Outdoor Midweek Meets start in earnest in the Spring. 2017-12-14
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Short walk in to this ideal early-autumn venue
Home of the famous back wall traverse
It's got water, so apparently it's part of 'preparation for Lundy'
Members. Gary Thornhill, Isobel Prause, Dave Wylie, Andy Stratford, Jim Symon, Mark Ashley, Duncan Lee, Vicky Alderton, Kieran. Duncan Zerafa.
Non Members. Jack Buczko, Matt Haisley,
Another fine evening at Troy with a good breeze keeping the M grade at 0 and sunshine on the main west walls as a twelve strong KMC turnout vied with a similar number of other locals for the excellent routes. Gary and Isobel were first at the crag and Gary led several routes including Stacked Deck HS 4b, Troy Groove VS 4c and Updraft Corner S 4a. Kieran completed much bouldering and traversing and appeared adept at misplacing Duncan’s phone at almost every possible opportunity, perhaps as Vicky wasn't there to keep an eye on both of them as she scampered up several routes on second.
Mark Ashley followed Dave Wylie up both of the twins then stacked deck, and both rounded the evening off following Gary up Updraft Corner, Vicky also followed several routes including Rapunzle VS 5a (led by Jim) and Gopher (VS 4c) led by Andy. Gopher is so named because you ‘’gopher’’ the top....Duncan ‘’wentoffroute’’. (This was according to Jack, grassing Duncan up in the pub, as he wasn’t there).
Meanwhile Jim led the tricky Sounder HVS 5a – a particulary tricky route which, seven years ago resulted in a ground fall and a bust finger for El Presidente. No such issues this time as Andy followed Jim with barely a grunt.
The Holden Arms served us ginger beer, crisps and real beer as we pondered next weeks venue.
It was unanimous: Hobson Moor.
Best sunset venue on the regular round
Members: Meirion Tanner, Gareth Williams, Duncan Zerafa, Dave Wylie. Andy Stratford
Guests: Dan Wood, Lee Newens (both on their first KMC meet)
Your correspondent arrived at the crag just as Meirion and Gareth had arrived back at the gearing up spot having climbed the 2 pitch Great Slab route. Gareth led his first grit route in ages on P1 with Meirion taking on the notorious crack on P2. I asked Meirion if the renowned feature had, once again, drawn blood...
"Nope. I out techniqued it!"
The Williams / Tanner partnership had a productive evening with Crispy Crack (Gareth), Great Gatsby (Meirion). Gareth also solo'd Great slab chimney (mod) and led another route combo with Isobel as his final pitches of the evening.
Duncan led both pitches of Great Slab with Lee. Andy led both pitches of Great Slab Arete (S 4a) with Dave and newcomer Dan Wood (first climb outdoors), before moving on to Great Gatsby (Vs 4c) and Pygmy Wall (S 3c).
The M grades (See Cow’s Mouth report) varied throughout the evening and were also very specific to certain areas of the crag – like the belay positions below great slab. We didn’t quite get the sunset we wanted, but as ever the views were sublime and the company excellent.
The five of us in the pub had to choose from Troy and two other crags that I can’t recall, so Troy it is!
A classic gritstone evening beckons...
Members; Dave Wylie, Roger Dyke, Andy Stratford, Meirion Tanner, Robert Clarke, James Meakin, Duncan Zerafa. Gowry Sisupalan, Mark Ashley,
Non-members. Andy Pierce, Annie Nye.
A few of us started to arrive at the crag from 1.30pm, making the most of the afternoon sunshine providing welcome warmth in the blustery winds. Dave arrived first soloing a couple before Andy arrived. Roger was next and after warming up following Andy up Heather Face led his favourite WG route: High Buttress Arete. Meirion arrived around 3.30 followed over the next couple of hours by the rest of the team. As usual at Windgather it would be impossible to record all the ascents (Andy managed thirteen, and Dave twelve) in detail but it's worth noting some of the highlights.
Last time we visited Windgather Duncan was spanked by Portfolio, which, at HVS 5a is one of the harder routes here. He took an impressive fall with only his pride suffering an injury. On arrival this evening he stalked the crag warming up on some solo's and easy routes before finding a willing belayer in Andy Pierce. Gear in the lower sections was carefully placed then the crucial pieces below the crux moves. The guidebook gives a grade of 5b instead of 5a for "the short", now, the question is, where does Mr Zerafa sit on this scale.....well maybe he has a positive Ape index.....
Duncan reached up latching the lower jug with his left then made the improbable stretch with his right to the slopey crimp, repositioning hands, the left foot came up, another reposition then a wobble backwards, lots of shouts of "stay with it"....there was a pause which seemed like seconds but in reality was maybe a ½ second then a focused look at the top and yet another long stretch and the top of crag was firmly latched. (See sequence of photos). Lots of shouts of ‘’well done’’ and applause ensued. Mark Ashley made a game but noisy and eventually unsuccessful attempt to follow Duncan and it was left to the experienced Andy Pierce to follow clean and remove the gear. Gowry continued to make progress in her mission to learn to lead with a fine and steady ascent of High Buttress Arete.
All in all, the weather was excellent, if a lttle chilly in the wind by the time we quit about 8.20pm. There was no sign of any rain, despite two forecasts showing possible rain tonight from about 6pm to 8pm.......as usual the best bet is to take the forecasts with a pinch of salt and just get out and have a look. I'm reminded of a wednesday meet at Castle Naze a few years ago when it tipped it down the entire time I was driving there. As I pulled into the layby it stopped. The wind dried the crag in the time it took to walk up the hill (5 mins!) and 30 minutes later the wind dropped and just four KMC members who had kept the faith climbed on perfectly dry rock in the evening sun!!
Six of us made the pub and decided, by an unusual bout of consensus, it was time to head back north and so Alderman Rocks was duly appointed as next weeks crag.
Members: Dave Wylie, Mark Ashley, Clay Conlon, Nils Elgar, Andy Stratford, Tim Howarth, Duncan Zerafa
There was no sign of the Wylie’s car in the White House lower car park but he was at the damp crag, having walked the few miles from home. The warm sunny evening with a light easterly was promising but the amount of rain had left seepage in the best cracks so Z crack was best left for another day. We congregated around the left hand slab with Dave opening the leading on Cornette (Diff) and Mark on Seasy (HS 4c). Andy had the perfect micro cam for Route 1 and, sat at the top in an M3* then brought up Dave, Clay, Tim and Duncan in quick succession - each of them spending minimal time in the M5 belay position. Meanwhile Nils was getting in on the footwork and cam action with a neat lead of Slabmaster VS 4c. Mark was in the sun so his belay was still M2.
As the M rating rose everywhere team KMC donned a variety of protective headgear. Andy, having forgotten his, decided on Route 2 (HVS 5a), which has two ‘’psychological’’ cams protecting the hard move. This was not helped by the temperature gradient pushing the M grade to M5 on the route itself with Dave on belay duties in a really serious M7 position (even with headgear). As Dave was seconding the route the wind dropped and the M grade rose forcing Dave into climbing with headgear. At the top of the crag a cloud hovered around the presidential ankles, so much so that socks were demanded in an attempt to lower the clifftop belay from an untenable M8! Tim, thankfully floated up the route (he was chased by a cloud) and Duncan led Slabmaster and Nils Route 1. Down at the base of the crag M10 had stopped play and a retreat to the White House was called, despite Duncans protestations about wanting (as ever) to climb until he needed a torch.
Two crags were suggested with Windgather coming out above Hen Cloud – partly, we think, because it is known for lower M Grades.
For anyone unfamiliar with the KMC M-grade system here it is:
M1. No bother
M2. Slightly bothersome
M3. A little irritating. May require some DEET
M4. You start to wonder if you packed your head net.
M5. Protective head gear usually donned.
M6. If you’ve a net, life is OK. If not, it’s crap.
M7. Removal of the net for more than 3 seconds is inadvisable
M8. If you have no net, you may look like you’ve had chicken pox tomorrow.
M9. Being Eaten alive.
M10. RUN AWAY
Improbable mid-week limestone sport-climbing near Llangollen
Attendees: Duncan Zerafa & John Smallwood.
After a relatively quick and easy drive from Manchester, two climbers arrived for the further afield Welsh mid-week meet. A mixed forecast had perhaps put people off. It had rained very heavily just before arriving and the likely-hood of climbing anything seemed remote. Local climbers already there were abandoning their climbing, but the KMC duo felt it would be worth seeing if things improved. The crumbled walls of Castle Dinas Bran dominated the dramatic landscape looking along the rolling hills of the valley and made up for lost climbing time.
The trad climbing routes in the quarry at the eastern side were dripping wet and ruled out, however those sport routes which were on the western end were drying out quickly in the evening sun and breeze. So without the Clywd Limestone guide book several sport routes were started and some abandoned as the unknown grades became apparent. After checking the UKClimbing website the routes climbed might have been K9 5a*, Hotdog 4a* and Chocolate Fudd 6a+. But really we didn't know for sure, it didn't matter though and we enjoyed limestone sport climbing.
Next week Cow's Mouth Quarry
Roll over - everyone still loves Runcorn!
Members: Dan O’Brien, Tim Howarth, Duncan Zerafa
Guests: John Smallwood, Annie Nye
The guidebook for Helsby does warn that after rain the rock can take some time before coming into nick for climbing so it was with some trepidation that the KMC arrived at the crag following torrential downpours earlier in the day. Upon first inspection, the rock seemed in reasonable condition without too much dampness. Perhaps everything would be ok…
That optimistic feeling lasted about three metres for Dan who found himself skidding around on some slopey foot-holes on End Crack (S). After three or four abortive attempts he retreated to install a top rope allowing himself, Tim and Annie to climb with a little more security. John and Duncan arrived and set off in search of dry rock at the other end of the crag. They found Oyster Slab Direct (VS) which Duncan led without trouble except when he discovered the section above the ledge (a worthwhile D in it’s own right named The Notch) had little in the way of gear in it’s final 5m in a fantastic, if increasingly exposed position above the Mersey Estuary.
Dan, Tim and Annie moved on to top-rope Grooved Slab VS (4a!) which also had little in the way of gear and definite ground-fall potential for a leader. Tim helpfully cleaned some broken glass off the handholds on the top section making the route a little safer for those following him. Duncan and John then attempted to lead the same route but decided against it when Duncan realised the cam he’d placed about 6ft up was actually the last piece of gear on the whole route!
In the safety of the pub we reflected that Helsby is probably a better venue for a heat-wave rather than for snatching routes between thunderstorms… Two rounds of voting resulted in an improbable win for Trevor Rocks – obviously being only half an hour away from Helsby it felt nearer, we’ll see how many brave the journey after work next week.
On the drive home the thunderclouds gathered again providing an impressive lightning show and torrential rain to make the journey more interesting.
Runcorn! Everybody loves Runcorn!
Heavy rain was forecast and arrived at Helsby just as the forst KMC-ers parked up. Cheshire sandstone adventures will be rolled over to next week.
Members: Dan O’Brien, Jared Kitchen, Emily Thompson, Duncan Zerafa, Clay Conlon, Merion Tanner
Guests: Pati Xariklia, Isabel Prause, John (sorry, didn’t get a surname), Bernard.
So it’s probably fair to say, on the long, hot walk up the hill from Binn Green to Standing Stones, the still weather a harbinger of midges, your corespondent was cursing Jim Symon for proposing this isolated moorland crag. Even worse was meeting two members of the Rucksack Club who after less than 20 minutes had decided the midges were so bad they had no choice but to retreat to the beer garden in The Clarence. The KMC, however, are made of sterner stuff (as, in fairness are most of the other Rucksack members who stuck it out!)
Dan opened his account with Womanless Wall (VS) followed by Isabel. The climbing was excellent, the friction good and it seemed to some extent that the midges were easing off. Duncan led Twin Crack Corner (a top-50 VS) followed by Pati. It was also led by Merion followed by Bernard. Merion and Bernard climbed a long, wide, green corner crack called Smilers Corner (HS) which despite all the evidence to the contrary they described as a “nice route”.
Whist descending from the top of the crag, your corespondent heard a familiar hum and assumed the evening would be ending shortly due to the re-emergence of the midges. The breeze was still brisk however and the noise was actually coming from the flying Drone brought along by one of the Rucksack Club to film the evenings action. One enterprising KMC-er suggested a potential business opportunity where one could fly a drone around the head of a climber on midgey days to blow them away.
Jared led Vivien (S) followed by Emily. Duncan told of an ascent of the route he and George Williams made previously which resulted in a “wheelbarrow-sized” mound of earth sliding off as they topped out! The route was also climbed by Dan and Isabel. Clay Led Guillotine and Touch of Spring; Both Severe and both followed by John.
As the evening wore on and our ranks thinned Pati and Duncan made an ascent of Pocked Wall (VS), also climbed by Merion and Bernard. John led Echantillion (HVD), a tricky looking meandering number with a chimney finish. As your correspondent was leaving, Pati and Duncan were debating whether there was time for one more route – clearly still burned from their late finish last week at Running Hill Pits!
With the long walk-out guaranteeing the group would miss last orders at The Clarence the discussion on next week’s location was conducted at the crag. Dan had already whipped some votes before consulting Clay and John (halfway up a route and in no condition to complain) so with only the thinnest veneer of democracy, the KMC will be off to Helsby for some classic Sandstone. So there!
Hoping for better weather this week!
Members: Dan O’Brien, Jim Symon Jared Kitchen, Duncan Zerafa, James Hall, Tim Howarth
Guests: Pati Xariklia, Isobel Prause
The sun was back so, one week late, the KMC arrived at Running Hill Pits for and evening of quarried goodness. As they arrived, the midges were mercifully absent which was an improvement on last year’s meet which saw the KMC chased to the Pub by the merciless swarm.
First on the rock was Jared with a fine lead of Plumb Line (VS). This steep little number packs a punch at the grade as his followers, Dan, Isobel and James discovered. Duncan then started up the route fighting hard on the steep, sustained central section. Alas the battle proved too much and, after actually getting past the crux and reaching the final hold slipped of pulling out his top runner and dropping just over half-way down the crag. Thankfully there were no injuries and Duncan was able to retrieve his equipment by abseil.
James moved onto the biblically named Gomorrah (E1), a fingery crack with slippery footholds. Upwards progress was difficult and the tenuous footholds were causing some slippery moments. After a couple of attempts the lead was handed to a reluctant Jared who couldn’t get established above James’ high point. Clearly the shady side of the quarry hadn’t quite recovered from the recent rain.
Over on the sunny side of the quarry Jim led the thrutchy Cave Crack (VS) which packed quite a punch for a short route. Isobel and Dan followed. Dan then followed Tim up Hazy Groove (VD) while Jim and Isobel teamed up for Dead Dog Crack (VS). Dan ended the evening leading Folies Bergeres (HS) in decidedly poor style having managed to take no useful gear and somehow managing to get off route on a straight crack, followed by Jim, Tim and Isobel.
Pati then demonstrated extreme technical prowess by climbing Dead Dog Crack whilst simultaneously placing every piece of gear on her harness in the bottom crack. Spare a thought for Duncan who had to try to follow with gear in all the good jams! Duncan decided there was time for a final route so headed off in the direction of Folies Bergeres whilst the rest of the KMC headed to the Church Inn for some much needed refreshment. The vote was between Cow’s Mouth Quarry, Woodhouse Scar and Standing Stones with Standing Stones coming out on top after two rounds of voting and your correspondent accidentally voting for it when not paying attention…
The result of the attempt on Folies Bergeres from Duncan and Pati is not recorded. The only thing we can say for sure is that as we left the pub in the growing darkness they still had not arrived. Draw your own conclusions.
Quarried grit above Uppermill
Rollover as it was bucketing down...
Classic eastern grit and the longest day of the year
Mambers: James Hall, Duncan Zerafa
Guests: JIm Duthie.
June the 21st: Midsummer, Summer Solstice or St Johns Eve by whatever name is the longest day of the the year. Setting out with high hopes for a clear, sunny evening's climbing and a chance to see the sun set spectacularly over Ladybower. The first heavy rain hit on the drive out from Manchester, maybe at Bamford it would be better.
One thing it was was hot, swelteringly so. The twenty minute uphill, circuitous walk to the edge in a warm breeze didn't help cool things down.
James and Jim were the first KMC arrivals and James was making an excellent lead of Neb Butress HVS 5a***. A meandering and sustained route seconded well by Jim. Next it was Jim's turn to lead with a go at Twin Cracks VS 4b* . This turned into a much longer and protracted affair than initially envisioned. Looking to the horizon west past Win Hill the clouds darkened. Jim had a problem with the route crux later saying "I felt I was missing a move somewhere and it was harder than Neb Butress." By the time Jim had set up the belay the weather had changed for the worst. Duncan climbed second as the heavens opened. As a heavy rain shower poured down on Jim at the top, at the base of the crag climbers scuttled for cover. A cam that had walked was proving really difficult to retrieve on the wet rock. Expert help in the form of James was needed, who released the stuck gear and then managed to climb the wet route in sandals!
Once the rain passed the crag dried quickly in the heat. James was ready to lead Bamford Rib HVS 5a**. A bold route on the early section James quickly finished it. The route was seconded by Duncan his favourite route of the evening and also by Jim. After this Jim went up as a second with some other local climbers on a route and Duncan lead the enjoyable Bamford Buttress S 4a* as a quick last climb with James. It was still a hot evening upon leaving and alas clouds shrouded the sun as it set.
Next week Running Hill Pits.
Hillside natural grit with excellent sunset potential...
Members: Andy Stratford, Dan O’Brien, Dave Wylie, Mark Ashley, Jared Kitchen, Ding, Emily Pitts, Emily Thompson, Clay Conlon, Stuart Hurworth,
Guests: Rob Kempster, Naomi Roberts, Isobel Prause, Alastair Philp, Ben Kolb, Sam (sorry, didn’t get a surname) Sarah (sorry too!), Bernard (oh no…), Jack Buczko
With sunshine back on the menu the KMC returned to the Chew Valley. Dovestones Edge, with it’s commanding views of the reservoirs below awaited the climbers as they slowly and (in some instances) painfully wound their way up the steep hillside. Seventeen turned out to sample some of the best moorland gritstone had to offer. They were joined, unfortunately by some of its more ravenous residents – Culicoides Impunctatus, more commonly known as, the midges. On a scale of 1-10, one being a breezy day aboard a ship on the high seas and ten being a still drizzly day in Glencoe, we were probably around a four when the team arrived at the crag. Things escalated from there.
Andy and Isobel opened their account with Tower Ridge (HVD), also climbed by Sarah. They also climbed First Triplet (HS), Swan Crack (S) and Noddy’s Wall (VS) in a thoroughly productive evening.
Jared led Answer Crack (HVD) in his trainers followed by Dan. Answer crack also received ascents from Rob, followed by Naomi. Dave and Clay climbed Question Mark, also HVD and an excellent companion route to Answer crack, sharing some of the same climbing. Dan then led Layback Crack (HS) and the followed Jared up Nasal Buttress with Stuart as the midge level cranked up to around 5. Guests Sam and Ben also climbed Nasal Buttress then moves on to the tricky Yellow Crack (HVS). Ben battled hard on the thin upper crack (5c he reckoned if you can’t reach the jug) and succeeded on his second attempt.
Emily P climbed Nobbly Wall (S) then moved onto Slab and Saddle (D) led by Emily T which had a particularly exposed finish leaving gear quite far behind. Bernard climbed Layback Crack followed by Jack and Mark which also received ascents from Clay, followed by Dave and Rob, followed by Naomi. As Dave and Clay finished their evening on Tower Ridge the midge level increased to 7 and mutterings about the pub gathered momentum.
Once down in The Clarence, complete with new pool table, the discussion turned to next week. Cow’s Mouth Quarry and Woodhouse Scar were eliminated early leaving Shining Clough and Bamford Edge in the shoot-out. With a tricky trade off between driving distance and length of walk in the shorted walk-in prevailed (obviously, the walk up the hillside to Doovestones was too fresh a memory for the time being. Next week, for the longest day of the year, we are going to Bamford.
Sheltered quarried grit near Hathersage
Members present: Duncan Zerafa
Guests present: Ben Kolb, Andy Pierce, John Smallwood.
A warm, breezy and dry evening held promise for the climbing tonight. Lawrencefield Quarry looks quite similar to Denham Quarry with a small pool, sheltered by birch trees and long towering routes shooting up the walls.
John had arrived the earliest and partnered up with new guest Ben under Gingerbread Slab. The first route he led was the long continuous crack of Snail Crack VD*, seconded by Ben. This was followed by Ben leading Tyrone VS 4c* a route with an abseil descent, described later as "sandy, weird and awkward" by John.
Meanwhile under the Great Harry wall area Duncan was climbing with guest Andy, who had climbed the previous week with the KMC at the Roaches. First was a lead of the 3 star route Three Tree Climb HS 4b. It was noticed the three trees though have long since departed. Andy made a fine lead of Excalibur VS 4c** at the Pool Wall area. Your author whilst belaying espied massive wood ants benignly scurrying around his feet and over the ropes. John was now leading the long and meandering Pulpit Groove VD 4a**. Which combined crack climbing, traversing and an exposed finish. Also being his favourite route of the evening.
The cloudy canopy above our heads was becoming bleak and rain drops idly menaced. But there was still time for one more route. Ben flew up the delicate crack of Meringue HVS 5a* making very short work of it. Duncan lead the fine, fingery and bold Gingerbread VS 4b*. No protection until about three quarters of the way up at around 8m, but a really great climb.
With the rain starting to now take effect on the rock, quick abseils down aided us as we adjourned to The Little John pub in Hathersage to vote for next weeks crag. Presented to the voters were the three options of Wilton and Anglezarke Quarries along with the natural crag of Dovestones Edge. Recent KMC trips to the aforementioned quarries produced a landslide victory for Dovestones Edge. A longish walk in but worth it on a early summer evening.