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the shizzle => chuffing => Topic started by: Fiend on October 16, 2021, 08:41:45 pm

Title: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Fiend on October 16, 2021, 08:41:45 pm
 :-\
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Andy F on October 16, 2021, 08:48:35 pm
Stainless double bolt belay at the top of the Cromlech to save the tree and someone's life
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Kingy on October 16, 2021, 09:28:58 pm
:-\

Which ones were you thinking of?
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: mrjonathanr on October 16, 2021, 09:35:40 pm
Disappointingly there is no way to tick both option 3 and 5. 5 is the most traditional, so thereís that.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: lagerstarfish on October 16, 2021, 10:06:05 pm
No "I call thee by thy name and command thou foul Fiend to return to UKC where thou dost belong" option?
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: andy moles on October 17, 2021, 07:54:54 am
Ever climbed on Pen Trwyn?
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Bonjoy on October 17, 2021, 09:23:42 am
I installed a bolt belay when I did The Great Tribulation. Seemed like a good idea given the crag was listed as a SSSI for plants above the crag.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Fiend on October 17, 2021, 11:00:22 am
Which ones were you thinking of?
Actually just a general discussion. Although I was partly inspired by some of the almost-classic routes in Wilton1 that now look to be Millstone for 15m then Llyn for 5m to finish. Also Mad Dogs at Two Tier which is pretty dusty compared to 1 star 6c nearby and has the Amazon to top out.

Disappointingly there is no way to tick both option 3 and 5. 5 is the most traditional, so thereís that.
Well. I suppose one could ideally go for 5, then 3. So that you're only allowed the mess of rusty pegs and decaying slings already in place, AND you're not even allowed to replace them like-for-like when they start rotting, so you have a period of dubious death abseils before resorting to dubious death top-outs!

No "I call thee by thy name and command thou foul Fiend to return to UKC where thou dost belong" option?
No. Arsehole!

Despite the slightly frivolous options, I'm actually interested in the concept and views on it.

Ever climbed on Pen Trwyn?
4 or 5 times this spring. Great stuff. Apart from the wanky retro-ruining of good trad routes there.



Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Potash on October 17, 2021, 11:11:33 am
I've always thought that the routes on Castell Cidwm would really benefit from this.

They are mostly described as two pitches, with the second pitch descending into vegetated scrambling.

If they had lower offs after the high quality, hard, steep climbing then they could all be done as three star single pitches.

Obviously they should be actual, unambiguous bolts, to avoid anybody then going wild with the deception bolts on the rest of the crag. 
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Fiend on October 17, 2021, 11:17:00 am
There's a good lower-off in place just above Vertigo. I found and retrieved a small purple Omega Pacific Link Cam following the first pitch, best crag swag ever. The view from the belay - which I was properly slumped / almost lying in - is truly magnificent in it's scope and variety, one of my favourite views south of the wall.

Unfortunately there's not one above Central Wall, and there would be an ideal spot about 5m above the final roof. I'm not sure I'd want to try that in one pitch with all the attendant rope drag though. Incidentally the crux pitch seems to have eco-bolts or whatever they are on it now.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Potash on October 17, 2021, 12:30:22 pm
 I thought all the routes to the left of central wall would benefit and specifically lower offs below the top.

Bolting the crux of Central Wall seems a bit retrograde, I don't remember it being dangerous even without the old pegs as there was good gear a short distance below.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Fiend on October 17, 2021, 01:05:33 pm
I can't tell to what extent the....thingies were drilled or glued, they looked fairly normal and placed in normal peg-like seams on first acquaintance, but I'm sure they were the same style as I've seen them in various other places (Adar, that retro-ed 6c at the end of Excursion Wall, on top of Llawder).
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: petejh on October 17, 2021, 01:48:07 pm
'Deception bolts', good name.
Climbed on Adar earlier this week for first time. Glorious sunshine, quiet, great views, deception bolts on all the cruxes and soft grades. Good times.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: andy moles on October 17, 2021, 02:22:42 pm
Ever climbed on Pen Trwyn?
4 or 5 times this spring. Great stuff. Apart from the wanky retro-ruining of good trad routes there.

Which good trad routes do you think have been ruined? I can think of some mediocre ones...

My point in mentioning Pen Trwyn was only that this isn't the novel proposal that asking the question in general terms anticipates it to be, when we have prominent and popular crags on which trad routes have had bolt lower-offs forever. Surely a discussion only worth having for specified cases? I mean, bolts would last longer than bits of rope on the Grochan, but I'm guessing not many people feel they'd add much value there...?

Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Potash on October 17, 2021, 02:38:44 pm
Adding lower offs to the trad routes on predominantly sport crags also seems to be sensible.

It shows that they are trad routes and that they can be climbed despite having bold sections.

I've equipped bolted belays on some trad routes I have put up outside the UK as I felt that it was the best option for ensuring that they remained as trad routes.

They are, then, clearly routes.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: petejh on October 17, 2021, 03:09:55 pm
I'm heading to Gap of Dunloe and Dun Seanna Head next weekend for some tradding. According to the guide many of the abseil descents there are bolted, as are a few belays. Likewise at some other trad crags in Ireland (Glendalough descent, and Eagle Rock lower-offs, others including a Mournes cliff).
As Andy says this isn't a novel proposal. Needs careful handling and it's easy to fuck up the 'natural' feel of a trad route if done clumsily or inappropriately. I put in a bolted lower-off on a trad route I did in Penmaen West Quarry (Triskilion). Could have left it as an easy scramble up to a fence post which would be perfectly safe enough to belay from, but having the lower-off doesn't alter anything at all about the feel of the route and it might just encourage the probably 1 person in every 5 years to bother going and spending some time enjoying it.
Of crags I can think of in N.Wales Scimitar Ridge springs instantly to mind as the most obvious place for a bolted ab, instead of the equalised in-situ wires ab point. Maybe they have (with deception bolts?). I haven't been for a couple of years.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Fiend on October 17, 2021, 05:43:45 pm
They are, then, clearly routes.
This is generally a good feature of routes  :2thumbsup:

'Deception bolts', good name.
Climbed on Adar earlier this week for first time. Glorious sunshine, quiet, great views, deception bolts on all the cruxes and soft grades. Good times.
It is a lovely spot indeed. Quite a surprise when you see it rising out of the field / bog. One of the most relaxed days I've had this year. The grades are completely bolloxed even in the new book (the hardest thing I did up the middle was definitely more F7a than E-whatever), but the crunchy jug-pulling is fun.

Now you can answer my prior question: are all the new bolts drilled and cemented there? And do you think any have been added, or are they just replacing old / removed bolts?

P.S. Yes obviously the general poll / discussion is under the assumption that lower-offs / ab points would be genuinely useful, beneficial to continuing traffic on the routes, and done on a case-by-case basis. It's also a poll / discussion about the actual concept though.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: petejh on October 17, 2021, 06:11:16 pm
Quote
Now you can answer my prior question: are all the new bolts drilled and cemented there? And do you think any have been added, or are they just replacing old / removed bolts?

Yes theyíre cemented, and yes they will have had the placement drilled to accept the resin and the bolt. Itís not possible to say 100% for certain, without being there during placement, whether or not every one of them has been drilled because there *might* have been a nice convenient 12mm diameter 100mm deep hole in the part of the crack where the bolt is placed. Allowing it to have had the resin pumped in and then push in the bolt by hand (they arenít designed to be hammered due to being stainless). But what do you think the likelihood is of thatÖ

Canít answer whether or not any have been added as Iíd never climbed the routes before this week.

So there you are. Mountain crag trad-climbing with resin bolts protecting. Rhoscolyn sea cliff-climbing on resin bolts.
Thatís what weíre doing. Iím *OK* with it where it climbs well (caveats and some doubts apply). What sits uneasily with me is what appears to be sort of a complicit wilful ignorance surrounding these bolts.
I think we should be honest about what these pieces of protection are, not spinning people some deception about them being pegs.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Fiend on October 17, 2021, 06:24:00 pm
Cheers Pete. If I have any further questions your honour I will take them to the "bolts on sea-cliffs" thread  :yes:
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Kingy on October 17, 2021, 06:45:01 pm
Which ones were you thinking of?
Actually just a general discussion. Although I was partly inspired by some of the almost-classic routes in Wilton1 that now look to be Millstone for 15m then Llyn for 5m to finish. Also Mad Dogs at Two Tier which is pretty dusty compared to 1 star 6c nearby and has the Amazon to top out.

I would be in favour of a Mad Dogs loweroff cos its an isolated trad route in a lime area like Pen Trywn where there are similar cases.

Regarding Lancashire gritstone quarries, that is another kettle of fish cos there are no sport routes there (other than the Axe Wound in Wilton but 99.99% of routes are trad). The lack of popularity of previously well travelled trad routes, which is a sympton of the rising popularity of bouldering and sport climbing and indoor walls compared to the quarries' heyday in the 80's is to be lamented. However, bolting loweroffs is not the answer in my view as if you do it for one route, where will it end? There would be no way of preventing more and more bolted loweroffs appearing as it could just be said that vegetation was encroaching which would discourage the cleaning of topouts and climbing traffic ensuring these topouts remain viable. There are no easy answers but in pure trad areas such as the quarries, I think the old slogan 'Bolts in Lancs, no thanks' would get my vote at least. Local activists doing trad routes currently would have more of a feel for this than me but I get the feeling there is no pressing demand for the introduction of bolted loweroffs on selected routes whose topouts are affected by vegetation.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Potash on October 17, 2021, 07:01:25 pm
I'd have thought that Coal Measure Crag at Anglezarke Quarry would be a Lancashire Quarry that fitted the bill.

Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Kingy on October 17, 2021, 07:06:46 pm
I'd have thought that Coal Measure Crag at Anglezarke Quarry would be a Lancashire Quarry that fitted the bill.

Oh yes, I forgot about that one. But other than that unique case with a crumbing shale band and where loweroffs were specifically agreed, I wouldn't be in favour of any other further loweroffs in other areas
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Fiend on October 17, 2021, 07:15:56 pm
Regarding Lancashire gritstone quarries, that is another kettle of fish cos there are no sport routes there (other than the Axe Wound in Wilton but 99.99% of routes are trad). The lack of popularity of previously well travelled trad routes, which is a sympton of the rising popularity of bouldering and sport climbing and indoor walls compared to the quarries' heyday in the 80's is to be lamented. However, bolting loweroffs is not the answer in my view as if you do it for one route, where will it end? There would be no way of preventing more and more bolted loweroffs appearing as it could just be said that vegetation was encroaching which would discourage the cleaning of topouts and climbing traffic ensuring these topouts remain viable. There are no easy answers but in pure trad areas such as the quarries, I think the old slogan 'Bolts in Lancs, no thanks' would get my vote at least. Local activists doing trad routes currently would have more of a feel for this than me but I get the feeling there is no pressing demand for the introduction of bolted loweroffs on selected routes whose topouts are affected by vegetation.
Fair response Ted, and an interesting point that it might discourage people from gardening finishes in general, thus encouraging lower-offs to spread from "unfeasible" finishes to "would have been fine if people kept cleaning but now bolloxed" finishes.

OTOH there is a bright shiny lower-off serving Supercrack and Sobeit and it works very well and, in the words of Potash, they are clearly routes.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: petejh on October 17, 2021, 07:26:22 pm
Quote from: Kingy
I think the old slogan 'Bolts in Lancs, no thanks'..

As an asideÖ had never heard this before, I love this quote!

Got me thinking..
Bolts in Lancs, no thanks.

Bolts in Welsh trad, weíll call it Spad!

Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: grimer on October 17, 2021, 07:59:41 pm
Quote from: Kingy
I think the old slogan 'Bolts in Lancs, no thanks'..

As an asideÖ had never heard this before, I love this quote!
.

I have this slogan on a T shirt.!

Or maybe it says "No bolts in Lancs, no thanks"?
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: andy moles on October 18, 2021, 07:11:46 am


Bolts in Welsh trad, weíll call it Spad!

Correct term is Sprad, I believe.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: SamT on October 18, 2021, 08:56:03 am
Interesting topic.

Couple of examples spring to mind.  Dead Banana Crack/Bitterfingers at Stoney has had a shiny resin P bolt belay for some time now.  Not exactly a lower off, but never really saw the need as there's trad belay options - namely a tree and and a traditional walk off path.

The lakes, (fairly staunch no bolts in the mountains type of place) Sargent Slabs Crag has a shiny resin P bolt ab point. 
I think many places in the lakes would benefit.  I remember Ravens crag at Thirlmere had a huge block to ab off at the top - but the tat and crab round it looked bloody awful, so we opted for the jungle scramble round the side.  Ended up with dozens of ticks on us both.. my partner had over 40!! as he was wearing shorts.  :sick:  Couple of resins in the big block would have been much preferable IMHO.  :worms:

I'm a traditionalist, and don't want to see any mountain type routes get bolted, (Id be first in line with an angle grinder).  But where 'traditionally' there has been an ab station, with tat and crabs, then I just don't really see the reasoning for not replacing the spiders web of lottery tat, for something more permanent and confidence inspiring.

Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: kc on October 18, 2021, 10:48:41 am
On Peak Limestone expect to see more bolted belays with Ash dieback taking a grip.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Muenchener on October 18, 2021, 02:59:48 pm
Ever climbed on Pen Trwyn?

I did It & Precious Metal back when they still had the "turf jug" top out. Couple of times iirc, and the second time the turf jug was already in a scarily deteriorated state.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Fiend on October 18, 2021, 09:43:56 pm
I'm a traditionalist, and don't want to see any mountain type routes get bolted, (Id be first in line with an angle grinder).  But where 'traditionally' there has been an ab station, with tat and crabs, then I just don't really see the reasoning for not replacing the spiders web of lottery tat, for something more permanent and confidence inspiring.
Another interesting reply - a good riposte to option 5  ;) . Obviously there are some very trad crags with in-situ lower-offs that don't seem to threaten the trad nature at all. And obviously there are some very trad crags where sketchy and gruelling top-outs are a part of the whole experience (Llyn, Gogarth, Atlantic Coast, but also mountain crags with grassy scrambles to summits etc).

One could probably come up with a fairly sensible list of criteria as to where lower-offs would be warranted / beneficial, and then sub-cases where bolts would be clearly better than other fixed gear (sometimes singular loops of thick static rope and a meaty maillon are all that's needed and maybe that fits best?).


On Peak Limestone expect to see more bolted belays with Ash dieback taking a grip.
Generally an area where it often seems well justified, and fits in well with the general ethic (or lack thereof!).
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: SamT on October 18, 2021, 10:22:04 pm

 (sometimes singular loops of thick static rope and a meaty maillon are all that's needed and maybe that fits best?).


Think that's the issue though - thick static can soon go rotten and mouldy.  Infact I think it was thick static that was around the top of the block at Ravens.  But it had gone black/dark green and was rotten to fuck.  It has to be stainless, or nothing else.  If not, it just propagates the endless cycle.  I'm even wary of some the anchor type chains at the top of some lakes crags.  Eg. the one at the top of Gimmer springs to mind.. The links are huge, but not stainless, and if you look  where the links contact each other, they're rusting and wearing. who knows what the links are like round the back of the chain, out of sight behind the boulder.   :shrug:

But, we still clip it and lean back..  "be 'reet"
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Fiend on October 18, 2021, 10:24:03 pm
Fair point, I wasn't thinking about how much static can decay.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: macca7 on October 18, 2021, 10:34:08 pm
That's the problem we are having local. There's a huge chain around the top of lunakhod at lower sharpnose that has been there for a few years now and just below it a nice peice of shiny black static! The chain is fine but clearly not everyone thinks so, so the cycle of tat resumes again. The exact reason the chain was put in place!

I've suggested a couple of discrete bolts could be the answer, and also for another couple of points on that fin. Sadly you immediately get shot down at the mere mention of the word bolt.

There are definitely certain specific situations when it would make perfect sense, however I fear we will be in the endless cycle of rancid cord linking someone's old number 2 nut and a bendy peg.

Definitely needs a considered approach and a sensible conversation but I for one would welcome it?
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: SamT on October 18, 2021, 10:38:43 pm
Is the chain stainless???

Non stainless metal on a sea cliff??

 :shrug:

Its not cheap though, I admit. 
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: macca7 on October 18, 2021, 10:45:13 pm
It is stainless, but to be honest along this coast it doesn't make too much of a difference to the appearance after a little while!

The chain is absolutely fine to use, however that's not the point, it only takes one person to think its not and leave there tat there and we are back where we started!

I just wonder if bolts would be any different or would the tat still get left?
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: cheque on October 18, 2021, 10:47:53 pm
On Peak Limestone expect to see more bolted belays with Ash dieback taking a grip.
Generally an area where it often seems well justified, and fits in well with the general ethic (or lack thereof!).

I climbed at Ravensdale with a mate who knows about trees and he pointed out to me that lots of the belays/ ab points there are dieback-afflicted Ash trees. In that case I think stakes are the best option given that everything tops out onto flat grass.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: DAVETHOMAS90 on October 19, 2021, 01:06:47 am
I think Sam T's response has covered things quite well, and I'd say I'm generally in agreement with you  ;)

The danger with polls like this, is that they can establish a precedent.
We can all think of excuses for where bolts would work, that we wouldn't complain too much about.

Bolts aren't immune to decay and poor fitment. They end up getting placed for "reasons" of convenience. Surely a major part of the trad experience is the reward that comes from things being less convenient.

I can think of few situations where an established ab-station can't be found/placed just a short distance from the top out of most classic trad routes/crags.

I think the question really pulls us closer to turning all crags into tourist traps.

I'd say it's simply not necessary, and the question of whether they are/not, even less so.

That's not the same thing as saying I wholely or always object, but I'd never object to anyone removing bolts from the trad environment.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: andy moles on October 19, 2021, 08:00:59 am
There's a huge chain around the top of lunakhod at lower sharpnose that has been there for a few years now and just below it a nice peice of shiny black static! The chain is fine but clearly not everyone thinks so, so the cycle of tat resumes again. The exact reason the chain was put in place!

I'd say the best reason for not placing bolts on Sharpnose is the longevity of the piece of rock they are attached to. If that entire top sliver of Lunakhod fell off, would anyone be that surprised? (Would you even want to hang there and drill it? Am I exaggerating how dubious it is? It's been a while.) Not that this is any less the case with the chain or tat in place, but bolts make a statement of durability and people use them unquestioningly.

Agree there is some tat-leaving practice which is bewildering though. I think some climbers believe as a matter of dogma that you should leave your own piece no matter what, and exercise no judgement at all. Even if there is a clearly new, undamaged piece of fat static, someone will back it up with an unequalised spangle of 6mm cord. And then someone else does the same, and so on. At least it means I never have to buy tat.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: SamT on October 19, 2021, 08:30:52 am
It is stainless, but to be honest along this coast it doesn't make too much of a difference to the appearance after a little while!

Ah right - fair do's Good point about bolts on sea cliffs not exactly being totally trustworthy and yes, people do tend to have absolute faith in bolts.   Titanium is the only answer there (if the rock isn't the weak factor as pointed out).

Wonder how much titanium chain is  :o

Does anyone ever carry a knife...

In caving, you always carry a knife on a lanyard round your neck (if your rigging pitches doing SRT etc).  It rarely gets used, but in certain situations, without one, life would be very much more complicated.

I went through a little phase of carrying one when out multipitch/mountian/sea cliff climbing.  And I would strip out old tat, and leave the good/better/newer stuff behind.

I can see/understand the ethos/mentality that says "I carry my own tat, I know its age/provenance, I'm not ever trusting my life to something someone else has left behind" . Would seem rather sensible from the outside looking in.



Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: dunnyg on October 19, 2021, 08:42:07 am
I have one of those tiny trango knives on a screwgate with my prussic. Hangover from alpine stuff I think. Can't remember the last time I cut away manky old tat with it though...
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: spidermonkey09 on October 19, 2021, 09:08:00 am

I can see/understand the ethos/mentality that says "I carry my own tat, I know its age/provenance, I'm not ever trusting my life to something someone else has left behind" . Would seem rather sensible from the outside looking in.

Surely its only a certain type that thinks like this and treats it as a guiding principle? In my head they might be a wannabe instructor trad climbing type but who isnt actually that experienced, because as soon as you gain experience they would realise this would be an enormous effort, an enormous waste of time and often enormously pointless?

It might see,m logical to somebody who doesn't know climbing, but that doesn't actually make it logical, if that makes sense.

I used to carry a little knife and have specifically replaced tat on a few different occasions, but I don't carry it by default. I have enough trouble fitting everything on my harness as it is!
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: jwi on October 19, 2021, 09:12:36 am
"The chain broke" said no one ever.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Tony S on October 19, 2021, 09:26:14 am
As as slight aside:
Think that's the issue though - thick static can soon go rotten and mouldy.

Fair point, I wasn't thinking about how much static can decay.

What is the evidence of static rope (nylon kernmantle) decaying in this way? 

Obviously sharp edges pose problematic for fabric ropes but nylon kernmantle ropes are very, very durable with respect to UV, water (in static situations), etc., etc.

Generally mould or rot will occur on organic matter that has got into in-situ fabrics but I've not seen evidence that this will meaningfully damage a 10mm static.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: andy moles on October 19, 2021, 09:40:22 am

Does anyone ever carry a knife...


I carry a knife when I'm doing more traddy/mountaineery things, and I do cut and carry manky tat off the hill, and tidy up anchors so they're actually equalised etc, quite a lot. And pocket any pointless shiny new stuff, obviously.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: El Mocho on October 19, 2021, 10:02:54 am

Does anyone ever carry a knife...


I've got one of these, yet to carry it on a trad route as it's stashed in my bouldering bag for cutting flappers/tape/stronger boulderers. I've not used it for any of the above yet. It's very sharp, very light and obv you can replace the blades easily and cheaply....

https://www.nitecore.co.uk/Shop/Accessories/Knives-AND-Blades/13849-Nitecore-NTK05-Tiny-Keyring-Knife.html
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: macca7 on October 19, 2021, 10:21:39 am
Absolutely get the point about rock quality but that applies equally to chain, tat or drilled pegs bolts etc.

Also totally agree that trad climbing shouldn't just be about convience but as I said I think there are a few situations where the placement of the right fixed lower off, whether this be chain or drilled pegs, bolts could be a positive step?
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: SamT on October 19, 2021, 10:30:20 am
"The chain broke" said no one ever.

Yeah - I was going to make this point in my last post, but forgot...

You get the same thing in the caving world..  masses and masses of time/effort/testing/arguing/committees/fall outs/frustrations which does come up with some very robust, very over engineered systems and solutions, but essentially, you look at the accident/death rates, and they are virtually non existent.
(perhaps because of the time/effort/testing/arguing/committees/fall outs/frustrations and over engineered systems)

How many deaths in the UK in the last 20 years from a lower off/ab station failing??

(famous last words..  :look: )


Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Will Hunt on October 19, 2021, 10:40:07 am
As as slight aside:
Think that's the issue though - thick static can soon go rotten and mouldy.

Fair point, I wasn't thinking about how much static can decay.

What is the evidence of static rope (nylon kernmantle) decaying in this way? 

Obviously sharp edges pose problematic for fabric ropes but nylon kernmantle ropes are very, very durable with respect to UV, water (in static situations), etc., etc.

Generally mould or rot will occur on organic matter that has got into in-situ fabrics but I've not seen evidence that this will meaningfully damage a 10mm static.

Interesting that you say this. A partner who works in rope access was shocked to see the fixed static adorning Free n' Easy (a south facing route that gets lots and lots of sun; the static had been in place for 2+ years). This was removed a week or two ago after another rope access worker badgered his friend to take it down. Apparently if static is left out on site it isn't very long at all before it is replaced. I am told there is no reliable way to visually inspect white static like this for UV damage, it needs to be pull tested and stuff that appears to be OK sometimes snaps alarmingly easily.

I understand that an industrial setting will have a stricter code to follow, but your post makes it sound like it's a complete non-issue.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Tony S on October 19, 2021, 10:52:26 am
I am told there is no reliable way to visually inspect white static like this for UV damage, it needs to be pull tested and stuff that appears to be OK sometimes snaps alarmingly easily.

I understand that an industrial setting will have a stricter code to follow, but your post makes it sound like it's a complete non-issue.

My post was a "call for evidence". Preferably not hear-say. UIAA standard 101 / Ropes states:
"It is sensible to
avoid strong light and extended exposure to UV rays, although there are no known
instances of a rope failing due to UV degradation, since the core is protected from
UV by the sheath."
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: reeve on October 19, 2021, 11:04:25 am
My post was a "call for evidence". Preferably not hear-say. UIAA standard 101 / Ropes states:
"It is sensible to
avoid strong light and extended exposure to UV rays, although there are no known
instances of a rope failing due to UV degradation, since the core is protected from
UV by the sheath."

Maybe the people who had a rope snap on them due to UV degradation didn't report it to the UIAA afterwards?   :shrug:
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Teaboy on October 19, 2021, 11:07:39 am

Interesting that you say this. A partner who works in rope access was shocked to see the fixed static adorning Free n' Easy (a south facing route that gets lots and lots of sun; the static had been in place for 2+ years). This was removed a week or two ago after another rope access worker badgered his friend to take it down. Apparently if static is left out on site it isn't very long at all before it is replaced. I am told there is no reliable way to visually inspect white static like this for UV damage, it needs to be pull tested and stuff that appears to be OK sometimes snaps alarmingly easily.

I understand that an industrial setting will have a stricter code to follow, but your post makes it sound like it's a complete non-issue.

At the risk of derailing the thread that static line F&E was stronger than some of the bolts it was attached to. Itís a pity they didnít also remove the krabs cluttering up belay as they too are more of a danger than the static (although there was also some draws on the static lines which probably are a danger). Thereís also the issue that when you pull the rope through it now whips down on the groove. Iíve no problem with the statics being removed but it needed more thought and effort than just this gesture. Iíd be happy to get involved in helping do a proper job (possibly moving the lower off as well)
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: galpinos on October 19, 2021, 11:16:42 am
"The chain broke" said no one ever.

I know of a chain breaking on a tope anchor on a DAV climbing wall and a.n.other chain link failing (DAV reported) as well as multiple issues in Sardinia with corroded links.

Specifying a decent grade of chain (316L should be fine in the UK) is a no brainer imho.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: petejh on October 19, 2021, 11:23:53 am
Fill your boots with evidence:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/224119657_Proper_care_maintenance_and_inspection_of_climbing_ropes_to_reduce_degradation_and_help_determine_when_to_retire_them

https://sportdocbox.com/Climbing/87820287-Rope-wear-in-climbing-and-in-laboratory-decay-in-dynamic-performance-of-ropes-due-to-wear.html

https://sportdocbox.com/Climbing/126287419-The-influence-of-water-ice-and-sunlight-on-the-dynamic-performance-of-mountaineering-ropes.html




Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Will Hunt on October 19, 2021, 11:48:40 am
I believe there is also an intention to go back and get the old maillons off which have rusted shut at various points. I went up it in March but can't remember what I thought of the bolts. It may very well need sorting out (when the book is finished I intend to get involved in this stuff but have too much on my plate at the moment).
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: duncan on October 19, 2021, 12:16:07 pm
Bolted anchors on trad. routes: seem appropriate in mixed venues like Avon, Uphill, the slate quarries or peak lime but Iím not so sure about elsewhere. I appreciated the fixed abseil points on Scafell East Buttress and thought the natural anchors were neatly done. The Lower Sharpnose chain was a good solution. If folk insist on backing it up then just remove the detritus from time to time, per Andy Moles. Eventually the message will get through. The fixed anchors Iíve used recently in Wales (tops of Yellow Wall, Craig Ddu; Foil; Killerkranky) were all pretty messy. The worst by far is the Old Man of Hoy. Given the other belays are bolted (badly; from the TV spectacular?). I think this should be bolted properly. Iím keen to return to the area and, if it happens, will look into doing this or facilitate getting it done.

Dealing with tat: I have a single edge razorblade (gear joke goes here) duct-taped to the back of my helmet. Itís unobtrusive and you donít forget it unless you forget the helmet. Iíve used it a few times to tidy up abseil tat or chop a rope.

(https://img.ffx.co.uk/tools/PSA940464.JPG?w=1200&height=960&scale=both)

Apparently you can cut through rope using 2mm cord as a band saw. Never tried myself. https://youtu.be/d30ymyheKT8

Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Tony S on October 19, 2021, 12:45:27 pm
Maybe the people who had a rope snap on them due to UV degradation didn't report it to the UIAA afterwards?   :shrug:
Equipment failures leading to deaths tend to be referred to national bodies for investigation.

The UIAA is a forum for evidence collected by all participating national bodies.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Tony S on October 19, 2021, 01:19:05 pm
Fill your boots with evidence:

...

Thanks Pete. But they're a little thin on this "rotting" thing which I was mainly querying. I doubt there is much evidence since leaving climbing ropes in-situ on the ground in damp environments is pretty far from the manufacturers "intended usage".

From those papers, the evidence of soaking dynamic (rather than static) ropes with water and 3 months of continuous (daytime at least) exposure at mountaineering hut at ~3000m seems to suggest that it would be unlikely to cause problems for abseiling.

Nothing very rigorous appears forthcoming for longer term effects nor on static ropes.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Bonjoy on October 19, 2021, 01:19:48 pm
Bolted anchors on trad. routes: seem appropriate in mixed venues like Avon, Uphill, the slate quarries or peak lime but Iím not so sure about elsewhere.
Depends on the case really. For instance I can't really see a sensible replacement if we suddenly decided the big bolt on top of Froggatt Pinnacle had to go.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: petejh on October 19, 2021, 01:27:00 pm
Thanks Pete. But they're a little thin on this "rotting" thing which I was mainly querying. I doubt there is much evidence since leaving climbing ropes in-situ on the ground in damp environments is pretty far from the manufacturers "intended usage".

From those papers, the evidence of soaking dynamic (rather than static) ropes with water and 3 months of continuous (daytime at least) exposure at mountaineering hut at ~3000m seems to suggest that it would be unlikely to cause problems for abseiling.

Nothing very rigorous appears forthcoming for longer term effects nor on static ropes.

Yeah that's what I was pointing to. The UV, rotting, degradation of static rope thing is overplayed in many people's minds. Worth noting though that significant loss of strength can occur once the core is exposed to the effects of degrading environments (as you pointed out).
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: northern yob on October 19, 2021, 01:30:43 pm


 I am told there is no reliable way to visually inspect white static like this for UV damage, it needs to be pull tested and stuff that appears to be OK sometimes snaps alarmingly easily.



If it makes a high pitched squealing noise when weighted itís time to replace/ avoid
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: reeve on October 19, 2021, 01:42:39 pm
Maybe the people who had a rope snap on them due to UV degradation didn't report it to the UIAA afterwards?   :shrug:
Equipment failures leading to deaths tend to be referred to national bodies for investigation.

The UIAA is a forum for evidence collected by all participating national bodies.

Well yes, thank you; I wasn't being completely serious in case that wasn't obvious.

It's not a massive surprise that the UIAA don't have a record of any deaths from UV damaged ropes, as the white bleaching of ropes associated with UV damage will act as an obvious visual warning to not use that rope. I know that wasn't precisely what your query was about (I think you want to know about the real-life combination effects of UV, water, mould etc) but that was the quote in your message. Anyone, this tangent to the topic is really about the longevity of anchors which could be used as lower-offs, not whether they are strong enough after exposure to the elements, but how long they will last.

And Fiend, I can't believe you haven't included a Pink Anasazi or French patisserie option!
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Tony S on October 19, 2021, 01:50:40 pm
Yeah that's what I was pointing to. The UV, rotting, degradation of static rope thing is overplayed in many people's minds. Worth noting though that significant loss of strength can occur once the core is exposed to the effects of degrading environments (as you pointed out).

Thanks Pete. Yep, agreed.

I call upon some non-rigorous, slightly tangential empirical evidence of (somewhat abraded) quickdraw slings (much more affected by UV due to all threads being exposed):
https://dmmclimbing.com/Journal/July-2011/Mecca-quickdraw-test
Estimated 5 year exposure at Raven Tor on Mecca (fairly sunny): 7-11kN (rated at 22kN new)

https://www.ukclimbing.com/news/2016/09/permadraw_strength_testing_the_results-70689
Estimated 2 year exposure at Kilnsey on Indian Summer (not so sunny): 14-18kN (rated at 22kN new)

These forces are so far above those generated by gentle abseiling (probably up to 3x weight, say ~3kN) that, if anything, I am extremely re-assured.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Tony S on October 19, 2021, 01:54:35 pm
Well yes, thank you; I wasn't being completely serious in case that wasn't obvious.

It's not a massive surprise that the UIAA don't have a record of any deaths from UV damaged ropes, as the white bleaching of ropes associated with UV damage will act as an obvious visual warning to not use that rope.

Strange, as both your posts appear to be critiques of selection bias effects.

I know that wasn't precisely what your query was about (I think you want to know about the real-life combination effects of UV, water, mould etc) but that was the quote in your message. Anyone, this tangent to the topic is really about the longevity of anchors which could be used as lower-offs, not whether they are strong enough after exposure to the elements, but how long they will last.

What is it that you think affects the longevity of materials if not the impact of exposure, etc.? Longevity, in this case, would surely be defined as still having a certain strength after a certain period of time.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Fiend on October 19, 2021, 05:33:00 pm
Bolted anchors on trad. routes: seem appropriate in mixed venues like Avon, Uphill, the slate quarries or peak lime but Iím not so sure about elsewhere. I appreciated the fixed abseil points on Scafell East Buttress and thought the natural anchors were neatly done. The Lower Sharpnose chain was a good solution. If folk insist on backing it up then just remove the detritus from time to time, per Andy Moles. Eventually the message will get through. The fixed anchors Iíve used recently in Wales (tops of Yellow Wall, Craig Ddu; Foil; Killerkranky) were all pretty messy.
Should they be removed / replaced with the neatest possible natural fixed anchors / replaced with bolts, though??
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Fiend on October 19, 2021, 05:55:37 pm
I think Sam T's response has covered things quite well, and I'd say I'm generally in agreement with you  ;)

The danger with polls like this, is that they can establish a precedent.
We can all think of excuses for where bolts would work, that we wouldn't complain too much about.

Bolts aren't immune to decay and poor fitment. They end up getting placed for "reasons" of convenience. Surely a major part of the trad experience is the reward that comes from things being less convenient.

I can think of few situations where an established ab-station can't be found/placed just a short distance from the top out of most classic trad routes/crags.

I think the question really pulls us closer to turning all crags into tourist traps.

I'd say it's simply not necessary, and the question of whether they are/not, even less so.

That's not the same thing as saying I wholely or always object, but I'd never object to anyone removing bolts from the trad environment.
Good post DT90.

Could this set a precedent?? Lol, it would be cute to think it could have that much influence or any at all.

Despite posting this partly tongue in cheek, I do definitely believe there is value to be had in discussing these things. If there's any precedent I'd like to see, it would be that of habitually discussing and getting feedback or even consensus (cue those who will predictably moan how idealistic this is) on changes to fixed gear situations. It seems many problems occur when people just go ahead and make a significant change (invariably adding fixed gear, whether it's retrobolting Ratho or Rhoscolyn, creating Spadô routes elsewhere, or putting in bolt anchors wherever), knowing full bloody well that the decision will create controversy and be potentially ethically dubious, so just going ahead and doing it and hoping they'll get away with it by presenting it as a fait d'accompli (with or without outright lies about the type of fixed gear used). I think it would be much better to have more debates (sensible and serious ones), see what the options are, see what the alternatives are, see what the consensus might be. Even if the final result goes against what I personally want, I'd feel much better if it's been discussed out in the open first and the viewpoints have been acknowledged at least.

My personal perspective on this (which partly responds to your post above) is that I believe lower-offs / ab points definitely have merit in certain situations (the specifics of which can be explored later). Yes sometimes it is more for convenience (personally I like almost all my "inconvenience" on the route, rather than getting to it or getting off it!), but I believe there's a bigger issue at stake: Increasing numbers of trad routes are falling into disuse and suffering so much from neglect that they're unfeasible to be climbed normally and will either remain neglected or get retro-bolted despite their inherent qualities. Often this neglect is very much the main reason given for retro-bolting. In many cases, part of that neglect is due to getting off the top of the route, particularly when the finish of a route would naturally deteriorate over time (increase in vegetation, decrease in rock quality), and also when a horrendous top-out is very different to the qualities of the rest of the route and the skill-set of most climbers that would climb the route proper (see my "Millstone for 15m, Llyn for 5m" description of some Lancs routes).

In such cases if a lower-off /ab point would increase traffic enough to keep routes clean, climbable, and not retro-bolted, I'm for it - for the sake of trad climbing. If that lower-off is "better" (neater, safer, less intrusive, more sensibly positioned etc) as bolts rather than other in-situ gear....then I'm for that too.

(But equally I do respect your opposing viewpoint, as I often do with people arguing for stricter ethics  ;) )
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: mrjonathanr on October 19, 2021, 06:54:18 pm
Ethics have always been very locally agreed based on specific circumstances. I think it should stay that way. The Lancs quarries are man made so I doubt there would be too much resistance to a lower off or two. Fixed gear on sea cliffs is a bad idea IMO.

Like Dave says upthread, part of the appeal in trad is that Ďitís not fast foodí. Move the needle on that much and youíll have bolts at the top of Idwal Slabs before you can whisper ĎGary Gibsoní.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Fiend on October 19, 2021, 07:20:51 pm
Ethics have always been very locally agreed based on specific circumstances. I think it should stay that way.
The problem with that approach is that until Greta gets her way, climbers do travel all around the country for climbing, and should be considered in decisions made as they will be affected by those decisions. When half a dozen Bethesda locals decide bolts at the top of Idwal Slabs would be just fine, it's going to piss off the team from Sheffield who have travelled over specifically for an authentic and pure mountain trad experience.

But conversely....

Quote
Like Dave says upthread, part of the appeal in trad is that Ďitís not fast foodí. Move the needle on that much and youíll have bolts at the top of Idwal Slabs before you can whisper ĎGary Gibsoní.
Except no-one will see them because they'll have decided Idwal is too much faff, and be sticking to Penmaen Head or RAC Boulders instead  ;)
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: mrjonathanr on October 19, 2021, 07:56:43 pm
Except no-one will see them because they'll have decided Idwal is too much faffÖRAC Boulders instead  ;)

You can bolt them if you like.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: grimer on October 19, 2021, 08:05:33 pm
Having skim-read Fiend's post above, I think that's how I feel.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Fiend on October 20, 2021, 09:39:19 am
Except no-one will see them because they'll have decided Idwal is too much faffÖRAC Boulders instead  ;)
You can bolt them if you like.
Can I debolt Penmaen Head without any consensus instead, please??
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: northern yob on October 20, 2021, 10:18:26 am
Except no-one will see them because they'll have decided Idwal is too much faffÖRAC Boulders instead  ;)
You can bolt them if you like.
Can I debolt Penmaen Head without any consensus instead, please??

Get on it, basically anyone can do whatever they like, I kinda got involved in the Gogarth debate on the other channel and the subsequent BMC area meetings in relation to that. Unfortunately there wonít ever be consensus, the proliferation of stealth bolts is only gonna continue. Whilst there are lots of circumstances where lower offs might have some merit, the spirit of that will only be abused and they will definitely end up in places they shouldnít.
  My take away from it all was a general apathy, I agree debate is healthy, but it also felt like it achieved absolutely nothing. I never thought Iíd agree with Ken Wilson but maybe he was rightÖ..
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Fiend on October 20, 2021, 10:22:55 am
I never thought Iíd agree with Ken Wilson but maybe he was rightÖ..
I might have been thinking that for several years now!! In his heyday I thought he was going too far, too dogmatically the other way. But seeing how climbing is changing overall.....hmmmm. For all that he was extreme and militant, maybe that is needed to balance out the ceaseless tide of lowest-common-denominator convenience climbing...

(But still, I tend to like the idea of lower-offs / ab-points to preserve trad and encourage trad climbing, rather than let it be eradicated by disuse).
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: northern yob on October 20, 2021, 10:45:03 am
I never thought Iíd agree with Ken Wilson but maybe he was rightÖ..
I might have been thinking that for several years now!! In his heyday I thought he was going too far, too dogmatically the other way. But seeing how climbing is changing overall.....hmmmm. For all that he was extreme and militant, maybe that is needed to balance out the ceaseless tide of lowest-common-denominator convenience climbing...


Exactly this. Amazingly prescient. I thought he was a raving lunatic
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: northern yob on October 20, 2021, 10:48:17 am

(But still, I tend to like the idea of lower-offs / ab-points to preserve trad and encourage trad climbing, rather than let it be eradicated by disuse).

If I thought lower offs would help Iíd be all for them, I donít think they will, if anything I think they would help speed up the death of the Great British climbing experience.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: spidermonkey09 on October 20, 2021, 10:55:26 am

If I thought lower offs would help Iíd be all for them, I donít think they will, if anything I think they would help speed up the death of the Great British climbing experience.

Loweroffs and ab stations are quite common in Australia. They have a very strong trad climbing ethic still. It does help that they have always had a more open relationship to 'mixed' routes, which have the odd bolt but are almost entirely trad, than the UK, but trad climbing is alive and kicking over there. Is it perhaps British exceptionalism to think that British trad is *so* unique?
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Fiend on October 20, 2021, 11:02:51 am
Yes, and to fool ourselves that it's so special and we're so good at trad, by deliberately sticking to a peculiar grading system that obfuscates that we still think that a mere F8a/+ R/R+ is something to be proud of  ::) ::) ::)
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: northern yob on October 20, 2021, 11:19:49 am
Is it perhaps British exceptionalism to think that British trad is *so* unique?

Iím under no illusion as to the uniqueness of British trad climbing, our climbing culture and its direction is unique to us though. Whilst it has many similarities to other places that doesnít really have much bearing on whatís happening here and now. I really wish we could have a more pragmatic view towards lower offs and fixed gear on trad routes, unfortunately I donít believe we can, itís only gonna be abused and get worse.

Im also very aware that Iím in the minority and that over time itís only gonna go one way.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: abarro81 on October 20, 2021, 11:25:37 am
Im also very aware that Iím in the minority and that over time itís only gonna go one way.
Maybe, but as a sport climber I don't think all these peg-bolts should be being placed. Makes a mockery of "trad" climbing and is a hugely slippery slope IMO... so you may find more support among sport climbers for debolting this stuff than you think! Probably needs some vigilante action...
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Johnny Brown on October 20, 2021, 11:49:51 am
Quote
Loweroffs and ab stations are quite common in Australia. They have a very strong trad climbing ethic still. It does help that they have always had a more open relationship to 'mixed' routes,

Local ethics largely evolve to make best use of the local rock. Oz sandstone frequently lacks sufficient gear, so it's not surprising bolts are more common. Agree the mix often works better than the alternatives. Likewise sport climbing evolved on French limestone for good reasons.

There are also lots of granite areas where it has become acceptable to add bolt belays, rap-lines etc. I'm not a huge fan but can see how, on big cliffs with an aid climbing heritage, they've been part of the furniture for ever. However it does tend to end up with an ethic where bold sections get more bolts, then 'tricky' to protect sections get an easy to clip bolt mid-crux. At that point it's a bit like trad climbing for toddlers, heavily supervised and not very satisfying. The ever-expanding wedge has become a hoary old cliche but remains a fact not an inflated threat.

The point of trad climbing is to accept the challenge of the rock on its own terms. It does concern me that that principle seems to have been lost. As DT says, that doesn't really include convenience,  but that is slightly to miss the point. I simply don't see expediting the move from the top of one route to the bottom of the next as adding to the experience. Topping out is frequently one of the best bits. Lower-offs are importing a sport climbing mindset of mileage and convenience into context where it doesn't really make sense to me.

One problem is the bolters are generally highly motivated, convinced they are right and not very interested in discussion. Because they don't really think the sort of people who get involved are as informed or as competent as them. So the bolts go in and if you value the rock you can't get them out without making a mess. It's often a bigger job than placing them, and removal risks replacement and more mess. So perhaps requires consensus as much as bolting, and removal typically done by people who care more about consensus.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: northern yob on October 20, 2021, 12:39:25 pm
I couldnít agree more with this ^^^

Unfortunately I donít think the whole vigilante thing is constructive or the way forward, maybe itís a symptom of my current mood but I canít really see a way that the things I think are truly special and worth preserving can survive on the trad crags of Britain, because they arenít convenient and they arenít easy. Itís more a symptom of society and itís general direction I suppose which is a bit depressingÖÖ

Fuck me this post is depressing! Gonna pull myself together.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: petejh on October 20, 2021, 12:42:47 pm
I think your post has the appearance of accuracy JB but I think some of your points don't add up.

Firstly, it isn't true in my opinion that trad climbing in Britain ever accepted the rock on its own terms. This is a popular trope used every time trad and bolts are discussed. Perhaps in small sections of the whole country the rock was climbed 'cleanly' but that's not the history of British trad climbing. I think many of the issues surrounding British trad climbing and bolts have their roots in the choices made by first ascentionists and the dubious practice of hammering pegs into trad routes. This has been compounded by us history-loving Brits making up a falsely virtuous narrative and calling it 'bending a knee to the rock'*, 'accepting what the rock offers', or some other complete bollocks made up by climbers to make the practice of smashing in a bomber piece of in-situ steel with a hammer, knowing full well the unprotected mild steel would rust and leave unsightly stains and become unsafe, sound virtuous to the congregation.

It can't have gone unnoticed that the majority of issues surrounding 'trad' routes and bolts - Welsh deception bolt or otherwise - occur on routes where pegs were placed by the first ascensionist. Correlation doesn't equal causation but you don't need to be statistician to see there's a strong link between peg then and bolt today. Without examining and discussing the ethical choices of past ascents it seems to me that it'll be difficult to ever properly and sensibly discuss ethical choices today because the two are directly linked. It doesn't help in the UK that people have such a strong narrative in their imaginations about routes being in a pigeon-hole we call 'trad'.. whatever that means.
Nothing in that infers I think anyone is morally superior or inferior or that pegs should have never been placed. Nor that I think bolts should be placed now. It's just obvious to me at least that the issues today have their roots in the placement of pegs in the past.

Also, labelling climbers today as wanting convenience, consumer culture, sport climbers etc. might have some merit as an argument; but is also a bit of a red herring and casts a false distinction imo. Because the attitudes today are just an extension from decisions made back in the day by climbers who, by their actions in placing pegs, themselves clearly wanted to make climbs *more convenient* for themselves and who had that same *consumer culture* for the first ascent. They achieved it in the only way they were capable of, by smashing in steel pegs which would have been as bomber as a bolt on the FA. What's the saying: 'history doesn't repeat but it does rhyme'..



* Next time I'm doing some DIY I'll perhaps make it a more spiritual experience by telling myself that I'm bending my knee to what the house is offering as I repeatedly smash a steel spike into its facade using a lump hammer.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: grimer on October 20, 2021, 12:48:45 pm
I went to Clogwyn Yr Adar at the weekend and clipped some of these peg bolts.

Tricky one. I guess they are drilled and glued like a bolt. I checked back to the old Merionydd guide for one of the routes I did and the pegs are all mentioned, so I guess the new ones replace the old ones like for like. But I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have got on the routes if they were still crucially protected by 40-year-old pegs, and definitely not if there were no pegs at all and just groundfall options.

But I am ethically conflicted by how much I enjoyed the climbs.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: northern yob on October 20, 2021, 12:52:22 pm
IMHO it should be an evolution, we should now be trying to step up to the challenge the rock presents.

Agreed that the past and pegs have a lot to answer for both good and bad.

All the like for like bollocks is just bullshit, the pegs were put in in a different era, we should now be better than that
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Johnny Brown on October 20, 2021, 01:23:17 pm
Not denying any of that Pete, but I think you need to be careful not to conflate pegs placed on lead with those placed on ab, and pegs placed in natural placements with drilled. Even if the differences may now be hard to discern.

It is easy to look at a peg nowadays and just see it, as many do, as a primitive form of insitu gear that needs replacing wtih something more reliable. However the reality on many cliffs is that these are relics from very ballsy ground-up ascents, placed on lead, in an era where the alternative was a drilled out machine nut and lead falls were inadvisable. Using a drill on abseil to replace them with a bolt is in complete anathema to the spirit in which they were placed, where the idea was to have an adventure not to create something popular.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: mrjonathanr on October 20, 2021, 01:29:32 pm
All the like for like bollocks is just bullshit, the pegs were put in in a different era, we should now be better than that

Exactly.

Good post pjh.

Edit JBís post - like a lot of Brown routes. As said, different era. Requires a different approach now, not using as an excuse for abseiling in to place a bolt.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: teestub on October 20, 2021, 01:40:46 pm
What is the solution for all these 3* classics with slowly rotting crucial peg protection then? Remove all the relics, hope thereís some poor placements left in their stead, and then wait for the routes to be reclimbed in their new state, at a similar difficulty but with (probably) a higher E grade?

I donít have any personal experience of this but itís a really interesting situation left by the FAís.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: petejh on October 20, 2021, 01:46:41 pm
Your point about placing pegs on lead is correct but it's perhaps even more troublesome than your original point (that 'trad climbing accepts the challenge of the rock on its own terms'). 
Because I'm struggling to work out what you're trying to get at - that we should respect history and climb only according to the style of the FA because once upon a time someone ballsy went up on lead carrying a hammer dangling on a cord, hung off a skyhook or other piece of gear, and hammered in a peg? It happened a lot all over the world.

Some nutters even do it with drills on FAs today.. I know a guy who lead rope solos FAs in the Canadian Rockies and drills bolts on lead. It isn't *that* hard to place bolts on lead now we have lightweight 18v hammer drills, I mean it's not easy and it's not for most people. I wouldn't like to do it but I *would* do it if that was the game.

I can't work out if you're trying to say we should respect a certain history and see it as more virtuous. So virtue in trad climbing today consists of doing what the FA's did back then?  Should I direct the lead-solo drilling-on-lead nutter to Gogarth?

If it's only pegs that are virtuous to be placed on lead then we're into the winter climbing game, where it still happens a lot. Easily enough done when part of your usual rack consists of hammer.

I doubt that's what you're getting at, but maybe it is.


edit: when I think more about it, the FAs you're talking about who placed pegs on lead back then were playing the same game winter climbing FAs are playing today. The game's moved on in rock climbing, but in winter climbing the game's changed more slowly (for understandable reasons of it being much more difficult to get gear, even sometimes just to retreat).
The obvious problem is that unlike winter climbs, of which there are still loads of newies to do, so many good rock climbs were 'done' first according to old rules which we no-longer play by, and which led to loads of 'ballsy' rock climbs being made possible by using an unsustainable practice of smashing in steel that would rapidly corrode and become unsightly and unsafe. 
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: northern yob on October 20, 2021, 01:48:09 pm
What is the solution for all these 3* classics with slowly rotting crucial peg protection then? Remove all the relics, hope thereís some poor placements left in their stead, and then wait for the routes to be reclimbed in their new state, at a similar difficulty but with (probably) a higher E grade?

I donít have any personal experience of this but itís a really interesting situation left by the FAís.

I think they should be left! No need to rip anything out, im against replacing them, but essentially yes step up to the challenge or find a different challenge.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Wellsy on October 20, 2021, 01:57:03 pm
I've barely done any trad

But it does seem to me that it's called accepting the rock on it's own turns but what that means in practice is the first ascensionist can basically do whatever they fancy and then everyone else has to follow that contrived standard.

If they whacked a peg in, then pegs are fine, if not then they aren't. If they bolted a lower off that's fine except if they didn't then it isn't. If they solo'd it without gear then you can use gear but if you whack a bolt in you're ruining it even if the ascensionist bolts the top of everything else but didn't in this case cos it's piss! In situ gear isn't okay unless everyone uses it, then it is.

Seems a bit contradictory is all I'm saying as a total newbie to the ethics of trad.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Potash on October 20, 2021, 02:01:34 pm
Most of these three star challenges have been climbed without the new drilled peg-bolts.

It seems like there are a group of older gentlemen who are attempting to turn the clock back to some imaginary hayday when their routes were well protected by new pegs rather than accepting them in their new better peg free state.

To me retro stealth peg bolting bold trad routes is a totally different thing to having convenience lower offs at the top of the Stoney Electricity Quarry.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Potash on October 20, 2021, 02:16:45 pm
And despite what some people are saying, I don't think this is driven by the young climbing wall trained sport climbing crowd.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: mrjonathanr on October 20, 2021, 02:22:04 pm
I've barely done any trad

But it does seem to me that it's called accepting the rock on it's own turns but what that means in practice is the first ascensionist can basically do whatever they fancy and then everyone else has to follow that contrived standard.

If they whacked a peg in, then pegs are fine, if not then they aren't. If they bolted a lower off that's fine except if they didn't then it isn't. If they solo'd it without gear then you can use gear but if you whack a bolt in you're ruining it even if the ascensionist bolts the top of everything else but didn't in this case cos it's piss! In situ gear isn't okay unless everyone uses it, then it is.

Seems a bit contradictory is all I'm saying as a total newbie to the ethics of trad.

Like asking for directions and being told ďYou donít want to start from here.Ē The debate starts from a very messy place. There has never been a perfectly ethically pure consensus that has always been applied, different ascentionists, places, rock types and times have led to all sorts of compromise accommodations with what constitutes trad ethics.

Historically, there has been a trend to look for improvement- eliminating aid points, no longer bolting or pegging on grit, for example- but it isnít consistent across areas and rock types.

The concern is that looking to improve ethically is going full speed into reverse in some cases and how normalised that might become.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: cheque on October 20, 2021, 02:32:55 pm
If they whacked a peg in, then pegs are fine, if not then they aren't.

Loads of pegs were placed back when other protection options were extremely limited though. There are tons of rotting pegs on (for example) Peak lime that are next to bomber placements for modern gear.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: teestub on October 20, 2021, 02:51:58 pm
I think they should be left! No need to rip anything out, im against replacing them, but essentially yes step up to the challenge or find a different challenge.

As far as I can see, all this means though is that you end up with a steady decrease in the reliability of the protection over the years, so what was a bomber peg on a lakes mountain crag in the 90s is now potentially a rusty nightmare that might hold a bodyweight slump (or whatever). I can imagine this process is a lot faster next to the sea.

Maybe this isn’t a problem and just something to be accepted?
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: northern yob on October 20, 2021, 03:23:23 pm
I think they should be left! No need to rip anything out, im against replacing them, but essentially yes step up to the challenge or find a different challenge.

As far as I can see, all this means though is that you end up with a steady decrease in the reliability of the protection over the years, so what was a bomber peg on a lakes mountain crag in the 90s is now potentially a rusty nightmare that might hold a bodyweight slump (or whatever). I can imagine this process is a lot faster next to the sea.

Maybe this isnít a problem and just something to be accepted?

Exactly you keep answering your own questions, at least as far as my opinion is concerned.

The alternatives are another peg (will rot again, British mountain crags shouldnít be a place where hammers are used) a stealth bolt/bolt( drills arenít welcome at my mountain crags either) or we accept the challenge laid out by the rock.

Protection has improved, climbing standards have improved. It would be good if our ethics could improve also.

Maybe a handful of routes get lost or changed radically. The vast majority are pretty similar. If we replace fixed protection it gets abused and the wedge gets thicker. 50 years down the line peg bolts are accepted and trad climbing is different.

Iím not against bolts, Iíve placed them with a hand drill and a battery drill.

I want to protect what I experienced in my formative years learning to climb, the sense of adventure, the challenge, the skills involved in making something dangerous as safe as possible, to the point that it becomes a viable option to climb it. There are reasons British climbers have traveled the world and left their mark everywhere, we bat way above our average not because we are better or stronger but because we have learnt the skills required in a relatively safe environment close to home. I think that is important and something we should be proud of, and something we should preserve.

The proliferation of peg/bolts and to a lesser degree lower offs on trad routes doesnít do this.



Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Paul B on October 20, 2021, 06:38:55 pm
It's pretty amazing what you can get in a peg scar as well. Offset cams FTW!
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Johnny Brown on October 20, 2021, 07:21:58 pm
Quote
I can't work out if you're trying to say we should respect a certain history and see it as more virtuous. So virtue in trad climbing today consists of doing what the FA's did back then?  Should I direct the lead-solo drilling-on-lead nutter to Gogarth?

Interesting. Iíd taken it for granted that my point was obvious, clearly not the case!

The point was that when considering replacing pegs with bolts, the context in which they were placed is, i think, important. So the logic that Ďthe FA enjoyed a bomber runner so so should weí has more currency when youíre talking about a headpoint where the pegs were placed on ab. It doesnít apply, imho, where some fifties hero was banging in a mild steel bendy peg while way strung out on lead with a filed-out machine nut their only alternative. In one case the ethic is like for like, the other is an erasure.

And yes, I do still believe that Ďbending a knee to the rockí remains a valid argument. A peg has to go in a crack, where the rock allows. A bolt can go anywhere, ideally (as far as safety is concerned) in the most flawless bit of rock possible. Again, stating the obvious but seemingly worth reiterating.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Fiend on October 20, 2021, 09:12:44 pm
Christ this is some debate to catch up on....

IMHO it should be an evolution, we should now be trying to step up to the challenge the rock presents.
essentially yes step up to the challenge or find a different challenge.
Protection has improved, climbing standards have improved. It would be good if our ethics could improve also.
Does this also apply to accepting the onsight challenge and improving ethics from headpointing to ground-upping to flashing to onsighting??

Or is it still the case that people who argue for improving those climbing style ethics and argue against the converse challenge-avoidance are fair game to be made pariahs and a big juicy target for all the "WAAAH WAAAH I CAN DO WHAT I LIKE YOU CAN'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO" pitchfork crowd??  ::) ::) ::) ::) ::) ::)


Anyway back to lower-offs....


The ever-expanding wedge has become a hoary old cliche but remains a fact not an inflated threat.
I concur.

Quote
I simply don't see expediting the move from the top of one route to the bottom of the next as adding to the experience.
I do, I love it. Sometimes topping out is great and spectacular. Sometimes the sheer horror of it is rewarding. Sometimes it's just plain tedious or so incongruous it merely detracts from the quality of the preceding climb. But anyway I do like the convenience of easy on / easy off routes (and have done for years, in 2004 I made a cats cradle of a spare rope to anchors above the Larbrax slab to make it easier to rattle of routes there when it was time to climb, in 2021 we had a static rope fixed to the trees of Adar to provide easy abbing for gear and as much climbing mileage potential as possible). Just my 0:02.

There are reasons British climbers have traveled the world and left their mark everywhere, we bat way above our average not because we are better or stronger but because we have learnt the skills required in a relatively safe environment close to home.
But....but but TEAM AMERICA  :'(

(joking)

Back to the serious point....

I want to protect what I experienced in my formative years learning to climb, the sense of adventure, the challenge, the skills involved in making something dangerous as safe as possible, to the point that it becomes a viable option to climb it.... I think that is important and something we should be proud of, and something we should preserve.
I dunno how much you and JB have seen out there, but from what I've seen, trad is in decline, and in particular neglected non-honeypot trad, especially with shitty top-outs and descents, is in decline, to the point that routes are becoming effectively unclimbable. And on limestone, many of these are being retro-bolted with "neglect" as the justification. Trad is not being preserved, it's being neglected or it's being destroyed by being turned into sport.

The question I have: In cases where the shitty top-outs and descents are highly likely to contribute to that neglect, and where lower-offs / ab points are likely to solve that issue - if you're not going to put those lower-offs / ab points in, HOW are you going to halt the neglect and preserve the trad??

(Genuine question, not baiting)

Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: teestub on October 20, 2021, 09:21:31 pm
Isnít there enough good trad around for you to let these somewhat second class sounding venues return to nature? Rewilding is so hot right now. 😄
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Kingy on October 20, 2021, 09:38:35 pm
The question I have: In cases where the shitty top-outs and descents are highly likely to contribute to that neglect, and where lower-offs / ab points are likely to solve that issue - if you're not going to put those lower-offs / ab points in, HOW are you going to halt the neglect and preserve the trad??

I agree with Teeshub, you can't halt the neglect and preserve everything without installing loweroffs. Certain routes were cleaned and done and became fashionable for a time and then dropped off the standard ticklist and are now starting to return to nature. At the time these routes were developed, other routes had not yet been developed which are now popular. There are only so many trad climbers now (arguably less active than in the past) and there are a lot more trad routes now than there were in the past due to said development. There just isn't the small army of trad activists climbing every single obscure route out there to prevent some of them falling back into obscurity. I don't think this is a bad thing in and of itself. Nature will take its course, why mess with it? Routes can be rediscovered by future generations. No doubt they will see a footnote in some guide saying what routes were done in the past and use this as a basis for their own redevelopment in the future.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: macca7 on October 20, 2021, 11:47:02 pm
But as fiend says they aren't going back to nature, there getting retried under the excuse of neglect.

Just happened at ansteys bmc meeting voted to retro all the neglected trad routes there!
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: DAVETHOMAS90 on October 21, 2021, 12:19:25 am
But as fiend says they aren't going back to nature, there getting retried under the excuse of neglect.

Just happened at ansteys bmc meeting voted to retro all the neglected trad routes there!


What a crock 'o bullocks  :-\

Who the f' are the BMC? Which trad routes? It's OK, we'll refer to it as a BMC meeting, to pass it all off.

Sorry if I've quoted you out of context there macca.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: cheque on October 21, 2021, 07:07:54 am
This meeting I imagine. (https://community.thebmc.co.uk/Event.aspx?id=4297)
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: andy moles on October 21, 2021, 07:31:37 am

Dealing with tat: I have a single edge razorblade (gear joke goes here) duct-taped to the back of my helmet. Itís unobtrusive and you donít forget it unless you forget the helmet. Iíve used it a few times to tidy up abseil tat or chop a rope.


I like it. I might try taping mine to the front of my helmet with the blade slightly proud of the rim, so I can go Peaky Blinders on retro boltpeggers and people who can't equalise tat.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: andy moles on October 21, 2021, 08:03:22 am
IMHO it should be an evolution, we should now be trying to step up to the challenge the rock presents.

I can totally see the appeal of this hardline attitude - it's simple and pure.

But then you start to think of specific cases.

I've cited Barbarossa before, so let's take Space Case at Craig y Forwyn. It's a mainly trad-protected route, with a (pointless) peg right next to a good cam slot and a couple of threads low down. Just below its upper crux there is a shiny expansion bolt (a replacement of the bolt Andy Pollitt placed for the FA).

It has been led without the bolt at E8 - which entails a pumpy, hard-to-read 6b sequence with groundfall potential from 20m. With the bolt, it's a brilliant, goey, balanced E6.

Without the bolt, a few people would probably still headpoint it, and a very few maybe flash or on-sight it. But for plenty of others it would become unjustifiable to lead. And that's OK, really - you can still top-rope it if you want to enjoy the climbing. Unless you believe leading routes is somehow important, it's no great loss. But in adhering to the pure trad ethic, what has actually been gained?
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Kingy on October 21, 2021, 08:24:32 am
But as fiend says they aren't going back to nature, there getting retried under the excuse of neglect.

Just happened at ansteys bmc meeting voted to retro all the neglected trad routes there!

I see what is happening with retroing which I am uncomfortable with. I was making a general point about route traffic in general. This would apply to obscure routes in the Lancs quarries where no retroing would be entertained by the locals
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: northern yob on October 21, 2021, 08:28:01 am
what has actually been gained?

A natural E8 that doesnít resort to a hole being drilled in the rock.

There are plenty of routes at E6 that accept the challenge presented, without resorting to a drill in north Wales. If youíve done them all, thereís plenty of sport routes at the required level to go at too, if youíve done all those then thereís always EnglandÖ..
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: northern yob on October 21, 2021, 08:47:24 am

Does this also apply to accepting the onsight challenge and improving ethics from headpointing to ground-upping to flashing to onsighting??




People can climb in whatever style they want as long as they arenít drilling holes or wielding hammers as far as Iím concerned

I know which style I think is superior, it doesnít mean I always climb in itÖ.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: northern yob on October 21, 2021, 09:02:46 am

The question I have: In cases where the shitty top-outs and descents are highly likely to contribute to that neglect, and where lower-offs / ab points are likely to solve that issue - if you're not going to put those lower-offs / ab points in, HOW are you going to halt the neglect and preserve the trad??

(Genuine question, not baiting)

I donít think there is anyway to halt the decline, I think trad will probably make some kind of comeback in the future, these things tend to be in cycles.

I donít think diluting the challenge with lower offs will help preserve trad climbing.

Ab points is a whole other issue

Sorry fiend but your esoteric, pile of shit choss fests are collateral damage. They arenít gonna preserve trad climbing with or without lower offs. As fun as they may be.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: andy moles on October 21, 2021, 09:14:50 am
what has actually been gained?

A natural E8 that doesnít resort to a hole being drilled in the rock.


No question. But what is the intrinsic value of that?
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Fiend on October 21, 2021, 09:21:41 am
Sorry fiend but your esoteric, pile of shit choss fests are collateral damage. They arenít gonna preserve trad climbing with or without lower offs. As fun as they may be.
Now now, that's quite off target. The more adventurous routes I like are almost invariably quite conventional sea-cliff stuff on the North Wales coastline, and entirely unsuitable (logistically and ethically) for lower-offs.

The sort of neglected non-honeypot routes I'm referring to would be Pennine limestone, gritstone quarries, some mountain rock crags (as I said, Mad Dogs And Englishmen looked pretty dusty / unchalked earlier this summer) Routes which are invariably quite normal and good quality but have fallen into the vicious circle of neglect / off-putting appearances due to circumstance.

Do lower-offs really dilute the challenge on these sorts of routes where a top-out / descent is very much easier than the actual route, just unpleasant, out of character, long-winded, and dangerous in a different way to the route itself?? Are aspirants really seeking the challenge of grovelling through a heathery, muddy VS 4a top-out on top of their normal E2 5c route and a 10 minute scramble back through brambles?? I suspect they're after the actual climbing challenge bit (unless they're lost winter climbers, trying to maximise the general misery irrespective of climbing quality).

P.S. Despite arguing back I do definitely respect your view (and JB's, DT90's etc)

I do find the implied response from Kingy and teestub interesting - that some trad routes and venues will just have to be sacrificed - i.e. some of it can be preserved but not all.

P.P.S. Kingy - thoughts on the prominent shiny Supercrack / Sobeit bolted lower-off at Wilton 1?? Those two (normal, high quality) trad routes do seem to keep getting a decent amount of attention that they might not if the vegetation / rubble top-out had to be negotiated...

Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: northern yob on October 21, 2021, 09:22:12 am
what has actually been gained?

A natural E8 that doesnít resort to a hole being drilled in the rock.


No question. But what is the intrinsic value of that?

Yikes this sounds a bit philosophical isnít it the same intrinsic value as an E6 or a HVS for that matter?
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: northern yob on October 21, 2021, 09:34:50 am
Sorry fiend but your esoteric, pile of shit choss fests are collateral damage. They arenít gonna preserve trad climbing with or without lower offs. As fun as they may be.
Now now, that's quite off target. The more adventurous routes I like are almost invariably quite conventional sea-cliff stuff on the North Wales coastline, and entirely unsuitable (logistically and ethically) for lower-offs.

The sort of neglected non-honeypot routes I'm referring to would be Pennine limestone, gritstone quarries, some mountain rock crags (as I said, Mad Dogs And Englishmen looked pretty dusty / unchalked earlier this summer) Routes which are invariably quite normal and good quality but have fallen into the vicious circle of neglect / off-putting appearances due to circumstance.

Do lower-offs really dilute the challenge on these sorts of routes where a top-out / descent is very much easier than the actual route, just unpleasant, out of character, long-winded, and dangerous in a different way to the route itself?? Are aspirants really seeking the challenge of grovelling through a heathery, muddy VS 4a top-out on top of their normal E2 5c route and a 10 minute scramble back through brambles?? I suspect they're after the actual climbing challenge bit (unless they're lost winter climbers, trying to maximise the general misery irrespective of climbing quality).

I do find the implied response from Kingy and teestub interesting - that some trad routes and venues will just have to be sacrificed - i.e. some of it can be preserved but not all.

Sorry I didnít actually mean it like that, I meant the peak limestone and quarries are collateral damage, those routes are sacrificed at the alter of Ken. I donít believe we can be pragmatic (I wish we could) it will get abused, thatís why Iíve formed a seemingly fairly hardline stance. Iím with teestub and kingy.

Also fuck this shit, have you looked outside? Iím going climbing (I wonít be drilling holes or lowering off) I look forward to catching up with this tomorrow.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: andy moles on October 21, 2021, 09:35:43 am
what has actually been gained?

A natural E8 that doesnít resort to a hole being drilled in the rock.


No question. But what is the intrinsic value of that?

Yikes this sounds a bit philosophical isnít it the same intrinsic value as an E6 or a HVS for that matter?

What I meant was, why is preserving a route in a given state of greater importance than the benefits potentially gained by compromise? Is sticking to principle the bottom line, even if it costs in other ways?
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: northern yob on October 21, 2021, 09:45:04 am
what has actually been gained?

A natural E8 that doesnít resort to a hole being drilled in the rock.


No question. But what is the intrinsic value of that?

Yikes this sounds a bit philosophical isnít it the same intrinsic value as an E6 or a HVS for that matter?

What I meant was, why is preserving a route in a given state of greater importance than the benefits potentially gained by compromise? Is sticking to principle the bottom line, even if it costs in other ways?

Ok one more!

Yes for me the principal is the bottom line, leave the rock as it was. If you donít stick to that principal doesnít it make more sense to retro them all? What is the bottom line for you popularity?
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: abarro81 on October 21, 2021, 10:00:02 am
No question. But what is the intrinsic value of that?

What's the intrinsic value of any trad climbing? Whatever your answer to my question is your answer to your question.

It has been led without the bolt at E8 - which entails a pumpy, hard-to-read 6b sequence with groundfall potential from 20m. With the bolt, it's a brilliant, goey, balanced E6.

Without the bolt, a few people would probably still headpoint it, and a very few maybe flash or on-sight it. But for plenty of others it would become unjustifiable to lea
This is why they chipped all those euro sport routes back in the day - to make nice homogenous routes. Now I like climbing some old drilled stuff, but it's better to leave that approach in the past IMO. If not, I've got a sweet bit of roof at Kilnsey that just needs a few 3 finger jugs drilling out... will be way better as a drilled 8c than a natural 9b... In Europe I wouldn't mind if they did that even now, there's plenty of rock, but in the UK I think we're probably all agreed we should stay away from that line of thought...

Pegs were always bullshit, and should rot or be ripped out. Peg bolts are a joke. I have no objection to lower-offs in the right places, maybe to avoid it being part of the slippery slope we make a rule where for every lower-off bolt placed you have to go rip out an old peg or angle-grind one of these pseudo-pegs...
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Wellsy on October 21, 2021, 04:39:45 pm
What is the intrinsic value of anything 🤔
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: andy moles on October 21, 2021, 04:48:35 pm
I rushed those last couple of posts earlier (also trying to get outside!) and didn't make my point very well.

Yes for me the principal is the bottom line, leave the rock as it was. If you donít stick to that principal doesnít it make more sense to retro them all? What is the bottom line for you popularity?

No. I'm wary of the popularity argument, you hear some version of it as justification for any increase in safety/convenience, but taken to its logical conclusion we'd just bolt everything, and that would be shit. But I'm also not saying popularity counts for nothing, in the same way that I'm not saying the principle of leaving no trace counts for nothing.

I'm arguing for not having a bottom line, rigid principle that must be applied to everything. That's the reality of what we've always had - the trad ethic has always been compromised by fixed gear to a degree that makes it closer to a rule than an exception. What you're arguing for is something that has never really existed. Which is fine, and I agree with you that we should be trying to improve on the past. What I'm questioning is whether drawing a bright line between trad and sport and having nothing in between, which would in fact be a new development for UK climbing, would be such a great thing. I think we'd effectively lose some brilliant routes, and for what? To conform to an arbitrary rule?

Pegs were indeed always bullshit, as is the idea that whatever the FA did dictates how a route should be forever. But I don't see why certain routes having the odd piece of (durable) fixed gear, where it makes a significant difference to the character of a route in a way that a majority of 'trad' climbers agree is positive, is a bad thing. Same applies to lower-offs, to drag this back to the topic.

Having said that, I do have some sympathy for your point about keeping it pure and simple, to prevent the advancing wedge from getting out of hand - but I don't there's any way it'll ever happen, so we might as well be pragmatic!


This is why they chipped all those euro sport routes back in the day - to make nice homogenous routes. Now I like climbing some old drilled stuff, but it's better to leave that approach in the past IMO. If not, I've got a sweet bit of roof at Kilnsey that just needs a few 3 finger jugs drilling out... will be way better as a drilled 8c than a natural 9b... In Europe I wouldn't mind if they did that even now, there's plenty of rock, but in the UK I think we're probably all agreed we should stay away from that line of thought... 

Agreed, but chipping and fixed gear are not the same thing. As above, I'm not arguing that we should be trying to make all routes as balanced as possible, but I also think that in some cases, like where a single bolt makes 2 grades difference and the difference between a brilliant ground-up challenge for lots of climbers vs. a deadly bold route that almost no one will climb in 'trad' style, well...why not?

Sure, bits of rock don't have to be climbed. But if they have a lot of merit, in terms of quality or history or whatever it is that climbers value, and we choose essentially for them to become less climbable, it should be for a good reason. I'm not sure 'because trad' is always going to be good enough.

What is the intrinsic value of anything 🤔

There is none, none whatsoever.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Kingy on October 21, 2021, 06:30:57 pm
I do find the implied response from Kingy and teestub interesting - that some trad routes and venues will just have to be sacrificed - i.e. some of it can be preserved but not all.

P.P.S. Kingy - thoughts on the prominent shiny Supercrack / Sobeit bolted lower-off at Wilton 1?? Those two (normal, high quality) trad routes do seem to keep getting a decent amount of attention that they might not if the vegetation / rubble top-out had to be negotiated...

Nothing is being sacraficed, that is an active verb. They are merely falling into disuse. Folk are free to do the routes and clean them up if they so wish, nothing stopping ppl.

I'm not in favour of bolted loweroffs in the quarries. I first climbed in the quarries in 1994 and there were no loweroffs then. I don't see the need for any now. Like I say, if cleaning needs doing then ppl who want to do these routes are free to go and do it. I do plenty of cleaning of dusty holds on sport routes and rebolting every year as that is the kind of climbing Im into these days. Different strokes for different folks...
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Fiend on October 21, 2021, 08:48:37 pm
It's a bit of a pig when you want to onsight trad and the routes are falling into disuse and need cleaning because they're not getting enough traffic (possibly due to shitty top-outs) tho...


I do rather like barrow's suggestion that it's okay to add lower-offs, as long as each time that's balanced out by removing a bit of fixed gear from actually on a trad route (is that one bit per lower-off, or one bit per each bolt of the lower-off??)
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: DAVETHOMAS90 on October 21, 2021, 09:51:00 pm

What is the intrinsic value of anything 🤔

There is none, none whatsoever.

.. which is why hunting for some justification for the way to go, is also folly.

There are merits and consequences, gains and losses - no "right" course of action.

I think of old trad E2s at Anstey's that would lose their magic and reward if bolted. I took the bolts out of Free the Spirit - to.. er.. free the spirit, but a couple of bolts in The Flaming Drambuie (direct/old start/direct finish) would really set it alight.

..  :whistle:
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: mrjonathanr on October 21, 2021, 10:31:20 pm
I do rather like barrow's suggestion that it's okay to add lower-offs, as long as each time that's balanced out by removing a bit of fixed gear from actually on a trad route a nearby sport route.

Fixed.  :)
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: teestub on October 22, 2021, 09:25:30 am
It's a bit of a pig when you want to onsight trad and the routes are falling into disuse and need cleaning because they're not getting enough traffic (possibly due to shitty top-outs) tho...


So this is actually just a personal interest thing for you, to make your preferred climbing style more convenient 😄
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Fiend on October 22, 2021, 11:04:38 am
Yup the entire poll was set up to try to nudge opinions in that direction  ::)

Nah it's just a problem with Kingy's "if cleaning needs doing then ppl who want to do these routes are free to go and do it" idea - ppl who want to step up to the challenge of the route (as it's graded, i.e. for an onsight in normal conditions) might not want to have that challenge greatly reduced by abseiling down, hoiking out plants, scrubbing holds, excavating gear slots. If climbs were generally able to be kept in decent condition, that would be preferable.

(I do a bit of cleaning, sometimes after I've battled through filth leading a route, sometimes on routes I've previously done, and sometimes on routes that I don't mind not stepping up to the onsight challenge on (I've found one way to alleviate beta-gain from the latter is to clean them in miserable wet conditions in autumn/winter prior to an ascent the next summer, thus any information is pretty murky and easily forgotten).
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Fiend on October 23, 2021, 06:46:34 pm
(I do a bit of cleaning, sometimes after I've battled through filth leading a route, sometimes on routes I've previously done, and sometimes on routes that I don't mind not stepping up to the onsight challenge on (I've found one way to alleviate beta-gain from the latter is to clean them in miserable wet conditions in autumn/winter prior to an ascent the next summer, thus any information is pretty murky and easily forgotten).
Was out cleaning today, putting my money where my moaning is. Fuck me I'd rather have been cranking out esoteric lowballs on the grit or training on the wood indoors, or smashing out some """E3 5c""" above 8 pads and Youtubing the fuck out of it, but instead for my rehab I was cleaning in a nice little roadside suntrap quarry - just trying to give people more feasible trad options near where I am (and keep vaguely hanging on to sanity).

A couple of things to note:

The route I cleaned today had not one but two quite unrusted pegs (i.e. pegs, not bolts as they do on Snowdonia trad) right next to multiple bomber gear placements easily accessible from decent holds / bridging rests. If I hoik them out, according to the now default Barrows Fixed Gear Equilibrium Protocol, do I get to specify where a lower-off can be placed in return?? Or do I have to accept where someone else places it?? (probably on the top of Rhoscolyn sport routes  ::) )

Secondly this quarry was one I tackled last year, and actually after I cleaned up a route or two on the side wall, a veteran local activist / guru and experienced trad climber did say....

I fancy a lower off might be more appropriate on the top of some of these routes as the top outs are utterly grim. [

However, at that time he hadn't seen my cleaning work on top (photo was from below), which I think had removed most of the utter grimness (I can't recall how bad they were before, certainly a lot better than most of the neglected Wilton 1 routes, and also with good gear below the tops). Anyway it's the top of this, mostly around the centre, and several months later it still looks fine.

(https://scontent.fman4-2.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.6435-9/174143672_10159809869088623_4628772517996320307_n.jpg?_nc_cat=106&ccb=1-5&_nc_sid=730e14&_nc_ohc=QT9CYhELkkcAX_Q0zYG&_nc_ht=scontent.fman4-2.fna&oh=47c7cda86bd241063a64bac4844bc30f&oe=619B4D8F)
I did a similar level of cleaning in the left corner today and wanted to do a proper job of the top-out (even though it was manageable anyway) so it took maybe 45 minutes just on that, out a 1.5 - 2 hour cleaning session. It should last a while but I wonder how many bolt lower-offs I could have drilled in that time.

Not sure what my point is here tbh! But it's topical anyway.
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: Kingy on October 23, 2021, 08:58:33 pm
Great effort Fiend, I recognise that quarry, I walked past it on my rest day strolls in the summer on the way to the moors beyond after parking up just below it. Tintwistle way isn't it. Looked like some strong lines there!
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: SA Chris on October 28, 2021, 01:37:18 pm
I have one of those tiny trango knives on a screwgate with my prussic.

"That's not a knife"
Title: Re: Bolted lower-offs on select trad routes??
Post by: SamT on October 28, 2021, 01:57:48 pm
I have one of those tiny trango knives on a screwgate with my prussic.

Quote from: simonyates
"That's not a knife"
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