Sat 10th Jun - Sun 11th Jun, 2006
I dunno about the KMC; you lay on the hottest day of the year and still they complain! At least the keenness of "Thursday" John, a prospective member withstood even the Friday night baptism of fire in the "World Cup Gazebo" amidst Carling cans, scally SUVs and the public defecation display of chubby chav kiddies at the Gibraltar farm campsite-by-the-sea on Friday evening.
Our small crew broke out the red wine and barbie, circled our tents against the heathen and dreamed up plans for the morning...
Happily though, Saturday's dawn chorus of tubby 8 year olds with attitude in pink flock tracksuits ensured an early start for all and we even beat Roger Daley to the crag!
Trowbarrow: A crag that needs no introduction - even managing to live up to its reputation as a suntrap by 9 in the morning. So, to introduce "Thursday" John to Lancashire limestone, we romped up Ramp Ant (S 4a *) (while Wavey and Trish began with the initially bold Jomo (VD ***). These became the first routes of choice for most people including Duncan's friends: Pippa and Tjark, and Anne and Ian.
The camper's numbers being steadily swelled by a stream of KMC arrivals through the morning, Roger and Karen added Original Route (VD *) to the ticklist, followed by a solo Metelko acent.
In the far corner of the crag lies the classic Coral Sea (VS 4c **). Its day began with a coolish ascent for Al Metelko and Jenny, with Vicky taking Duncan up the same way a warmer hour or so later. John Cox made the third lead of the day in the baking sun complete with ice cream lolly and silly sunglasses (second childhood?). Trish and Wavey followed before Al finished the day as he had started by seconding me (along with Katie) on the route.
Meanwhile, back on Main Wall (which still hasn't fallen down) I led Jean Jeanie (VS 4c ***) just before the sun hit it, leaving Katie, "Thursday" John and John Cox to slither up it in ever hotter conditions while Roger and Karen sought out cooler options climbing Frontage (HS 4a,4b) and Blue Daz (S 4a).
John Cox and I also did Frontage before it became clear that it was just too hot and someone had to get the ice-creams in.
By the time I had got back with said lollies, Duncan was half way up Jean Jeanie, promptly followed by Vicky, Pipp and Tjark. Al, sweetened by the bribe and Duncan's number 4 Camalot, led Alladinsane (E1 5a **) seconded by me and thirded by Karen.
Climbing continued on the routes mentioned with Duncan and Vicky also getting in Javellin (E1 5b **), and Sandy getting a rabbit somewhere along the line before the crew generally wilted and headed back to the campsite.
At Gibraltar farm our numbers (16) were swelled by Michelle and Mark who'd been mountain biking in the area during the day as well as Scott who had just come for the night - which really says a lot for the nightlife round his way. With barbies on the go, Roger's fish kebabs, Karen's balloon sculpted penguins, Mark's impossible wordsearch, Scott's ultimately immolated pipecleaner mountainbiker, a little champagne and Katie's warm refrigerator cake it was certainly an evening to remember...
After a brisk early morning run to check out both of the day's crags (future meet leaders please note the dedication here) culminating in a muddy sprawl back along Morecambe bay, the actual climbing began on Jack Scout Cove - just a Tesco-bag-full-of-rubbish's throw from the campsite.
Duncan soloed the first route of the day with Jackal (HS 4b *), traversing across to a twin bolt lower off from which the rope was hastily removed as the sea had already started to come in (tide tables anyone?). Roger and Karen followed the route lowering off before the traverse to avoid a swim. I, just behind, was by now committed to Brant's Little Brother (VS 4c **) moving along and up to a hanging belay above the sea from which Mark and I took a second pitch up into the grass by way of escape.
Meanwhile Wavey, Trish and Michelle had managed to avoid the tides on Question Mark (VD). While everyone else got a Jack Scout tick on Armada (S 4a *).
I took Andy Grantham (who had just got through on my phone before I dropped it in the sea!) and "Thursday" John up Whitebeam (VD) followed by Al (soloing again). We then repaired on foot to Woodwell via the Wolfe House tea rooms for a none-too-brief refreshment stop.
With abject enthusiasm Duncan and Vicky started things up in Woodwell, a pleasantly Tolkenian land of lichen fungus and ivy, with a 5c problem (Pussyfoot I think). They then proceeded to point people up other gnarly hard short routes (OK I'm bitter coz I couldn't do it!) with Vicky and I eventually leading Long Crack (4a) and Long Crack Groove (4a) later climbed by Roger Katie. Both Battenburg (4b) and Flake Crack (VD) were a hit with Roger Daley with Andy Grantham and "Thursday" John, Wavey with Trish and myself with Kate (I'm SURE Al soloed them both). Wavey and myself tried to emulate Duncan on the apparently aptly named Too Hard for Dave (6a) with my enthusiasm waning on the slopey mantley crimps after listening to the crunch Duncan's fingers made the second time he showed how it was done!
Despite the 100% shade, the dry heat was still getting through and the crew wilted once more as the afternoon wore on meaning that the really odd Tree Root, a bridge twixt tree and crag, is there to be done next time.
On the other side of Silverdale, Joe Flynn and Lester made it to Warton Upper crag (after a lucky escape from a man selling REALLY expensive monooculars!) where their foray included Yellow Wall (VD **) followed by what Joe thought might be a first ascent but turned out to be The Plum (S 4c).
So lots of heat, many happy campers and quite a lot of climbing at mid grades but did I mention the heat? Who would moan about that? Only the KMC.
If you noticed a birthday bash theme (thanks to Katie for the "goody bags") on this meet, you'll be delighted to know that Roger Daley's 21st is remarkably close to his Langdale meet - so look forward to a quality evening at ODG/hut.
Finally I apologise to anyone who turned up at Trowbarrow or Warton and missed us on either crag as I did swap the day plans around from the original details.
Sun, sea, sand, woods and limestone! A weekend of classic routes of all grades in a magic little corner of Lancashire just one hour out of Manchester by car (M6 J35). For the environmental tick you can even get to the heart of the two climbing venues direct by train (Take a train to Silverdale Station) so there's no excuse. The Gibraltar Farm campsite (good map) will be the base for operations - it is alongside Jack Scout cove which is a pleasant evening climbing sea cliff venue and a nice spot to watch the sun go down over Morecombe Bay for a barbie (Friday fight anyone?).
Saturday will be the crumbly but accessible and impressively big Warton Main Quarry (subject to nesting - there is a sign up) where you can wave at drivers on the M6 as you grunt up Plastic Iceberg *** E1 5b or alternatively eosoterica such as Warton Upper (which kind of starts behind the pub!) or Woodwell (which is well... in a wood!).
Sunday will be the awesome Trowbarrow Quarry, home to many (too many to name) classics such as Cracked Actor E2 5b***, HariJan *** VS 4c or my own favourite: Coral Sea ** (H)VS 5a. There really is something dor everyone in this suntrap (did I mention *** Jomo VD) and apparently the main wall is about to fall down (they've beein saying that for 20 years!) so there has never been a better time to get there than this June with the KMC.
If you're sold on the trip, the soundtrack to the weekend: "Alladin Sane" is available on RCA records.