Monday, 15 July 2019

Air Ambulance - Kent Surrey Sussex


On Wednesday 22nd May 2019 we quietly reported that a hold
broke on Unclimbed Wall at Harrison's Rocks, which resulted in a young climber being badly hurt and hospitalised. What we slightly brushed over was the fact that a rather lengthy and complex rescue operation was undertaken to safely take the young climber to hospital. In edition to the great work the paramedics did and as well as the climbers who stepped up to help on the the day (luckily some of those climbers were also first aid trained) were the HART Team (Hazardous Area Response Team) who were on site to help evacuate the young climber and did a fantastic job. 

Another key and impressive aspects of the rescue that day was the timely first responders who flew in as part of the Air Ambulance Kent Surrey & Sussex and where the first doctors on the scene and played an important and critical part of the operation. They are a charity based organisation with their headquarters based at Rochester airport and their helicopters hangared and maintained at Redhill Aerodrome. 

Southern Sandstone Climbs set up a small Facebook fundraiser of which £200 was raised for the air ambulance. Therefore a big thank you is needed to those that supported this fundraiser by sharing on social media and especially those who donated! The Rockfax guidebook author Daimon Beail headed down to Rochester airport headquarters to donate a copy of the Southern Sandstone Climbs Rockfax Guide for the team. Daimon was amongst a small number of climbers who were first at the scene of the incident when it happened and helped guide the rescue teams in. He intends that the donated guidebook will assist rescue teams with crag locations for any future incidents. 

In addition to the fundraising done on that day, Chimera Climbing Wall in Royal Tunbridge Wells will be holding their annual summer party on the 20th July 2019 to help raise money for two charities. The well known 'Climbers Against Cancer' charity and for the first time 'Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex'.


Information for the event is as follows.

"The Summer Party preparations are continuing at pace - as well as prizes rolling in from local businesses for the charity raffle, the pizza van has been booked, the gin ordered and music sorted.

The staff have dusted off their best-worst Hawaiian shirts, the suppliers will be bringing lots of cool gear down and the route setters have been cooking up some truly wicked blocs for your climbing pleasure.

And if you aren't the competitive type never fear, there will be routes for all ages and abilities as this is a fun comp, and everyone is welcome to party whether they climb or not!

A fun comp for all ages and abilities, plenty of food and drink, music, games, face painting and so much more! All to raise money for two charities - CAC and the Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex. 

Remember to wear your worst Hawaiian shirt - prize for the most eye-catchingly awful shirt on show!"

20th July 2019, 3pm until late. Get it in the diary.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Harrison's Rocks - Bolting Project 2019 / 2020 - Stage 4

On Sunday 9th June 2019, work continued at Harrison's Rocks regarding bolting. It was supposed to be a shorter work day, but took an unexpected turn regarding additional resin and bolt fixing. 



The area of the unclimbed wall had to be closed and we thank all those at the crag that day for your patience and support whilst we undertook the work. We would also like to thank people who gave us their additional support on the day, your appreciation of the work being done is very much appreciated. 

6 bolts were installed this time (3 sets in total) and 3 bolts removed plus 2 resin fixes.



1. Pullover - Solstice -  The Scoop Area  -  RF Page 264
To add better and easier protection to the climbs here.



2. Solstice -  Unclimbed Wall  -  RF Page 267
To protect the side face and reduce incorrect loading on bolts on the adjacent climb. 




3. Hangover 3 -  Long Layback Area - RF Page 194
This one was originally down for a re-resin and fix but eventually needed a complete removal due to stress fractures detected around the front bolt. Therefore, both bolts needed to be removed and relocated further back. A 120cm/8ft (ish) sling is now needed to protect this climb or alternatively use a Demma rope system



4. Unclimbed Wall  -  Unclimbed Wall -  RF Page 266
This was the removal of the old front bolt, which was no longer suitable for use. It was also filled in with resin to plug the hole.



5. Coffin Corner  Circle Area  -  RF Page 213
The front bolt has now been re-secured.



6. Stupid Effort  -  What Crisis  -  RF Page 204
Front left and rear bolts were now re-secured.


For now, this brings this rather large bolting and clearance project to a close. There are still items on the list, but these will be addressed separately and as part of another project.

In total since April, 45 anchor bolts have been installed, which makes for 22 and a half sets in total. Three bolts re-secured and 5 bolts removed. A full list of work can now be found on our bolts pageAdditional updates will also be found here in the future. 

Please remember that bolts can only be placed by authorised personnel. Please see our bolts page for more information.

 Excerpt from the Southern Sandstone Climbs Rockfax Guide

"There are many bolts on sandstone and all of them have been placed purely as top-rope anchors at the top of crags. There are no bolts actually on routes and they are never used to protect lead climbing.

Bolts on sandstone should not be regarded in the same way as bolts for leading climbing on limestone or other rock types. The softness of the rock means that there are special requirements when placing the bolts and they must not be used for any purpose other than setting up top-ropes. They are not designed for slacklines, zip wires or via ferrata. Excessive force placed on a bolt in the wrong direction may end up with the rock surrounding it failing and exploding in a sandy mess.
"

Friday, 7 June 2019

Harrison's Rocks - Bolting Project 2019 / 2020 - Stage 3

On Sunday 1st June, an exhausting session of bolt work was carried out to further the work concerning the Harrison's Rocks Bolting Project. The continuing aim is to install new sets of bolts to form top-rope anchors on areas of rock where inadequate protection is currently present. It was a hot day and water supplies were diminished, and the team pretty much crawled back to the car in a slightly delirious state. 


The isolated buttress was closed for a few hours and we apologise for this, but it was deemed necessary while the work was carried out. 

We would also like to thank people who gave us their support on the day, your appreciation of the work being done is very much appreciated. 







13 bolts were installed this time, making for six additional sets, and one back-bolt replacement. This now means that the work regarding opening up the Crucifix Wall, Wanderfall Wall and Birch Tree Wall is in essence, completed. The wall still needs some cleaning work, but all in all is in good condition and has become very popular, which was the aim regarding bringing new life back to these walls. Crucifix Wall is something for the harder climber, and hopefully, people will give these climbs a go, now that they are adequately protected. 



1. Wailing Wall  -  Isolated Buttress  -  RF Page 249
The back bolt was removed by hand after what appeared to be incorrect loads placed on it from the wrong direction back in May 2018. This may have been related to rope setups used for getting on and off the buttress. There was a delay regarding the replacement of this due to safe access to the buttress and ongoing bolting research, where we were only in a position to start work this year. It was probably the most time-consuming bolt to replace on the whole project due to the need to close the buttress, access it and brining up the equipment, as well as giving it time to set.  



2. Biceps Buttress - Finger Popper -  Crucifix Wall  -  RF Page 259
The thought behind this and something which has been done elsewhere, is that the front bolt is for Biceps Buttress and the back bolt which is angled to the left is for Finger Popper. They are connected so one bolt acts as a backup bolt to one another.



3. Crucifix / Hector's House  -  Crucifix Wall  -  RF Page 259
A straight forward placement. To protect both routes.







4. Corner  -  Crucifix Wall  -  RF Page 259
This climb is often out of condition but is slowly becoming more in condition than it used to be after the clearing work was done, but things could be a bit better, so still in the esoteric zone. The bolts are behind the block at the bottom of the above picture which is a little tricky to access compared to most and will probably not suit everyone on this occasion. 



5. Mischivas / Philippa  Crucifix Wall  -  RF Page 259
Put in place to bring life back to this great test piece and following on from the clearance work. 



6. Mister Splodge  -  Birch Tree Wall  -  RF Page 262
The decision was made to place these bolts on the lower shelf  in line with Birch Tree Wall + Variation. Primarily due to the angle at the top being rounded, so we could reduce rope cutting. It is still placed where the original finish was.



7. Tree Root -  Birch Tree Wall  -  RF Page 262 (ish)
This has been bolted for younger climbers and beginners, and is something a bit different. Primarily a down-climb, it was cleared up earlier this year and gives a bit more of a cleaner climb.



There is only a small amount of bolting left for this project and hopefully this will be completed this month (June). There are also some bolts that need some attention which have some slight movement in them but are ok to use, We will get to them.  



Again, please remember that bolts can only be placed by authorised personnel, (we have to keep saying this due to the Happy Valley incident). Please see our bolts page for more information.




 Excerpt from the Southern Sandstone Climbs Rockfax Guide

"There are many bolts on sandstone and all of them have been placed purely as top-rope anchors at the top of crags. There are no bolts actually on routes and they are never used to protect lead climbing.

Bolts on sandstone should not be regarded in the same way as bolts for leading climbing on limestone or other rock types. The softness of the rock means that there are special requirements when placing the bolts and they must not be used for any purpose other than setting up top-ropes. They are not designed for slacklines, zip wires or via ferrata. Excessive force placed on a bolt in the wrong direction may end up with the rock surrounding it failing and exploding in a sandy mess.
"


Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Fallen Tree Removed at Harrison's Rocks


On Thursday 23rd May, the now rotten fallen tree found hanging over the left side of the Sewer walls and over the route Rowan Tree Wall RF page 220 was removed. The tree had been noted to be rotten, therefore had to be removed for safety purposes.

The work was executed with great results, which primarily meant that there was no damage done to the rock. If you think about this for a second, this is no easy task, as removing a tree in such a position without causing damage is no mean feat. 




This is good evidence as to how hollow the tree had become.


So all that is needed now is for you to update your guidebooks and scribble out that tree.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Harrison's Rocks - Bolting Project 2019 / 2020 - Stage 2








On Sunday 12th May, work continued concerning the Harrison's Rocks Bolting Project. The aim as before is to install new sets of bolts to form top-rope anchors on areas of rock where there is inadequate protection currently in place. Additionally, there is also the need to remove one or two bolts and replace them. 



All bolts, resin and equipment are supplied by the BMC and installed by some trained voluntary members of the BMC Harrison's Rocks Management Group. 

By being a member of the BMC (which all climbers should be in one form or another), you will be contributing to the Harrison's Rocks and Stone Farm climbing environment as a whole, along with many other things the BMC does for climbers. 



Here you can see the new bolts in comparison with the old ones which were removed and replaced. Please note that many of the bolts, which were placed well over 30 years ago, are still going strong, and a small number have been identified for advisory replacement over the next few years. It's also worth highlighting that the old smaller rear bolt as seen above, is only there as a backup bolt.





12 bolts were installed making for six further sets, which have been installed above the following:

1. Greasy Eliminate R / Directors  -  Pig Tail Slabs  -  RF Page 207

2. Big Cave Route 2 / Right Under Your Nose -  The Cave  -  RF Page 253

3. Forget-me-Not  -  Spider Wall  -  RF Page 254

4. Spider Wall  -  Spider Wall  -  RF Page 254

5. Wanderfall / Wander at Leisure  Wanderfall  -  RF Page 260

6. Birch Tree Wall + Variation  -  Birch Tree Wall  -  RF Page 262


The Pig Tail Slabs are now fully bolted and are expected to see more attention due to the ability to protect the routes better.




Bolting will continue in June with some access restrictions in some areas where it is taking place. Please remember that bolts can only be placed by authorised personnel. Please see our bolts page for more information.

 Excerpt from the Southern Sandstone Climbs Rockfax Guide

"There are many bolts on sandstone and all of them have been placed purely as top-rope anchors at the top of crags. There are no bolts actually on routes and they are never used to protect lead climbing.

Bolts on sandstone should not be regarded in the same way as bolts for leading climbing on limestone or other rock types. The softness of the rock means that there are special requirements when placing the bolts and they must not be used for any purpose other than setting up top-ropes. They are not designed for slacklines, zip wires or via ferrata. Excessive force placed on a bolt in the wrong direction may end up with the rock surrounding it failing and exploding in a sandy mess.
"


Thursday, 23 May 2019

Rockfax App - New Subscription Service - iOS and Android

Today Rockfax launches its new subscription service for the Rockfax iOS app. In conjunction with
this, Rockfax has also launched the long-awaited Android app which also uses this new subscription service.


For just over one month, all the guides will be available free of charge (including Southern Sandstone Climbs). Simply download the app and log in to receive this current offer. If you experience issues, then delete the app and re-download, along with a UKC account sign in to activate. 

From July 1st, a monthly or yearly subscription will come into effect for access to all guides and is being offered in two models:

£4 a month or £3 a month - taken yearly in a single £36 payment.

This is a first for a guidebook publisher as far as we know. It’s also a rather bold but confident step into the growing world of digital guidebooks. 




The digital guides will run alongside printed guides available in shops, so in essence, the two complement each other well and the app can help bridge gaps between publications when required.

More information can be found here:

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Unclimbed Wall - Harrison's Rocks - Hold Break

Please remember that sandstone holds can be delicate and unpredictable at times. Holds have been known to break unexpectedly on occasions. On Sunday one of the finishing holds on Unclimbed Wall at Harrison’s Rocks broke and a young talented climber was unfortunately injured when making a solo ascent of this route. We would like to thank all the people who were involved in the rescue operation, as well as the great work undertaken by the emergency services. Our thoughts are with the climber involved in the incident and wish him a speedy recovery!

The Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex operates as a charity, and if you wish to contribute a donation, you can do so via their webpage: https://www.aakss.org.uk/

Monday, 20 May 2019

Happy Valley Bolts - UPDATE








It's been over a year since the discovery of a number of bolts which were illegally installed at Happy Valley Rocks. There have been a number of developments since then, which have paved the way for only the bolts on top of the Cheesewring Rock to remain in place.
  
The following statement has now been circulated: "Bolts have been placed illegally without the agreement of the Tunbridge Wells Common Conservators (TWCC). In consultation with the BMC, the TWCC have accepted that the bolts should remain on the Cheesewring Rock. The bolts are ‘thought’ to be safe but climbers should use the bolts at their own risk. It is suggested that the bolts are linked using a length of rope as a backup".

Monday, 13 May 2019

Southern Sandstone Open Meeting - Sunday 19th May 2019









The next Sandstone Open Meeting will be held on Sunday 19th May 2019 at 7pm in the Bowles Rocks Bar.

These meetings offer a great opportunity to discuss any issues you have regarding southern sandstone climbing. It's a chance to meet members of the Harrison’s Rocks Management Group, Access Reps and other like-minded people. It's a good time to feedback your views and ideas.

Recent maintenance works at BMC owned crags and future plans will be discussed, as well as updates to other areas including some access information updates and items of interest. 

The BMC will provide a buffet.

More information on the previous meetings and past minutes, as well as the full venue address,  can be found here.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Harrison's Rocks - Bolting Project 2019 / 2020 - Stage 1








On the weekend of the 13th and 14th of April, work began concerning the Harrison's Rocks Bolting Project. The aim is to install new sets of bolts on areas of rock where there is inadequate protection currently in place. Additionally, bolts are being placed to help reactivate areas, reduce erosion and to help spread out climbers from the more demanding areas. There will also be a number of older bolts which will be replaced or upgraded.  

































We are now installing a new type of bolt which will hopefully help eliminate the minor twisting motion which we see on the very odd occasions. Although twisting motion of bolts in sandstone is tolerable to a small degree, it is unsettling and these have been noted and will be addressed as we go. Currently, there are only a few to look at. 


The new bolts are sunk deep into the rock and have been specially acquired for sandstone. They should be viewed as top-rope anchors more than your traditional bolt which is found on sport cliffs.











So far 14 bolts have been installed making for 7 sets, which have been installed above the following:

1. Mantelpiece  -  Panther's Wall  -  RF Page 189

2. Blue Peter  -  Panther's Wall  -  RF Page 189

3. Blue Murder  -  Slab Area RF Page 191

4. Quarterdome  -  Giant's Staircase  -  RF Page 201

5. Left Edge / Original Route  -  Pig Tail Slabs  -  RF Page 206

6. Big Toe Wall / Greasy Eliminate  -  Pig Tail Slabs  -  RF Page 206

7. Greasy Crack - Pig Tail Slabs  -  RF Page 207 

The Pig Tail Slabs are having new bolts installed to help younger or newer climbers access the rocks and enable other climbs to be able to protect more efficiently for the first time. The wall has been slightly neglected due to the lack of accessible protection over the years.  









































































The climb 'Blue Murder  -  Slab Area  -  RF Page 191' was in use the day after installation by some keen climbers. Note that the route is somewhat sandy and dusty from the work and takes time to dissipate.


Bolting will continue each month where possible until the scheduled work is completed. Please remember that bolts can only be placed by authorised personnel. Please see our bolts page for more information.

 Excerpt from the Southern Sandstone Climbs Rockfax Guide

"There are many bolts on sandstone and all of them have been placed purely as top-rope anchors at the top of crags. There are no bolts actually on routes and they are never used to protect lead climbing.

Bolts on sandstone should not be regarded in the same way as bolts for leading climbing on limestone or other rock types. The softness of the rock means that there are special requirements when placing the bolts and they must not be used for any purpose other than setting up top-ropes. They are not designed for slacklines, zip wires or via ferrata. Excessive force placed on a bolt in the wrong direction may end up with the rock surrounding it failing and exploding in a sandy mess.
"