Some memories of my friend Stan Roach

By Peter Walker

Stan and I were both Wythenshawe lads and though we lived within a mile of each other and even went to the same school – Manchester central High School – we never actually met as we were 4 years apart, until we decided to try climbing.  Alan McGeary, a mutual friend (he knew Stan through the Air Training Corps)   took us along to the KMC in Manchester. There, as 2 new boys, we were drawn together by our inexperience and enthusiasm and went on to have many exciting adventures and narrow escapes.

Scotland, especially in winter, became a favourite haunt, particularly Glencoe.  One of our early winter routes was the Great Gully on the Buchaille Etive Mor.  Our way was blocked by a frozen waterfall which I bypassed by climbing the ice of a sidewall and traversing in, unfortunately as Stan climbed up, the ice wall collapsed and he ended up swinging through the icicles! Luckily the rope held and I was able to pull him up.  The easiest way off now, was up.  We reached the summit and a long walk down to the road, arriving about midnight, Stan cut and bruised but nothing broken.  To put this in perspective, exactly a week later a well-known climber, Gunn Clark, was killed in a fall at the same spot.

On another occasion, again in Glencoe, a party of 4 KMC members, Stan, Pete Johnson, Peter Edge and I had just completed a traverse of the Aonach Eagach, one of Scotland’s finest winter routes, and  descended back to our tents.  Alarmed by my coughing up blood and high temperature, Stan decided I needed medical attention and at 5am knocked on the door of Dr McDonald (who we’d previously met helping to rescue some climbers).  He took one look and took me to the nearest hospital - a maternity unit at the Pap of Glencoe, and in a side ward pumped me full of antibiotics – I had double pneumonia!  He asked Stan what or plans were – a return to Manchester!  – You would have arrived with a corpse!  I don’t know if I saved Stan’s life, but he definitely saved mine!

On another Alpine trip, driving up a very steep mountain pass with Gwen and me in the back, Stan rounded a hairpin bend to be confronted by a car rolling back towards a precipice, out of control!  No hesitation!  Stan drove across the road and into the rear of the vehicle and put the anchors on.  The block held.

The driver revved up, got into gear and sped off without a word.  Stan had saved him from a thousand foot drop!

After a few alpine seasons, Stan decided to join Millie Blacks’ annual ski party.  He was a novice, but learnt very quickly by following Millie, an expert, stylish skier.  He was a natural and had found his best sport.

Stan did most of the early electrical work on Ty Powdwr but he was really an electrical engineer on the National Grid, specialising in overhead lines and underground cables. From 1993, he became a project engineer on major overhead line refurbishments, his last main job being the diversion of the 400KV line for the 2nd runway at Manchester Airport.

I always remember one Christmas when he was called out in a blizzard to Blackstone Edge, to restore a line brought down by the weight of ice.

On another occasion, he was called out to a fire at the Woodhead Tunnel (a former railway tunnel under the Pennines, which now carries high voltage power lines).  He had to don breathing apparatus and lead the fire crews down the tunnel.

Just a brief glimpse of the Stan I have known for well over 50 years.

To sum up - when we each married, Stan was my best man and I was his.  That says it all, really.

Stan Roach (Peter Walker)

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Karabiner Mountaineering Club