Thursday, 31 December 2009

Xmas Snow in the Lakes

Blencathra Monday 28th & Newlands 29th December 2009

A brief report from TrevorS with some additional photography by Graham:

Jonah, MarkB, Graham and I had a great trip to the Lakes, (Graham joining us for the first day only). The first day was a fantastic sunny "Tour de Blencathra", as per the majority of pics attached. A real alpine feel to the day with clear skies and hardly any breeze. Up Sharp Edge and down Hallsfell Ridge, as recommended by Jonah. A few pints around Keswick in the evening, good food to be had, a stay over in rather nice B and B.

Tuesday wasn't quite as nice, however we had a nice walk over Causey pike, Scar Grags and up onto Eel Grag, quite windy on top, where Jonah is seen to be resting on the trig point on one of the attached pics.

The most hazadous part of the trip was negoitating the extreemly icy roads up there the other day. Crampons needed for Booths car park and shoping around Keswick.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Ice Before Xmas

Cwm Idwal 23rd December 2009

A few photos from Mark, Ste and Graham who were in Wales on Wednesday.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Sunday 20th December

Wales and Liverpool

Sunday was a busy day for club members. Rich, Dave, Geoff, Mike and AndyC went to Wales for some winter scrambling on Tryfan.

AndyG, AndyO and SteveB met at Lime Street Station and went to Awesome Walls for a morning of indoor climbing. SteveB had to finish early but was able to make it back to the pub later. Then, after a phone call from Ste and a slight delay on Merseyrail, they joined Ste in the Crown Hotel for drinks. Despite much of the north of England being at a stand still due to snow, Graham and Mark managed to drive home from Scotland in time to join in the celebrations. Mark won the Andy Kirkpatrick sound-alike competition for his comment that, "there is pleasure to be found in suffering," describing his recent adventures. The evening was rounded off with a Chinese and more drinks down Matthew Street before everyone returned to Lime Street to catch their trains home.

Rich, Dave, Geoff, Mike and AndyC on Tryfan.

Scottish Winter Begins

Coire an t'Sneachda - 18/19th December 2009

A report from Mark and Graham from Scotland.

Firstly from Mark:

First winter routes of the season in the bag.

Due to some pretty extreme conditions! With even the local seasoned hard climbers declaring "twas the coldest they had been on a route," and guides struggling to dig out gear on routes. We decided not to chance things and not push our grades. So with dreams of Fingers ridge forgotten, the bonkers cold weather of Friday and extremely bonkers cold and windy weather of Saturday we decided to climb!

Routes ticked:
Hidden Chimney III 4 pitches lead by me
The Runnel II Speed climbed /moving together/ soloing / death roping. See below.

I will let Graham describe the format of climbing on the Runnel and his new found hatred of me!!! Also Graham can enlighten you all with tales of heroic navigation and suffering on descending from the summit.

The highly amusing pic of Graham on the summit is of him wishing had actually died on the climb, as the hot aches that greeted him where unbearable!!!

And now Graham's version:

As for Scotland. The Runnel was good - non-stop climbing which involved very cold hands, firey calves ("can't rest - Mark might be mid move..."), frozen snot covered faces, and me constantly telling myself that Mark must be belaying by now...

That was until I looked up and saw him climbing the crux chimney 60m above me with only two runners between us that both turned out to be far from bombproof. Cue an outburt of cursing directed at Mr Dempsey. I tried to tell him what for when I got to the top but was rudely interrupted by a ferocious bout of hot aches. :(

Turns out to have just been the way it panned out due to the gear, and was apparently equally uncomfortable for Mark.

Navving off was quite a test, a combo of Marks highly accurate stumbling on a bearing and my pacing (did I just say 100m or 200m?!) worked a treat, despite thinking uphill was downhill and having siezed zips and Mark getting compass thumb (frost-nip?). Turns out we should have gone down the Goat Track but at least we can say we took the manly way off.

Retrospective fun at it's very best.

Bring on the next...

Monday, 19 October 2009

Kern Knotts and the Napes

Now we know why the Americans call this time of the year The Fall.

A report from RichC on more of his recent adventures with Jonah:

Saturday morning saw a clear forecast so myself and Jonah decided to head up to the lakes to get a last mountain day in before the winter. A cold and dark start saw us up in Keswick for a hearty breakfast before heading down to Borrowdale. Arriving at Seathwaite the parking was unexpectedly rammed full - we ended up roughly half a mile from the farm at the end of the road.

A brisk walk in lead us up past Styhead Tarn and round the climber's traverse to Kern Knotts crag. By this stage the sun was well up and with a cloudless sky and little wind it was pleasantly warm for October - we were comfortable in t-shirts.

Jonah kicked off the day's business by climbing the classic Innominate Crack (VS 4b **). A fine line, showing a lot of polish from countless ascents, but still pleasant and not desperate.

I then decided to tackle the other classic crack of the crag, Kern Knotts Crack (VS 4c **). This features a polished off-width "sentry box" feature as its crux. Upon reaching it I decided to see if my off-width technique was up to scratch. It wasn't. I fell about 5 metres out of the crack and came to rest just above the floor. In the process Jonah's hand was dashed against the rocks at the base of the climb resulting in some gashed fingers - lots of blood but not too serious thankfully. I had nothing much injured except my pride. Not to be discouraged, after Jonah had applied some first aid to his fingers (and a passer by had commented, "nice whipper mate"), I got back on to it. Avoiding the crack this time by the alternative route using the wall to the side I reached the top without further incident.

Noon was long since passed by this stage, so without further ado we packed up and walked round to Nape's Needle. With no one else in sight we got straight on it, Jonah leading the first pitch of The Arete (HS 4b **). At the shoulder we switched over and I lead up the top block to set up possibly the most complex belay for a climb of this grade I've ever done. Ropes were lashed all over the block with me anchored in a spider's web at the centre. Jonah followed and after a moment to bask in the lowering sun on the top it was time to move on.

With evening soon drawing in we had time for just one more route, the classic but glossy Needle Ridge (VD **), lead in two long pitches (and a scrambly pitch at the top). A fine end to a day on the mountains.

[Editor's Note: It's good to hear that Jonah was not seriously injured saving Rich's neck yet again! It is also heartening to see that despite a damp summer it is still possible to get stuff done up on the high crags. The photo below is myself and "Pope" Paul on a previous occasion.]

Wednesday, 14 October 2009


Anglesey Camping Meet 9th - 11th October 2009

Despite some rain during the journey to Anglesey on Friday evening, most memebers eventually arrived at Rhoscolyn to find the rain had stopped and they were able to keep their tents dry as they pitched at Outdoor Alternative. Then a short walk down dark footpaths and past Borthwen beach led to the The White Eagle at Rhoscolyn where plans were made for the morning.

Saturday was slightly overcast but bright and dry. Despite the breeze, it was warm for the time of year and, after Mark and Ste had departed for Gogarth, the rest of the team set out on foot to explore the sea cliffs of Rhoscolyn. Arriving at the pinnacle near the old Coastguard lookout, Andy and Jess attempted to decipher the guidebook description for Sunset Slab 130m V.Diff. Eventually they found worthwhile climbing by traversing the slabs which formed either side of the narrow zawn to the south-east of the pinnacle.

A little further westwards along the coast is the magnificent red wall of Llawder(that's a Welsh joke), home to Icarus 40m 1* HVS(4c, 5a) and the much more serious undertakings of The Sun 44m 3* E3(4b, 5c) and Warpath 38m 3* E5 6a.

Further round again, at the side of Fallen Block Zawn, Andy and Jess descended to the base of Truant Slab. This gave excellent views of the huge fallen blocks that give the area it's name. The abseil required great care, to find an alternative line, as the descent gulley described in the guidebook was choked with loose rock. An abseil stake nearby was also found to be completly rusted through.

Ascent back to the cliff top was via Shit Hawk Alley 36m Diff. Despite it's name this proved to be a pleasant climb in an interesting place and was easily accomplished in big boots.

More exploration also revealed views of Sea Cave Zawn where Electric Blue 37m 3* E4 5c traverses across the headwall above the large cave. Meanwhile, several members of the party had already wandered off to persue their own projects and a great deal of rambling, scrambling and solo climbing occurred, especially around the area of "Crag X."

Finally, it was time for the long anticipated Symphony Crack 15m 3* Diff. Described in the guidebook as "a sea-cliff classic and hard to beat at the grade." After scrambling down the headland, the route traverses into a bottomless right-angled corner which is then ascended whilst waves crash on the cliff below your feet. An easy but stunning route in a spectacular position with a great sea-cliff ambiance.

Congratulations to GrahamC for producing the best picture from the weekend with his excellent photo of Maurice seconding Symphony Crack.

After that there was just enough time for some fun and games before starting the walk back to the campsite.

On the way back, we met Mark and Ste who had had a good day at Gogarth having climbed both Britomartis 58m 3* HVS(4c, 4c) and The Concrete Chimney 70m 3* HVS(5a, 5a). A good selection of routes for Mark's first time on a sea-cliff.

We returned to the The White Eagle at Rhoscolyn for dinner. The food was tasty and well presented and the bar had a good selection of ale. It was also very busy which isn't bad for a quiet weekend in October.

Sunday started damp, cold and windy. It had rained in the night and some drizzle persisted through the morning and especially when we packed our tents. We went to South Stack where we pointed out some of the climbs to those members who had not been there before. Unfortunately, the café was shut despite the surprisingly large numbers of visitors who braved the weather that morning.

We went to Trearddur in search of food and hot drinks. Eventually, a little after lunchtime, the weather did improve and a few keen souls returned to South Stack where they ascended Tension 25m 2* VS 4b, Black and Tan 28m 1* VS 4c, and New Boots and Panties 22m S 4a on Holyhead Mountain. The rest succumbed to post prandial lethargy and set off on the drive home.

All in all, the meet was well attended with ten people camping and several others joining us on the Saturday. The campsite at Outdoor Alternative was reasonably priced and the facilities spot on including hot water and hot showers at no extra cost. Although not a lot of hard routes got climbed, it was a worthwhile exploration of a new area and several members have been inspired to return.


While everyone else was getting ready for the Anglesey Camping Weekend, Jonah and RichC slipped away down south for a long weekend on the South Coast. Here is a brief report from RichC:

Myself and Jonah having retreated down to Swanage in search of sun were greeted with showers on Friday. We squeezed in Freda (VS 5a ***) led by myself in a break in the weather. Unbelievably greasy low down it got better as you got higher.

Saturday brought the much sought after sunshine - an unseasonably warm day with clear blue skies saw Lightning Wall (HVS 4c ***) led by Jonah, and Finale Groove (HVS 4c ***) led by myself. Both routes are long single pitches (38m and 35m respectively) on very steep ground - looking down from halfway up Finale Groove, I found I'd actually climbed right over Jonah's head.

Sunday brought more miserable weather, with cold winds to boot. We drove up to the Wye valley to have a look at Wyndcliffe - a fine venue by the looks of things, unfortunately the heavens opened literally as we touched the rock. It seems climbing on Sunday was not to be.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Anglesey Camping Meet

Friday 9th to Sunday 11th October 2009 past event.

Gail and AndyC on Lighthouse Arete.

A booking was made to use the campsite at an activity centre called Outdoor Alternative, near Rhoscolyn. This is conveniently situated for access to the Rhoscolyn cliffs, the sandy beach at Borthwen and the White Eagle public house. See the Outdoor Alternative website for detailed(and downloadable) directions.

The campsite is approximately seven miles from the parking at South Stack via Trearddur and Porth Dafarch, and it is a similar distance through Holyhead to the Breakwater Country Park for access to Wen Zawn and North Stack.

Since low tide will be between 9am and 10am during the visit, anyone with ambitions to visit a tidal venue will have to be well organised in the mornings. You can check the tide times for yourself on the Climbers' Club website.

For members who have not been before, the climbing at Gogarth generally requires, as a bare minimum, a competent and experienced leader able to comfortably lead VS and preferably with some HVS experience. Approaches are usually either by abseil or by scrambling traverses which require good sea conditions. Failure to complete a route here will have serious consequences, you have been warned.

The Main Cliff at Gogarth.

However, there is still plenty here to entertain the beginner and the inexperienced. Holyhead Mountain has a good selection of single and multi-pitch routes at most grades and is easily accessed on foot from the South Stack car parks.

Holyhead Mountain.

This trip incorporated an opportunity to explore the Rhoscolyn cliffs which according to the guide book offer the prospect of, amongst other things, some interesting single pitch climbs in the lower grades.

For anyone seeking inspiration, on our website there are lots of photos and reports from previous trips to Anglesey.

South Stack Lighthouse.

Mousetrap 2009

Mousetrap 128m E2 (5b,5a,5a) 3*

Jonah allowed himself self to be led astray again by the ever photogenic Mr. Buddle on Saturday.

Here are Jonah's comments on his experience:

Mousetrap - IN THE BAG - F**king Hell

Awesome route but very geologically challenging - amazing rock structure, but you can scrape it away with your nails......

Buddle led the first and third pitches, I got the middle one, awesome belay position at the top of the second pitch, would be perfect if it wasn't made up of 7 pieces of very crap gear (think micro wires in v.soft sandstoney stuff, and slings 'draped' over features).

Sunny, brilliant day.

Fortunately, Mike's comments are a little more expansive:

Mousetrap? Fookin hell...

Started early and hopped over boulders to the base of the route after a double abseil. I lead pitch one up the solidified mud. Fairly easy at first but with poor gear.

Got to the traverse after placing more poor gear, then placed a single goodish wire and started traversing into the chimneys accoss some good quality mud; running it out 'till I found some decent quartz in the chimney and awkwardly climbed this to another runner and easier ground which lead to a belay with five pieces of gear.

Jonah followed and then set off up pitch two. 25ft up he decided to snap a hand hold on the suprisingly steep wall and was saved from a plummet by luck, I suppose. A nice steep section lead to a lovely easy ramp which was climbed without much gear to a great stance where Jonah rigged a seven point belay - of which there was one decent piece - relaxing back like an English gentleman to watch my antics on the head wall.

On this I climbed over abysmal rock to a niche where there was enough decent gear to give enough courage to make a hard swing onto the vertical wall and steep solid-ish climbing to a ledge. This was followed by a lovely corner to the top and a four sling belay to finish.

Great stuff. Nerve racking at times, but kinda fun in an odd kinda way.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Gogarth by Kayak

Graham C was out in his kayak on Sunday and has produced an excellent set of photos of the sea cliffs at Gogarth.

Mousetrap Zawn.

The Main Cliff at Gogarth.

Wen Slab, home of A Dream of White Horses.

Climbers setting off up Britomartis.

Castell Helen and Lighthouse Arete.

Anyone feeling inspired to climb after seeing these photos should consider coming along on the Anglesey camping trip in October. Check our main website for the meets list.

Pavey Ark

JeffB, GrahamC, Rich and Ste, were at Pavey Ark in Langdale, in 2009 enjoying the brilliant sunshine and unseasonably dry conditions.

They climbed Arcturus and Golden Slipper. An excellent combination of routes leading up the front of Pavey Ark to within an easy scramble of the summit.

Helsby Ramble 2009

Sunday 13th September 2009

The meet started promptly at 10am and proceeded up the wooded slopes of Helsby Hill to the base of the crags where members were able to inspect some of the famous and historic climbs including Eliminate 1 and Flake Crack.

Then followed an ascent of Clashooks Gulley, leading to a traverse of the Broadwalk giving good, but slightly misty, views out over Helsby and the Mersey estuary.

This also provided an opportunity to inspect the belays and discuss the technicalities of top-roping routes in this area.

After returning to the gulley, a short sharp scramble up a corner led directly to the summit.

There followed easy rambling, via sections of the Sandstone Trail and the Delamere Way, through birch woods, rolling green fields and leafy lanes, with a brief stop for blackberry picking. Arriving, at Overton, lunch was taken at the Bull's Head, accompanied by some fine real ale from their extensive selection.

The return journey, followed the Middle Walk across Frodsham Hill, where a descent of Jacob's Ladder led to Woodhouse Hill. After a little searching below the main path the Frodsham outcrops were eventually located in the trees. These provide a variety of top-rope and boulder problems at all grades. Due to the nature of the rock, many of the routes involve surmounting overhangs and roofs by "black arts" such as "heel hooking".

After this the route returned to the lower slopes of Helsby Hill and followed the broad lower path, parallel to the Old Chester Road back to the start.

An enjoyable day out with good food(and beer), good weather(after the mist had cleared), and much of interest to the rock climber. Hopefully this will inspire some return visits with a rope. It was also good to see some fresh faces attending the meet.