One Man's Wilderness by Bobt
http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=170 Permits, parking restrictions, time-slots, harness checks, courses for insurance purposes - all in a day's climbing in this short story which provides a depressing view of a possible future as experienced by one man more used to the wilds of Alaska.
Fontainebleau - Bouldering Off Piste review by Simon Jacques
http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=206 With the number of guidebooks to Fontainebleau rapidly catching up the number of boulders, Simon Jacques takes a look at the latest offering which takes the unusual approach of focussing on some of the less-well travelled areas of the Forest whilst retaining a general appeal by including the more established classics as well. Fontainebleau - Bouldering Off Piste is written by the familiar Montchaussé and Godoffe team and has been translated and published in English by Bâton Wicks.
A good, thought provoking read and I know this is a worst case scenario but pretty impossible to police don't you think?
Especially in the upland areas, although I'm sure this is a possibility in places like Harrisons even Stanage?
The Kinder trespassers turn in their graves as it comes full circle...
Maybe so, but if you were climbing in say Knoydart or Assynt or even in the Lakes then there would be no way of stopping people would there, given that access is possible at any point along hundreds of miles of coast/land?
If rules were employed to make sure climbers were certified to climb then the authorities would have to accept that in certain areas those rules would be broken from day one. Which begs the question would they bother to try to implement them in the first place?
I hope that we're a long way from these considerations except admittedly charging at crags is upon us (re: southern sandstone) but I can understand your sentiment given the ludicrous precautions put in place to stop us doing just about anything these days.
> We have two new articles this week.
> One Man's Wilderness by Bobt
> http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=170 > Permits, parking restrictions, time-slots, harness checks, courses for insurance purposes - all in a day's climbing in this short story which provides a depressing view of a possible future as experienced by one man more used to the wilds of Alaska.
Bit ironic, considering the permits required for all sorts of back-country activities in US National Parks, which are far more restrictive than anything we have here.
> If rules were employed to make sure climbers were certified to climb then the authorities would have to accept that in certain areas those rules would be broken from day one. Which begs the question would they bother to try to implement them in the first place?
There are literally thousands of miles of roads in the UK, spread over the entire length & breadth of the country. Surely imposing speed restrictions on these roads would be an impossible task...?
The rules are in place and are policed as best they can be...
Regarding 'One Man's Wilderness'. If this article is intended to be a warning against red tape infringing on 'liberties' then I have no sympathy with it at all. Please remember - this planet is entering a period of rapid global warming; this isn't scaremongering, it's a certainty. If, and I repeat, IF, mankind takes serious action to reduce CO2 emissions, and we should campaign to ensure that it does, then we'll all have to give up a lot of conveniences and luxuries. If easy access to the mountain environment is one of those, then so be it. Bob T should wake up the fact that at the current rate of warming, it won't be too long before the glaciers around Denali have disappeared, and quite possible so have all the climbers. Yes, its that serious. A proper sense of perspective is needed.
Thought OMW was pretty good. Don't really see the difference between a lot of UK climbing as it is at the moment (particularly gritstone stuff) and the fast food approach as described in the article though tbh.
I hardly feel like I'm in the wilderness when I'm go to the Peak District anyhow! Just feels like an extension to the climbing wall... That goes for numerous other crags around UK as well.
> Ever thought the article could also work both ways - as a warning?
But also very much a real situation in some parts of the world. Whilst living in Bishop (California) we had almost unrestricted access to the local climbing areas (and much solitude), not without work of course.
I then moved to New York and what a difference. One trip to the Gunks we had to pay tolls to get there. Once there our intended area was full, it had a limit of 60 climbers per day. Went to another area, had to pay to get in, there was signage everywhere, a ranger checking your permits.
Bob's article is not far fetched at all, in fact I would say it is very real.
> (In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com) I didn't realise that there were access restrictions for the Gunks. I'm going there in September - can you point me to any information on the access situation?
No climbing at Skytop. Limits at Peterskill. The rest of the areas OK, $15 a day permit I think.
Sorry, but reading this piece really rattled my cage! I repeatedly found myself taking issue with what the writer appeared to be trying to say and couldn't help but question the story's politics. I couldn't even figure out what the writer is trying to say exactly. Is the piece a discussion of the profound nature of a genuine 'wilderness' experience or is it an attack on 'social' regulation or perhaps even an attempt to promote a 'libertarian' politic?
Much of my 'confusion' arises from the references made to 'the nanny state', 'the blame culture' and the use of speed cameras which make the piece sound a bit too much like a 'Daily Mail' editorial! That said the article does make some interesting points. For example, I particularly liked the bit which says:
'He looked around, 9.30am and only a few climbers on the crags. He made the comment to Aden. "That’ll be the restrictions on climber numbers," Aden replied. "All the agencies, apart from the BMC, voted that one in. Said there was too much damage to the fragile environment, too many wild birds being disturbed. Even the ramblers voted for it just so they could get a concession for their own issues.
Ironically, it seems that in the real world many climbers, having gained statutory rights of access via the CroW legislation, are not adverse to doing something similar!
Peak District Area Committee Meeting
Minutes of the Peak Area Climbers Meting,
Held on Thursday 30th Sept., 2004,
At The Grouse, Froggat.
Bunny McCullough: All appears to be quiet at present but please keep an eye out for any of the following; Groups of Geologists and students chipping in the Burbage valley; Trail Bikes, Mountain Bikes, and 4x4s in any inappropriate locations. These may be strictly legal, but disturbing at the time. If you see any of these miscreants please let Bunny (best) or any one of the committee know.
If Britain is heading towards greater restrictions on public access and the greater regulation of outdoor recreation we all need to be aware of how our own actions can contribute to this, including climbers who berate others for not wearing a helmet or who might be tempted to report 'miscreant' mountain bikers to the BMC!
One of my main issues with the story is that the writer comes across as being very critical of almost any attempt by 'the state' to regulate peoples behaviour and in so doing falls headlong into most of the traps those arguing for 'libertarianism' fall foul of.
Firstly, the piece conflates some very different interpretations of what is meant by 'freedom' in an attempt to make its point, a technique which often amounts to a journalistic sleight of hand. The sense of personal freedom which comes from climbing is a very different type of freedom from political freedom, although the two may be linked. Unfortunately, it is a common tactic of those who desire a very specific 'freedom' (say the 'freedom' to drive at speeds which are currently illegal) to make appeals to other, often more fundamental, forms of 'freedom', implying that anyone who is opposed to, say, allowing motorists to drive at any speed they think fit, is by definition hostile to 'freedom' in the most general sense. Similarly, it might be argued that denying them the 'freedom' to speed would be comparable with denying someone some other freedom they hold dear, (for example, being allowed to take risks when climbing) even though the two conceptions of 'freedom' are not at all comparable. The author does something very similar when he implies that there is some common link between 'the nanny state', the use of speed cameras and so on and the possibility of greater regulation being placed on public access to climbing.
Sometimes 'nanny' really does know best and is only trying to protect her charges their own stupidity or (MUCH more importantly) from causing harm to others. For example, I don't think that measures to reduce the number of road killings (not to mention the intimidation and fear speeding causes) can be upheld as examples of 'Big Government unjustifiably meddling in peoples lives', as Michael Howard once claimed. If the token attempts made to enforce the speed limit are really so intrusive why not get rid of 'Big Brother' restrictions on drink driving and all other laws relating to driving as well? Perhaps because ultimately we all want the benefit from the protection of the law even though we might resent having to abide by the law ourselves?
Similarly, those who call for greater 'freedom' for themselves must recognise that increasing their freedom may well lead to a reduction in the freedom of others. For example, the freedom of motorists to drive where any pretty much how they please has taken away the freedom of many other to walk or cycle or to allow their children to do so because they live in fear of 'the traffic'.
When trying to draw the line between justifiable laws and unjustifiable 'authoritarianism' I feel we should apply a basic rule which states that, whilst everyone should have the right to place their own safety at risk if they so choose, no one has the right to act in a way which puts the safety of others at significant risk. Consequently, no valid parallels can be drawn between being required to pass a driving test and to not exceed the legal speed limit when driving and (hypothetically) being required to pass a test before being allowed to climb, or being banned from solo climbing. In the case of regulating the use of potentially lethal pieces of high-speed machinery in public areas high levels of control are entirely justified in order to protect both the lives of innocent third parties, as well as their right to use the roads free of fear. In the case of climbing the 'case' for greater regulation is almost non-existent by comparison as the climber creates no significant risk for anyone but themselves.
This is not the place to write a detailed critique of 'libertarianism' but no one should forget that a primary function of the law is to protect the powerless from the powerful. Consequently, a move towards 'minimal Government' may easily lead to a 'tyranny of the majority' or the most powerful. In addition there can be no such thing as unfettered freedom when every additional freedom one is given may well result in the reduction in the freedom of someone else.
The Last Man....10 Jun 2006
The piece's prophesies also seem to be rather out of touch with the current reality. Consider how, due to the CroW act, there is now a recognised legal right to climb on access land when previously there was no right to climb anywhere. In addition, the concept of the 'nanny state' is itself little more than a fabrication of the right-wing libertarian tendency, with many of the laws cited as being examples of 'nannyism' being those which place restrictions on business or the powerful in order to protect the weak. (Of course, if 'nanny' wants to bring in authoritarian laws to control the great unwashed and to protect the privileges of the rich and powerful, this is deemed to be perfectly acceptable!).
Those who see themselves as being 'libertarians' are, non the less, usually keen to see laws enforced which are to their own benefit. 'Sam' states that he flew into Alaska by plane. However, I suspect that if a company began running frequent pleasure flights around the area, he would not object to a law being passed to stop this and thereby preserve his own 'wilderness experience!
Not only does the piece comes across as promoting a rather right-wing 'libertarian' ideology by making unfavourable comparisons between everyday society and a 'better world' without regulation and where the primary responsibility is for oneself, the piece also is strongly 'individualistic' in outlook, again something which is in tune with the age we live in.
The ability to escape all other responsibilities is why mountains and climbing and genuine wilderness areas have the attraction they do. However, no matter how magical and personal the experiences in such places might be it is unrealistic to expect 'ordinary' society to measure up when judged in those terms. At a time when what society really needs is less individualism and more collective responsibility 'Sam', a true 'individualist', rejects society and, thinking only of his own desires, fly's away.
Yes, most people yearn for more space and 'freedom' and the self-reliance of climbing or living in true wilderness can provide this, but I feel it is totally unrealistic to judge 'everyday society' in terms of what a wilderness has to offer. For society to work collectivism, not individualism, is needed and whilst a 'wilderness' might be able to provide those who need it with an 'escape' from the 'real' world I feel those who seek out the wilderness, especially when this is seen as a rejection of the social world are acting in essentially selfish manner. On reason is that a true wilderness is one without human beings, consequently those who seek out 'wilderness' by their own actions destroy it, if only to a small degree. (Or a large degree if on thinks of all the junk dumped on mountains such as Everest).
The selfishness and self-contradictory outlook of many of those who claim to hold a 'wilderness experience' dear is apparent in the piece as one the one hand the writer condemns attempts to preserve 'wilderness' areas by means of restricting human recreational activity and yet at the same time the central character yearns to return to a much bigger wilderness the defining quality of which is its lack of other human beings. Unfortunately, the selfish tendency to place a greater importance on the quality of ones own 'wilderness experience' than on facilitating the 'wilderness experience' of others is all to common. A 'One man's wilderness' indeed. (Appeals to the quality of the 'wilderness experience' of walkers is a primary reason why off-road cyclists are denied access to Peak District 'access' land on pain of a criminal record and £500 fine and cyclists were the only non-motorised user group to gain nothing from the Stanage forum, regardless of how disingenuous such appeals might be).
On top of all this I found 'Sam' to be irritatingly smug, clearly feeling that the experiences of 'Aden' had no validity.
So, all in all much of this piece annoyed me immensely, so if anyone is similarly annoyed by reading any of this. Tough!
sloper10 Jun 2006
In reply to The Last Man....: I'm all for cyclists etc using these tracks at least it keeps them off the roads, some tw*t of a cyclist hi my car recently and made a complete mess of my paintwork recently. Fortunately he was insured and therefore able to pay for the damage.