Lancashire Mountaineering Club

Lancashire Mountaineering Club
December 2014 - E-News

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Cap de la Chevre, the
Crozon Peninsula

What a fantastic autumn it has been. Sue and I spent a few days walking bits of the Brittany coastal path. Many years ago someone gave us a set of table mats with scenes of Brittany. One featured the Crozon Peninsula and it looked spectacular, rocky headlands with beautiful beaches lapped by turquoise water. We didn't believe it; surely it was the work of some unprincipled touch-up artist like Jim Cunningham. Yet there it was, unforgettable, exactly like the photograph. I mention this because, if you enjoy coastal walking, you would be hard put to beat it - except Pembrokeshire of course!

The remnants after the first opening

And talking of unforgettable events, we have had the opening of Cae Ysgubor, twice! Only the LMC could contrive to "officially" open the new hut twice on the same day with identical ceremonies and duplicate warm applause. For the club's dedicated boozers it meant the bonus of more free champagne. So much so that a third unofficial event was organised when it was realised that we had not had an official opening for a least two hours; all in all a splendid day celebrating a huge club achievement. Please find below a full account of the event although it is definitely written with a feminist slant. "what's wrong with that?" I can hear 50% of you say.

Apologies that this edition of the Enews is late. I'm not normally late. It just takes me longer than most people to begin to commence to get ready to think about starting work. However late or not I hope that there is enough in to keep you entertained.

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 Autumn and Winter months. Full details are on the LMC website. You can download the complete list here

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



Congratulations to Cathy Woodhead and David Medcalf on their marriage. This took place on the 17th August at Criccieth followed by a highly enjoyable reception at Prenteg Village Hall. Cathy and David, very best wishes from the LMC.

The happy couple

Letters to the Editor

Dear Sir,

I know why you printed that "Aussie" poem in the last edition of the LMC E news. It was your pathetic attempt to take the piss out of our antipodean friends. Oz is full of real men like Shane Warne and Julian Assange not like you and the rest of the wets what run the LMC. What if gramps was a bit of a sticky fingered fellow in his youth - does it really matter?

Get a life!
Mr B Beard (Leyland)

Hut News

Cae Ysgubor

Cae Ysgubor as it looks today
- well minus the bunting
& the bucket

Under Nigel's direction, an impressive amount of external work has been completed to provide paved pathways, steps and ramps to access the hut. However work is still required to erect fencing, provide gates, surface parking areas and provide outside storage and utility facilities.

The internal works are largely finished and the hut is useable except that the necessary safety certificates and other bits of bureaucracy are incomplete. Urgent efforts are being made by Chris and his team to resolve these issues. Unfortunately and regrettably this means that the hut should not be used.

The Loft

John Blundell has resigned as Hut Warden, a post he has filled with distinction for a number of years; the LMC is very grateful for his considerable efforts. Clare and Mike Stafford have "taken up the cudgel" so to speak; we wish them well.

The Grand Opening of Cae Ysgubor

Saturday, October 4th dawned bright and sunny. This followed a night of torrential rain which washed one club member, Edgar, out of his tent. By 9 o'clock, Edgar had been resuscitated, a marquee was being erected on the car park and the gents were giving the outside of the hut a general tidy up. The club elders then did what they do best, talked.

Richard lives dangerously,
advising the catering team!

Meanwhile in the kitchen, Josie, (i/c catering), Mary and Janette had steam on all boilers, producing vast quantities of hot pot. The ladies of the club had produced a fabulous array of cakes and biscuits. These were tastefully arranged on trays by Jean and Sue. Throughout the morning, Mary's dulcet bellow of "Anyone want a brew?" ensured that the workers were kept hydrated.

Eric Jones and Emelia Toon
cut the ribbon

By 1 o'clock all was ready, food and drink in the marquee, bunting in place and a red ribbon across the hut door. Hot pot, pickles, cake and drinks were served to an eager and appreciative throng. Club members and visitors then collected a glass of champagne and assembled to hear Club chairman Roger give the opening speech. President Chris delivered the first part of his speech in Welsh and then invited Eric Jones, climbing legend and owner of the Climbers Cafe in Tremadog to declare the hut open.

Champagne and wine flowed throughout the afternoon. Anyone walking past was offered a drink and cake plus a tour of the hut.

The first of a number
of opening ceremonies

Lord Dafydd Elis- Thomas AM for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, arrived mid- afternoon and was prevailed upon to open the hut (again). The president, doubting Sue's grasp of Welsh politics, dispatched Norma to ask Lord Elis-Thomas if he really was a lord! Everyone gathered with champagne glasses in hand. Chairman Roger gave a speech, President Chris addressed the crowd in Welsh and once he had stopped laughing, Dafydd Elis- Thomas replied in English, declaring the hut open.

Dafydd Elis-Thomas
does the business

By the evening a hard core of 20 hungry members remained and needed feeding. The catering team once again swung into action, two of its members having sobered up sufficiently to be of use. More wine flowed and everything became rather hazy, always a sign of an enjoyable event. The day proved a huge success and it was good to see so many younger and newer club members joining the usual "suspects". Well done LMC!

Penelope Ripstop, LMC Social Correspondant.

Committee News

Chairman's Ramblings

Just a short ramble in this edition as you all had my 'news brief' emailed to you on 21st October. This highlighted the club's success in being awarded £10,200 of grant funding to run professional mountaineering training courses. If you are interested in :

  • improving your mountaineering/climbing skills;
  • becoming a mountain leader, or
  • providing your services as a professional trainer

Please get in touch with our Youth Officer, Mike Haines youth-officer or M: 0785727242. Mike would love to hear from you. We are still waiting for the flood of interest which we hoped would be forthcoming as we want to offer training to our existing members as well as newer ones....

The end of the year is coming up fast. To start our Christmas celebrations we are planning a Christmas 'bash and slide show' at the Belmont Bull on Tuesday the 2nd December. The slide show will be given by a well known photographer and raconteur and will be well worth the cost of the entrance fee (note, there is no entrance fee!). Mince pies and other nibbles will also be provided. Put the date in your diaries.

I am looking forward to a great winter with good winter climbing and walking conditions in the Lakes, Wales and Scotland. We are due one as last winter was awful so we should all keep our fingers crossed.

Roger Gott

Membership 2013/14

In August last year a decision was made to concentrate on retaining and building membership of the club. Our strategy was to improve promotion of the club through outdoor retailers and climbing walls in the region alongside targeted advertising on Facebook, Twitter and Google.

The concept of Prospective membership of the club was formalised as part of this strategy. In accordance with the BMC's public liability insurance requirements we are able to allow people to try out the club at no cost to them or us for 3 months. The ability to do this has been available for a number of years but we have never used it as a tool for increasing membership.

Prospective membership has been great in raising the profile of the club and we've had just shy of 50 people sign up over the last 14 months. However, we have only managed to convert 7 people to fully paid up membership of the club. There are a number of reasons for this and the committee will continue to refine the strategy to convert more people and learn from the comments and feedback we receive.

As well as marketing and advertising we trialled the Progression to Rock series of meets, an idea developed by the BMC, targeting indoor climbers wanting to take the next step and learn how to develop their skills for outdoor multi-pitch climbing. With in excess of 50 people attending the first meet, with many returning for the full series of meets they were an unrivalled success.

The result of all this hard work is that membership of the club has smashed through the much fabled 200 mark! At the time of writing the club has 208 paid up members and are gaining new members at an average of 4 per month.

One of the most significant changes that have been made to membership was the introduction of the Webcollect system. This has been well received by members in general and has dramatically improved the information we can glean from the membership, has improved our ability to promote membership of the club, as well as saving significant administrative time.

As a result of the information we collect we can understand better what your interests are which helps when putting the meets program together.

We can also see if the strategy of attracting younger people and families into the club is successful - incidentally the average age of club members has fallen from 54 to 48!

All of this data and the ability to monitor it daily has been a critical element of a successful bid to Sport England for £10,000 of funding to further develop our meets program in 2015.

John Toon

Meet Reports

A Ski Tour in the Vanoise

The Dome de Polset

Having waited in vain for the official report from last season's ski touring meet, I have reluctantly put finger to keypad. It was originally envisaged that we would return to Austria but we were tempted back to France by the offer of a free guided tour in the Vanoise. For various reasons this didn't materialise but there we were so there we toured. As we had a touring virgin on the team we had to keep it simple, at least that was the plan.

We assembled at Pralognan on the north side of the Vanoise National Park as we hadn't explored from there before. There were five of us, Josie, myself, Claire, Alec and Dave Sudell. It was an early afternoon start due to the usual first day chaos. We endured three hours of very hot skinning, mainly up a track, to the Refuge Roc de la Peche, a privately owned hut of the highest standard. A couple of beers before the sun went down, a hot shower before an excellent dinner helped to compensate for the blisters acquired on the ascent.

Another short day under the blistering sun saw us to the Peclet Polset Hut at 2400m. a large modern monolith which we shared with three others. The meteo was less than encouraging as we sussed out possibilities for the morrow.

Dave at the Breche de la Croix.

The meteo was right. We awoke to thick cloud and snow. What to do? The Dome de Polset was nearby so it was decided to "have a look". After half an hour of groping our way forward it seemed a bit pointless. A wait of another half hour saw no improvement so we turned back. Even finding the hut turned into a challenge but eventually the GPS triumphed. The afternoon was spent practicing transceiver searches, an often neglected skill. My new, all singing and dancing Orthovox took a couple of hours to master. Later our peace was disturbed by the arrival, over two hours, of twenty French soldiers, some looking pretty done in. However the forecast was good!

In the morning there was the inevitable battle with the military for space in the ski room but we were away for 7.30am. Of the two routes over to the Dent de Parachee Hut we had chosen to cross the Breche de la Croix. This caused raised eyebrows from the guardian as he gave us a parcel for the next hut. An initial descent followed by a steepish skin brought us to the foot of the gully. Off with the skis and on with the crampons. There followed about 200m of 50 degree neve. Claire and Alec kicked and cut steps and it took a little while before we topped out through a little notch at 2900m.

Josie and Clare reach the
Col de Labby

The ski down the Aussois side was awesome in the fresh snow, although that brought its own difficulties as I set off a sizable avalanche on one long traverse, causing problems for those behind. Lunch was outside the closed Fond d'Aussois Hut before the final skin up to the Dent de la Parachee Hut where we were welcomed by a Nepalese guardian for whom we had a birthday present.

A big day followed, as the Arpont hut was closed for the season we had chosen to use the Refuge de la Valette, unguarded and previously unvisited by us. Three hour's work got us to the Col de Labby at 3300m.

Drying out at The Valette Hut

There then followed the longest traverse in the world, hovering at about 3300m for the next few hours gradually getting a tired left leg. A climb up to the Col d'Arpont then a skin to the Dome des Nants brought us to the high point of the trip at 3553m. The gentle ski down gradually became serious as we descended to the Valette hut. It steepened considerably as it cut through several rock bands. Our leader, of course, made light of this but some resorted to boots rather than skis. We were all reunited at the hut which we shared with an Italian team. Mattresses were organised in the attic and a cooking rota agreed. The stove was lit and a convivial evening enjoyed by all.

The final day started with an ascent to the Col de Thurges then a very icy ski down to the tree line resulting in jellied knees. A steep little gully caused Alec to twist a knee badly and a long walk back to Pralognan for him. We slid down the long track back to the cars after a not quite so simple tour. After a great lunch of savoury crepes to end a cracking tour all that remained was the long drive home, except for Dave Sudell who was off to visit Jim Lawson prior to another tour with Julie.

Bernard Smith

The Alps 2014

This year we decided to go to Chamonix, actually camping in Argentiere. The camp site, which also doubles as a nursery slope in winter, is perhaps more suitable for skiing than camping. The main sliding achieved was down the tent. However, as was pointed out to me, it did mean that the copious amounts of rain ran off and caused no puddles or floods...

Descent from the
Aiguille de Midi Station

As you might have guessed by now, this turned out to be quite a wet alpine holiday. Nevertheless we had a reasonable turnout with the two Medcalf girls (Jo and Sarah) with their husbands and babies enjoying the best weather in their first week together with some good walking and easily accessible rock climbs. Jason and I flogged up to the Couvercle hut with a view to climb the S ridge of the Moine. However it rained/snowed all night and even the hut staff did not get up at the appointed breakfast hour (5.00pm). We had a pleasant walk back down the Mer De Glace with the other disappointed would be mountaineers.

Aiguille d'Argentiere
from the Col de Tour Noir

A number of days then followed when it just mainly rained. However I managed little bit of rock climbing with a young Scottish chap I met on the campsite and then had a magnificent day on the Cosmiques arĂȘte which goes up to the top of the Aiguille de Midi from where the Telefrique enables a quick descent from 3,800 metres.

Eventually Dave, down in the valley, Julie and Richard arrived with Nigel and family. In between the showers more valley sports rock climbing were tackled and then an ascent to the Argentiere hut followed by an attempt on the Aiguille Noire. This was not wholly successful party due to the glacier conditions which have deteriorated considerably in recent years. It is notable that the zero degrees isotherm was up about 4000 meters whereas 20 years ago it would rarely have gone above 3000m. - global warming.

On the Cosmique Arete

Two good days of climbing with new member John on the Aiguilles Rouges followed, punctuated by rain days. The camp site manager said his grandparents recalled this was the wettest year since 1975. Ahh... I was in Chamonix then for a few very wet days; he concluded that I must bring the wet weather!

Roger Gott

LMC Pembroke - August Bank Holiday 2014

I this "Shot Across
the Bows"? Editor

Taking advantage of my non-working status this year (maternity leave!), I headed down to Pembroke during the week to enjoy some coastal walks with Emelia at St Davids and Pembroke. The rest of the LMC contingent arrived late Friday night and Saturday morning. The weekend started off with sunny weather, so we made the most of it. Down at Rusty Walls and Misty Walls, David T, Martin, Sarah S, Colin H and I climbed Solidarity(E1), Lucky Strike(E1), Shot Across the Bows(E3) and . .. . . Along the coast, Seren Whiteley and Jessica Toon took their parents to the beach for some sandy fun.

Tim Greenhalgh with one of his
climbing heroes
Graham 'Streaky' Desroy

The forecast for Sunday was rain by lunch, so it was a short day climbing. We headed to No Man's Zawn where David and I climbed the 3 star E4 6a 'Pan' and Richard T and Colin climbed Grand Junction(HVS 5b) in Frontier Zawn. Pub grub was enjoyed at St. Govan's Inn on the Sunday night. In heavy rain Monday morning we packed up the tents. Jessica and Seren had the right idea in such weather and headed to an indoor water park. That was the only place any physical activity was going to get done in such torrential conditions. Every time I head down there my ticklist gets longer. So many routes! Pembroke, you beautiful limestone . . . until next year!

Kate Hawkins

LMC Buttermere meet- September 19th/20th 2014

Where's t' pies dad?

With the summer stretching into September, LMC members took advantage of the lovely weather and headed to a quieter corner of the Lakes which features Buttermere and Crummock Water. 25 members and 5 dogs camped in a pretty site in Buttermere. Different groups headed out climbing, fell-walking, dog walking, kayaking and extreme buggy-walking. On the Saturday David, Adam, Martin, Sarah and Emelia and I headed up to High Crag. Routes done included Delilah(VS), Philestine (E1), Gesamin(E1) and The Sun Never Sets(E3) . Meanwhile Richard T and Andy Bond headed up to Raven Crag to climb Daddy Short Legs(E1). Tim G and Nigel B paired up for Cleopatra(HVS) on Buckstone How. The mist didn't clear until the afternoon depriving the walkers of views whilst on the tops, but all had a great day.

That evening we took over a corner of the pub, cramming in bums on seats, dogs and babies, it soon steamed up. There was lots of talk of routes done, trips planned, rubbishing of old members and getting to know new members.

Waking up to sunshine and blue sky, the different groups refigured and headed out. David, Adam and Martin climbed Deimos (E3) on Eagle Crag and Richard, Roger, Mike and Christian were up enjoying the quality routes on High Crag. Tim and I played on the Honister boulders then met up with Sarah and Eben for a lap of the lake. No weekend would be complete without a cream tea in a cafe in the sunshine. Great turn out, great weekend and the end of a great summer!

Kate Hawkins

A Day at the Roaches

"For many years the Roaches have stood to the climber as an El Dorado, a glorious myth, whose wonders were known to exist , but were never explored due to their apparent difficulty ........' Marley Wood 1924.

The Wombat, the Roaches

Time moves on and given the dry weather, the warm sunshine and some perfect Staffordshire Grit ...... we had a lovely day at the Roaches. A few traditional classic routes, just the job for introducing a couple of enthusiastic new members to some excellent climbing. Pity it clashed with DT's stag weekend but as they say 'you can't win em all'. Thanks to those attending hoping for some more next time.

Dave Sudell

Strewth, a wallaby recently spotted at the Roaches.

Editor's note

Return of the wallabies: recent pictures prove that Aussie marsupials are still hopping around Peak District after fears they had died out.

Gogarth Meet October, 2014

The Bezel

The meet took place at the place and time shown on the meet card. A week of dismal and depressing autumnal deluges gave way to an ever increasingly optimistic weekend forecast. So much so that a flying Sunday visit saw the quartzite bastions of Holyhead Mountain shimmering, in the customary way of this meet, in the sparkling sunshine of a magnificent autumn day.

An unfortunately timed high spring tide steered us to the distinctly non tidal Upper Tier. The full cast of the meet, myself and Richard, enjoyed a hybrid ascent of The Eternal Optimist E2 5b and Bezel VS 5a. A great day; well worth the effort.

Same time, same place, next year?

Steve Lyon

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 March, 2015. 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.