/ If turf isn't properly frozen - please don't climb that route!

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vscott - on 27 Nov 2017
Apologies for being a scrooge... but its depressing to see logbook records (overall excellent resource btw) of ascents of unfrozen routes - couple of random examples: "Turf mostly frozen higher up", "Turfy groove would have been nicer if turf more frozen".

Please if the turf isn't properly frozen climb something else or come back another day!

In this respect BMC's guide to judging winter conditions perhaps worth a (re-)read.... https://www.thebmc.co.uk/how-to-judge-winter-climbing-conditions

Rant over... fingers crossed its a long cold winter
Rog Wilko on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to vscott:

That wasn't a rant, just a polite request. Well said.
French Erick - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to vscott:

See what Adam and I have done.
Crusade (VII 8)
We most probably could have finished this, unsure if turf would have been crucial, the harder climbing was behind us.
ianstevens - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to vscott:

Amen. As winter has become more popular, it seems that the collective patientice for actual proper conditions has decreased. Exemplified by the conditions page - people claiming winter conditions in Wales for slightly frosty rock!
vscott - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to French Erick:
Good approach Erick... prob makes sense for a lot of steep Coe mixed early season.

As a constructive offering would a "ticklist" of turf free/doesn't use turf winter routes (maybe one already exists?) in the logbooks be useful?
French Erick - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to vscott:

Great idea...are you offering? It could be divided in regions and put to UKC for suggestions of what to take out/add? I'll volunteer for the NW...easy as most routes are turfy =)

Church door buttress looked very wintry. Turf low down was decent. I was surprised when Neil went slow and said he couldn't use any of the turf. He valiantly tried pulling on all sort of other holds between chokestones and after a wee chat we decided that it would do the route and our conscience no good so we bailed. It looks mega, and unfortunately, i'll have to lead that thing again =(
vscott - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to French Erick:
Can logbooks be made publicly editable so people can add routes? NW...yup - turf fest excepting (some) quartzite + some stuff on Skye?


jonnie3430 - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to vscott:

Does"chasing the ephermal," not cover early season routes? Seems like the book is perfect for this.
Hay - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to vscott:
On approach to Maclays Crack a few years ago I could smell the wet turf in the air as it was raked out of the first pitch. Really depressing.
Tobes on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to vscott:

I’ll just leave this here....

“But when you’ve driven for hours and hours and travelled hundreds of miles....you’ve just got to get something done!”




Michael Gordon - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to Tobes:

That's the excuse, but for most popular crags there are non-turfy options available. If not then it's just a poor choice of venue; that's the risk you take with some crags.
In reply to ianstevens:

> As winter has become more popular, it seems that the collective patientice for actual proper conditions has decreased.

Maybe UK winter climbing needs to evolve?
Liam Ingram - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:
Are you suggesting that the future should involve acceptance of people trashing routes when they are unfrozen to the detriment of subsequent climbers?
Post edited at 18:11
In reply to Liam Ingram:

No I am not suggesting that.
Stuart en Écosse - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to Tobes:

> “But when you’ve driven for hours and hours and travelled hundreds of miles....you’ve just got to get something done!”

Totally. Go hillwalking.
ianstevens - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:
> Maybe UK winter climbing needs to evolve?

To what? Unfrozen turf, scratching up barely frozen rock and trashing unique pockets of ecology?

If you really can't wait 4-6 weeks to get your winter kit out, go dry tooling FFS.
Post edited at 22:40
In reply to ianstevens:
Mate, I meant the exact opposite, evolving to a stricter way of ensuring people climb in appropriate conditions, rather than the current situation of totally non-enforceable ethics that don’t have consensus or buy in from the climbing community as a whole.

But FFS if you must
Post edited at 22:52
ianstevens - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

> Mate, I meant the exact opposite, evolving to a stricter way of ensuring people climb in appropriate conditions, rather than the current situation of totally non-enforceable ethics that don’t have consensus or buy in from the climbing community as a whole.

> But FFS if you must

Well that's good to hear - I wasn't the only one who got the wrong end of the stick! Good to see you were actually talking sensible. Personally, I think that's the issue - what makes a route "in" is very different for different people.
philhilo - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to ianstevens:

...and folk are often quick to judge on an inappropriate photo. Steep rock and overhangs don't hold snow so often appear bare from below, but when you see the route from above its a different story - snow stacked on every ledge and into the distance.
mrbird on 28 Nov 2017
In reply to Tobes:

We'll organise minibuses down to stanage and the lakes for the bad days. Tools out chaps.
Jim 1003 - on 28 Nov 2017
In reply to vscott:

> Apologies for being a scrooge... but its depressing to see logbook records (overall excellent resource btw) of ascents of unfrozen routes - couple of random examples: "Turf mostly frozen higher up", "Turfy groove would have been nicer if turf more frozen".

> Please if the turf isn't properly frozen climb something else or come back another day!

> In this respect BMC's guide to judging winter conditions perhaps worth a (re-)read.... https://www.thebmc.co.uk/how-to-judge-winter-climbing-conditions

> Rant over... fingers crossed its a long cold winter

Yawn

Captain Solo on 28 Nov 2017
In reply to philhilo:

> ...and folk are often quick to judge on an inappropriate photo. Steep rock and overhangs don't hold snow so often appear bare from below, but when you see the route from above its a different story - snow stacked on every ledge and into the distance.

And conversely steep walls that look cosmetically very white with a layer of rime or hoar but ledges/ wide cracks that have very little build up of consolidated snow or ice, or even worse unfrozen turf.

Personally, I think that's the issue - what makes a route "in" is very different for different people.

If hooking your way up a steep rock climb above about V,6 say floats your boat and it doesn't rely on turf then a 'looks wintry' approach can usually be called, just look out for the loose blocks

A lot of less experienced climbers are taking the 'looks wintry' axiom and applying it to lower grades where any sort of consolidation would improve/ make easier/ be more acceptable. I see lots of references to 'turf well frozen' on routes I have climbed with neve/ice on all the ledges.
I often see comments of 'useless powder, time consuming, not well frozen' but reported as 'good early season conditions' when what they really mean is 'acceptable early season conditions'.
Fine if you want to tick off those lower grade classic routes in less than good conditions but don't confuse the issue. I think part of it is a desire to remove any admission that they climbed a route that was in poor condition.


JackM92 - on 29 Nov 2017
In reply to Tobes:

Sometimes you just end up committed on lead with no gear then realise the turf isn't properly frozen...
Tricadam on 29 Nov 2017
In reply to JackM92:

> Sometimes you just end up committed on lead with no gear then realise the turf isn't properly frozen...

Tis indeed possible for the turf on the route to be unfrozen when it's been rock solid on the lower altitude approach and at the gear up, but not overly common.
French Erick - on 29 Nov 2017
In reply to Tricadam:

I would disagree, tis a lot more common than you'd think, when the snow has insulated vegetation higher up from frost when the lower down pitch(es) was/were bare and froze solid.
However, it is true that you ought to have thought about this possibility before setting out on the climb...guilty as charged on more than one occasion and there isn't always a nice solid chokestone to ab-off from.
Call me selfish but if it is a choice between a dodgy abseil and pulling the turf out, i'll choose the rip the shit out of the vegetation any day.
The real wisdom is not being there in the 1st place...not so easy when you are unsure of when/if winter will show itself again. Probably the main issue of the age.
Goucho on 30 Nov 2017
In reply to vscott:

There's winter climbing, and there's climbing in winter.

The two are not necessarily the same thing.

Personally, I've never seen the attraction in slogging up a hill to climb some frozen turf.

Then again, when I was a kid, I had a poster of Walter Bonatti on my bedroom wall, not David Bellamy.
JackM92 - on 01 Dec 2017
In reply to French Erick:

Really not sure why my previous post received so many dislikes - the ethics police on here are a very different crowd to most you actually see at winter crags dry tooling and hacking turf off...perhaps the two groups are actually the same people, on the forums it's all well and good showing off your moral climbing compass but when it actually comes down to making a decision on whether or not to climb I suspect a lot of these people throw their keyboard ethics away.

It's pretty difficult to make any sort of prediction of turf conditions higher up a route, personally if it's frozen solid low down I go for it. A number of times however there's been a mixture of frozen and unfrozen turf on routes, far from ideal as often no good anchors to abseil off.
coldwill - on 01 Dec 2017
Simon Caldwell - on 01 Dec 2017
planetmarshall on 01 Dec 2017
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

I have a bit of grudging respect for that one.
TobyA on 01 Dec 2017
In reply to Simon Caldwell:
I saw that on Facebook too. Not sure whether to be ethically appalled or just write them off as as mad as a box of frogs... I suppose as big bits fall off Mam Tor on their own accord quite regularly, these two aren't going to add to it too much!
Post edited at 17:40
Nath93 - on 01 Dec 2017
In reply to vscott:

Would people rather we climbed on more scoured crags that were less white but were as a result, more frozen or continue to rip out the turf underneath a foot of powder instead? Ideal conditions don't turn up all that often so I suppose there's got to be some sort of line drawn. Coming from an environmental point of view, the turf is pretty important and a lot of it quite rare (especially high up on the Ben), so anything we can do to preserve it is surely a good thing?

I was stood underneath Fiacaill Buttress today as a team were very slowly climbing the first pitch of Invernookie, whilst there was a field of grass and muck around the slope below and where they had geared up. Call me picky, but climbing mushy grass isn't my idea of fun. Maybe I missed out, but it made me turn round and head home early instead of wrecking the route for future ascents.
sgl - on 01 Dec 2017
In reply to Nath93:
Quite a lot of the point about winter climbing in Britain is that ideal conditions don't turn up that often. Waiting, watching, predicting and then striking when conditions are right are all (the most satisfying?) part of the game. Ultimately the judgement of how white a crag is depends on your views/ideals/standards etc but the basic prerequisite (on a route with turf) is that the turf is frozen. If it is unfrozen and under a foot of powder you learn and go home or do something else. I don't think any line should be drawn here.
Post edited at 23:28
wercat on 02 Dec 2017
In reply to sgl:

I liked it when the older guidebooks called it "resorting to turf" rather than accepting turf as the thing intentionally climbed ...
TobyA on 02 Dec 2017
In reply to vscott:

This from today's report on Helvellyn:

"With today's thaw it was surprising to see climbers in the gullies and on the buttresses above Red Tarn. These climbs couldn't have possibly have been in good condition, and given the well-forecasted thaw, it was a shame to see so many people ignoring the advice given in the BMC's White Guide for climbers, which asks climbers not to climb in these areas when the turf isn't fully frozen as this damages a delicate habitat for rare alpine plants. If you missed the small window of frozen conditions over the last couple of days, there will be others this winter. Please wait until the frozen ground returns."

http://www.lakedistrictweatherline.co.uk/home

I do wonder who these people are? Are they ignoring the BMC's advice or unaware of it? I was on Snowdon in the snow a few weeks back, it wasn't really full winter conditions but I bet the top of the zig zags would have been slippery - and of course there were people up there in the murk in Docs and Nikes. They must have walked past all the signage down at the bottom saying what the conditions can be like and with all the warnings. Are there any warnings at the bottom of Helvellyn asking people not to climb in non frozen conditions? Could you get to the point where you have a pair of ice tools and ropes etc. and not be aware of UKC, or the BMC website etc etc and all the anguished discussions like this? I'm really not sure if there are people out there "winter climbing" who genuinely don't realise why many of us would say they doing something wrong, or whether they know what they are doing but don't care.

I see no one has ticked anything on Helvellyn yet in the logbooks for today...
wercat on 02 Dec 2017
In reply to TobyA:
well it was wet in the Eden Valley first thing and pretty horrible driving up and down the M6 today so I can't imagine what people were up to. The contrast with the last few days was stark - yesterday I thought I'd use water to unfreeze the windscreen and it had refrozen when I went out again.


I suppose I shouldn't be surprised - one of my memories from last year's terrible conditions when I got nothing done all winter was seeing folk coming up a gully and roping up the entirely unfrozen and green vegetated slope from the top of the buttresses to the summit. I'd have died of shame doing that with an audience but they looked pretty pleased with themselves.
Post edited at 18:43
wercat on 02 Dec 2017
In reply to TobyA:

perhaps we should crowdfund a warm shelter with stove and megawatt PA system so people can be told to back off
CurlyStevo - on 02 Dec 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:
I scrambled the north face of penyfan once unroped in the middle of the summer. Me and a mate were walking and meant to just have a look to see what it would be like in winter and before you know it we were half way up. A new sport we thought - vegaling. Really quite dangerous but weirdly funny at the time. Tbh not to be advised! We were secretly hoping for a round of applause at the top but all we were barely noticed apart from the group of walkers that past nearby on the way up and quite loudly stated we were going to kill our selves to each other!

http://www.summitpost.org/north-face-of-pen-y-fan/282048
Post edited at 23:30
vscott - on 03 Dec 2017
In reply to TobyA:
Similarly baffled - even if unawares of the BMC, guidebook all the rest etc. I'd have thought that climbing wet mushy turf should just instinctively feel daft, miserable and wrong!
Simon Caldwell - on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to TobyA:

Someone in one of the FB groups admitted to having been one of those climbing, and claimed that conditions were good, posting a photo in evidence (which looked to me to show that it was marginal if you were feeling very generous). I can't find it now so they may have thought twice about being so honest!
davidbeynon on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to CurlyStevo:
Climbing/scrambling on vegetated choss is an established genre, and if done correctly should result in all participants wearing a thousand yard stare by the time they reach the top.

I found Mam Tor and Great Gully on Aonach Dubh were both memorable in this regard.

I'm currently attempting to write an article about the subject.
Post edited at 10:57
CurlyStevo - on 00:22 Mon
In reply to davidbeynon:
I think we were laughing other wise we’d cry. At one point I was slow slipping down some muddy ground and the only option was to use a sharp stone as a dagger to anchor me. Kinda like the top outs in Swanage (where your nut key turns into a mini mud axe) but sustained ;) if you want to be rounded in the genre I’m sure penyfan is one of the rights of passage....

We figured we must have been the first people stupid enough to do it in summer, almost recorded it ;) but google comes up with a bunch of others who’ve done it too. None seem to recommend it mind
Post edited at 00:31

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