An oldie, but a goodie for the first outdoor Wednesday of the year!
Rain and gloom forced a rollover...
This time... This time things will be different...
Members: Emily Pitts, Clay Conlon, Dave Wylie, James Hall, Elliot Brown, Ben Slater, James Meakin, Jim Symon, Andy Stratford, Gowry Sisupalan, Nils Elgar, Alice Bowes-Larkin .
Guests: Jack Buzco, Chris Kastavunis, Caro Churchill, Hannah and Tim Elgar.
A grand turn out of seventeen members and guests for the first outdoor Wednesday evening meet of the year at local favourite Hobson Moor. It was a busy evening, with the Rucsac club and a few other local regulars as well, and all the usual routes got ticked off.
The Harp (VS 4b) had leads from Jim, Nils, Andy and Elliot, who took the steeper finish; Foghorn Groove (Vs 4c) by Jim and Elliot; Crews (VS 4c) was tackled in style by Jim, Clay and Ben; Jim led the fine arête and crack of Gideon (VS 5a) and James Hall was confident on Parkers (HVS 5a) but found the back wall traverse ‘pumpy’ – it was James’s first trip to Hobby – he’ll be addicted to that traverse soon......
Andy had a wobbly first lead of the year on the super sandbag of Evening Ridge (HVD) – this was pronounced harder than the Harp and Epitaph corner by both Andy and Jack! Elliot made short work of Grain of Sand (VS 5a) ;Epitaph corner (VS 4b) had a number of leads including Andy, Jim, Ben and Nils whilst Pocket Wall (VDiff) was led by Andy, Dave and James Meakin
All the routes were seconded many many times including the Harp and Epitaph in fine style by Hannah, and Gowry deserves a mention – first rock route after climbing maternity leave!
Thirteen made the pub and with quarries in favour (before the midges takes hold) we saw Wilton 1, Den Lane, Troy and Anglezarke on the table with Wilton 1 taking the honours.
Although the weather for Wilton 1 was not looking favourable during the day, our band of climbers arrived at the Quarry to find some of the faces were definitly dry enough and some sought after routes were in good conditions to be climbed.
The evening started with Elliott lead on with Dave on the wobbly climb of Flywalk (VS 4b **), after giving up the start of Christine Arete (E3 5c *). Closely followed by Nils leading Birds Chimney (S 4a *), with Naomi and John following. Then a party set out for the most sort out route of the night, 999 (HS 4c ***). Dave lead with Elliott following up second, so named because "of the 999 pieces of gear I put in the route". Isobel and Duncan set out for Rambling route (VD *), while a queue was being formed for 999. Ben lead on after Elliott on 999, with Chris following up on second.
Nils in the meantime went hunting for the aptly named Overhanging Weetabix (E2 5c), before sorting out The Overhang (VS). But, the calling was too much for the team, and the party abandoned The Overhang in favour of 999. Nils took took to the climb, leading a small party (Isobel, Duncan and John) up it in the dying light (John racing up, eager to get a drink in the pub). Elliott and Dave had wandered back to The Prow to have a crack at the right start for Christeena (VS 4c **), which felt a bit better, although the wind is a bit off putting going around the arete. Ben jumped onto the other end, after Elliott spent a fair amount of time faffing around at the top, throwing gear off into the grass.
The group then retreated to the pub to vote on next week's meet. Troy, Cows Mouth and Anglezarke Quarry were offered, with Cows Mouth quickly being dispatched, and Anglezarke Quarry taking gold in a victorious round of votes (I suspect Troy is being saved for another week...)
Members: Dave Wylie, Duncan Zerafa, Steve Graham, Tim Howarth, Ben Slater, Jared Kitchen, Dan O’Brien, Elliot Brown, Emily Pitts
Guests: Isabel Prause, Patti Xariklia, Jack Buczko, Caro C, Alastair Philp, John Smallwood, Chris Kastavunis
From a visit around a decade ago, your correspondent remembered Anglezarke Quarry as a midge infested rat hole… Luckily, for this visit, the rats were nowhere to be found but the midges were in fine fettle. We had a great turnout of 16 members and guests and some fine weather which allowed plenty of climbing.
There were many original ascents of Aldred's Original (VD) including Jack, Dave and Alastair all followed by multiple enthusiastic seconds. Dave then went on the lead Whittaker's Original (HS 4a). Meanwhile, Emily led Meanwhile (S) because Dave was climbing Because (HS) with a little jaunt into the shrubbery, which Caro then seconded.
Duncan managed to wedge in a lead of Wedge (HS 4b) followed by Isobel and Caro - with a supporting role from Dave W removing a particularly stuck nut. Dan also led followed by Tim and John. Patti led Metamorphosis, a rather bold VS also led by Ben. Patti was followed by Dan and Tim. Elliot cruised up Terra Cotta (HVS) followed by Jared. Dan also climbed Terra Cotta with much less poise, followed by Tim (on his first KMC midweek meet – surprising for a full member). Patti followed and made it look so easy Tim suggested she should be made to climb it again.
Steve had a nightmare on Nightmare (VS 4b) seconded by Ben and Emily. Tim had less of a nightmare but gained much more airtime on the same route, caught and followed by Dan. Elliott and Jared spent some time working Fingertip Control (E4) which they described variously as “brutal” and a “monster”.
Finally, Jared led First Finale (E1) followed by Elliott and Patti.
Happy days. The midges that came out to welcome us at first eventually overcame our enthusiasm and as the light faded we retreated to the pub. With a number of new members it fell to your corespondent to explain the voting rules after which we had four choices. Cow’s Mouth was first to fall after a three way tie for last place resulted in a run-off. Next to go was Castle Naze followed by Alderman leaving Troy Quarry as the winner.
Emily and Dan
Members present: Dave Wylie, Andy Stratford, Jared Kitchen, Emily Thompson, Emily Pitts. James Hall. Ding, Clay Conlon, Elliot Brown, Duncan Zerafa,
Guests: James Duthie, Patti Xariklia, Isobel Prause, Sarah Kendall, John Smallwood. Chris Kastavunis, Jack Buczko,
Seventeen members and guests attended at this ever popular Wednesday sunset spot in the Haslingdon hills on a very chilly evening, but at least that meant no midges!
As usual at Troy it was impossible to record all the ascents so just the leads are acknowledged here – and then a few have been missed so apologies in advance!
Emily P started her evening with a lead of left Siamese twin (S 4a) which over the course of the evening received attention from Jack and Andy and numerous seconds. Dave and Jack both lead the other twin. Mucky Pups (VS 4c) had leads from James Duthie whilst Patti got seriously cold on Rapunzle (VS 5a).
Elliot had a fine evening with leads of Siamese Arete (E1 5a), Siam Groove (VS 5a) and Rapunzle (VS 5a). Clay led Jussy HVS 5a and followed several other harder routes.
Duncan had yet another productive evening with several leads including Mucky pups (VS 4c), Troy Groove (VS 4b), Cracked Wall (VS 4c) and No Right Turn (VS 4c).
Jared made a spirited attempt on Pink Edge (E2 5b), one of the few three star routes in the quarry. James Hall made sterling work with the technical Dovetail (E1 5c) but was repulsed by Tess E1 5b – not sure if he had success...
By 8.30 most folk had seriously cold fingers with the dropping temperatures and so to the Holden arms for the usual banter and voting for next weeks crag. Pule Hill and Cows Mouth Quarry were two of the three suggestions but it was classic natural grit of Castle Naze which attracted the most votes. We head south next week!
Ultra classic natural grit with historic routes
Members: Dave Wylie, Andy Stratford, Clay Conlon, James Hall, Duncan Zerafa, James Meakin, Nils Elgar
Guests: James Duthie, Chris Kastavunis, Jack Buczko, Hannah and Tim Elgar
Another good Wednesday turnout at the Naze. The forecast promised sun and wind but the crag was sheltered and the outlook cloudy with rain threatening but never appearing. A chill descended and the wee beasties stayed away. The KMC team had a super busy evening with successful leads of The Niche (S 4a), Studio (HS 4a) , Pilgrims Progress (HS 4b) , Keep Buttress (HVS 5a), Scoop Face (HVS 5a), The Crack (VS 4b), Nozag (VS 4c), Long Climb (V diff) and Atropine (HS 4b). Final route of the evening was Flake Crack (HS 4b) which Duncan ascended in fading light - Jack was the lucky second, by now well practised at extracting Duncans nuts from the gloomy cracks after previous performances by headtorch at two other crags had led to headtorch abseil retrieval. A special mention goes to young Hannah Elgar who followed her dad up both VS’s with utter surety.
Eight made the excellent Beehive in Coombs where the honeyed tones of Dave Wylie cast the Pule Hill spell over Running Hill Pits and Alderman Rocks.
Prepare for a border raid next week – Yorkshire it is!
Hillside natural grit with excellent sunset potential...
Members: Dave Wylie, Elliot brown, Clay Conlon, Ding, Andy Stratford, Jared Kitchen, Emily Thompson, Duncan Zerafa. Cathy Gordon
Guests: Chris Kastavunis, Jack Buczko, John Smallwood, Patti xarilia. George Babbington, Amy Spray, Tom Ferneyhough. Beth Thomas,
A lovely sunny evening, too warm for the midges at first but they only seemed half bothered when they did finally come. We were treated to a golden sunset and simultaneous full moon rise at what has to be one of the Clubs favourite Wednesday evening venues.
Over in the quarry Elliot and Jared had fine leads of the Great Scoop (VS 5a) with Jared going on to lead Illiad (HVS) and Megatron (E1). Elliot was also busy on the main edge leading Square Buttress (VS 4c) and Hangover Edge (HS 4b). He omitted to mention the guidebook Beta on Square Buttress to an increasingly puzzled Clay....
Flying Buttress (HS 4b) was (as ever) the most popular route of the evening; first from Andy who led the beautifully exposed variation traverse. Clay, Elliot, Cathy and Duncan all led the original finish with Duncan having the first of his attempts to emulate Pattis flexibility with some amusing ‘’leg-over’’ moments. Patti approved of Andy’s recommendation of ‘friendly overhang (MVS 4b)’’ and once again Duncan stretched the-parts-that-will- be-sore tomorrow. Wrinkled wall was as poorly protected as ever for Patti, who this time wasn’t quite as appreciative of Mr Presidents enthusiasm. Has Been (V Diff) had leads from Dave and Cathy, Ladder Ridge (Diff) was led by Emily on her 3 rd ever outdoor lead. Kletterschue capers had attention from Beth then Jack. Dave did Bed End and Duncan stretched out once again on Flying Arete.
There were, of course, far too many seconds of routes to record, but a special welcome goes to newcomers Amy Spray, Tom Ferneyhough and George Babbington.
At the Carriage House there were proposals for Ramshaw Rocks which exited first then a fairly close second was Running Hill Pits, but the winner was the perhaps less visited Denham up near Chorley – a great quarry with some classic Lancashire grit routes.
Quarried gritstone and the longest route name in Lancashire...
Members present: Mark Ashley, Duncan Zerafa.
Guests present (who really should be members by now): Jack Buczko, Isabel Prause.
Mark had arrived early at the crag, waiting for other keen Karabiner Mountaineering Club folk to turn up. The constant rain around Manchester and heavy traffic had left the decisions to attend until later in the day, thus most arriving fashionably late but with less time for routes. However for those that had braved the gloomy forecast at Denham were greeted by evening summer sunbeams, glittering on golden gritstone. The imagined sodden rock and an infinity of midges had vanished into the ether. Views from the panoramic crag took in the South Lakes to the north and the Ribble estuary to the west.
Jack had his sights on leading Concave Wall S 4a at the pool area which he thought was good climbing, but spent more time than anticipated gardening the choss with his nut key. This was followed by another lead of Step into the Clouds S 4b a route described as covered in yellow spiders! Mark seconded Jack on both routes and said both routes were "very well lead" .
It would be amiss not to get to Denham Quarry and not try some of Lancashire's longest named routes. Duncan duly obliged with a lead of Mohammed the Mad Monk of Moorside Home for Mental Misfits VS 4c. A three star route and top 50 in Rockfax, the route didn't disappoint. Quite easy to find good gear placement lower down not so much in the run out top half (unless using small brass offsets). Isabel seconded and thought it was great climbing. This was followed by a lead of Ganglion VS 4a, initially it was meant to be a climb up Main Break HS 4a but ended up on the Ganglion traverse. A poorly protected route and Hard Very Chossy finish! Isabel seconded again but didn't think it as good as the previously very long named route. An attempt at Mad Karoo HVS 5a was thought too bold and too dark now in the gloaming light.
Twilight and evening fell and then the dark brought the evening stars. A convening at the pub had the three crags Shining Clough, Wilderness Rocks and Witches Quarry on the table. Rapid voting meant a change of texture for next week with Lancashire limestone winning out at Witches Quarry. So gritstone-free climbing next wednesday.
Members present: James Hall, Gareth Williams, Dave Wylie, Duncan Zerafa, Elliott Brown, Ben Slater, Mark Ashley.
Guests: Isabel Prause, John Smallwood.
When shall we meet again, in thunder, lighting or in rain? 'Tis Witches' Quarry in name. It shall be here at the setting of the sun. Where is this place? In the shadow of the Pendle Hill....
And so the KMC coven formed in the shrouded evening sky. Whats going on? Manchester was sunny and hot, yet here we were in dank and grey. Still climbing must be done and the early bird arrivals were clambering up the rock.
Gareth had lead Alice S 4a and brought Dave up as his second, but flew the nest early, unlike the later spotted fledgling chicks nesting deep within the wide crack. Dave changed tack with Crack Lap HS 4b * and lead Mark up, a leftwards leaning number. Recovering from knee surgery Mark was determined to get back on the lead horse and committed to a rewarding lead of Nance VD with Dave seconding.
Meanwhile at the central wall area some kind of witchcraft had beguiled Elliott. It was Witches Bane HVS 5a **, a route previously worshipped at, would it open its arms again? No, was the emphatic answer. The run out sustained top section had its chicanery and left Elliott on a ledge. Duncan who was seconding, left him there until he was able to throw a rope down and belayed the isolated soul from the top of the crag. Yet Elliott was not defeated, as will be explained...
Just to the left of these shenanigans James was flying up Spellbound HVS 5b **, until he exclaimed " This is pretty stiff! What grade was it again?". No-one knew for sure. With much style and aplomb he reached the top, and seconded John up, Isabel had declined the initial second with dignity.
Other members of the crag were scurrying up the routes with gusto too numerous to recall. Unlike your word-smith who is getting to grips with limestone and thinks it is the work of the Beelzebub himself. Trying to get nuts to fit into cracks that resemble the surface of Spicy Nik Naks crisps is interesting to say the least.. however he lead The Shrew VS 4b* followed by Old Chattox VS 4c*, with Isabel seconding apace both routes worthy of their star.
To the left side of the crag Ben had lead a fine lead of Broomstick VS 5a **, with a reachy final move, seconded by John. Whilst Elliott had time to try again Witches Bane HVS 5a**, this time with James, who now lead it and quickly dispatched Elliotts' adversary, moving swiftly through the loose rock and bold finish, to then let Elliott at second up with a new found fervour.
The sky was beginning to bruise now, leaving the residual spirits at the crag to decamp to the Assheton Arms. Voting and beer, a democratic decision, long evening light considered. Cows Mouth Quarry, The Roaches and the "I don't mind where we go Quarry" were all up for election. The natural crag of Don Whillans, a man trained on cigarettes, cheap booze and daily injections of Jerry Lee-Lewis wins by a landslide. The Roaches it shall be next week, Lower Tier near Valkyrie...
Members : Duncan Zerafa, Helen Boothman.
Guests: John Smallwood, Patrizia Patz (Pati), Jim Duthie, Andy.
With the school holidays upon us this week, the late afternoon drive to The Roaches was pretty swift agreed the attendees. Those that had arrived, were greeted by a hot, cloudy evening and an idle breeze. Helen was climbing coincidentally with us tonight, getting back into climbing after a break.
The relative quiet of the crag meant you could pick and choose the finest routes at will. So with this in mind Pati and Jim had to have a crack at the classic of Valkyrie VS 4c. Jim had climbed it before, and so resolved to lead the first part allowing Pati to lead the airy second part. Pati thought the route was brilliant and exciting, even though she'd suffered from shaky legs before committing to the move from the big flake to the crease and onto the face. She later commented, "It's a lesson on rope management, which I don't have...".
Duncan on Jim's recommendation or sandbag depending on point of view, lead the Joe Brown and Don Whillans route, The Bulger VS 4c. Which was a particularly graunchy, awkward struggle. This was seconded by John and new guest Andy. Duncan followed this by a second of the bold Central Route VS 4a, initially leading it but backing off after rain left a serious chance of hitting the deck. John and new guest Andy teamed up to climb Right Hand Route HS 4c, Andy had got to lead his first route of the night.
Meanwhile the chatter below another Roaches classic The Sloth HVS 5a was beginning to come to a conclusion, the rain wouldn't affect the underside of a overhang. Jim had decided he would have a go after backing off in previous attempts. Jim lead the Don Whillans route brilliantly and tenaciously with support from Pati and Duncan beneath. Jim slowly built a web of slings under the roof before committing to a final attempt, which was touch and go for a moment before finally pulling though the overhanging roof to the easier crack above. The sound of applause rose up from beneath. Pati seconded it excellently too, shouting "Amazing!" upon completion. Duncan also seconded but spent airtime back down to the start after struggling to release Jim's cam in the overhanging roof crux section. Pati then climbed up for a second time and retrieved the stuck cam with coolness, before finishing again with loud encouragement from below.
Under the murky, dark skies, at quite a late point in the evening, a quick decision was made for next week. The light and warm June evenings recommended Lawrencefield, near Hathersage.
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.
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.
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.
Quarried grit above Uppermill
Rollover as it was bucketing down...
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.
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!
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 - 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.
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
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
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.
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!
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.
Home of the famous back wall traverse
Short walk in to this ideal early-autumn venueBack to Current Midweek