Should we remove the fixed aids (metal rungs) in the airshaft, Rhiwbach?

Poll removed
Dear fellow users of Rhiwbach Slate Quarry
I am writing to hopefully gather your vote on the current use of the airshaft exit from the mine at the top of the hill (the alternative exit to the more commonly used daylight chamber).
You might be aware that the airshaft has not been part of the blue route in the mine until fairly recently. We (Go Below) asked to bring into use as it looked like a more fun and challenging way to finish a trip.
Given that the shaft as it was fell beyond the abilities of most participants to climb, we put a line of holds all the way up. These were small blocks of slate bolted to the face (like those used further down the mine). We also installed a gate at the top, and have more recently placed some meshing over all the loose rubble at the top (following a near miss with a rock sliding down the shaft).
The slate-block holds were particularly nice as they were easy to use and blended in nicely. However, over last winter, many of them fractured and became dangerous due to the water running behind them, and freezing overnight. The blocks were breaking in peoples hands, or when stood on, and falling down the shaft. This was obviously a serious hazard for any others who might be below. (the slate blocks further within the mine obviously do not have this problem, as there is no water and it does not freeze).
We opted, as a bit of a rush decision, to swap the blocks for metal holds, very much like the ones used in the Alps for Via Feratta. They don’t look as nice, and have taken a bit of the challenge away, but they are unaffected by freeze-thaw and therefore much safer. The other disadvantage to these holds is that should you want to abseil down the shaft, rather than climb up it, they are awkward to step over.
The change in the type of hold has received mixed feedback, some positive, some negative. I am therefore putting it out to vote so all users of Rhiwbach can vote whether they should stay or go. Reverting back to the slate blocks isn’t a viable option given the hazard.
Option One: Keep the steel steps, nothing changes. Go Below will continue to maintain them.
Option Two: Remove the steel steps, and leave the airshaft bare.
If you use the airshaft, and wish to cast a vote, please email me [edit] or vote here [edit] and I will tally it up. If the vote is to remove the steel steps, we will do so when we get a couple of free days and will post notice when the work is complete.
I’ll give it a week or so for votes to come in.
With many thanks indeed
Miles Moulding

0 thoughts on “Should we remove the fixed aids (metal rungs) in the airshaft, Rhiwbach?

  • June 20, 2013 at 7:09 am

    Dear All

    Thank you for your votes and comments in regards what to do with the metal steps in the airshaft at Rhiwbach. I think I’ve given it enough time now and have tallied up the votes.

    I received six votes by email, five were in favour of the rungs and one against.

    Gethin Thomas also introduced his own online vote, which has run in parallel. This collected five votes, two in favour and three against.

    Put together, this makes seven in favour and four against.

    Based on this 7/4 vote, we will keep the rungs in the shaft as they are for the time being. We will however give some thought as to a different way we might be able to achieve the same results, perhaps a different type of hold. Before we introduce any significant changes though we will send another vote around so we can be sure to act in everybody’s interests.

    With many thanks

    Miles Moulding


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