'Not really in nic'
Then why are you climbing it?
Leave wee Jimmy alone. Students cant afford to be leaving bail gear on routes.
I saw a similar thing on Facebook, whereby a team had climbed Hidden Chimney and reported that the turf on the first third wasn't frozen... I wasn't aware that only a certain percentage of a mixed/turfy route had to be frozen before it was deemed acceptable.
I'm quite bad at winter conditions analysis so often excavate most of the turf. I just go back in spring with a bucket of turf and a trowel and replace it all.
Great way to find winter loot also.
I prefer the logbook comment from the other climber 'all gone by the time we finished'. I presume this applied to the turf?!
Totally respect your post and understand where you are coming from but please be assured we would not have climbed the route yesterday if it was not in acceptable condition. The route was not damaged and turf was not lost. Routes were ticked and we're chuffed to have been amongst the lucky few who honed the early season conditions this weekend.
We were going off Ephermeral, and had the understanding it's not a turfy/turf dependant route, which its not. Like all climbing, assessments on conditions were made from the start of the walk in to the top of the route and at no point did we think the route was not in acceptable climbing condition and that we were damaging the route in anyway whatsoever, despite not all turf being fully frozen.
Perhaps our logbook descriptions seem dubious, and whilst they are public they are more notes to ourselves and should they really be looked into so much? Their not exactly a comprehensive ground conditions post...
We'll think more carefully about our posts in the future, but why negatively comment on a few words in a some punters Logbook when we could all just be psyched within the community that folk are getting out Scottish winter?
Fair enough. Thanks for posting
Have a good winter
Coire Chat is a great addition to S Highlights, very reliable, high, exposed, turf needs to be frozen thought! Too much snow on approach, usually a indication of poor climbing conditions, which wouldn't have been an issue.
My initial thoughts, after you logged it, must have been very dangerous, big loose block!
> We'll think more carefully about our posts in the future,
Forget about social media, it might be better to think more carefully about what you climb and when, from the standpoint of your own safety and enjoyment if nothing else.
They sound like a pretty comprehensive ground conditions report to me......
Exactly. Biceps and luck are great to have in your pocket but I'd rather have a good sense of judgement and know when things aren't to be climbed.
I wouldn't usually get involved in these discussions, but feel compelled to do so having actually witnessed their ascent yesterday. Unlike all on here.
Many of the snowed up rock routes at Ben Cruchan were in borderline, but acceptable condition yesterday, being a good couple of hundred metres above the snow line and having a sprinkling of rime. Yes, the turf wasn't even beginning to freeze, but with careful placements this can be avoided on such snowed up rock routes. Myself even doing a stein pull on a different climb to avoid the turf.
The dilemma that the above team had was that there was a marked rise in temperature that rapidly removed much of the rime from Tainted Elixer as they neared the final few metres. Perhaps they could of retreated at that point, but no doubt they would of been chastised for leaving tat by you good people of UKC!
Just offering a different view point...
> Many of the snowed up rock routes at Ben Cruchan were in borderline, but acceptable condition yesterday,
> the turf wasn't even beginning to freeze,
I wasn't there but I can't really square those two statements.
Surely the routes are either turfy or they're not? If you have to avoid the turf, that means they're turfy and therefore mixed routes, not just snowed-up rock.
I would describe borderline conditions as frozen, with little snow. Otherwise it's mushy and not in acceptable climbing conditions, IMO?
Here's a thought, why aren't there any summer routes on Cruachan? I'm guessing the long walk mostly, loose rock, scrappy, vegetated rock. More enjoyable when frozen, easier to climb with axes and crampons.....
If it had only been a little colder, for longer, would have been a good option, away from crowds.
Personally always uncomfortable making a call on conditions unless I was there myself, and rubbed my nose in it. Worth bearing in mind that the summit buttress on Cruachan has some nice little routes on it that can be in nick when the Coire Chat routes don't quite make it - can save your day having gone all that way.
Have you climbed on them, always thought they looked too broken?
Did a couple of lines one time but think we chose not to write up. Not worth walking in specifically for but definitely worth bearing in mind. Re rock climbing on Noe Buttress, have climbed on the same pink granite on Meall nan Each and it was very good. Always suspected could be good rock climbing on Noe Buttress but was concerned of course that summer climbing might lead to damage to the winter routes.
I've been thinking about this and I think it is all to do with respect. Respect for the route, traditions, environment and perhaps less obviously, respect for yourself.
Respect for the route: you wouldn't buy a sirloin steak and chuck it in a casserole so why treat a three star classic (or any route) in the same way? Treat it right, do it in the way it's meant to be done.
Respect for traditions: Scottish winter climbing is pretty obscure and arbitrary. Lots of people think it's just dry tooling but it isn't, it's something unique and different and wonderful but it's largely the traditions and ethics that make it so rather than anything concrete. One of those traditions, one of the things that separates it from other activities is that terrain should be frozen.
Respect for the environment: setting aside the other impacts of winter climbing... To say a route does not rely on turf is a bit disingenuous. Virtually every route has vegetation somewhere, at the top, bottom and in cracks that might not seem essential to progress but may prove to be in the future and in any case harbours life. When all this is frozen our impact on it is massively reduced.
Respect for yourself: firstly from a self preservation angle. Unfrozen winter routes are potentially dangerous with loose blocks and vegetation.
Secondly, respect for your personal legacy as a climber. I used the phrase 'Tainted Ascent' at the top of this thread and that's what happens when you climb stuff out of nick, you're (well I am anyway) left with that vague feeling of dissatisfaction and unease about the whole thing. Who wants to feel that? Not me anyway, I want to look back and say 'yes, we did that right'. I think that's worth more than the compromised, short term gratification you might get from doing a route out of condition.
That's my two cents.
Have a like from me Dave just for the irony!
Choosing venue for non turf reliant routes/ snowed up rock routes. Having to dodge soggy turf on the route by going off route. I'd say that's irony.
"Dont worry lads, it's not frozen but I'll figure 4 the crux and we are sorted. "
Listed as Mixed in Simon's book, not Snowed up rock.
Going by how things looked all over, the previous weeks temperatures and weather and your and the other groups reports of nothing being frozen in the corrie I would have probably just treated it as a hill day hence why despite wanting to get out and start the winter I went for a wander into Lochnagar and didnt even bother taking gear as it was obvious nothing would be frozen.
Ethics are there to protect the climbs and the sport but they can only be enforced by personal judgement and responsibility. If climbing unfrozen ground is acceptable to you then you perhaps need to revisit them.
Ah, the annual thread and it’s not even November yet! Which is precisely the point - people are impatient these days (may be it was ever thus, though a very experienced Scottish winter climber tells me people used to wait for things to come into nick). Perhaps the impatience is a sign of the internet age and climate change (things are less likely to stay in condition for long periods).
Still, it’s only the first spell of winter and not even November yet. I know people have climbed in October in recent years but this is literally the first half serious bit of winter we’ve had. Clearly things aren’t going to be well frozen so why the urge to climb technical routes? They aren’t going to be very nice or safe to climb and you barely get the tick (well may be if it was actually riled up and snowed up). Or at least choose a route which doesn’t actually have any turf on it. Or loose blocks and gravel. Which isn’t many of them... Better still, do a lower grade mountaineering route which goes in all conditions - Tower Ridge etc. Or even go dry tooling to get fitter while waiting for conditions to come in.
It’s like the Guinness ad.
> Secondly, respect for your personal legacy as a climber. I used the phrase 'Tainted Ascent' at the top of this thread and that's what happens when you climb stuff out of nick, you're (well I am anyway) left with that vague feeling of dissatisfaction and unease about the whole thing. Who wants to feel that? Not me anyway, I want to look back and say 'yes, we did that right'. I think that's worth more than the compromised, short term gratification you might get from doing a route out of condition.
While I see merit in much of your post, this last paragraph seems odd, if not self-contardictory to me. I'm not sure what you mean by "personal legacy". Isn't a legacy something you leave to other people? But you then seem to tell them how they should feel about their ascent. Maybe they had a fun, challenging, adventurous day out which lefty them feeling really satisfied despite knowing conditions were marginal.
All I meant was do you want to look back on your ascents of classic routes with satisfaction or a lingering feeling of doubt over conditions.
> All I meant was do you want to look back on your ascents of classic routes with satisfaction or a lingering feeling of doubt over conditions.
And all I meant was that it might be possible to a have a very satisfying day out while recognising that the route wasn't properly in condition. In the end, it's all climbing.
> And all I meant was that it might be possible to a have a very satisfying day out while recognising that the route wasn't properly in condition. In the end, it's all climbing.
Absolutely, I'm sure you could have a very satisfying day dry tooling the Needle in July.
Way back when, before the Internet and all its ups and downs, we took gambles and went out. Some times it payed off, others it didn't.
Self appointed arbiters were not around to judge, or if the were, they had to catch you at it.
The criticisms levelled at you only serve to discourage reporting of ascents and disadvantage the community.
> Self appointed arbiters were not around to judge, or if the were, they had to catch you at it.
Some of the people on this thread are massively experienced winter climbers, new routers and guidebook writers so it seems a bit dismissive to refer to them like that.
> The criticisms levelled at you only serve to discourage reporting of ascents and disadvantage the community.
What the criticism discourages is claiming winter ascents of routes that weren't in winter condition. Such self policing of winter climbing predates the internet by quite some time!
> Absolutely, I'm sure you could have a very satisfying day dry tooling the Needle in July.
Indeed. I think the only argument against doing so (or climbing any route out of condition) is the unsightly damage to the rock through scratching or the destruction of unfrozen turf, since this affects other people. Your arguments about whether it somehow "feels" right are entirely subjective should be up to personal choice since it affects nobody else. Of course the argument about scratching the rock could be used to criticise climbing the Needle (or indeed Savage Slit or any other classic rock climb) in full winter conditions!
> What the criticism discourages is claiming winter ascents of routes that weren't in winter condition.
It doesn't appear to me that these people who climbed Tainted Elixir claimed anything that shouldn't have been claimed (they actually seem pretty honest), and even if they had, so what? By all means question possible damage to turf, but I really don't see that their climbing of the route should be a problem otherwise.
> Your arguments about whether it somehow "feels" right are entirely subjective should be up to personal choice since it affects nobody else.
For good or for bad we're now locked in to a fairly subjective definition of what Scottish winter climbing is (white, frozen, easier with axe and crampons). Personally I like that and think it's one of the things that make it unique.
They went for an objective definition in the Alps (set months) and I'm not sure that's worked out any better?
> It doesn't appear to me that these people who climbed Tainted Elixir claimed anything that shouldn't have been claimed (they actually seem pretty honest),
Yes, you're right about that, they did question the validity of their ascent. I've tried not to be too critical because we've all been there.
> For good or for bad we're now locked in to a fairly subjective definition of what Scottish winter climbing is (white, frozen, easier with axe and crampons). Personally I like that and think it's one of the things that make it unique.
Yes, I think it is fine to define a "valid" winter ascent in those terms and it certainly makes sense to have some "rules" for claiming the kudos of first ascents. However, it seems to me absurd to criticise someone climbing a route which does not meet all those requirement if their doing so does not affect anyone else - as I said, it's all just climbing.
I think it's a mistake to add the qualifier that people are impatient "these days", these conversations were being conducted back in the early 90s and I daresay back in the 70s, 50s and so on to the mists of time and there were crampon scratches the classic Polldubh routes and people dry tooling Auchinstarry (not me this time) before the turn of the century
It has probably always been the case that enthusiastic and possibly naive young climbers (mea maxima culpa) push the limits of of appropriate conditions a bit - I doubt it has anything to do with a lack of respect of tradition or for the environment - it certainly wasn't in my or our cases back in the day.
We should maybe be mindful that with increased numbers on the winter crags that any damage can be accelerated be careful to achieve what could be imagined as the routes "consent". (Apologies to anyone for whom this is an uncomfortable metaphor, it seemed apt)
Dave's warning to do things right and to thereby avoid future regret is, I think, wise but is perhaps a slow burner.
Totally agree with you that it was always thus, I guess in the 90s it was just more likely to be pub gossip and a month or two late.
But Andy, what exactly is it that you are almost fessing up to?!
I climbed North Wall Traverse (IV 6) when it was pretty black. In our defence, it was completely frozen - we had got that bit right, there wasn't any unfrozen turf on the hill that day from sea level to summit, but the snow showers hadn't dusted the peak, and the air had been too cold for any hoar to form. But we had caught the bus out there and slogged all the way up... This supports Robert's view above, we were only kidding ourselves - not actually damaging the route in anyway, indeed without snow and frost, I suspect my footwork was much neater and less scratchy going up Sesame Groove!
this is some friends in 1980
looks pretty black, but elsewhere on the route it was
which looks wintery
> this is some friends in 1980
> looks pretty black, but elsewhere on the route it was
> which looks wintery
I think I would describe that as "alpine conditions". If it was in the Alps, you'd probably think it was pretty fantastic - some lovely icy runnels and sections of dry rock for which it might even be worth taking off crampons at times. I've done the odd route in Scotland in such conditions and had great days on them though I wouldn't "claim" a proper winter ascent. As I said, it'a all just climbing.
Nice bit of selective quoting there.
Here's the full report from my partner's logbook: "Unfortunately conditions were less good than anticipated so we didn’t do a second route. The turf on the upper part of the crag wasn’t great in those recessed corners"
Turf on P1 was frozen but P2 followed a deep corner and wasn't quite so well frozen. By the time we worked that out it was easier to top out than retreat. Based on that we didn't do the second route we'd planned.
Sounds a bit different from 'Yes, the turf wasn't even beginning to freeze' ;)
> "conditions were less than good"
> "the turf ... wasn't great"
> I've been thinking about this and I think it is all to do with honour... :'D
Would you mind not choosing words of what I said to suit your agenda? Furthermore, many less experienced people would probably have described the crag as being in great nick- it wasn’t, just enough to warrant the “Scottish winter climbing” denomination. It was in climbable conditions- trying to climb this without frozen turf would not only be unethical and wrong, it would be most likely ending in serious injury. I walked all the way, started a route with essential turf moves frozen enough to climb it. It deteriorated as my partner went up. At the time, it made more sense to finish the route than organise bailing and for the most part having a few grade in hand allowed us to ignore the turf. At the top we both agreed to leave the crag and come another day. Come with us next time and we can explain and demonstrate- that’s what people did with me.
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