Lancashire Mountaineering Club

Lancashire Mountaineering Club
August 2014 - E-News

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In many ways this has been a momentous year for the LMC and its members. Congratulations are in order. Bernard Smith completed his Corbetts and at the same time celebrated his 70th birthday. Other members, born in 1944, have or will reach the age of 70 this year. Norma Walker, Jim Entwistle, Jim Cunnigham, Kev Massey, Tim Hawkes and the Editor himself have all reached three score years and ten. As Brian Guilfoyle tells anyone who cares to listen, there comes a time when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it. Birthdays are good and statistics show that people who have the most live the longest.

There are two other reasons for congratulations. Firstly, not without trial and tribulation, Cae Ysgubor is nearing completion and ready for use with the official opening scheduled for the 4th October. This really is a momentous achievement. Secondly years ago, when I was a lad, welcoming novices and guiding them through an apprenticeship was the mainstay of climbing clubs. For a whole range of reasons this no longer seems to happen and the memberships of climbing clubs has dramatically plummeted - no younger members. This year the club has introduced its "Progression to Rock" programme designed to get young people climbing and join the LMC. It has been spectacular successful with results that bode well for the future - congratulations to the LMC!

Finally I was listening to "Poetry Please" on the radio and the regular but short feature on Australian culture included some verse by that antipodean icon, Les Patterson. I have included one of his poems at the end of this newsletter; nothing to do with mountains and a little bit of self-indulgence but I hope that you don't mind.

Please send info to the Newsletter Editor, Roger Finn (tel: 01600 773203)


Tuesday Evening Climbing Meets

A programme of mid-week outdoor meets is planned for the Summer and Autumn. Full details are on the LMC website. Jon Banks will circulate full details via email. For more information please contact Jon - 07790 484358.

The remainder of outdoor meets is as follows:

  • Widdop - 19th August
  • Wilton 2 - 26th August
  • Troy - 2nd September
  • Anglezarke - 9th September
  • Wilton 3 - 16th September
  • Brownstones - 23rd September

You can download the complete list here

If you want to come along then please contact Jon Banks - 07790 484358


Cae Ysgubor: Official Opening

This very special event is taking place on Saturday 4th October. It is an opportunity to inspect this brilliant new facility plus a chance to share in the celebrations. Look out for the details.


This is your opportunity to have your say about the running of your club plus the chance to meet up with old friends over a pint at the Belmont Bull. The date is the 7th October; the agenda and full information will be circulated shortly.

LMC Dinner 2014

The Pimms bottle is back in the cupboard after a fortnight of tennis, we've been over the border (in person or via ITV) to support La Tour de Yorkshire and the packing commences for the Summer Alpine Trip. That means there is only one thing left to make the summer complete.......yes, the great news is that your invitation will already have landed on your door mat and all you need to do is to fill in the reply slip (on-line or by post) and return it to me by 15th September.

This year, due to popular demand, we are returning to The Castle Green Hotel in Kendal, Lake District, where not only will you have an evening of great food, an abundance of wine, and exceptional company, the excitement will build with the announcement of the winners of the closely fought Photo competition and will then peak with the Chairman and President's well heckled speeches. As the meal concludes get your dancing shoes at the ready for the evening will culminate with a good jig.

Who says that this is not a sophisticated event?

For those who have not attended before, or those who have not attended recently, or for those of you who need reminding (!) this is the premier social event of the LMC calendar. It is an evening where members with their partners & families, regardless of age attend and catch up with friends and acquaintances, new and old, reminiscing on the past year's adventures and planning the next ones.

The hotel itself has the added advantage of a Leisure Club and Spa as well as an on-site pub so if the weather is dismal you can either prepare with a pamper or recover with one on the Sunday! It is also close to the centre of Kendal so you can combine your Christmas shopping with the evenings entertainment.

We look forward to seeing you all there,
The Dinner Ladies, AKA Joanne and Cat

Letters to the Editor

There are a number of matters referred to in the April issue of the LMC Enews which require an intelligent response even if this does put a strain on the brains of some members. I write in the forlorn but possibly misguided hope that southern wisdom may create enlightenment in the waste-lands of the north.

Firstly I can confidently claim not to be participating in any fornication because I do read every issue from beginning to end. After all it is the only way that we intelligent members who have nothing to do with damned computers can discover what is going on. Yes the club card does tell us that we have a member of the committee with the ostentatious title of Communications Secretary but all he does is pass the buck to someone else.

I have a great suggestion for a great improvement in this publication. A picture of a page 3 girl would be most welcome rather than a page 2 picture which did not excite me at all. This would probably make the Editor's lady wife an even happier person as it would almost certainly lead to him spending more time locked in his office and working on his organ. The photographs of the trip to Nepal were much appreciated.

The Editor raises the issue of an increase in the BMC levy. I suppose it would be typical of tight northerners to make a fuss about this, even though they happily donate much larger sums to the owners of the nations' breweries every evening that they go to the pub. It sounds like a storm in a beer mug to me!

I was shocked to find that Red Jake had actually made some sensible points in his letter to the Editor. He must be mellowing in his old age. Sadly I must return to the dreaded "f" word. Are the "f" things being introduced to attract university students (halls of residence have them) to our huts? Heaven forbid that we oldies will have to put up with spotty-faced youngsters prancing about the huts and playing their awful music to disturb our peace.

It is a relief that it is beginning to appear that the "f" thing does not really exist. It is becoming clear that it is just a cunning ploy by the Treasurer to get in some more money for his summer holiday fund. We paid £20 for our hut keys. Now he has got another £20 out of us and the only "f" thing that we have had in return is "f" all. They seem to be as real as those virtual helium balloons which someone dreamt up. Will we be entertained by reports of "f" things drifting over the North Pole? They certainly haven't drifted into our letter boxes.

And this leads me to another matter - the Cae Ysgubor hotel. Electricity, mains water and fridges! Northerners have gone soft. Have Axminster carpets been installed? When will the butler and servants be appointed?. It is good news that Red Jake and I have been considered with the installation of disabled facilities.

Best wishes from your Cheltenham Correspondent.

Hut News

Cae Yasgubor - we are nearly there!

A vast amount of effort over the last few weeks has brought the project close to fruition.

The following work is completed and signed off:

  • Construction of floors, walls, roofs and ceilings
  • Installation of windows and doors
  • Internal carpentry, fixtures and fittings
  • Supply of services (water & electricity)
  • Electrical & plumbing work

The Kitchen

Crucially the digester (the piece of equipment that makes the lavs and waste system work) is installed and fully functioning. We now have 2 working bathrooms with the third, hopefully, to be commissioned very shortly. All the other plumbing appears to be working satisfactorily with no leaks!

The shower room

The kitchen is equipped with a range of stainless steel storage units and work surfaces. The cookers and fridges are operational and we even have on-tap boiling water.

The bedrooms are useable although basic. Bunks for 14 people have been built and installed. The downstairs back room has not yet been commissioned and is temporarily being used as a store room.

One of the bedrooms with a bunk
erecting operative in action

The internal carpentry has been completed with a little bit of tidying-up still required. Similarly the interior has been decorated with some finishing off/remedial work required particular where fixtures and fitting have been installed. Curtains and blinds, courtesy of Jean Toon and Sue Finn, will be going in soon. Can I remind members from East Lancashire not to use the drapes for wiping hands and other things - you are not at home.

Currently the external rendering is being completed by a contractor and work on the stone cladding is due to start in the next few days. There remains a considerable amount of tidying-up to the grounds and car park with a storage shed to be installed as soon as possible.

The building is due to be trialled by a group of members and guests on the weekend 16th August. This will allow the identification of snags.

The official opening is scheduled for Saturday Oct 4th. You will be getting an official invitation.

Chris Walker

Committee News

Chairman's Ramblings

Mid summer is here and there has been some sunshine and warm weather. Let us hope it continues.

Just before Easter we had a fantastic ten days on the 'Gran Lui Haute Route'. This is a ski mountaineering trip from Chamonix to Zermatt, staying in huts, and is regarded by many as the premier ski mountaineering trip in Western Europe. We had good weather, which is not a given, which reduces the stress and increases the enjoyment.

The Haute Route: early morning light

I went to Knoydart this year (at Spring Bank) which was great, but some of us were 'ticked' and ended up with a dose of Lyme disease.... A course of antibiotics has, hopefully, got rid of this.

I have also spent some time working on the new welsh hut, Cae Ysgubor, including installing the sewage digester directed by our resident civil engineer. Working toilets are now in place! In the last few days we have installed the new electronic lock system on the main (rear) door. This means that any member who wants to use the hut when fully commissioned will need to obtain a key fob; this is best done via the web collect system. There is some relatively minor work still required inside and quite a lot outside including making access for wheelchairs feasible. However, we do need to get our various certificates (Safety, Electricity, Building regs etc) in place before general use is possible.

Cae Ysgubor: showing the extent of the LMC's estate and the sewage digester prior to installation

I am off to Chamonix within a week or so with other members of the club. It is not too late for you to join us. Walking, climbing, mountaineering and generally having a good time will be on the agenda.

I am starting to think about the AGM and the next year. The AGM is Oct 7th at the Belmont Bull. We are always looking for new blood (or different old blood) on the committee or to take on an 'officer' role. In particular we will have definite vacancies for a Blea Tarn hut warden (for which I hope I may have one volunteer), a new member contact and a hut booking secretary. All nominations must be sent to the Secretary not less than 28 days before that meeting together with proposer and seconder. If you want more information on this, feel free to email or phone me to discuss.

As for next year, we are starting to plan the meet list. If you have suggestions for new meet ideas or would like to lead a meet, please contact Joanne Whiteley or me. The 'Progression to Rock' series lead by Kate and Dave Toon has been very successful and has attracted many new climbers to the club. We intend to repeat the series next year. Have a good summer.

Roger Gott

Meet Reports

Pembroke May Day Bank Holiday Meet

5b crimpers at St Govan's Head

The meet was due to be at Llangrannog, close to Cardigan Bay, on the coast in Wales. We didn't go!

The BMC Office was there in numbers
- thanks for the abseil rope Jonny!

There were no takers, despite there being lots of other things to do in the area - beaches, coastal walks, National Trust properties and bike rides etc etc. Maybe we'll try another year, unless Lanzarotte and weddings prove to be bigger attractions again!!!

So it was Plan B. Myself, Joe Boyd and new/prospective member Adam Coles went to savour the best of Pembroke rock.

I'd thought we might do the briefing for Range West on Saturday morning - I'd not checked the dates and it's only now available on the Easter and the Spring Bank holiday weekends!! I've suggested to the BMC that they might try to encourage the MOD to hold one at the end of August, but the Army is not so cooperative at the moment.

It's essential to do the briefing to get access to Range West, where there are tons of very excellent climbs of all grades. Trouble is that the MOD briefing only lasts a year and then you have to renew it!!

Weather was a little chilly and windy on the tops but we kept dry until the drizzle late Monday afternoon.

We managed 11 routes in 3 days - well I did one less, sitting out Surprise Attack E2 5b, 5c as I didn't want to struggle on the hard start to the second pitch yet again - I did it with Kate last year and also around 30 years ago, when it was only E1.

Saturday saw us doing five routes around the Cormorant Flake area on Mowingword, which had no bird ban this year. The best was Seal HVS 5a, which I led; the hardest that day was Nijinski E1 5b, which Adam got.

Joe leads Sarsparilla Sunset

Sunday took us the half-hour walk to Triple Overhang Buttress for Galactic Co-ordinator HVS 4c, 5a, where I shared leads with Adam. Then to Mewsford Point for my afternoon nap and their Surprise Attack. Finally to The Castle for Joe to lead Sarsparilla Sunset E1 5b, the "hidden gem".

Monday was to be Lydstep and Mother Scarries, but the tides by now were late afternoon and the wind and swell were daunting for the ab to the half-way house on Brazen Buttress, so we turned tail back to the crowds at St Govans. First up was Adam on a nice, fingery little E2 5b just right of the abseil rope. Then around the corner to War Crime E2 5b, which we pointed Adam at. Apart from a short fall from the wrong overhang (!), he powered up in good style. I gasped to the top with pulsating forearms with Joe up third with a serious look on his face. The final route was snatched from the drizzle by Joe - the most popular route in Pembroke (?), Army Dreamers HVS 5a.

Joe finds the first big hold
after the difficult niche on War Crimes

Just time for cream teas at Mrs Weston's!!

Then the 5 hour drive back, allowing the satnav to take us over unknown quiet roads with fast, sweeping bends and no traffic. The fish-and-chip stop made for a fantastic finale!!!

Richard Toon - May 2014


Love the bib

Congratulations to Jason for organising such a superb Wasdale Meet! The Whin Rigg field at Church Stile was overrun by the LMC on Friday 13th and Saturday 14th June. There appeared to be four sections…the aspirant Winnebago owners with a tin tent on 4 wheels- an advance on the A35 vans of yesteryear, the many roomed family tents with the wonderful variety of children of all ages, and thirdly the traditional 'crawl in' mountaineering tents which some of us still cling to with happy memories of high adventure.

I am not too impressed with this camping business

The whole site was awash with happy mountaineers and their families in the warm sunshine with only a minimal invasion from the annoying midge. The final section of the LMC has now aspired to more solid accommodation which stretched from Wasdale YH to The Strands and to the upper echelon at Low Wood Hall Hotel.

A highlight of the weekend was the Presidential visitation on Saturday afternoon. After he was offered booze by one of his lackeys, the President made a formal tour of his empire, visiting and chatting, as royalty does. He was made to feel very welcome by all his vassals!

The Chairman receives stereophonic advice

Wherever you were, you missed a real treat if you were not at Nether Wasdale. It was also the weekend when one of our esteemed members achieved his 70th milestone - poor bugger! Our best wishes also go to Derek who was not at his best this weekend.

We all look forward to next year's meet!

Bean Newlyn

The Final Corbett

Happiness is bottle shaped

The campaign was beginning to drag on a bit so a deadline had to be set. My 70th birthday seemed appropriate and so it was decided. Having heard tales of dreadful forestry operations on Beinn Bhuela and having been warned not to trust the map or the guidebooks, Josie and I drove North on Thursday to recce. the hill. The weather was kind to us as we explored the alternatives through the plantations where we came across David Thistlethwaite on a similar mission. People gradually arrived on the Arrochar campsite and nearby B & Bs and conviviality broke out. However, mindful of the serious nature of the morrow, I of course had an early night.

A band of our more senior members had decided on an early start and so we had an advance party to set up the bar. The majority left at a more sensible hour and plodded steadily upwards sweating profusely under loads of celebratory materials.

Congratulations Bernard

We were all reunited on the splendid summit where the formalities were observed. First kiss the trig point and then the wife. Champagne with whisky chasers was the order of the day although some preferred the damson gin. What had been a clear day seemed to get hazy as the party went on. Some decided to traverse the hill while others descended the ascent route on the basis of " better the devil you know". Surprisingly we were all reunited back at Letterewe from where the more abstentious conveyed us back to base. A fine day was rounded off by dinner for 33 at the Village Inn. Thank you to all who came, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I promise I won't do them again.

Bernard Smith

"This is so much better than indoor climbing!" Progression to Rock


Spring 2014 has seen the Lancashire Mountaineering Club run a series of meets called Progression to Rock. The aim is help novice climbers make the progression from indoor to outdoor climbing by giving them the opportunity to climb with experienced climbers and help them develop traditional rock climbing skills. Making the transition from pulling on plastic to real rock is difficult but we hoped to show young indoor climbers the joy of traditional climbing. Also we hoped to recruit new members to the LMC by giving novices a feel for the club and an appreciation of the many activities that we organise.

The series consisted of four meets with the plan of progressing from a small single pitch quarry to long multi-pitch mountain routes. With British weather flexibility is essential and we ended up rearranging two of the meets to other venues due to poor forecasts. The first meet was held in March at Troy Quarry where an amazing 51 people attended. 32 of these were novice climbers and 24 prospective members.

The second meet in April was rearranged from Tremadog to Froggatt in the Peak District and, despite the rainy weather, 28 attended. A few damp routes were done and some coffee and cake enjoyed in Hathersage.

Borrowdale in the Lake District turned it on with gorgeous sunny weather for the third meet at Shepherds Crag. 43 people attended, with 21 experienced, 17 novices and a few walkers. For those that have only climbed indoors, this day was a great experience for them with quality Lakeland rock, sunshine and stunning views of Derwent Water. "It was perfect weather for some amazing climbing to be had, a great day " "Best one yet."

Brown Slab

The 4th meet in June was planned for Idwal Slabs Ogwen, but was unfortunately rearranged to Stanage due to poor weather. We had 18 attend and with growing skill and confidence, it was great to see some of the novices beginning to lead routes. Following the Progression to Rock series, the new trad climbers are 'buzzing' and keen to use their new skills on real rock. Despite the popularity of indoor and sport climbing, traditional climbing obviously still has it's appeal as one new member commented. "The good number of people at the recent Progression to Rock series run by the Lancashire Mountaineering Club proves just how many of us want to learn trad climbing and want to get away from the indoor walls".

LMC Mentors

From February to June the LMC have had 9 members sign up through Progression to Rock. Another 36 have signed up as prospective members. With many thoroughly enjoying the meets and gaining a lot from them we hope they attend further LMC meets and join the club."

The help from LMC members was impressive and without their input the series would not have happened. "Thanks to all who helped organise this and all the experienced climbers who were keen to share their knowledge with us less experienced ones" reflects the appreciation of the young climbers.

Kate Hawkins

Professional Climbing Instruction

Andy Newton demonstrates the finer points

Saturday 28th June the LMC held a day of professional climbing instruction for 7 new members who had attended the Progression to Rock series. The day was funded by the BMC to the delight of the attendees. 3 members headed to Tremadog with Max Cole instructing and 4 members were lead by Andy Newton at Little Tryfan. All 7 are keen novice climbers, so the aim of the day was to provide tuition of all aspects of traditional rock climbing.

Andy Duffy reports "No matter what the level of experience of our group, Max made us all feel very comfortable whilst pushing us to reach new goals. His attitude and humour were excellent and his vast knowledge was gratefully passed on to us. The weather was great and we all left the day on a high with new skills and experience to take us further into the great outdoors of trad climbing. Thank you LMC!!"

Kate Hawkins


An extract taken from the "Northwich and Acton Bridge Examiner" and sent in by one of our readers.

David, Nigel and Roger

Nigel Lyle, the Acton Bridge based action man - who still climbs mountains despite a rock fall costing him a leg - has completed one of the major challenges of the Alps.

With a couple of friends from the Lancashire Mountaineering Club (David Metcalf and Roger Gott) 61 year old Nigel completed the Haute Route in the Alps. It is an eight day high level ski touring traverse from Chamonix to Zermatt and Nigel wonders if he might be able to claim a record.

"Typically there is about 1000m of ascent and descent every day. I had done various bits on several occasions before but had always been frustrated by bad weather. This year we were lucky to have perfect weather for all but the final day which fortunately deteriorated slowly enough for us to be able to ski and navigate off the final col (the Valpoline) sufficiently accurately to avoid the crevasses and ice falls.

Perfect Weather

Most guided parties do a shortened version of the traverse involving a taxi ride part way through, but we did the Grand Lui variation which takes a couple of extra days. As it stays higher and goes by the monastery at the top of the Great St Bernard Pass" he said.

Pause for breath

On the second to the last day, with the fine conditions holding and through icy cold and strong winds, the trio were able to do a long alternative to include the summit of the Pigne d' Arrola (3796m) with splendid views in all directions including Mt Blanc and the Matterhorn.

Nigel was an engineer with ICI at Northwich and Runcorn and he and his wife Jane have three grown up children and six grand-children.

His left leg had to be amputated after it was crushed in the Alps in 1972. Though his foot was badly injured he still had to scrabble to safety and signal tourists on the opposite mountain by torchlight for help.

His rescue by helicopter was dramatic. "It is over 40 years ago but I remember everything very clearly" he told the Bugle reporter. "As the helicopter inched up and out from the face, I did a pendulum into space, 1000m appearing beneath my feet in an instant".

The pilot had taken a risk in the conditions and because Nigel discovered later, the surgeon told him that every hour was vital to stop the spread of gangrene.

Approaching the summit of the Pigne d'Arrola

Nigel was back climbing within a year and has since conquered many other peaks including the Matterhorn and Cotopaxi, Ecuador. But he was beaten in his bid to become the first disabled climber to climb Everest by altitude cough and other factors at 7,500m.

The false leg may have saved his life though. I have always I would have gone on to do more risky stuff and could have killed myself long ago like some of my contemporaries" he said.

But his latest venture was a triumph and Nigel declared "We were all ecstatic to have made it and celebrate our achievement with a vast amount of beer. Who knows, it was possibly a first for a disabled veteran mountaineer"

Editor's Note: I understand that the original party on the Haute Route included Richard Toon and Nigel Bond; many thanks to Richard for two of the photographs.

A lovely Australian Poem: "Goodby Grandad"

Poor old Granddad's passed away, cut off in his prime,
He never had a day off crook, gone before his time,
We found him in the dunny, collapsed there on his seat,
A startled look upon his face, his trousers around his feet.

The doctor said his heart was good - fit as any trout,
The Constable he had his say, 'foul play' was not ruled out.
There were theories at the inquest of snakebite without trace,
Of redbacks quietly creeping and death from outer space.

No-one had a clue at all - the judge was in some doubt,
When Dad was called to have his say as to how it came about,
'I reckon I can clear it up,' said Dad with trembling breath,
'You see it's quite a story - but it could explain his death.'

'This here exploration mob had been looking at our soil,
And they reckoned that our farm was just the place for oil,
So they came and put a bore down and said they'd make some trials,
They drilled a hole as deep as hell, they said about three miles.

Well, they never found a trace of oil and off they went, post haste,
And I couldn't see a hole like that go to flamin' waste,
So I moved the dunny over it - real smart move I thought,
I'd never have to dig again - I'd never be 'caught short'.

The day I moved the dunny, it looked a proper sight,
But I didn't dream poor Granddad would pass away that night,
Now I reckon what has happened - poor Granddad didn't know,
The dunny was re-located when that night he had to go.

And you'll probably be wondering how poor Granddad did his dash
Well, he always used to hold his breath
Until he heard the splash!!!

Les Patterson

Thank You

The LMC welcomes contributions to its newsletters. Please send text and photos to Roger Finn Copy for the next newsletter should reach him by the end of September, 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.