Welcome to this bumper edition of the IMC newsletter. Many thanks
to those who have contributed to this issue; in fact I’ve had so
many much stuff a couple of articles have been held over for the
next edition. I’d also like to extend my thanks to everyone who
has helped with the logistics of putting together and distributing
this copy of the newsletter.
I’m going to try and publish the newsletter on a quarterly basis,
with the next one coming out in early March 2003. Please send your
contributions by 28/2/2003, either by email to:
or via snail mail to 10 Princeton Mews, Colchester, CO4 9SJ.
Please don’t stop your contributions coming though, there’s only
so much I can make up once a quarter! Without wishing to create
any expectations, I’m sure many of us would like to read about
October’s caving trip or the Sardinia week …
This issue of the newsletter sees a few additions and some
different formats. Your feedback on these changes would be
Welcome to the latest edition of the IMC Newsletter, which I
hope you will find entertaining and informative. Well first if
all it is all change on the Committee as a result of the recent
AGM! From a personal point of view I found myself being elected
as President and I only hope that I will be able to represent
the interests of the club as well as my predecessors.
I am sure you will all join me in thanking the outgoing members
of the Committee (Mark Gilbert – President, Ian Thurgood –
Secretary and Jo Gilbert – Newsletter Editor) for their sterling
efforts over the past year and in some cases several years! They
have been replaced by myself, Mervyn Lamacraft and Mike Bayley
respectively. Dave Scott remains as Treasurer for yet another
Looking ahead it has become apparent that winter will soon be
upon us. In fact, for me this has been a bigger shock than usual
as I have just returned from a month in Nepal (more about that
later) (Next issue – Ed.) I can handle the cold but it’s all the
moisture that the Great British winter brings that pisses me
off! This brings me neatly onto the winter program of events
that you will find within this newsletter, which I hope will
feature stuff that will tickle your fancy.
If you have any additional ideas or if you have any plans which
you would like to extend to other members of the club, please
feel free to inform me or any committee member and we will “put
the word on the street!” Keep your eyes on the website for such
Time for a quick plug. Don’t forget the Christmas Curry (details
somewhere in the Newsletter), which is taking place on Friday
That’s enough from me for the moment. I hope you all have a
great Christmas and all the best for the New Year. Whatever
you’re doing on the hill over the winter enjoy yourselves and
Report on the North Wales Trip, August 2002
“So why exactly did Christina and Louise spend 10 hours NOT getting to the
top of Snowden?”
Despite a poor weather forecast, a good crowd (quality as well as
quantity!) turned up for this weekend. We were staying in the campsite near
Capel Curig. The weather was great. Since I had headed up (with Cathy) a day
early, hoping to do some navigation practice, this was not such great
news…but you doubtless all know that mountain weather is fickle. We went
up the interesting East Ridge on Pen-y Ole-Wen, thus avoiding the crowds and
a boring upwards slog. Towards the summit of Pen-y Ole-Wen, we met some
people heading down our route. As we ate our lunch, up they popped again.
You do meet all sorts! Then we had an enjoyable long stomp round and down
the other side of the Carneddau. The next day was climbing in Llanberis
Pass. I was in a group of 6 including Jean and her sister (the amazing
beginners), Cathy, Christina and Mike. Did Mike really want to get entangled
in an otherwise all-female climbing group? Hum. We did some very enjoyable,
The next day did not get off to such a smooth start. At the last minute, we
realized that Jean and her sister wanted to walk not climb. So Cathy and
Mike teamed up and dashed off to climb Tennis Show on Idwell Slabs. They
were so enthusiastic, they could not wait to leave the car and get going.
Unfortunately, they were a little too enthusiastic. They set off too soon,
and this later resulted in a long cross-country stomp around Tryfan to the
Christina and myself decided to try the Gambit (v.diff) on Crib-Y-Ddysgl We
quickly skimmed the guide book – the route had 3 stars, what else do we need
to know? We got our stuff together. Then Cathy yelled her parting shot “you
do realize you have to carry your pack on that climb, you come down the Pig
Track on Snowden?” So, Christina repacked into a smaller rucksack that she
could actually climb in. We had borrowed Cathy’s car, and planned to drop
Jean and her sister at Pen-y-Pass, collecting them again sometime before the
cafe shut at 6. But then we discovered the petrol looked very low. Or, was
it diesel? Oh dear. Eventually, a nice chap listened to the engine for us.
Of course, when we finally unscrewed the petrol cap, it was colored green
So, after all the hassle of the morning, by the time we set off, it was
already 11 – not an auspicious start! By 12:30 we had found the foot of the
climb. Since neither Christina or myself had ever been let loose without a
much more experienced friend on hand, we were impressed even by this small
achievement! We had lunch, and then set off up the climb.
An hour later we had a little snack and decided that getting 2m off the
ground in an hour was not good progress – although we had both got up that
same 2m several times, after we learnt how to utilize an abandoned piece of
gear to safeguard our retreat. We also had some moments of high drama when
Christina decided to try an alternative start, which then started to crumble
under her feet. Luckily, she decided to do the next move very quickly,
rather than tumble 3 moves extremely quickly. Well, after a discussion about
whether we would have better grip on the slime wall in walking boots,
whether walking boots could be worn to aid foot jamming, whether a tall
experienced friend would be a help, we decided to give up and do something
else instead – climb the Parson’s nose. This was an easier graded climb – a
Diff. And indeed we ran up it, two very easy pitches, all finished by 3pm.
Unfortunately, that saw us on top of the nose, with air all around. I have
since discovered that nose’s are often like that – live and learn! Half an
hour later we had worked out how to get down to the ledge that connected the
nose to cliff (well, neither of us have done that sort of thing by ourselves
before). That descent would be easier for tall blokes. I jumped the last 6
inches, Christina, being 5.5 inches shorter than me, had to jump nearly a
Now, those who know the area will know that:
there is an easy scramble down from that point
there is a long scramble up from that point
We know now that it is always a good idea to read up on the route the night
before. (Or take an experienced friend along.) I looked around, saw that we
were probably 40 minutes from the ridge. We’d be a bit late at the cafe, but
we could always run down the track. So, we went on. To be precise, we
carried on climbing. We now know why climbing, on double ropes, up a
relatively easy but winding scramble is not a good idea. 40 minutes later,
and we still appear to be 40 minutes from the ridge. Although the conditions
are fine, I am starting to feel a bit concerned. We phone up Cathy just to
reassure anyone waiting for us. We re-assess our moving strategy. Christina
remembers doing the same scramble in winter with just an experienced friend
to push/pull/grab her on the trickier bits. Get rid of a rope; coil the
other so we only use it on the trickier bits (as by now my nerve is shot to
pieces!) Of course, since neither of us has had to coil ropes like that
before, having always had the experienced friend on hand, it takes us 15
minutes just to remember how to tie the rope properly! Women – spent more
time gassing about what to do than actually doing it! It was at this point
that we start hallucinating about cups of tea. Anyway, at long last we get
to the ridge, and get on our walking boots. Rupert is surprised to hear
that we are still on the hill. He is already at Huntingdon. We start to run
down the Pig track. The sight of 2 women pelting down the track, still all
geared up, caused some light relief to the last few people heading home that
evening. We encouraged each other on:
me to Christina: “Come on Christina, I’m catching you up”
Christina to me: “this isn’t even a 5km race pace”
and made it to the car before sunset. There, see we had plenty of time!
It was great to be out climbing on a great hill, with great scenery in good
weather. What it’s all about really. Fantastic company – Christina offered
not one word of criticism on my time estimation, or my lack of bottle. It
was great to do something where we had to make our own mistakes – I hope we
do it better next time. Perhaps we should try our big exploits on a Saturday
rather then immediately before a 5-hour drive on a Sunday? Thanks, deeply
groveling thanks, must go to Cathy who kept calm, sorted out transport,
packed our tents, waited, and waited, and waited for us, then greeted us
with a cup of tea, and drove us much more than half the way home while we
Climbing Ethics, Going Back to Basics
During this year’s AGM, I raised a point, which brought about a lot of
interest and concern and I was asked to put together this article for
the newsletter for all members to read.
As the many members who know me will know, I have for many years stated
that I do not like climbing walls. Quite ironic that I should now be
working at Copleston Centre as the Wall Supervisor! But my dislike for
climbing walls stems from their use and the bad habits they introduce to
climbing, especially when these bad habits are transferred to real rock
with fatal consequences.
Fortunately the IMC has had an incredibly good record regarding climbing
accidents and injuries but I feel it is a time bomb; a time bomb that is
ticking and very loudly in my ears. By my working at Copleston I hope to
bring back the true art of safe climbing, whether it be on rock or on a
Let me firstly direct you to the article in Summit magazine titled “It’s
Your Life” in issue 28 – Winter 2002, which you recently received.
Please read it carefully, there are many issues raised in it, which in
turn were raised at the AGM. One point in particular I quoted was:
Climbers are simply not as competent and risk aware as they once were –
the advent of superficially ‘safe’ environments has dulled that sense of
It was also mentioned that IMC membership subscriptions would have to
increase to cover the increase in BMC affiliation fees to cover the cost
of litigation, which is unfortunately creeping into the sport.
These ‘safe’ environments referred to are twofold; modern developments
in all climbing equipment and of course climbing walls. So, with my
Climbing Wall Supervisor hat on, I would like to point out from what I
have personally observed at climbing walls the sort of unsafe practices
which are causing the problems.
Climbing walls serve two functions. They are a training aid for
experienced climbers to develop their climbing skills and muscles to be
able to climb to the best of their physical and mental ability. They are
also supposedly a safe environment for newcomers to learn to climb
safely. But what a lot of climbers are forgetting in the use of climbing
walls is that the end result to climb on real rock. Many of the basic
“ethics” of climbing are being forgotten and overlooked in the use of
climbing walls, even by very seasoned climbers. What is even worse is
that these bad habits are being observed by newcomers and in some
instances taught as the norm!
The climbing wall at Copleston was built primarily for the pupils at the
school and other schools in the Ipswich and surrounding areas. My main
responsibility as wall supervisor is towards those pupils and their
enjoyment of climbing. As I made quite clear at the AGM, apart from the
personal agony of serious injury, even death, any such incident at
Copleston would effectively close the wall down. From the outset of
instructing the pupils at the school I have emphasised safety. As many
of those of you who know me only too well know, I have always taught and
advised on safe climbing and I can quite openly say that these
youngsters that I have been teaching could put many an IMC member to
shame regarding safety.
The main concern voiced was the height at which people are bouldering on
the wall. Bearing in mind my other article about the wall where I have
described the reasons for not having matting on the floor, it is felt
that the BMC’s concern of climbers lack of ability to assess the risks
in climbing are in evidence at Copleston. Apart from the personal risk
to anyone bouldering at extreme height and to any others below who may
involuntarily become crash mats, there is one element which is being
missed; despite the competence of the boulderer, there is always the
risk that a hold may spin, or may not give the grip anticipated due to
chalk, dust and boot rubber build-up. But of more concern to myself is
the impression left on newcomers to the wall, who observe such high
level bouldering and think they can do that on their first visit –
unaware of the risks, such as the spinning holds and that it is harder
to climb down than up!
I am not one for wanting to impose rules and regulations; I have always
supported and actively pursued the true freedom of being able to climb
without restrictions. But in this instance as there has been concerns
expressed by Centre and School staff and as a self imposed common sense
approach has failed to be observed by climbers, I am having to introduce
a height limit for bouldering. This limit has been clearly marked on the
It is the responsibility of ALL users of the wall to observe this limit
and to warn anyone not observing it. Although I am present at the wall
on a Wednesday night, I am not working. I teach a class on Wednesday
after school and stay there solely to meet and chat to friends and club
members and even occasionally climb. I am not there to police the wall
because I am there. I feel it is the responsibility of the club and club
members to respect and care for the use of the wall, on behalf of the
club members, other users and for the school pupils. Hopefully this will
be the only such regulation introduced at the wall.
As part of our employment at Copleston, Roy Truman, a teacher at
Copleston who also teaches climbing on the wall to school pupils, and
myself have to set up top ropes for the pupils and to achieve this we
have to free climb the slab. Let me say this, for example, a Bomb
Disposal Expert in the army is employed to do a dangerous job, which he
does as part of his employment Would you attempt to dispose of bombs? I
don’t think so!!!!
Other points of concern I have noticed of bad practice at this and other
walls are as follows:
Climbers standing, walking and treading on climbing ropes – Ok so there
are no particles of grit or rock on the floor of a climbing wall, but
again if you follow this practice at a climbing wall, do you do the same
on rock? What about newcomers? Do you tell them not to stand on ropes
and why? Have we forgotten this life-threatening rule of thumb? Do we
not care about our equipment any more? Do we really want our ropes
snapping due to internal damage caused by treading on them?
Climbing Calls – We all know them. We all use them on rock. But why are
they not being used on climbing walls? Climbing walls are supposedly a
safe environment to introduce newcomers to climbing; do you teach them
climbing calls at the wall? Do you use them at the wall? Why are they
being forgotten, are they not important? Why do we have them?
Belaying – I have observed a lack of concentration by belayers.
Climbers, are you truly happy that your belayer is actually
concentrating on your safety? Are they really competent at stopping you
from creating a crater in the floor? Lying flat on the floor is not a
good way to belay and as far as I am aware is never taught. When I climb
I personally want my belayer to belay me as I would belay them – to a
high standard, as anyone who has climbed with and been belayed by me
will know. But if I am not happy with someone belaying me I will say so.
If they are lowering me down too fast I will let them know, not only
them but everyone on the wall Embarrassment goes along way in curing
such bad habits and to have a climber shout at the top of their voice
“SLOW DOWN!!!!” works well, as Jo my partner well knows. All climbing
instructors are taught that there are 3 elements to successful safe
climbing – balance, control and confidence. Letting some one descend at
Mach 3 towards terra firma to me does not indicate control, nor instil
How many times do you show a newcomer how to belay, but do you show them
how to stop a falling climber? Anyone can copy the belay action as
demonstrated; how often I have seen this done and then the demonstrator
starts climbing without having shown the newcomer how to stop a faller?
When I teach belaying I demonstrate how to stop a falling climber, then
I ask a volunteer to climb to the first bolt hold and jump off whilst I
observe the new belayer. I stand in a position where I can grab the
“dead” rope and stop the faller, should the belayer fail to stop them.
This has a twofold purpose, it gives the newcomer the experience and
confidence to stop a falling climber and it gives the climber the
confidence that the belayer can stop them falling.
I would like to finish with 2 further quotes from the previously
mentioned article in the latest Summit. Words from the BMC, not mine.
How far are we off the day when all climbers feel compelled to carry
liability cover? When you can’t visit a wall without it. When the first
question asked of a prospective partner is no longer “What grade do you
climb?” it’s “How much cover have you got?”
We need to say no! To chancers, the climbing leeches, who try it on with
the “I didn’t know it was dangerous” rubbish. In simple terms we need to
go back to a state where climber, belayer and anyone else involved never
forget that climbing/mountaineering is a game where people can get badly
hurt or die. And where all take responsibility for minimising the chance
of this happening”
Climbing Wall Supervisor
IMC Belayer of the Year 1994
|Glen Coe –
|Winter walking in the spiritual home of Scottish Mountaineering|
A good turn out this year with over 30 attendees. Highlights for your delectation are:-
|Rupert Holbrook & Christina Ennis|
|Newsletter editor||Mike Bayley|
|Supplementary||Keith Lodge; Dave Tonks; Martin Hore; Steve Culverhouse; Cathy Tye; Ian Thurgood; Chris Harbottle|
Bottom line – we are in credit to the tune of £814.91
BMC’s insurers have increased premiums by 100% so our fees to
BMC have been increased – but not by the same percentage you’ll
be pleased to hear. We will now have to pay to BMC £6.25 for
Consequently IMC fees for 2003 have had to increase to £9
individual and £15 couples living at the same address (a renewal
slip is attached – Ed.).
- If anyone has any old climbing shoes (or even rock boots!) that
are contaminating the loft Keith Lodge will gladly (?) take them
off your hands – or should that be feet – for use at the
- Should we have a few harnesses stored at Copleston for loaning
to IMC members who are introducing new climbers?
- Club nights will remain as the third Thursday of each month from
September to March.
- A motion was put to the meeting from Martin Stevens for payment
of fees by standing order which will be investigated by the
Treasurer and new committee.
I would like to thank everyone for all the support you’ve given
during my spell as Secretary and trust you will give Mervyn the
same support in his new role. I would also like to give a
personal thank you to the outgoing President and Newsletter
Editor (Mark & Jo Gilbert in case you didn’t know!) for their
time and effort.
One last thing – for those that have the capability, please
remember to check out the website as regularly as possible.
Simon continues to put in a lot of his time to revamping and
updating the format and information.
Th-that’s all folks!
IMC Photo Competition, Winter 2002 – Rules
In order to brighten up our IMC web page we are launching a photography competition. Here are the “rules”:
- Each member can enter up to three photographs
- The photos must have been taken by the IMC member (obviously!)
- The photos can be from any date, not just the last 12 months.
- There are two categories for which we will select a winning photo
- The first is an ‘open’ category, which can be any photograph that you think is relevant to the IMC.
- The second category is for photos that show “an IMC member in action!” for whatever IMC activities you think appropriate.
- To enter a photo into the competition, send it to Simon Chandler by post (for prints or slides) or email as an attachment. Just ask if you need advice.
Prints or slides will be scanned by Simon then returned to the contributor within 1 week of receipt. The postal address is: S Chandler, Martlet House, Sandy Lane, Barham, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP6 0PB.
- Each photo that you submit should include a brief caption explaining what it is, and when it was taken. Also, tell me which category you’re entering it for.
- As they are entered, the photographs will appear on the web (anonymously)
- At the beginning of February 2003, club members will be able to vote for their favourite photo. One vote for each category for each member. Voting will be done by completing a simple on-line form.
- The closing date for voting will be the end of February 2003.
- The winners will be the photographs in each category that get the most votes by 1st March 2003.
- The competition is open to all IMC members, committee included, since voting will be by all members.
Please note that at the end of the competition the contributed photographs
may be used on the website.
Copleston Climbing Wall
On Thursday 29th and Friday 30th August many club members came to
have a preview climb at the newly built climbing wall at Copleston
Centre. Everyone seemed to enjoy the experience and many have been
coming regularly to the wall since it was opened to the public on
Wednesday 11th September 2002. Although the wall is quite small
compared to Stowmarket, we are already talking about extending up to
twice its existing size, starting next summer. However I do believe
it will have some advantages over Stowmarket for many club members.
The most obvious being that for many it will be very local and
indeed for some I spoke to during the preview evenings, within
walking distance! The Centre Management and myself are very keen for
the club members to be highly involved with the Wall in many ways,
one of which is being given a free hand to set routes upon the wall,
as and when required, which many of the more active climbers within
the club have already been doing.
I am very keen not only as the wall supervisor, but as a long
standing member of the club, that club members should have a good
input to the running and functionality at Copleston. I am always
open to your ideas and suggestions. Indeed, I look forward to them
with great interest and, for those of you who have met the Centre
Manager Dave Little, you will know that he is also very interested
in the club’s presence and involvement with the Wall.
One main concern during the preview evenings was the lack of any
form of matting below the Wall. I include here sections from the
“BMC Climbing Wall Manual” regarding this. I have a personal copy of
this manual; should you wish to read further, please ask me when you
see me at the wall.
“There are no existing standards that apply specifically to safety
flooring/matting which are appropriate for climbing on artificial
For climbing which is intended to be protected with the use of ropes, whether this is by leading or top-roping, proficient ropework and belaying will safeguard climbers in the event of a fall, without the need for a cushioned landing. Experienced climbers are well aware of the importance of the rope system and reinforcing this importance by having a firm floor surface will help climbers both at the wall and when they apply similar practices out on the crag.
Traditionally climbing walls had no special surface beneath them, and so climbers not using ropes would climb to a height at which they were comfortable before climbing down. Often climbers bouldering would operate in pairs and one would watch and field the other in the event of a fall, a technique known as spotting. Down-climbing and spotting a partner are good practice, in very common use and to be encouraged at climbing walls. Experience has shown that climbers adapt their behaviour to take into account the landing, accepting the level of responsibility and risk that they would if pursuing a similar activity outdoors.
If thick mats are provided climbers may put much less emphasis on looking after each other and may be tempted to jump off rather than climb down. Young climbers in particular have at times been encouraged to jump deliberately from high on the wall, and this cannot be accepted as good practice.
Thick matting beneath a wall does not in itself make a wall safer.
If matting or safety flooring is provided ensure it is permanently fixed, has a regular consistency and a continuous profile.”
It is due to the nature of the multi-use of the Sports Centre which makes the last statement above impossible to meet. Thus it has been decided to not supply loose safety matting and to place the emphasis on the wall user to climb appropriately as would be done in the natural environment where safety matting is not provided!
There is also a new element to the wall at Copleston in that there
are no anchor points provided, either in the floor or at the base of
the wall for attaching lighter belayers. The wall manufacturers now
no longer provide these with new wall constructions due to the
number of incidences of accidents involving the use of these types
of anchor points. The preference is for the wall management to
supply “belay bags” for the use of lighter belayers. These are
purpose built bags containing 3 stone in weight. They can be
attached to the belayer’s harness with a daisy chain or tape sling.
The belayer can now stand in an appropriately safe place of their
choosing and not be restricted to having to be close to the supplied
fixed type anchor points.
The wall opening times are:
Wednesday 6:00pm – 11:00pm
Thursday 8:00pm – 11:00pm
Friday 6:00pm – 11:00pm
Saturday 1:00pm – 5:00pm
Sunday 1:00pm – 5:00pm
Admission charges will be £3.20 per session, or £12.00 per month by standing order.
Climbing courses will be available for those who require them:
Taster Session: A 2 hour introductory session, designed for those who wish to try climbing to see if they would enjoy it.
Beginners Course: A course of four 2 hour sessions, this is a comprehensive introduction to wall climbing, for those with little or no experience. Over the period of the course you will acquire the necessary skills to enable you to climb at the wall safely and unsupervised.
Improvers Course: Six 3 hours modules. Improve your skills and knowledge with a 3-hour improver module. Choose from one or more of a number of advanced subjects.
Further details of course content and prices can be obtained from the Sports Centre.
Climbing Wall Supervisor
Contacting the IMC
All enquiries and correspondence should be directed to the Secretary. Until the end of DecemberIan Thurgood,
Tel: 01379 651092 (H), 01473 222868 (W) or send him email.
From January onwards:Mervyn Lamacraft,
11 St Georges Road,
Tel: 01394 277050 or send him email.
See our Club Meets page for up-to-date details.
Odds & Ends
Recycle your old rock boots
Do you have a pair of worn out rock boots and don’t know what to do
with them? Then bring them along to Copleston Centre and donate them
to the Junior Club for the youngsters to try them out before buying
their own. Any condition accepted, they will do fine for the purpose.
But please bear in mind not many of them are size 10 !!!! The smaller
the better. Many thanks, Keith Lodge
Winter Bouldering Competition
Martin Stevens asks: ‘Is anyone interested in a winter bouldering
competition, around February or March time?’ Please contact Martin if
you’d like to take part.
Lob of The Year Award
A special request from Captain P. L’off: Lob of the year will be
presented at the Christmas curry on December 20th by Keith Lodge.
Please report (snitch) lobbing action to Keith ASAP.
Lundy, August 16-23, 2003. Simon Chandler has booked 14 places in ‘The
Barn’ and currently there are still 3 places available, at a cost of
£70 for the week. If preferred, camping is also available adjacent to
‘The Barn’. More information is available on the website. Please
contact Simon if you’re interested in going.
Like many, I’m not working between Christmas and New Year. I’d like
to get away during this time for some mountain biking, perhaps in
North Wales or the Peak District. Is anyone else interested? Please
contact me if you are and we’ll see what we can arrange – email
firstname.lastname@example.org or tel. 01206 752176.