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Putting up bolted routes responsibly

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 bpmclimb 11:47 Fri

There seem to be a lot of bolting initiatives these days which consist of finding good placements for the bolts themselves; then moving swiftly on to the next line, leaving the route to "settle down".

Following a couple of days climbing newish sport routes on the Gower, in the Third Sister/Ram's Grove area, I'm starting to feel not just concerned, but angry about this.

Leaving hollow-sounding, vibrating, toaster-sized detached blocks in place is not the same as "normal" settling down of dust and very small stuff. It's irresponsible - unforgivable, actually (and probably constitutes reckless endangerment). A hammer and crowbar should be seen as essential bits of kit, not just a drill and some bolts, and everything within reach and loose should be removed, wherever possible - not just the holds the FA happened to use on one ascent.

No-one is forcing anyone to put up a sport route. If you can't do the job properly, don't do it at all.

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 UKB Shark 13:16 Fri
In reply to bpmclimb:

What constitutes irresponsibly loose is subjective. No doubt you cleaned them up to your satisfaction on your way back down... 

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 wbo2 13:33 Fri
In reply to bpmclimb:  no ones forcing you to climb them... really this is a pretty extraordinary rant..  

Why don't you do it yourself to be blunt?

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 r0x0r.wolfo 13:44 Fri
In reply to UKB Shark:

> What constitutes irresponsibly loose is subjective. No doubt you cleaned them up to your satisfaction on your way back down... 

Well as any loose rock might be subjective lets delete all of warnings posted on UKC about such things and leave everyone to make their own minds up. 

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 La benya 14:02 Fri
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:

How in Heaven can loose rock be subjective?

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 im off 14:05 Fri
In reply to bpmclimb:

Yeah I'd stay away from that shit. Not proper climbin anyway.

But yeah it does sound abit crap if it's a common occurrence.

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 Phil79 14:05 Fri
In reply to bpmclimb:

> No-one is forcing anyone to put up a sport route. If you can't do the job properly, don't do it at all.

And no-one is forcing you to climb them!

While I agree that good bolting practice and route cleaning should be employed, climbing is ultimately about individual responsibility and assessing risks in all situations, weather that's sport, trad, bouldering etc. 

While its assumed (wrongly really) that sport routes are 'safe' there is always inherent danger, and people should be encouraged to think and make their own decisions about what the risks are.   

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 bpmclimb 14:08 Fri
In reply to UKB Shark:

> What constitutes irresponsibly loose is subjective. No doubt you cleaned them up to your satisfaction on your way back down... 

Everything is subjective if you look in fine enough detail. I would have thought I explained pretty clearly the sort of looseness I was talking about. Sorry, but I can't provide photographic evidence.

You can't normally get into trundling multiple large blocks in the course of a normal climbing session - unless you're in the habit of carrying a crowbar and hammer with your standard sport rack. 

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 Brown 14:13 Fri
In reply to bpmclimb:

I'd have thought if you require a crowbar to remove it, the rock is most definitely only subjectivity loose.

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 La benya 14:16 Fri
In reply to Brown:

What?  Loose is an absolute in this situation. Its either attached, or its not.  Its either going to fall off, or not.  There is no subjectivity surrounding that aspect. The subjectivity could be in regards as to the dangers associated with the loose (or not) rock, but not the rock itself.

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 bpmclimb 14:18 Fri
In reply to wbo2:

> no ones forcing you to climb them... really this is a pretty extraordinary rant..  

> Why don't you do it yourself to be blunt?

An extraordinary rant which at the time of writing got 19 likes, and your reply got 10 dislikes. Clearly not everyone finds it as extraordinary as you do. 

Perhaps we should take it from your reply that you are one of these new routers who thinks the job stops with placing a few bolts?

Re doing it myself: I do, regularly, with my own routes. I've put up a fair number of new routes, mostly trad, but latterly some sport. I wouldn't dream of leaving a project for others to climb in the sort of state I'm talking about. To be clear, I'm not talking about a bit of cleaning of superficial small stuff/dirt/vegetation - these are killer blocks, which can't reasonably be tackled in the course of a normal climbing session.

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 bpmclimb 14:25 Fri
In reply to Brown:

> I'd have thought if you require a crowbar to remove it, the rock is most definitely only subjectivity loose.

Nonsense. I've removed plenty of blocks with a crowbar over the years, which were most definitely and objectively loose.

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In reply to La benya:

> How in Heaven can loose rock be subjective?

I suggest it can be, e.g. on Main Wall at Avon you sometimes pull on holds which are attached, but it would be possible to pull them off with some effort. To Avon climbers, it's normal and not loose. Others may call those holds loose and dangerous

I wonder if the "hollow flakes" some have described on Cloggy are a similar thing 

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In reply to bpmclimb:

Hi Brian,

Sorry you've had a bad experience. My personal rule is that if anything moves at all with the tip of a crowbar, it has to come off - unless it's keyed in or something like that. Sometimes this is the prelude to more, after more, after more coming off - usually a signal to get things as best you can and bail. I've done this recently on four different lines. So it goes. Will others one day bolt them?  I hope not.

Given that it's a balance between creating for yourself and creating for others, I agree, public safety should be high in all developers' minds. And if that means a lot more work (followed by walking away?), then so be it.

If you do a lot of new routes, you're left with the uneasy notion that the more there are and the more popular some are, the greater is that chance that, through human error or the rock changing with time, someone may be injured - or worse - killed. We all make mistakes - but you really wouldn't want that error to be yours'. And you definitely wouldn't want it to have been avoidable.

Maybe the only solutions are to think hard about the prospective lines, never to begrudge time spent cleaning (no matter how laborious), to be prepared to walk away and to be prepared to debolt stuff if it's proving dangerous. 

Mick

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 La benya 15:21 Fri
In reply to profitofdoom:

But the hold itself is not subjective.  the danger associated with the looseness is.

Do you say 'literally', when you mean 'figuratively', too?

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 Eric9Points 15:24 Fri
In reply to Brown:

> I'd have thought if you require a crowbar to remove it, the rock is most definitely only subjectivity loose.

I'd have said the same, though maybe having one on the deck for something exceptional. Assessing the safety of rock is part of the skill set unless you're only interested in a completely risk free experience.

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In reply to La benya:

> But the hold itself is not subjective.  the danger associated with the looseness is.

> Do you say 'literally', when you mean 'figuratively', too?

In my post I was talking only about whether the rock is loose or not. I was not talking about the dangers of loose rock at all. Sorry if that wasn't clear in my post

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 La benya 16:01 Fri
In reply to profitofdoom:

Yeah, I know.  The rock can only be objectively loose, or not.  There is nothing subjective about it.

The subjectivity could lie in the need to remove it, or the danger associated with leaving it but the rock cannot be subjective in any way.

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 Al Randall 16:10 Fri
In reply to La benya:

> What?  Loose is an absolute in this situation. Its either attached, or its not.  

Yet I know of "loose blocks" that have been around for 55 years to my knowledge and probably much longer.

Al

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 Lankyman 16:23 Fri
In reply to Eric9Points:

> I'd have said the same, though maybe having one on the deck for something exceptional. Assessing the safety of rock is part of the skill set unless you're only interested in a completely risk free experience.

Is this assessment a foreign concept to climbers who move off plastic and onto outdoor sport climbing? As someone who began in grit quarries and moved on to trad back in the Neolithic era it pretty soon became clear that the risk assessment was entirely down to me. I'd never dream that someone else had the responsibility to make sure a route I was on was perfectly risk-free, sport or trad. If the rock or bolts looked bad then it was down to me to deal with it and extricate myself from the situation. The real world is dangerous. If you're paying for it then that's another fish kettle altogether.

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In reply to Lankyman:

I'm guessing the fine art of tapping a hold with the heel of your hand isn't part of the NICAS curriculum

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 MisterPiggy 17:23 Fri
In reply to bpmclimb:

Reading through this thread, I get the feeling that many folks venturing outdoors won't be happy until the natural rock has been cleaned, tweezed and pampered, then bolted and protected to give the same gymnastic pleasure of indoor plastic without the risk of interacting with nature.

This isn't a poke at UKC, it's just the vibe I feel after coming back to trad climbing after a twenty year absence. A lot has changed and it takes some getting used to.

A good weekend to all !

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In reply to Lankyman:

> Is this assessment a foreign concept to climbers who move off plastic and onto outdoor sport climbing?

From what I can see, the answer is a resounding, "Yes!"  That's probably not what people on here want to hear or think and I'd dearly love to be wrong. But it seems to me that when people start on plastic, pre-set routes (as most do, these days), that becomes their mental template. When they go outside, they expect the outside to conform to the inside, i.e. be pre-set and safe. They'll focus on 'the correct procedure' for this or that, yet give very little attention to the context in which they're operating. They'll judge a route by the grade alone, not whether for instance, there appears to be loose blocks (e.g. some lying around on the deck - a giveaway sign?)

> The real world is dangerous.

Totally agree. And climbing (even sport and bouldering) is even more dangerous.

> If you're paying for it then that's another fish kettle altogether.

Again agree. But if people view bolted crags essentially as free climbing walls, set by others, then with the 'indoors to outdoors' mentality, they expect those crags to be safe. And yes, they should be as safe as possible. The ideal situation would be 'as safe as possible' from equippers and sound risk assessment skills from those coming afterwards. I'm sorry to be pessimistic but I just can't see the latter happening without a very considerable educational programme, repeated on an ongoing basis.

Mick

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In reply to Mick Ward:

> From what I can see, the answer is a resounding, "Yes!"  That's probably not what people on here want to hear or think and I'd dearly love to be wrong. But it seems to me that when people start on plastic, pre-set routes (as most do, these days), that becomes their mental template. When they go outside, they expect the outside to conform to the inside, i.e. be pre-set and safe. They'll focus on 'the correct procedure' for this or that, yet give very little attention to the context in which they're operating. They'll judge a route by the grade alone, not whether for instance, there appears to be loose blocks (e.g. some lying around on the deck - a giveaway sign?)

> Totally agree. And climbing (even sport and bouldering) is even more dangerous.

> Again agree. But if people view bolted crags essentially as free climbing walls, set by others, then with the 'indoors to outdoors' mentality, they expect those crags to be safe. And yes, they should be as safe as possible. The ideal situation would be 'as safe as possible' from equippers and sound risk assessment skills from those coming afterwards. I'm sorry to be pessimistic but I just can't see the latter happening without a very considerable educational programme, repeated on an ongoing basis.

> Mick


All spot on as usual Mick! (including all of your earlier reply.

The amount of climbers starting indoors appears to be accelerating so it is becoming much more of issue. Also guidebooks can often give the impression that the bolted routes they cover are safe simply because they are in a guidebook.

Post edited at 18:16
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 Eric9Points 18:23 Fri
In reply to Mark Davies PK:

> All spot on as usual Mick! (including all of your earlier reply.

> The amount of climbers starting indoors appears to be accelerating so it is becoming much more of issue. Also guidebooks can often give the impression that the bolted routes they cover are safe simply because they are in a guidebook.

Yes, it seems a pity that we're moving away from adventure and towards another regulated leisure activity mainly because people aren't aware of what climbing can be.

Glad I've had my time.

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 Nigel Coe 18:25 Fri
In reply to Brown:

> I'd have thought if you require a crowbar to remove it, the rock is most definitely only subjectivity loose.


Sometimes a crowbar is needed to distance yourself sufficiently from what you are about to let loose.

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In reply to Eric9Points:

> Yes, it seems a pity that we're moving away from adventure and towards another regulated leisure activity mainly because people aren't aware of what climbing can be.

> Glad I've had my time.


Yeah, I'm glad i got into climbing from hill walking and scrambling. Always hated indoor walls and any sort of regulations.

Post edited at 18:28
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 Lankyman 18:42 Fri
In reply to Eric9Points:

> Yes, it seems a pity that we're moving away from adventure and towards another regulated leisure activity mainly because people aren't aware of what climbing can be.

> Glad I've had my time.


I feel similarly, Eric. When I set out on my caving and climbing I knew I was wet behind the ears, a danger to myself and everyone else. I'd listen to anyone and everyone in the club I joined and soon learned to look after myself and my mates. Not long ago I advised a couple of young colleagues at work to take at least ice axes (and hopefully crampons) onto a wintery Striding Edge. Well, as the web-fed experts they are they knew better than the sad old timer. They got away with it (took their phones to get the selfie of course). Probably those who 'disliked' my post above are similarly expert, I mean they've been climbing for all of five minutes and don't need to hear about reality as it is in the real world. The world must be made to confirm to what they want it to be: safe and sanitised. Otherwise, someone else must be held to blame when it goes wrong.

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In reply to Lankyman:


Well said.

Post edited at 19:02
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In reply to Lankyman:

> Is this assessment a foreign concept to climbers who move off plastic and onto outdoor sport climbing? As someone who began in grit quarries and moved on to trad back in the Neolithic era it pretty soon became clear that the risk assessment was entirely down to me. I'd never dream that someone else had the responsibility to make sure a route I was on was perfectly risk-free, sport or trad. If the rock or bolts looked bad then it was down to me to deal with it and extricate myself from the situation. The real world is dangerous. If you're paying for it then that's another fish kettle altogether.

I understand your point of view and it is clearly held by a number of the other posters on this thread, who I would guess have all been climbing for many years, as have I. However, whether we like it or not the culture of climbing is changing and the apprenticeship that climbers go through is generally different nowadays. Many climbers heading outdoors have learnt their trade at a wall, don’t fully understand the risks and will head to bolted routes expecting a safe day. If someone bolting a route nowadays, particularly a grade 5 or 6, leaves a route with  dangerous loose blocks it is inviting an accident, and I would say the bolter has done a bad job. I have come across a number of bolted routes in the Peak on shockingly poor rock, bolted in recent years and thought it a mistake for them to have been bolted. 
This is very different to there being loose blocks on trad routes in locations such as mountain crags or sea cliffs, I think even a newbie climber would recognise the difference.

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 Matt Podd 19:32 Fri
In reply to bpmclimb:

Does not an element of " everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame" come into it? There are loads of existing routes out there.

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 Brown 19:55 Fri
In reply to bpmclimb:

Is this not a logical fallacy? As I've removed loose blocks with a crow bar then blocks I remove with a crowbar are loose.

A crow bar is a mechanical device for amplifying human force allowing you to apply far higher forces than you could by hand. If you need to use a tool then it's debatable someone could have pulled it off.

It's rumoured that the flake on Right Unconquerable was removed with a car jack. Was that also loose?

I'd agree that whether or not it should be removed is even more subjective but I still think there is some ambiguity in the fundamental question of looseness as well.

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 Lankyman 20:03 Fri
In reply to Martin Haworth:

> Many climbers heading outdoors have learnt their trade at a wall, don’t fully understand the risks and will head to bolted routes expecting a safe day. If someone bolting a route nowadays, particularly a grade 5 or 6, leaves a route with  dangerous loose blocks it is inviting an accident, and I would say the bolter has done a bad job. I have come across a number of bolted routes in the Peak on shockingly poor rock, bolted in recent years and thought it a mistake for them to have been bolted. 

They need to expect what they actually find, Martin. Not what the walls have fooled them into expecting. Compare climbing to driving over the last 40 years. Lots more traffic, bigger cars and getting more so. Are new drivers expecting complete safety and to be enfolded in a comfortable blanket of cotton wool? I doubt it. So if they want to inhabit a dream world then that's fine. Just be prepared for a shock now and again.

> This is very different to there being loose blocks on trad routes in locations such as mountain crags or sea cliffs, I think even a newbie climber would recognise the difference.

It's all in the real world. I'd have thought even a newbie would recognise that a newly bolted, recently quarried venue would be the most likely place to be wary of. But then again I listened to the real experience of actual climbers rather than pinning my faith on an anonymous bolter.

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In reply to Brown:

> I'd have thought if you require a crowbar to remove it, the rock is most definitely only subjectivity loose.

No, there is a judgement to be made: will it stsy like it is or get looser with use. If the latter would it hurt someone if it came off while someone was climbing it. These are both things that it is hard to be certain about so subjective judgement is involved. Consequently the climber has to excerisen judgement as well as the first ascenscionist, you don't have to climb it.

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In reply to La benya:

> What?  Loose is an absolute in this situation. Its either attached, or its not.  Its either going to fall off, or not.  There is no subjectivity surrounding that aspect. The subjectivity could be in regards as to the dangers associated with the loose (or not) rock, but not the rock itself.

There may be an underlying absolute but neither you nor the first ascenscionist know it for sure, therefore the judgements about it are subjective.

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 Dave Cundy 20:44 Fri
In reply to bpmclimb:

I'm with you Brian.  If I look in a traditional guidebook (i.e. with a sentance or more to describe the route), I'd expect to read something that implies that the rock might be a bit dodgy.

I guess the problem is that over the last twenty years or so, we have got used to guidebooks with a series of funny little pictures to describe each route (sorry Alan et al).  I don't recall seeing a specific symbol in these books to denote "potentially shit rock".  I think that if you point someone towards a specific line (by publishing details, or by bolting it), then you have some duty of care to let the user know that the rock is particularly shit.

I think that pointing people towards rock which appears to be relatively safe (i.e bolted) but which contains an unexpectedly high number of dangerous blocks is irresponsible.  And lazy.  As Brian says, either do the job properly or not at all.

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In reply to Lankyman:

> They need to expect what they actually find, Martin. Not what the walls have fooled them into expecting. Compare climbing to driving over the last 40 years. Lots more traffic, bigger cars and getting more so. Are new drivers expecting complete safety and to be enfolded in a comfortable blanket of cotton wool? I doubt it. So if they want to inhabit a dream world then that's fine. Just be prepared for a shock now and again.

I think the car analogy is a poor one, the driving test involves driving on real roads, and many newer drivers are safer than old duffers that have been driving for decades but still believe they’re superior and safe.

> It's all in the real world. I'd have thought even a newbie would recognise that a newly bolted, recently quarried venue would be the most likely place to be wary of. But then again I listened to the real experience of actual climbers rather than pinning my faith on an anonymous bolter.

Im not sure they would all recognise the risks. Previous generations of climbers learnt outside from more experiences climbers, often in a club environment. The reality nowadays is that new climbers learn from walls, on line tutorials, Rockfax guides...  that is the real world that you refer to. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just trying to be realistic.

Anyway, I need an early night, off to Gogarth tomorrow...I hope there are no spinning holds or ill suit the owner!

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 r0x0r.wolfo 00:15 Sat
In reply to Dave Cundy:

> I guess the problem is that over the last twenty years or so, we have got used to guidebooks with a series of funny little pictures to describe each route (sorry Alan et al).  I don't recall seeing a specific symbol in these books to denote "potentially shit rock".  I think that if you point someone towards a specific line (by publishing details, or by bolting it), then you have some duty of care to let the user know that the rock is particularly shit.

To be fair to Alan, in most rockfax guides I have there is a 'shit rock' symbol. The description of it is "some loose rock may be encountered."

I agree with the OP, you remove any loose blocks that might kill a belayer before or during the process bolting it.

Previous debates have been around people manicuring routes too much and to what extent sharp holds are filed down to create new holds, trundling anything really dangerous is the very least that should be done. If people can't be bothered, then surely they could just toprope the thing and save a bit of money bolting it?

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In reply to Dave Cundy:

> I think that if you point someone towards a specific line (by publishing details, or by bolting it), then you have some duty of care

I think so too, and to a far greater extent for bolted routes, where, at least as far as the protection is concerned, subsequent climbers can’t rely on their experience and judgement to assess how safe a route is.  I think it’s also reasonable to assume that any obviously loose stuff will have been removed.

You can trad climb a new route on any tottering rubbish you like as long as you don’t imply that it‘s solid and well-protected but I think I have a reasonable expectation that any sport route you put up will be reasonably safe.

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In reply to bpmclimb:

I agree with everything that Mick Ward and Lankyman are saying, but what I am missing is any discussion about what is a responsible action in an AONB. Perhaps climbers who take power drills and crowbars to natural crags should also consider their responsibility towards the environment and non-climbing members of the outdoor community.

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In reply to the thread:

To summarise.  

Someone suggests that if you are going to bolt a route, then you should try and do it in such a way that people who subsequently try the route have a decent chance of not dying.

In response, a bunch fossilised crumblies harumph and harrah about the good old days, and shake their heads at the climbers of today, and who are pleased that they are at past it (begs the question if whether they were ever in front of it) and ready for the grave.  Back slaps are then delivered all around.

Is that fair? I'm ready for my dislikes now Mr DeMille.

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In reply to Lankyman:

> Not long ago I advised a couple of young colleagues at work to take at least ice axes (and hopefully crampons) onto a wintery Striding Edge. Well, as the web-fed experts they are they knew better than the sad old timer.

This is simultaneously both "when I was a lad..." and "...woe is me".

Funnily enough, actually following lots of climbing and hill walking discussion on websites and social media I would be very surprised if any beginner got the idea that they should go on a wintery striding edge without winter gear, but also without doing a winter skills course or hiring a guide first.

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In reply to Dave Cundy:

> I guess the problem is that over the last twenty years or so, we have got used to guidebooks with a series of funny little pictures to describe each route (sorry Alan et al).  I don't recall seeing a specific symbol in these books to denote "potentially shit rock". 

I guess you've never used a Rockfax then. See the screenshot from Darlton below. What do you think the symbol means? Rockfax also uses the "no entry" icon. The route Boxed In (E2 5c) has such an icon next to it - it just came to mind as I climbed a couple of routes right of it on Friday evening. The Rockfax description: "Through the roof of the recess. There is nothing visibly holding up the block. Do not climb this route" makes their opinion of the route even clearer.


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In reply to Blanche DuBois:

> .....a bunch fossilised crumblies..... ready for the grave.....

You're a lovely person, aren't you, Blanche 

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 Lankyman 09:19 Sat
In reply to TobyA:

> This is simultaneously both "when I was a lad..." and "...woe is me".

I don't know how old you are, Toby but these seem to summarise the 'know it all' attitudes that younger climbers often seem to hold. If I'd used that approach with more experienced operators when I was young I'd be dead years ago.

> Funnily enough, actually following lots of climbing and hill walking discussion on websites and social media I would be very surprised if any beginner got the idea that they should go on a wintery striding edge without winter gear, but also without doing a winter skills course or hiring a guide first.

Well, they do.

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 r0x0r.wolfo 09:50 Sat
In reply to John Stainforth:

> I agree with everything that Mick Ward and Lankyman are saying, but what I am missing is any discussion about what is a responsible action in an AONB. Perhaps climbers who take power drills and crowbars to natural crags should also consider their responsibility towards the environment and non-climbing members of the outdoor community.

Climbers can pull rocks off onto passers by. All the more reason to adopt an approach of not bolting routes with large loose blocks on them unless you are willing to sort it out. 

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 cpowell 10:10 Sat
In reply to Lankyman:

>  'know it all' attitudes that younger climbers often seem to hold.

I think the youth have held that attitude since forever - its the job of the youth to 'get away with it', poo poo the warnings of their elders and mostly survive to tell the tale.

Anyway back to the thread: Sport climbing is a different game to trad where the placement of solid anchors has removed the majority of the danger associated with climbing. Developing a crag for sport is rightly held in high regard, but that regard comes with responsibility, namely making sure it is as safe as reasonably practicable, including trundling blocks if needed.

That's not to remove responsibility from the climber, but in the majority of good sport climbing venues the rock is sound and rightly so this has come to be the expectation.

Post edited at 10:11
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 Bristoldave 11:47 Sat
In reply to cpowell:

Trad climbing is a lot about the adventure and assessing risk whilst trying very hard not to fall off. Sport climbing in my view is mostly about trying as hard as you can. (I love both they're just different games). Its hard to make such good assessments of rock quality/avoid dodgy holds while doing the latter.

The single rope and fixed protection used when sport climbing also reduces the options for managing the way the safety system runs around loose rock.

I've witnessed the effects loose blocks can have.

I agree with bpmclimb's original point.

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 Sl@te Head 13:38 Sat
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 Rick Graham 14:07 Sat
In reply to Mark Davies PK:

Yeah.

Loose holds bad.

Loose blocks worse.

Bolts in loose blocks inexcusable.

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In reply to Lankyman:

> ...seem to summarise the 'know it all' attitudes that younger climbers often seem to hold.

I do enjoy a good "Four Yorkshireman" thread. Someone should catalog them for posterity.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKHFZBUTA4k&

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In reply to planetmarshall:

> I do enjoy a good "Four Yorkshireman" thread....

Loose rock? Luxury! Our Dad use to bury us under an avalanche after school every afternoon 

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In reply to profitofdoom:

> Loose rock? Luxury! Our Dad use to bury us under an avalanche after school every afternoon 


How very bourgeois.

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 mik82 15:12 Sat
In reply to bpmclimb:

A lot of the newer bolted lower grade stuff on Gower seems like that. Both me and my friends have had our fair share of loose rock falling off while climbing them.

We had a similar experience with a newly bolted crag in Kalymnos where the usual cleaning hadn't been carried out, loose rock everywhere and a fallen block on the ground with a bolt in it. 

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 Lankyman 16:02 Sat
In reply to mik82:

> A lot of the newer bolted lower grade stuff on Gower seems like that. Both me and my friends have had our fair share of loose rock falling off while climbing them.

> We had a similar experience with a newly bolted crag in Kalymnos where the usual cleaning hadn't been carried out, loose rock everywhere and a fallen block on the ground with a bolt in it. 


OK mik82 (and any other posters who can't trust their own judgement or take responsibility for themselves outdoors). Please feel free to enlighten an old has-been with obviously antiquated views on this point.

In your dreamworld that you want to wish into existence the first ascensionist has to produce a quality product, on a par with the most perfect Spanish rock, with well-spaced and placed bolts. Unfortunately, in the real world that much of the lower grade sport actually exists in this is often not the case. Take a recently quarried venue where blasting was most likely used into the last decades of the 20th century, fracturing the rock heavily. Now, when sh*t happens and a rock/hold/entire face collapses who would you like to blame? Is it the owner of the quarry or the first ascensionist who you wish to sue for negligence? I once lived 5 minutes walk from Warton Main. It has a mix of trad, sport and routes that sort of occupy a middle ground in between both styles. The first ascensionists are all listed in the guidebook and the owner is Lancashire County Council (it's one of their LNR's). They're happy for you to climb there even though they're perfectly aware of the huge scale of looseness. So who is to blame for anything that happens on one of the many bolted lines? Hoseshoe Quarry? Sue the BMC?

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 mik82 17:11 Sat
In reply to Lankyman:

I'm quite happy to trust my own judgement and take responsibility thanks. I've now started wishing hard to get this dreamworld that you think I have too. 

My point is that a lot of these routes seem to have been put up hurriedly with the main goal to be to new route, rather than thinking of whether putting routes up something is actually a good idea. They're at grades that are accessible to beginners who won't have experience of dealing with loose crap. 

Someone bolting and preparing a route (as opposed to someone finding a new trad line) does bear some responsibility. I would not want to be identified as someone who had placed a bolt that came off with a block and person attached to it.  Could they have "reasonably foreseen" the consequences?

Post edited at 17:22
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 Lankyman 17:33 Sat
In reply to mik82:

All I can say to you, is never, EVER go to Warton Main. Nothing would ever have been done there, or any bolts placed if the FA's had thought along these lines. It's not my favourite crag (by a long way) but there are some great routes there that I've enjoyed and some I've crapped myself on, lucky to get off them intact. But not ever have I once thought to blame anyone else for my experience let alone hold them to account. Is it so utterly alien to your mindset to accept that not everything in life is as we would wish it to be? It's the whole concept of perfect safety and lack of personal responsibility some people appear to have that I'm struggling to comprehend.

Let's assume that a FA had put up a route that was 'OK' (whatever that boils down to) at the time. How often would you like/recommend the FA to return and check over the state of the rock and bolts? A year later, on repeated occasions until he/she dies? And then what? No doubt 'they' (there's always a 'they' who do these things isn't there) will come along, perform an inspection and declare it safe once again. And so on and so on down the years.

Post edited at 17:40
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In reply to Lankyman:

> So who is to blame for anything that happens on one of the many bolted lines? Hoseshoe Quarry? Sue the BMC?

Not for anything that happens, but a clearly defective belay, or crucial bolt, probably yes.  Obviously loose rock?  Possibly.

Post edited at 17:48
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In reply to Lankyman:

> Is it so utterly alien to your mindset to accept that not everything in life is as we would wish it to be?

It’s not alien to me, it’s pretty much the guiding principle of trad leading.

But if you hold to the idea that you just take on whatever nature and geology throw at you, you wouldn’t be bolting at all, would you?  And, having bolted, the next person has to take on trust that you knew what you were doing because, lacking x-ray vision, they can’t see how you did it.  I think the next climber would also be justified in expecting that you had made some effort to remove loose holds, otherwise why bother bolting it all?

If I come across a big loose hold on some culm coast adventure, that’s fine, that’s what I signed up for.  If I come across one on a sport route, that’s not so fine because that’s not the rules of that game.

Post edited at 18:48
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In reply to Dave Garnett:

Well said.

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In reply to Lankyman:

I reckon lots of loose rock on a sport route that has just been done is just shit cleaning and pure laziness. Some routes are just put up to add to the FA's unquenchable tally and done as quickly as possible.

Post edited at 19:22
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 Lankyman 19:57 Sat
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> It’s not alien to me, it’s pretty much the guiding principle of trad leading

Couldn't agree more.

> But if you hold to the idea that you just take on whatever nature and geology throw at you, you wouldn’t be bolting at all, would you?  And, having bolted, the next person has to take on trust that you knew what you were doing because, lacking x-ray vision, they can’t see how you did it.  I think the next climber would also be justified in expecting that you had made some effort to remove loose holds, otherwise why bother bolting it all?

Does the FA possess X-ray vision? I've climbed several times at Horseshoe and could tell from the ground that some routes weren't 100 percent sound. I never expected perfection as I've frequently encountered on foreign limestone. I have assumed that the FA has done some gardening but not to make everything risk-free. To expect that is unreasonable.

> If I come across a big loose hold on some culm coast adventure, that’s fine, that’s what I signed up for.  If I come across one on a sport route, that’s not so fine because that’s not the rules of that game.

What rules are these? If it's total and complete safety as I think you're implying then it's unrealistic, particularly in a post-industrial hole in the ground.

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 Lankyman 19:58 Sat
In reply to Mark Davies PK:

> I reckon lots of loose rock on a sport route that has just been done is just shit cleaning and pure laziness. Some routes are just put up to add to the FA's unquenchable tally and done as quickly as possible.


Do you have anyone in particular in mind?

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In reply to Dave Garnett:

> If I come across a big loose hold on some culm coast adventure, that’s fine, that’s what I signed up for.  If I come across !!one!! on a sport route, that’s not so fine because that’s not the rules of that game.

Definitely don't do any sport routes on slate then, or in a limestone or granite quarry. Hold on: some of these routes are famous and generally regarded as very good.  Can you be sure there is not a loose hold on the Quarryman? I'm sure there is at least one on the approach. Its beyond my grade but having climbed in the hole and seen pictures of the belays I would be surprised if there weren't a few on the route as well. I suppose it was irresponsible to have created it? In my grade range I have greatly enjoyed many that have some loose stuff but to my mind were, nevertheless, well worth repeating. I could provide quite a long list if you want. Was it irresponsible in your eyes to have bolted these? I didn't feel misled when I repeated them. To my mind the climbing scene would be diminished without them.

It is reasonable to expect a degree of responsibility and checking by the first ascenscionist but not the level of guarantee that many such as yourself are proposing. If a sport route is completely undercleaned and has a great many loose holds that could easily have been removed that is unacceptable. But at the other extreme it is completely unrealistic to expect the person that created the routes to find everything.  Probably most low grade sport routes in England and Wales have a few loose holds (and always will). It is as well to approach them with this in mind.

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In reply to Lankyman:

Mik82 is generally correct. I'm very grateful for the increase in punter grade sport climbing in South Wales but some routes are utter crap and make me wonder why the FA bothered spending money on bolts and glue. And this is without any regard for safety, just considering that surely the whole point of putting up a new route is to climb something enjoyable.

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 Fruit 22:16 Sat
In reply to bpmclimb:

My concern with so many climbing posts recently is how often the word ‘safe’ (And ‘sport’) is used.

Climbing in its essence is a pointlessly dangerous pastime.

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 Lankyman 08:27 Sun
In reply to gethin_allen:

> Mik82 is generally correct. I'm very grateful for the increase in punter grade sport climbing in South Wales but some routes are utter crap and make me wonder why the FA bothered spending money on bolts and glue. And this is without any regard for safety, just considering that surely the whole point of putting up a new route is to climb something enjoyable.


I'm becoming a stuck record here. Who is forcing you to climb these 'utter crap' sport routes? Was the rock any good before the bolts went in - if it was  no good before (and you avoided it) why can't you do the same now? Use your judgement and go elsewhere. Your interpretation of the FA's motivations is entirely yours. He could be largely on an ego trip - that's been alluded to further up this thread - with no concern for others whatsoever. If so, walk on. Even better, get a Hilti and do the job yourself. Or at least 'have a word' with the perpetrator so that at least they're aware of how your day is being spoiled.

Someone earlier posted up a Youtube link to the Monty Python Yorkshireman sketch. I suppose it was aimed at me. I'm a Lancastrian actually, so even more reactionary and stuck in a tweed plus fours and hemp rope past. Here's my humorous take on the attitudes shown by some posters' on here. Richard E Grant's finest hour:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ig3pcF-M4LI&

Just substitute the word 'climbs' for 'wines'.

Post edited at 08:39
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 Offwidth 10:07 Sun
In reply to harold walmsley:

Don't you think is about time these adventurous bolted routes are relabelled as something else, maybe even as trad climbs? That these climbs are worthwhile and bolted doesn't mean they are sport climbs. It doesn't stop the new climbers coming out from climbing gyms or trying such UK sport graded lines after enjoying outdoor sport for the first time on holiday, from being unaware of the significant extra risks. The BMC debolted some routes at Horseshoe for this reason that could have been left in place if they had trad grades. I feel we have gone down an unfortunate cul-de-sac because of our history. In the US such routes would not be on sport lists.

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 Tyler 10:46 Sun
In reply to Lankyman:

> All I can say to you, is never, EVER go to Warton Main. Nothing would ever have been done there, or any bolts placed if the FA's had thought along these lines. It's not my favourite crag (by a long way) but there are some great routes there that I've enjoyed and some I've crapped myself on, lucky to get off them intact. But not ever have I once thought to blame anyone else for my experience let alone hold them to account. Is it so utterly alien to your mindset to accept that not everything in life is as we would wish it to be? It's the whole concept of perfect safety and lack of personal responsibility some people appear to have that I'm struggling to comprehend.

Using Warton Main as an example shows the weakness of your argument.. When I did my first route there 32 years ago (yikes!) it was somewhere that people warned you off as a loose and dangerous crag and not somewhere for beginners. It's not clear from your post whether you are including the new sport routes when you talk about "I've crapped myself on, lucky to get off them intact" but if so then these should not have been bolted. If not then the whole Warton Main argument is nonsense.

> Let's assume that a FA had put up a route that was 'OK' (whatever that boils down to) at the time. How often would you like/recommend the FA to return and check over the state of the rock and bolts? A year later, on repeated occasions until he/she dies? And then what? No doubt 'they' (there's always a 'they' who do these things isn't there) will come along, perform an inspection and declare it safe once again. And so on and so on down the years.

It sounds as though these routes haven't become shitty over a period of years but were left in a shitty state by the FA so this paragraph is also nonsense.

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In reply to Offwidth:

Yeah that is exactly what I am doing with my guides. Any super spaced bolted route is going in as trad.

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 UKB Shark 11:15 Sun
In reply to UKB Shark:

> What constitutes irresponsibly loose is subjective. No doubt you cleaned them up to your satisfaction on your way back down... 

Seems like I've attracted 38 dislikes for the above Perhaps some clarification is in order.

I've put up new routes on Peak limestone since the mid eighties so have plenty of experience of cleaning loose rock as you might imagine. What stays and what goes when cleaning a new route is not as blindingly obvious as clearly many of the posters above seem to think. Only this weekend I was on a well travelled, three star route 34 year old at Ansteys and stood on a solid looking foot ledge which came off. On other longstanding! routes you wonder how some holds are still there.

Some crags are inherently looser than others. No matter how much you clean them they will still continue to shed holds. Clean one loose hold and the rock is similarly loose underneath. Unfortunately at the easier and mid grades the solid cliffs have largely been worked out for trad climbs. New development is therefore more likely to be on the less solid cliffs. Personally I avoid going on poor quality routes on these newly developed cliffs however, if you chose to then recognise that is a choice and loose rock is part of the deal. Indeed what holds you chose to pull on is also a choice, not a requirement. 

Going back to the OP. Whilst I do think there is a duty of care in the placement of bolts that others are going to rely on but cleaning that requires a hammer and crowbar is a different matter entirely. Presumably the first ascensionist cleaned the route to a level that they were happy with. Now maybe there standard isn't the same as bpmclimbs but that is a subjective difference and as I pointed out there was nothing to stop bpmclimbs to remove the offending holds. However, if the holds were solid enough that it required a crowbar to remove them then it is highly questionable whether you should need to remove them which may in any case just reveal further loose rock underneath. I dare say that if I abseiled down the routes of most sport crags in Derbyshire with a hammer and crowbar that I would be able to remove sizeable holds from a fair proportion of them.  

       

  

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 Lankyman 12:26 Sun
In reply to Tyler:

> Using Warton Main as an example shows the weakness of your argument.. When I did my first route there 32 years ago (yikes!) it was somewhere that people warned you off as a loose and dangerous crag and not somewhere for beginners. It's not clear from your post whether you are including the new sport routes when you talk about "I've crapped myself on, lucky to get off them intact" but if so then these should not have been bolted. If not then the whole Warton Main argument is nonsense.

> It sounds as though these routes haven't become shitty over a period of years but were left in a shitty state by the FA so this paragraph is also nonsense.

Nonsense? If you want to read my post that way, it's entirely up to you. Have you been to Warton since 1988? I've climbed trad there which was far better and more sound than some of the bolted stuff also there. What is actually nonsense is the expectation that everything with a bolt in is going to be safe. I'd hope the FA did a good job but I don't expect perfection. To get that you need to pay the equipper. It would seem in France they're having a few problems with liability over crags and insurance for the community who's land they're on. As I asked earlier (and no-one answered) if you have an incident who is to blame? Some people seem to be pinning their faith in all-too-human and fallible bolters to get it right, all the time, every time.

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In reply to bpmclimb:

It seems that the restrictions on bolting are now about as clear as the rules concerning the Covid19 lockdown(s).

The UIAA injected some sensible guidelines for conserving natural rock some years ago, but bolt creep is again obscuring the issue. It would be good to hear the opinions of some of the adults in the room, such as Pat Littlejohn.

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 Lankyman 13:42 Sun
In reply to UKB Shark:

Well put, Mr Shark. Many of the people disliking your initial post don't seem to want to hear the hard message that outdoor climbing (of any stripe) will always contain a risk element. And one way of minimizing that risk is to use judgement.

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 Sl@te Head 13:45 Sun
In reply to Lankyman:

I think there's more risk indoor climbing (with Covid-19) than outdoor climbing at the moment!

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 Lankyman 15:59 Sun
In reply to Sl@te Head:

> I think there's more risk indoor climbing (with Covid-19) than outdoor climbing at the moment!

You're probably not wrong.

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 kipper12 18:49 Sun
In reply to Lankyman:

Legal liability is certainly an issue, and so far, there have been no cases to set legal precedent.  Up until a case hits the uk courts all the arguments are moot.

However, we should reflect on the odd cases which have gone through the courts In relation to lack safety precautions/signage where the case appeared open and shut, yet the judgment has gone the “wrong” way.

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In reply to Offwidth:

> Don't you think is about time these adventurous bolted routes are relabelled as something else, 

Yes,I agree., there is something in this.  I almost added something along these lines to my previous post.

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In reply to profitofdoom:

> You're a lovely person, aren't you, Blanche 

I aim to please, as ever.

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 Offwidth 07:30 Mon
In reply to Mark Davies PK:

Well done.

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 Lankyman 09:13 Mon
In reply to harold walmsley:

All those bold slate routes had E grades back in the 80's. Same thing for all the 'proper' sport routes at Malham.

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 Offwidth 09:26 Mon
In reply to Lankyman:

The bold but bolted slate trad routes still get E grades?

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In reply to Lankyman:

I can assure you, Poetry Pink is still E5.

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In reply to harold walmsley:

> Definitely don't do any sport routes on slate then, or in a limestone or granite quarry. Hold on: some of these routes are famous and generally regarded as very good.  Can you be sure there is not a loose hold on the Quarryman? 

First, I've never asked for a guarantee of no loose holds (or of complete safety, as Lankyman seems to think) on sport or any other kind of route.  That's obviously impossible and tiresome argumentum ad absurdum

I do think it would be irresponsible and illogical to bolt a route and not bother to remove an obviously loose large flake.  It's also obvious that the degree to which the occasional dodgy hold is acceptable depends on the context of where the route is. 

Second, just because a route has some bolts, that doesn't make it a sport climb.  I've done quite a few very nice routes on slate and some of them had bolts.  It's also true that I've done some pretty crappy ones on slate and limestone which had loose holds but, more importantly, climbed though (and sometimes had bolts in) big blocks that I just don't like the look of.  I'm not so keen on that - I've been climbing a while and at least half a dozen routes I've climbed no longer exist...

Post edited at 11:17
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In reply to Lankyman:

> Couldn't agree more.

> Does the FA possess X-ray vision? I've climbed several times at Horseshoe and could tell from the ground that some routes weren't 100 percent sound. 

What I meant by the x-ray vision comment was that I can't tell how sound the bolts are by looking at them.  Therefore I have to trust the first ascensionist has done a competent job and they owe me a certain duty of care.  In my view, included in that is removing obviously loose flakes, such as the situation the OP was referring to.

   

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 Aly 11:33 Mon
In reply to bpmclimb:

I'm actually quite surprised at the controversy this seems to have caused, and quite a lot of things being taken out of context.  I completely agree with your original post, and I say that as someone for who 'adventure trad' is probably my favourite type of climbing.

For what it's worth, I don't think the vast majority of climbers want "perfection" on a sport route.  I know sport climbing can be dangerous.  I know there can be loose rock, I'd go so far as to say I expect at least some loose rock on all routes.  I know that routes will change and holds can become loose after many years, and hundreds of ascents.  I am aware that the FA may accept a slightly different level of chossiness (but it doesn't sound like that is what's going on in the OP).  But that's not really the point.

The point is that if you are putting up a sport route, then minimising the chance of a dangerous fall is literally the only reason to put the bolts in.  That is why there is a different expectation.   The rules are different with trad, for many reasons.  If you are going to go the effort of bolting a route then do a decent job and make it reasonably safe.  In my experience cleaning loose and dangerous rock can take many, many times longer than the time to actually place the bolts and lead the thing, that's part of the game.  I think if people aren't prepared to do this then they should let somebody else do it.  Nobody wants climbing accidents due to bad rock, even less so on your local crag, or on your sport route.  We should think of it as crag guardianship, the same as not leaving litter at the crag, trashing the farmer's drystone wall, or taking a dump at the crag. 

And hopefully people will have a word with FA's who are doing a bad job at this to make them aware.  Perhaps they and local climbers will try to clean up some of these routes.  Perhaps if the rock is really *that* bad then locals will just take the bolts out, surely there can't be anywhere in the UK where dangerous, loose sport routes are genuinely better than no routes at all?

Post edited at 11:35
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In reply to Phil79:

> And no-one is forcing you to climb them!


That's a ridiculous comment. You aren't going to know until after you've climbed it and if  you have dead belayer?

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 tehmarks 13:57 Mon
In reply to bpmclimb:

Nothing to add to the debate, but I fully agree that the bolter of a sport route has a certain moral obligation to not stick bolts in patently unsound rock, and/or to remove patently loose and dangerous rock, in exactly the same way that they have a certain moral obligation to not do a dangerous job of placing the bolts. The challenge of sport climbing isn't the full-value physical and mental work-out of trad - it's a physical pursuit. Bolted adventurous routes may have a place - but that isn't sport climbing, and they shouldn't be given sport grades and appear in sport guidebooks.

The ultimate responsibility, in all cases, still remains with those who choose to climb the route. Obviously. If you expose yourself willingly to the hazards of exploring the vertical natural world, you accept all of the potential consequences.

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 Iamgregp 14:49 Mon
In reply to bpmclimb:

> Leaving hollow-sounding, vibrating, toaster-sized detached blocks in place is not the same as "normal" settling down of dust and very small stuff. It's irresponsible - unforgivable, actually (and probably constitutes reckless endangerment).

Two slice or four slice?  

Surprised this hasn't been raised already tbh.

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 Wild Isle 16:38 Mon
In reply to Mick Ward:

> they expect the outside to conform to the inside, i.e. be pre-set and safe. They'll focus on 'the correct procedure' for this or that, yet give very little attention to the context in which they're operating.

Thank you for distilling that into words. I've been struggling to understand this mentality and whether it's warranted, and I'm just old school, or if the younger climbers lack a more versatile skill set due to the cookie-cutter gym environment so many of them are branching outdoors from.

A few weeks ago I was at a crag I developed and overheard a young guy explaining to his obviously even less-experienced group that 'if the anchor was over the edge it would be way better'. Suffice to say I had carefully thought-out what character I wanted the finish to be before installing the bolts (and it is in step with over 250 nearby routes in the area) and I have climbed these routes dozens of times with various partners with nothing alerting us that a reconfiguration was called for. To set the scene, basically there are three adjacent climbs with regular hanger anchors to belay and/or top rope off and one central abseil station which this group were trying to run their top rope from instead of using the hangers that were installed for that purpose.

What I realized was exactly what you so succinctly described, that the fellow in question lacked the ability to look at the various options and choose an appropriate anchoring and descent process, and instead defaulted to a mindset where the climb should be set up more to his (gym) experience.  

In another case a guy, after his first visit to one crag, amongst several dozen in the area, pronounced online that 'the area is generally choosy'. This I can only assume was meant, relative to a place where the holds are literally bolted to plywood, because the crags in question are extremely solid - having climbed a fair bit at Warton Main in the 80s I know choss when I see it.

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 Phil79 18:11 Mon
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

So do you never take a look at a route and try and get an overall feel for how shit/good the rock is? Or back off a route when it starts to look dodgy? That's all part of risk assessment in climbing isnt it?  

Post edited at 18:11
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