DLOG - A Guide for Climbers

Since its introduction about 4 years ago, DLOG has provided an invaluable resource for those registered for Mountain Training qualifications to log their activities electronically. It is a massive and highly flexible database system which has been built up by users making their own entries, and it can be used for all activities, including walking, climbing in all its forms, mountaineering, skiing and much more. Its principal focus is the UK and Ireland, but activities all over the world can be recorded. While user generated input is essential to populate the database with the details of each climb the first time it is logged, it is inevitable that duplications and typographical errors arise, which has in certain instances made the database difficult to navigate. What do you do when a popular climb may be entered in many different versions?

Over the past months people have been working away in the background to enhance the utility of the database by correcting duplications of crags and climbs and improving the structure of how the entries are organised. This exercise is ongoing and, at least for UK venues, the bulk of the work was completed in late summer 2018. While it is hoped this should make life simpler for the users, the users themselves have a crucial role in the future in maintaining the quality of the database. A good understanding of how it works will undoubtedly help in this endeavour. Therefore it is perhaps timely to provide a description of how DLOG works and how the user can contribute to its improvement. The following is written for and applies to the entry of Trad, Sport or Winter climbs or Bouldering, but many of these points apply to other activities too.

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How DLOG works


DLOG has a layered structure. At the top there are the Regions which cover a certain geographical area which may be an obvious major region (such as ‘Lake District’ or the ‘Peak District’) or sometimes they may relate to Counties (e.g. ‘Yorkshire and the Dales’) or groups of Counties (e.g. ‘Northern England’, encompassing Lancashire, Northumberland, Durham and Cleveland).


Each Region is divided into a number of Areas by one of a number of different criteria, perhaps the area covered by a particular guidebook, or major section of a guidebook (as applies through much of Scotland and the Lake District), or a particular rock type (e.g. ‘Yorkshire Limestone’, ‘Yorkshire Grit’) or just a logical geographical grouping. The Peak District is unusual in that major crags (such as Stanage) form Areas of their own, but mostly Areas contain many different crags. Most Regions also have an Area called ‘Other’ which is intended for things that don’t quite fit with Crags or Climbs. For those Regions that have been worked through so far, there should now be an Area suitable for almost all crags, so ‘Other’ is a good place to put activities on things like man-made structures that don’t fit in the normal scheme of things (abseiling off bridges, for example).


The term ‘Crag’ sounds self-explanatory but it’s a bit more complicated than that. A Crag may indeed be a single crag (e.g. ‘Shepherd’s Crag’, in Area ‘Borrowdale’, in Region ‘Lake District’), but in some instances a group of crags are bundled together into a single entity (e.g. ‘Polldubh Crags’, in Area ‘Glen Nevis and Polldubh’, Region ‘West and Central Highlands’). Similarly a group of crags on a single mountain may be amalgamated into a single ‘crag’, e.g. ‘Buachaille Etive Mor’, in Area ‘Glencoe and Glen Etive’, Region ‘West and Central Highlands’. This may at first sight seem a bit strange, but it is done for a very practical reason. General users can’t make new Regions or Areas, or modify them, but they can freely enter crags and climbs. Different people have varying ideas on how to name sub-divisions of crags, or groups of crags, which in some cases led to some popular climbs being entered in more than a dozen different formats. This obviously makes life complicated for users using the search function. There are notes on how to avoid this pitfall later in this article. At this point suffice to say that the definition of what makes a crag or group of crags treated as one frequently comes from the organisation of the UK Climbing database, using the headline name at the top of the page of climb entries. Thus if you have a UKC logbook the aim is for DLOG eventually to have exactly the same names for crags and their groupings, allowing you to import your logbook for review by a course director more easily. Sub-divisions within the lists of climbs on the UK Climbing crag page (those highlighted by a grey background) are ignored. The UKC database is actually brilliant for finding crags and climbs, so if you don’t have the guidebook to hand it’s a good place to find your route.


Finally something really simple, the individual climbs. Variants, or climbs of the same name in the same crag group, are listed as separate climbs with a suitable qualification (e.g. Direct Finish, or Right Wall (Repton Buttress)). When a climb is selected from the database there is a list of fields along the entry line, each with pull-down menus which include adjectival and/or technical grade, style of ascent, etc.

DLOG Disciplines – a case of parallel Universes

The next important issue is that of disciplines, Bouldering, Trad, Sport or Winter. Each of these uses a different grading system, so the disciplines don’t mix. When a climb is entered for the first time (on which more later) depending on discipline a different set of options appears, things like grade, style, etc. These then become fixed in the DLOG database as part of the information for that climb. Therefore Sport and Trad climbs can’t be present in the same sphere of DLOG, they are in separate but parallel digital space. The winter and summer versions of a given climb are also in separate digital space. The Regions may or may not be the same for each discipline (there’s no point in having a Region for Winter in some parts of the country!), and the Areas are quite likely to be different. For example, in the Lake District there is now a single Area for winter climbs (‘Lake District Winter Climbs’) which means they are now easily identified should you wish to enter an existing or new one. An attempt has been made to have different names for the Areas where there is substantial overlap geographically (e.g. ‘Yorkshire Limestone Trad Climbs’, ‘Yorkshire Limestone Sport Routes’) so that the distinction is clearly visible.

There is one very real issue that has arisen as a result of these parallel discipline Universes and the way they work. In the past the Areas available for Sport climbing and particularly Bouldering were not comprehensive, which made for problems for people wanting to enter Sport climbing activities in a number of places, particularly Scotland. There was usually an option for putting them into a catch-all Area named ‘Other’, but some chose to force them into Trad instead. Similar issues occur in Areas where sport and trad climbs intermingle, such as Llanberis Slate and many limestone Areas. Now, the DLOG administrators can edit and move crag and climb entries within a discipline (to improve the structure, remove duplications, correct typos, etc.) but they can’t correct entries that are in the wrong discipline. The only way that this can be done is by the users themselves changing their own DLOG entries, by deleting those in the wrong Discipline, and re-entering them in the correct one. So if you suspect this has happened to you in the past, please have a look through and correct them. The Outdoor Bouldering discipline is relatively recent, and it’s clear that people have sometimes entered their bouldering activities either in Trad or Sport instead. Again, if you want them logged with the proper grade and style, please re-enter them. You may ask why bother checking and correcting old entries in your own log book, to which the only answer is that at some point, hopefully, your DLOG will be examined during assessment for a qualification, and the more authoritative and professional it looks the better. Some qualifications also require a given level of experience in both Trad and Sport, so if some of your entries are muddled between them then your DLOG could be misleading.

Things you may notice within your individual DLOG

It’s likely that the changes that have been made will affect in some way or other the individual DLOGs of nearly every user. Mostly you may notice that crag sub-divisions have been removed. You may find that certain crags have changed Area in your records, either because the Areas themselves have been modified a little, or because the crags were previously duplicated in different Areas. You may notice removal of any typos. A number of other types of corrections have been made, hopefully to the user’s benefit (for example we have sometimes been able to identify named climbs listed on crag ‘Unknown’ and entered the correct crag accordingly). Importantly you should find the pull-down lists and search functions far easier to navigate, although they will never be perfect. Inevitably a small number of mistakes are likely to have been made during this process, affecting a tiny proportion of DLOG users*. It may be worth checking your records to see if anything untoward has happened. Apologies if it has, but rest assured, nothing has been deleted.

* In particular, if you have logged any of the following routes it would be worth checking your DLOG and editing the entry to correct it if necessary. An entry will be there on the correct date, but the route name may be wrong: Right Wall (Repton Buttress); A-B Intregrate (Glen Clova); Devil’s Appendage (Devil’s Kitchen); Pocket Wall (Cwm Idwal); Groovy Arete (Milestone Buttress); Laddies Gully (Clogwyn y Garnedd). Sorry, they may be unintended victims resulting from the correction of other typographical errors.


With the increasing experience of all involved, DLOG should become even more useful and easier to use. Overall it provides a fascinating picture of the climbing activities of those registered for Mountain Training schemes. As yet, the most popular climb found in the database is Christmas Curry at Tremadog, which, counting all the variants, has over 1,900 recorded ascents. One Step in the Clouds (Tremadog), Flying Buttress (Stanage Popular) and Little Chamonix (Shepherd’s Crag, Borrowdale) also score very highly with over 1100 entries. As might be expected from the sheer number of climbs, Stanage appears to have the most reported records. The geographical spread of entries ranges from the Shetland Isles to the south coast of Cornwall, from the west coast of Ireland to the south-east of England. In each discipline the entries cover almost the entire grade range (although no-one has logged Hubble – there’s a challenge!). Activities have been logged worldwide, from Antarctica to Greenland, the Americas to Asia, from boulders in South Africa to the high Himalayas. In all it’s an amazing record of the energy and enthusiasm at the heart of UK and Irish climbers.

Roger Everett
September 2018

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