Updated: Dec 17, 2019
Welcome to the first newsletter of 2019 with our posh new logo! Winter has now been and gone, or you could argue it barely came at all. Lots of active members over the winter(ish) period and even some trad climbing in February!
Now with trad season fast approaching make sure you book on to those meets to ensure a place. Here’s to a great summer!
Working meet Nov 16-18th
With the club deciding to demolish the old annexe and rebuild a new one, a working
meet was held to get the job done. Lots of help was provided with Simon Wallbank,
Lee Foster, Ian Collins, Tom Shaw, Joanne Green, Liz Harrison, Stuart Hesketh Alex
Ashton and even a cameo apperance from Dave Connelly who turned up to show the
lads and girls how to do it! With good weather forecast, the plan was to hit the annexe
as hard as we could so it would fall down and then we could go climbing. With a 7am
start Stuart and Tom started with the sledge hammers and soon realised the job was
going to take more time than expected. Seemingly the annexe had been patched and
repatched by large amounts of additional wood. After a long day of hitting things really
hard. We were left with plenty of firewood that the girls did a fantastic job of chopping
up, with Simon’s electric saw proving invaluble. Thankyou to everyone who attended
the meet who worked really hard to not only take the building down but to tidy up well
afterwards. We even managed to get some climbing done on the Sunday with several
parties deployed around the lakes: Shepards crag, Sharp edge on Blencathra and a
round from the hut to Crag hill and Hopehead gill to name a few of the plans.
Joanne and liz hard at work, Dave pretending to work, Joanne at Shepards Crag and the annexe fully demolished at the hut.
Great Hill Walk & Scramble Dec 9th
Only three people, Ken Fyles, Dave Archer and Richard Applegate turned up for this meet. Richard had brought his trainee guide dog with him. The scheme is that Richard gives the dog a home at night but weekdays the dog is dropped off at a center for training as a guide dog for the blind. After two years training the dog will be ready for its new work. This was Richard's third trainee dog. Normally we scramble up the bed of the Dean Black Brook for the start of this walk but recent rain had put it in flood. Luckily, Dave knew of another good, exciting route which kept close to the Brook. One of the problems to be avoided is striking off for the summit too soon and you end up too early on the normal boring track to Great Hill. Aware of this problem they stayed long in the wooded area by the brook and struck up to Great Hill summit just at the right time along tiny tracks. The descent to Roddlesworth is often wet but a drier new path was found to the main Bolton A675 road. The reservoir area across the road was a delight and unusually dry. After the third reservoir, we had earned rest in the Hare & Hounds Pub at Abbey Village. The return journey was also dry to the feet even though it crossed bleak moorland before turning into a wooded descent to the River Goyt. The going was now easy, just a path along the river to the picturesque village and cricket ground of White Coppice. 11 miles and 1200 ft ascent.
Delamere Forest Walk Dec 28th
Six members arrived to walk off the Christmas excesses Jeff Dodwell, Ken Fyles, Alison Eaton, John Armstrong and friend and Mark Rowley. The walk passed by Blakemere Moss Lake bird sanctuary and then the fascinating "Go Ape" facility - of course we all wanted a go on this exciting excursion through the trees but we had to press on up the long hill to Pale Heights. There are many new paths in the Pale Heights area and Alison was keen to know the whereabouts of these to use as part of her run training territory. Most of the rest of the walk was flat except the descent to the Boot Inn in "Little Switzerland". This is one of the most picturesque areas of central Cheshire and perfect for a lunch break. The way back climbs steeply along the Sandstone trail taking a direct line back to the cars. 9 miles total and about 1000 ft of ascent.
Photo from Pale Heights. Credit Mark Rowley
Turton reservoir to Edgeworth Walk Feb 10th
The walks are not very popular now and this one was cancelled through lack of interest, one wonders if they are still worthwhile. Where have all the mountaineers gone who train in winter for going climbing on the premier British cliffs such as Scafell, Gimmer, Cloggy and Ben Nevis? You still need to maintain good leg strength for trekking to these fantastic crags so why not do it by going on winter treks that are within an hour's drive. If you think the Sunday walks are too tame, fill your rucksack with a few bricks - that should do the trick.
Canadian Rockies Feb 3rd – 17th
Even with the coldest weather Alberta had experienced for 20 years, lows of -38 °C, and that’s without wind chill! We couldn’t stop Dave Connelly from getting his kit off. As that was enough to keep the bears in hibernation and all the mountain lions away, seven climbers journeyed to Canada to attend the 2019 ice climbing meet in Canmore. Terry Kenny kindly hosted the meet with unparalleled hospitality whilst providing a wealth of experience and knowledge of the local area to give good plans for each day. Arriving a day early was the red wine connoisseur Simon Middleton and John Jones the Welsh joke machine! Followed the day after by Dangerous Dave Connelly, Phil ‘The cook’ Don and the two finely tuned
athletic stallions from St.Helens, Stuart Hesketh and Daft Tom (Shaw).
Dangerous Dave persuading Phil to go ‘au natural’ at Whitemans Pond.
A tragic start greeted the lads turning up, as Simon and John had been out to Kananaskis climbing and Simon had come back with frost bite on his hands. Sadly, this looked like it would be the end of Simon’s climbing exploits for the rest of the trip, tender discoloured fingers that gave severe pain. The first few days, with extreme temperatures (lows of -33 °C) the team stayed fairly local with visits to grotto canyon and the ice crag ‘the junkyards’. The following days gave a marginally better forecast (highs of -24 °C) Dave, Stuart, Phil and Tom went to Bear Spirit, a single pitch venue with a large curtain of ice. Upon arrival, there was a party just leaving, suffering two lead falls - the last one leaving the climber dangling upside down with his head gently brushing the ice. Tom and Stuart each led a ‘warm-up’ route to the right and didn’t manage to get any warmer. They decided to rig two top ropes down the curtain, each of around WI4 – it was like climbing cast iron! Haffner Creek also provided a tough venue in the conditions. Tom and John led short ice pitches and rigged top ropes. From each anchor, with the aid of a directional, around 4 different lines could be taken providing entertaining variety from about WI2/3-WI4+. Later on in the day John dispatched a longer pitch around WI3+ which Tom followed and Stuart led a similar line which Phil finished off.
Stuart leads at Haffner creek.
The weekend had arrived which signalled the start of the adventure into the Ghost valley.
Not accessible by commercial hire car, two of Terry’s good friends and Calgary residents
came up for the day in their off-roaders to take us in. With the temperatures still too low
for comfort, the weather was glorious. The group were treated to crystal clear blue skies
outlining the dramatic landscape of sheer limestone cliffs and snow draped mountains.
John and Alvin, the two Canadians with the jeeps, where fantastic guides for the day.
Scouting a pathway through several frozen river crossings and rough terrain. Too cold to
go too far and much too cold to be out of the sun, the group made camp underneath ‘The
good, the bad and the ugly, WI4’. John led and Tom and Stuart followed on the climb with
good ice despite the conditions, but in one of the most superb locations. In the last week, Lake Louise resort was visited for some skiing, most of the day was spent off piste having some fun in the trees and Tom even managed to get down a black run, just his third day ever on a pair of skis! The pretty, Johnson canyon was also visited with routes climbed up to WI4. With the weather becoming slightly warmer (only slightly) Dave, John and Terry went to kicking horse canyon to tick the classic multipitch Green Gully, WI4. After a treacherous approach over some rough terrain, (Terry even managed to lose an axe - they found it again), the team was rewarded with fantastic climbing on good ice providing a fun but challenging day out. Stuart, Dave and John also climbed the 3-star classic of the area: Cascade, WI3. The first few easy pitches were soloed and then everybody led a pitch. In the sun all day, temperatures felt positively balmy at -18 °C! Tom and Phil opted for the adventurous Rogan’s gully, WI2/3 next to cascade and reported a quality route with steep ice at the top.
The group in Cochrane cowboy bar.
The following day Dave, Terry, Stuart and John made an early start for Evan-Thomas Creek. Tom and Phil went to Banff national Park do the classic Cascade. Dave and Terry teamed up to do Chantilly, WI2/3 and Stuart and John teamed up in search of the classic line Moonlight, WI4+. On passing, Chantilly looked in great condition with a steep pillar forming the top
pitch, which Dave led with confidence. Moonlight was an imposing prospect with good ice for the first pitch up to the cave belay and then bullet hard and brittle ice for the remaining two steep pitches. For the final day of climbing, two teams went out: Tom and Phil to Johnsons Canyon, where both led several lines up to WI4. The other, Stuart and John who went for the 8-pitch mega route of Professor falls, WI5. A flat walk in didn’t pose the pair too much trouble and they dispatched the route in good time. Pitches 1 and 2 were steep hard ice, 3 and 4 were nice ice and good climbing. Pitch 5 was bullet hard and difficult, 6 and 7 was hero toffee ice and pitch 8 was like a shower. Everyone made it back in good time for well-earned beers in the Drake to round off a fantastic trip. Some special thanks also to: Terry, who kindly gave us the run of his place during the trip. Val Pitkethly, who provided invaluable daily weather reports and recommendations. John and Alvin, without whom our memorable trip into the ghost could not have been possible. Finally, I thank everyone else on the trip who provided great company and humour making the 2019 meet a trip to remember. I also think I can speak as a collective to wish Simon a swift recovery.
Winter Climbing Feb 22nd - 4th
The winter meet ended up being a mild weather affair, so was salvaged and turned into a trad meet at short notice. Simon Wallbank, Sam Allison others climbed at Shepherds Crag on the Saturday with Chris Manessah leading Brown Slabs Crack VS 4c, Conclusion E1 5b and Kransic Crack Direct HVS 5a with Yvonne Parr as a willing second. John Armstrong was happy climbing the lower grade classic routes around the Brown Slabs area as he was introducing his partner Sue to real rock. Sam Allison, Paul Jordan (guest) and Simon Wallbank teamed up as a 3 and climbed/queued the classic Little Chamonix VDiff with Paul and Simon sharing the leading. They later climbed Brown Slabs Crack VS 4c and Brown Slabs Face MS as it started to rain before retreating back to the hut. On Sunday Langdale was the focus of the climbing with a visit to Raven Crag. The guys were joined by both an unwell Jonah along with Trevor Smith. Chris Manessah teamed up with Trevor and Jonah for Prometheus at HVS 5a. John Armstrong again climbed with Sue this time introducing her to multi pitch climbing and completed an ascent of the 80 meter 3-star classic Middlefell Buttress Diff, leaving Sam Allison, Yvonne Parr and Simon Wallbank to climb The Original Route a 3-star Severe.
Rivington area Walk Mar 10th
As forecast prior to the ramble we were hosted on the moors by grey skies and driving sleet. With that I said I would like to thank Ken Fyles, David Archer and Mark Rowley for joining me. After leaving Anglezarke car park and reaching the slopes of Spin Cob and Siddow Fold, we could see the fascinating sight of plumes of spindrift on the wind being spiralled up into the air before exploding and cascading back into the reservoir. Not long after the show of the pirouetting prancing water phenomenon, we arrived at Healey Nab after a gradual ascent and decided to have a short break at the quarry as the weather started to become more amicable. In the shallow water of the quarry was frog spawn which in the next few weeks will undoubtedly yield many thousands of our small amphibious friends which would be worth a visit again, especially by parents with youngsters with an interest in our local wildlife. Continuing on to the Black Horse we had a friendly encounter with a group of Boy Scouts and their Akela, I had the warm thought that some of them might continue their experiences long into their adult lives – but who knows? On arrival at the Black Horse we were served Sunday roasts and cheese pie which all looked delicious and tasted even better. We learned in conversation the pub had been licensed to serve alcohol since 1577, making it one of the oldest in Lancashire if not England. If anyone can verify this I would be curious to know. Though we all got saturated on the path back to the reservoir via Brindles Farm, the sun had begun to break through. This was the cue to continue the walk past the Yarrow Reservoir, Parson’s Bullough and Jepson’s Farm before descending back down by the beautiful vista which affords views towards the Irish Sea, Blackpool Tower and the Isle of Man. After a warm farewell handshake, we all set off home with the anticipation of a well -earned hot bath on arrival. Before signing off I would like to thank my friend Julie (AKA Miss Moneypenny) for her help in producing this article.
A view of the reservoir. Mark, Ken H and Ken F enjoying the wild weather on the walk.
Bethesda Mar 22-24th
The meet was blessed with good weather, a bit too cold for rock-climbing in the mountains but excellent for mountain walking and scrambling. Jeff D, Ken F, Dave A, Maurice R and Kirsty took the route over the Carneddau starting from the MAM Hut at the eastern side of Lake Ogwen. This route is much more preferable to the nose of Pen-yr-Ole-Wen because
of its variety, walking above a fast flowing stream, a pleasant scramble, wonderful unusual views of Tryfan and a not too strenuous finish to the top. Before us was the long ridge of Carnedd Dafydd going over the famous 'Black ladders' before ascending to Carnedd lewelyn - the highest free-standing summit in North Wales after Snowdon. A good place for a lunch stop sheltering amongst the rocks. After lunch Dave decided to complete the day out by doing a long circuit over Foel Grach, Yr Aryg and back to Bethesda while the rest of the team descended south-east by the scramble of Pen-waunwen. Amazingly there was much snow on the north side of Llewelyn but the condition was poor for climbing. A stop was made to look at climbers on Amphitheatre Buttress (possibly the longest v.diff climb in Wales at over 1000 ft) and across to other wonderful face of CraigYr Ysfa and the daunting climbs of Mur-y-Niwl and Pinnacle Route - a great day out for the more accomplished rock climber. Our scramble continued downward to the col of Pen-yr-Helgi Du then up another wonderful (and often forgotten scramble) to the summit of Y Braich. All that was needed now was a walk on the track from the reservoir back to the road and the car. John Armstrong and Sue joined us in the evening to look at a slide show of the earliest and latest climbing days out in of the club. The earliest days featured Arthur Helsby, Ian Shaw and others climbing in North Wales and at Helsby using just a direct waist tie - harnesses had not been invented. These photos look horrifying to us these days. The latest climbing days featured the winter climbing meet of 2018, the meet at Glencoe and the super long climbing ridge of Garb Bheinn, the alpine Meet at Ailefroide and the Pembroke meet. All wonderful memories. Sunday was colder than expected but Maurice and Kirsty wanted to climb at Bus Stop Quarry, Llanberis. Ken and Jeff went to supervise and eye up a few routes for a warmer day. Dave, meanwhile, took another long day out climbing Carnedd-y-Filiast, Mynydd Perfedd and Elidir Fawr direct from the hut.
Jeff scrambles up PenYrOleWen. Tryfan from the scramble. Ken with
Carnedd Dafydd behind.
Working meet Apr 13-14th
Only two people (Simon Wallbank and Jeff Dodwell) turned up for the working weekend, but as it was a late addition to the meets list that was not surprising. They had hoped to paint the annexe doors and internal walls, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. The doors are already showing water damage and will have to be planed down to fit again and painted in
the very near future. After checking the hot and cold water flow to the washbasin and the shower, Simon moved the position of the pump to ensure that the shower had an adequate flow of both hot and cold water. Ken Fyles had visited the hut recently and fitted lighting to all three rooms of the annexe which all worked well but could do with some tidying up of the
cabling. So once he had finished sorting out the pump, Simon fitted cable trunking to hide all the wiring for the lights, giving it a much neater look. Meanwhile, Jeff set about clearing the pile of debris from in front of the annexe. Jeff’s car was filled with the old toilet; cistern; washbasin; water heater; old pipework and miscellaneous offcuts from the work of fitting out the new toilet and shower. It was then a 35 mile round trip to the tip. The rest of the debris was bagged up and the shower base separated from the now rotting wooden framework ready for another journey to the tip on the way home. The wood amongst the debris was added to the pile of wood behind the new annexe which was all that remains of the old annexe. This can be cut up and used in the wood burning fire in the hut.For the Saturday afternoon, Jeff started cutting up some of the wood to leave th wood store behind the shed and the box in the hut both filled.On the Sunday morning the shower base and the rest of the rubbish was loaded into Jeff’s car leaving the area completely clear. They didn’t manage to do some of the things necessary, but the shower now works, the lighting is in good order and the site doesn’t look like a waste tip any more.
Beginners Trad Climbing Apr 6th
The meet was changed to the popular end at Stanage due to request by members and it was one of the best attended meets of recent years. 20 members attended all of mixed experience, members were mixed and matched to have beginners and experienced climbers together. Will a cold start to the morning the club arrived at the crag at 9am. The sun soon came out and a warm, brilliant day emerged. Many beginners reporting they had a fantastic day getting lots of climbing done on varying types of routes at a range of grades, even some beginners did some leading. The last team down from the crag left at 8.30pm after an amazing 30-star day!
Group photo arriving at the crag. Tom Shaw leads Flying buttress direct.
Teggs Nose and White Nancy Walk Apr 14th
White Nancy is a large, sugar loaf grade II listed edifice on the edge of the hills above Bollington near Macclesfield. It was built in 1817 to commemorate the battle of Waterloo and the last time we visited it three years ago it was decorated with soldiers dressed in period clothes. This time, the soldiers had vanished but it was still a surprising feature for the
six persons on the walk. The walk actually started at Teggs Nose Country Park a great place to visit for those interested in industrial archeology. A boring 10 minute walk down the road was followed by an incredibly varied trek with fine views from all the ridges. Lunch was at the Poachers, Bollington. The way back followed the valley but in this beautiful part of the White Peak you can't go wrong with a feast for the eyes at every step. Those on the walk: Ken Fyles, Ian and Gail Craven, Jim Annels and Kate Graham.
No photos taken on the walk but the picture is last time the club was there in 2014 when the "sugar loaf" was decorated with images of Waterloo soldiers. Photo credit – Ewan Ritchie
Scotland, Torridon May 4-11th
Mid May can often be a good time to visit the Highlands of Scotland, with winter in retreat and the midges yet to make a serious appearance. However, we arrived in Torridon to find what had been a disappointing winter from a climbing perspective giving a final half-hearted whimper, with cold northerly winds bringing fresh snow to the peaks and ruling out any climbing on the hoped-for high mountain crags. Nevertheless, with plenty of fabulous mountain walking and scrambling to be done, and a wealth of quality low-level cragging available (not to mention the luxury of the chalet accommodation and an excellent local pub), a successful week was still achieved.
Jonah and Mark set the standard by following a damp but not insignificant day ascending Beinn Damh with a strenuous 33-mile trek between Poolewe and Kinlochewe, via Carnmore and Loch Maree. Meanwhile Chris M. climbed Beinn Alligin via the Horns; a grade 1 scramble covered by a swiftly thawing blanket of fresh snow. The subsequently debated issue of whether this counted as a winter tick was entirely secondary to the dramatic beauty of the experience. Meanwhile Ken, Swiss friends Pascal and Gabi Bourgeois and Chris J. took what should have been a pleasant walk along a footpath to Loch Claire only to find that the footpath no longer existed and it was bush whacking most of the way. The locals say the path is due to be re-instated next year.
On the Monday several ascents of Beinn Eighe were made by way of the curving path to the magnificent Triple Buttress and a snow couloir to the col between the Munros.
After these exertions, a few days of relaxed cragging seemed in order. Jonah, Mark and Chris M. joined forces to make a pleasant tour of the local rocks and tea shops, enjoying the classic routes Open Secret (Hard Severe), Bald Eagle (Hard Very Severe), and Anthrax Flake (Very Severe), plus a particularly memorable marzipan and pear tart (Very Delicious).
The following day they were joined by Graham and Alice for an optimistic visit to Applecross to see if the uber-classic Sword of Gideon (VS) was in a climbable state. Sadly, conditions defeated them, and a cold and windy wander around the nearby hills was enjoyed, if somewhat begrudgingly.