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Bolting ethics underground and overground

rog saxton

New member
The BMC were reporting that some uneducated fool has placed spit anchors on Low Man, Almscliff today. Someone watched a family group of granddad and co doing it to set up a top rope for messing about on classic easy routes.
No climber would do this for fear of being tarred and feathered or at least extreme public pillorying. Anyone with a battery drill and a little DIY skill is hardly likely to have spit anchors and hangers. So my imagination joins the dots in the direction of a caver. A caver who cares not about bolts and enjoys ignorance of the British traditional climbing ethics (and American and many other facets of the sport in a deeply complicated arena that is abridged for convenience by the semi-ignorant). Of course, loons of past decades have chiselled names and even holds in the rock. Just as loons of yore climbed stals or broke them off for garden decorations. Ethics is a process of evolution following the same rules as Dawkin's blind watchmaker. I seriously doubt the culprit will have the balls to hold their hand up when/if the outrage reaches them. And I'd guess they'll chunter to all who'll listen that it's just a flush recess bolt that is hard to see. And they'll cherish their own enlightened understanding with no interest in understanding the pov of others and just how much piss is at boiling point.
Perhaps there is someone who can educate them. Politely to begin with..
 
The BMC were reporting that some uneducated fool has placed spit anchors on Low Man, Almscliff today. Someone watched a family group of granddad and co doing it to set up a top rope for messing about on classic easy routes.
No climber would do this for fear of being tarred and feathered or at least extreme public pillorying. Anyone with a battery drill and a little DIY skill is hardly likely to have spit anchors and hangers. So my imagination joins the dots in the direction of a caver. A caver who cares not about bolts and enjoys ignorance of the British traditional climbing ethics (and American and many other facets of the sport in a deeply complicated arena that is abridged for convenience by the semi-ignorant). Of course, loons of past decades have chiselled names and even holds in the rock. Just as loons of yore climbed stals or broke them off for garden decorations. Ethics is a process of evolution following the same rules as Dawkin's blind watchmaker. I seriously doubt the culprit will have the balls to hold their hand up when/if the outrage reaches them. And I'd guess they'll chunter to all who'll listen that it's just a flush recess bolt that is hard to see. And they'll cherish their own enlightened understanding with no interest in understanding the pov of others and just how much piss is at boiling point.
Perhaps there is someone who can educate them. Politely to begin with..
So you don't think they should have done it?
 

mikem

Well-known member
I respectfully suggest that climbers are just as capable of ignoring bolting ethics as cavers (& there are a lot more of them)... Plus cavers seem to have a much better understanding of conservation than most of the climbers I know.
 

Oceanrower

Active member
I respectfully suggest that climbers are just as capable of ignoring bolting ethics as cavers (& there are a lot more of them)... Plus cavers seem to have a much better understanding of conservation than most of the climbers I know.
Anyone who’s been anywhere near a dig site might question that…
 

cap n chris

Well-known member
Never ceases to amaze that there's a presumption that such a thing as a community of cavers (or climbers) exists in this entrenched internet/connected world where every.single.person.on.the.planet can find out where caves are, buy equipment, look at YouTube and create their own adventure(s) without even knowing of the existence of clubs, regional councils, BCA etc.. People well ensconced in the latter need to think differently. Remember the bunch of lads who successfully bottomed Gaping Gill by sharing a harness and using a climbing rope and some prussik loops, no helmets, taking photos and graffiti'ing their names, and posting their pics on FB? (A thread on here followed, but nothing came of it; nor could it have, if you think about it).

The world has changed. Get used to it. For this reason I have long advocated signage at the limit of daylight penetration (as occurs in European caves) to provide guidance on acceptable standards of behaviour but the British caving community, across the board, has been dead against it.

Footnote: FWIW the BCA had a publication about Ethical Caving but it got suffocated at birth (I have a draft/copy somewhere) as it listed many practices which took the fun out of recreational caving - although that may not have been the reason for it being smothered). People do stuff, people complain, a minor storm in a teacup follows and time passes and nothing happens, nor will it. C'est la vie.
 
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langcliffe

Well-known member
So my imagination joins the dots in the direction of a caver. A caver who cares not about bolts and enjoys ignorance of the British traditional climbing ethics (and American and many other facets of the sport in a deeply complicated arena that is abridged for convenience by the semi-ignorant). Of course, loons of past decades have chiselled names and even holds in the rock. Just as loons of yore climbed stals or broke them off for garden decorations. Ethics is a process of evolution following the same rules as Dawkin's blind watchmaker. I seriously doubt the culprit will have the balls to hold their hand up when/if the outrage reaches them. And I'd guess they'll chunter to all who'll listen that it's just a flush recess bolt that is hard to see. And they'll cherish their own enlightened understanding with no interest in understanding the pov of others and just how much piss is at boiling point.
Perhaps there is someone who can educate them. Politely to begin with..

Reading this is rather like reading a von Däniken book. It makes an assumption, and then assumes that it is a fact to give meat to an argument.

I am always somewhat confused by the statement that "Ethics is a process of evolution following the same rules as Dawkin's blind watchmaker". Can you explain that, please? Evolution, as explained by Richard Dawkins, works broadly on the basis that random mutations persevere if they give a reproductive advantage. The accepted ethics associated with caving and climbing at any one time seems to be the result of leadership, in that someone decides that there is a better way of doing things, education of the community, and acceptance by the community. I really can't see the connection.
 

underground

Member
I can’t find a single report on the BMC website, social media or ukclimbing. Does the OP want to supply any actual evidence?
Anyway, alleged incident happens at a climbing crag, appears to be for the purposes of enabling climbing, yet just because bolts were (allegedly) used that are pretty much obsolete but were previously used in caves, it must have been a caver?
Jog on pal
 

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
I respectfully suggest that climbers are just as capable of ignoring bolting ethics as cavers (& there are a lot more of them)... Plus cavers seem to have a much better understanding of conservation than most of the climbers I know.
I have to agree with this. It is a giant leap for mankind that because someone ignored bolting ethics or didn't know better they must have been cavers. They were climbing so they were climbers, no? Or perhaps the guy had been caving, or done any other amount of activities, or just spent a lot of time on Youtube, or.......
 
I don't know how many cavers climb (probably quite a few) and how many climbers go caving (ditto). Surely trying to put the offenders into one of two categories is a little simplistic when there's a third one - ie Prats.
 

Steve Clark

Active member
Given the description, I’d suggest the most likely scenario is someone who is no longer active in the climbing or caving scene and has no idea it would be a problem. If they’re not a caver, it must have been decades since they’ve been using spits as a climber, perhaps that’s why the assumption of caver was made. Or they just got some ancient gear and wanted to use it.

Climbing bolt ethics is a minefield. There’s controversy happening right now about a single peg in Shivers Arête at Wilton 3 in Bolton, but not how you’d think. The route (E1) has the hardest move right at the top 40-50ft up. The sole protection against a ground fall is a single peg, below your feet. Placed on the first ascent, and replaced over time. There was some doubt about the integrity/corrosion of the current peg so the local BMC area meeting agreed to swap it for a resin stainless bolt. Now this has been done, there’s a load of criticism because it’s ‘changed the character of the route’. With the peg, there was some uncertainty as to whether it would snap - hence a bit of an adrenaline-raiser and/or death trap. Now you have a bombproof bolt, it’s ‘safe’ so apparently not as good.

They pull tested the peg after they’d placed the bolt. Failed at 1.5kN 😳
 
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Fjell

Active member
It always fascinated me how much some climbers need a placebo to get it up. A fine balance between the useless drag/weight offsetting the abject wobbling terror.

It’s not an appealing approach for your average engineer, but I do have a respect for the sheer purity of someone like Alex Honnold. I think he’s cracked, and possibly not destined for ekeing out his last days in a care home, but there is no bullshit. If you banned all protection and the use of ropes, all this angst would be unnecessary.

I have been spending quite some time in a care home recently and I would advise to avoid, even the very poshest ones with chandeliers etc. Maybe Alex has it right, it’s a puzzle.
 

Pitlamp

Well-known member
Steve Clark wrote:

"There’s controversy happening right now about a single peg in Shivers Arête at Wilton 3 in Bolton, but not how you’d think. The route (E1) has the hardest move right at the top 40-50ft up. The sole protection against a ground fall is a single peg, below your feet. Placed on the first ascent, and replaced over time. There was some doubt about the integrity/corrosion of the current peg so the local BMC area meeting agreed to swap it for a resin stainless bolt. Now this has been done, there’s a load of criticism because it’s ‘changed the character of the route’. With the peg, there was some uncertainty as to whether it would snap - hence a bit of an adrenaline-raiser and/or death trap. Now you have a bombproof bolt, it’s ‘safe’ so apparently not as good."

I know that particular route well, having soloed it many times when I lived near Wilton. I wasn't aware of the present controversy but I must confess that my first impression when I read about it was one of alarm. I follow your point; making the fall 100% safe removes much of the adventure - together with the sense of achievement after stepping up to the challenge and then succeeding. The latter is a large part of what makes many climbers tick. Sadly, it also sometimes leads to accidents. I guess it's all about getting the balance right.

I think I would have preferred a replacement peg, to keep the route as close as possible to how it was first climbed. With a big metal ring there, the grade would be way below E1 as the moves aren't particularly hard.
 

rog saxton

New member
Reading this is rather like reading a von Däniken book. It makes an assumption, and then assumes that it is a fact to give meat to an argument.

I am always somewhat confused by the statement that "Ethics is a process of evolution following the same rules as Dawkin's blind watchmaker". Can you explain that, please? Evolution, as explained by Richard Dawkins, works broadly on the basis that random mutations persevere if they give a reproductive advantage. The accepted ethics associated with caving and climbing at any one time seems to be the result of leadership, in that someone decides that there is a better way of doing things, education of the community, and acceptance by the community. I really can't see the connection.
you will if you were to read more on the subject. that's not intended as a keyboard warrior slur, but an honest statement. but that aside, I was merely implying that if I were a detective challenged to solve the mystery, a caver is where I'd start. but even that wasn't the purpose of the post, but only the explanation of why I posted here. the purpose was to offer education to the uneducated. As a climber and caver I find the assumptions of many climbers of cavers and vice versa often ridiculous, unfounded, amusing, but mostly sad. Reading some of these replies reminds me firstly why I mostly avoid forums and secondly that once people enter their chosen silo, they're mostly stuck there for life.
 

rog saxton

New member
I have to agree with this. It is a giant leap for mankind that because someone ignored bolting ethics or didn't know better they must have been cavers. They were climbing so they were climbers, no? Or perhaps the guy had been caving, or done any other amount of activities, or just spent a lot of time on Youtube, or.......
or maybe the point is that it was simply wrong and maybe if people understood that then the person in question will perhaps find out if he does indeed turn out to be a caver. and regardless, all cavers who read this may learn a little or may want to ask experienced climbers to explain the argument, if they can't initially see it. someone bolting a top rope anchor to play around on a very easy route and identifying as a climber is like someone doing repeated trips into the churns and sell gill plus little else and calling themselves a caver. best not to brand people like that. I'm sensing in the defensive whataboutery maybe there's a concern that climbers generally are blaming cavers. I've no idea, but I doubt it as not that many climbers go caving. But it is a truism that climbers haven't used spit anchors for probs 40 years. I'm not particularly old, but like a lot of cavers, have a spits and hangers in my caving cupboard.
 

kay

Well-known member
the purpose was to offer education to the uneducated. I’ve generally found when seeking to educate that it helps not to start by accusing of wrongdoing those you are trying to educate.
 

Steve Clark

Active member
I think I would have preferred a replacement peg, to keep the route as close as possible to how it was first climbed. With a big metal ring there, the grade would be way below E1 as the moves aren't particularly hard.

I think they actually did have some kind of stainless or even titanium blade type peg available that could have been resined in, but it was expensive metalwork and they didn't want to risk it being immediately chopped!

The last steel peg was actually cemented in too and looked reasonably solid. As you say, the route is not super hard if you're tall enough (Serious solo mind, given the height off the deck 😲). Hence the route was getting a lot of ascents by new-ish climbers as a first 'E1', presumably under the assumption the peg was solid. That's quite an insidious risk. It would be tragic to seriously injure a climber who hadn't prepared appropriately. They're also not fully 'benefiting' from the feeling of achievement if they don't understand the seriousness of the challenge they've unknowingly undertaken.

Now, with the knowledge that the last peg was actually full of micro-fractures and broke at 1.5kN (150kg), it's probably a good move to make it safe, but has changed the feel and adjectival grade of a classic route.

I think I'd much rather it was bolted safe OR the peg removed and up-graded to reflect it being a solo. Dodgy gear is a bit Russian roulette for my liking.
 
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