Along with Cheddar Gorge sport climbing courses (with access confusion cleared up here) the BMC are planning to run a days sport climbing course at Avon Gorge, that might not sound like such a big deal, the idea is fantastic, a heavily discounted climbing session to help encourage and inspire young children to climb. While of course we absolutely support the idea and ourselves here at BCS aim to do the same thing in the future the problem on this occasion is simple, there is no sport climbing in Avon Gorge.
New Quarry has a dandruff problem. Just look at all the loose rock on the ground under the cliff face – not so long ago it was part of the cliff. So take great care with fractured, hollow, and loose rock which can occur anywhere on the crag. In particular avoid climbing, bouldering, or standing under anyone else climbing above you; and wear helmets. – Martin Crocker (NewQuarry Guide)
The New quarry some might argue is sport climbing, while I disagree, it is the only bolted area in Avon so I assume they are planning to use that area. The problem, in my eyes, is that the New Quarry is a totally inappropriate group climbing area and sport climbing is a very loose definition for these routes.
The bolts are on occasion very spaced, some are only retro bolted. There are collections of loose rocks and there are goats at the top of the crag. Not only is the area itself not appropriate for children or novices, the routes themselves are tough, the easiest being 6B (if you don’t count the 6a with 4 metre runout).
All I hope is that the courses planned for the southwest continue to run and involve as many youths as possible who gain hugely from the experience, they just need to be thought through properly.
BCS of course will be contacting the BMC again to gather more information on this, so check back for an update.
If anyone has thoughts or knowledge on this situation we would love to here it, even if you totally disagree.
More info on the course can be found here.
The New-Quarry-Update-Martin-Crocker guide can be found here
Info and news about Avon Gorge can also be found at ClimbBristol.com