Harrison’s Rocks: debating bridge access

Posted by Peter Burnside on 28/09/2017
Harrison's Rocks: the popular BMC-owned Southern Sandstone crag.

Should a bridge be built to access the Isolated Buttress? We attempt to summarise the wide-range of views for and against a bridge before it’s discussed at the Sandstone Open Meeting on 8 October.

Why do we need a bridge?

In 2015, the boulder used to jump and cross the gap to the Isolated Buttress (IB) became loose and local climbers were concerned it could easily fail in use. It was a serious hidden danger, especially if the boulder fell with someone on it, so BMC volunteers decided to remove the boulder immediately – a decision that the BMC supports.

The IB is no longer as easily accessible as a result, and new ways to access the pinnacle have developed – some of which are not recommended. These include:

  • Solo a route to gain access to the top.
  • Climb across with a belay from the ‘mainland’ (long swinging fall potential).
  • Extend a top rope across the IB from an anchor on the mainland side with a very long piece of rope to allow belayed access, as described in the video below.
  • Fix an extra rope from the mainland to bolts on the IB to be used as a handrail or to clip into – not recommended by the BMC due to the potential for overloading the bolts and system failure.

WATCH: Southern Sandstone: how to access pinnacles on BMC TV

What can be done to improve access?

The only practical solution is to install a bridge or to leave the situation as it is – climbers can assess and accept the risks, or choose to climb elsewhere on the crag. Many views for and against building a bridge have been discussed, and the BMC wishes to support the decision of the majority of climbers that actively use Harrison’s Rocks.

Discussions will take place at the Sandstone Open Meeting on 8 October and will help to inform any decisions made by the Harrisons Rocks Management Group (HRMG) and Land Management Group (which has oversight of the HRMG and all other crags owned by the BMC).

A summary of major points – both for and against – has been assembled into a report, which is downloadable here. Anyone wishing to attend the Sandstone Open Meeting should read this report before attending, so as to be fully informed of the situation.

DOWNLOAD: Isolated Buttress: arguments for and against building a bridge 

WATCH: BMC TV's Southern Sandstone skills playlist


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1) Anonymous User
29/09/2017
The linked isolated buttress paper is a Microsoft office document. Could you produce more accessible version (PDF maybe) for poeple that can't open MS Office docs.
29/09/2017
Don't do it, it's easy enough to access as it is, and Climbers don't have a problem with it as it is. There's plenty of other areas with easy access if you're not comfortable accessing the buttress.
3) Anonymous User
13/10/2017
If you walk along Harrison's any day of the week and ask around you will find the majority in favour of a bridge. A small group of about 20 sandstone yokels are the only barrier to this happening. I have climbed here for 33 years and there are plenty like me who are in favour of a bridge. The decision to smash the boulder should not have been taken by two people only with no consultation. These people are still on the management group and are now trying to call the shots re. Bridge. This is an outrage.
4) Anonymous User
14/01/2018
Bridge definitely
5) Anonymous User
17/01/2018
This is possibly the most misguided decision the BMC have ever taken.

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