North Wales lower-off thefts

Posted by Elfyn Jones on 17/10/2012
Chris Doyle, North Wales activist, on Axel Attack, Pen Trywn. Photo: Alex Messenger.

This summer has seen an unfathomable series of gear thefts from sport routes in North Wales. On several occasions over the last three months, unsuspecting climbers have arrived triumphant at the lower off at the top of a climb – only to find it’s not there.

The Llanberis slate quarries, Ty Newydd Crag near Prestatyn, and Penmaen Head have all felt the light fingers of the lower-off liberator. The bolts themselves are not taken – simply the lower-off equipment such as chains, carabiners and maillons.

“It’s hard to understand why someone is doing this,” said Elfyn Jones, BMC Access Officer for Wales. “It's possible that some climbers are unaware that this gear is an essential part of the belay and not some ‘crag swag’ up for grabs. But that’s unlikely.”

The theft of lower offs raises concerns for many reasons. The result is not just inconvenience, but increased risk and damage to the environment. They are placed for a number of reasons. Some are there to protect cliff-top ecosystems, or to enable climbers to lower off below the loose, dangerous tops. 

Due to the relatively inaccessible positions of the equipment, it would seem most likely that it is climbers who are removing the equipment. This is particularly galling to the volunteers and local activists who have put time and money into placing them.

“It takes about an hour of graft to get these in,” said one equipper. “And they’re costing me fifteen quid a pop. If I ever find out who is doing this I’ll do my best to point out the error of their ways.”

In the meantime climbers are asked to keep an eye out for anyone removing lower offs. If you see this happening explain to the ‘removers’ the purpose of the equipment and ask them to replace it.

If this is you, and you are reading this, contact the BMC and we will arrange the return of the equipment to its owners.

 



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Anonymous User
17/10/2012
Seriously?...
Anonymous User
17/10/2012
Holy c***! Who would be so dense to nick the kit!!!!!?
Anonymous User
17/10/2012
They live among us!
Anonymous User
17/10/2012
Discusting behaviour!
Anonymous User
17/10/2012
Scrap metal prices are high
Anonymous User
17/10/2012
I really don't understand this... if you're a climber, why steal lower-offs? Clearly not motivated by "trad ethics" as the bolts are left in place. What would you use them for? I somewhat doubt climbers putting up new routes would pay so much money for the bolts & drill, only to then equip them with stolen lower-offs. All very odd...
Anonymous User
21/10/2012
Re, Scrap prices being high. Currently you can get all of 79p/Kg of 316 stainless if you are selling it by the ton, so probably about 50p/kg to the public. Not enough to motivate someone to steal the stuff just to weigh it in. My suspicions are that these climbers are stealing the lower-offs to put up their own routes on the cheap.
Anonymous User
22/10/2012
Since it is very unlikely that more than one person or group of mates is doing this I think simply asking them to desist or replace the gear is not enough. We need to know who these people are.- they are responsible for masses of inconvenience and cost, they are utter twats and they should be held to account . I suggest anyone coming across them tries to find out names (sneaky look in their rucksac perhaps) and then posts this info as widely as possible. I have had gear nicked from several of my routes and I definitely want to talk to these people!

Colin S

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