Wed 9th Sep, 2015

Running Hill Pits, Saddleworth

Running Hill Pits

Members – Dan O’Brien and Andy Stratford

Guests – Rob Mills and Paul McCormack

The nights have started to draw in but there is still a couple of opportunities for midweek adventures.  This week saw the KMC at Running Hill Pits, a Quarry above Uppermill in the Chew Valley.  The quarry boasts one of the strangest pieces of in-situ gear on grit.  A foot-long spanner wedged dubiously on the aptly names “Spanner Wall”.  Over the years the bent spanner eroded at its base until, in 2010, it broke off.  After a brief spell hanging on the wall of the Cross Keys Inn nearby, the spanner is now back though its new method of attachment casts further doubt on its load bearing ability…  

Andy opened his account with a solid ascent of Plumb Line (VS 4C) bravely overcoming a “cam crisis” on a particularly slippery section.  Dan, Paul And Rob followed before splitting into pairs for the remained of the evening.  Dan mis-read the guidebook and attempted to start an E1 up an E6.  After being put right, belayed by Paul, he led the colourfully named Gomorrah (E1 5C) a slippery thin-hands jamming crack that would have been more at home in the USA.  Andy followed grumbling about Dan’s height advantage and the wilting nature of his forearms…  

Rob led Ucontus (S 4C) followed by Paul and then headed over to the sunny side of the quarry for attempts on Dead Dog Crack and Cave Crack, both VS and both with very slippery jamming starts.  This and increasing midge activity forced a retreat tot he shady side and an ascent of Dusty Arete (D) as the light faded.

Andy closed off proceedings with an ascent of the (non-identical) twin cracks of Pantagruel (HVS 5A).  Though green (particularly the left hand crack), Andy jammed his way to 2/3 height where the crack narrowed and the foot-holds ran out.  After a couple of aborted attempts (again the wilting forearms…) Andy changed his approach and simply sprinted for the top using his adrenaline fuelled ability to do one-arm lock-offs, leaving his feet and his distant last runner trailing behind him.

As it grew dark, the team decamped to the Church Inn and debated the options for next week.  With limited light, and a whole summer behind us the options were limited.  A straight up-or-down vote between Den Lane and Windgather brought Windgather out on top.  Whalley Bridge next week!


Daniel O'Brien

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Karabiner Mountaineering Club