UKC

/ Kinder Downfall

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Geras on 08 May 2018

I and a group of friends thought we would take advantage of the good weather over the weekend, and decided to make the long walk up to Kinder and visit some of the less frequented crags.

Towards the end of the day for a bit of fun, we decieded to do on mass, Downfall climb (M). At the end of a long hot day the potential soaking was viewed as not all bad.

However, I was a little shocked at the degree of rock damage done in the past season to the rock by crampons and ice screws. Many of the rocks on the climb are pock marked with crampon spikes, taking chunks out of the gritstone, not just srcatching it up. Would seem many were too eager and going when it was not really in condition.

This was accompanied by some climbers complete disregard for the shrapness and life of their own ice screws. I think we have all bottomed out a screw or two in the past. However, here many seem to keep winding them in, leaving lots of small ice screw  sized holes 5mm or more deep.

 

Is this an acceptable price to pay for our winter fun?

(sorry no photos, as the battery failed on my phone).

Post edited at 12:46
TheGeneralist - on 08 May 2018
In reply to Geras:

En masse

HTH

And in relation to your point, no. I think it's fine for people to climb it in winter, even though it damages it a tiny bit.

TobyA on 08 May 2018
In reply to Geras:

> However, here many seem to keep winding them in, leaving lots of small ice screw  sized holes 5mm or more deep.

They must be bloody great screws! I want some of them.

 

mrphilipoldham - on 08 May 2018
In reply to Geras:

If it sees more winter ascents per annum than 'summer', is it really a 'summer' climb? 

Thanks for the heads up though, I'll try and take a wander up over the next week and report back with photographic evidence for perusal. 

TobyA on 08 May 2018
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

I'm pretty certain he's joking. You can not drill into rock with an ice screw!

 

Trangia on 09 May 2018
In reply to TheGeneralist:

> even though it damages it a tiny bit.

Causing any avoidable permanent damage is totally unacceptable, and downright selfish, however "tiny". I had hoped we would have left those days behind when we stopped using Tricounis

 

mrphilipoldham - on 09 May 2018
In reply to TobyA:

My thoughts entirely, everyone know's a man's 5mm is actually 1..

rackandruin - on 09 May 2018
In reply to Trangia: And did you use cloud filled slippers to avoid any 'tiny' damage as you followed the hordes on the ever widening paths of the TMB /Everest BC ?

Post edited at 07:56
Chris Craggs - on 09 May 2018
In reply to TobyA:

I'm not so sure, a hardened ice-screw against gritstone, I think the screw would win. Presumably they screwed through the ice and just kept going a bit.

 

Chris

French Erick - on 09 May 2018
In reply to Geras:

Is chalk an acceptable price, path erosion? I am not defending degrading rock on purpose but any of our activities has an impact. If we were so concerned to "leave no trace" we would not go in the first place. I have always found the argument of "I leave no trace" to be hypocritical BS. We all do, from the moment we jump in the car to go.

I think you are correct in raising the issue because it needs debating so we can all educate ourselves about minimising our impact. I also liked your approach that was not "self-righteous" in tone as some people may have put it.

Offwidth - on 09 May 2018
In reply to Geras:

The Downfall area, when in, is the sign of some of the most dreadful ice technique I've ever seen. Its best climbed in the middle of the night so you don't cry, as some climbers who could gracefully hook up on positive placements instead bash away on some demolition mission and, you're right, occasionally bizzarely use long ice screws on ice that is clearly too thin for them and sadly a few who crampon up on mixed gritstone effectively unprotected by ice. Such is the price of route fame I guess, maybe I should try and get UKC or the BMC to take some pictures and do an ethics news item.

Offwidth - on 09 May 2018
In reply to French Erick:

The Downfall is a stunning piece of local rock archircture loved by some bumbly climbers, and many photographers and hordes of hill walkers and the treatment it is getting by a small minority of badly behaved ice climbers is a problem, arguably more than most sensitive summer routes too often climbed when not in proper winter conditions. Unlike many other rock types used in winter climbing, gritstone erodes much faster when the surface layer is damaged. 

atthedropofahat on 09 May 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> The Downfall is a stunning piece of local rock archircture loved by some bumbly climbers, and many photographers and hordes of hill walkers and the treatment it is getting by a small minority of badly behaved ice climbers is a problem, arguably more than most sensitive summer routes too often climbed when not in proper winter conditions. Unlike many other rock types used in winter climbing, gritstone erodes much faster when the surface layer is damaged. 

At least it won't get polished. I see no problem with it, its not a summer classic and is chossy anyhow.

TobyA on 09 May 2018
In reply to Chris Craggs:

I've climbed plenty of thin ice and as a result have needed to sharpen my screws more times than I can remember. The screw always loses!

I think our unregistered OP might live under a bridge with relatively heavy goat traffic across it.

TobyA on 09 May 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> The Downfall area, when in, is the sign of some of the most dreadful ice technique I've ever seen. Its best climbed in the middle of the night so you don't cry, as some climbers who could gracefully hook up on positive placements instead bash away on some demolition mission.

We want video evidence of you showing us how to do it Mr Offwidth!

 

gethin_allen on 09 May 2018
In reply to TobyA:

> I've climbed plenty of thin ice and as a result have needed to sharpen my screws more times than I can remember. The screw always loses!

> I think our unregistered OP might live under a bridge with relatively heavy goat traffic across it.


Some of the rock around the downfall can be very soft and crusty, and I can easily imagine a screw making a 5 mm (not very deep) scar in the rock if there was a reasonable amount of ice on top for the threads of the screw to bight into and drive the screw into the underlying rock.

Saying this, I would more expect to see axe marks that could have blistered to leave bigger pock marks that could be mistaken to be screw marks.

If the photos emerge will you be apologising to the OP for calling troll?

Offwidth - on 09 May 2018
In reply to atthedropofahat:

What are you talking about?  The Downfall Climb isn't chossy in the slightest. Its just often rather wet.

Offwidth - on 09 May 2018
In reply to TobyA:

I have a painting in my house... will that do? ;-) I've climbed several of the lines there in front of queues without a need to swing my axes once. TBH  the destruction of good ice is more annoying wearing my ice climbers hat than my conservation hat. Watching muppets destroy a fabulous rarely formed climb (like the left-hand lines) with bad technique, as the queue for one's turn shortens to climb it, is pretty depressing. I'm certainly not anti mixed climbing, I just recognise the ethical balance involved. 

Post edited at 15:52
mrphilipoldham - on 09 May 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

A stunning piece of architecture which is ever changing. What is believed to be the first HVS on British soil now lies in ruins at the bottom of the fall. One of Putrell’s that no one will ever get to do. Give it another hundred years and any current damage will be well hidden too, possibly.

Offwidth - on 09 May 2018
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

I'm fully aware of that major rockfall which was a long time ago now, simlar rockfalls happened at Stanage and destroyed early routes . DC is still not chossy and climbing grit routes (rather than ice/snow covered grit routes) in crampons should be discouraged even if the world will one day be almost swalllowed by the sun as a red giant.

Post edited at 17:13
Trangia on 09 May 2018
In reply to rackandruin:

What on earth are you rambling on about? Never been to either.

mrphilipoldham - on 09 May 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

But it’s not just a grit route, is it? It’s a long established winter route too. If we want to discuss damaging the rock then I can list many more metres of climbing on what’re regarded as classics by cam use.. but we’re not discouraging the use of them are we? Quite the contrary, indeed. Wasn’t Right Unconquerable damaged by a fall on a cam? Do folk still use them on that route.. you betcha. The latter I believe to genuinely be the bigger issue and more worthy of discussion.

Offwidth - on 09 May 2018
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

It's a long established winter route and summer route that used to be done in better style on avearge in winter than it is on average now, despite much better modern equipment. Some people are so desperate to claim the tick they will try it when it's nothing like formed . I've nothing at all against ascents in good conditions (when the rock is covered)

The legend is RU was damaged becuase a moron used something to prise the flake to get a stuck cam out.Cam damage due to poor ethics does happen though ... check out Topsail, Sail Buttress, Orpheus Wall etc at Birchen. I can see cam use being frowned on on such routes in a decade, currently we just say try and avoid resting or dogging on cams or trying such routes if clearly too hard for you.

It's all about respect for the rock so that what we enjoy now is best preserved for future generations,

Post edited at 19:15
mrphilipoldham - on 09 May 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

Completely in agreement with the bad technique in both summer and winter climbing there. Can’t add much else then, happily. 

TobyA on 09 May 2018
In reply to gethin_allen:

I would love to see photos but I doubt we will because I just don't think an ice screws being twisted by a human arm could possibly be drilled into the rock. I've spent quite a lot of the time on Kinder over the last couple of year, so I know grit is variable, but it's not that soft! I doubt you'd get 5mm even into Worcestershire sandstone which is about the most appalling quality rock I've come across.

So happy to apologize if Mr Geras provides evidence, but I suspect he is either confused by natural pockets in the rock or having a laugh.

TobyA on 09 May 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> climbing grit routes (rather than ice/snow covered grit routes) in crampons should be discouraged even if the world will one day be almost swalllowed by the sun as a red giant.

I scrambled up Crowden Clough a couple of weeks back, which I had climbed with crampons and axes back in mid-December, back at the very start of the rather great winter we've had. I was quite surprised how few scratches there were as lots of people seem to have ice scrambled it this winter. So perhaps grit isn't that delicate.

 

Offwidth - on 09 May 2018
In reply to TobyA:

Grit is hard until the surface goes and Crowden Clough isn't that popular and many leave the crampons off until they hit the proper ice fall but its more popular than it used to be (partly due to me posting a pic here a few years back... you live and learn). Ironically we were climbing with no crampons, cutting steps with a walking axe, old school style and with fairly bendy boots and its was fine that way. We left it pristine except for small incuts, the next day it was trashed.

The damage at Millstone from one party of dry toolers was sadly visible.

Post edited at 20:25
Deadeye - on 09 May 2018
In reply to Geras:

Um.

Troll.

JDC - on 11 May 2018
In reply to TobyA:

> I would love to see photos but I doubt we will because I just don't think an ice screws being twisted by a human arm could possibly be drilled into the rock.

I think it's quite possible if the screw is held securely in solid ice. I agree that trying to start drilling a screw into dry, exposed gritstone would be "challenging", but you can generate a huge amount of force using a screw thread (especially one with handle which creates additional leverage). So if the ice is solid, thick and preventing the screw moving away from the rock then it has to go somewhere, and I'd no doubt that the teeth on an ice screw could cause this sort of damage. After all, there are various masonry screw fixings on the market that can screw directly into brick / masonry.

 

Kemics - on 11 May 2018
In reply to JDC:

I love the image of sand coming out of the end of a screw as a gripped leader mutters their mantra "allthewayinallthewayin"

Geras on 11 May 2018
In reply to Deadeye:

No just unable to log on for a while, and a genuine question about where the limits are.

TobyA on 11 May 2018
In reply to Geras:

And you still reckon these holes are made by ice screws?

Iain Thow - on 11 May 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

The end of the flake on RT Unconq was broken off by a friend of a friend falling onto a cam placed in the end of it. He hit the ground but wasn't too badly hurt. I was there. Incidentally I was told the "levering off with a car jack" story only a few hours later - myths spread fast!

mrphilipoldham - on 12 May 2018
In reply to Iain Thow:

..and yet I still racked up 5 dislikes (and counting!). The single mindedness on here can be deafening.

Offwidth - on 12 May 2018
In reply to Iain Thow:

Fair enough but very surpised that this doesn't get more prominence. I guess its like Canute's story.: the historically correct version is swamped by its opposite.

The cam damage on other routes, due to stupid placement  on obviously friable or already damaged rock, is still a very real current problem.

I'd also like Geras to confrm where the ice screw damage is as it seems to me the places you would be placing screws wouldn't mainly be where you climb the mod,  but crampon scars would be.

Offwidth - on 12 May 2018
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

Dislikes are for children. Adults debate, joke, inform and recognise any differing concerns are based on a shared joy of climbing.

Post edited at 10:15
mrphilipoldham - on 14:51 Thu
In reply to Geras:

I’m up here right now, and you’re right.. it doesn’t look good! Some of the screw holes are obviously of previous winters but there’s a lot of them (along with scratches, scrapes and chips) that are clearly of this one just gone. Will upload pics when I’m home. I must admit, I was genuinely a bit shocked. 

 

Edit - actually here they are on Facebook, don’t know if you need to be registered to see them but it’s public https://www.facebook.com/mrphilipoldham/posts/10156059484456690

Post edited at 14:53
Simon Caldwell - on 15:22 Thu
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

wow

gethin_allen on 16:03 Thu
In reply to TobyA:

Time for an apology for Mr Geras i think Toby!

gethin_allen on 16:04 Thu
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

That's truly shocking, what the hell were these people thinking when they hit rock and just carried on winding?

I'm off to invest in a screw sharpening machine as there will obviously be a load of people needing this service before next winter.

steveriley - on 16:41 Thu
In reply to Geras:

Another one for Rob Greenwood's #respecttherock (#andice) file

TobyA on 16:53 Thu
In reply to gethin_allen:

Yep happy to apologise, clearly not trolling. The scatches I can well imagine, I guess lots of top roping does that - people congregating in certain smallish areas, although I'm still surprised at how few scratches there are in Crowden in comparison. But I still don't understand this for example: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10156059483186690&set=pcb.10156059484456690&type=3&theater Is it really a screw doing that? There can't have been anything left of it afterwards!  Has that area ever been quarried or something? I don't see how unintentionally that could be done by an icescrew!? My original scepticism and my continued bafflement comes from having placed 1000s of ice screws over 20+ years of regular ice climbing, including hitting rock on many occasions, plus having climbed Kinder Downfall this winter myself and knowing that area quite well now.

mrphilipoldham - on 17:43 Thu
In reply to TobyA:

I think some prefer to keep screwing until the clip is touching the ice, rather than when it stops being possible with a single finger..

It’s never been quarried, and I had a mooch around to look at soloing a few other easier routes and nothing at all like this elsewhere, it’s confirned to that corner alone.

You’ll have to go and survey the damage yourself, a good chance to tick off a good number of classic rock routes whilst your at it.

I still feel there’ll be backlash from the ‘armchair’ (ie, roadside) climbers, even though as stated earlier bad cam use etc is responsible for far more damage, in more oft visited places on routes of far greater significance. But hey ho. 

Tricadam on 18:52 Thu
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

Impressive! I want some of those super dooper ice screws.

TobyA on 19:17 Thu
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

I'm still amazed even if the rock is softish (at least compared to the granite that used to regularly blunt my screws early season!) that anyone would do that. I always found that it would be one of the teeth that touched first and it was incredibly obvious that you weren't pushing against ice anymore so you stopped. With that one pic, the climber must have ground the screw teeth down into mush to scrape that much rock away?! And how come the rock has gone in the middle of the circle?

 

mrphilipoldham - on 19:42 Thu
In reply to TobyA:

Kinder rock is known to be softer, hence why the Woolpacks are never really promoted as a good spot for bouldering. No idea as to how the rock in some of the hole middles he disappeared. It was like that in maybe 30% of them, generally the older, worn ones rather than the new ones. 

Chris Craggs - on 19:43 Thu
In reply to TobyA:

Granite is igneous - basically a fused mass of rock with a lot of quartz (hardness c7 compared to c5 for steel). Gritstone is sedimentary, composed of sand grains. All the screw has to do is break the cement between the grains, often much softer than the quartz - and the rock has gone,

Chris

Post edited at 19:44

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