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Thursday, 24 January 2013

Perfect climbing conditions but no no for the vegetation!

A good day climbing at Cha-no though it is now becoming apparent how quickly the crags vegetation is becoming damaged, especially on some of the popular lines such as Anvil Gully, Jenga Buttress and even Fingers and Thumbs. 

Really good old hard snow in Recovery Gully and some of the crag aprons but a lot of vegetation is just covered with a thin layer of fresh snow rather than hard neve.

The loss of vegetation and erosion is something most older climbers will have noticed over the past few decades in the Northern Corries. However it is often difficult for those new to the sport to understand how much they can damage an out of condition crag, by their thoughtless actions and by climbing unfrozen ground.

According to the winter climbing guidelines turfy routes should be avoided when the vegetation isn't fully frozen. Today everything was frozen solid and covered in snow and has been for a over a week. Despite all this it was still easy to damage the fragile, turf, mosses and heathers. Evidence of this was clear for all to see and will only accelerate as the crags popularity increases and as time goes by.

It's a difficult balancing act that all climbers and especially instructors face, not so much the physical acrobatics but that of environmental conservation. As a biologist I was inspired to climb and explore but as a climber I'm .....?

Despite climbing in what could only be described as perfect textbook conditions we both felt a sense of guilt for the "poor wee plants" with the realisation that we are often destroying the things we love.

See the BMC Winter Climbing guidelines and video here

A few more photos on Fi's blog here
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