Shorn Cliff: are squirrels nibbling the belays?

Posted by Rob Dyer on 09/05/2019
View 1 of 3

We've received reports of what appears to be rodent damage to rope slings which form part of the belay and abseil anchors for several routes at Shorn Cliff in the Wye Valley, Gloucestershire.

Shorn Cliff is a popular natural limestone venue, set in the woods overlooking Tintern, with a great selection of classic mid-grade single pitch trad routes, often on quality pocketed limestone. The routes top out onto densely-vegetated slopes, which means the default descent is to abseil from trees at the top of the crag. Over the years, these have become well established, with climbers adding fixed rope slings and abseil rings to prevent damage to the trees and allow ropes to pull more easily.  

Now damage has been reported to rope and cordsat two belay/abseil stations in the Great Central Cave area on 8 May, with what seems to be chew marks from rodents (perhaps squirrels) on the rope slings. The climber who made the report replaced the rope at the top of State of Independence, but an additional station above All For One / Bitter Battle Tears was in a similar state and wasn't replaced.

It is entirely possible that further fixed anchors have also been affected, so climbers are urged to be especially cautious before committing to using any fixed belay/abseil stations at this crag:

  • As for any fixed gear on any crag, check it and use your best judgement to decide if it’s reliable before using it.
  • In particular check the full length of any rope, cord or webbing for damage.
  • Carry a spare length of cord/rope and a knife to remove and replace any fixed gear which looks questionable. Remember to re-thread any maillons / metal rings onto the new rope to prevent friction damage when pulling ropes (assuming they are still in good condition). 
  • Report any further damage found to robd@thebmc.co.uk so we can monitor the situation.

DOWNLOAD: the shiny new BMC RAD app

Get all the info on crags with the newly updated RAD (Regional Access Database) app from the BMC! Available now for Android and iOS, it's free and comes with a host of new features like navigation and parking, weather and tidal updates, and of course information on restrictions or notes on access advice. Get it here now!

DOWNLOAD: The RAD app for Android

DOWNLOAD: The RAD app for iOS

RAD is community led and your comments help keep it up to date so don’t be afraid to add any relevant information after a crag visit which might be useful for other visitors – anything from conditions on the crag, favourite routes or reports of rockfall/other recent changes to the crag are all useful for other climbers visiting.


« Back

Post a comment Print this article

This article has been read 2739 times

TAGS

Click on the tags to explore more

Post a Comment

Posting as Anonymous Community Standards
3000 characters remaining
Submit
Your comment has been posted below, click here to view it
Comments are currently on | Turn off comments
1
Anonymous User
11/05/2019
In Canada it's common for fixed lower-off slings to be chewed by animals for the salt which has soaked into the webbing from sweaty climbers' fingers. That's probably what's happening here. Maybe we should replace vulnerable slings with chain (taking care to leave a lot of room for the tree to expand as it grows)?
BMC MEMBERSHIP
Join 82,000 BMC members and support British climbing, walking and mountaineering. Membership only £16.97.
Read more »
BMC SHOP
Great range of guidebooks, DVDs, books, calendars and maps.
All with discounts for members.
Read more »
TRAVEL INSURANCE
Get covered with BMC Insurance. Our five policies take you from the beach to Everest.
Read more »