Fixed Gear on North Wales Rock Climbs: General Advice and Guidance

Posted by The BMC on 01/08/2021
The Cruise, one of a handful of Gogarth test-pieces to have recently had their aged, rotting ironmongery cleaned out and replaced by hi-tech, hybrid, stainless-steel peg-bolts.

Following discussions at Area Meetings in 2021, guidelines on placing or replacing fixed gear on rock climbs in North Wales were published and agreed at the July 2021 BMC Cymru North Wales Area Meeting.

The process for developing the guidelines considered the report of the open debate held in February 2021, technical submissions to that debate, records of previous discussions in North Wales Area Meeting minutes, and the BMC Statement on Drilled Equipment.

The new guidance reflects past and current opinion, and recommends sustainable practice for those climbers involved in placing/replacing fixed gear and route/crag development; it is not a set of rules, but can be used by guidebook writers, web-based information sites, and the BMC to express a consistent vision of sound practice in respect of the future use of fixed equipment on rock climbs in North Wales.

The document includes advice on:

  • fixed gear on trad climbs;
  • replacing conventional pegs;
  • placing fixed gear on first ascents of trad climbs;
  • in-situ threads;
  • fixed abseil stations and lower-offs;
  • bolting, re-bolting and retro-bolting at sport climbing and mixed trad/sport areas.

The main points for climbers to consider before placing or replacing fixed gear are:

  • access, land ownership, environmental status and existing agreements;
  • opportunities for hand-placed, removable protection;
  • history, traditions and ethics of the area and crag;
  • legacy for future climbers;
  • sustainability of any fixed gear used;
  • aesthetics – general appearance of the crag environment;
  • rock type, nature and location of the crag;
  • personal level of equipper’s experience, technical knowledge and competence;
  • views of the first ascensionist (if relevant/feasible).

The July 2021 Area Meeting agreed that the document would stand for a period of five years before being brought before any future Area Meeting for reconsideration.

READ: Fixed Gear on North Wales Rock Climbs: General Advice and Guidance

WATCH: Fixed Gear: General Advice and Guidance for North Wales - Pegs


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30/09/2022
It's unfortunate to use The Cruise as an example, because this is inaccurate. The route was cleaned of numerous jammed nuts, one of which was blocking the best placement for the first crux. Two ancient metal bars were also removed. As an after thought, in order to prevent wires being ripped out by vector forces the first bar was replaced with a stainless peg. My understanding is that this isn't even glued in, but I can't confirm that, as I wasn't there when it happened. Personally, I have never placed either a stainless peg or a bolt on British rock. We've seen 40 years of inertia due to the "thin end of the wedge" argument, which has led to several pitches on Gogarth Upper Tier disappearing under vegetation. The Cruise is not one of these however, the problem in this case was rotting gear left by previous climbers. If people want to take their chances with vector forces they can just ignore the peg, as it can be clipped (or not clipped) before leaving the ledge at the foot of the main climbing.

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