Shady Bolt Chopping

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Bolt chopping has reared it ugly head again in Scotland when recently a number of bolts have been chopped on Upper Cave Crag, Dunkeld.

Robert Duran had this to say:

I was at the upper cave crag today. Painted (apparently in a mixture of chalk and water, easily removed) on a slab below the crag was "Trad only, nae balls, f*** off". Most of the bolts have been chopped: The conventional hangers have, where possible, been sawn off(the first two bolts on both Marlena and Silk Purse remain) The older, largely obsolete hangers have been hammered flat. Only the few newer resin bolts have been left. The chain at the top of Silk Purse and Hamish Teddy has, as far as I could see from the ground, gone, but the Marlena chain is still there. This has happened in the last week and, I suspect, in the last day or two. there was a certain amount of controversy about the original bolts here, but I cannot remember anyone seriously suggesting their removal in the last fifteen or twenty years. Therew is certainly no vonsensus for this action. I doubt that such uncontroversial bolts have been chopped in the UK before.

Kev Howett replied on behalf of MCofS:

This action is clearly at odds with the consensus of opionion that has been reached regarding the development of our sport in Scotland, and certainly regarding the routes at Cave Crag, which have been established for many years. The MCofS's aims are to represent, support and promote scottish mountaineering in all the disciplines undertaken by its members (and that includes sport climbing). The MCofS has made strenuous efforts to encourage discussion of this issue for near on 20 years - the first 'Bolt Policy' being produced in 1990. Since then there followed nearly a year of articles, letters and discussion through the Scottish Mountaineer (2004 - 2005) and our old website (see the archived site discussion at: After this, and further debate at the AGM in 2005, the old 'policy' was agreed to be out of date and a report was issued to take account of changes since then. This is reproduced below. Although this report does not state a definitive 'policy', when read with the old 'policy' and the points of view during the discussion it is clear that our membership agrees there is a place for sport climbing development at all levels of difficulty, at applicable venues. Some additional dialogue followed the removal of bolts from Lower Lednock (2008) to try and better define which venues are suitable, but no definitive guidance was agreed at that time. All through these discussions Upper Cave has always been accepted by the vast majority of climbers and in many ways typifying a suitable venue (as well as fitting with current statement below) and we would not condone the destruction of such climbs.

A useful point made on the forums was it would be good to find out the choppers intentions before replacing the bolts to ensure they remain.

Read more on the ScottishClimbs and UKC Forums.

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