Monday, 1 March 2010

Dave Macleod's Anubis

I don't generally discuss climbing, as i'm a climber with fairly poor ethics. Indeed, not only this but i can barely put an argument together, but i feel the need to comment on Anubis - perhaps it's time i changed my perspective on climbing.
Dave's come in for some flak as a result of this latest winter exploit, which you can read all about on DaveMac's blog or UKC. There is a fairly split population mainly at two extremes. There are the hero worshipping 'followers' who expect this E8 winter line to be Scottish XVI and then there's the 'this is not a winter route it's a drytool on the ben' brigade.
Rather un-interestingly i find myself agreeing with both sides and my opinion is as follows:
The route, viewed from photos taken on the day of the ascent clearly show it isn't in what many would suggest was winter nick, theres no hoar/rime and limited ice - but it's a mixed climb so your climbing on rock mainly anyway. Personally, rime/hoar is purely an aesthetic thing in my mind as although it adds to the experience of the climb and difficulty to a degree it has it's problems, such as the fact you have to strip it off the crag in order to climb it, which scratches the rock much more than if you could see you placements first time. I really don't think a crag has to be COVERED in rime to be in winter nick, though a black crag is a bit of a piss take in a winter sense.
Dave said there was Ice in the back of the crack and that he placed an ice hook - if true and i can't see him lying, then it's a winter ascent. People have said they don't believe that. Well fair enough to them, but ultimately he climbed the line in the middle of winter, in subzero-icy conditions, with a bit of ice and hooks. Mixed for my money.
I think my main opinion, is however if myself and Franco rocked up to Eagle Crag in Grisedale and boshed our way up Kestrel Wall, or indeed went up and tooled on the Ben - we'd be hunted down by these ravenous UK/UKC winter ethics police and made to answer for our crimes. Obviously DaveMac hasn't 'got away' with it, as such but he has the profile to shrug it off not a problem - similarly with Dave Birkett in the lakes this year. There was a bit of questioning with his classic rock climb but nothing like the level of pure hatred if a 'punter' had done it...
Indeed, a punter like me got a bit of flak as a result of climbing Chock Gully in 'very powdery' conditions. The conditions we climbed Chock Gully in was certainly wintery! The gully was full of powder, the ice below the chockstone was a bit poor but it was there and without it it would have been impossible to get to the 'stone. Tackling the stone itself was more 'drytoolie' as the crack on the left was iced but there was no lovely ice corner or chandelier as in the 70's and 80's.
My point being we raised a few eyebrows climbing that, so if we stuck a photo of us on some crag with bugger all hoar on the rock, we wouldn't have a leg to stand on - as they would have been ripped off and used as belays by the rabid anti mixed climbing brigade...
Summer routes in my opinion, are meant to be climbed in winter a matter or progression, provided they are good winter lines eg Engineer Slabs or Bowfell Buttress. Anubis, certainly looks the test-piece.

DaveMac, good work.

No one reads this blog, so it would be interesting if someone had an opinion to my ramblings...!


ram man said...

I do Dave!

As to my opinions on your ramblings? I don't really get snow climbing or such like so these things don't really register my interest. However, I'll give my uninformed, uninterested opinion: If it's unacceptable to bolt, chip, excessively wire brush, etc. etc. a certain outcrop crag in normal conditions then it goes without saying that it's unacceptable to fuck the rock up with metal tools just because it's cold (even just a little bit). Simple as that?

Franco Cookson said...

Fair point Ram Man, to which some would say it's unacceptable to 'fuck the rock up' with the passing of many hands and the act of pollish. The highly unnatural act of 'cleaning' (or ripping flora off buttresses to put it another way) not only destroys many good winter lines, but also leaves a lasting impression on the rock.

ram man said...

yeah, maybe some would say that. 99.9% of rock climbers wouldn't though. The same minority would probably say it's unacceptable to drive to the crag, walk on a made up footpath (or not) when you get there, go for a piss, fart, etc.

There's a line somewhere and, as a rock climber, I'd put the likes of littering, hold improvement/chipping, scratching crags up with winter tools, disturbing nesting birds, etc. the wrong side of the line.

Equally, I'd put crag cleaning (with the right approach), polish due to climbing, chalking of the rock, light brushing of holds, etc. on the undesireable but acceptable side of the same line.

ram man said...

sweet crap, I've only just seen that dave mac thread on ukc. What a disaster - I sound like one of them on there, noooooo! Thank god no one reads your blog dave...

Dave Warburton said...

I certainly won't attempt to change your mind on winter climbing...however if you do give it ago you'll see what Great Fun/Adventure it is! ;-)

As an aside, it will be interesting to see if this spurs more and more folk on to 'search out' classy summer climbs for winter action, that perhaps aren't really suitable.

Drainage lines, corners, cracks etc are all fair game in my view, but it will be interesting if (especially if we get a spate of similarly good winters) people start to branch out - drytooling rather than mixed may become more popular - but perhaps not fashionable.

Tough topic and i'd say to be totally 'guilt free' you have to not participate in any of our climbing 'disciplines' as they all have detrimental effects to the environment.

Ewan said...

I don't read you blog dave(it's crap and just chats about shitty pieces of falling down rock where nothing is higher than 7m or the lakes). However you are for certain right that the UKC lynch mob will be after you, no matter what franco and you get up to. "Oh he only placed 5 bits of gear on that route, how reckless"