Friday, 18 January 2019

Tom Gore's - South East Sandstone Round Up 2018 - UKC

Ben Read and Peter Wycislik on the first ascent of Team Weak 7B (C) Tom Gore Col.

Tom is back with his yearly round up of new route and boulder problem news from the past year! It's been a big year for new ascents and Tom's intro explains why.

"Following the publication of the Rockfax guide in autumn 2017, there has been something of a revival in the south-east. Add to that what has been one of the hottest and more importantly for the sandstone, driest, summers since the 1976 heat wave there has been plenty of opportunities to get out and develop these crags further."

The list of new additions to southern sandstone has been rather extensive this year, with 47 being recorded on UKC. All you need to know about new route recording can be found over on our new routes page.

So check out Tom's excellent report over on UKC now!




Thursday, 10 January 2019

Now For Something Totally Boring but Important - Cleaning

Just before Christmas, we sneaked out a new page all about cleaning (the button to this page is on the right). It's one of those subjects that will always get peoples backs up, but we all love sandstone and we all want it to be around as long as possible. So yes, it's a boring subject, but help spread the word and help prolong the life of those routes and problems and clean appropriately and responsibly.

The code of practice has lots of info on how to protect the rock and the Rockfax guide gives further information and illustrations on how to do this







BRUSHES / TOOTHBRUSHES
Sandstone has a bouldering and toothbrush ban in place to help reduce the issue of holds being worn away by repetitive and abrasive brushing.

Repetitive brushing with harsh brushes will wear away the outer layer of sandstone, revealing even more sand underneath, therefore making it even harder to climb! So if you want to climb better and also help preserve the rock, then don't use harsh boulder brushes.


The only form of brushing permitted is that to remove general debris and loose sand.

This is best done by using an extra long very soft bristle hand brush, such as those used to clean cars. Flicking holds with an old towel or rag is another option.

The build-up of chalk is a problem so we ask boulderers to use more eco-friendly alternatives such as Eco Balls to help elevate the issue of chalk build-up and the need for cleaning.

When out on sandstone it is almost inevitable that toothbrushes will come with you and will most probably be attached to your chalk bag. We all fall victim to this and it's certainly not the end of the world. If you remember, it's best to place it back in your bag and out of sight, as undoubtedly you may get the small brush ban rule pointed out to you by passers-by.

One item that cannot be mistakenly brought with you is a bouldering brush extension pole. This item is too large to accidentally come with you and will most probably identify intentions of using it to clean the sandstone, in an inappropriate and damaging manner.

In addition, make sure you clean your climbing shoes before getting on the rock. If you don't you will just fail! Loose sand on your shoes makes you lose your grip and slip, and in addition, this can have an impact on the rock and wear away the rock.

Do spread the word and help keep sandstone around for all of us to enjoy for years to come!



Thursday, 3 January 2019

Isolated Buttress - The Full LMG Report

The BMC posted a news story on the 20 December 2018 concerning the Land Management Group's report regarding access to the Isolated Buttress at Harrison's Rocks.

As many of you know, there was an additional meeting in October 2018 of which the LMG (Land Management Group) undertook a site visit to view the Isolated Buttress and attended a special open meeting with the sandstone community. The LMG met with the climbing public to discuss the issue at hand and hear any extra arguments regarding the bridge installation decision made by the Harrison's Rocks Management Group (HRMG). They took into consideration any potentially overlooked solutions, so they could form a final decision on the matter.

After hearing and taking into account all views, the LMG spent time considering all suggestions and came to the conclusion to endorse the decision made by the HRMG back in December 2017, to build a bridge.

A comprehensive report is now available to download which shows the detail behind the final decision.










Photo: © Daimon Beail

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

The BMC Harrison's Rocks Work Weekend - 2018



The BMC work-days in November were supported by over 20 volunteers across two days in total, and the weather was drier than forecast which was a result all round!

Bob Moulton, long-standing and dedicated Harrisons Rocks Management Group member, reported:  "A lot of brashing was done and logs carried up to and below the rocks, revetments were reinforced at the top of the area that had been cut."

Bob also noted that "the old revetments that had been put in as recently as 2012 are still in reasonable condition but buried in sand, which shows that this work done back in 2012 was doing a good job."

Additionally "work was also done below the Bow Window area to block off an unofficial path and to rebuild some of the steps in that area. The drain-offs below St Gotthard and The Vice areas were dug out again."

"A team of strimmers were hard at work on the lower path and Tim Skinner (HRMG) has now planted a number of saplings all along the lower slopes."

The HRMG (BMC) wishes to thank all those who turned up on this BMC work-day, as well as those who have supported the event in other ways.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Harrison's Rocks - Volunteers Needed - 10th &11th November 2018


The tree surgeons will be in at Harrison’s Rocks during the week 5th – 9th November 2018 to cut the next compartment (G) for the agreed woodland management plan.

The BMC are asking for volunteers to help on the weekend of Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th November to help clear remaining branches and logs, creating habitat piles, lining footpaths and clearing overgrowth.

The meeting point is the Harrison’s Rocks carpark at 9.30am where a safety briefing will take place and an explanation of the work that needs to be done. There will be a coordinator present on each day from the Harrison’s Rocks Management Group; Sarah Cullen on Saturday 10th and Adrian Paisey on Sunday 11th. If you turn up later and miss the safety briefing, please find the coordinators on site before you undertake any work.

Additionally, there will be a qualified first aider on site, but please let the coordinators know if you are also first aid trained. Bring gardening equipment like bowsaws, pruners and wear old but warm clothing and bring some lunch.

Parking is £4 a day and the BMC will cover the costs of this (please keep your ticket and notify the coordinator on the day who will provide further information regarding this)

Under 18s are welcome but must be accompanied and supervised by a parent or guardian.
 
You can add your name to this event by confirming via Facebook here.

Last but not least, have fun!


Monday, 22 October 2018

Harrison's Rocks Car Park Closed


The access road leading to the Harrison's Rocks / Birchden Wood car park will be closed for 4 days whilst repair work is being undertaken. Please use alternative access (on foot only). Please note that parking and walking from the Forge Farm approach is not recommended and only has space for a few cars, blocking the road is problematic for local residents so best avoid.  In the meantime take this as an opportunity to try any of the other sandstone crags in the area where climbing is permitted. You can find a full list of crags on our climbing areas page.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Isolated Buttress - LMG Decision

A Special Sandstone meeting was held on Sunday 7th October 2018 with the Land Management Group in attendance. The LMG wanted to visit the Isolated Buttress themselves and to also speak with local climbers and take into account any new views, items or concerns that have arose regarding installing a bridge at Harrison's Rocks Isolated Buttress.

The LMG had a further meeting amongst themselves on Tuesday 9th October and six options were discussed in detail, including:
  • Installing a hawser rope 
  • Re-creating the step across 
  • Providing/installing a ladder
  • Installing via ferrata style staples
  • Installing a bridge
  • Do nothing
There was a vote amongst the LMG group and the outcome is to endorse the Harrrison's Rocks Management Group's decision from December 2017, to install a bridge.

A comprehensive discussion took place, where all options were taken into consideration. Many key considerations had to be taken into account including minimising risk for both individuals and the BMC, and to protect the rock.

Full details of the reasoning behind the decision will be published at a later date.

The full BMC announcement can be found here.


Monday, 24 September 2018

Special Isolated Buttress Bridge Meeting - Sunday 7th October 2018













In June there was an announcement that the BMC Land Management Group would like to hold a special meeting to make extra assessments regarding the proposed installation of the bridge onto Isolated Buttress. 

The Meeting is to be held on Sunday 7th October 2018 in the meeting room at Bowles Rocks (same building as the bar). Please approach from the front door.
1830 - 1930: Standard Sandstone Open Meeting
1930 - 2030: Special Isolated Buttress Bridge meeting (chaired by Martin Wragg, LMG)

The BMC notes:

The LMG want to be transparent and clear about the process on October 7th and beyond, so please bear the following in mind:
  • The format of the Isolated Buttress part of the meeting will be that the HRMG will briefly remind the room how it came to its decision, after which the floor will be open to anyone to speak.
  • The LMG will only consider any new compelling arguments that haven’t already been discussed, given that the HRMG have already debated at length the merits of both sides of the argument.
  • Only four members of the LMG are able to attend the meeting so the final decision will be reserved until a teleconference can be held in the week following the Open Meeting with more LMG members.
  • A decision will be taken over the teleconference, following an update on the meeting from those present and necessary discussion.


All are invited to attend and comment in person concerning the decision-making process concerning access on and off Isolated Buttress.

UPDATE: Please note that the open meeting on Sunday 7th October is now NOT in the bar as advertised, but in a meeting room in the same building - best to approach from the front door.

Bowles Rocks Outdoor Centre (Meeting Room)
Sandhill Lane
Eridge Green
Tunbridge Wells
TN3 9LW

Saturday, 1 September 2018

High Rocks - Climbing Suspension Update: August 2018

UPDATE - August 2018
Climbing access to High Rocks is still suspended and discussions  ongoing. Please respect the suspension while the BMC negotiate a solution with the land owner. 

Up to date information can be found on our 'Climbing Areas' 'High Rocks Page.' and on the BMC RAD.


Friday, 22 June 2018

High Rocks Suspends Climbing

June 2018 update

High Rocks has suspended climbing until further notice.

BMC UPDATE
"June 2018 update: access to High Rocks is currently suspended which the BMC is attempting to help resolve. These discussions are ongoing - please bear with the BMC whilst they try to negotiate a solution."

Up to date information can be found on our 'Climbing Areas' 'High Rocks Page.' and on the BMC RAD.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

New Routes Report - Spring 2018


Brutus - f7C+ - one of the new problems at Eridge Green
Climber: Peter Wycislik

Climbers have been out in force this spring after a somewhat wet start. Eridge has seen the most activity with eight new problems and routes including the addition of its hardest problem to date.  Happy Valley has predictably been back in the spotlight with climbers enjoying the West Valley Boulders and the addition of one new problem. Toad Rocks and Mount Edgcumbe Rocks have also seen new problems added as well as Harrison's Rocks.

Your new routes and problems are important!

Your first ascents are part of history which is why it needs recording and protecting. This is why
recording them on UKC is the best way forward. This can be done from anywhere, using a personal computer or mobile device. It's more beneficial to the sandstone climbing community who can instantly see if a route or problem has been done before. The information is checked by voluntary moderators, and those who submit new routes can be contacted for further clarification if needed. New route data on UKC is digitally backed-up and also listed on the Sandstone New Routes Page. Recording your problem and uploading to YouTube also helps clarify your ascents. The information can be used by guidebook authors and climbers alike and is available to all.

It's worth noting that paper new route books (globally) are in rapid decline, rarely used these days and are a very localised thing. They are unfortunately only situated in one location, often with restricted access between certain opening times. They are vulnerable to being lost/stolen or even worse destroyed in a fire of which years of hand written records are lost. Also, information recorded in these books can sometimes be ileligible and no forward contact information left, as well as only being checked once in a blue moon.

Recording routes on other websites is possible but is potentially risky, as more often that not, these sites are poorly maintained and information is often overlooked, resulting in lost first ascent data for future guidebooks.

If you do record information elsewhere for some reason, then please also ensure you list it on UKC to help other climbers know about your ascent and keep the information in one place. Unfortunately, if not then we won't know about it for quite some time, resulting in someone else potentially registering the first ascent of your route. Also it won't show up in the new routes list here for quite some time.

Does UKC own new route information?

Alan James - Managing Director of UKClimbing Limited had this to say on the subject.

UKClimbing Logbook data comes from a variety of sources and the copyright of that data remains with the individual, or company, that originated it. The grades and star votes are decided by user votes and have no overall copyright. Some logbook entries have a description field marked ©Rockfax. This means that the data came from a Rockfax guidebook author. It also has a second description field which is where users upload descriptions. This data remains the property of the person who uploaded it, and that information is retained in the database administration fields, but in reality user uploaded descriptions have no overall copyright. Recently a new system has been established to allow us to attribute a third party to the main description field with a copyright symbol. This is so that we can work with third parties and protect their copyright. We are working towards establishing a proper Creative Commons licence for UKC logbook and hope to have this properly established in the next year.


HAPPY VALLEY


I Can Only Imagine - f6C - Climber: Tom Gore

Earlier in the month as the sun finally came out in the south east, Tom Gore sprung into action at Happy Valley and added  I Can Only Imagine - f6C on the Hidden Gem buttress.

ERIDGE ROCKS
Eridge also began to dry out and saw a good number of significant ascents in May. Ben Read sprang dramatically into action with the addition of four new routes, three of which were climbed on the same day. Eridge Lip Traverse - f7A+ - traverses left across the lip of the cave from '6:00 a.m Route' to finish up Parisian Affair (RF p124). Additionally Ben added Eli's Wall - f6B which is behind Boulder Chimney at the Equilibrium Wall area (RF p119) and also  Velcro Reach - f7A on the Velcro Boulder  (RF p130) of which videos are below.



Eli's Wall - f6B - Climber: Ben Read



Velcro Reach - f7A - Climber: Ben Read

Rhys Whitehouse also turned his attentions to Eridge and added a hybrid problem called  The Phantom Shitter Strikes Again - f7B+ - which start as for 'Yankee Affair' (RF p124) but then heads right across the lip towards the corner and finishes as for 'Even Shorter Mention' without using the side wall.

Peter Wycislik who is well known for his hard bolder problems added two new problems to Eridge's now expanding portfolio of climbs and problems. The first one is perhaps better described as a route. Located on the Mammoth Wall, this new route 'Darkness - f7A' links the start of 'Diagonal' into the final section of 'Wall E Mammoth' (RF p111)


Darkness - f7A - Climber: Peter Wycislik

Finally on the same day Peter added Brutus - f7C+ - at the Parisian Affair Area. This problem just scraps half grade past 'Judamondo' to become the hardest problem at Eridge. This powerful problem climbs the right side of the cave without touching the side wall and finishes up 'Even Shorter Mention'. Video at the top of this article.

More recently Harry Westaway added a nice finish to Snail Bail (RF - p128) called Dinky Arete - UK 6b on the 14th June which finishes up and left of the large pocket out toward and then up the arete.

TOAD ROCKS
Tom Gore started the season early by climbing Cub Arete - f7B back on the 15th April which was also reported here. Tom returned there recently and added Spicy Chilli - f6C+ - which is located around the back of the Bishops Head (RF - p 416).



Spicy Chilli - f6C+ - Climber: Tom Gore

Staying on the Bishops Head, Jack Shewring added It's Easier Round the Back- f5 which goes up the face between Mole's wall and The Willows just right of the gap (RF - p416).




It's Easier Round the Back- f5 - Climber: Jack Shewring
 

MOUNT EDGCUMBE
Tom in good fashion continued his development of Tom Gore Rocks, sorry Mount Edgcumbe Rocks, by adding yet another powerful problem, The Press - f7A.


The Press - f7A - Climber: Tom Gore

HARRISON'S ROCKS
Even Harrison's has seen some attention with Rhys Whitehouse innovating on the Grants Wall (RF p.256) by putting up a mild eliminate, RSVP - UK 6a which goes up the face avoiding both adjacent cracks on Thingamywobs and Whatsname.

Last but not least, Gwain Plenary has made the first ascent of Gwains' Awete - F6b+  which goes up the right hand arĂȘte of the slab that is situated between Fingernail Crack and Dinosaurus (RF p185). This is a good little addition to the area and a great find, also due to the fact that space for new climbs at Harrison's is somewhat of a challenge these days.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

What's going on at Eridge?

For many people new to sandstone, they may not realise that Eridge was once banned for a prolonged period. This  ended in the late 90s and the BMC helped put in place an access agreement when the rocks were purchased by the Sussex Wildlife Trust. This enabled climbing to take place 
                                 at the rocks.

In short, we as climbers must do everything we can to help protect Eridge and adhere to the rules. This includes using minimal chalk and taking extra care, as some areas of Eridge have softer rock in places. Repetitive cleaning especially with the use of inappropriate brushes will eat away at the surface.

Bouldering mastermind, Ben Read, has been down at Eridge recently and has noticed a number of poorly treated broken holds which have been badly repaired, leaving the rock unsightly and this is a problem. It is asked that people do not repair holds at Eridge or other crags, and if you do see a hold that needs repairing or is damaged, then please contact the BMC access@thebmc.co.uk or drops us a quick Facebook message so we can notify the appropriate people. We all want to continue to enjoy climbing at Eridge so please help protect it. 

Monday, 4 June 2018

Isolated Buttress - June 2018 - Update

Climbers lowering off the buttress
Following the decision to put a bridge in place on the isolated buttress, there will be a further period of review before a bridge is installed. The BMC Land Management Group (LMG) will be making extra assessments before moving forward, including another site visit along with a special open meeting, which is likely to be around September 2018. 

There are a number of items that need addressing prior to commencing including construction, planning and legal cost queries.

If there are no compelling reasons to come to a different decision in September then the LMG will endorse the recommendations of the Harrison's Management Group (HRMG). 

The LMG originally gave the task to the HRMG to come up with a decision regarding two options; a bridge or do nothing. Following a long period of analysis of arguments made from both sides and assessing the impact of the erosion of the rock, environmental issues, along with open meetings to discuss with the wider climbing community, the HRMG made a balanced decision to build a bridge.

The LMG will continue to investigate liability and health & safety to ensure that the decision can be endorsed.  

You can read the BMC's update here.


Improper use of bolts



Improper use of bolts

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Lampool Farm Rocks

Southern Sandstone is littered with small and often ignored outcrops. More often than not they are on private land and or have climbing bands due to SSSI or other restrictions. Some are often too soft to climb and are overgrown. Occasionally some micro venues pop back into the limelight when connoisseur sandstoners seek them out. Tom Gore enjoys seeking out those hidden problems on more secluded sandstone outcrops, as such Tom recently opened up a few more additional problems at Lampool Farm Rocks. Currently, access does not seem to be an issue and little is known of who the owners are.

Tom reports on his recent development there.

"Lampool Farm Rocks is a small crag south of Crowborough. It's located in a valley with small outcrops situated on both sides. There is only one boulder that is of real interest to climbers - about 4 metres in height and not overgrown."

This boulder now has three problems on it:

Step into the Light - f3
"The easiest climb up the slabby (and shady) side of the boulder that I have dubbed 'Stepping into the Light' as this is what it feels like when you are top out."


Baby Bump f6C
"The main rounded overhanging face of the boulder with good, but well-spaced holds. Currently the best problem at the crag!"


Hips Don't Lie - f6B+
"The right side of the wall goes at about f6B+. This looks a lot easier than it actually is and required a very high heel hook. Hence the name - Hips Don't Lie."


"If you are climbing on the Southern Sandstone crags often, then this little outcrop might be worth a quick hit."

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Tom Gore is an active Southern Sandstone climber based in the south east of england, primarily focusing on bouldering. He has done numerous first ascents and repeats of some of sandstones hardest lines. Tom is sponsored by Beyond Hope Climbing.

Also, see Tom's article on Secluded Southern Sandstone over on UKC.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Southern Sandstone Open Meeting - Sunday 20th May 2018

The next Southern Sandstone Open Meeting is this Sunday 20th May 2018, 6.30pm at Bowles Rocks (in the upstairs bar). The BMC will be providing some sandwiches and snacks. Please bring your own drinks.
Bowles Rocks Outdoor Centre
Sandhill Lane
Eridge Green
Tunbridge Wells
TN3 9LW
The Sandstone Open Meetings offer the chance to have your say on Southern Sandstone climbing and management issues. This might, for example, range from access issues, top-roping and other ethical issues, erosion of crags, repair of crags, bolting issues, use of chalk, groups using the rocks, bouldering issues. This meeting is open to all climbers.
You can access the previous meetings minutes on our 'Meetings' Page.