Tuesday 4 June 2013

UKC Article on Avoiding Erosion on Southern Sandstone

UKC recently published article by Emma Harrington concerning top-rope set up and erosion. The below is an enhanced version of that article but the original article can be found HERE

Avoiding Erosion on Southern Sandstone 

The sandstone rock is very delicate. It has a thin surface crust that has taken millions of years to form.
As soon as this thin crust is worn away, you are left with just compacted sand which wears away easily and is almost un-climbable.

So how do I set up for Sandstone?

The aim is to minimise damage to the rock. As the rock is so soft, leading and placing gear is not allowed, which leaves top-roping or soloing.

The main points to remember when setting up your top rope:

  1. You must avoid the moving rope coming into contact with the rock. Rig with a long sling or static rope extended over the crag edge to ensure the karabiner and moving top-rope are hanging away from the rock. This will also protect your rope as well as the rock.
  2. Rigging with a low-stretch rope (static or abseil rope) or sling minimises risk of erosion.
  3. Using a piece of carpet at the top of the rock under the sling also minimises the risk of cutting into the rock.
  4. Never use wire or hard brushes to clean the rock. This will also wear away the fragile rock surface. Use something like a soft towel to flick the rock only if necessary.
  5. Never abseil down the rock as this will also damage the rock. When finished climbing just walk off, do not lower back down.
  6. Make sure your feet are clean. Sand and dirt stuck to the bottom of your climbing shoe is abrasive to the rock and also makes you climb bad. It also makes your feet slip off the rock!

Visitors remember to never take it personally if you are challenged by another climber about your set up. They are only trying to protect the rock for future climbers to enjoy. Please respect the code.

Regular and local climbers remember if challenging someone about an incorrect set up then please remember to make sure you do so in a diplomatic way. If you straight away shout at them in anger, then expect the same in return and they will be more likely to ignore you. If you speak to them in an effective calm and friendly way, then you are more likely to receive an effective outcome in return.

A good rope set up.  The sling and karabiner hang over the edge. © E.Harrington

A bad rope set up. The ropes are cutting into the rock damaging both rock and rope. © E.Harrington