Following an uncertain few years, work has recently taken place at Aldery to replace the tree lower offs removed in 2017 with bolt lower offs, in a collaboration between BMC volunteers, staff and volunteers from the Peak Bolt Fund.
Aldery is the definition of roadside cragging, offering a spread of grades from Severe-E3 (but catering best to the VS-E1 climber) on slabby, quarried limestone in a quiet and picturesque Peak District dale. Discussions took place at two Peak Area meetings in 2019 about the future of Aldery following the unsanctioned removal of tree anchors which had provided lower offs to avoid the dirty, loose or friable rock which exists along much of the top of the crag. The result of this was a consensus that new bolt anchors should be placed, allowing the routes to continue to be climbed in the style that had become established - without needing to top out.
This work was due to take place during spring 2020, but the events of the Covid-19 delayed the work from taking place until last week when we teamed up with three Peak Bolt Fund volunteers to finally install the bolted lower offs. In total 11 new anchors have been placed, each consisting of two stainless steel resin bolts, connected with chain to a ring which allows climbers to either lower off or abseil. The new anchors are listed and shown on the crag photo below, with details of the routes they are intended to serve:
Best Forgotten Groove to Therianthropic (routes 4-6)
Jackorner to November Wall (routes 7-10)
Carmal to Rentaghost (routes 11-13)
The Arete to The Cardinal (routes 14-17)
Carmen to Carmen Mirander (routes 22-23)
Carmen Mirander to Lizzie (routes 24-26)
Ash Tree Arete to Ash Tree Slab (routes 27-28)
The first pitches of Central Arete to Clothesline (routes 22-36)
The Fly to Burst (routes 37-39)
The Bender to Terrace Wall Direct (routes 40-41)
Right Arete to A Pig in the Middle (routes 43-45)
Crag photo with approximate positions of each new bolted anchor marked.
Stainless steel twisted leg resin bolts (the baseline requirement for new bolts on BMC land) and stainless chain, maillons and rings have been used for good longevity, and considerable time and effort was spent finding the best quality rock and position for the routes the anchors serve. However, rock and fixed equipment quality can change over time, so as with any crag, climbers should check all fixed equipment before committing to using it.
Anchor 6, placed to serve Carmen Mirander, Sans Nom & Lizzie
Unfortunately, one of the planned anchors at the top of Nettlerash / Broken Toe could not be placed due to a lack of solid rock for a bolted anchor. The rock at the top of this route is made up of keyed in blocks which are currently solid enough to climb on but which can’t be relied upon for a bolted anchor. These routes are some of only a few on the crag which have relatively straightforward top outs, so fortunately topping out and belaying using the tree stump and living ash tree back from the edge as anchors is fine at the time of writing. However, if/when ash dieback affects the living tree and the tree stump becomes rotten, an alternative anchor will be needed. Attempts were made to place a belay stake above this part of the crag, but unfortunately there is not enough depth of soil to give a solid anchor here. It’s likely that a bolted belay will be required in rock under the ash tree at the top, if that tree succumbs to dieback.
Other work carried out on the day was the removal of a section of the cable handline at the top of the crag which was cutting into trees it had been placed around. The cable which provides a useful handline for the ‘bad step’ remains as that is currently not damaging the living trees it uses. Some pruning of on route vegetation also took place and we hope that a volunteer work day can be organised at the crag in the autumn/winter to continue to clean up routes, Covid-19 considerations permitting.
A huge thanks is due to the volunteers from the Peak Bolt Fund who were all keen trad climbers themselves and put a huge amount of effort and thought into the work carried out to find the best location for each anchor. The Peak Bolt Fund does excellent work replacing old bolts throughout the Peak District and is entirely funded by donations with all work carried out by a small but dedicated group of volunteers. If you clip bolts in the Peak, consider donating to the fund to help its good work continue.
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