Access & Environment Report November, 2012 – Follow the flags…

Having just returned from holidays in Spain and Morocco, I’ll be the first to admit that my brain cells are not, firing on all cylinders. I shall try my best though.
Super plans before I left – to write a comparative report on access in the places I travelled to and Australia, has failed to materialize. Seriously, what was I thinking. It’s not like I wasn’t checking things out. It’s just that the information I gathered seems to be floating around, just slightly out of my brain’s processing reach. Never before a sufferer of jet lag, it seems my time has arrived for the experience. So rather than whip together some kind of disjointed, “I feel like I’m on medication” kind of report, I’ll stick with one, less than savoury aspect of my observances whilst overseas. For those of you settling down to read with a nice snack and a cup of tea. Don’t. Best viewed on an empty stomach.
I’m am hoping that the following story doesn’t come across as some slur upon European climbers though I suppose if everyone seems to be doing it so openly, it can hardly be a slur, right? I had heard stories, even from my European climbing friends so it’s not just me right? And gathering by some of the other places I visited, not just the climbers indulge in this activity. Seeing it first hand, en masse was kind of shocking. This then developed into slightly hysterical giggles upon new discoveries. Finally, when I found myself checking the lighting for just the right photo, I knew my job as Access & Environment officer had scarred me for life.  I need help.
First up, let me say – it’s really very kind of others to show the way to a crag by means of marking. My preference for this is usually cairns if needed but it seems that white flags of honour are de rigour for many of the cliffs I visited.  No ordinary flags are these though, for they hide (well attempt to, I think??) little and actually,more often than not, large, deposits of human visitation. Actually let’s take away that word hide.  Cos that’s not what is happening here.  More a proud statement of “Look what I did”

the centre of the track – loud and proud squat – Montserrat

After all, the white fluttering ends of a Folder, herald the surprise up ahead. The white and even sometimes, pink castle of a Scruncher perched high on the deposit clearly identify – “check out my skill”.

don’t let that sucker escape flag – Sella

Now I’ve always been one to speak clearly to my kids about bodily functions. It’s natural, normal and just a fact of life. And no need to be embarrassed about it. And really quite important in the grand scheme of things to get rid of it regularly.  But come on, there’s a difference about not being embarrassed about a bodily function and proudly proclaiming it to all the world. And then lining it up comparatively next to a previous visitors.  Is this merely to show solidarity or as I suspect in many cases, the warm up competition for the climbing day ahead?

Montserrat Massif

There are of course those who are not ready to stand or squat in the open in the evergrowing line as the case may be and prefer to join others in a little more secluded environment

Group flag gathering – Montserrat

To those, I salute….well, sort of. At least containment to a hidden area hides the multitude of waving flags until the last moment. The element of surprise perhaps? Although I thought suprises were supposed to be nice.
To state that I haven’t come across any gifts of human nature around our own crags here in Australia would be a lie. Many a time, I have wondered why the ability to dig a hole with a stick seems to be a skill that not everyone is adept at. But on the whole and in it (pun intended), there does appear to be a concerted effort by most people to be modest about their deposits and to resist the urge to show the world. I do so hope that the patriotic flags of Sorbent Super Soft never find their way en masse to the cliffs of Australia (although I have heard some reports….) Climbers…be strong. Retain your secret. Bury your statement.