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