During the recent trip to Scotland, a senior club member stated "No f****r reads the newsletters". Although possibly over-refreshed at the time, what the individual said could be true. Coincidently one of the newsletter's regular correspondents expresses a similar view (see "Letters to the Editor"). Perhaps the one person happy with the current arrangement is my lady wife who counts, as a positive benefit, the days I spend in my office producing the LMC organ.
If nothing else, doing the Newsletter Editor's job gives you some insight into what's happening in the LMC. Ice climbing in Norway, rock climbing in Morocco, a superbly well attended meet in Scotland , the stunning success of Progression to Rock series perhaps suggests that that the club is moving in the right direction. Doubtless you will have your own opinions.
Members may or may not know that the BMC proposes to raise the annual fee that it levies on affiliated club members by £1.50 in 2015. Is the increase justified? Why should an apparently cash rich organisation like the BMC need to mug its members? On the other hand it can be argued that the LMC benefits massively by the relationship. The £50k we obtained from Sport England for the development of Cae Ysgubor would not have been forthcoming without affiliation to the BMC and their advice and encouragement. Do you think that, in times of austerity, the BMC should show restraint or are you relaxed about their proposed "smash and grab". Please let me know what you think?
Please send info to the Newsletter Editor, Roger Finn email@example.com (tel: 01600 773203)
A full programme of mid-week outdoor meets is planned for the spring and summer. The April programme is as follows:
If you want to come along then please contact Jon Banks - 07790 484358
Emelia Autumn Toon
Yes, she is here, the latest LMC glamour girl. Weighing in at 7lb 10 ozs, Emelia Autumn Toon duly arrived at lunch-time on the 12th February. Huge congratulations to proud mum and dad, Kate and David. It is good to see that some members of the club are taking the need for new members seriously.
Frank, with his wife Barbara,
at an LMC dinner
Many members of the LMC will remember Frank Williams who sadly passed away just before Christmas. Frank was a keen member when I first joined in the 1980's and our first meeting was on one of Arthur Hasall's legendary 'gentlemen's weekends' at Blea Tarn. Frank was a very lively character and always keen to mentor new members. As a plumber by trade he did sterling work in the roles of hut warden at Beddgelert and Blea Tarn, indeed I inherited the wardenship of Beddgelert on Frank's 'persuasion'. He inspired me with his 'strong arm' climbing style and confidence and we enjoyed many a great day on the crags of the Lakes, Derbyshire and Wales not to mention the many superb evenings spent climbing in the Lancashire quarries. My diary records many adventurous weekends wih Frank, this example being just one:
Frank's stag weekend at Beddgelert: Travelled down in John's van with Frank, Steve and John stopping in Ruthin for a pint just before closing time and we ended up joining the pub landlord for a later drink in the disco next door to the pub. Finally arrived at Beddgelert at 3:30am after a very good night out! Norman and Linda already in residence, Dennis arrived early on Saturday morning but we all had a slow start eventually making Tremadog and climbing Christmas Curry (HS), The Scratch (VS) and Poor Man's Putery (HS) suitably followed by a celebration pint on the way back to the hut. After a good meal we all walked down to the Prince Llewellyn for a few drinks and then retired to the hut for a night cap of Frank's home brewed wine (the famous 'Foggy Brew'). It rained hard on the Sunday and as might be expected after a session on the home brew we all had a slow start for home.
Following his marriage Frank went to the dogs, that is his new wife Barbara was a judge on the dog show circuit and he became heavily involved. He eventually retired from climbing a few years after. Sadly Barbara died several years ago and Frank then took up his old love of motor biking and became a keen member of a biking group until illness demanded more and more of his fighting spirit. I'm assured that Frank's party and pleasure philosophy remained with him until the end.
As an ageing member of the club I feel I must protest at what I see as the increasingly ageist attitude of the committee. It used to be enough to have an interest in mountains but now one has to be a technical expert to keep up with events. A dropbox used to be the old loo at Beddgellert & twitter was the sound of birds in the morning. Paying subs was always painful but achievable with effort. I have recently had great difficulty in persuading the club to take my money! Gone are the days of sitting round the fire (or stove) reading of the exploits of one's mates in the latest journal. That article is always one click too many away and so remains unread. There was a time when arrangements made were arrangements kept but in this age of instant communication late cancellation has become the norm, even if the meets card has arrived by post.
AND ANOTHER THING it has come to my attention that an electronic key has been designed in order to exclude senior members from the care home specially built by themselves for their dotage years. This is completely unacceptable in the Big Society where self-help is being abused by the youngsters.
AND ANOTHER THING I have heard that secret meetings have been arranged with the sole objective of encouraging more youngsters to join the club by training them in mountaineering skills. In my day we didn't get any training, we learnt from our mistakes.
AND ANOTHER THING oh dear I've forgotten.......
When you get to this stage of a building programme progress can seem to be very slow compared to the earlier stages!
The kitchen installed
- where's the pie warmer?
Work started on the digester several weeks ago and although the pipework is all in and there is a very large hole (now full of water) for the digester to go in nothing more can be done until our access route through the Cae Du campsite becomes available again. Mr P has been away in sunnier climes for the winter (and who can blame him!!) but is back mid March. Internally - the kitchen has been installed, cookers and fridges are on site, doors have been hung and work on the disabled bathroom continues.
Before the kitchen was installed the slate floor was scrubbed to remove any cement/plaster debris. (well done Graham and crew!) Several moppings and 2 more coats of sealant left it looking impressive. Like top quality Roman Mosaics it has been covered up again!
This cleaning and resealing of the floors will need to be done throughout the ground floor as each room is finished. Mains water has now been connected and is waiting for internal checking and connections. Upstairs all the flat pack bunks have been delivered plus the mattresses. Two bunks and two single beds have been constructed as trials. All internal electrics including lighting and heating have been commissioned and work well.
There is still a lot to do including skirting board, door architrave and a lot of sanding and staining. The next working week is likely to be the last week in March so if you have a couple/half a day to spare during that time or over the weekend at either end there will be plenty to keep you occupied.
Winter is three quarters over, but winter mountain climbing conditions have not showed themselves as good enough for me to travel to Scotland. I believe there has been lots of snow though, if a little wet and good for skiing. Perhaps I am just getting old!
I have been skiing in the French Alps, with my wife and others from the club, which was very pleasant and I have had three wet walks this year in the Lakes including one for new and prospective members in Kentmere. This was very successful and of the 14 people present, 10 were recent joiners or prospective ones. Swirral Edge last weekend was covered in deep snow which made it easier than usual, if equipped with ice axe and crampons.
I am looking forward to a few days on the 'house boat' near Fort William on the President's meet. Perhaps the climbing conditions will have improved or we might have to do a bit of ski touring.
The build of Cae Ysgubor has been advancing this year with Chris and his team doing magnificent work. Electricity, heating, mains water and even the kitchen are complete. However, installation of the sewage digester is still dragging on; we are hoping for this to be completed by the end of March
The first 'Progression to Rock' 'day is at Troy quarry on the 9th March, being organised by Kate, Dave and Joe. We expect at least 20 people to attend, all of whom are prospective or new members. I will be there to assist despite not having touched rock or walls since August! However, there will be 10 other experienced members as well. Fingers crossed for reasonable weather.
Congratulations to Dave (Toon) and Kate on the recent birth of their daughter, Emelia Autumn. I am pleased to see that it does not seem to have reduced the enthusiasm of Dave and Kate, particularly in the organisation of the Progress to Rock series !
I sent around an email a little while ago suggesting Chamonix and or the Swiss Valais for our Summer Alpine meet. I have received about a dozen replies, but I am still looking for more. I think we should give thanks that although very wet, the North West of England has not suffered the devastating floods which have impacted England further south and south west. It has to stop raining sometime ....
The event was well attended and very supportive of the outlined project.
The main features of the project include:
The application to Sport England is being prepared and, subject to club approval, likely to be submitted some time in April. This is an exciting project and, if successful, could do much to encourage more young people to join the club. Unfortunately, there is no certainty that Sport England' will financially support our proposals.
The Cresta run
Plans for the 2014 LMC ski trip were in the forefront of my mind almost immediately after the end of the 2013 ski trip and by the summer a resort and dates were chosen! Following the success of previous trips, when as a group we had stayed in a large chalet to cater for everyone, it was intended that we would once again arrange a large chalet for those interested. However, after a painstaking search, by the wife, for a chalet large enough for 19 children and adults near all the resort facilities and with the ability to ski in & out came out negative. The next best thing was found, 3 apartments in the same building ticking all the other boxes.
Having promised everyone going that by taking advantage of the quiet weeks following Christmas and New Year we would avoid the crowds but enjoy exceptional conditions the weather did its best to make a mockery of me. Whilst the USA suffered from the "big freeze" the Alpine regions were suffering from unseasonal warm weather and mountain conditions were "Scottish" at best - upper slopes at most resorts were icy from freeze thaw, whilst lower slopes were grassy, muddy, rocky or all three...
The weather wasn't all bad
Luckily, the conditions improved with a little snow before the trip and a few well timed dumps during the week to keep everyone entertained Once everyone had settled in, the first day was spent sussing out the resort - the slopes by the majority of skiers, the village by the babies and allocated parent, including the discovery of the sledging slope.
And before you knew it the routine for the week was under way, Nigel & David first out the door, followed reasonably closely by Richard, Paul, Cathy, David M & David B, Roger and Helen joined by either Sarah, Jason, Jo or myself depending on the babysitting rota. Cat ventured out later in the week when the fresh snow and sunshine had arrived and once she was assured Jessica was enjoying Piou Piou (pronounced pew pew - thanks Sarah!) and Jean discovered many a walking trail.
The morning routine was epitomised by the pre-departure check of everyone's smart phone to ensure their chosen tracking app was ready for the days exploits. This resulted in much conversation in the evenings about who had covered most miles, done the greatest ascent/descent, completed the longest run or hit the top the speed. Nigel, unsurprisingly, racked up the most mileage skiing from the second the lifts opened until they closed, rarely stopping for lunch! Yours truly clocked 98kph partly due to great new skis with David and Jo not far behind. Those using different apps obviously hotly disputed their competitors (co-travellers) app accuracy if they were outdone by the other.
Looking down to Valmorel
Afternoons were slightly more relaxed, babies and toddlers became keen sledgers, snowman builders, & snow shoe explorers, the mature generation enjoyed a leisurely lunch (and nap - R Toon) and then a meander back out.
The traditional meal out was organised for the Wednesday night, early enough for the younger generation, but late enough for the older ones to have their pre-dinner rest (Jason), and in true French style, a very random service style - but lovely food.
By pure coincidence, each apartment decided Thursday was Tartiflette night and this brought out more of the competitive spirit usually reserved for the slopes. All in all Valmorel was an excellent resort for young and old, with enough skiing to keep everyone satisfied and the unseasonal warm weather made the trip feel more like a spring getaway!
So, where next for the 2015 winter season? I've already had expressions of interest and my thoughts are turning to the possibility of a longer North American trip if feasible with the children. Alternatively there's a chalet that will fit 20+ in La Tania close to the village centre, ski school and main lift, that you can ski in and out of that's available...
With a forecast of strong winds and snow on the high Peaks, we met up in Patterdale with the intention of completing the Deepdale Horseshoe. The group, comprising 8 adults and Harvey, Mark's intrepid Cairn Terrier, set off around the back of the Patterdale Hotel, following the path leading to St Sunday Crag via Birks (no comments please). We were prepared for winter conditions and we weren't disappointed!
The squad assembles
The route up to St Sunday Crag was relatively calm, sheltered from the wind and we only encountered a brief snow flurry. As we went higher, we donned crampons to cope with the snow and ice underfoot. Once we'd left St Sunday Crag and began ascending Fairfield, the conditions became trickier, with rocky, icy ground underfoot and the wind whipping across the peaks. Mark realised how strong the wind was when he watched his map sailing away into the distance, almost followed by Harvey but the mini-crampons built into his paws arrested his slide down the icy slope!
By the time we reached the top of Fairfield, we were enveloped in the clouds and the wind was really whipping across the summit plateau. As a result, we decided to change our route and, instead of completing the Deepdale Horseshoe, made the more sensible decision to drop down to Grisedale Tarn via the virgin snowy slopes, which was a lot of fun!
The change of plan got us quickly out of the clouds and strong cross winds and made route finding far easier. The result was a pleasant saunter back to Patterdale via Grisedale and, more importantly, meant that we got back to the White Lion at a far more reasonable time to enjoy a well earned pint!
A Grand Day Out in winter conditions was had by all!!
The meet went really well. After a bit of encouragement from Roger Gott we kept the meet outside. 14 people turned up in total and we completed half the Kentmere horseshoe returning down the valley. There were moments when the weather was really bad but on the whole a nice ish day, I think enjoyed by all.
A crowd of biblical proportions
What an impressive turn out!
Sunday the 9th of March saw the first meet in the LMC's Progression to Rock series which was held at Troy Quarry. The aim of these meets is to help experienced indoor climbers make the transition to outdoor climbing and hopefully recruit a few new members to the club. The response was beyond expectation and on the day we had 51 people attend.
Of these 26 were prospective or very new members that have joined prior to the day. For some it was the first time climbing on outdoor rock, and one 10 year keen climber even managed his first outdoor lead. The weather was fantastic and everyone enjoyed climbing in the sunshine and meeting new people. The next Progression to Rock meets move on to multipitch routes on bigger crags and hope to give novice climbers more experience and develop trad skills. We welcome all members to the next meets to help out and meet some new faces. Please email if you can attend at firstname.lastname@example.org
The dates of the next meets are:
Paul, Cathy, Richard, Nancy
and Steve beside the lake chalets
I have been to Norway many times with trips including rockclimbing on the Lofoten Islands and the Troll wall area; sailing along the west coast from Alesund to Bergen and across the North Sea; ski touring around Fince; and working in Oslo. But so far I had managed to avoid several ice-climbing trips to Rjukan, choosing not to spend a week with no chance of a single ray of sun. A few years ago I missed the LMC ski mountaineering trip to the far north and therefore failed to see the Northern Lights. So when Richard T, having visited the area In good conditions last year, suggested Setesdal - the fabled, almost secret, Norwegian ice climbing region with potential sun I decided to go too.
Paul on the hard pitch of Deerstalker
In February Nancy from Boston, five or six young male hotshots, Richard Toon, Steve Lyons, David Medcalf and myself straggled in to our nicely appointed wooden lakeside chalets at a place called Rysstad - two hours drive north of Kristiansand. Steve, David and I travelled together, but and our baggage missed the connection in Amsterdam and arrived 24 hours late, so on Day 1 we soon became accustomed to kerb-crawling Setesdal-style - driving around the valley and side valleys looking for promising glints of ice on the hillsides. Unfortunately there weren't many. (Or should this be fortunately...?)
As usual I waited until we had arrived to start reading the guidebook. It told me that climbing in Setesdal is 'water-ice in its rawest form. There are no footprints or footpaths leading to the routes; many of the climbs are unrepeated and in some cases the grades have not been confirmed. Be prepared for trail-breaking in deep snow, for wading up to the start of the climbing and for awkward and thoughtful descents'.
Then I read an article in the guidebook about the first ascent of Sonner av Norge (WI5 *** 150m), 'a stunning alpine effort in a remote setting. A shovel may be required for the summit cornice and belays may be well back from the lip.' This description tells you nothing about the hair-raising first ascent of the route. The leader of the first pitch was climbing up 'poor quality and ever steepening sun-affected ice'. He disappeared over a bulge and shouts down "I have no protection!" Later as the second passed the bulge he saw 'our two 60 metre ropes in a nice, unbroken bow between us - blue sky high above, and mortal certainty below'. The stance was two ice axes buried in 'a dubious white mixture of air and ice'. Then finally after four pitches the cornice collapses but fortunately the leader had one axe secure in part of the cornice that remained!! This is definitely not my thing.
So when we woke on Day 2 to rain I was quite happy to find some walking maps at the lodge reception and six of us had an enjoyable trip exploring local paths on our new snowshoes. The next day Steve, David and I walked up to the Gloppefossen waterfall. We had read about this in the guidebook. Geoff Hornby, the guidebook writer, saw a photograph of a waterfall in a doctor's surgery and immediately set out to find it (from the top!). In summer hoards of holiday makers walk up the lovely Veiane Valley to picnic and visit the falls. Geoff seems to prefer arriving at the top of routes, abseiling down and then climbing back up. At least he knew there would be a track out if necessary. They parked at a carpark on route 45 and 'stomped down the stream until they encountered the huge boss of ice at the top of the falls. After a couple of 50 metre swings down through the trees they found themselves looking at a stunning pair of icefalls. That day they produced Original Route (WI4 **) up the left side and the next day Valentine's Day Massacre (WI4 **) up the right side.
Bykle - Nancy on the abseil
It sounded great. David, Steve and I decided to take a look via the normal pleasant footpath approach. By a tree after the bridge we saw wood chippings on the surface of the snow, but no human footprints. This was the work of beavers!! We spied some ice through the trees on our left and then at the head of the valley the Gloppenfosse was mostly waterfall, with far too much water flowing to consider climbing it. Next day David and Steve headed back to climb Reindeer Worrier. Unconvinced I decided to go to Hovden with Richard, Nancy and Paul where we cross-country skied 22+ kms on easy prepared trails.
During the week a few ice routes were climbed by the others and the young hotshots even did some first ascents, but the reports back were not very inspiring. It was just not cold enough.
The ice-climbing season can extend from December until April, 'commonly there will be periods of intense cold interspersed with periods of thaw.' We kept checking the temperatures in Norway throughout January. Too warm! Our crossed-fingers for a mid-season freeze had not worked. In retrospect a last-minute holiday is the answer. Or go in the summer and climb the slabs.
Lucy, Jeanette, Bernard and Linda
MV Fingal: the President relaxing in his private saloon
A grand total of 30+ people attended - though it has to be said that those who managed to get up before Thursday had the best of the week's weather. Roger S managed a few days in Torridon and Ian A had a good day in Glen Lyon.
Weekend produced some atrocious weather - very windy, too warm and wet, although there was still plenty of (wet) snow on the tops. Bernard and Josie only managed one of three targeted Corbetts before retreating from the top of Loch Archaig - claiming the car park was full of deer! Corbetts and Munros were summitted on all days - though no vista photos were possible. It was a fine weekend for valley walks and viewing water falls.
Fortunately the Saturday was the last day of the "Six Nations" which drew many people to an early evening in the "Lochy" - many of whom stayed for a meal. 33 people enjoyed a 3 course meal though at one point Jim C had 3 courses on the table! The Lochy is no place for slow eaters!
Sunday was a little better - different people had little plans such as Glen Cartney or even the Pap of Glencoe. Strangely the sun came out driving up Glencoe!!
I have just finished my project on the crags of Symonds Yat. A very bold 30 foot E2/E3. I first found the route when I was attempting The Bulger (E3) on a crag called "The Introductory Rock." It was an alternative start where you ascend up slightly to the right where the climbing is bolder but more entertaining. I had top roped the route previously and succeeded so I decided it was time to give it a try.
I warmed myself up in an ordinary fashion then got my two pieces of gear which consisted of one small nut and a smaller then average cam/friend. I dipped my hands into my chalk bag then I was ready to attempt it. First time around I got to the crux move about 20ft up where I placed my nut. I was pondering weather it would hold me and thank God it did as I fell on the crux move. Suspended 20ft in the air only hanging by a small nut was UN pleasant, never the less it filled me up to the brim with adrenaline forcing me to try it again. Second time lucky I thought to my self. With an interval of around 6-8 minutes I was ready to try it again. After finding the nut trust worthy, I was confident that I was safe.
Repeating the same procedure as last time I got to the crux and placed my trusty nut. Thankfully I passed the crux with minimal arm pump. The last 10 ft consisted of a few moves on a bold wall. I teetered up the last section and there it was. My first route, one that has never been done before. I named it "Nayak" for no particular reason. I just thought of it as I reached the last hold. The thrill that it gave me has inspired me to try new projects.
Later that day I found a bearded fellow slack lining from the cliff to a large rock pinnacle around 60ft, as well as a route called "Piggy Malone" E4 6a 40ft. I have recently top-roped it and so, hopefully, I am ready to lead it in the soon future.
Unfortunately there is no picture of me leading it, just top roping. Roger, the cameraman, was spotting me just in case the gear didn't hold.
Thomas Finn 15 years old
We survived the couple of days in Kathmandu, dodging the scooters, motorbikes, cycles and drains, sorting out gear and buying extra chocolate. Saroj had got everything organised. Ram would be our guide. We would meet up with cook, cook boys, 6 mules, mule man and a local guide on the way later. The LMC team was small but quality - Roger and myself!
The overnight bus to Nepalgunj is not to be recommended. We were saving on the air fare. A false economy! From there, we took an internal flight to Jumla which was not our first choice. We'd wanted to fly to Rara but the airport was out of commission. So Jumla was the start of the walking. That was to add an extra four days on the way out, and an extra 5 days on the way back.
The LMC welcomes contributions to its newsletters. Please send text and photos to Roger Finn email@example.com. Copy for the next newsletter should reach him by the end of June, 2014. Very grateful thanks to all those who have contributed to this newsletter.
Roger Finn, Newsletter Editor
If you would like to contribute to the newsletter or e-news then please contact the editor.