I wonder how many of our members have entered the World's Biggest Liar Competition. Every November this takes place at Santon Bridge. Entrants are given up to five minutes to peddle their untruths in a bid to become the world's biggest liar. Anyone can enter except solicitors and politicians who are judged to be too well versed in the art of lying. Judging by some of the letters received by the LMC, we have a number of members who could be very strong contenders.
When I first became newsletter editor, I envisaged a slimmed down effort, no more that two sides of A4 with a neat list of information about goings on in the club. In my mind there would be little difficulty in producing at least six of these a year with a prestigious journal of the finer work, probably bound in hand tooled leather, thrown in for good measure. Aspiration has turned to dust as the thing has morphed into a quarterly newsletter, exactly the same as my predecessors have produced.
This year the weather has played havoc with the club meets programme. Many meets were cancelled and, in consequence, there are few meet reports. Nonetheless there has been a fair amount going on in the mountains and many of you have put pen to paper. Do keep writing, it's what the newsletter is all about (I think!).
The next newsletter is likely to be in late March 2013. Articles, meet reports, letters, news etc. are very welcome. Once again, a very big thank you to the many who have kindly contributed to this newsletter.
Please send info to the Newsletter Editor, Roger Finn email@example.com (tel: 01600 773203)
Tuesday Evenings - Mid-Week Meets
After the optimism and promise of warm, long summer evenings in the early part of the season the middle and later months became a mixture of sunshine, showers, totally wet evenings and indoor alternatives. In short much frustration. Consequently attendance fluctuated from just 1 member with a prospective new member to relatively healthy numbers. Even the final meet (bouldering at Brownstones) of the season was a wash out!!
So we now look forward to the indoor season. We are running with the use of West View at Preston as our base, meaning a fortnightly visit. We are keep the interest coming with visits to other walls in the area including Manchester, Liverpool, Stockport and Warrington.
The winter evening meets take place on Tuesdays. We normally arrive at the walls around 7:00/7:30, climb and then have a drink afterwards. The meets at West View Leisure coincide with the club's social meets held at the Belmont Black, Belmont near Bolton, BL7 8AJ on the first Tuesday of the month.
The next indoor meets are:
Hope to see you indoors during the winter.
If you want to come along then please contact Jon Banks - 07790 484358
It's that time of year again where we're putting together the meets list for the club for next year. The meets are all run by you, for you, so I'd love it if you could let me know any ideas you have as to where you'd like to go, what you'd like to do and when!
I'd love it even more if any of you would like to coordinate any meets too - the LMC has a great, fun packed meets calendar every year (as can be seen from the meets reports in the Newsletter!), but it relies on the commitment and enthusiasm of the meet coordinators to make it a reality, so we need you.
If you could let me know any ideas you might have over the next week or so that would be great. If you're interested but not sure what coordinating a meet entails then just get in touch too, and I'll be there at the photo competition at the Belmont Bull on Tuesday as well if you'd like to have a chat about anything.
Jo Whiteley - 07765004222
Congratulations to Kate Hawkins and David Toon who got engaged in spectacular fashion at the top of Half Dome in the Yosemite Vally. We all wish them many, many years of happiness and a wonderful future together.
Huge congratulations to Ian Aicheson who, on the 10th October, 2012, climbed his final Corbett. The project took him nine years to complete.
The summit party celebrations
It is Ian's view that the Corbett peaks are a match for all but a few of the Munros. They are steep, often trackless and have the priceless quality of solitude. As Ian said, it's hard to pick out a favourite but an icy ascent of Ben Aden from the Sourlies Bothy was a particularly memorable day. Also the Hebridean peaks, Ardgour and the far North West Scotland are very special.
The Monarch of the Glen
Ian chose Ben Mhic Chasgaig as his final Corbett. On the day, a large party gathered in Glen Etive to accompany the summiteer on his journey of triumph. Our hero, resplendent in the Aicheson Clan plaid, joined the assembled throng on the summit. Toasts were drunk to Ian's health and congratulations offered for his remarkable achievement. The highlight for some, was Ian's impersonation of the Monarch of the Glen. When he lifted his kilt to reveal the man beneath, a number of ladies swooned and had to be revived with smelling salts.
Celebrations continued into the night at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel. David Thistlethwaite entertained with a splendid poem while Ian thanked Pat, his lady wife, for her understanding and kind support throughout his Corbetteering.
An ancient highland tradition - Ian attaches a dead rat to his head
I am in receipt of your latest missive and am perturbed at the ramblings of this Red Jake fellow. He is obviously a member of the lumpenhund and no doubt a benefit-cheat who has nothing better to do with his time than complain about his betters. As I put pen to paper, the rightful rulers of this great country, are meeting in Birmingham to squeeze the testimonials of the complaining poor. I say "here, here" to this. I know that the Editor's wife agrees with me but is too stuck up to engage with these matters of the gutter.
We of the elite have longed for a double meets list to try and avoid these slack mouthed and rather uncouth members who eat butties rather than sandwiches, pick their noses and talk of soccer as though it was as fine as a Venkies chicken. Our President needs protection from the louts who have no understanding of tradition or history. These beer swilling types have no concept of fine wine. All they understand, as Churchill rightly put it, is "sodomy and the lash". Sorry but perhaps I was just a little incautious there and carried away with emotion. However I know that, as your post demands, you will keep my little ramblings confidential.
This fella Red Jake will have to be watched. He's a subversive if ever I saw one. We knew how to deal with them in the good old Solitary days! A good blacking with the dubbin brush would soon sort him out! All this red rubbish and Health and Safety brought in by that Toon fella stops us bringing back the Red Rope, our hands are tied. A word of advice, if I may be so bold, a stricter editorial line would keep Red Jake and his fellow travellers off the front page.
Yours as the shades lengthen, - Blue Beard (Name & address supplied)
Thank you immensely for your reply to my last epistle, it showed great wisdom.
As I sit contemplating the rain through a cloud of midges, I think back to the days when a group of LMC members enjoyed convivial weekends in the Tynbhan. It was the brainchild of a compulsive Munroist in need of a retreat from the weather. The club accepted the challenge and the facility was provided. Many a weekend was defined by a post work dash on Friday night to make the last pint in the Invervey. Many a Saturday start was delayed by the Friday excess. Sunday was often a late night drive South having achieved the ticks, or not, as dictated by the Scottish weather. It was said you could tell a Munroist by the grooves in his eyelids where the matches fit.
As we anticipate the demise of this great facility I wonder what the future holds. We have an under developed hut in the Lakes in spite of the opposition. It is grossly under used, maybe because of contemporary trends in climbing and its proximity to home base. Scotland, God's own country, in spite of its aspirations to independence, needs a hut if our weekend dashes are to continue. Could it be that we break with tradition and use another club's hut?
As I pluck another tick from my nether region, I wonder about the ticks of future Munroists. Maybe they will settle for a day trip to Stanage and a glass of orange.
Yours reflectively - Red Jake. (Name & address supplied)
Having just proof read the latest LMC newsletter, I feel it only fair to apologise on your behalf, to the club membership for the poetic bilge that is currently infesting your writing. Having given the matter considerable thought, I cannot find a logical explanation. The Finn diet has not changed. You haven't taken to listening to "Poetry Please" (Radio 4 Sunday pms). I'm beginning to think that there must be something in the theory that if you give a chimpanzee a keyboard it will eventually come up with Shakespeare. If anyone knows a cure for the problem, I would be grateful to hear from them.
S Finn (Mrs) - Monmouth, South Wales
A total of 20 members contributed in one way or another to the roofing of our new hut between 25th & 29th Sept., a fine turnout by any reckoning. Thanks to all concerned.
The core team of retirees (Saga Construction Ltd.) assembled on the Tuesday in what could only be described as a monsoon. There was no decision to make; there was work to be done. The priority was to prepare the higher roof for battening by trimming the rafters and fitting the tilting fillets. As this progressed another team was completing the construction of the rafters on the lower roof. All this was hindered by the need to reposition large parts of the scaffolding. With occasional retreats to the "shed" for welcome refreshments, ably provided by our resident caterer, Josie, this was completed in spite of the bad weather. The use of Dave Medcalf's house at Borth y Gest enabled restoration of moral ready for the morrow. The weather on Wednesday was a distinct improvement, it occasionally stopped raining. While Owain, the local roofing expert, ran an apprentice school in battening, for Dave Fisher, on the higher roof, the carpentry work on the lower roof continued. This work continued until Friday afternoon when many, with domestic responsibilities, had to return home, suitably knackered one hoped. A few hardy (foolish) souls were cajoled into continuing on the Saturday by the arrival of reinforcements. These arrived supposedly to attend DM's 65th & Sarah's 30th birthday party, but were pressed into service on site. We were rewarded by a fine sunny day and the roof was completed as far as the membrane and slating battens. It is now rain proof. On the strength of this much beer was drunk on Saturday night. The next phase of the project is to actually get the slates on the roof. This is planned for Thursday 11th � Sun 13th Oct. So anyone who is not in Scotland on the mountain bike meet and would like to volunteer --- your club needs you!
Once again, thanks to all concerned: Dave & Cathy, Sarah, Barbara, Janette, Mark, Rob, Steve, Nigel, Jane, Jon, Dave S, Graham, Richard R, Kevin, Dave F, Chris, Josie, and anyone else I have forgotten.
Local arsonist caught setting fire to the hut
Those of you following the saga of club huts will know that we removed the Solitary earlier in the year. This was a necessary condition of maintaining our planning consent for the Byre with the Planning Authorities.
The Club has known for over 12 months of notice to quit our Tyndrum site and had actively looked at alternative sites for the existing caravan. However a combination of difficulty / impossibility of moving it and the cost of an alternative site brought the Committee to the decision to temporarily withdraw from Scotland. The overwhelming feeling expressed at the AGM was to concentrate all our efforts into the Loft/Byre and more importantly into the only property that we completely own � Cae Ysgubor at Beddgelert.
It is now 12 months since the SNPA lifted their objections to our rebuild and I am pleased to say that we have built up a good working relationship with their compliance officer Aled Lloyd. Work on serious building started in that really good, warm March this year. In fact we had to send out for suncream! Hopes of a dry summer rapidly disappeared and I think every visit since then has had either wet working days at some point or an early finish.
Progress has been astounding and if you have looked at the LMC web or have already bought a calendar you will have seen the building take shape.
Two working sessions in October saw the roof begin to go on and the vast bulk of 3000 slates are now in place. Fascia boards, soffits and gutters are on site for fitting. Window frames are undercoated and ready to go in as soon as the scaffolding is removed. 3 temporary doors will make the building secure and weather tight for the winter.
Over the 8 months this year there has been a hard core of members who have turned up on a regular basis and a good number who have contributed time when available. If you are one of "the others" don't worry! Hopefully 2013 will allow us to move the project further on and need more help � time or money - from members.
A big, big thank you to all who have helped get this project off to a flying start.
The electrics have been sorted out and the hut is now fully functional. The National Trust has finally responded to repeated requests to deal with the lease renewal and it has been agreed we will renew on exactly the same terms as the current lease, minus the Solitary plot, and at a revised rent. We will however have an option over the Byre, which can be exercised when funds are available for the required works.
So, end of October and the clocks are changing... the end of a very wet and disappointing summer, for me at least. I hope yours was rather better. However, I have now taken over as chairman of this illustrious club so that will give me more excitement in the next year. From a climbing perspective, my highlights were ice climbing in Cogne in January, assorted ski touring in Chamonix in February and some very pleasant climbing in the Dolomites in July. I also had a couple of fine ski trips with my wife.
I know that others have been busy despite the weather and a couple of our younger (relatively) members have reached such a performance peak as to free climb Half Dome in a day. Other club members and friends had a fine time in the sunny California weather in the Sierras and Yosemite.
Meanwhile, yet another older (relatively) member is celebrating the completion of all the Scottish Corbetts having already achieved the Munros. We have now several members who have achieved both sets of mountains, a remarkable feat!
It is with some sadness that we have seen the end of our caravan in Tyndrum. The site owner has had his licence conditions changed and we had to quit the site. After great deliberation, and some misgiving, we eventually decided to scrap the van. We have had a caravan at Tyndrum for over 20 years and it formed a fine base for many of the Munroists as well as winter climbing in Glencoe and Ben Nevis. We will try to replace this facility in the future, but for the moment we will have to rely on other club huts, bunkhouses and tents.
However the good news is that we have made extraordinary progress with the build of the welsh hut (Cae Ysgubor). The end of October should see it fully �water tight' � tiles roof, windows and doors � so that next year we will be able to complete. Many thanks are due to the President, the designers and the many volunteers.
In the Lakes we were intending to extend the Blea Tarn hut, by annexing the ground floor, but we are still negotiating with the National Trust. This is a slow and painful process.
So roll on winter! I will be hoping for some good winter climbing and walking with weather and conditions to compensate for the summer. The annual dinner in Kendal is coming soon; I hope to see many of you there.
What a fantastic club meet! We started with a 5-day back-pack in the High Sierra, having flown to San Francisco at the end of August. Then we met with our "New England" contingent for a couple of weeks climbing in the High Sierra. The meet then moved on to Mammoth for a few days. And finally, the "big wall" contingent arrived for a hugely successful 3 weeks in Yosemite valley.
I'll let others tell in more detail about the John Muir trail and about fast free-climbing on Half Dome.
My story is about the most enjoyable route in the High Sierra. This wasn't the longest route I climbed, or the hardest or the most spectacular. But it is probably the most memorable � a fantastic classic American rock route in a tremendous position, with lots of excitement, and adventure, an uncertain outcome with a wonderful summit view and a most reasonable descent.
I'd read the guide books superficially earlier in the year. A few "must do" routes emerged in my mental list of objectives. Not a fixed list � it's better to go with the flow, learn from the locals, work out the sandbags, avoid the crowds, keep in the sun if it's cold, or search out the shade when it's blistering.
Hobbit Book stands high above Highway 120, the only road crossing the mountain divide. I'd thought that it was hidden from view, mixed in amongst the huge granite domes that characterise the area. But in fact, it can be glimpsed through the massive pine trees if you look up at the right moment.
The route follows a huge towering corner rising up to the summit of Mariuolumne Dome. Access to the foot of the groove is hardly easy. After the usual pleasant walk though the soft-carpeted natural forest, the path fades away as you come across a huge complex wall forming the front face of Drug Dome. You skirt this and then it's up loose talus � scree to those of us used to standard English!
Nancy and I hopped the boulders gaining height gradually but not really clear where we were going. The route is neither marked nor is it obvious. The guide book points you to a ledge system running across the north face of the dome. We meet scrub, heavy undergrowth and fallen trees and finally emerge onto steepish ground with a big fall potential. We stop for another breather, take a quick drink, peruse the book yet again and scramble up, over and through broken branches and huge fallen trees. We leave the sacs and gear up, having tried to judge the optimum place to stash our spare clothes and food, to make it easy to return to on the descent. I'm hoping we can do a quick rappel down the route � speedy and taking us back over familiar ground, meaning we'd be back for tea before night time.
The approach continues to baffle. Are we high enough? Where is the corner system? How much longer will it take? The hours had rolled by. It was late morning by now and I wanted to get to grips with the rock and get some footage done. We could be anywhere. Up a bit more; more easy moves around yet another tiny buttress; and suddenly, wow, we are there. A huge face rears vertically upwards set alongside the soaring groove and corner system.
The start is remarkably benign � an easy-angled crack leading gently upwards towards a small buttress guarding the real challenge. It's good to have the ropes on, the friendly rack of gear sorted just as I like it, camera at the ready, with views appearing way beyond the forest floor, already a long, long way away. The highway is hard to see. Even plotting its route around the domes is difficult to pick out. We are alone in the quiet of the mountains. It's just us, the mountain and the clock. We really do need to get moving. The pitches are long, complicated and demanding.
Nancy showing good style
I get a nice belay off right from the easy crack, so I can stare up at the towering groove before taking in the rope as Nancy climbs steadily, concentrating where the short traverse comes across to my belay.
Its steeper now, with more route-finding to get around the buttress and into the groove. It's time to think about getting good gear placements whilst keeping the two ropes flowing easily over the ribs and corners. There are some nice vertical cracks with big holds. I'm into the groove proper now and the ropes are hanging down well over 100 feet. The third pitch is supposed to be the crux, as it moves out of the groove and onto the immense left wall. But where is the belay and where are the leftward moves? Nothing is obvious. I run out most of the rope and reach a spot that seems to be a belay point used by others before. This must be it!
Nancy puasing for thought "where's the hold gone"
Although we were enjoying yet another Californian blue sky, we were in the shadow and there was a persistent, if light, breeze. We were up at over 9000 feet, not surfing weather. I'd gambled on climbing in a short-sleeved T-shirt. Big mistake!! The goose pimples reminded me of routes in good old UK. I was nearly shivering but the sun was creeping onto the left wall, only feet away. Nancy climbed steadily and the gear came out easily. I kept the coils of the twin ropes neatly stacked so that we wouldn't lose time with tangles. I was leading each pitch, so we swopped over the belay carefully but quickly. Nancy handed over the nuts, cams and extenders. We've climbed loads of routes together, both on rock in the summer and on freezing ice on winter trips, so we are a pretty efficient team and work quickly and effectively with the gear and the ropes. There's a pretty good rapport between us and total confidence in each other's climbing ability. And plenty of banter!!
The route "...run[s] up the dihedral leading to a 30-foot traverse to a bolt". What? Which bolt? Where is it? I stare around - upwards, outwards and downwards. No bolt. I could launch off here; or move out and across a bit higher, perhaps; or is that the line ten feet below? All possible, but none too obvious and just where does it wander off to? I can't stand here all day. The pimples need that sunshine, temptingly now just a few feet away. We have to get on with it. Retreat now would be possible but messy. There is no fixed gear and we would have to fiddle about setting belay slings with nuts or other improvisations.
OK I'll just climb. The rock is very solid, with huge plate-shaped lumps and pretty good "grips". It's sometimes fragile and there are absolutely no cracks for gear anywhere. I wander off left and catch the sunbeams. Fantastic!! I'm warm again!!!! Er, where is the protection? Where is the route? Where does it go?
Looking back, Nancy keeps feeding the rope, slowly but patiently. I'm creeping up � route finding is intricate and uncertain. I try drooping the odd long sling around the odd plate, trying various larks-foot and other looping systems to keep them in place. They don't all stay!! Switching leftwards, then rightwards, then traversing, then sharply pulling up, and the ropes are determined to lift any sling, no matter how I've tried to weight it or wedge it. Some slip off and slide down the ropes. Ah well, forget falling off. It's not going to happen � ".....major runouts on a steep reachy face pitch....the climbing is difficult for those under 5' 10" due to repeated reachy moves." For me at 5' 8", reachy really does mean reachy!!
I'm up maybe 70feet now with perhaps two bits of gear that just might hold. It's very steep. But it's very enjoyable. It's warm. It's hard but not desperate. Most of the rock is solid. There are enough � but only just enough -footholds and handholds. And then there is a bolt!! Solid, reassuring and new!! So I am in the right place after all. Not quite where the guide book says it is!!
The wall keeps coming and gets steeper. But the groove bends over so that I'm now climbing towards where it forms a small overhang. Almost all the rope is out now � getting on for 60 metres, a couple of hundred feet. A real mega pitch. And a small ledge after a couple of welcome nuts and cams in the last few moves. I can't see Nancy. But the rope starts coming in steadily so she must be doing the first few moves and is probably pretty pleased to be away from a long, cold belay. I wonder if she follows exactly the same line � there' s probably a few dustings of chalk but the rock has so much friction that dabbing is just a nervous reaction rather than a necessity.
The vista is now panoramic and fantastic. The High Sierra stretch for 500 miles and this is the best bit, if not the highest. I can see at a distance the easy side of Fairview Dome, a route I'd descended with David and an American guy a few years ago after we had done Lucky Streaks. Nancy and I should have done the same descent a few days before but we were thwarted by an odd New Zealand guy climbing with a Brazilian on the classic Regular Route. The kiwi wouldn't let us pass and faffed around for hours � and I do mean hours!! He even took the in-situ abseil sling with ring from the tree, so I had to sacrifice a nice new ... sling and a maillon as we abandoned the route mid-afternoon. We'd started at 9:30am and just done one pitch!!! But the Russian couple who arrived at the base of the route just after us didn't even manage to rope up. They met us back at the campsite, even more pissed off with the kiwi than we were. Ah well, you win some you lose some !
Back on the Hobbit Book, there is one last pitch. Nice climbing, just like Cornwall granite. Steep but getting less so and quite straightforward. And it's quite suddenly the top, and a long walk back to find a belay. Sit down, fix three anchors, take off the rack, loosen the rock boots, and get some basking time. Oh, and better take in the rope as there is someone on the end of it!!
The Hobbitt Himself
So we can abseil straight back down the route and quickly to the bags? No way. No descent anchors. Only the one bolt in the entire route and no friendly double-bolt belays. So it's a circuitous walk back but over these wonderful shelving granite slabs, covered with occasional dwarfed bonsai fir trees and with yet more vistas of fantastic domes and peaks stretching to very distant horizons.
We drop down and into a gully system and the traverse back to the bags seems quick. Great stuff � drinks and beef jerky. I've been practising my American twang "Say Nancy, you want some of ma beef jerky?". I'm sure it's absolutely authentic mid-western but I get a dusty response.
Then off via a path we'd never have seen from below, which avoided the talus and got us back to the highway in no time at all. And the best bit is the free shuttle bus ride back to camp � and it's still light. Just.
Richard Toon - October 2012
Route is Hobbitt Book 5.7 R XXXXX (R means run-out with little protection) First ascent in 1965 Height of route: 500 feet On Mariuolumne Dome Located close to Tuolumne Meadows in the High Sierra, Yosemite National Park, California, USA Partner was Nancy Savickas of Boston, USA
Harsh camping conditions at Emeric Lake
Hitler had one "death march", Stalin had a few and Chairman Mao had many while Handel even set one to music. Not to be outdone by despots, dictators and fine composers, the LMC had to have its own. Its mastermind was Nancy Savickas one of our American members.
Apparently Nancy's Death March is much looked forward by US sadomasochists. It has got so popular that it is now an annual event. This year a number of UK LMC members were persuaded join in. How many there were at the outset I do not know but only five marchers survived to tell the tale.
The marchers assemble at Tuolumne Meadows in California's High Sierra to be met by our guards Nancy and John. The guards checked our packs for heavy items and those that didn't have any were given some to carry. We were all obliged to haul bear boxes, huge, heavy steal containers in which all our food was packed. Apparently the local brown bears are extremely cunning and adept at getting into tents and rucksacks to steal food. If you don't want to become a light snack, or in my case a heavy snack, bear precautions need to be taken seriously. We did and no bears were seen.
A guard oversees two heavily loaded marchers
Tuolumne Meadows , at elevation of 2600 metres, is an alpine meadow in the Sierra Nevada. It is a truly beautiful spot, graced by a winding river and surrounded by majestic peaks and domes. From here, prodded by the guards, we set off down the Lyell Canyon on the Pacific Crest Trail. For the next five days we wandered through some of the most glorious mountain scenery on earth before emerging from the Cathedral Pass Trail back at the Tuolumne campsite.
The route crossed five high level passes linking a series of alpine valleys. The intricate topography produces ever-changing landscapes. Finely sculptured mountains pierce the blue sky above enchanting lakes and beautiful meadows and basins. Vistas change dramatically from one moment to the next, which makes for wonderfully scenic backpacking.
Cath, looking distressed - Cathedral Peak in the background
As if the scenery was not enough, the Sierra has the mildest, sunniest climate of any of the world's major mountain ranges. The days were delightfully sunny but cold at night as we sat by crackling fires looking at the starlit sky, worrying about hungry bears and thinking I hope the buggers eat Jim before they get to me.
Guards & the surviving marchers assemble by Cathedral Peak
At the end of five days we marchers were glad to be back in Tuolumne. Subject to abuse and the harshest treatment by the camp guards, we were shadows of our former selves. Punishments were harsh and inhumane and ranged from having to pack your own tent to the ultimate humiliation, the refusal of the guards to serve morning bed tea.
This was a brilliant trip; good company and superb mountains. The High Sierra is a mountaineer's paradise and I would recommend this area to anyone. Huge thanks go to Nancy and John for organising the whole thing and for the maintenance of stout discipline.
The guards: Nancy Savickas and John Flinn
The survivors: Cathy Woodhead, David Medcalf. Jim Cunningham, Richard Toon and Roger Finn. Apologies to those who died en-route, they remain anonymous.
"Just keep moving!" This was the only way we were going to do it. Our goal was to climb the Regular North-West Route on Half Dome in Yosemite in a day. Most people aid climb it and take 3 days. Years ago David had seen a magazine article about the possibility of going light and doing it in a single day. He knew that if we moved fast, we too could do it.
The day started early. We had slogged up to the base of Half Dome the night before and bivied at the bottom. Will Wheale had kindly assisted us by volunteering his Sherpa skills. The evening had seen the many climbing pairs slyly sussing out planned starting times, with all, including us, bluffing in an attempt to jump the other. Woken to the clang of gear, the headtorches started off at 2am. Once the first few belays cleared we headed off as the last pair to leave. It was 4am.
There was a short delay on pitch 1 as Dave's headtorch was broken, but the sleeping Will saved the day by providing his. And then it was on. Go, go, go! We climbed fast. Through the dark hours of the morning we followed small tunnels of light from our headtorches. "Just keep moving". Our changeovers were slick. If we were going to make it, it was all about speed. As we made our way up the north face, the sun crossed the sky and the climbing got harder. There was often no grace or elegance in how we climbed. It was any way to get up fast. At hard sections we French-freed (pulled on gear), if gear took too long to get out, we left it, and for the 3 crux pitches in the afternoon, we aid climbed.
"Watch me here David, it's really awkward" Like most Yosemite climbing, it was physical, brutal, but always thought-provoking. We squirmed up squeezes, jammed up handcracks, locked up fingercracks and back and footed up chimneys. I let out a gasp as David dropped his belay device mid-route. Fortunately he spotted it on some wedged chockstones at the base of a chimney and I was able to retrieve it.
We reached Big Sandy Ledge by 1pm. On target, we spoiled ourselves with a 5 minute break as our fatiguing bodies desperately needed re-fuelling. This proved difficult as my cramping fingers were like crab claws trying to shovel some fruit and nut mix into my mouth. What was usually easy climbing for us now felt so much harder. My whole body was spasming. We were now racing the sun. We slowed through the aid pitches, balanced across Thank God Ledge and struggled at the bolt ladders. The sun had won and it was headtorches back on again. Pure exhaustion took over. Our bodies were tired. Our heads were tired. Emotions and tempers wore thin. There was tears, curse words and insults.
We climbed on. "Just keep moving" There was no option of being benighted. We only carried 10L day packs with foot, drink and one warm top. On the final hard traverse, I willed my fingertips and friction to hold. After 16 hours of continuous climbing, it was 8pm and dark as we topped out. We'd done it. Solid training, psyche and teamwork had paid off. Willy was there to meet us with our bivy gear and drinks.
But there was one more surprise. David suggested I look in his bags pocket. Attached to the keys clip was a ring, and with it a proposal in marriage. Delirious with fatigue, the tears started again and I accepted. Nestled amongst the rocks on top of Half Dome we sat in our sleeping bags and enjoyed a romantic can of cold ravioli. The full moon shone bright and I couldn't sleep. Maybe it was my head banging from dehydration, relief at just stopping climbing, joy of achieving our goal or just excitement at the future challenges David and I were going to face as a team. The sun was rising over the High Sierra the next morning as we headed down the cables on the back of Half Dome, followed the stunning John Muir Trail back down to the valley and got stuck into a much deserved fry up!
The New Members Meet this year took place at The Loft at Blea Tarn. We broke the ice with a few beers at the Stickle Barn before heading up to the Loft for the night, anticipating the days climbing to follow.
Long Scar and Black Crag on Pike O'Blisco were the destination as a couple of light rain showers attacked us as we left the cars at the top of Wrynose Pass. The weather soon cleared though and the day became bright and sunny, with great views of the fells. The rock was nice and dry, and surprisingly warm for the time of year. Simon, Joe and Will put up a couple of ropes for people to second, and Sarah led her first routes with the Club with aplomb, even when being descended upon by a wayward member of Salford Uni CC, whose grasp of climbing etiquette was slightly off-kilter! We all moved over to Black Crag after, and a few more routes were climbed before we headed down to the Three Shires Inn for a well deserved beer.
Sunday morning was clear and sunny, with a great forecast. Joe, Simon, Will and Sarah headed off to Gimmer Crag to climb for the day, which I hear was very successful. It hasn't been a year for high mountain climbing as the British Standard Deluge has prevented it, so it was great to get two days climbing in.
Alwyn, Colin and I headed off in a different direction. Parking near the Three Shires Inn we walked down to the river near Tilberthwaite and then turned right, in the direction of Wet Side Edge, Great Carrs, Swirl How and then Wetherlam. The weather was amazing. It is a long time since I have seen the air so clear. We could see the Isle of Man very clearly indeed and it was a pleasure to be up there.
Thanks to Simon for organising the meet, which was a great weekend.
The October Mountain Bike Meet has usually been a well-attended affair, and this year we had twenty members up in Galloway for a fantastic weekend of, as Bernard would describe it: "Riding round in circles in a forest!" Bah humbug!
We stayed at Urr Lodge again, as we did last year, and most of us set off on Saturday morning to Kirroughtree, one of the Seven Stanes trail centres. The intention was to do the red-graded The Twister and the black-graded extension, Black Craigs, if people felt up to it. As it happened most of us did the full route, although some of the drop-offs and obstacles merited a cautious approach, lest an ambulance be required. The route was in great condition, fast-flowing single track that made you grin from ear to ear. Until I went slightly awry and had to take evasive action to avoid full-fronting a rock at speed, whilst trying to keep up with Iain McClellan. I am very happy that face-planting onto soft heather and grass didn't cause my nose to become flat. Ambulance not required. Just.
The trail is about nineteen miles in total. This doesn't sound an awful lot but on mostly single-track, with a lot of up and down it started to feel a little tiring towards the end! All made it back in one piece though, which I was relieved about. We all certainly deserved a few beers that evening in the local pub.
The next generation of LMC members, Harriet and Jessica, took their parents for a ride at Dalbeattie, where there are some great trails for families to enjoy.
The following morning dawned bright and sunny. Dalbeattie Forest's Hardrock Trail was beckoning for the survivors of Kirroughtree the previous day. This is a red-graded trail, normally of fifteen miles. A couple of diversions made it slightly shorter, but of no detriment to the ride. The trails here are again flowing and quick, with the odd tricky section of rocks to get round/over/through. All good fun though, apart from the odd snapped spoke and the odd snapped chain!
Overall a fantastic meet, great fun and great company. Thanks to all that came along. I guess we'll try somewhere else next year as we have been to Urr Lodge twice now. Maybe something with a more cross-country feel?
And so it came to pass that three Welshmen (Roger, David and Thomas Finn) and Englishman (Brain Gargoyle) came to conquer the mighty Tryfan by its great East Ridge. The intention was to scramble up the East Ridge and onto Heather Terrace and then climb Original Route to the summit. Well that was the idea but the weather, as always in the mountains, decided to play its part.
The morning dawned crisp and very cold with white tops every where. The quartet took little notice as they were of course mountaineers! So a leisured breakfast was taken with boastful comments about the easy stroll ahead. Well to cut a long story short the ascent for the family of Finns was uneventful except for their growing awareness of ice and verglass. However, as families often do, they forgot that somewhere behind them an elderly man was struggling to ascend the hill following a mighty fall. As usual no concern was shown from the uncouth, elderly Finns other than "where the f---k is the old bugger!" What the f�k else would you expect from these two!
Shivering in the cold easterly winds the elderly Finns came to the conclusion that climbing to the summit was not sensible. The younger Finn (Thomas, aged 13) was not impressed. If white feathers for cowardice could have been handed out, the elderly Finns would have been the recipients.
Without further ado the Finns set off down the mountain to climb on Little Tryfan. Apparently they had a splendid day selfishly giving little thought to the old man.
Tom Finn on Little Tryfan
The old man made his way down the mountain complaining to anyone who would listen about his plight. No one took any notice. He repaired to the hut, lit the fire, and settled down to listen to the radio broadcast about a ghastly murder in Blackburn. Apparently a Blackburn Rover's supporter, while attending a Steve Keane Out protest, had been struck between the eyes by a frozen Venky's chicken and killed. A quick phone call determined that the broadcast was fiction and not a documentary � a huge disappointment.
Shortly after, the old man deciding to check the security of the fees box in the hut. While inserting a large screwdriver into the cash box, there came a loud banging on the hut door. Who could it be? It was the Police. They broke the door down, burst in and found the old man with a pile of notes and coins that had somehow burst from the box. Fortunately the old man has an honest face and they were intent on more serious crimes. What did they want? Information about a MURDER!! The police took all the names from the hut logbook, drank tea and eventually left. So watch out, the long hand of the law may be about to feel your collar.
The evening was spent with Finns sipping whisky and beer in front of a roaring fire (Tom had apple juice). The old man, while flipping through ancient copies of "Climber and Rambler" in the hut library, came upon an article written in October 1979. It concerned an ascent of Mt Kenya via the Diamond Coulouir by two members of the LMC. Apparently they had struggled for hours, in numbing cold, to make an ascent. On arrival at the summit, amid the rock, ice and clouds, they were greeted by a barefoot tribesman wearing only a loincloth. Apparently he had soloed the mountain, rope-less and half naked, to pray to his gods. As he stood with the LMC members on Nelion, at 17,000 ft, he explained that the summit was sacred to the Kikuyu and he climbed to the summit three times a year! The article does not name the climbers but for LMC members the secret can now be revealed. The climbers were Pete Melling and Richard Toon. The following day another pair of LMC members Dave Medcalf and George Hartley also completed the climb. The lesson is there for you Tom, if you want to climb hard rock and ice, sell your red hot chilli peppers, use your mum's T towel as a loin cloth, resign from the LMC and join the Kikuyu MC.
Sad to report that, for anyone considering climbing Mt Kenya, the Diamond Couloire is now devoid of ice and snow due to global warming.
The LMC welcomes contributions to its newsletters. Please send text and photos to Roger Finn firstname.lastname@example.org. Copy for the next newsletter should reach him by 15th March 2013.
Also grateful thanks are extended to all those who have contributed to this newsletter.
Roger Finn, Newsletter Editor
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