This article is a textual collage of the some of our favorite climbing memories of 2007.
A year in 100 words
cold, blue-sky days; early promise changed to ‘wet, wet, wet’ and ‘mud is all around’.
Summer came . . . went . . . came back. Skewed-weather year.
Log book a fine wine
-’55, vintage year; Excalibur, Count’s Buttress, The Stalk, Nifl-Heim, Moyer’s Buttress.
Spice with the odd E2. Try again: Sloth, Cenotaph Corner.
replace “lost” tent pegs; cold mountain route on Cloggy summits in Caribbean sun; being
part of a first E2; J7 on M5; late-night lift back to camp – twice; lolly after Chee Dale;
Hard Rock almost Hot Rock on Gogarth; Swanage night rescue; Peak Limestone – it just gets
Inspiration overcomes disappointment
Thanks to the spectre of injury that follows me around like a forlorn Labrador, the
high point of my 2007 is easy to identify – Beginner’s Weekend! Having introduced my
daughter and a work mate to the modest excitement of indoor climbing, Beginner’s weekend
was their first try on the real thing. Two great days on grit, and the usual pleasantly
laid back and welcoming atmosphere of a big IMC meet, convinced them both that the walk in
was worth it over the convenience of The Cragg. Sadly, due to an unfortunate altercation
between my velocipede and a BMW, we’ve not been back out at all this year. Still, there’s
always Scotland to look forward to, and at least one of my recruits should be up for a
trudge through the white stuff. “Bring it on!”
Encouraging two beginners up their first VS 4b. Knowing they could do it but getting
them to believe in themselves and their feet was the real challenge and the real reward.
Not perhaps one of my best years for special memories – things got off to a slow start
in the wet Spring weather. However, the highlight has to be the Fehrmann route on the
Campanili Basso in the Brenta Dolomites. Eleven 50 metre pitches of Hard Severe / VS on
continuously steep terrain. The swoop of exposure as I led the traverse on pitch 10 was
quite spectacular. Two other memories from the day were being overtaken on the route by
the “Dresden Four”, a party of amazing German climbers of average age 66, and Carol’s
comment as the full height of the face came into view on our descent to the hut – “If I’d
seen it was that big I’d never have started up it!”
Climbing Avalanche/Red Wall/Longlands Continuation (Lliwedd) on the August Bank Holiday
proved to be a great reminder of how good climbing is in God’s Country. OK the climbing
wasn’t technically hard but there were a couple of spicy moments on thinly protected
traverses. There was interesting route-finding (OK I admit we never found the Longland’s
Continuation until we crossed it near the top and opted for an easy scramble up the nearby
gulley). As Louise says topping out after over 7 hours on route and about 13 pitches (with
a two hour walk back to Pen-y-Pass in fading light) was our climbing moment of the year.
That evening further jubilation ensued in the Vaynol Arms having learnt that the route was
now graded Severe.
My favourite climbing experience of this year was when dad and I did a seven-pitch
route on Gimmer. It wasn’t necessary very hard but wow it was high. I loved how you were
so exposed, and for once I didn’t freak out! If you know my dad you will know he likes to
push you hard, and never ever lets you give up (even if you cant do that grade he will do
anything to get you to the top). This time he didn’t need to push as I was having so much
fun; however coming down was another matter. We’d had navigational difficulties just
getting to the climb. Dad sprinted up the mountain and then we, or should I say dad, had
made some bad route decisions and we ended up scrambling up a steep wet grass bank. We
came down in similar style, sliding down a scree slope on my bum (to dad’s dismay), then
down a wet slope and finally abseiling from a tree. Of course none of this was done
without me reminding him how embarrassing it would be when I told everyone in the climbing
club, and numerous swear words (from dad obviously). When we finally got back I was
ravenous, tired, and had managed to collect a new friend (a tick). But all in all it was a
brilliant experience and dad was hilarious!!!
Climbing on “The Gambit”, North Wales at Easter
Recipe for hypothermia turned into a fantastic
route. Beautiful walk-in at 6 am followed by 2 hours of fabulous climbing (in the
shade) and increasing warmth from about halfway up. Incredible views (and sunshine) on the
top. Perfect. Must sort out this southfacing thing…….
Climbing in the peaks, leading for the first time. The climbing walls don’t teach you
During our “Summer” in April this year I spent a glorious weekend doing the back of
Skiddaw with a most memorable moment I shall dine out on for years to come.
Bowscale up to the tarn across to Blencathra to Skiddaw, Skiddaw to High Pike and back
to Bowscale. Friday night camp at Bowscale tarn and sat night at the Lingy Hut on Gt Lingy
After a long hot, sunny, short wearing saturday made it up the hill to the Lingy Hut
and what a site for sore eyes it was. Looks like an old chicken shed, wired to the hill
but a bothy is a welcome friend!
Went in and much done to keep the wind out ,gallons of expanding foam etc. which had
Trangia on and running, some superstar had left a sachet of Cadbury’s Hot Chocolate and
a flapjack bar well they were mine now and went down a treat before I made my “spagbog”
and allowed me to read thru the visitors book.
So elated at my stay in hut had a full ablutions session, and prepped myself for an
early night and a good 6am start as had to be off hill by 9.30 to pick daughter up from
uni get together in Preston at 12.
Climbed into sleeping bag for the most regal of sleeps and was sound o’ by 9pm.
12.30 am I was awoken by the door rattling (locks from inside) thinking I was under
attack by sheep! You all know that feeling! Head torches thru the slit window and I heard
” there’s no one in there why’s it locked”
Out of my dossbag, up to door, unlatch, torch on, open door, stunned silence and I say
“What time do you call this, I ordered my bloody pizza hours ago!!”
Three guys, three girls, 2 dogs RAFLAO!! When they regained their composure “If
there’s room do you mind if we stay the night?”
Well they got themselves settled and then sat outside till 4am drinking, birthday girl
thought be great idea to go up the hill for the night, there’ll be noone there!!!
No doubt they too dine out on that one!!!
Merry Xmas to all at IMC, few words eh!!
Leading my nephew up a VS 6 months after getting knocked off my bicycle.
I was chuffed to lead HVS trad, 6b sport and TD Alpine this year, but my biggest feeling of accomplishment had to be finally nailing Veranda Buttress at Stanage. Hard V. Diff, and the hardest thing I climbed all year!
My 1st , and only, outdoor session of the year and 1st time on the Roaches. I found
myself on the beginners FU weekend. Under superb stewardship of Lou & Pete, I followed on
both Maud’s garden S*** & Damascus Crack HS** 4b & didn’t bottle out (although rumour has
it some less that vicar-ly language was uttered on occasion!). What a feeling ☺
The disappointment of nearly climbing 11 pitches of stunning looking rock in the French
Pyrenees after firstly spending hours attempting to approach from the wrong side of the
mountain, then being thwarted by the kind of weather that makes the northern side of the
Pyrenean ranges so green & lush! We’ll be back, Dent D’Orlu ☺
Lessons learnt: Read the guidebook more carefully especially when its in French…..
Moments in Time
My memories of climbing are like frozen moments in time – usually captured feelings of
fear, exhilaration, and occasionally success.
Belaying my leader as he
traverses across Sirplum, and struggling to suppress my rising feelings of fear – “I’m
going to have to do THAT!”
Abseiling into the unseen
zawn by the remote North lighthouse. Confronted at the bottom by an awesome sea tunnel
that carves its way through from one side of the island to the other. Four seals leave the
sanctuary of their cave in a panic, throwing themselves over the rocks and passing within
a few feet of me as they try to get to the water. My feeling of sorrow at having invaded
their home is banished, first by the arrival of my friends, then by Mary Patricia Rosalea.
She’s our route out of this committing place, and takes all my concentration.
Standing at the top of the
mountain at the end of the day. The ski lifts have stopped running. It’s absolutely
silent. I’m facing my first red run.
Discovering the tranquility
of Cratcliffe, and the brutality of its routes – the jamming crack on Suicide Wall and the
thrutchy offwidth that ends Sepulchre.
The unusual feeling of
confidence as I cruze Sloth.
Leaving my friends behind on
the previously cramped belay ledge as I step out onto the blunt arete on Hangover. An even
greater feeling of loneliness as my last piece of protection recedes way below my feet –
the 5b moves being too hard for me to be able to get anything else in. Gulp.
Climbing on Gimmer with
my daughter. The seven pitches made up by White Slab and ‘B route’ being her first
mountain experience. Both of us whooping with joy at the exposure. Totally confident in
each other. Big grins all round.
Grabbing the jug after the crux on Gypsy; ½ an hour spent working out the crux move and
psyching myself up and then it all went magically smoothly…
Looking down from the
limestone pinnacles at the top of Dovedale on a crisp October morning onto the
Autumn-coloured trees below.