Sun 15th Aug, 2021
Classic Peak Grit: The Roaches
Members: Gareth Williams, Nils Elgar, Dave Wylie, Andy Stratford, Roger Dyke, Rory Marsden, Colin Maddison, Caro Churchill, Steve Lopaki, Craig Marsden, Sue Marsden, Bridget Mapleson, Cathy Gordon, Christine Beeston.
Prospective Members:- Harry Potts, Neil Boynton.
Guests: Brian Tarnowski, Alex Gan, Lorenzo D’Aguilar, Holly Warder, Rémi Boynton.
Weren’t we lucky with the weather!
Nils and Dave were off to a prompt start, taking Brian up three of the easier classics - Inverted Staircase (D), Heather Slab (S) and Maud’s Garden (HVD). Then Brian held the string for Nils on Right Route (VD) and Technical Slab (HS 4a) while Dave dropped to the lower tier to take Holly up Corner Cracks (HVD 4a).
Craig, Bridget and Cathy made a tour of the gentler classics of the upper tier - Right Route (VD), Maud’s Garden (HVD), Heather Slab (a necky S) and finally the delightful Black Velvet (S 4a).
Steve took Caro and Lorenzo up Black Velvet (S 4a) to warm up then Technical Slab (HS 4b) – a very steady lead there Steve: it’s a necky route! Finally, Team Steve assaulted Saul’s Crack (HVS 5a). Following it, Caro demonstrated amazing persistence and endurance, then Lorenzo showed that a bit more skill, a much longer reach, and powerful muscles can make it look easy. Well done, all three of you!
Rory and Harry, on their first visit to The Roaches, knocked off Jeffcoat's chimney (VD) Easy Gully Wall (HVD) Pedestal route (HVD) and finally the ever-popular Inverted Staircase (D) and altogether had a grand day out.
Christine arrived a little late, but in time to demonstrate her rope-untangling skills (see the photo), belay Neil on his steady lead of Prow Cracks (VD), send your meet leader up after him for his only route of the day, and then rig a toprope on Chalkstorm (E3 5c) for Neil and Rémi to get a taste of real climbing.
Sue kept her feet firmly on the ground, making watercolours of the superb clear views from the crag across to Cheshire’s sandstone spine.
Andy started first time KMC newcomers Holly Warder and Alex Gan off on the gentler delights of Right Route (VD) then Technical Slab (HS 4b) before moving off to look for something steeper… The improbable overhanging tower - left hand finish of Damascus crack (VS 4c) was calling and after an initial pause Andy finished stylishly with all the grace of a exhausted seal. Alex declined to follow the steep section, sensibly moving into the gully, but after an initial ‘’no way’’ series of comments, Holly was encouraged and eventually surmounted the overhang with possibly a little more style than the leader!
The team finished with Andy sprinting up Maud’s Garden (HVD) while still eating his sandwiches!
Gareth and then Colin started the day by zipping up the hard start of Jeffcoat’s Buttress (HS 5a) with admirable speed, then Colin lowered the standard a little by choosing Left Hand Route, a modest S 4b – used to be one of my favourites. After seeing Andy belayed on the improbable looking finishing tower, Gareth restored the technical level with a lead of Damascus Crack by the spectacular VS 4c finish up the tower to the left, then capped that with Saul’s Crack (HVS 5a). At 4.30, just as Gareth was tackling the crux of the hardest route of the day (Humdinger E1 5b) the drizzle arrived. Fortunately, the route is so overhanging the rock stayed dry, but (lacking Lorenzo’s impressive reach, demonstrated earlier on the adjacent Saul’s Crack) he failed to make the vital move over the second overhang and after a couple of falls gave it best for the day. Colin declined to take over the lead (experience showing here?) so an interesting abseil was needed to recover the gear from under the overhangs.
By then it was getting distinctly wet, and we all called it a day.
A real fun day!
My first visit to The Roaches was in October 1970. It was raining, and in our ignorance we chose some of the poorest routes there. But 51 years later, the rain will have stopped and you will have the benefit of modern guidebooks. And if you aren’t careful, the benefit of my encyclopaedic knowledge of the crag.
There is a lot to do there. The 1968 guide lists 162 routes. The 2004 guide (my most modern) lists three times that number. So, plenty to keep even Colin busy for the day. If you still have a copy of Paul Evans’ “KMC 75th Anniversary 1944 – 2019 Roaches and Hen Cloud First Ascents” , you might like to bring that along.
I suggest we gather below Saul’s Crack – middle of the Upper Tier - 10.00 onward. Parking after 9.45 used to be a so-and-so, but a local farmer with a field 100m SE of the café will often open it for all-day parking. £2.00.00 for the day, cash only. Adds half a mile to the walk to the crag tho.