Beginners Meet & Pre-beginners meet

Just thought I’d post some photos from the beginners meet (Sat 17 to Sun 18 May) and from Fri 16th when some of us got there early to ‘warm-up’ and enjoy the beautiful weather – I’ve reduced the size of the photos on here, if you want the full resolution then let me know.

16th May – Stanage

ThrombosisJeremy and Andy trying to see who can lose most skin on Thrombosis

17th May – Burbage North

Baz and Billie on one of the cracks on Ash Tree wall (either Ash Tree Crack or Bilberry Crack)

18th May – Birchen Edge

SailorsVarious attempts at Sailors Crack


IMC Champions Cup 2014 Results

And the full results from the 2014 Champions Cup sponsored by Action Outdoors – this year we had a very good turnout with 23 people taking part across the three categories.


1 Josh Turner 662
2 Aisha Gilbert 551
3 Christina Ennis 467
4 Baz Fagg 412
5 Emma Rowlinson 217

Competition was tight in the beginners category with Josh & Baz vying for the lead most of the night, with the completion of the bonus route 19 it looked like Aisha had clinched the top spot, but with Josh completing it he topped the group at the end.


1 Robert Ellam 927
2 Matthew Turner 666
3 Sylwia Rowniak 656
4 Andy Smith 583
5 Lloyd Boyle 416
6 Richard Williams 301
7 Mark Gilbert 234
8= Simon Watts 217
8= Pippa Clover 217
10 Gerry Gilbert 151

We had a large field competing within the intermediate group this year, with Rob and Sylwia swapping positions frequently during the night. Interestingly Josh would have been third had he entered the Intermediates (which as he’s won beginners he will be next year).

Congratulations to Rob for his victory in Intermediates, which comes two years after his victory in the Beginners category, good look in experts next year!


1 Alistair O’Connell 3817
2 Tom Odell 1651
3 Martin Hore 1621
4 Jason Porter 1589
5 Steve Culverhouse 1422
6 Mike Turner 1394
7 Jeremy Hall 1005
8= John Buchan 823

In the early stages of the competition things looked tight in the experts category with Alistair, Tom & Jason trading places, however as the night developed a clear leader emerged. Being the only person who completed routes 1 & 12 Ali secured victory with those two climbs alone.

So congratulations to Alistair O’Connell our 2014 IMC Champion.

Thanks to everyone for a great night, the initial count shows we’ve raised £85. Funds from the last three IMC

And finally thanks to those who assisted with last night:

Marc for assisting with the night, including route setting, scoring, belaying, fixing loose holds and retrieving your quickdraws when needed.

Guy, Steve, Rob, Martin & Shaun for their assistance in setting the routes.

Rob & Hannah for their excellent cakes for the raffle (my office enjoyed demolishing Rob’s cake earlier today) and to everyone else who supplied raffle prizes.

And finally to Action Outdoors for kindly agreeing to sponsor the event again this year.

If anyone wishes to have another go at any of the competition routes the route sheets are behind the normal ones on the wall.

IMC Champions Cup 2014

The 19th of March sees the fourth annual IMC Champions Cup, kindly sponsored by Action Outdoors

Registration starts from 7pm.

Climbing between 7.30 and 9.30.

You can register after 7.30 so don’t worry if it’s a rush from work.

As we did last year the year the registration and scoring will be computerised, and if we’ve got the magic spreadsheet correct we will even have live scores.

There will be Three categories:

1. Beginner/getting back into it
2. Intermediate/OK, I know I’m not really a beginner anymore
3. Expert/veterans, I know I’m not going to win but I have been climbing a long time

As with previous years there will be a mix of routes from simple to fiendish; this year there will be four lines with a top rope, four that are lead only and making a new entrance is a line with Pink Pointing. You’ll need your own rope/quickdraws for the lead routes, and your own rope for the Pink Pointed routes, both of these are only open to those entering in the Intermediate or Expert categories.

It’s all for fun, a little cash raising for the club with the raffle & entrance fee, there will probably be a cake or two- that sort of thing, so please come along and join in even if you’re not really the competitive type.

This year to help the IMC ‘holds fund’ there will be a £2 entrance fee, and of course don’t forget you will need to pay £4.20 to Copleston in the usual way. If you’ve not been for a while then look out for the new purple and black holds purchased jointly between the club and the school.

The rules are as per previous years, you get points for any route you complete cleanly, if you weight the rope, fall or need a rest you can try the route again, but you must start from the ground again. But if you can’t do it no hogging the line to keep trying!

We will be adding the results and some photos onto the blog after the event.

And finally the bonus routes as promised:

  • Line 5 (Competition Route 19) – Blue Hands / Minty Feet
  • Line 9 (Competition Route 20) – Orange Hands / Features for Feet

Sicily Hot Rock trip – March 2014

The IMC March hot rock trip went off virtually without a hitch, last week. 9 Intrepid IMCers braved the wild Mediterranean March climate and even wilder rock faces to return triumphant, if not very bronzed.

It wasn’t a bad spot to stay in – this is a view from the Col above our rented house

The rock is pretty sharp though…


Ali powers his way up a 6c

Karen cranking in sector Bunker

Tom in sector Bunker

Robert styling his way up a 5c+


Although the climbing was excellent, the food & drink wasn’t far behind. John & Sylwia came over one evening for dinner, meanwhile Robert admires possibly his greatest cocktail creation yet, a pear juice & mandarin liqueur combo (that still needs a name…)

Copleston Re-routing – new routes up

Following a busy weekend removing, cleaning (10 loads in the dishwasher) and re-routing there are now a large selection of new routes for you to try out.

Martin will probably be along in a minute with some better pictures but to give you a taster…
We have new routes ranging from 3 to 6a+ on the vertical & overhanging walls (Guy is probably working on the 6b). There are Blue & Orange 3s on the vertical wall, a Green 4 on the overhang, Beige & Yellow 5s on the vertical wall and a whole collection of other new challenges.

The slab has been updated to have two beginner routes, blue on the right being the simpler of the two.

There are two new challenges on the step overhang – Beige at 5+ and a challenging Black. The next-door vertical wall now has challenges from 4(Yellow on the left) to a challenging red involving a lay-back on the slab and for a final bit of fun you could try the mantelshelf route.

So enjoy, more routes will follow soon. We hope to get some new holds soon working with Copleston School. The club holds fund is going well, if you wish to contribute please let me know.

And finally remember after re-routing holds can spin so take care.

Copleston Re-routing

The big re-routing weekend has started, the walls are now looking rather blank. Features only on six panels for now and four other old routes have gone too, hopefully I’ll finish cleaning the holds and we will get some new routes up tomorrow & Sunday.



Dolomites – Sept 2013

Here are a few pictures from our trip to the Dolomites

Heading for the hills: East face of Catinaccio (Rosengartenspitze) in the background with Punta Emma to the right, and Vajolet Towers appearing above Punta Emma.

Steve on top of Punta Emma, with the Vajolet Towers in the background

Simon enjoying the exposure on the South West Arete of the Delago Tower

Johnboy posing near the top of the Delago Tower

Newsletter – February 2012


Bluff your way in climbing – Steve Culverhouse – Part zero of the IMC essential skills series

IMC in Snowdonia in December – Jeremy Hall – Jeremy is now doing the lecture cicuit in preparation for the next expedition

Hot Rock 2011 – Ian Thurgood – Comedy, horsemanship and some climbing in Sicilia.

Old Men on Stoer – Mike Turner – An account of a climb on the Original Route, Old Man of Stoer.


Editors’ note

Well, it has been a long time since the last edition. Thanks to Steve for his article, being the first that I’ve had for a very long time. Also thanks to the rest who responded quickly to my request for some more.

Of course, we have a new president, but I forgot to ask her for a presidential address, which is why there isn’t one.

Our outgoing president did the Lob of the Year speech, but this was an impromptu
effort, with no written record, so that’s not here either.


Snowdonia early December

Mind and body pushed to the limits at altitude

Many thanks to Eddie for putting together this excellent meet.

The Christmas shopping streets of Ipswich, Stowmarket and Bury St. Edmonds were
left deserted; Blacks and Millets went into administration; the tea shop on the
corner of Museum Street saw no business at all, in fact global consumer
capitalism as we know it was more or less brought to its evil knees as the good
and simple folk of the Ipswich Mountaineering Club headed like a mighty legion
of post apocalyptic warriors for the hills of North Wales.

I think there was about twenty of us altogether and there wasn’t a bunk to be had
(apart from that one in the kitchen area attached to the wall by a single rusty
nail) at the Cwellyn Arms bunkhouse.

Martin, Sue, George and I went up on the Thursday night, ready for a full day on
the Friday. We did the classic N-S Tryfan scramble in cold “wintery” conditions.
That is to say there were the odd flurries of snow, but no need for axes and
crampons. Tryfan- the rock, the aspect is superb. There’s a hundred different
lines to choose, all for yourself, but always taking you higher. It’s sustained
without ever being committing. I love it. We all loved it. The four of us got
into Bwlch Tryfan about 2pm and decided not to attempt Bristly Ridge in what
little day light was left. We did slog up the scree slope to Glyder Fach, and
after a photo session on a cannon stone descended due east towards Llyn Caseg
Fraith and then due north into Cwm Tryfan and back to the car by about 4.30pm.
Having left at around 10.30am, you will note that we weren’t going at record
speed, but a very satisfying day indeed.

Saturday was the big one. An attempt on the country’s highest mountain via the
unconquered, some have said unconquerable south west ridge. Actually it’s a very
pleasant walk up the Rhyd Ddu Path straight out of the bunk house. Maddy, Al,
Adrian, Sue, Jon and I summited in time for lunch. The views at the top were
spectacular. At one point I was able to see as far Al eating a cheese sandwich
next to me. The cafe was closed and the train wasn’t running so we had to walk
down. We did so via the Ranger Path and took a detour up to Clogwyn to pay
homage to Johnny Dawes and the Indian Face. As we sat looking up at the
magnificent wall of granite, enjoying a flask of tea, Adrian suddenly dashed
towards the inscrutable blank face of Clogwyn Du’r Arddu. Al and I gave
desperate chase. We knew it was madness; not in this rain, not in those boots,
not in the failing light. He was 50 yards ahead, now 100, it was impossible,
around the lake- disappearing into the mist. At last Al and I fell exhausted at
the very foot of that towering E9, but it was too late. Adrian had already
touched the slab and blown the on-sight. [None of this actually happened.
Jeremy was obviously affected by the altitude. Thankfully, his mental condition
improved marginally once we got nearer to sea level. -Ed]

Sunday was an altogether gentler affair, along the Nantle Ridge- I suspect a
little trodden outpost of Snowdonia. From Rhyd Ddu head to the top of Y Garn and
the Ridge presents an obvious line stretching south-west. The visibility on
Sunday was poor, but occasionally the skies cleared to reveal views across
Caernarfon Bay. It rained and rained and then rained. But this did not deter
Nessie or her handlers. There are a two or three gentle broad ridges running
south east off the Nantlle Ridge. We took the first of these descending off Trum
y Ddysgl, but staying west of the woods until picking up the footpath at
Bwlch-y-ddwy-elor and heading north through the woods. It looked easy enough to
get lost in there, but happily Hannah knew the way. [Eddie and I did get
lost in there the previous year. – Ed]
This was a great hill walk, but I
think if you go further along Nanttle Ridge it does get more serious.
[Actually, the party had done the scrambling section. The rest is easy walking.
Arguably one shouldn’t return to high altitude so soon. – Ed]

Hot Rock – Sicily 2011

Suffolk climbers migrate south for the winter

You know how it goes – the UK climbing season is drawing to a close for us fair
weather dudes so thoughts turn towards getting some sun on yer back with the
prospect of a bit of bolt clipping thrown in for good measure.

And so it went, Steve C started mumblings of a trip to Turkey or South of France
(anywhere but Spain apparently!) and was anyone interested. I had read a recent
article about some good looking cliffs at San Vito Lo Capo in NW Sicily so threw
that into the melting pot as an option. After a healthy(?) dose of good old IMC
faffing we eventually decided Sicily it was to be for Steve, Clare, Christina
and yours truly. After all, it’s a big ole island with climbing in areas other
than San Vito if it was crap there.

Then the jungle drums started a-rattling and before we knew it we were looking
for accommodation to suit 11 people with only one couple included – i.e. a BIG
place with lots of beds! Much cyber time later and Mr C, with Christina’s help,
had unearthed the very place, secured the booking and obtained commitment from
all interested parties. The game was on!

The usual rigmarole ensued; booking flights – you know the thing, “surely there
is a better deal than feathering Mr O’Leary’s nest”, but unfortunately not –
hire cars, transport to and parking at UK airport, packing, weighing and
re-packing bags, divvying up gear etc, etc.

But, finally the day arrived

So there we were, 11 bleary eyed climbers looking for strong coffee in Stansted
airport at early O’clock am on Saturday 8th October 2011. On arrival at Palermo,
Steve, Clare, Jiehan & Kristina got their hire car and headed off as advance
guard while I, Christina, Johnboy & Karen held back for Tom, Ali & Emma to get
their car sorted out. San Vito is about 1.25 hours from Palermo airport and is
even signposted along the way!

Much of the scenery is pretty scrubby and there is a general feeling of being
unspoilt by excessive tourism. I had this feeling throughout the week, but
couldn’t help wondering how long it will last.

The good thing about Steve going ahead is he could work out how to get to the
villa for the rest of us! Also, we all had to complete forms with name, age, UK
address, passport numbers and stuff to register our visit with the local
Polizia, so it was necessary for the villa owner to meet us on arrival. The
communication was interesting – us with a smattering of pigeon Italian and her
with slightly more lucid pigeon English! Eventually all was done, rooms chosen
and it was time to head down town for some lunch.

Down town took less than 10 minutes in the car, but 30 minutes trying to decide
where it was safe to park without risking having the car towed away! While
wandering around looking for a suitable eatery we discovered that this was San
Vito’s climbing festival weekend, so gear-fondling opportunities abounded! The
only purchases made however were of a fantastic fold out topo for all the cliffs
in San Vito showing a whole stash of development since any of the guide books we
had purchased in the UK were published (and about 1/3rd of the price).

Steve’s team had got into town ahead of the other 2 cars (a theme for the week!)
and were ready to go off and find some climbing while we sat and finished our
lunch. “Is that a brass band I can hear” someone said as a funeral procession
rounded the corner. It was a definite Don Corleone moment!

Tom, Ali, Emma, Johnboy & Karen all decided to hit the rock after lunch too, but
Christina and I opted for a more genteel past time – shopping!

“Yeah, yeah this is all very well, but what of the climbing?” I hear you cry.
Patience, dear reader, patience.

Come the evening, the rest of the assembled party went across the road to the
local pizzeria for dinner while C and I knocked up a tasty treat back at the
villa thinking we would wander over there later in the week. This, however, was
not to be as it appeared not to open for the rest of the time we were there!
Still, much fun was had with communal cooking, eating and general evening

Now, let’s get to the interesting stuff shall we?

Well actually I won’t recount every climb on every day with a blow by blow
account, but here are some highlights and personal favourite moments.

The coastal cliffs of San Vito Lo Capo run for about 5-6km and range from short
8m routes to 50m 2 pitchers – all bolted and with route names painted on the
rock at frequent intervals to make it impossible not to know where you are. Some
traditional purists might suggest this is cheating, but it certainly helps when
you’ve only got 6 days to explore a new venue. In addition to the physical
range, there are routes from grade 2 (yes, grade 2!) up to high 7’s/low 8’s – so
plenty for everyone.

One day C and I were bimbling around in one of the sectors when a local turned
up, did a couple of quick routes (not on our recently purchased topo) then set
his top rope up, whipped out his power tool and proceeded to start drilling
holes. We could see at least two new routes he was creating, so our new topo is
already out of date!

The rock is typical Mediterranean limestone with occasional areas of smoother
flowstone that gives a slightly different climbing experience. Karen
unfortunately had to return to Blighty on the Wednesday so Steve, Clare, Jiehan
& Kristina took her to the airport early doors and had a day climbing on some
cliffs above Palermo. Apparently this area had more of the flowstone type rock
than San Vito.

The Cliffs

View from the cliffs
The Cliffs (click on any picture for larger image) View from the cliffs

Just inland (by only 5 minutes!) is a big old lump of rock called Monte Monaco.
In front of this is a smaller pinnacle by the name of Pizzo Monaco. There are
several routes described in the guide book on both bits of rock but one that
took my eye during the pre-trip reading was the 6-7 pitch Pace Di Chiostro
graded at 5a overall on Pizzo Monaco, with trad gear backed up by bolted crux
sections and bolted belays. What a fantastic route! Christina and I took
ourselves off to have a play (after Steve & Clare had sussed it out and supplied
some beta). Many of the pitches were 35m-40m long which made communication in
the wind and without walkie-talkies (something had to be sacrificed in the
packing) tricky leading us to resort to the ‘tug on the rope’ system! And the
fun didn’t stop there – the abseil off the back of Pizzo Monaco was a 2 stage
affair and it felt like you were about to walk off the edge to find the first ab
station. Just to add an extra frisson of excitement, the wind kept blowing the
ropes into the fissure down the corner we were abseiling down and causing it to
get stuck on seemingly micro-protuberances of sharp limestone! But, all in all a
brilliant day’s climbing. Oh, other than the lucky miss at lunch break. There
was a German couple (lots of Germans there) nipping at our heels about half way
up so we decided to chill, have some food and generally soak up the atmosphere
to let them climb past. So as not to get in their way, we moved round the ledge
to under a bulge a few metres away from the belay point. Just as well it was
under a bulge, the leader set off up the diedre for the step left out on to the
face. The next thing we knew there was a shout and a whoosh as a lump of rock
about 0.5m square came hurtling down missing our ledge by cms (thanks to the
bulge above) before continuing on its inevitable, gravity fuelled, journey –
phew! After that we both hurriedly re-installed our helmets – although I doubt a
hard hat would have made any difference if that had bounced off your bonce!

Comedy Moment

Pizzo Monaco
Comedy Moment Pizzo Monaco

Best single pitch sport route of the week? The 6a Oltre Manica in Sector
Calamancina 1. There was just something pure about this 28m open corner and face
route. The 6a moves were wonderfully technical and flowing with a little bit of
thought required on route finding and a pleasant bit of exposure near the top –
perfect. Plus the added bonus of only one other pair climbing in the whole
Sector when we did it.

The most unlikely route? The grade 3 in Sector Salinella Pineta. Seemingly
ridiculous moves out of a hollow in the foot of the cliff –but actually it’s
dead easy! There’s also a grade 4 starting in the cave at Sector Torre Isulidda
and traversing round just under the roof of the cave to the lower off – crazy!

Best spectator moment? Jiehan’s horizontal body jam and bolt clipping manoeuvre
on one of the more exciting 6a+ routes – an absolute comedy gem!

Most concerning locals? The ‘horse people’ as we came to call them. A community –
probably of Gypsy/Romany descent and most likely operating in an off-grid
economy – riding around in their carts and galloping (yes, galloping) their
horses along the tarmac road using hardly a saddle and only a rope halter. The
poor horse’s legs were splaying all over the shop and it looked as if it would
take a tumble at any moment. Not to mention the sparks from its shoes. Some of
these guys were also seen sitting on their horses outside corner cafés drinking
espresso, talking and generally gesticulating in an Italian manner.

To get a flavour of what the climbing at San Vito is like just click here. The
‘new’ routes are a bit out of date, but the pictures are worth a look.

How to get there?

As mentioned above, Ryanair fly to Palermo from Stansted. I think Sleezy Jet fly
to Trapani but I don’t know from which airport, certainly not Stansted.

Where to stay?

The usual internet search brings up a plentiful supply of apartments and villas
in San Vito itself and the surrounding area. But, if we were to go back, the
first choice would be El Bahira. If you can manage it on the meagre baggage
allowance allowed by Cheap Flights Ltd, you can camp here or, with less hassle,
rent one of the in-situ mobile homes or apartments – they even do a special
climbers’ rate between October and March. An added bonus if you stay here is
that every sector (other than Monte Monaco) is within walking distance, in fact
you will be quite literally under the climbing as Sectors El Bahira & Campeggio
are directly behind the site.

So, there you have it. I started this article thinking I would just do a few
words following Adrian’s last plea for copy, but I seem to have rambled on for 3
pages – an indication of how good we thought the place was. And we didn’t even
get to explore the area around Mt Etna and the E/SE coasts!