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11,000 routes – WhiTicker’s Almanac!

So Linda spilled the beans on the WhatsApp group, and my little secret is out! I have been “persuaded” to write a bit about it!

Those of you that were around the CMC in 2015 will recall that I climbed my 10,000th different rock climb in July of that year, whilst on holiday in France. Since then, the majority of the next 1,000 ticks seem to have been acquired on trips to Europe, so when Covid turned up, I started to worry that the 37 remaining routes I needed to reach 11,000 might be harder to achieve than anticipated. The problem being, I have climbed extensively in the U.K. over the years, and there are very few options at an easy enough grade that I haven’t climbed already.

When we were finally released from lockdown, even climbing things I had done umpteen times before was hard work, but I did find 3 Diffs and an HVDiff at Castle Naze that had previously escaped me, and so began the chipping away at the 37. A trip to Back Forest (near The Roaches) was very discouraging, as I found that someone had cranked up the angle of the crag since I had last been there, as well as filling all the routes I hadn’t done with vegetation, and coating their finishes in green slime. After that, I struck gritstone off the list, and was pleased to get a really good Severe tick at Pleasley Vale (limestone). 28 to go!

A new strategy was needed, so we booked a campsite near Frodsham, for 4 nights, and headed over there in our trusty VW campervan. Cheshire might not seem a very obvious destination, but it was chosen for the reason that I had a copy of Cheshire & Merseyside Sandstone that I had never used. It contained a delightful-sounding quarry at Irby, in The Wirral – clean, quick-drying, south-facing sunny slabs, with the majority of the 27 routes in the Diff to VS range. Also there was Helsby – I had climbed here twice in 1975, but as we didn’t have a guidebook, I still don’t know what routes I did, so they haven’t been counted.

We duly arrived at Irby Quarry, and were mildly discouraged by a damp-looking west-facing wall, and some fairly extensive growth of gorse bushes at the top of the crag. However, the first section of the south slabs was clean and dry, and the top of the crag clear, so we set to, working our way up from Diff to VS, and thoroughly enjoying the slabby, technical climbing, with just adequate protection. A final Severe on the West Wall proved to be the greatest test of the day. I came away feeling quite pleased with progress, especially as I had managed a couple of VSs. 22 to go!

The south-facing slab at Irby Quarry

2020-09-08ImgMar0002 – the south-facing slab at Irby Quarry.

Helsby is the major crag in Cheshire, and is well seen from the M56 as you head to or from North Wales. My advice is – keep going! The crag faces north to northwest, so doesn’t get much sun until mid-afternoon. The sandstone rock is mostly black (or green with slime!), and mostly very steep to alarmingly overhanging. Just to help matters, it had rained during the night, and was very windy when we inspected the routes. Even getting around at the foot of the West Buttress was hard work, and we didn’t see a single route that attracted us enough to get the gear out. Instead, we flogged up to the top of Helsby Hill, where there was a superb view, and a sunny meadow with sheltering bushes where we had lunch. Suitably fortified, and with the sun now reaching the southern end of the Upper Tier, we finally got the gear out for a pleasant-looking 7 metre long VDiff called CB Crack. Appearances can be deceptive – this was the VDiff from hell! It latched on to you the moment you left the ground, and didn’t relent until you hauled out at the top – thank goodness those final holds were HUGE! Pat put in a valiant effort to remove my runners, but had no strength left for the remaining moves. We returned to camp to lick our wounds. 21 to go, but if they were all going to be like that, I would need the rest of the year!

Horrorshow at Helsby!

2020-09-09ImgMar0007 – the Horrorshow at Helsby! – CB Crack is the overhanging flake in the centre.

Back to Irby next day, where we managed to find a few more routes that could be climbed without getting ripped to shreds by gorse on the finishing moves. Someone needs to go there with full body armour and some long clippers, because it deserves to be climbed on more often. 16 to go!

Friday saw us parked at the foot of Hellsby (sic!), but in a quandary. Conditions were similar to Wednesday, i.e. windy and grey, with hints of rain around. There was one other option – drive 38 miles in the wrong direction to get to Dyserth – Dyserth Castle Slab had some nice-sounding sport routes, and 3 of them might even be easy enough for the likes of us. The drive there was rapid, and the weather better there than at Helsby. Unfortunately it took us some time to find the crag, but I won’t go into that! It was well worth it, though, and I had soon ticked three more lovely routes, and we could return to Sheffield with only 13 more needed!

Despite my drubbing at Helsby, I didn’t feel I was climbing too badly, so a few days later we headed up to North Lancashire, to a campsite at Crooklands, on the southeastern end of the Lake District. En route we stopped off at Warton Small Quarry, but unfortunately it had sprouted an inordinate amount of vegetation, as well as getting steeper, since my last visit, in 2001. Working on the basis that these days sports crags get more traffic, we quickly adjourned to Barrow Scout Cove, where the easy routes were still quite hard, and the rest were for wall-rats. 11 to go!

We have been to Hutton Roof crag on several occasions in the past, but despite this, there were still a number of routes to “tick”. We had a lovely day up there, climbing the superb juggy limestone, but got rather more ticks than we bargained for, and these little bloodsuckers had to be removed with a specialist tool! Despite these attentions, we finished the day with only 2 more needed.

So, the great day was to be spent at Farleton Upper crag – quite a long walk-in at 20-25 minutes guidebook time, so longer than that for us. The routes were also a bit longer than the norm around here, and didn’t come into the sun until the afternoon. This provided the perfect excuse for a leisurely walk-in, and lunch before we got our climbing gear on. Route 10,999 was called Hurricane (VDiff), and turned out to be a superb and memorable climb – one helluva vdiff! Unfortunately, Pat strained something in her foot while seconding it, so sat out number 11,000. This was Typhoon (VDiff), which was also excellent, but not quite as fine as Hurricane. I abseiled for the gear, and then decided I might as well do Head Wind (Severe), just to get me on my way to 12,000! Back in camp, a nice bottle of Cremant d’Alsace provided a celebratory accompaniment to our Thursday night curry.

Farleton Upper crag

2020-09-17ImgMar0006 – Farleton Upper crag, with the lines of Head Wind, Typhoon and Hurricane in the centre of the photo.

My first recorded climb was in June 1970 (The Turnpike, Diff, on Alport Stone, solo up and down!), though I didn’t do the second until November 1971. I didn’t set out to count the routes I climbed, but recorded the names, grades, who I climbed with, etc and put a number beside it, starting naturally with one. If I was repeating a route, it didn’t get a number. So that it how I know how many routes I have climbed!

Those of you that saw my Desert Island climbs presentation on Zoom earlier this year will know that I found it extremely difficult to select 8 (or was it 9?) of my favourite climbs. As for favourite gritstone climbs, often the ones that I have enjoyed the most have been the ones that I would never want to do again – The Unprintable and Flying Buttress Overhang, at Stanage, come immediately to mind. Puppet Crack at Chatsworth was satisfying because I had failed on it previously. Wuthering at Stanage, Great North Road at Millstone, and Moyer’s Buttress at Gardoms are examples of great routes that I have been happy to repeat (though not too often!). At the end of the day, we climb to enjoy ourselves, and I got as much out of those three routes at Farleton as I ever did out of any Extreme routes that I climbed when I was younger and fitter.

See you on the crags!

Martin Whitaker.

 

Covid-19 announcement; all meets suspended

Your committee has been pondering over the current C19 situation for a couple of days. After initially cancelling all indoor activities, we have now come to the sad, but inevitable decision to CANCEL ALL MEETS UNTIL FURTHUR NOTICE, pending government and medical advice.
However, we don’t want everybody to completely lose contact with each other or have nothing to do, so watch this space for future online activities etc.
Keep healthy and smiling
Paul Gibson
Meets Secretary. 23 Mar 2020

Norway climbing trip – May/June 2019

Seven of us – Linda, David, Kial, Gemma, Steve, Chris and Hugh flew to Bergen in mid May to experience the trad. and sports climbing opportunities close to the city. Kari was an amazing host and opened her house to us all, providing great hospitality, which went as far as passing on her cold to Linda and subsequently Hugh and David! Our first duty, the morning after we arrived, was to celebrate the National Day of Norway with a traditional breakfast, with hosts Kari and Randi in national costume, and a street parade. However, we were soon on the rock!
Bergen has an average of 260 days rain a year and appeared to have one of the highest per capita ownerships of Gortex in the world. However, the islands to the west – Sotra and Oygarden – where most of the climbing is, are much drier. We hit a perfect weather window over the first five days so climbed until we dropped. The trad. climbing we did was mostly on granite from single to four pitch routes. The sports climbing was largely on gneiss, characterised by extensive horizontal banding on steep walls. The climbing was never more than 30 minutes from the road but in beautiful quiet locations, sometimes next to the sea. The crags were quiet, especially the trad. ones
Eventually the rain did catch up with us (we began to understand why the guidebooks are published on waterproof paper) so we spent a day in the city and walked up one of the hills that surround Bergen. Another day’s climbing and Steve and Chris were on their way home. Kial and Gemma had a day in the fjords, while the other three also headed there to stay on Amund and Randi’s farm for a couple of nights. We visited a very wet Uskadalen on the way – amazing granite slabs with multi-pitch routes. Hopefully we will get back there one day.
Randi and Amund took Linda, David and Hugh on a very enjoyable Via Ferrata above the town of Odda. It follows old wooden ladders and then staples across granite slabs and walls, beside huge iron pipes which used to supply water for a hydro-electric scheme. From the top there were extensive views along fjords with glaciers above. Following a couple more days on tourist activities, including ferry and train rides and a visit to a medieval stave church, we returned to Bergen. The last days were spent dodging the weather, including two half days climbing and a great evening’s sea kayaking with Laila.
Thanks again to Kari and Randi and we hope to welcome them to the Peak District soon.

Open Climbing Meets 2019 – May 10 and 12

Go rock climbing outdoors with us in the Peak District this year in April or May.

Image copyright Peter O’Donovan.

Meet fellow climbers, find out more about the Club, and learn how to progress from indoors to outdoors.

These weekends provide the opportunity for potential new members to find out more about the Club, and meet fellow climbers with a range of abilities and ages.
It can be daunting to move from the security of the climbing wall, to placing your own gear, setting up a safe belay, and working out where a route goes in the outdoors.  Joining up with a mountaineering club and its club members, who have been there before and often have many years experience, can ease this move.  Members are able to offer informal advice, mentoring and climbing partners while Club membership provides access to BMC training courses.

Dates and locations

1st Meet:
12 April – Indoors: Awesome Walls, Sheffield, from 6pm onwards
14 April – Outdoors: Birchen Edge, from 10am (meeting at the car park adjacent to Robin Hood pub).
2nd Meet:
10 May – Indoors: Awesome Walls, Sheffield, from 6pm onwards
12 May – Outdoors: Stanage Popular End from 10am

What you need

Ideally you will have, as a minimum, climbed indoors, have your own harness, belay device, helmet and shoes and can tie on safely and belay someone competently.  However, the club has some equipment which will be available on both weekends.  If in doubt, please speak to Andrew (see below).

Who we are

Castle Mountaineering Club members undertake a wide range of activities including rock climbing, mountaineering, walking, trekking, skiing, ski mountaineering, ski touring, cycling and mountain biking.  We are a sociable and supportive group with a lot of combined experience. What unites us is our love of the outdoors, whether it’s the great countryside on our doorstep in the Peak District or adventures further afield.
If you would like to join us on one of our weekends, it is important to contact us in advance, to let us know your details, in case we have to inform you of a change of venue, due to bad weather.
Andrew Milne, membership secretary can be contacted on 0114 268 6605 or via Contact Us on the Home page.

New Members’ Meets 2018

The Castle Mountaineering Club, based in the Sheffield/Peak District area, is holding two Rock Climbing weekends in April and May 2018.

These weekends, provide the opportunity for potential new members, to find out more about the Club, and meet fellow climbers with a range of abilities and ages.

1st Meet:
Friday 20th April Indoors: Awesome Walls, Sheffield, from 6pm onwards
Sunday 22nd April Outdoors: Burbage North, from 10.30am (meeting at the Upper Burbage Bridge car park).

2nd Meet:
Friday 11th May Indoors: Awesome Walls, Sheffield, from 6pm onwards
Sunday 13th May Outdoors: Stanage Popular End from 10.30am

It can be daunting to move from the security of the climbing wall, to placing your own gear, setting up a safe belay, and working out where a route goes in the outdoors. Joining up with our club members, who have been there before and often have many years experience, can ease this move. Our members are able to offer informal advice, mentoring and climbing partners while Club membership provides access to BMC training courses.

What you need

Ideally you will have, as a minimum, climbed indoors, have your own harness, belay device, helmet and shoes and can tie on safely and belay someone competently. However, the club has some equipment which will be available on both weekends. If in doubt, please speak to Andrew (see below).

Who we are

Castle Mountaineering Club members undertake a wide range of activities including rock climbing, mountaineering, walking, trekking, skiing, ski mountaineering, ski touring, cycling and mountain biking. We are a sociable and supportive group with a lot of combined experience. What unites us is our love of the outdoors, whether it’s the great countryside on our doorstep in the Peak District or adventures further afield.

If you would like to join us on one of our weekends, it is important to contact us in advance, to let us know your details, in case we have to inform you of a change of venue, due to bad weather.

Andrew Milne, membership secretary can be contacted on 0114 2686605 or via our website (www.castlemountaineering.com).

Image copyright Peter O’Donovan. Provided solely for publicising Castle Mountaineering Club.

Castle 50 Challenge

To celebrate the club’s 50th we are thinking about a fun collaborative challenge featuring the club’s three main outside activities: climbing, walking and cycling in the Peak District. Hopefully everyone can take part, both individually and in more organised Club events
The idea started off at a club dinner, so it may need altering in the more forensic light of alcohol free thinking. So ideas, suggestions, feedback on whether it is feasible etc etc are very welcome. Originally the challenge was going to be over one week – but we thought that might be too much and it meant that if people were away that week they would miss out completely, so we have extended it to three weeks.

So each week, over three weeks, we are suggesting a different challenge. These “challenges” are meant to be fun and a combined effort (although individuals can incorporate a personal challenge) and are a chance to celebrate the club’s roots in the Peak District. Each week works out to be a bit more of a challenge than the previous week.

Hopefully Mike Doyle will do the honours of declaring the club challenge open on his birthday meet, but the challenge proper
starts on Monday 10th July . The dates and challenges are:

Week One: Monday 10th – Sunday 16th July. Cycle challenge: 500 miles of cycling in the Peak District.
Marion has offered to lead some cycling trips and the aim is for the whole club to cycle 500 miles collectively. Elen might also organise a sedate electric bike ride along the Monsal trail for those with dodgy hips or unused to cycling etc

Week Two. Sun 16th – Sun 23nd July Walk 500 Peak District miles.
Elen will liaise with anyone who would like to lead a walk on either of these Sundays and of course the Thursday walk will be the big contribution. Elen also proposes a very gentle walk around Arkwright Mill, visiting the river and the canal-side. Max 1 mile – again for those recovering from hip ops or just want a gentle walk

Week Three: Sunday 16th – Sunday 30th July Climb 500 Peak District routes. This is centred around Andrew Milne’s 60 climbs in a week (end) to celebrate his birthday. Each person climb counts, roped, unroped, leader, second etc…All routes must be in a guide book and in the Peak District.

Obviously it is difficult getting three clear weeks; Steve Warwick is organising a week’s cycling in the Isle of Man during the walking week, so some club members will be away, but hopefully there will be enough club members still around to get the miles in….

Mary will be co-ordinating the count, which hopefully will appear on the website as a running total. So if anyone does any walking, cycling, climbing in the Peak District during the relevant week – just let her know – it all counts.

Question: Should we amend the Peak District rules for those, who would like to take part, but who live some distance from the Peak District (eg Scotland) ??

Sean has suggested that the club also tries to complete the Peak District Boundary Walk during this year. The Friends of the Peak District have put together a 190mile walk encircling the Peak District. The whole walk is covered in 20 day walks. We thought that from the official opening on June 17th to the dinner in October the club collectively walks the whole route. Any miles of this walk done in the walk challenge week will be gratefully accepted. More on this on your website soon.

We hope to put more details on the website, but we don’t want to over organise this, and really the whole idea is just to celebrate what we do, as well as the Peak District and the Club. Let us know if you think this is a goer .. Most of all it’s meant to be a bit of fun.

Happy 50th.

Mary, Marian, Bill and Elen

PS: Should we also aim to have 50 person cafe stops? That’s my type of challenge.

45th Anniversary Party – Thursday 4th October

Club Interest: Honorable Mention - Tegness Pinnacle, It

Club Interest: Honorable Mention – Tegness Pinnacle, It

This year the Club has entered its 45th year, and to celebrate, the Committee has decided to hold a party as close as possible to the date that the Club was officially constituted (believed to be the 9 October 1967). This will take place in the Clubroom, starting from 8pm.

Any members past or present and invited to join us, and we ask that those who are still in contact with former members to spread the message. We are keen for as many ‘senior’ members to attend as possible, so that we may show our gratitude to their efforts in establishing such an important element in many of our social lives. Hopefully, it will also provide an opportunity to reunite former ‘ropemates’ and for newer members to hear some tall tales from earlier times.

As part of the 45th Anniversary Party we are asking everyone attending, if possible, to bring 3 photographs representative of their time in the Club. They may record a memorable meet, day in the hills, climb or group of friends – hopefully something about which you could tell a tale, if asked! For those who can forward these electronically, we intend to set these up as a revolving slide show as a background to the celebrations. Please send your photographs to info@castlemountaineeringclub.co.uk

Do not hesitate to contact us if you want further information.

We look forward to seeing you on the 4th October.

Photographic Competition 2012

Climber taking photograph

Climber taking photograph

Hello Happy Snappers,

A reminder that the annual photo competition is not that far away. This year it will be judged by Frank Mellor, who many of you will remember as a long-standing former member of the Club. There are 3 competitive categories plus a Club Interest section.

The competitive categories are:
* Action
* Pictorial UK
* Pictorial Abroad

You can enter up to 4 photos in each of these categories. Points will be awarded for the top 4 photos in each category and the CMC Photographer of the Year will be the person who scores most points. As an added incentive we have a brand new trophy this year – yours can be the first name on it!

The 4th category is Club Interest. You can enter as many photos as you wish. The idea is to depict something unusual, embarrass your friends or, better still, make us all laugh. The winner is chosen by consensus on the night.

Please supply your photos in a .jpg format. There are no specific rules concerning photo editing through PhotoShop etc. BUT the Judge’s decision is final. A photo of you on the latest E10 or the summit of Everest is likely to be rejected! Photos should be supplied on a CD containing a folder for each category. Please put your name clearly on it. Add a tag with locational details if you wish. If this is not possible you can also enter by memory stick or by email to this address.

Closing Date is Thursday 12th April. The Clubroom will be open on that date. Otherwise you can post or drop them off at my house.

David

Happy New Year!

…and so the club enters 2012, and from where I’m sat it looks rather exciting. Lots of new members, talk of big trips already rumbling, the club climbing wall spruced up and ready to go, and lots more plans in the pipeline…. we just need it to stop raining!!

An important change that I’d best post here for those who have not recieved (or read) the AGM minutes, is that clubhouse meets will now be on the first and third Thursdays of the month. We intend to produce a line-up of interesting events through the year, kicking off this month with a slideshow on the Tatra Mountains (5th Jan) and a Curry & Climbing evening (19th Jan).

I’d also like to remind people that it’s subs time again. This year it’s my turn to hassle you all to renew, so if you see me at a meet then please come and make your donation. For those of you whose paths don’t tend to cross with mine, I’ll come and find you once I’ve got the members list sorted.

So, with all those new years resolutions at the ready, here’s to a great year ahead. Just remember: don’t go doing anything TOO interesting, or you’ll have to do a slideshow about it next winter 😉 Happy adventuring!