Happy New Year.
We are keen to make a change for the better from our side of the fingerboard this year. We are getting busier and one thing which is often on our minds is the climate and the environment. Whether it’s another day of 90% humidity at the crag in a warm british winter or hearing a snipe hunting when walking out from Back Bowden. If we tune into the natural world its often a pleasant experience. Sadly the way the world is going at the minute there are many signs globally that humans are having a net negative affect on it all.
We more than accept that our business model essentially involves cutting down trees at stage one. We use our wood type precisely because it is a renewable resource grown in the east coast of America but that doesn’t mean that we cant strive to do more and actually put our back into something else positive as well. As of last year we have gone into partnership with the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust and have donated £6000 their tree planting schemes. By working with a local charity we should see direct results from our donations and it is overseen by a keen climber and friend of the company, Dan Turner who works for the trust, so good knowledge is there from the get go. We know that the trees that get planted should be the best suited to their new environment and the habitats will be restored woodland that would’ve been there before humans got a bit carried away with the deforestation in blighty. (we are one of the least forested parts of Europe with only 10% forest cover in England. Countries like Germany are up at 32%)
Walking in Font. A very very good forest.
Frankenjura, a lovely forest
Succoth in Arrochar (Scotland) a horrible forest of impenetrable conifers, a good example of battery farmed trees. Thoroughly unpleasant to explore in-spite of the odd world class boulder.
Over the years we have put lots of money into making the other parts of our business as sustainable as possible. From the big stuff like ensuring ecotricity are our electricity supplier and buying briquette presses to compact and recycle our wood waste to the small stuff like only using one tiny bit of plastic in all of our products (the screw bag and the scotch tape). Its nice to try and ensure the biodegradable trail we leave is short and insignificant.
Just two young lads looking at some wood...
We have invested in carbon offsetting schemes in the past using courier programs/donations however we have never seen any direct results from the donations and I have seen far too many photos of people in suits stood next to conifers (walk through the pine needle strewn floor of any forestry commission forest and you will see what a dead environment looks like) this definitely lead us into a jaded mindset with it and 2015/16 we did little in the way of carbon offsetting. We feel that clear project funded carbon offsetting makes the whole experience much more rewarding when each donation funds a project which is well researched and has a positive benefit on the landscape, environment, habitat, watershed up to CO2 capture. Thankfully in the UK we have so much deforestation in our history of landscape management, there really is no shortage of places to look to reintegrate trees and shrub land. By focusing on catchment orientated projects we hope to start in the right place as the benefits these have aren’t simply in CO2 absorption but in flood mitigation too. The more the UK government sees the benefits of these schemes the more likely they are to follow that path rather than policies we really aren’t keen on seeing used on a mass scale like dredging and big concrete flood defences.
The first Project we have funded is a £6000 donation to replanting woodland in parts of the Upper Wharfedale catchment. The Wharfe is the river that runs past kilnsey but it has a fairly large catchment which includes some of Yorkshires best crags.
Rylstone is a crag which lies on Barden Moor that is a key part of the catchment for the Wharfe, as you can see. Not many trees going round. our trees will be nearer to the river, we wouldn't want to upset that lovely grouse now would we!
We are still essentially a company of four staff, with a few helping hands now in busy times and for the handmade holds. So whilst its nothing like a Patagonia level of giving we feel like we’ve got a good connection set up to the landscape now and can directly feedback into it in a positive way.
To top it off I’ve done a bit of boulder seeding for those Yorkshire lot of my own, scattering a dozen new eighth grade problems and some 7's down on the gritstone for the local boulder squirrels to play on. That was until a broken wrist put a stop to climbing for a while.
There are a few pictures below.
Solving the blobby slab LGP up at Earls seat in a session back in October. Lovely subtle problem this and just look at that self seeded conifer making this one of Barden fells few forested venues. Eagle Eyes will spot the river Wharfe down below and not many trees kicking about. Ideally most water would pass some trees from fell top to valley bottom to help slow the flow rate down a bit. This problem is one for Yorkshire's High Fidelity ascentionists to ground up who think style makes no difference to difficulty, get to it chaps.
A nice new slap and mantle of mine called Happy as Hell in Nidderdale, good for getting those soft yorkshire triceps working (except for Sutty's, he's put the time in well). The waft of the heather burning off really added to the aroma that day, not a tree in sight, grouse actually love sparse forests but its hell for the toffs trying to shoot them so they don't bother putting them in, or in fact plant anything but heather. its just not a fair sport if you've got any cover. Still it makes finding the boulders and access rights easier.
A problem i did from a sitter involving Fairies and Chests. Solved fairly fast with some shoulders and tension. Another one on Barden moor, good for getting those soft yorkshire abs working.
So get out there and connect with your landscapes, but remember to stop and question them once in a while. The only true wilderness left in the UK is patches up in Scotland and even that is shrinking. All other landscapes are some sort of managed environment. If you don't like how they're managed, try and help with positive change. http://www.yorkshiredalesriverstrust.com even grouse moors have their positives and negatives and in general they are still a lovely place to be.
All the best,
Dave, Elsie, Ned, Dan