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Early season grit and determination

Martin Stevens – May 2010

Friday April 16-Monday April 19 2010.

Friday morning started far too early with a 6am departure heading for the Peak
District. Adrian drove non-stop to Hardhurst Farm. Mist on the A14 gave way to
pleasant sunshine in the Hope Valley and to let the day warm up we chose to
pitch tents and brew tea. With impeccable timing Andy and Dan arrived. Text
instructions to Dave were, ‘look for the four Vaude tents in a row and we’ll see
you at Bamford’.

Before long the happy team of five were enjoying the delights of Bamford’s rough
grit. I have recollections of a fine ‘first of the season’ lead of ‘Ammo’ by
Dave, being pleased with a solo of ‘Sunnyside’ and a roped ascent of
‘Moglichkeit’, of seeing Dan committing to horizontal contortions on ‘Adjacent
Slab (Direct)’ before slinking off onto ‘Hypotenuse’ to circumvent the
problematic crux and of the sheer pleasure of being outside on gently warm
gritstone in superb conditions. Andy & Dan later talked of ‘Green Parrot’,
‘Vertigo’, a couple of instances of ‘leader discretion’, ‘Bamford Rib’ and ‘Twin

Making a full day we walked away about 7.30 and got back to the campsite to meet
Martin H. and Guy who’d had limestone adventures at Wildcat, including ascents
of ‘Golden Yardstick’ and ‘Nine Lives Wall’. Ian turned up having travelled by
train and Bob made his own way from parts northern.

A cold night, certainly frosty and a reported -3C.

Saturday promised good things weather-wise, and apart from a gentle wind blowing
chill air from the north it didn’t fail to deliver. We all headed for Burbage
North and started out at ‘The End’ and gently worked our way back towards the
bridge. Perhaps it was the weather or something in the water but there was an
outbreak of easy soloing on the amiable blocks and slabs before ropes (and in
many cases helmets too) were produced. The winter had taken its toll, despite in
many cases plenty of wall sessions and there was more than one or two slips but
all minor and uneventful and in a couple of cases I understand shrewd
mountaineering judgement (and a certain amount of cowardice disguised as such)
was employed in deciding not to continue with some lines. The winter too had
taken its toll on some kit – one does kind of expect the lobes of a cam to move
when the trigger is pulled rather than a mere flexing of the cam stem. Being in
extremis at the time didn’t help the quality of the language used to express
displeasure at this state of affairs.

Good ascents of ‘Rose Flake’ (mixed degrees of success here [Ignominious
retreat in my case – Adrian]
) and ‘Greeny Crack’ (some ascents less
incident-free than others, I’m told), ‘Long Tall Sally’, ‘The Fin’, ‘Amazon
Crack’, the ‘Studio’ climbs, ‘April Fool’, ‘Wobblestone Crack’ (a tricksy,
slippery early foothold caused some consternation), ‘The Be All’ and the
splendid ‘Brook’s Layback’ amongst routes attempted. [I thought it would be
good to try latter route in big boots. Floundering is the apposite word – Adrian

Another late finish for some – others made it to the café before closing.

Sunday started cloudy but with the sun valiantly trying to break through after a
warmer, due to the cloud-cover, night.

Complex packing and gear options as decisions were made as some planned to stay
until Monday and send excess kit home with those planning on returning that
evening but eventually cars were loaded and the teams scattered to varying
crags. Adrian and Dave took Ian under their wing as, ‘it was time he learnt to
lead’ and headed to Birchen along with Bob and myself. Andy & Dan headed to
Stanage for a visit to Stanage End, taking on ‘Crab Crawl’, ‘Cripple Crack’,
‘Marble Arete’, ‘Old Salt’and ‘Cosmic Crack, their day highlighted by
‘Steamin”. Martin H. & Guy headed off to Ravensdale, where, once having found a
parking spot (why do 4×4’s need three parking spaces?), they managed ascents of
‘Conclusor’, ‘Mealystopheles’ and ‘Impendent’ (accurately described as
“gritstone jamming on limestone”).

Bob and I managed an easy day with ascents of ‘Sail Chimney’, ‘Trafalgar Wall’,
‘Emma’s Dilemma’ and ‘Victory Crack’ before Bob headed homewards. Joining forces
with Dave he and I managed ‘The Prow’, ‘Tars Wall’, ‘Stokers Hole’, ‘Emma’s
Delusion’ and ‘Promenade Direct’ and saw Adrian do very well on ‘Barbette
Buttress’ before he & Ian headed home, Ian having popped his leader cherry with
‘Yo-Ho Crack’ and ‘Tar’s Arete’.

We made the most of the day and managed bit of crag-swag too. So well did we
manage to make the most of the day we managed to miss last food orders at the
Travellers Rest by a mere 2 1/2 hours! Andy, Dan & Guy managed to find an Indian
dining experience of some note in Hope – a mix of fine linen and plastic cutlery
with construction site ambience was reported.

A rainy night didn’t auger well for Monday and three full days of climbing had
taken its toll. Overnight rain and a damp, grey start to the day, with a
corresponding lack of enthusiasm saw us slow to get started. A café breakfast
was followed by loading kit for four, and four people into Andy’s car.
‘Gear-shop (Direct)’ was followed by ‘Tea & Cake’ and an easy journey home.

Many thanks to Andy for organising and to him and the others for a grand weekend
and an excellent start to my 2010 season.

Thanks also to those who contributed detail and corrections and who otherwise
assisted in the cobbling together of this article.

Winter Training Schedule (Krug Style)

Or Why do they always have such bad years?

Pete Krug

Adrian asked for some hints for a winter training schedule to help those who are
unable to get away over the winter months. In this article we will focus on the
four main areas: strength, stamina, flexibility and coordination.

Losing strength gained over the summer is always a worry. However, this is the
easiest of all to correct. Here we present some progressive exercises. They will
take a couple of hours most nights, but the effort is well worth it. Unlike many
other training regimes there is no real reason for building in rest days. Start
with a glass of wine. If right handed, hold it in your left hand, raise to the
lips and drink. You are strengthening both arms and fingers. Repeat with a fresh
glass in your right hand. After this comes comfortably, move onto half pints
(beer, cider or wine). Finally, make the big push to pints. At this point, wine
should be moved out of the training schedule. Success in this training regime
will be seen in the development of that all-important “one-pack”.

When you are comfortable with this level of exercise, you can move onto the more
demanding exercise which combines strength and stamina. This exercise is
commonly known as Christmas shopping. Start easy, perhaps simply walking around
town on a Saturday afternoon. This will help with developing the infamous
Mountaineering plod. Imagine that instead of walking through town at everyone’s
snail pace you are actually staggering under the weight of all that ice-climbing
paraphernalia through thigh depth snow. Build to buying a few presents for …..
before finally building to presents for me…

Flexibility then comes with the fixing of Christmas decorations; although flexing
the plastic in the pre-Christmas shopping frenzy is a good start. Do not shirk
if your mother or small son asks for a decoration to be placed in an awkward
spot – use this opportunity to balance with one leg on the curtain rail and the
other smeared on a nearby wall.

Christmas day itself is a good time to start the co-ordination part of your
training. After dinner, don’t slump in front of the Queen’s speech, but put on
that Slade CD and start dancing. Get a woman to show you how to start. Stomp
first with the left foot and then with the right. Repeat. As you get confident
with these first steps, attempt to do them in time with the music whilst belting
out “Mama weer all crazee now” at the same time (assuming that is the song

Finally, climbing requires a partner and it is at this time of year that you can
build up the social skills to ensure that you are never short of a partner. A
good way to achieve this is to head to the local climbing walls on a Sunday
afternoon for a chance to gossip and make new friends. It can be worthwhile
taking a pair of rock boots and even a climbing harness to such events so that
you are clearly identifying with the climbing community.

As a postscript, perhaps someone can write a return article that explains why
people stop going away camping over the winter season.

Swanage isn’t just for climbing

Pete and Louise find other challenges

Louise Krug – July 2009

The weather forecast for last weekend was grim – certainly grim up North where the planned IMC meet was to be. After scanning the forecast all week we decided at the last moment to head for Swanage – not to climb as it’s a bit too scary for us – but with bikes and walking boots and an intention just to get out and do something whatever the weather.

We set off mid-morning on Friday, which is clearly not early enough to avoid the bulk of the London escapee traffic. Still we were able to get a pitch in Tom’s Field and headed off for a short walk down to the sea. The ground was muddy chalk and extremely sticky. By the time we reached the shore, we were both modelling mud sculptures of snow shoes – much heavier I suspect than the original! We headed back a different route, which was good because it went past a barn that we could shelter in as the rain pelted down!

Saturday dawned much brighter so we set off on the bikes. We had one bike route gleaned from a back issue of MBR. Although it officially started in Corfe Castle, the route passes within a few hundred metres of the camp site, so we joined it there on the Priest’s Way. It’s a lovely ride through very pretty countryside, mostly off road. After an hour of so we ended up at Old Harry
(famous tourist spot). I lost some of the fun as the cycle track was heading fast towards the cliff edge so I pulled up short and walked the last bit till I got round the bend! Then a 3km road section (quiet) before a big old pull up to the Purbeck ridge. I walked a lot of that as well- I was no slower than Pete who rode it all and it was a lot less effort! Then another delightful section along the ridge ending with a sweet (fast as you want but not scary) section down towards Corfe. Here we deviated from the route description and used back roads and bridleways to join up with the route a little way out of Corfe. This was slightly longer, but avoided a long section of main road. Next began the grimmest section. Most of the route is rideable by most people (a long blue rather than red for those used to MTB grades) but not this section. Steep uphill, rubble and nettles. We both pushed/hauled the bikes, and needed a sweetie break in the middle to keep up going! Then we reached what should have been delightful gentle downhill single-track. Only it started to pour down, and chalk is slippier than limestone when wet! Still, it brightened up after about 1/2hr and we decided to make the short diversion to St Anstells head, to give us time to dry out! Stunning views and the weirdest church I have ever seen. All
that then remained was to find the Priest’s Way and campsite again. At this point I noticed some steering trouble. I put it down to tiredness so we stopped for another snack. Picked the bike up to go again and the front wheel remained lying down. Easily fixed (phew) and we finally  collapsed in the tent.

The next day was very windy, so we were happy to leave the bikes and set off on foot. We walked through the Lulworth ranges (military ground, sometimes shut), along the coast to Lulworth Cove and onto Durdle Door before returning over the higher ground. Extremely pretty, grand coast line, dramatic in the high winds. Extremely tiring for a coast walk – dropping to sea level and then rising to between 150 and 200m a total of 6 times. We could have bagged a Munro with that! And we missed the opportunity to drop down a final time to the ghost village of Tyneham, abandoned during the second world war.

And then it was 6pm and time to return home. The travelling there – round London – makes it a relatively hard place to get to given how close it is, but for non-climbers there certainly is plenty of interest. All the footpaths and (almost!) all the bridleways we encountered were well maintained, and well signposted. The scenery is fantastic and you still get a good deal of exercise even though nothing is terrible high! There is a (serious level) climbing trip planned for the 19th/20th September, but I would seriously recommend it also to non-climbers. For the record, the Lulworth Ranges should be open that weekend.

Finally, on no occasion did we make it to the famed Compasses pub, being too scared of the rain on Friday and too tired on Saturday.

Norman Goes To the Alps

On French Guides

Norman goes to the Alps

Norman Smith – August 2009

Let’s face it , the French can be a pain in the bum. They smoke vile smelling cigarettes, take interminably long lunch breaks and delight in forcing Les Anglais to try and resurrect their O level French.

So it was with some trepidation then that I agreed to hire a French guide for a
week’s climbing in the Alps this summer. My aim? To reacquaint myself – after a
twenty five year gap – with what Alpine climbing is all about..

First appearances, however were not encouraging. My guide was called Pascal. And
yes, he insisted on smoking pungent little roll ups, including while climbing (a
la Don Whillans.) And yes his English was only rather more lamentable than my
French. And yes, he thought he was God’s gift to women.

But apart from that….well, he was brilliant and I can’t recommend French guides

Here’s why .

When the weather is lousy in Chamonix, the natural recourse of most Brit climbers
and their guides is to retreat to a nearby bar and bemoan their fate. Pascal
however seemed to have an instinctive knowledge of where to go to get some
climbing done, even when the weather was dodgy. So when it was cloudy and wet in
Cham he took us through to Italy to climb Gran Paradiso. And the weather ?
Absolutely brilliant.

Second if you’ve been in a French Alpine hut you’ll know the Hundred Years War
never really ended. Turn up for breakfast in the dawn light and it’s every man
for himself. Frankly, you’ve got about as much chance of getting some quick
service as Josephine had of Napoleon.. However, arrive with old Pascal by your
side and suddenly you’re at the front of the queue. Talk about preferential
treatment. Likewise if you want to get a nice hut bedroom all to yourself
instead of being dumped in the snoring inferno of one of the main dormitories,
then a French guide is the answer.. As for the climbing. Well, as you’d expect
French guides tend to be an inspiration. But what’s really good about them is
their attitude. They’re really not that big on Health and Safety. Or put another
way they’re prepared to let you fail. They don’t just heave you up on a tight
rope. Instead they insist you lead, route find, set up the belay points and
generally make a complete hash of things. It’s not just a lot more fun but it is
the only way to really learn about Alpine climbing

Oh, and one last thing that I found particularly refreshing about French guides
is that they have a healthy disregard for the high tech gear Stasi who seem to
thrive in Britain. Pascal climbed in a pair of old cords and what looked like
gardening gloves. He even expressed some admiration for my ageing and rusty ice

On the downside ? Well, he did insist on trying to rescue every female climber
who got into trouble. But hey, he’s French.

New Year in Snowdonia

Martin’s account of the IMC New Year Trip

Martin Stevens – January 2009

Tuesday 30th December 2008

A team of Martin Hore, Steve Culverhouse, Sheila Norman, Mike Bayley and I gathered at Jesse James’ bunkhouse on the evening of Tuesday 30th and settled in. Guidebooks were consulted, plans made and forecast checked. It was certainly cold and clear during the night.

Wednesday 31st December 2008

A reasonably early start on Wednesday saw Martin H. and Steve head off to Cwm Glas for some kind of ice-adventure whilst Sheila, Mike and I packed for a go at the Snowdon Horseshoe. The merits of walking axes and crampons were considered and fitting your crampons to your boots before setting off proved challenging for Mike but fortunately a spare pair were available that could be made to fit. Eventually, however, we made a departure for Pen-y-Pass, having heard from Ian Thurgood and Christina Ennis (and Monty) that, ‘there’s lots and lots of fog on the motorways, so we might be later than anticipated’.

Off to Pen-y-Pass and up the PYG Track. Brilliant conditions – an almost cloudless blue sky, any mud firmly frozen solid and very little wind. We enjoyed a leisurely scramble over Crib Goch, taking in all the pinnacles and the splendid views. A pause before Garnedd Ugain and its easy scramble and then the grind up to a very busy Snowdon summit. The descent down to the col between Snowdon and Lliwedd proved as ever an unpleasant affair but the excellent easy scrambling over Lliwedd made up for that. The descent from Lliwedd was in the shade and decidedly colder than it had been on the sun on the ridge. Back on to the Miners Track at Llyn Llydaw and Mike spots ‘a tall man, a short woman with an ENORMOUS rucksack and a dog’ and suggests that could be Ian, Christina and Monty. We walked quickly to try to catch them but to no avail and at the carpark Mike was proved right.

Back to the bunkhouse via shopping in Llanberis for us, off to their campsite for Ian & Christina. With the falling light temperatures quickly dropped and by the time we got to the bunkhouse it was decidedly ‘blurry cold!’.

A very jolly evening was had, except by Monty who had to stay in the car. Port and cheese was served and Martin H’s laptop was pressed into service for an impromptu slideshow of the day’s digital pictures.

Thursday 1st January 2009

Very cold overnight but a super days weather ahead. We all tackle Sentries Ridge And Continuation, a Grade 2/3 *** scramble on Mynydd Mawr to the West of Snowdon. Excellent cloudless blue skies and a heavy frost but no breeze and the sunshine pleasantly warm. An easy woodland walk-in (during which we obeyed the roadside sign not to feed the bears) led to a hillside traverse with some wall and fence hopping before a scree-traverse to the base of the buttress. Ian and Monty chose an easier line to the summit, Steve, Martin H. and Christina made up one rope and Mike, Sheila and I another. Good, exposed scrambling on some suspect rock (various cries of ‘BELOW!’ at various points as loose bits detached, and one of ‘EEEK! Fuggit!’ as Christina proved that volume is not necessarily directly related to size when she fell off. Very pleasant exposure and a couple of tricky bits, some good pinnacles and a section of unprotected loose horrors, and a lot of fine ridge work and we were at the summit. An easy walk off and back to the bunkhouse for tea and cake – or back to a frozen tent for the campers and a splendid day out complete.

Approaching Sentries Ridge Approaching Sentries Ridge
Approaching Sentries Ridge On Sentries Ridge


A jolly evening with port and cheese and another impromptu slideshow.

Friday 2nd January 2009

The early start thing proving habit forming, we made another early start. Steve and Martin H. headed off in search of more ice, Ian and Christina went walking to the west of Snowdon and Mike, Sheila and I drove to Bethesda to tackle Crib Lem, a Grade 1 *** scramble. Not such fine conditions – windier, cloudier and although the air temperature was higher it felt much colder.

A leisurely walk in with Mike tackling the map-reading. A drinks pause and then up onto Crib Lem. A slog up a steep scree path and then onto the ridge. Good scrambling over pinnacles with some of the more challenging bits avoidable. Up onto the Carnedd Dafydd ridge and onto the Carnedd Dafydd for a spot of lunch in the ice-rimed shelter hoping for a view should the clouds break. We then backtracked a bit before walking up Carnedd Llywelyn and onto Foel Grach in thick cloud and a strong crosswind. A steep descent took us on a bearing off the top and right on target to our intended checkpoint before hitting the valley floor and the walk back to the car. Fortunately the ground was frozen hard or it would have been an unpleasant mud-fest. Unfortunately we had to consider a stream crossing, but the risk of iced boulders and the amount of water in the stream made crossing impractical so we took a longer way back than perhaps we’d have liked although we still got back without needing to resort to a head torch.

Another jolly evening featuring the never-ending supply of port and cheeses and another slideshow.

Saturday 3rd January 2009

Another early start – don’t these people understand the idea of a lie-in? Mike had picked up a cold and very sore throat so decides to head home straight after breakfast.

Ian, Christina and Monty decide to walk up Y Garn whilst the bunkhouse team have a go at Y Garn East Ridge, a Grade 2 ** scramble. More excellent conditions, blue skies, sunshine and everything frozen solid. Walking up from Ogwen Cottage we pause to wander carefully onto the froze Llyn Idwal before tackling the ridge. Grand scrambling with spells in the shade to let us relish being back in the sunshine again. Some exposed sections and a couple of places of difficulty but grand scrambling in a dramatic setting.

All too quickly we’re on the summit ridge and head up to Y Garn summit where we meet up with Ian & Christina and have some lunch. We walk on to Foel-goch where Ian, Christina and Martin H. choose to head back to Ogwen and the parked cars. Steve, Sheila and I continue to Carnedd y Filiast, pausing on the way to peer down Atlantic Slabs – it looks like there’s some excellent slab climbing to be had there. From the top of Carnedd y Filiast we take an off-path route aiming for the bunkhouse. Fortunately the ground is again like iron or this would have been a real test of boot waterproofing and sense of humour. It wasn’t a challenging walk back apart from finding footpaths (all fortunately frozen solid – it would have been a long session of wading through mud otherwise) in the failing light but it was interesting to see a different view of the area.

Back to the bunkhouse and well earned tea and cake.

Supper ensues, Ian and Christina joining us.

A last go at port and cheese and another slideshow.

Sunday 4th January 2009

Travel home, pausing at Betws-y-Coed in pursuit of new boots for Steve C – he left Ipswich with about 85 pairs and returned with more.

The Krugs head for Wales

Aiming for Mid Wales, Louise and Pete somehow end up in South Wales

Louise Krug – December 2008

The trip didn’t get off to the best of starts. We had planned to go with the rest of the IMC towards Cader Idris, camping rather than bunkhouse, but when Pete rang the campsite he discovered it was closed  – water-logged. So with the choice of risking a bunkhouse, or going somewhere else we decided to go to Brecon – after all I have not had a single cold or infection for six months now and I want to keep it that way!

When we arrived at Brecon, things deteriorated. I did the first lob of the weekend in the campsite, landing flat on my back in the mud with a huge bang on the back of the head.

When we woke up, things then got worse as we discovered out bread had been eaten by something in the night. There were just a few slices on either side of a big hole that could be rescued for the day. The weather however was good – cold, crisp and clear. The sky was a strange colour – blue – but on the whole we rather liked that.

We had decided to do a mountain bike ride from the campsite and things started well. The ground was hard with the frost but not icy. Then we reached the second stage of the route – this was described as “many paths but all heading the same way” with the un-written subtext “and none of them any good”.  The hillside was thawing and the route went across many muddy streams. Here there is a dilemma. The easiest and driest option – cycle through, is closely related to the hardest and wettest option – try and fail to cycle through. This meant there was a lot of tiptoeing around mud baths – occasionally with the bike on the shoulder.  Add into this the fact that these paths are winding through the gorse.  And not all paths are end to end paths. So at one point Pete was heard to ask “why are you pushing your bike through that gorse patch” to be told rather snappily “because that is the easiest way forward”. Stage 3 was somewhat easier. Then began the notorious stage 4 which was described as the hardest bike push in the book.  This was the scene of the second lob of the  weekend. One minute I was pushing the bike uphill; the next I was on my back – again – with the bike on top of me! Once untangled I discovered I was OK, but extremely annoyed – I wasn’t even riding the thing!. Pick up bike and head on up. At one point I had the bike balanced between shoulder and head as I needed my hands for climbing up. Yes, we went scrambling with the bikes. At last we reached the top. Good views and, more to the point,  nice soft grass to lie on.

Here we needed a planning session. It was billed as a 3hr ride. We had been going 3 hrs and we were only 1/4 of the way around. We decided to continue onto the furthest point and then come back via some small roads (missing out technical forest, which didn’t sound appealing in the muddy icy conditions, and the pony trekking mud bath). The next sections were much easier; we picked up a loaf of bread in a village and were well on our way back when lob 3 occurred. Pete was cycling down the single track road, saw a car heading towards him and hit the brakes. Since he was on black ice, this led to disaster. Pete left the bike spinning towards the oncoming car. He himself executed a neat 180 turn with flip to end up travelling backwards down the hill in a nice arc curving away to the safety of the side of the road.   After much faffing, all was discovered to be basically OK, and at long last we made it back to the campsite, and put a lot of effort into trying to clean the bikes in the dark. We have since discovered that we failed.

Pub, for nerve restorer, pain relief and an extra portion of chips to supplement the dinner. Took the bread to bed with us. This turned out to be a bad move because in the morning we discovered the beastie (smelt like a fox) ate through the tent to get to the bread. Circular hole. 10cm diameter around the join of the groundsheet to fly.

The next morning was also a good hard frost – more of that blue sky stuff,  the tent glistened like Christmas decorations, so still that we sat watching the shadow of steam rising from the tea.  We decided to go for a walk. This turned out to involve no lobbing – despite a good amount of ice around. Just up the hill, over the hill fort (descending the steep north side was done carefully!) along the ridge, well togged up against a bitter cold wind. The ground was frozen so the peat bog was easy; the descent was down gentle grass. A good piece of entertainment was to be had watching the anomalous behaviour of sheep. They were marching in formation – a line of sheep stretching over 1/2 km. After about 10 minutes the front broke so that we had 3 streams of sheep (reminded us of the start of Dad’s Army). A tad tedious having to walk round the hill and back up onto the ridge line, but all in all very good. Journey home tedious.

IMC Roll of Honour of Annual Awards

For an explanation of ‘Lob’, ‘Lobbing’ and ‘Lob of the Year’ please refer to ‘The Noble and Ancient Art of Lobbing‘ page


This years LOTY awards ceremony was held at the prestigeous Masha restaurant, and was compered in verse by Martin Hore.

This year the judges introduced a brand new SI unit of measurement that combines the number of lobs with the number of guidebook stars. This new unit has been unofficially christened the “lobstar”. The winner of this years LOTY is the man who confined his lobbing to two of the finest three star routes on Peak Gritstone, amassing an unassailable total in just one weekend of no less than 21 “lobstars”. Yes, it’s got to be – Guy Reid!

You can the full transcript here.


The winner of this years award is, once again, Steve Culverhouse for his work on ‘The File’ at Higgar Tor. The master of ceremonies was Peter Krug, whos speech may be read here.


You can read a full transcript of the awards ceremony, written by Peter Krug.


“… what followed developed into an adversarial contest of truly epic proportions, best described as ‘The Unprintable versus the Unconquerable’. According to my source, the lobs were many and spectacular, with air time accompanied by wild flapping of arms in a vain attempt to maintain altitude.”

You can read a full transcript of the awards ceremony, written by Martin Hore. Martin opened his awards speech with the lines … “In revenge it falls this year to me to take on the mantel of judge, jury, chief prosecutor, private investigator and raconteur”.


Awarded to Martin Hore after “highly dubious decision making by one of the most biased juries ever to deliberate on behalf of the IMC”. There is no transcript of this award ceremony, which was frankly a drunken ramble.


The winner of this years LOB of the Year with an early start to his young climbing and Lobbing career … Chris Harbottle.

For a full transcript of the awards ceremony, click here.


The winner in 2001, for the style in which he lobbed, the location in front of twenty or more bemused onlookers, the equamity with which he handled the event and, most importantly, for the spectacular effect on the belayer who was hauled forward by the momentum and ending up kissing the rock, has to be Dave Tonks.

For a full transcript of the awards ceremony, click here.

2000 Belayer of the Year

For a sterling effort to reduce his leader’s lobbability by running backwards, like all good belayers should be prepared to do. The Belayer of the Year goes to our illustrious President Steve C.


2000 Lob of the Year

For his impeccable ability to pick out what must be the narrowest of landing places the Newsletter Editor has ever seen in his years of climbing, and he probably will never climb with me again because of this, Lob of the Year 2000 goes to Mark G.


But our winner this year knew that distance wasn’t everything and that style counted too. The venue is Castle Naze and a certain familiar name is leading Left Hand Footstool. Mark G., on belay, takes up the story:

“One nice large Hex for protection, then a dyno for a small hold on the adjacent slab. The heart flutters whilst the finger grip holds but then slowly uncurls. Quick shouts of ‘take in, take in!‘ are followed by the fall, inverting en-route to end up with the Gearman’s head at waist level”.

The excuse produced afterwards was that he was just re-introducing Mark to leading and wanted to show that lobbing was perfectly safe. So the winner this year by a short head: proving that he’s equally adept on both the limestone and gritstone is:- Keith L.

1998 Lob of the Year – Special Runners Up Prize

This year’s runner up, for participating in the highest number of lobs this year, is the Isle of Lundy. As the Island couldn’t make it to the award ceremony – a good job, or there would have been no room for the rest of us! – Clare P. collected it on its behalf, well, she seemed so attached to a small part of it.


1998 Lob of the Year

The decision for the main prize this year was a foregone conclusion. He has the style and determination to carry on lobbing when others might have decided to stay on, has made the motto “been there, climbed it, fell off it” his own, this year’s winner – Steve C.

1997 “Mick Fowler” Climbing Award

The out-and-out joint winners in this new category are obvious. This team has been out there for the last couple of Scottish winter seasons – I hesitate to use the term ice-climbing, given what they’re actually going up. More recently they followed in the footsteps of the master, Mick himself, by attacking the chalk cliffs of the South Coast, and defending themselves as the cliffs fought back! – it’s the ice axe twins, Keith B. and Mike J.


1997 Lob of the Year

The star of this tale was climbing with Jenny M. and John P., on “Beeston Eliminate”, a multi-pitch HVS at Beeston Tor, in the Peaks. The 3rd pitch of this climb is a 22-metre traverse, starting with a difficult step down and across. Jenny led across, protecting the pitch entirely with threaded wires. Our heroine went next and had just started the step down when she found herself unable to hold on, quite a serious position, as she was about 15ft from the next runner and level with it. “What now?” she shouted as her fingers slipped off the hold. “RUN!” was John’s advice. And she did, executing a neat semicircular trot down, across and up the other side. Then back again, and again, in a series of diminishing arcs until finally coming to rest. An exciting pendulum for the spectators (and participant), and notable for the elegance of execution. So for her antics seconding at Beeston Tor, this year’s winner is Carol F.

1996 Pilot’s Licence Award

Combined with his efforts in previous years, Tim B. has now racked up enough air miles to gain his pilot’s licence, although the committee recommends that he give up on the low-level aerobatics and concentrate on vertical distance rather than horizontal.


1996 Lob of the Year

Well, this year’s winner has certainly made his name, so now it’s time for him to claim his “glorious hour”… For being one half of the synchronised lobbing team, and for his well-publicised activities elsewhere, Lob of the Year 1996 goes to the club’s star of stage and TV screen, Martin H.


This was the year of the Club’s Spanish “El Lobbo”, the French “Le Lob” and the lack of a German “Der Lob”. This apart the coveted prize goes to joint winners Mark S. and Claire P. for their combined antics at Stanage Edge.

1994 Belayer of the Year

This year’s Belayer of the Year prize has to go to another newcomer, Keith L., for his method of belaying demonstrated one evening on Curbar Edge. He put the rope through the belay plate and attached the karabiner. He then calmly unzipped his fly, reached in with the karabiner, clipped to something, and started belaying. Very cool Keith, but what’s the breaking strain?!


1994 Lob of the Year

This year, despite a severe cooling off at the end of the season, there could really be only one winner. For his fine efforts on Kinder, and his great route-finding on “Slippery People”, this year’s Lob of the Year goes to Tim B.

1993 Belayer of the Year

The judges took a long time deliberating over this, but, after consulting the rule book, they decided the winner was Steve J., for dropping Scott McR. in Tenerife and dropping himself (on abseil) in Spain Perhaps next year he’ll be in action in this country.


1993 Lob of the Year

The judges were undecided between the merits of pure distance, against injury, against overall performance throughout the year. In the end, consistency won the day, which made the prize almost uncontested. He’s lobbed in Staffordshire, he’s fallen in Derbyshire, he was involved in Wales – for a gutsy performance, when he just never gave up, this year’s Lob of the Year goes to Peter H.

“Trust your feet”

An aspiring leader gains confidence

Sally Southall

Way back you may remember an article from Madame Pres in which she described the satisfaction gained from teaching two beginners to “trust their feet”; well I was that soldier . . .or at least one of them.

It seems appropriate, especially now that she has stepped down, to thank Caroline for all her support, sarcasm and endless patience at the other end of the rope while I did, indeed, learn to “trust my feet”.

I’ll try not to forget all the many other handy hints on climbing safely that are stored in my head ready to be dragged out in moments of sheer terror, exhilaration or just damned good fun

Now that I’m beginning to get the hang of this leading malarkey, I might even try to “push my grade” soon . . . well, maybe.

Thanks also go to all those other brave souls who have assisted me (and hopefully will again), and to Mike Hams for the many embarrassing photographs – yes, I know you’re laughing at me not with me!

Kissing the Master’s feet
(click on image to view in Flickr)

Cairngorm Snow holing

An . . . experience

Alex Purser – December 2007

Last winter, my first bash at Scottish winter stuff, I thought it was a terribly good idea that Cath and I should do a night in a snow hole. Here follows an account of the experience:

After spending the morning doing nothing in particular we left the car at the Cairngorm funicular car park and set off towards Coire an Sneachda with plenty of enthusiasm, rucksacks the size of washing machines and the latest and greatest in snow-relocation technology (straight from the garden shed). Of course, we got the occasional, “Bit late to be heading up, isn’t it?” looks from the parties heading back to the car park but we brushed them aside with a nonchalant chuckle. They were probably going back to some pink, fluffy bunkhouse to paint their toenails! Wimps.

We plodded on, hopped and skipped through the corrie, zoomed up the Goat Track at the pace of a thousand raging (racing?) tortoise and dropped into a pleasantly misty Coire Domhain. Wild conjecture to the fore we now had to decide where to site our snow hole. I believe I was quickly running through the finer points of Brigadier Sir Chimley-Glawson’s 1925 theory on snowflake cohesional differentials in a rarefied atmosphere at the moment the mist cleared enough to spot a dark shape not 50 yards into the corrie.
“That’ll save some time,” we thought, recognizing what it was.

By way of a nice surprise we discovered the pair we were sharing the excellent Carrbridge bunkhouse with having lunch in the hole. They didn’t stick around for long though. They had their last twelve routes to tick on Shelterstone crag before they’d be calling it a day. “Enthusisatic” doesn’t come close describing these chaps

Feeling slightly on the cheaty side, not actually having to dig our own snow hole, we set about at least tidying it up a bit. I thought we actually finished up with quite a respectable porch, which is a shame considering that it was largely demolished by an arse on ingress.

There was still a few hours light left and the weather was glorious. Crisp, bright, artistically hazy and with brilliant views over the Cairngorms. We took a wander towards Loch Avon, enjoying some textbook trouser-seat tobogganing on the way, before heading up towards the top of Coire Lochan for a good view of the sunset. So ideal were conditions that we walked back to the hole in our footsteps from earlier.

Here, the tack changes.

You see, snow holes, however much fun they sound, are a pain. You can’t move without getting wet something you don’t want to, in fact you can barely move full stop unless you’ve built a veritable palace (as opposed to our modest offering). And we’d forgotten to bring biscuits thus sullying the entire experience and heavily biasing me forever more against our icy, Hobnobless abode.
In their defence, they are warm and offer excellent shelter from the wind and we managed to enjoy supper in relative comfort.

However, come morning the roof will have sagged sufficiently to nigh on pin you to your sleeping platform and will start dripping on you just as you want to get out of bed. The Chinese were onto something with that water-torture business – the dripping is truly maddening.
We ate breakfast outside; out being infinitely more pleasant than in.


It’s not impossible, or even difficult, to snow hole; just annoying. I’m afraid the novelty wore off quite quickly and, in this case anyway, the problems far outweighed the benefits. We were glad to have done it but mainly so we can tick snow holing off our lists of things to do. Maybe a more remote camp with some far-flung objective in mind would make it worthwhile.

Would I snow hole again?
If you’d asked me at the time I’d probably have said something sarcastic with an overall, “Not bloody likely!” feel to it.
I’ve now had all summer to forget how much I disliked it so could quite easily give it the benefit of the doubt and have another go (the season is nearly on us after all).
Watch this space.

How Gunni grew wings…

Gunni Page – January 2008

A voice behind me piped up cheerfully: “Here are my lucky nuts, Gunni.” I choked on my muesli…

It was the morning of the first day of the beginner’s follow on meet and I was innocently sitting outside my tent having breakfast. Having tentatively put the word around that I was hoping to start leading some easy routes soon, Caroline had very kindly offered me some of her surplus gear to get my rack started. However, as this conversation had been had a) some time ago and b) over a pint in the pub, I hadn’t expected her to remember. But here she was, true to “Madame Pres” form, crab with the lucky nuts in hand and looking very surprised at the sight of me with milk dribbling down my chin… There was no getting out of it now, was there? Me and my big mouth…

Though I had studied the guidebook for the area carefully beforehand and had marked some suitable – or so I thought – 1st leads, the masses of climbers present at that day’s chosen venue, The Roaches, meant that I didn’t actually succeed in leading anything that day. I still managed to second several nice routes, though, and enjoyed some great climbing. So, lucky nuts dangling unused off my harness, I retreated back to the car that evening, feeling a mixture of disappointment at not accomplishing my objective for the day and (ok, I admit it only to you) a little relief at not having had any difficult lead situations to deal with, as, of course, I wasn’t nervous about my first proper lead AT ALL.

True to Staffordshire spec, the next morning dawned a bit grey and breezy. And things were to get worse… No more spilt milk actually, but Johnboy announcing cheerfully that the chosen venue for our group for the day was in fact Hencloud, as he wanted to meet up there with Nick, who – since leaving the flatlands of Suffolk for sunny Sheffield in the summer – is now a “crag local” (who said we’d be bitter??). Well, the routes at Hencloud have a reputation for being hard for the grade, the whole crag is much more exposed and there aren’t more than a handful of easy routes. So I mentally prepared myself for a day belaying and bonding with my duvet jacket.

Cue the ever-supportive Clio, who was having none of it. Once arrived at the crag, but not before giving a very impressive and gutsy performance trying to lead “Reunion Crack”, a VS 5a**, she bullied me (in the nicest possible way) into trying the very short and low grade “Chockstone Crack” as a first lead. Well, talking of trying to get off the ground! I just couldn’t do it and felt disillusioned and desperately sorry for Clio and Steve, who were trying their best to talk me up the rock, all the while getting colder and colder and probably thinking “What IS she doing? This is a “Mod”!. I was a little happier when Steve tried the first few moves himself and agreed that for someone my height they were hard and maybe we should move onto another route instead (no offence taken, I always knew that one day being a shortarse would come in handy). So, off we all trundled to find Johnboy and Nick, who were climbing at the other end of the crag. Right, I thought, this weekend’s plan is going nowhere…

A quick check of my pack produced some much-needed sustenance and a can of Red Bull. I can only put it down to this liquid refreshment (and, ok, a little more bullying from Clio) that I soon found myself gearing up to lead “The Arête”, a superb looking 30m long HVD***. Well, what can I say: while Clio belayed me, Steve soloed up beside me to give hints and moral support (which was MUCH appreciated), I placed every bit of gear I had and then some, thoroughly enjoyed the experience and finally topped out with a big whoop. What a feeling! Having set up the belay I quickly brought Clio up. I am certain that by that time she well and truly regretted her earlier persistence as she had got quite cold belaying me and was now having to take my rather well placed gear out as well. Luckily, the stiff breeze took all swearwords, which might have been muttered, away before they could reach my delicate ears. Seeing as my grin went all the way round my head at that time, I probably wouldn’t have heard that well anyway. Eventually Clio joined me and Steve, we broke down the belay and set off down the crag – the perma-smile still plastered across my face and the lucky nuts dangling happily off my harness, this time used and abused.

Now, why exactly I bottled out of leading an 11m short route, graded at a mere “Moderate”, to then successfully lead an “HVD” route three times as high an hour later, only God and the makers of Red Bull will be able to answer. All I know is that I thoroughly enjoyed my first “proper” lead and for this reason my thanks go to:
Caroline – for the kind surrender of the lucky nuts
Steve – for reassuring me all the way up
Clio – for being the nicest bully I know
The makers of Red Bull – for giving me wings

Bring on the summer – the lucky nuts and I are ready! (And I will remember to bring something non-spillable for breakfast as well as plenty of “liquid wings”!)