved or disproved. When do you 'need' a clip stick? I've climbed happily in the UK on sport routes without one, and been very happy to clip the second bolt on some European routes to keep them safe enough for me. But everybody will have a different opinion.

> Chiselling the Dragon at Malham is one example. The bolts are close together. The route is safe and extra bolts are not a big deal. This makes the route safer for everyone, even those who don't own a clipstick.

And the crux of the route might well be trying to desperately clip the first few bolts. I'd rather clip a high first bolt using a clip stick, and have less clipping.

Your option is perfectly valid; you obviously don't want to carry a clip stick. But maybe the consensus now is that clip sticks are so much the norm, high first bolts are not a problem on most routes?
1poundSOCKS - on 18:04 Mon
In reply to stp:

> It was 7b in the guide. I think it was all bolts. Possibly an E5 many years ago but as far as I could see it was now a sport route with a very high first bolt.

Is it this you're talking about?

"Neil Gresham recently added Premonition 8b+ (UKC News Report) to Kilnsey - a full-height extension to Ron Fawcett's Extreme Rock classic E5, Deja Vu. After much deliberation, Neil replaced the three threads in the lower E5 section with two new bolts as well as placing a new bolt higher up to reduce a run-out section."
john arran - on 18:18 Mon
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

> A vague statement that can neither be proved or disproved. When do you 'need' a clip stick? I've climbed happily in the UK on sport routes without one, and been very happy to clip the second bolt on some European routes to keep them safe enough for me.

I've never used a stick to clip while climbing in Ariège, and don't even take a stick, even though there are two we also have for rent to guests that sit right next to my climbing gear. Almost never seen other people using sticks here either, except for the occasional Brit. Unless you're really very nervous, it never really feels like it's an issue.
1poundSOCKS - on 18:21 Mon
In reply to john arran:

> I've never used a stick to clip while climbing in Ariège, and don't even take a stick, even though there are two we also have for rent to guests that sit right next to my climbing gear. Almost never seen other people using sticks here either, except for the occasional Brit. Unless you're really very nervous, it never really feels like it's an issue.

Might be good advert for the Ariege , but not sure it proves or disproves what stp said.
john arran - on 18:55 Mon
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

It was in reply to your question: "When do you 'need' a clip stick?"

If bolting is done well, then in my experience very rarely. The only circumstance that comes to mind as being useful for intelligently bolted routes is when the climbing is really hard near to the ground and when, even though the bolts are there, it's just really hard to take a hand off to clip.
1poundSOCKS - on 19:10 Mon
In reply to john arran:

> It was in reply to your question: "When do you 'need' a clip stick?"

> If bolting is done well, then in my experience very rarely. The only circumstance that comes to mind as being useful for intelligently bolted routes is when the climbing is really hard near to the ground and when, even though the bolts are there, it's just really hard to take a hand off to clip.

That is your opinion John, and I do mostly agree but it's subjective isn't it? You don't 'need' a clip stick, you 'want' one to keep the route as safe as you would like.

If somebody wants to add bolts, consult the community. Matt Troilett wants to retro bolt some trad routes at Kilnsey. He posted on the Facebook page for Malham and Kilnsey and got feedback. If anybody wants to add bolts to specific routes, then start a discussion about specific routes. I'm not that bothered, I'll just clip when I feel, which is nearly all the time.
john arran - on 20:17 Mon
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

You 'need' a clip stick if you're not prepared to do the route without one. I hope we can agree on that, at least.

Then it comes down to whether an extra bolt or two at the start would mean that you would no longer 'need' a clip stick. Personally, I think if that's the case on a fully bolted route, then except in pretty rare cases it's badly bolted and would benefit from extra bolts at the start. There's a lot of historical baggage in the UK though, IMO mainly macho BS or an uneasy merging of trad and sport mentalities, so unfortunately many sport routes that could benefit from better bolting most likely won't have their bolting improved, which is a shame.
1poundSOCKS - on 21:10 Mon
In reply to john arran:

> You 'need' a clip stick if you're not prepared to do the route without one. I hope we can agree on that, at least.

That is what I meant John.

> There's a lot of historical baggage in the UK though, IMO mainly macho BS or an uneasy merging of trad and sport mentalities

Has anyone actually tried to add extra bolts on routes and had opposition? I suspect the problem with Deja Vu is some people want it preserved as a trad route, so not the same issue.
stp - on 08:29 Tue
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

> And the crux of the route might well be trying to desperately clip the first few bolts. I'd rather clip a high first bolt using a clip stick, and have less clipping.

The crux is not clipping the first few bolts and if the bolts are there but you prefer to pre-clip the higher ones with a stick that option is still open to you.


> But maybe the consensus now is that clip sticks are so much the norm, high first bolts are not a problem on most routes?

They've only become the norm in the UK because of all the bad bolting. People either don't know how to bolt routes properly, or are still wedded to the outdated minimal bolting ethic of the 1980's. They're a symptom of the problem, not the cause.

stp - on 08:32 Tue
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

No, definitely not Deja Vu. Probably Hardy Annual I think.
1poundSOCKS - on 08:49 Tue
In reply to stp:

This could go around in circles forever when talking in general terms.

Why don't you come up with a list of routes and changes, and start a debate on here? Or on Facebook? Or through the BMC. If there is opposition, then that can be addressed. If there is support, that will become clear.

There'll always be strong minded individuals who'll add bolts or chop them without a debate or getting some kind of consensus. It doesn't add any weight to the argument on either side. It only adds weight to the case for an open debate and consensus.
stp - on 09:30 Tue
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

So many routes it's hard to know where to start. Certainly Hardy Annual (though I've not been to Kilnsey this year). A load of routes in that area have very hard starts combined with very high first bolts. Subculture as I remember too. Frankie/Witch's Brew: on the latter the start is probably the hardest bit of climbing on the route. I could go on and on.

But firstly I don't think you'll get a consensus. The internet seems full of trolls who will disagree with anything just to get attention. And of course it's not possible to reach everyone anyway. Many don't use UKC at all. Many don't use Facebook etc. Younger climbers can deal with higher bolts because when you're young you're less likely to injure yourself when jumping back down from height.

But I think it's good to at least raise the issue and Toby's unfortunate accident (not the first) will hopefully give pause for thought.
Gordon Stainforth - on 10:16 Tue
In reply to stp:

> I think unfortunately there's a lot of ignorance in Britain regarding safe bolting. If you climb in Europe you simply don't need a clip stick ...

I must say I find it quite disturbing - well grating to the ears – to hear 'Europe' being used now only as a synonym for 'mainland Europe'. Ditto, 'we can learn from the Europeans.' It amounts to an interesting corruption of language and distortion of political geography that has gradually taken place during my lifetime.

stp - on 10:29 Tue
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
Doesn't the Czech Republic and former East Germany also count 'mainland Europe'?

But this thread is about sport climbing. I can't think of any European sport climbing destinations, mainland or not, where this doesn't apply.
Post edited at 10:29
thebigfriendlymoose - on 10:32 Tue
In reply to stp:

> No, definitely not Deja Vu. Probably Hardy Annual I think.

Gresham added an extra first bolt to Hardy Annual, but that was reasonably bolted anyway - using a bolt common with Cold Steal. I cannot be certain re the motives, but the extra bolt seems to have been added more so people can work Hardy Annual / Freakshow independently of activity on Cold Steal / Stolen (the added first bolt incidently is almost impossible to clip on lead - you need a clip stick).

Deja Vu and the "sport routes" Visitation and Diminising Returns (and the Vissy Vu link-up) had a common hard start leading to high thread runners, now replaced with bolts in the same positions. As the threads were good and regularly replaced by Steve Crowe the addition of bolts hasn't changed the degree of safety much. Doing the sport routes safely still requires an extra long clip stick - the only difference is that you are now stick-clipping a bolt instead of a thread. Doing them as trad, without a clip stick, you still have to do a pretty hard, extended sequence with no protection - it's just a bolt rather than a thread you eventually reach.
cb294 - on 10:35 Tue
In reply to stp:

Czechs and Saxons are world champions in unsafe bolting (of course, the Elbe sandstone style is a weird mix of textile slings only trad and large ring bolts, so the comparison to other Euro sports is not straightforward).

However, quite a few Elbe sandstone routes are deliberately bolted with the second bolt further from the first than the first from the ground, even if there is no intermediate trad protection possible, just to spice things up a bit.

CB
stp - on 10:38 Tue
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

Perhaps the best way to decide which routes need extra bolts it simply to study the actions of climbers, rather than their words. If a route is routinely climbed using the first bolt pre-clipped that implies most climbers are not happy about the position of the first bolt and a lower one should be added.

I'm pretty sure Hardy Annual is such a route. The problem then is what to do about those who care more about their ego's and proving their manliness (yes, it's always men) and so chop the new bolt because they climbed it without.
stp - on 10:42 Tue
In reply to cb294:

I don't think either are considered sport climbing though.
John2 - on 10:42 Tue
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

In my youth people used to refer to mainland Europe as 'the continent' - I don't hear this phrase so often these days.
Gordon Stainforth - on 10:51 Tue
In reply to John2:

Yes. Made sense.
cb294 - on 11:02 Tue
In reply to stp:

Of course not, but deliberately placing bolts in a dangerous fashion on otherwise not protectable routes, with the explicitly stated aim of increasing the boldness of the route, is borderline sociopathic behaviour and cannot be excused by some contrived local climbing "ethic" (unlike the not nuts/cams policy, which I do not agree with either, but which can at least be reasonably argued for).

CB
1poundSOCKS - on 21:46 Tue
In reply to stp:

> If a route is routinely climbed using the first bolt pre-clipped that implies most climbers are not happy about the position of the first bolt and a lower one should be added.

Not wanting to drag the debate on, but I wouldn't presume that. I'm happy with the bolts on most routes, because I'm happy to always use a clip stick. Maybe that's more common than you think? Anyway...

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