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.
Roll-over unless we receive reports of daring-do last Wednesday.
Members: Dan O’Brien, Andy Stratford, James Williams, Mark Ashley
Summer has returned and although attendance has thinned out a little due to various Alpine-type commitments, the sunny weather and the lure of pristine sandstone was enough to entice four intrepid KMC-ers to Helsby.
It was damn hot!
Climbing as a three, Dan, Andy and James, determined not to let rustiness due to lack of climbing over the past few weeks get in the way, climbed Oyster Slab (VS) with the finish up The Notch (which is apparently a Diff but felt much steeper...) Andy and James climber the direct finish at tougher VS in varying degrees of style (Andy in his Audrey Hepburn sunglasses and James actually succeeding on the moves...)
Did I mention it was hot?
James climbed Flake Crack, a tough VS (which is graded HVS in the new guidebook) which requires bold laybacking or awkward jamming. James' first attempt using a hybrid jamming/layback combination (Jam-Back™) was unsuccessful and led to much harrumphing but a more conventional approach yielded results second time around. Dan followed feeling more out-of-shape with every foot of height gained...
Andy and Mark, having decided that leading on Sandstone was an acquired taste, top-roped Grooved Slab (which would otherwise have been a largely gearless VS) and then Twin Scoops (an otherwise completely gearless E1) as the sun set. James and Dan also top-roped Twin Scoops, one using skill, the other using reach...
As the sun set, the Railway Pub beckoned and over cool beers and soft drinks the voting, after one round saw Staden Quarry defeated by Alderman Rocks - the electorate being completely biased by two Chew Valley dwellers...
On the drive home, Dan absent-mindedly turned left onto the M56 rather than right - who doesn't enjoy a lap of Queensferry on the way back to Manchester?
High Quality Sandstone crag
“Runcorn, everybody loves Runcorn,
It’s where your chemicals come from,
And everybody loves chemicals...” - The PJ Party
Members: Dan O’Brien, Mark Ashley, Koy Oi Ding, Stuart Hurworth, Gareth Williams, Simon Robertshaw
Guests: Bron Edwards, Mirella de Jonge, Beth Thomas, Matt Harrigan, Ben Slater, Ivan Cabrera, Doug Arnold
What could be better than a glorious sunset over the Mersey estuary, blemished only slightly by the chemical plan and oil refinery, to round off the hottest day of the year?
Helsby crag is an obvious landmark for climbers heading to North Wales on the M56 however few tend to stop, probably because from the motorway, the place looks grim, dark and infinitely less inviting than ploughing on to the warm safety of the hut... The reality though is a clean, compact sandstone crag with some fantastic routes that is, in my opinion wrongly, often overlooked.
Doug and Ivan had an interesting introduction to the vagaries of sandstone by climbing Grooved Slab (VS 4a) a route with literally no gear in its XXm length – no mean feat in 29C heat. Stuart and Beth both led the classic of the crag – Flake Crack, a soaring corner that gets HVS in the new guide. Stuart and I also climbed Wood’s Climb (HVS). There were a number of ascents of Twin Caves Crack (HS) and Dinnerplate Crack (VS) – both with steep starts and sharp holds. Mirella led Greenteeth Crack (HS), a full-body-pump of a chimney that mauled the knees and elbows of everyone else, in fine determined style. Bron and Simon climbed End Crack (S) as did Mark and Ding after stopping on the walk in for a swim in the hilltop pool. In the fading light, Gareth head-pointed Cinemascope (E4) in fine style and even managed to haul my sorry ass through the crux.
As we packed up and headed for the pub, Beth decided that she was coming back this weekend for a crack at Eliminate 1 – the classic E1 of the crag. Immediately planning to return after a first visit? There is no higher recommendation than that for an otherwise much maligned venue.
There was some attrition on the journey from crag to pub. Nominations for next week were Witches Quarry, Hen Cloud, Wharncliffe and Ravenstones. Despite my best efforts to extol the virtues of Wharncliffe and Mark’s almost poetic description of the belay stakes, parking and pubs for Witches it was Ravenstones that won through (though I think Stuart will be referring the vote to international monitors amid allegations of vote rigging...) Sandals required for the novel approach next week – else you can just yomp up the hill...
PS – The PJ Party, excellent local band formed from members of the erstwhile Thingy-ma-Bob and the Thingy-ma-Jigs. Look them up...
Enjoying the high life in Helsby were: Jim S, Paul E, Carolyn M, Gareth W, Nick A
Early start by Jim and Paul, bagged them several routes before the others arrived, and allowed Paul to concentrate on photos for the rest of the evening. Gareth made an impressive ascent of Morgue Slab (E2 5b) just in time to see the fabulous sunset from high up on the hill and the other routes climbed were: Twin Caves Crack (S 4a), Grooved Slab (VS 4a), Eliminate 1 (E1 5b), Agag (VS 4c) and as some training for the coming months an ascent of Flake Crack (HVS 5a) was done just as day turned into night.
On the way down Gareth's trainers learned why they had never been outdoors before and why they will remain outdoors for ever more. Helsby Arms for drinks and crisps and after only 1 round of votes New Mills voted in for next week (BBQ optional!)
Present: Carolyn Mills and Gareth Williams.
Three excellent routes climbed in super weather: Eliminate 1 (E1 5b), Wood's Climb (HVS 5a) and Golden Pillar (HVS 5b), the latter with a fine forking finish!
Attendees: Chris Williams, Nick, Andy Grantham, Carolyn Mills, Al Metelko, Dan OBrian and a couple of people enquiring about the club.
A beautiful evening, lots of sun despite it raining as people left work in Manchester. Lots of routes led up to HVS. Four went to the pub and after much discussion Pex Hill was voted next weeks venue.
Thursday July 9thThis week's evening meet was on the Thursday, as it was Roy and Ivy Lee's Garden Party on the Wednesday evening. Attendees: Wavey Dave, Christine Stark, Rachel Ketley, Jo and Mark Furniss, Kasia Hoyle, Zubber Nabi, Pete Blacow and Andy Grantham. Weather was fine and a good evening's climbing was had by all. Routes included: Little by Little (VS, 4b) Flake Crack (VS, 4c) Twin Caves Crack (S, 4b) Eliminate 1 (E1, 5b) Dinnerplate Crack (S, 4b) The pub was the The Railway Inn.
After five weeks of wet weather on Wednesday evenings, Helsby has finally been laid to rest. Attendees: James, Chris, Andy, Ben, Geraldine and Al. Great climbing on a sun kissed Helsby, good views, and the sound of the M56 was as waves lapping onto a pebble beach. The nights have drawn in dramatically since the last midweek meet in July, which allowed the party leisurely drinking time in the Ring o'Bells in front of an open fire.
Andy, Chris and Al turned out. Although the day was dry and sunny quiet a lot of the crag was wet and rather slippery especially the easier routes but there again it has been raining for most of January. However the main climb of the night, Flake Crack VS, was dry except for the first few moves off the ground and was done in two pitches. The upper pitch, not in the guide, a steep hanging flake, was easier then the lower pitch. What made the night were the lights stretching from Warrington and Runcorn to the east, Helsby village, Stanlow and Liverpool (doubly so, being reflected off the Mersey) and Birkenhead and Queensferry in the west. Places not usually associated with beauty. A stunning view and probably worth coming here for a walk at night if climbing is not your thing.
A good turn out at Cheshire's premier crag (including 2 members who thought they would have nice a quite evening), many starred routes done, only the Cheshire set were conspicuous by their absence. In true KMC style the pub that the locals recommended was not found. Only three cars of a rather large KMC convoy made it to a pub in Daresbury to vote in next weeks venue. Witches fell at the first round, the next to fall was Cow's Mouth despite the car park being next to the pub! Chee Tor went once it was realised there's not a lot below HVS so Denham Quarry just scraped in with 3 votes to 2.
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A very brief meet report from Wavey Dave:
Helsby was dry and fun. Not how I seem to remember it. Perhaps a little like Wadi Rhum.