This site is down in protest at the support of bolting in the Lancashire quarries.

 

This valuable resource will not be made available again until this policy is revised and the bolting of the Lancashire quarries ceases and its position as a bastion of traditional climbing in the UK is reinstated.

 

Phil Kelly

 

 

The Membership Officer

The British mountaineering Council

The Old Church

177-179 Burton Road

West Didsbury

Manchester

M20 2BB

22nd June 2014

 

Dear Sir/Madam

Please cancel my membership of the British Mountaineering Council with immediate effect.

I feel that the events at the latest North West area meeting are the last nail in the figurative coffin of traditional climbing in the Lancashire area, and I am morally unable to either support or to be a member of an organisation which is happy to preside over this demise.

At the aforesaid meeting, there was an agreement that there would be a full discussion on the limited bolting of some Lancashire quarries held after the mid-meeting break for refreshments. In reality, there was a short initial discussion before the interval, followed by a vote immediately following, without any further discussion.

As far as I am concerned that approach was constitutionally incorrect and did not correctly follow the stated agenda.

I was also shocked to see how many of the older climbers were happy to support the various fixed protection motions that were initially discussed. These were climbers who are/were staunchly traditional climbers in the past, who have already climbed the routes at these quarries in their original form, and yet are now turning and wanting these routes to have lower offs, and to support the recent Lancashire fixed protection (where possible, and if not, and no traditional protection is available – put a bolt in) policy. This is clearly in order to maintain their ability to do these routes safely, and in this case, this is the worst case of ‘bringing the routes down to the climber’s level’ that I can think of, and should not be allowed to continue.

I spoke to a number of attendees to the meeting - people I did not already know, but wanted to understand their views - both during the interval and after the finish, and I was shocked to learn that 5 or 6 of these had not been brought into climbing by a traditional method, but had been reared on climbing walls, and had extremely limited experience of traditional climbing, and in 3 of the cases had never even climbed on the quarry that was up for discussion for both fixed gear replacement (ie bolting under the Lancashire policy), and yet were happy to vote to place bolts on already established traditional routes.

 

OK, these routes may well have pegs on them that could be end of life, and in need of some sort of replacement, but since when did we replace peg protection with bolts as a policy? For many years climbers have prided themselves on reducing fixed protection and removing pegs/bolts in favour of a traditional, bolder approach; why the climbers of Lancashire and more worryingly senior members of the committee and also members of the Wilton management committee, are happy to support this new policy is incomprehensible.

 

There should be no reason why routes such as White Slabs Bunt or Supercrack should have bolt belays placed; their tops are not dangerous, and the action of bolting is sheer laziness and detracts from the quality of the overall experience. The also can’t be being done in the name of progress; routes such as White Slabs Bunt were regularly soloed as far back as the mid-1980s (possibly earlier).

 

I was hoping to follow up the publication of Peak Rock by starting to work on a complete and re-researched history of Lancashire climbing. The timing for this would have been perfect knowing that the new guidebook to the area would only include an absolute minimum of historical content (“just one or two pages” according to a statement made at the meeting), but I cannot support recording the history of an area which has blatantly sold itself down the river and will now see an increase in both bolted belays/lower-offs and bolt runners within the next few years. This means that unless the British Mountaineering Council changes its policies, the history of climbing in the Lancashire quarries will fall into disrepair and will be largely lost within the coming years. Add this to the massively significant historical inaccuracies within the recent Over the Moors guidebook, and a large swathe of historically significant information is being either incorrectly recorded or not recorded at all. This is inexcusable and unacceptable.

As part of my initial research however I had already contacted a number of early pioneers of the Lancashire quarries, and to a man they are against any of the proposals to install fixed equipment. I wholeheartedly agree with them.

 

Finally, I cannot continue to support an organisation (the British Mountaineering Council) which purports to popularise climbing whilst also overseeing the denigration of the history of climbing in Lancashire.

Please cancel my annual direct debit for future years’ membership. I will not renew my membership until I see a concerted effort by the British Mountaineering Council to instil traditional climbing values into those at the beginnings of their enjoyment of climbing, thereby nurturing the spirit of climbing in the manner in which it has been enjoyed in the Lancashire quarries of many years.

Yours disappointedly,

 

Phil Kelly