Newcomers Meet at Stanage Edge/Birchen
Stanage popular end, newcomers meet – Saturday 13th May 2023
Members: Daniel Arrowsmith, Liam Brady, Ed Courtnell, Roger Dyke, Nils Edgar, Joe Flynn, Caroline Gay, Mich Harrison, Paul Lonsdale, Jo Macey, Rory Marsden, Jess Pealing, Harry Potts, David Rainsbury, Andy Stratford, Jim Symon, Brian Tarnowski, Dave Wylie, Duncan Zerafa
Prospective members: Jess Bailey, Sean Clancy, Stefano Dalcanale, Andy Lewtas, Dylan Smith, Katherine Taylor
Guests: Noah Macey
Prospective Q&A: Do you have to be weird to become a member of the KMC?
The question is posed by prospective Katherine who is belaying at the top of Hollybush Crack. I wonder what she has seen in half a day with the KMC to make her ask the question. Probably best not to ask. The answer springing instantly to mind “well you don’t have to be but of course it helps!” But I am left wondering, are we all that weird? Maybe she just means me…
It was 9:15am on Saturday morning, the forecast was good and at Stanage the Popular End car park was already full. Ed, Sean and I arrived just in time to bag one of the last spaces and soon met up with Andy S, Jo, Noah, Nils, Caroline (who had cycled from Disley), Brian and Stefano. Roger Dyke arrived and also managed to find a space for his new-old car, declaring that its outstanding beneficial feature was that it was pre dented when he bought it. David and Katherine just missed out on a spot in the car park having been delayed by some unscheduled exploration of the M6 junctions. At 9:30 we headed up to the crag. Ring Ouzels were nesting from Black Hawk to Grotto Slab so our original plan went out of the window and we moved along to the Hollybush Crack area to set up base camp.
Andy S did his usual fine work making introductions and organising the KMC rabble into sensible climbing partnerships. Special thanks to Andy who continued this as more people arrived throughout the morning, doing his best Challenge Annika impression as he matched, organised, climbed and generally seemed to be in about five places at once. This was a brilliantly attended meet with lots of changes of partners, groups climbing in threes and fours and arrivals and departures throughout the day. The following details the routes climbed that I know of, lead climber in each party named first (if known). Apologies in advance to anyone who I have missed.
April Crack, HS 4b: Joe with Jim and Liam;
Awl, HVD 3c: Sean and Nils;
Bishop’s Route, S 4a: Andy S with Jess B and Andy L;
Boot Crack, HVD: David R with Dave W, Duncan and Stefano;
Central Trinity, VS 4c: Joe with Jim and Liam;
Chockstone Direct, S 4a: Harry and Jess P; Nils and Sean;
Christmas Crack, HS 4a: Nils and Sean; Joe with Jim and Liam; Mich with Jess P and Andy S;
Easter Rib, E1 5b: Dylan with Daniel and Mich;
Flying Buttress, HVD 4a: Sean and Nils; Andy S and Katherine; Brian and Caroline;
Garden Wall, S 4a: Noah and Jo
Hargreaves’ Original VS 4c: Dylan with Mich and Stefano; Ed with Sean and Rory; Joe with Jim and Liam;
Hollybush Crack, VD: Andy S with Stefano and Mich; Nils and Sean; David R with Katherine and Dave W; Brian and Caroline;
Leaning Buttress Crack, VD: Dave W and David R; Brian and Caroline;
Leaning Buttress Direct, HVS 5b: Noah with Jo and Andy S;
Narrow Buttress, VS 4c: Dylan and Harry; Ed with Katherine and Rory; Noah and Jo;
Oblique Crack, S 4a: Ed and Rory; Harry and Stefano; Jess B with Andy and Andy; Paul and Harry; Sean and Nils; David R with Dave W and Duncan;
Queersville, HVS 5a: Rory with Ed, Dylan and Mich;
Right On, HS 4b: Rory with Ed and Andy; Noah and Jo;
Robin Hood’s Balcony Cave Direct, HVD: Brian and Caroline;
Straight Chimney, VD: Jess B and Andy S; Brian and Caroline;
Twin Cracks, HVD: Jess B with Andy S and Andy L;
Upandover Crack, S 4b: Nils and Sean;
Via Media, VS 4c: Noah and Jo;
Yosemite Wall, E2 5b: Dylan with Rory, Ed and Noah;
With 26 attendees on the meet it is maybe no surprise that we combined for over 100 ascents across 24 routes. A very decent effort all round. Oblique Crack turned out to be the most popular route of the day, seeing 14 ascents including two by Harry. Got to love those gritstone jams!
Hardest route of the day went to Dylan who made an extremely classy ascent of Yosemite Wall, E2 5b including the El Cap finish, because why would you not go straight over the top roof to add a second 5b crux?! How he made the heel hook to desperation fist jam work I may never know.
Special mention to Noah who on only his third day on the sharp end led his first two VS routes and then showed outstanding composure and technique to add a lead at HVS for good measure. Extremely impressive at age 14.
Another special mention for Stefano who climbed his first outdoor routes. Hollybush Crack with Andy S is a great introduction to gritstone, jamming and the KMC. Well done!
A final special mention to David R who having found the weather a little chilly (read “absolutely Baltic”) on arrival made an impromptu shopping trip to Alpkit. Arriving back at the crag kitted out with an extra warm new fleece seemed to appease the weather gods and we were soon all sizzling in the sunshine. Thanks Dave!
… So do you have to be weird to join KMC? We each spent the day seeking out the most difficult sections of Stanage Edge that we could possibly manage to ascend. Clawing, scraping, huffing, puffing, squeezing, jamming, pinching and fighting to arrive at the top, which can be reached by a perfectly convenient footpath. Bloodied knuckles, grazed knees and grit rashed arms are badges of honour. Feet are crowbarred into shoes that are too small in the search for any extra advantage. Our favourite shops are full of ropes, slings, and all sorts of shiny, spikey metalwork. And that is before anyone mentions nuts, cracks, helmets, fists, whips and any number of other double entendres.
It seems there may be some evidence of weirdness. However, it would be a disservice not to note that on a fantastic newcomers meet the great virtues of the KMC were also abundantly in evidence.
New friendships were made alongside those that are enduring and longstanding; the continuous laughter was the sound of fun and good company; challenge and adventure was sought out; knowledge and experience was generously shared; and those who attended were universally welcomed and included. So if there is any weirdness, it can only be the good kind.
And with a great day of climbing in the bag it was off to the Scotsman’s Pack for refreshments in the beer garden. Somehow Jess and Jo ended up with shots of beer but they will have to explain that themselves. Stories of the day were shared and enjoyed and as the shadows grew longer so too did the distance between the good handholds and the stretches to desperate tiny footholds.
Thanks for a brilliant day out. See all you wonderful weirdos next time,