Clean Climbing With The Boys @ Ash Head

As regular rock climbers, we are constantly making use of the gifts that mother nature has to offer us – so, shouldn’t we try and protect it once in a while?

The rocks that we’ve inherited from our climbing predecessors are a precious commodity that have been used thousands of times before – if we hope to continue to use these, and ensure that others can also make use of them, we need to utilise the skills and techniques available to us, so we can best preserve them for future generations
cycling-north-yorkshireOne of the things that most climbers since the 70s have started making use of is new rock-friendly tech, instead of the old.

Gone are the use of bolts, pitons and copperheads – metal items that only the serve the purpose of permanently damaging the rocks and in are the spring-loaded camming devices, nuts and chocks; that are much kinder to the rock faces that we ascend.

However, in order to fully commit to a clean climb you need to consider a few things beyond basic rock preservation.

It’s imperative that we help maintain and sustain our crags and peaks – but should we be approaching the environmental aspect more holistically?

After all, what good is preserving the rocks if the rest of the environment that we are endeavouring to protect is suffering as well?

This weekend; Jacob, Adam and I headed out to Ash Head, some 50 miles or so away from our base of operations in Consett. Instead of taking the easier (less environmentally friendly method) of driving the car with all our gear – we decided to experiment with something greener – but infinitely more tiring.

Cycling is a method of transportation that is effectively carbon neutral (once you negate the environmental effects of the production and shipping of the vehicle), of course the biggest challenge for us was transporting all our gear the whole way.

Luckily, after doing some research on UKClimbing, we managed to infer the amount of equipment that we’d need to take with us. So we loaded up our panniers and rucksacks (poor Adam had to wobble his way down the 6 hour cycle with the crash mat on his back) and set off on our way to Ash Head.

We had to set off early – with the winter daylight hours slowly encroaching – we woke up much earlier than we usually would on a Saturday (and I know Jacob regretted that extra pint at The Company Row the night before).

Factoring in a 6 hour cycle, we woke at half 5, with our bags already packed, and left at 6 after a quick breakfast. Once we got to the crag we simply locked our bikes together, against a tree in big metallic mess and headed up to the crag with our gear.

climbing9Ash Head is a gorgeous place to climb; over 170 climbs (according to UKClimbing, we only had time for 4 that day) we were spoilt for choice. Although we were all a little knackered from the cycle down, we were determined to make the most of our time in this wonderful place and (after a spot of lunch) cracked on with reckless abandon. Adam topped out quickly on a couple of occasions, but carrying the crash mat had clearly exhausted his usually strong back – so a couple of times he made good use of it.

Although I’d felt the strain a little too – I had a fine time on a few of the bouldering problems, whilst Jacob spotted me. The landings are relatively flat here, but I was still definitely glad for the reassurance of the mat, so I could push myself that extra bit further – even if it had proven to be the end of poor Adam.

The cycle back, which we set off on after a good 5 hours of climbing, was pretty gruelling – the day was long, we’d left Consett at 6 that morning and didn’t return until 11pm.

I was shattered, but satisfied that we’d had an action-packed day out, with zero impact on our environment.