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Topic split - Whatís the deal with Carn Vellan (Read 2459 times)

A Jooser

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For the same reason as Gogarth and Pembroke - because viewed overall they are better kept as trad climbing areas...

I don't think you are comparing like for like here. While Gogarth may well be a trad climbing area, a quick look at the UKC crags database shows that there is sport climbing on Ynys Mon at Fedw Fawr. At Pembroke also, sport climbing can be found at Porthgain - and yet the reputation of Pembroke as a traditional sea-cliff climbing area is undiminished.

Worth noting that the drive from Pembroke to the Gower is perhaps not dissimilar to that from Penwith to the Roseland - Telpyn Point and Morfa Bychan are passed on the way. Cornwall is the 12th largest 'English county' by area with a coastline of over 400 miles and a resident population of more than 500,000 - there is room for all forms of climbing to co-exist here.

The overzealous insistence that a blanket policy must be strictly adhered to is questionable in my view. And, as earlier posters have pointed out, the arguments for its maintenance without exception basically boil down to saying Cornish climbers can't be trusted and we must give the tourists what they expect. Such arguments are disparaging and disrespectful. I reject them and - this is a general comment not aimed at kingholmesy - I would ask those pushing these notions to consider them carefully.

(P.S. Pete and AJM posted while I was writing this, so forgive me for repeating what's already been said.)

Oldmanmatt

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As a Cornishman-ish, Iím not going to worry until they try to bolt Bishopís Rib.

(Caveat:  I was born in Paignton, to a father from Buckfastleigh (Devon) and a mother from St Tudy (Cornwall) , I didnít move to St Tudy until I was 5 (1975) and sold my house there in 1997. Point being, how Cornish would you have to be, to have a say? Born there and never left? Several generations of such? Or surely it should simply be held to the same standards as the rest of the UK? Aka, what Jooser said).

Andy W

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My guide suggests there's a partially bolted quarry in Pembroke too (Tenby south beach quarry) and I have to confess I thought there were some bolted quarries near North Pembroke too, but I don't have the definitive guide for there and therefore could very possibly be wrong. There's also a couple of hundred sport routes right on the Carmarthenshire/Pembrokeshire border near St Clears, judging by the rock fax SW sport climbs map.

R Thomas told me about somewhere round those parts, but wasn't sure.

chrish

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Local here climbed 30 yrs 30 mins from CV went to both recentish bolt debates and voted against bolting at CV, reasons being:
1. Nothing against bolting at all but rightly or wrongly I perceived it as an elitist argument - climbers climbing at Grade x + somehow 'deserve' to have bolted climbs in Cornwall. I too would love to be able to do some sports routes without driving for miles but like watching a decent footy match (sorry Truro City) / band etc that is a compromise one makes when choosing to live in Cornwall.
2. The routes in question were cracks and had lots of natural gear so we weren't looking at a Malham type scenario.
3. Would I trust locals to keep to this agreement ?  If the locals included Medwards then quite frankly no. Great climbers but a history of wedge enlarging even without a Cummins like amber light.
As I understand it the current bolt agreement is very clear - no fixed gear on natural cliffs in Cornwall. That means quarries such as Cheesewring etc could be grid bolted if a desire was there. I am not sure that making exceptions for a couple of named sectors such as CV roof would worth sacrificing this clarity for.

Only my opinion and if the roof at CV did get bolted would I go beyond internet tutting? Probably not.

Cheers - Chris H

Neil F

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The use of Gogarth as an example is illustrative of tolerance of two strands of climbing ethics co-existing, in the cliff environment that best suits each. 'Gogarth' has a bolted crag, with two excellent sport routes from the 80s - a 7b and 8a - that were recently re-bolted (plus room for 2 more newies I'm keen to look at). Their existence in no way threaten the placement of bolts on the rest of 'Gogarth'. Yes it's a quarried face, but it's certainly 'Gogarth' - you walk right past it to do Dream of White Horses!

Whilst I have no doubt as to the sincerity of Pete's offer to sort out MM at CV, nor to his competence to do a proper job, this statement cannot go unchallenged!

It's only my opinion, but anyone arguing that the overhanging face in Breakwater Quarry is somehow 'certainly Gogarth' (by which I assume you mean 'proper Gogarth') is way off the mark. I have no issue whatsoever with those BQ bolted routes, and I was really pleased that they got re-equipped recently - not least because I still have 'tax' on one of them, acquired about 25 years ago!

But the day people start whacking bolts in what I consider 'proper Gogarth' would be a dark day indeed.

For what it's worth, whilst I'm certainly not a Cornwall local (though I have done trad routes at CV within the last 12 months), I'm with kingholmesy on this one.

Neil

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Good discussion chaps  :yes:

macca7

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 "no fixed gear on natural cliffs in Cornwall."

That was what was agreed at the meetings and lasted about 5 minutes! James pearson had made a huge statement taking out all the fixed gear at dyers only for Dave Birkett to come along and place some pegs. Nobody had a problem with it and everyone said how wonderful it was. If that's not elitest i don't know what is. No fixed gear unless its a big name and a big grade.

Cornwall is a big place and the climbers should and can be trusted. Theres been a bolted route on the culm for well over 10 years its not caused a sudden out break in bolting. We all know about the bolts placed by the Edwards it didn't mean the rest of the cornish climbing community suddenly thought brilliant lets go and bolt bosi. I dont understand why it is seen as different to everywhere else?

kingholmesy

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The overzealous insistence that a blanket policy must be strictly adhered to is questionable in my view. ... the arguments for its maintenance without exception basically boil down to saying Cornish climbers can't be trusted and we must give the tourists what they expect.


There are some fair arguments made in this thread by those in favour of bolting CV, but this isnít one of them.

I have friends that are pro bolting CV, I respect them, and there is no suggestion that I think they canít be ďtrustedĒ.  On the other side of the debate, I personally am against bolting and it has nothing to do with ďgiving tourists what they wantĒ.

In my mind, it boils down to two key questions, neither of which is clear cut:

1.  Looked at solely in isolation, would the roof at CV make for better climbing if bolted?

Those in favour will point at routes like Monster Munch and say yes.  They might also rely on the paucity of other nearby sports venues.  Those against will point at Rewind and the possibility of futuristic hard trad lines and say no.  If against you might rely also on the fact that this is a fragile coastal environment and question whether it would suffer from extra traffic.

The second question only arises if you think that, looked at solely in isolation, CV would be better with some or all of the lines bolted.

2.  Do you think that it is more important to maintain a clear policy of no bolts on Cornish sea cliffs?

Those in favour of bolting CV will say that trad and sport can co-exist and say that there is no need to be so simplistic.

Those against will argue that the thin end of the wedge is a valid concern, and that it is not worth risking the richness of Cornish trad climbing.

On both questions there are good arguments both ways, but ultimately I know which side I come down on.

petejh

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Whilst I have no doubt as to the sincerity of Pete's offer to sort out MM at CV, nor to his competence to do a proper job, this statement cannot go unchallenged!

It's only my opinion, but anyone arguing that the overhanging face in Breakwater Quarry is somehow 'certainly Gogarth' (by which I assume you mean 'proper Gogarth') is way off the mark. I have no issue whatsoever with those BQ bolted routes, and I was really pleased that they got re-equipped recently - not least because I still have 'tax' on one of them, acquired about 25 years ago!

But the day people start whacking bolts in what I consider 'proper Gogarth' would be a dark day indeed.



I think my comment about Breakwater Quarry being 'Gogarth' needs to be read in the context of me replying to Kingholmsey's reply below, he was replying to Andy W, who asked:
..if Cornwall would be treated by the BMC in a similar manner to other comparable areas, i.e. Dorset, N Wales. It seemed this was not the case and Cornwall was to be an exception, my interest is in why?

To which Kingholmsey replied:
For the same reason as Gogarth and Pembroke - because viewed overall they are better kept as trad climbing areas.
Letís face it - although there might be the odd line that looked at in isolation would be better (or only possible) if bolted, Cornwall is never going to be a great sports venue. By contrast it is an amazing trad climbing area, with sea cliff adventure routes to rival those anywhere in the country.




Like 99.9% of climbers I completely agree that Gogarth and Pembroke - and Cornwall - ARE better kept as trad climbing areas. There isn't any suggestion or evidence to the contrary from any serious climber. So using the point that 'great trad areas (such as Gogarth or Pembroke) are better remaining as trad', as a justification for not equipping a TINY number of sport routes in a WHOLE COUNTY, in 2020, seems to me to be very dubious logic.

And if your evidence for 'great trad-climbing areas that must not be bolted' is to use Gogarth or Pembroke as your examples, then both those areas DO have sport crags within walking distance (for Gogarth) or close driving distance (for Pembroke). And there are loads of sport crags within the same county! In the context of the point you're trying to make about Carn Vellan affecting trad climbing in Cornwall as a whole, breakwater quarry at Gogarth is like having a sport crag in full view on the approach path to Bosigran! Without any sport climbing encroaching on Bosigran! It's making the point FOR bolts not being a threat, counter to the point you're intending to make.

Being great trad climbing areas, and having a few good sport routes, are not mutually exclusive ideas. As evidenced in just about every other significant climbing region in the UK.

Perhaps it's based on fears of what happened a long time ago. I completely accept that plenty of shoddy ethical choices around bolts were made through the 70s, 80s and 90s - when questions regarding sport and trad ethics were increasingly having to be examined due to progress of bolting/drill technology and the evolution of climbing styles.

Neil, I agree BQ isn't 'proper Gogarth'. We all know that it isn't what you go to 'Gogarth' to experience. But it IS located at Gogarth - it's on the approach path 5 minutes walk away from North Stack! If that isn't at Gogarth then where is it? I understand why Kingholmsey used Gogarth has an example of the idea of a 'great trad area which shouldn't be bolted' - it 99.9% is exactly like he (and everyone) labels it. Which suggests Carn Vellan could be to 'Cornish trad', what BQ (or any of the 4 other sport cliffs on Anglesy..) is to 'Gogarth'. Once you start to examine the details of these places the devil is there with bolted routes in all sorts of very traddy places, it doesn't follow that they threaten the ethic of the area. I agree it would be a dark day if bolt-runners appeared on 'proper Gogarth' but I can't see it happening in my lifetime.

And yes Gogarth, Pembroke, Lundy and loads of other places had their controversies in the past, but time moves on - The Cad was bolted in the 70s, Parliament House Cave (an aid route) in the 2010s. Both were quickly deemed unacceptable soon after. Same for Pembroke - Gibson/Oxley(?) routes bolted in the 80s/90s, soon deemed unacceptable and stripped. Cornwall went through it's 'ethical moment' roughly around the same time period as Pembroke, North Wales and other places, with the Edward's pushing the line just as mavericks had pushed the line elsewhere.
Looks to me that the climbing scene has transitioned through the formative years of working out appropriate bolting ethics on a small island comprised predominately of great trad climbing. Nearly everywhere that good trad exists, a consensus on what is and isn't generally appropriate has been reached which looks remarkably similar nationwide.

Finally if Cornwall's great sea-cliff trad climbing was going to be bolted away by some maverick, then I'd argue this trend would be happening elsewhere in the country. It isn't. Shite quarries get bolted (and often climb really well!). Great trad areas don't. Cornwall not being inhabited by some other species of hominid different to the rest of  UK climbers (no comment..) suggests it won't happen there either.

Wow feels like a lot of words for somewhere a long way away from me! I'm just arguing the general principle really - still feel totally detached about whatever happens.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2020, 11:32:00 pm by petejh »

Duncan campbell

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Really interesting debate this.

Iím originally from Devon though wouldnít call myself a local in any way having not lived in the south west for 8 years or more.

I can see why some people donít want any bolts; Cornwall (much as though it pains me to say as a Devonian) has some fantastic trad climbing and in general a rugged and beautiful coastal environment. Do we want to see the popularity that bolts will bring? People screaming obscenities as they fall off on links as we see at the tor? Probably not.

However, is that what is being proposed here? Iím not certain it is anymore and yeah they are Cornish but surely even they can be trusted to only rebolt the unprotectable faces at CV  :P

I have no skin in the CV game as I donít climb hard enough to do either the trad or the sport routes and I live a long way away now. But to my mind it seems obvious and viable to bolt/rebolt the unprotectable lines and leave the traditionallly protectable ones. Maybe have a clause whereby anything that looks like it might be protected even if poorly is left alone? (I know Luke said he put a few wires in MM at the top so maybe this clause would scupper the whole thing)


I guess my reasoning behind this is it looks like an amazing crag and as new rock dries up, it may become increasingly important to maximise what we have. It would seem a shame now that in most/all other areas in the U.K. we have managed to come to an understanding as to what is acceptable to bolt and whatís not. Itís pretty rare to find bolts on traditionally protectable rock.

Additionally to the examples of how these two things can sit side by side are; Scotland- they have bolted mountain rock on tunnel wall and yet just like Cornwall the Scottish highlands are undoubtedly a bastion of adventure climbing.

Peteís offer is a good one! I was wondering if I would be able to do a good job of the rebolt as it sounds like fantastic challenge.


 

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