Sunday, 6 December 2015

Parbold & Ashurst Beacon Social Walk - 6 December 2015

Although this walk is a regular event on the calendar it still attracts the most members and guests to take part.

This year a record number of 15 members and guests attended the walk which started in the centre of Parbold, next to the canal and the Windmill Hotel.

Weather was fairly good and the paths not too muddy. The route took us along the canal towards Newburgh then uphill via varied terrain to the Beacon and good views.

At the Prince William the team was met by veteran members Arthur and Beryl Helsby for lunch.

The return route was mainly downhill via Stone Hall and Binghams Farm

Article by Les Berry

Monday, 26 October 2015

St Helens MC Twitter feed

To aid with the creation of ad-hoc meets and gatherings, we've created the @StHelensMC twitter feed.

The feed can be viewed from the bar on the right, but also accessed at the following web address.

If you use twitter, you can add us by using @StHelensMc.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

October Bulletin

Membership Renewals

Membership is now due for 2016. Membership can be paid from 1st October to 28th February.

Late paying members will not be accepted as this causes much additional work for the Treasurer - Renew your membership now before you forget

Fees are £35 for the year can be paid via Cheque, Direct Debit, Bank Transfer or Standing Order. Please refer to the emailed bulletin or email for specific details.

Hut Bookings

Hut booking will start appearing on the club website to the right, detailing dates booked and bunk availability.

None of the booking are exclusive, there are 8 bunk places in the main building and 2 less comfortable places in the Annex. Members can still go to the hut 'on spec', but people who book prior will have priority on the bunks.

Forthcoming Meets

All new meets will be added to the website as they are announced. A short view of upcoming meets now appears on the right hand side of the website (Desktop Version). If you are using a smartphone to view the website, you'll need to navigate to the Meets page itself.

The club continues to meet at The North West Face climbing wall in Warrington on Monday evenings. There is a £1 discount to members during these meetings.

Andy Kirkpatrick Lecture

Andrew Conneely reports that Andy Kirkpatrick will be giving a talk at Salford, on the 1st February 2016. Andy has done some serious climbing in Antarctica, Patagonia, Alps, Yosemite and Stanage. The talk will be on general mountaineering, guiding, base jumping in some of the hardest mountains of the world. For more details visit Andy Kirkpatricks Website

A video of Andy can be seen on the UK Climbing Website
Andrew Conneely is willing to do a block booking perhaps at discount if sufficient members wish to go.

Annual General Meeting

The AGM took place on the 6th October 2015.

Full AGM minutes have been distributed to club members.

The next bulletin will be due in November

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Wiltonfest - 5th September

Organised by the BMC North West, Wiltonfest was a day for promoting the services of the BMC and local clubs and retailers - and within the catchment area for St Helens, was a great opportunity to publicise the club.
Wiltonfest under way

Arriving at Wilton 2 early Saturday, with the weather promising to provide a good day climbing, club members; Ken Fyles, Simon Chriscoli, Paul Haunch attended with a view to representing the St Helens club. 

With all details about the club made available at the relevant stands, and with a previous member Wayne Standish, we set off over to Wilton 3 to scout out some early climbs and make the most of the day. 

Starting over at Rappel Wall where the Sun was suitably placed, Paul Haunch led Rappel Wall.

Joined by John Armstrong, Ken Fyles tackled Barbecue at the same time as Simon was leading Rappel Wall, jostling for good alternative placements.
Ken & Simon jostling for placements.
(Picture courtesy of BMC North West)

Wayne and another climber waiting for his group, tackled some of the climbs of Eeny, Meeny, Miney and Mo.

This was demonstrable of the openness of the St Helens club just to promote climbing and fair access to all.

Throughout the day, there were many climbers attending the event, with some remarkable climbing on some high grade routes, with some making nimble work of climbs such as "The Grader" (E3 5c).  We however settled for less extreme climbing.

Tackling routes such as "Parallel Cracks" (S 4a), in which an absolute bomber piece of gear was placed by Paul, however so effective was the placement it took a good 5 minutes of effort and leverage to get the piece out!

Paul and Ken further tackled routes such as Orange Crack (HS 4b), whilst with John we climbed some great routes such as the aptley named "Slime Chimey" (HVD) and for my own foray into leading, some simpler climbs as "Crack and Slab" (Vdiff) and Meeny (Vdiff)
John Armstrong on top of Rappel Wall

As the day started to close for us, it was a great opportunity to observe some great (and crazy) climbers at Wilton 2, climbing Big Dorris (E2 5c) , Falling Crack (E2 5b) and Iron Orchid (E4 6b)

Finishing the day off with a pint and a burger, it was an enjoyable and remarkable day climbing.

Article - Simon Chriscoli

Saturday, 29 August 2015

August Bank Holiday Meet - 29th August

This was a successful meet enjoyed by all who attended, despite some initially poor weather and a relatively small turn-out.

Saturday was a frustrating day of rain-aborted climbing in Langdale and a disconsolate potter to the Aira Force waterfall, as the weather turned annoyingly sunny. Thankfully the promise of good weather came good for the rest of the weekend.

Friday saw the long-traditional visit to the Brown Slabs area of Shepherd’s Crag and its excellent selection of good easy routes. New member Ewan Ritchie was shown the ropes with aplomb by Malcolm Brentford, while Chris Manasseh and Yvonne Parr tackled the VS round the corner. 

As is usual at Brown Slabs we picked our way through the top-ropes and soaked up the relaxed atmosphere of a laid-back crag on a sunny day. My personal highlight was watching a Red Squirrel solo Brown Slabs Crack (VS 4c) in roughly 10 seconds, before forging a new route through the vegetated rock above.
Said Squirrel demonstrating technique for Chris M.

Assuming the first ascender chooses not to speak up, I’m naming it The Nutkin Extension (HXS 5b).

Climbing on Bank Holiday Monday always feels like a bonus, and this one was no exception. The group spent a long sun-drenched day at Glaciated Slab in Coombe Gill, that quiet and beautiful hanging valley tucked away at the top of Borrowdale. 

The day was all about sharing skills, friendly banter and loving the rough volcanic rock. The slab is great value for its size, offering a good selection of routes, including what must be the thinnest V.Diff anywhere (10 degrees steeper and it would be more like HVS). The light was turning golden, autumn suggesting itself timidly, before we headed reluctantly homeward, happy with the weekend’s work.

Article - Chris Manasseh

(picture from the Daily Express website)

Friday, 21 August 2015

Working Weekend at the Braithwaite Hut - 21-23rd August

Delayed by two weeks due to organiser holidays,  this proved to be one of the most productive working weekends in spite of a poor (wrong) weather forecast.
Saturday dawned to dry and better weather than predicted so an early start was made preparing and painting the outside of the hut. With so many helpers, the work was done by 2 pm allowing a well-earned walk up Causey Pike for Ken Fyles, Dave Archer, Helder Machado, Ken Hollis and new starter Ewan Ritchie.
Helder securing the panels in place.

Again on the Sunday, the weather was kind allowing us to fix new solar panels on the roof of the main hut to help charge the battery operating the fridge.  Putting up new solar panels on the main hut roof is always a logistical nightmare as the panels are heavy and the roof is slippery.  The problem was solved by hauling the solar panel to the roof apex by rope whilst a second rope secured Helder Machado to secure the location of the panel.  Dave Archer made the electrical connections and reported an output of 3 amps, quite good in hazy sunshine.

Meanwhile Neil McGovern and children Ben and Ella were busy clearing rubbish from the site into Neil's trailer.  Very little Kingspan off-cuts now remain and will be cleared in future visits before Christmas.  Other small jobs completed were: a lock for the toilet door, painting the white window frames of the hut, painting the brown toilet window frame, repairing a small leak in the annex roof and general clean up.

A big THANK YOU to all those who took part. 

Article - Ken Fyles

Monday, 20 July 2015


Once again we were privileged to join the Alpine meet of the Alpine Club, Climbers' Club, FRCC and the Wayfarers'.  

Ken Fyles and Helder Machado were first to arrive at a very hot Chamonix (37 degrees).  It had been hot for six weeks and the snow routes were in very unstable condition.  All routes to Mont Blanc and most of the 4000+ metre peaks were closed as were some of the lesser peaks such as the Chardonnet. 

Ken and Helder's first route started from the Albert Premier Hut to the summit of the Aiguille de Tour (3544 metres).  This was a good route choice yielding glaciers and snow in reasonable condition and a fine scramble to the summit of the Tour.

Temperatures dropped in the valley and the weather became unstable giving several rainy days.  Our next big trip was to the Argentierre hut with the aim of doing a new rock climb behind the hut called "Gateau de Riz".  We had no guide to get to the hut but we were advised it was easy - just take the two cable cars to the "Grand Montet" and walk down towards the Argentierre Glacier and cross it to the hut. 

Ken with the upper reaches of the Argentierre Glacier
Simple but when we reached the cable car station we found the upper cable car was closed due to high wind.  What to do?  We took the first cable car then notice footpath signs to the Argentierre Hut.  The path led to the lower part of the Argentierre Glacier.  
Not knowing what to do, we started to walk up the glacier.  Then we spotted a large group in the middle of the glacier walking at a quick pace.  What luck, they must be going to the Argentierre hut, so we followed.  Just by the start of large crevasses they stopped for lunch so we continued getting increasingly lost in the maze of ice and crevasses. 

Then we looked down to see that the large team we'd followed weren't going to the hut at all but had gone to the part of the glacier with the most crevasses to practice crevasse rescue techniques!
Helder just after the difficult pitch on the Gateau de Priz

What to do - the ascent through the maze of crevasses had become impossible.  So we decided to descend and traverse all the way across the glacier hoping to find a point where we could cross the bergschrund onto solid rock.  It wasn't easy but we finally got the chance to cross to some boiler-plate slabs and climb two rope lengths to a path high above the glacier.  This had to be the path from the Grand Montet cable car so we followed it until the glacier became less crevassed and crossed to the hut.  It only took us six hours.

The following day we started early for our rock climb.  Only ten minutes walk from the hut and already in sunshine at 9 am.   The  climb was about 200 metres long and given as 5a (about 4a English grade and well within our capabilities).  It was a new route with traditional protection only between belays.  It was much harder than expected and the crux called "Lucky Luke Crack" and the slab beyond were a good VS grade.
Dave Connelly looks out from the Albert Premier hut.
Descent was by a 25 metre abseil, a V. Diff. traverse and a long, unstable rock gully.  It was already 4 pm when we reached the hut and we had to get down to the campsite as Helder was leaving the following day. 

John on a precarious part of the Via Ferrata
Meanwhile, other St. Helens Mountaineering Club members Dave Connelly and John Hollands were having a very active time on the rock routes of the Aiguille Rouge.  In particular they climbed "Modern Times" (5b) and "Gespard" close to the Index.
Dave and John then took to the modern climbing of via ferrata. 

Dave also teamed up with Wayfarer Terry Kenny to climb Tete Blanche (3429 metres) from the Albert Premier Hut.

The six weeks of extremely high temperatures in the Alps resulted in the strangest climbing season ever but at least by grouping with the Alpine Club and others we were always able to get  first hand information and make the best of it.

PS Dave had the most luxurious tent on the campsite with blow up armchairs and sofa as well as a full kitchen range.  That’s the way to do it!

Article - Ken Fyles

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Sea Cliffs Meet 16-20 July

This meet was intended to be at Fairhead in Northern Ireland, following last year’s successful trip, but was switched to Pembroke, and then finally Cornwall

This meet was attended by only 2 members, Chris Manasseh and John Armstrong

Nevertheless, we had a fantastic time.

Cornish granite is a joy to climb, and the setting by the big blue Atlantic Ocean is a constant pleasure.

We tackled several classic routes at Bosigran and Chair Ladder, including Diocese and Little Brown Jug, both VS 5a, at the top end of the grade, and (more importantly) absolutely ace.

John spent a day continually stating he didn’t want to lead anything too hard before going off-route and leading VS anyway.

All the while I dealt with the classic mind game of being certain you aren’t going to tackle something, until you realise you are halfway through doing it and there’s no going back.

On the final day we relaxed in the sun on one of the country’s best V.Diffs, Commando Ridge, a 200-metre alpine-style pinnacle ridge that just happens to be by the sea.

A great end to a holiday that started with a gloomy but rewarding stop-off in Bristol for a Classic Rock tick.

Article - Chris Manasseh

Sunday, 12 July 2015

The BBQ Meet - 10-12 July

Saturday was given the better weather forecast so Chris Manasseh, Hannah Carrington, Yvonne Parr had opted to climb at Shepherd's Crag.  Ken Fyles and Jeff Dodwell preferred a bigger mountain route and set off to scramble on Gillercombe Buttress followed by a walk up Green Gable.

Jeff, Hannah & Yvonne on the ridge of Saddleback with
distant Derwentwater.
Drizzle greeted us on the Sunday.  It was time to do the planned BBQ walk up Hall Fell Ridge.  Parking in Threlkeld we walked up to the start path.  It was closed due to the risk of a nearby dam wall collapsing.  A local by the gate said it had been like that for years but didn't advise contravening the notice.  When she learned we were planning to climb "Hall Fell Ridge" she was appalled saying it was a dangerous route particularly in the rainy conditions.  

Ken thought she was exaggerating so the lady pointed us to an alternative start path.  Just as we met the scrambling about half way up ridge, the rain stopped but even so the rock was wet and slippery.  This ridge is a joy, never very serious as easy alternatives are always easy to find and the hand holds are good.  We followed the ridge right to the summit where the weather cleared just in time for lunch.

The descent was by the long ridge of Saddleback but Yvonne and Jeff  wanted to pause at the summit for a while to take in the wonderful views.  Hannah on her first real mountain walk was amazed to see the Solway firth under the clouds and to the west Thirlmere, Derwentwater and our own hut area.  The weak sunshine on the descent ended a perfect day. 

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Family Meet - Horseshoe Quarry - 5th July

Following the meet at Langdale a conversation about putting together a climbing session for those younger affiliates of the club, who may be future club members.

Alice Mason and Simon Chriscoli organised a simple meet at Horseshoe Quarry, Stoney Middleton, with a view to getting the children onto the rock.

The location was chosen for its variety of simple grade climbs and with the location being a sport climbing location, the setup for top ropes was simple with very little equipment required.

For those with families, part of the fun is ensuring that sufficient supplies are provided for all involved, including food, drink, chairs, etc.   However Alice learned to her detriment this meant there was either no room for, or she had forgotton her rock boots.  So it was barefoot on the rock for her.

Ropes were quickly setup on two "simple" routes, Luke Skywalker and Saturns Rings.

Much to our chargrin, the kids for whom these routes were setup seemed to be more interested in scrambling around and over the variety of boulders placed locally.

However, interest started to be piqued and the climbing commenced with some of the children taking their first experience on the rock.

It did turn out that both Luke Skywalker and Saturns rings, proved quite tricky for some of the smaller children, we then turned to top rope Minnie and Goofy, grade 3 climbs.

Luca (Luke Skywalker (4)), Filip (Saturns Rings (4))

Amelia (Luke Skywalker), Luca (Saturns Rings)

Alice, Simon and the rabble

 After the children had burned out, either climbing vertically or across the multitude of rocks and boulders, it was time for the adults to have a go.

Yvonne Parr joined us for the last part of the day, and we moved onto Trogg a 2 pitch (4,5) but with intention to do the first pitch, as the weather was starting to close in.

Simon led, with both Yvonne and Alice also getting some time on the rock. After Alice tried to kill me by dislodging a significant chunk of wall, the heavens decided to open, so it was a quick packup and sprint to the cars.

Simon leading Trogg (4), Yvonne belay.

Simon & Luca, with Yvonne bring up the rear as the heavens opened.

On the family meet were; Alice Mason with Emma (3) and Joseph (5), Pavla with Filip (10) and Amelia (12), Tereza with Filip (7) and Adam (9), Simon Chriscoli with Luca (7), Yvonne Parr.

All the kids were well behaved and friendships were quickly established.

Article - Simon Chriscoli

Friday, 26 June 2015

Camping Meet - Ogwen, North Wales, 26-28th June

The camping facilities near Tryfan were basic but who could complain at the low per night cost.

It had rained for most of the Friday but luckily the clouds parted in the evening to allow us to pitch the tents in the dry.

Saturday was given a good weather forecast though low cloud surrounded most of the mountains Tryfan and the Glyders.

Ken Fyles and Helder Machado set off for "Amphitheater Buttress" on Craig yr Isfa in the Carneddau.

  Helder had been looking forward to climbing this route ever since he learnt it was 1000ft long and, at V. Diff, could be climbed in big boots.  We tried to persuade John Garbutt and his 15 year old son Kit to join us but John wisely chose to go to Tryfan  East Face to climb the easier access route of "Second Pinnacle Rib".  Whilst on this route they met the third climbing team of Chris Mannesseh and Jeff Dodwell where their route met "First Pinnacle Rib" near the notorious 'Yellow Slab' .   

Friday, 12 June 2015


Several days of dry weather and the scene seemed set fair for rock climbing.  But Oh NO, the high pressure was due to collapse on the Saturday.

Ken Fyles and Helder Machado decided to take no chances and headed off to Langdale on the Friday morning.  Arriving Langdale at noon they headed straight off to White Ghyll to climb two highly recommended routes, "White Ghyll Wall - VS" and "Slip Not -  VS".  

Ken wanted to climb White Ghyll Wall because he had gone 'off route' whilst attempting it the previous year.  The notorious 2nd pitch was every bit as awkward as he remembered but it was Helder's turn to lead the 3rd pitch around the nose from the belay.  This is given as only 4b  but Ken was finding it every bit as hard as the 4c second pitch.

"Slip Not" is always a glorious climb to do.  The 1st pitch is delightful, interesting and well protected all the way to the roof.  What a contrast for the second pitch - a crawl along a ledge then a stride of faith onto the opposing corner wall with a minimum of protection.  This was Helder's lead  and it is always a relief to round the corner and get the first bit of good protection.  Good steady climbing lead to the top.                        
Helder leading 2nd pitch of SlipNot
Later on Friday evening, Alice Mason, Malcolm Brentford and Simon Chriscoli arrived.

As expected, the weather turned on Saturday but it still seemed dry for rock-climbing.  The St. Helens crew set off for the nearest crag, "Upper Scout".  

All the climbs here go at about VD  but protection is sometimes tricky to find.  Just as we'd finished our first routes, the rain came in.  

Descent to Stickle Tarn

Malcolm, Ken, Alice and Helder enjoying a pint.
Off we went back to the hut and prepared to use the rest of the day for scrambling.  Up the Dungeon Ghyll Path to "Thorn Crag" where there is a lovely scramble with a small ruin at its foot.  As we approached rain seemed to threaten but this scramble goes in the damp.  In improving weather we scrambled over the Langdale Pikes to Pike o' Stickle then descended to begin another big scramble up Harrison Stickle south east face.  The hut the route finding on this scramble was a little tricky but joined by three other people from the hut we sorted out the easy way to the summit.  All that remained now was a descent to the valley by Stickle tarn and a well deserved pint at the pub.

Members of the Wayfarers’ and Merseyside Clubs set their sites on Bowfell.  Some continued to Scafell whilst others turned to the Crinkles.  Others climbed on Raven Crag.

It rained heavily in the night and on the Sunday morning the weather still looked unsettled.  Again the St. Helens crew set off for Scout Crag.  Helder and Simon climbed 'Route 2' and 'Zero Route' both of which they described as excellent.  Meanwhile Ken lead Malcom and Alice up the popular "Route 1".  Alice was feeling in fine form and wanted to lead the four pitch "route 2".  This route has some tricky moves  but adequate protection.  Just as we arrived at the top the rain came down.  Aquick descent to the hut and an early start home ended the weekend. 

Helder on Route 1

Alice Mason surveying the scenery

Malcolm climbing Route 2

Friday, 22 May 2015

May Bank Holiday Meet

Three people were present on the Friday evening, Ken Fyles, Yvonne Parr and Ken Hollis.  

Unusually, good weather was forecast on the Saturday and Ken and Yvonne rose early to get a good parking location at Seathwaite.  Their goal was to climb "Gillercombe Buttress S" of Grey Knotts.  

The rock was unusually quiet and Ken led off, climbing mountaineering style with rucksack and big boots, on the seven pitch route.  Pitches 1 and  6 are now polished giving some tricky climbing but protection is close at hand.  

Yvonne was in her element gaining in confidence all the way, even agreeing to lead the 7th and final pitch.

Ken Hollis opted for a bike ride.

The Sunday dawned wet as a walk to Barf overlooking Bassenthwaite Lake was made on a very windy day.  

Article - Ken Fyles
Yvonne leading 7th pitch of Gillercombe

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Bouldering at Brownstones. April, 2015

The meet kicked off in the "Pool Area" with water lapping round the climbing mats.  However, some useful warming up was done and understanding gained of the often slippery nature of the rock.  

Progression was made to the upper quarry and the "Ashpit Slab" area.  Here Will top roped Alice on a 4b crack and bulge left of Ashpit Slab and she then practiced placing nut protection on the route and eventually led it. A good effort on unfamiliar grouind which is quite strenuous to hang around on.

Chris Ward, Chris Manasseh and Derek Hatch soloed and attempted many problems on the slabs to the left again.  Alice and Chris did the strenuous and slippy start to "Corn Mantle" at the end of the slabs. After more ascents, Chris M turned his ankle on a slip from a 5c crack which unfortunately retired him from further action. 

Article - Will Simms