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About the Northumbrian Mountaineering Club (NMC) The NMC is a meeting point for climbers, fell walkers and mountaineers of all abilities. Our activities centre on rock-climbing in the summer and snow and ice climbing in the winter. Meets are held regularly throughout the year. The NMC is not, however a commercial organization and does NOT provide instructional courses.

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BMC Public Liability Insurance for climbing incidents. Discounted NMC guide books. Discounted entry at certain indoor climbing walls. Access to the extensive NMC library

Join the NMC Download a Membership form from: Send the signed and completed membership form with a cheque made out to the NMC for the membership fee (see below) to the Membership Secretary at the address shown on the membership form.

NMC Meets The NMC Members’ handbook (available to all members) and the NMC website list the dates and locations of all meets.

Membership Fees •Full £25 •Prospective £10.00

Quarterly Magazine This magazine lists the meets arranged for the next few months. Non-members: Are always welcome to attend meets. Note: Winter indoor meets require a minimum of prospective membership (see below) due to venue requirements for third party insurance.

Membership Details Members are Prospective until they fulfill the conditions for Full Membership (see membership form.) Full membership is valid for one year from the end of February. Prospective membership expires at the end of March each year. Membership gets you: • Copy of the quarterly magazine. NMC Quarterly Magazine

Contributions to this magazine are always welcome - photos are especially welcome. Send Contributions to:

Get this Magazine FASTER If you received this magazine as a paper copy, you may be interested to learn that you can get it a lot faster and in colour as a free download from our website. To arrange for email notification that the latest issue of the magazine is ready for you to download, contact the membership secretary at:

March 2008

Committee 2007/2008 President – Peter Bennett Vice Pres. – John Mountain Secretary–Carolyn Horrocks Treasurer – John Mountain Membership – C. Horrocks Access – Richard Pow Hut co-ord. – Neil Cranston Hut bookings – Derek Cutts Magazine ed. – Peter Flegg Social Sec – C. Horrocks Librarian – Sam Judson Guide books – John Earl General: Andrew Coverdale, Ben Gibson, Adrian Heath & John Dalrymple.

As an affiliate to the BMC, the NMC endorses the following participation statement: The BMC recognises that climbing, hill walking and mountaineering are activities with a danger of personal injury or death. Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions and involvement.

Copyright The contents of this magazine are copyright and may not be reproduced without permission of the NMC. The views expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of the editor or the NMC.

Photos Unless otherwise stated all photos in this issue were taken by the author of the article.

Cover Shot Tim Catterall on the multipitch 'Chandelle Levure', Cogne, Italy, 14 Feb 2006 Photo by Bryn Roberts

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What’s in this issue?

Wednesday evening meets

Weekend meets ................................................3 Wednesday evening meets ................................3 NMC/BMC Climbing & Walking Festival.........4 Four Old Men and the Youth.............................5 Dave Burke remembered…...............................8 Work/climb parallels ......................................10 Club News update ..........................................12 Black Rock Cottage........................................14 A Slightly Different Angle ..............................15 Climbers’ fingerprints taken............................18 Financial report for 2006/7..............................20

Weekend meets

Wednesday evening indoor meets run through into early April and are held at the wall at Burnside Community College in Wallsend. u

Outdoors Outdoor meets start again from early April 2008. No need to call any one—just turn up with all your own equipment.

The following list shows the weekend climbing/social meets currently arranged.

The NMC website has crag location details (, also check the website for indoor wall alternatives if the weather is not good. Meet afterwards at the pub shown in italics. u

You MUST contact the meet leader in advance, as accommodation may be limited or already fully booked. Note: A deposit may be required to reserve your place on a weekend trip. u 15/16 March 08


Bowderstone Hut working meet—Time to offer your services to help keep our huts in good condition—Neil Cranston 0191 270 2648

02 April 08

Shaftoe - Highlander

09 April 08

Rothley – Dyke Neuk

16 April 08

Corby’s – Angler’s Arms

29/30 March 08

Fort William—Tim Catterall, 07704 614 814

23 April 08

Jack Rock - Northumberland Arms

6 April 08

Wainstones—Andrew Coverdale 07502 165 139

30 April 08

East Woodburn/Wolf Highlander

19/20 April 08

BMC/NMC Meet , Belford— Malcolm Rowe 0191 236 6648

07 May 08

Peel - Twice Brewed

14 May 08

Simonside - Turks Head

3/5 May 08 Early May BH

Eskdale —Bryn Roberts 07921 436 955

21 May 08

Wanneys - Highlander

10/11 May 08

Bowderstone, new members —Steve Orrell 07792 518 934

28 May 08

Bowden Doors - Salmon Crag Lough - Twice Brewed

24/26 May 08 Spring BH

Scotland—Carolyn Horrocks 07817 833 420

14/15 June 08

Peak District—Ben Gilbert 0191 252 6664

04 June 08 11 June 08 18 June 08

28/29 June 08

Club Annual Dinner—Peter Bennett 01670 515263

12/13 July 08

Peak District, Don Whillans Hut—Jon Trafford 07974 345 551

NMC Quarterly Magazine

Kyloe Out - Percy Arms, Chatton South Yardhope /Sandy - Bird in the Bush

25 June 08

Callerhues - The Cheviot Hotel Bellingham

02 July 08

Simonside /Ravensheugh Turks Head

09 July 08

Kyloe In - Salmon

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NMC/BMC Northumberland Climbing and Walking Festival 2008 The NMC, together with the BMC are organizing a weekend festival of climbing and walking. This is a unique opportunity not only to promote the club, but also to show to a wide audience of climbers and walkers what Northumberland has to offer. The event is centred at Belford and includes: Friday 18 April 08 5.00pm—8.00pm Bluebell Hotel, bar food available. 8.30pm—9.30pm Talk by John and Andy Earl on the development of climbing in Northumberland. Saturday 19 April 08 9.30am—4.30pm Climbing and bouldering at all major crags in the area. Bouldering sessions with Ben Bransby and Andy Earl at Bowden Doors. Cheviot Hill Walking and Northumbrian Coastal Walking (buses available to transport folk from/to the start/finish of walks. 4.45pm—5.30pm Bluebell Hotel, BMC AGM Registration (compulsory if you wish to vote.) 5.30pm—7.00pm Bluebell Hotel, BMC AGM

members and their spouses/partners who’ve been involved in the activities. Sunday 20 April 08 9.30am—6.00pm Full day of climbing and organized walks, with the NMC acting as principal hosts for the day. Formal instruction learn to lead course available (see box elsewhere in this issue.) 6.00pm onwards Informal socializing and drinking in Belford to round the weekend off. The NMC display in the Bluebell Hotel will including photos, and we’ll also be selling guidebooks and T – shirts etc. We are anticipating 150 to 200 people to be attending this event (and that’s not counting NMC members.) WE need YOU to help to make the weekend a success. Firstly by attending and secondly with organizing activities (walking & climbing.) Contact Malcolm Rowe ASAP (at the latest by the end of March) and let him know whether you will be involved—as we need to let the caterers know numbers attending the Saturday Evening ‘do’.

( 0191 2366648

8.00pm till late, Bluebell Hotel, Buffet and Saturday night party, free admission to NMC NMC Quarterly Magazine u March 2008

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Four Old Men and the Youth Chris Davis

One Summer’s Eve there came out of the south (well relative to the destination and really the north east) three old(ish) men. The Youth being a Veterinarian couldn’t get away and would join us late on the next day. The fourth man was a very old man indeed, in fact some 4,500 million years old Torridonian sandstone. The Old Man of Stoer was our destination. Some years ago, and graciously acknowledged by Steven Porteus in the last newsletter, Rick and I climbed the Old Man of Hoy. The situation and guano sort of gets in your blood and since then we’ve always hankered after getting the pair and climbing the other Old Man. So it was one Thursday afternoon I headed for Morpeth to pick up John Mountain, now John is a handy man to have around on a sea stack, not only does he have every useful piece of equipment in his usually extensive range of hold-alls (including the latest Bob Smith shower curtain rope bag – in pink) but he also made the first free ascent of the Old Man of Hoy (in black and white). From Morpeth to Felton to pick up Rick and then onto Lochinver via the centre of Edinburgh, first navigational mistake as the navigator was explaining the intricacies of piano tuning and we missed the bypass. After a little refreshment at Kingussie we headed for Inverness and Ullapool. We NMC Quarterly Magazine

had been warned to expect deer on the road from Ullapool to Lochinver and indeed there they were, so watch out, you that head north, for those sharp bends on fast roads with no traffic and the pub beckoning. Rick being the master of the internet had negotiated a last minute deal on a luxury lodge just south of Lochinver providing an inspirational base as we arrived under a midnight sun or was it moon. Friday saw the arrival of a welcome dry and warm day (remember England was under permanent cloud). As the vet was to join us later for the Old Man we had our sights on Suilven and left the car, courtesy of the Assynt Crofters, just short of Glencanisp Lodge. A well defined path wound its way across the moors and near to Suileg Bothy we left the path and crossed crispy dry heather and moorland to the foot of Suilven. The route we had in mind was Rose Route which takes the prow like arête of Suilven, a fin of a mountain. We discovered that the route was first climbed in 1957, a coincidental choice to celebrate my 50th year. Young (or is it old) Rick decided to take the lead and after a hesitant start made good progress up through the walls and roofs of stark red sandstone. Hesitant because even Scottish VSs don’t start with 6a bouldering moves, perhaps it would be wise to start a few feet to the right. Anyway we made good progress up the walls and across terraces which tested our navigational skills, not much chalk to follow and not

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much in the way of protection either. We were not expecting so many blank cracks. But, what a situation, the weather was in a brooding mood, sometimes sunny, sometimes foreboding. The views as we got higher were superb with the familiar profiles Stac Polliadh, Cul Mor, Cul Beag, Canisp occasionally grazed by clouds and wonderful views of the Summer Isles. A fine evening greeted us as we coiled the ropes at the top of the climb and made our way up to the summit. The aspect just got better and better as we made our way along the fin back and found the descent gully. The descent and walk out went on and on, it was well after 10.00pm as we got back to the car and scuttled down the lanes to the pub in Lochinver. We were a wee bit hungry after a full on mountain day and didn’t hold much hope as we entered the pub (the Caberfeidh) in Lochinver, don’t suppose you have any food on? Lasagne and Chips all right lads?? You bet, not only was the foot good but the ale was even better, a monumental step change has occurred and we were well looked after. Not only that but the Veterinarian had arrived and joined us for a wee dram as we planned the next day. As the next day dawned we were awoken by rain, not heavy but that Scottish gentle misty rain that soaks everything. Thankfully the old limbs needed a few more hours in bed and by the time we’d had a hearty breakfast and endless cups of tea it was looking more promising so we headed north of Lochinver towards the lighthouse NMC Quarterly Magazine

at Ru Stoer. A stroll along the spectacular headland brought us face to face with the oldest Man (and the Old Man of Stoer was looking a bit craggy as well!) The scramble down the cliff was probably the most gripping part of the climb. A large platform provides a good place to sort out the ropes and gear and as we reached the rose coloured ledges the sun came out and we were in for a treat. Until I stripped off that was, I reckon that to get the tick you’ve got to do the swim. Luckily it was high tide and the sea was as still as a mill pond so I tied onto two ropes (one to double back so it can be pulled back when we finished the route and the other to do the pulling). A quick dunk and a few strokes and I was over and tied into an assortment of rusty pegs and wires. The boys pulled the ropes back and sent over some dry clothes. Now the advantage of climbing with a Veterinarian, Piano Tuner and Landscape Architect was that the ropes were tensioned to perfection, the welfare of the team was in good hands and not only was the Tyrolean functional it looked good as well! The boys came over, I tried not to look at the pegs expecting them to pop at any moment, but all was well except for wet veterinarian feet (he didn’t even notice he was so excited) and we set off on a horizontal traverse towards the beckoning sun. Now the Old Man is a bit like a vertical candy twist, the route follows the twists and occasionally crosses through a few overlaps. Apart from the damp first pitch March 2008

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the climbing was superb, steady VS on solid rock (unless you watch the BBC version). The climbing was pure joy as Rick and I led through with John and Adam following as a second team. Progress was being followed by a growing group of tourists on the cliff top. 5 pitches led us to the top and a wave to the crowd—well a few remaining tourists, their dogs and the odd Fulmer, I’m sure it was the same one that puked up on me on the Old Man of Hoy. The good thing about following the BBC (which we found out about later in the pub) was that new tat was in place at all the belays. The calm sea sparkled as we prepared the ropes for a spectacular abseil, Rick and I set off as the boys made the summit. We were down in two, just managing to avoid a dunking by traversing under tension of the abseil rope back to the original stance and the rusty pegs. Back across the Tyrolean and a great perch to watch John and Adam ab off. The crack was good as we made our way under staggering sacks back up the cliff to the wavy tops of bog cotton and across the moors to the beckoning alehouse. A second night of good food and the odd beer and wee dram rounded off a perfect couple of days.

Dave Burke John Mountain, Vice President

Most readers will be aware of the tragic death of Dave Burke on Helvellyn on 12th January this year. Dave had been a member for less than a year but in that time had become quite involved with the club. He was a regular at the Burnside Wall nights; a big, friendly guy, described in one of the website tributes as ‘a true gentle Giant’. The club has sent condolences to Dave’s parents and following the last committee meeting, a £200 donation split between the Patterdale, Penrith and Wasdale Mountain Rescue teams whose members all attended Dave after the accident and were involved in the recovery of Dave’s body. We are all saddened by this loss.

See also the article ‘Dave Burke remembered’ by Sarah Leahy on the next page.

We were too knackered to move on Sunday, except to the Lochinver pie shop, a good venue to take stock and plenty of coffee before heading back to wet old England. Scotland was kind to us that weekend. So if you want a couple of good adventurous days get yourself up to Lochinver. The Old Men: • • • •

The Old Man of Stoer John Mountain Man Mountain Rickety Barn Doors Chris don’t worry I’ve got me trunks Davis

The Youth: •

Adam Veterinarian Spillar. u Dave on Stac Polliadh, May 2007 by Mark van der Heijden

NMC Quarterly Magazine

March 2008

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Dave Burke remembered… Sarah Leahy and others

Dave only belonged to the NMC for about a year—he, Mark van der Heijden and I finally got around to joining last winter after our friend Elaine Nyman had been nagging us for years to go along. We had been going to Sunderland wall regularly for about 3 years and so we were determined to put what we’d been practicing there to good use and to start ‘proper climbing’—that is, outdoors on rock. So, we set about getting ourselves some kit. A rope seemed a good place to start, and once Dave had put his foot down about the pink one—he had been clearly scarred by the experience of having been flogged a ‘red’ car by a dodgy salesman, only to then find himself driving round in a salmon pink Corsa for several years—we left Wildtrak all set to hit the crags...

climbs in Northumberland discovering new pockets of the county, or familiar ones in new ways. Climbing offered Dave hitherto undiscovered ways of exploring the mountains he loved so much, and he was so determined to take advantage of these that he wanted to make sure his climbing partners were up to scratch. What better way of achieving this, than setting us all homework? So, combining his new passion for climbing with a more established one for filing and organising, Dave compiled projects for us to work on—homework files with week-by-week tasks and challenges that he got from Trail magazine and the BMC website. He regularly nagged us

The weather was fabulous (it was April) so we took our very Dave on Striding Edge, Helvellyn 12 January 2008 manly purple rope up to Bowden Doors to try it about the tasks to make sure we were up to out. After much dithering about what would date with our knots, anchors and abseil provide a good anchor, we found some technique. good routes and we were away! Dave didn’t This must have led to frequent look back from that moment—he was disappointments for Dave, who showed hooked. At the new members’ meet in great forbearance and patience—well, up to Borrowdale just a couple of weeks after a point!—when we regularly turned up not that, he got his first lead under his belt—a having looked at the latest instalment, and pitch on Troutdale Pinnacle which we did teasing him for his obsessive filing with Richard Pow (see following article). disorder. As you will remember, the promising However, without Dave’s organisational sunshine of April soon gave way to a skills, it could be argued that we would season spectacular mainly for the amount of never have made it to Skye, let alone the rainfall and accompanying midges. top of the Inaccessible Pinnacle in August Nonetheless, we still seemed to manage a last year. He approached the trip with a good number of evening and weekend NMC Quarterly Magazine

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level of planning appropriate to a Himalayan summit expedition, but it all paid off when we made it to the top. Dave’s sense of pride and achievement in having conquered the most challenging Munro by ourselves—without the guides who accompanied all the other groups we encountered that day—was huge. Our homework had paid off. As a moderate, the ‘In Pinn’ as Dave liked to call it might not be the most difficult of climbs, but it certainly felt like it to us, we had reached a new level in our mountaineering experiences. Dave was the kind of friend who inspires you on to new achievements—one who led you to do things that you would probably never have done without a bit of ‘gentle’ encouragement. Sometimes you would find yourself wondering what the hell you had got yourself into, and how you were going to get out of it—I certainly remember thinking that at one or two points on a snowy An Teallach last May..., but mostly, you just felt elated—sometimes knackered, but always on top of the world. And from the photos taken on that day in January, I’m certain that that’s how Dave felt after completing Striding Edge for the last time. Dave was killed on Helvellyn on 12 January while out walking with a friend. They had done the route many times before. They were experienced winter walkers who knew to keep away from cornices and they were well equipped with crampons and ice axes. The weather was fairly good, it wasn’t windy, the visibility was no worse than usual, and there were plenty of other people out on the hill. They had come off Striding Edge and were almost at the summit when he fell. We had done many more challenging things, and one of the things that I am finding it hardest to come to terms with is recognizing the fact that you don’t have to be out of your comfort zone for such a tragic accident to happen. Dave was my climbing partner and one of my best friends. I admired him for his tenacity and perseverance, his straight talking, and his passion for the mountains. He was happy when he was out in the hills—climbing, NMC Quarterly Magazine

cycling, walking, whatever. I’m glad that we were able to share so much of that with him. u Richard Pow sent Sarah his memories of their day out on Troutdale Pinnacle

It was a fine day last summer and I had managed to escape across to the Lakes for the Sunday of a club meet based in Borrowdale. I wasn't after a hard day’s climbing, deciding instead to lend a hand with introducing some of our newer members to multi-pitch routes. I was lucky enough to team up with Dave and Sarah and offered to take them up that classic of Lakeland climbing, Troutdale Pinnacle on Black Crag. It's a majestic line of about 5 pitches weaving its way up the highest part of the crag, providing constant interest and culminating in a deliciously airy ridge and steep but juggy final wall. I knew they would both love it. At the start of the day I hardly new Dave or Sarah but by the top of the route there was a feeling of close companionship that you only really get by sharing a challenge. It creates a sort of bond that otherwise takes years to forge and for me and many others is one of the main reasons why we climb. I remember clearly the delight in the faces of both Dave and Sarah as together we unlocked the secrets of the route, enjoyed the increasingly fantastic views and as they eagerly absorbed the advice I was giving them; each knowing that this advice was their passport to future climbing pleasures. Dave was feeling confident enough to lead a short pitch about halfway up the route—his first lead and something that gave him immense satisfaction as evidenced by the broad smile he wore. Our all too brief encounter showed me Dave as a gentle, kind and considerate fellow with a passion for the outdoors and I'm sure he will be sorely missed by all who knew him. I'm just pleased to have given him an experience to cherish in his all too brief life. u

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Work/climb parallels Clare Gallant

I was recently asked to describe my approach to my work as a consultant for what turned out to be a pretty amazing company away day. As I looked into my motivations, ambitions and modus operandi, I found a startling number of parallels with climbing. Now I know people climb for a multitude of different reasons. For some, climbing is an escape from the drudgery of everyday life. For others, there is simply no room for anything else in their lives to hold

any importance—climbing is everything to them. Yes work can be annoying if it stops you from climbing, but let’s not forget that it also enables our climbing. At the most basic level, it gives us the cash to travel to the mountains. It also equips us with mental skills we can use in climbing, such as problem solving and team building. For me, I find that climbing, far from being a distraction from my job, actually enriches my work, and vice versa. And my reasons for undertaking each of them are very similar. I began climbing for a shamelessly superficial reason: the guy at Freshers’ fair was so fit I just couldn’t resist going away on a climbing weekend to the Gower with him. But after having tried climbing, I knew I was hooked. I really hate the word ‘challenging’ —it’s such a cliché and it’s misused in so many ways (often by strategy consultants like myself!), but I can’t think of a better way to describe what climbing is/does for me.

Clare on Ozzimosis (water ice grade IV), Rjukan

In my job, clients present us with a problem or question. This can be anything,

by Philippe Gallant NMC Quarterly Magazine

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from how to get more people to give up smoking, to whether congestion charging is a good idea, to how to achieve world domination, to what will the energy industry look like in 20 years, to what the next flavour of crisps should be. This requires us to analyse the problem, design a methodology, and gather the right tools, knowledge, techniques and team together to find an answer or solution. Undertaking a climb involves the same type of analysis. You need to choose your problem, get the right kit, gain experience and knowledge and get your team together. You also have to be prepared to adapt your approach based on outside influences, such as weather, missing holds or suicidal sheep (don’t ask!).

Climbing also presents challenges. These can be physical, mental, ethical or even spiritual. For me, the mental challenge is all. It’s about assessing the risk but then moving out of your comfort zone and doing it. As you move up, you are gaining more and more knowledge about the climb, and establishing areas of safety from which you can progress. At the start, when I’ve just won a project, I’m shitting myself thinking ‘Can I really do this?’ (actually that does continue for most of the project) but by using the team and taking each step at a time, I achieve something great, with and for the client, and that is so satisfying. Climbing also offers opportunities to be altruistic—to develop others by offering your assistance, expertise and example. I

I’m hired by people who live and breathe their industry. They know it inside out but they want a new perspective, informed by other disciplines. They expect a thorough understanding of their world and this can be an enormous challenge. While we have our ‘comfort Clare on Liathach via SE ridge of Mullach an Rathain, Torridon zones’—our by Philippe Gallant areas of think it was Chris Bonnington who said expertise and in depth knowledge—we are something like ‘I’m not a great climber but constantly pushing the boundaries into new I can get a team to the summit.’ Mountain areas. As the world’s barriers are coming guides also have a tradition of letting their down, in order to survive as a small, clients get onto the summit first, even if knowledge-based company, we have to they’ve dragged them up there since base adapt to the world around us. Look at Tata camp. group—it bought Corus but now it makes cars (the Nano)—and it’s starting a bank. Another parallel I found for myself was My company has only 16 people (at the that when I learnt to climb, I really hated moment) but we’re asked to research and other people telling me how to do it. Rope comment on areas as diverse as new work and navigation, fine. But actual technology, enterprise and art. technique tips (‘Crimp that hold in your NMC Quarterly Magazine

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right hand then rock over your right foot’) drove me mad. I wasn’t interested in how a big hairy man did a climb—it just wasn’t relevant to a 5’6”, 60 kilo woman with a penchant for baguettes. So I’m sure it’s taken me a lot longer and it’s by no means perfect—I still have a very long way to go but I’ve found my own style of climbing, and I’m loving the journey (oh rats, I just used a McDonaldsism). I’m the same at work—hate being told what to do, love working things out my own way. Climbing has several disciplines: sport climbing and trad; winter and summer; multi-pitch and bouldering… I started off as a sport climber, because I cut my climbing teeth in the blazing sunshine and limestone of Provence eating baguettes and cheese mmmm. But boredom at work drove Philippe and I north to his role at Brasher, so I had to learn trad if I was ever to climb outside again. I still find trad really hard and have a lot of mental training to do, but I find this the best challenge yet—moving away from the physical to the cerebral, learning so much about yourself along the way, and changing all the time. (By the way I just read ‘The Rock Warrior’s Way’ by Arno Ilgner which was ace and helped loads.) From trad I’ve since moved into winter climbing and now ice. Every time I’ve moved into a new discipline I’ve discovered transferable skills and therefore found that I’m not a complete beginner, and I progressed quicker. OK I haven’t made all the parallels between my work and climbing explicit, but I hope you can see a few, as this is getting a bit long. This is my effort to convince you that work and play/climbing don’t have to be mutually exclusive worlds, and if nothing else then maybe you now have a more persuasive case for taking time off to climb for your boss. u

NMC Quarterly Magazine

Club News update Peter Bennett & John Mountain

Membership Membership expired at the end of January 2008 and lapsed at the end of February.

This will be your last copy of the NMC magazine unless you renew your membership NOW. So… Contact the Membership Sec. Carolyn Horrocks ASAP with your £25 membership payment.

Committee stalwarts retire The AGM in January saw more than usual changes in the make-up of the Committee. Several long-serving people retired from the Committee, in many cases having devoted long years to the well-being and smooth-running of the club. So our sincere thanks go to: •

March 2008

Steve Orrell—who stood down from the office of General and Membership Secretary, a task which he exercised with great energy and enthusiasm. We are indebted to Steve for his contribution to the well-being of the club. He has kindly agreed to continue the essential job of running the much admired and very effective club web site and the eNews letter. Steve Nagy—retired from the committee after long and dedicated service as committee member and office bearer, including spells as Treasurer and President. Over many years Steve and Tina have made a significant contribution to the club, and particularly to the upkeep of the Bowderstone. We are very indebted to them for their efforts, and hope that we will not lose them entirely to their new found passion for kiting. page 12 of 22

Bill Renshaw—retired as Access Officer. In that role, Bill’s expertise in land management has been an invaluable asset to the club. Bryn Roberts—steps down from the committee after several years, most recently as Librarian. His Scottish meets, both winter and particularly the May Bank holiday, have been a highlight of club activities for a number of years. Despite the distraction of a lady in his life, Bryn intends to remain an active member, so we can all still look forward to listening to him for a few years more. Martin Waugh—leaves the committee after several years regular attendance at meetings and constructive contributions to the deliberations.

taking on the demanding jobs of General and Membership Secretary (yes, send your £25 subs off to Carolyn right now!), and Richard Pow who takes over as Access Officer (he should be able to see the wood from the trees). u

AGM agrees increase in Subs Just in case you were not aware, the AGM voted to increase the annual membership subscription fee from £22 to £25. If anyone who could not make the AGM wishes to know more about the rationale for this, then get in touch with the Treasurer! Similarly, if anyone would like a copy of the end of year Accounts, contact the Treasurer.

URGENT Hut Keys Wanted Derek Cutts, the Hut Bookings Secretary, is currently having some problems due to a shortage of keys, as the special blanks we need are no longer available at a sensible price. The lock will be changed, but that will take time. So in the interim it would be VERY helpful if any member who has a hut key no longer needed, could return it to Derek

( 0191 268 8625 Not only will you thereby be helping the club, you will also get your deposit back!

New faces on the committee Now a big welcome to the new faces on the committee—Ben Gilbert, Andrew Coverdale, Caroline Judson and Adrian Heath. Yes, the emphasis is on youth! (Well they certainly look young from my rheumatic stance!). I’m sure they will all bring fresh insight into the Committee.

Learn-to-Lead Climbing Course Date: Sunday 20 April 10am to 4pm Location: Bowden Doors Price: ca. £30pp (depends on numbers attending) The course will be a one day introduction to trad lead climbing and will be delivered by MIA or MIC qualified climbing Instructors. The course is aimed at those who have climbed a little (perhaps on indoor walls or have done some seconding experience) and who want to increase their confidence and skills in lead climbing. Booking essential. Places are limited and allocated on first come first served basis.

Book before 10 April Bookings ASAP to Richard Pow on:

Finally, to say that changes to Officers’ responsibilities include Carolyn Horrocks NMC Quarterly Magazine

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Black Rock Cottage Peter Bennett

Despite a far from encouraging weather forecast for the weekend of 19 January 2008, a decent complement of members braved the elements to experience the winter delights of Glencoe. The Black Rock Cottage was fully occupied by 10 members: Tim Catterall, Peter Flegg, John Flintcroft, Mike Frost & Carolyn Horrocks, Jon Trafford & Amanda Welch, Alison Jones, Eva Diran and Peter Bennett. In addition various visitors called by on Saturday evening.

West Highland Way and back by the Old Military Road. All parties passed an enjoyable day in mostly dry conditions, with the cloud base above the tops, though PeterF did come back somewhat bruised after a fall which happily was not too serious.

A convivial Saturday evening ensued. Colin Matheson and son Rory dropped by en route back from a Munroe bagging exploit in Knoydart. Later, much later, Kin Choi with friends Jamie Grimwade and Dave Moffatt, stopped off for a cuppa on their way down from a route on Sron Na Creise just above the cottage. They were unsure whether or not the route actually taken was the one they had intended to do, which apparently is notoriously John and Eva on NC Gully, Stob Coire nan Lochan difficult to follow. by Tim Catterall

During a windy and wet Friday night the shelter afforded by the cottage was particularly appreciated as we snuggled warm and dry in our sacs listening to the onslaught of the elements. An early start was in order. First out of the traps was a team comprising Tim, PeterF, John and Eva with designs on a circuit along Lairig Eilde, up onto the ridge leading to Stob Coire Sgreamhach, Bidean Nam Bian and Stob Coire nan Lochan. Mike & Carolyn went off about an hour later to do Dorsal Arrete on Stob Coire nan Lochan, closely followed by Jon & Amanda and PeterB with the intent of going up onto the Buchaille from Glen Etive at the south west end of the ridge, Stob na Broige. Alison opted for a walk from the cottage along the

NMC Quarterly Magazine

Sunday was another reasonably fine day with everyone active to a greater or lesser extent. Although PeterF rested at the cottage following his mishap the previous day, he did a magnificent job of cleaning up, so enabling a rapid evacuation when the various parties returned, and we were all on our way back to Tyneside by 5pm having enjoyed an excellent weekend. u

March 2008

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A Slightly Different Angle Martin Cooper

On August 29th last year, on a perfect summer’s day, I led a new route at The Henhole, College Daze, E1 5b. It was the kind of climbing day you dream about, the clouds were high, the sun beat down out of a perfect azure sky. A handful of walkers moved like ants across the Cheviot horizon, while the valley beneath lay empty, the College Burn hurrying its way steeply down waterfall and rock. That, and the song of a solitary curlew, were the only sounds to accompany the steady clink of karabiner on rock as I moved purposefully upwards.

small ledge. You would probably wish for more protection on the upper part of the climb but, the crux now out of the way, I made do with a couple of small wires, to finish steeply on excellent holds. Fairly ecstatic, I pulled the ropes through and let out a whoop of delight. I’m not a very good liar. In fact, I’m no better at lying than I am at climbing. I can lie at about 4c, or 5a on a good day. I have never led an E1 (though you might be surprised to know that I have climbed a small number of routes at that grade) but I have climbed at The Henhole on a perfect summer’s day. But not last year. If I have deceived you enough to get you to this

I had looked at the route a number of times but had considered it too steep, too committing for my meager climbing ability. Yet it was too tempting, too good a day to miss and, after warming up on a couple of easy classics, Martin at the top of Aladdin’s Coulior, Feb 2008, by Graham Williams I gave it a go. Starting just point, the heel hook has worked. Now the left of Grooved Corner, at the edge of truth… Canon Hole Rake, the route needs an athletic start to gain a sloping slab. Cross I was climbing on a perfect summer’s this, trending rightwards and you find day in late August last year, but not at The yourself in a small niche with steepening Henhole. I did Gillercombe Buttress, Rough rock above. A high step and a really Stuff, VS, on the same crag and, after a cup awkward hand jam take you into the crux. of tea and cake, Jackdaw Ridge at Shepherds. If that sounds to you like a I glanced down to check that my second pretty ordinary day’s climbing, I think was concentrating on the rope, moved my you’re probably right. But for me, last year, right hand out of the jamming position and it was the day I knew that I’d properly reached up into a blind corner. Finding the recovered from an accident sixteen months small crimp I had been hoping for, I pulled myself up and through the corner to reach a NMC Quarterly Magazine

March 2008

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previously and, to be quite honest, it was a fantastic feeling.

go back sometime. But what of the climbing?

Now I really shouldn’t take myself too seriously because I had only sustained a broken wrist, damaged knee ligaments and mild concussion but it had been enough to keep me off the hills for a few months and to miss a whole summer of climbing.

I hope this isn’t too insensitive but the summer climbing season of 2007 for me was almost pure delight. For everyone else, I do realise, it was a soggy anti-climax. Starting with the easiest route you could imagine at Wolf Crag and working my way through some old favourites over the next few weeks (Ullyses at Peel, Great Chimney

Coming back was interesting. If you want a truly gruesome read, try Paul Pritchard’s Totem Pole. My recovery was slightly more straightforward, but not without its moments. Five months after my accident I tried to scramble along the sandstone ridge of Stac Polliadh. Couldn’t do it. I confused a few people by three times attempting a descent from the ridge, only to appear back at the top again five minutes later. ‘Is there not a way down there?’ I was quizzically asked. ‘Yes. I’m sure there is. It’s fine,’ I replied. ‘But I can’t do it.’ A couple of weeks later I attempted Sharp Edge on Blencathra. It is very polished up there and the step onto the slab needs care in the wet. To me it felt like at least severe. Couldn’t do it. That was August. In September I did manage The Plonka at Corby’s (thank you Peter) but didn’t enjoy it at all. Trying too hard. I kept away from the rock and did some mountains instead. The Cobbler and Ben Nairnan on the same day in November told me that fitness was coming back. Scafell Pike in December was a struggle. First time back on snow. After that things got progressively better. Five Munros in three days in February, then Slioch and Ben Eighe in consecutive days on the first weekend in May felt pretty good. I got a glimpse too of Stob a’Choire Mheadhoin, the mountain where I had fallen. Stupid bugger. The way off I had tried was unnecessarily steep. At least I know how to pronounce its name now. I’ll

NMC Quarterly Magazine

Martin on Aladdin’s Couloir, Feb 2008 by G Williams

at Simonside, Castle Crack at Bowden) the old feeling came back. Initially wasn’t sure what my wrist would be able to do. Hand jams were fine. Mantelshelves were not. The bones in my forearm are now set at a slightly different angle. There’s a small metal plate in there too. Slowly the strength built up and some confidence came back. I couldn’t do Vibram Wall and I struggled like hell on Cloister Wall but I was back climbing.

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Now one of the points of this article is to say a couple of thank yous and I’ll come to those in a minute. First, though I want to say that the experience of not climbing for a year, and not out of choice, did me a lot of good. I wanted to climb again. Desperately. But the experience of having to stop made me realise that I had been taking it too much for granted. Just a few weeks after my accident Sarah took me out to the Wannies on a Wednesday evening. It was a lovely day and there was a good turn out from the club on the crag. For me it was hard to just manage the walk and the descent to the foot of the crag was nerve racking. Once there I could not believe my eyes. How were all these people climbing so easily up this steep rock? How could they be pulling themselves up on such tiny holds? My brain told me I would probably do it again but the rest of my body said no.

Bowderstone hut The NMC has its own hut at the Bowderstone in the Lake District. Members pay just £4 per night to stay, non-members pay £6 per night.

Hut bookings You can make bookings to stay at the hut with the hut booking secretary: Derek Cutts on 0191 268 8625 Use the club website ( to check whether the hut is available on the day(s) you want to visit.

Hut key If you are visiting the hut make sure that at least one member of your party has a copy of the hut key. Derek Cutts (see above) will provide a copy of the hut key to any member on payment of a £10 deposit.

A year later and I was out on the crags

Langdale Camping

Directions to the hut

Date: 23-25 August Bank Holiday

Again, use the club website to find out how to get to the hut and for an explanation of parking arrangements.

Reservations at the NT camp site have been made BUT, places need to be paid in full, ASAP —they do not accept deposits, so it's cash up-front.

Signing in

Costs: £ 5.50 person/night, £ 3.50 vehicle/night. Langdale is an excellent valley for climbing—last year we tried and failed to run a couple of meets in the valley because the camp sites were full, and the NT site is by far the best. The camp site is within walking distance of: • two of the best pubs in the valley, • the best crags in the valley (Scout, White Ghyll, Pavey Ark, Raven, Gimmer), and has a good walk to Scafell. Contact Steve Orrell, ASAP on:


07792 518 934 steve@gps

NMC Quarterly Magazine

Don’t forget every body must Sign in the guest book on arrival. This is a safety requirement—in the event of an emergency the fire brigade, could determine whether all guests are safe and sound.

again but this time really appreciating the experience. Seeing it all from a slightly different angle. Like starting at the beginning again? Not quite. More like knowing what would be in store as I got better and savouring every route. Northumberland is a brilliant place to climb. Don’t forget that when you drive north on a summer’s day. Don’t take it for granted. A whole lot of people were patient and climbed with me last year and I really appreciated it. But special thanks to Gary, Cliff, Peter, Heather and Graham. See you this year too! u

March 2008

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Climbers’ fingerprints taken Peter Flegg

Once upon a time four ‘old geezers’ went to Costa Blanca—Cliff Robson the master of the short quote (see later), Gary Brosnan aka ‘reconstructed man’, George ‘I may be up before dawn’ Reay and myself, who provided the ‘music’(?) during the night. George, although the oldest member of the group, had the most energy: he had been to work early on the day of departure, even though we checked in at the airport before 8am. In Spain he was up in the dark every morning to head out for a walk (and buy the bread for our sandwiches) while the rest of us snoozed till 8am. George, was the only one with the correct accent, and only started climbing just a year ago. He had never climbed

FAQ Flights: EasyJet, £87 return Newcastle-Alicante Car hire: (between four): £105 Accommodation: Orange House, £14.60pp/pn in a four-share ensuite. Food: 4 course meal, menu of the day, with wine, in local restaurant, £6 Temperature: Even in late Feb it reaches a sweaty 19°C on sunny days.

outside of Northumberland and his lead gear looked brand new, so a trip to Spain with a bunch of laid-back climbing-trip experienced mates provided him with a steep learning curve. That didn’t prevent him though progressing from leading a grade 3 with pre-placed draws on the first day to leading a 5+ with a crux finish on the last day. Before we left, Bill Renshaw, had recommended visiting Orihuela (south west of Alicante) as there was a good range of easy climbs there. So we made that the first day’s target. The cemetery mentioned in the guide is hidden behind a high wall and so we missed it. While lost and studying the map, Cliff, perhaps unhelpfully, mentioned that once on a previous trip he had wasted most of a day searching for a crag.

George on Joaquina 4+, Echo Playa, by Peter Flegg NMC Quarterly Magazine

March 2008

We climbed at Orihuela— Callosa, sectors Solana, Vieja and Rápel and completed all the 3, 4 and 4+ at the crags. We found the grades tough and the limestone rock very sharp, but we all agreed the final climb of the day the 24m ‘La Baldomera del Quinto’ (4+, one star) was the best route we had tackled, with an awkward start getting progressively harder to a crux layback finish. We had to learn page 18 of 22

to live with Cliff’s opinions on routes (whether easy or hard)—he never offered more than a very vague description such as… ‘it’s all there.’ Every evening it was a toss-up between a visit to the supermarket before returning to let Gary, our professional chef, provide us with lots of tasty food or to head out to a restaurant. One again, Cliff the master of the non-committal quote, whenever asked about his restaurant meal would chip in with ‘it did the job.’ On the second day we climbed at Marin—main face and western buttress. The 2 pitch route ‘Jhonny’ (4, 3 star) was a pleasant easy route but the 2 pitch ‘Prats’ (4+, 3 star) had a desperate first pitch for the grade on very sharp rock. The third day was spent at Sierra de Toix - Far Oeste, well worth a visit with easy access and lots of quality routes from 3s to 6s. I surprised himself by completing ‘Presto’ (5+) with difficult slab moves before a 4m run-out over a very large flake (take a 1m sling for the flake!) The fourth day of climbing (after an enforced rest day because of rain) was spent at Sierra de Toix – Placa Lower, which has a steep walk-in up to where the routes start but nice rock (not too sharp) and lots of great routes. We started on the easy grade multi-pitch climbs on the left before moving further right to the longer single pitch routes. Cliff and Pete enjoyed the 50m Hewa (5+, 2 star) but found Los Urbanos (5, 2 star) too easy for the grade. That fourth morning at Toix we had decided to swap partners so that George and Gary climbed together and Cliff and I were on the other rope, but that evening Gary told us about ‘that’ mountaineering accident in the alps (his broken leg), ‘that’ bike accident at Newburn (his broken ribs and arm), the hip replacement etc. etc. George and I at this point looked nervously at each other and decided that perhaps it would make more sense if the pair of us climbed with each other again tomorrow!

NMC Quarterly Magazine

On the final day we went to Echo Valley (with George and Gary still climbing together) first we did all the routes at Echo 2, a new small 15m high crag developed by Rich the owner of the Orange House. The 3 routes on the right were all about grade 3 and the 3 routes to the left were about 4+/5—definitely worth a visit with a short 2min walk-in from a parking place. After lunch we dropped down to Echo Playa crag. At first glance we couldn’t see much that looked within our grades but we eventually climbed four good routes including the two 5+ routes Basillius and Er Maki. We spent many hours sitting in the airport on the last day because the plane turned back to Alicante due to fuel pump failure—so we had plenty of time to stare at our thumbs and discovered our fingers had been worn smooth from the climbing and our fingerprints had almost vanished! u Changes to

Howlerhirst Crag parking The owners of High Carriteth farm, have advised us that they have allocated a space (big enough for about 3 cars) next to their farmyard. It is a much safer place to park than that shown in the guide book, and the route to the crag is a lot easier to find. The farmer also said that the farmyard light is left on at night and that climbers would be welcome to use the phone in an emergency (there is no mobile reception up there). The owners are very friendly and are obviously making an effort with their relationship with climbers. Directions: The farm is on the left, about 50 yards before the parking spot indicated in the guidebook. There is a gate with a sign saying 'High Carriteth Farm'. Go through the gate and up a metalled road towards the farm, just after the road bends left the car parking is on the right next to an old wooden sheep pen.)

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Financial report for 2006/7 John Mountain, Hon. Treasurer

Income and Expenditure Income has been brisk during the year. The hut made a healthy profit of over £1500; guidebook profit (ignoring the exceptional write-off) was £2500; subscriptions were slightly up; and Burnside Wall usage again returned a healthy surplus. Expenses were slightly less than the previous year. Overall, the out-turn should look better than the previous year—so why doesn’t it? There are two main factors. Firstly, the 05/06 figures benefited from a Corporation Tax provision of £2569 made the preceding year, which inflated the declared surplus by that amount. Secondly, the 2004 guidebook has sold reasonably well, but it does seem likely that we will be left with unsold stock. Rather than wait until that situation arises, and then write-off the stock, it has been decided, for tax reasons, to write-off 1000 guidebooks now. This has reduced our next Corporation Tax bill by over £400, but has also reduced our 2006/7 surplus by £2172. (nb We are not pulping the 1000 guides! They can still be sold). Looking at just subs less expenses (+£868) and socials (-£1115), the position is a lot better than in 05/06, however, the balance still shows a loss of £246 (see Income & Expenditure Account sheet next page). Bowderstone Hut: It is important to note that rent for 2007 has not been paid, and that the National Trust is reviewing the rent with us. This will be effective from April 2007. I have put in a provision for last year’s rent into the account, so that next year’s I&E balance is not adversely affected. There has recently been a Fire Safety survey conducted at the Hut. The recommendations are in hand but not yet paid for, so expenditure for 07/08 will be higher. Burnside Wall: Large numbers of people attending the winter Wednesday sessions NMC Quarterly Magazine

have resulted in a healthy financial out-turn but arguably an unhealthy climbing environment! The latter is being eased by making Monday nights available. We are also paying 20% more for the use of Burnside, so taken together, the Burnside surplus should be much reduced in 2007/8. Balance Sheet The two items that stand out have both been referred to above, namely: the reduction in value of the outstanding stock of the 2004 guide, and the outstanding Hut rent for 2007. Conclusions 2006/7 was generally a good year, with both guidebooks and Hut delivering good profitability. The gap between subs and expenses has widened in a positive direction, albeit not enough to cover the costs of the Socials Programme. u

From a Sunderland supporter… I enclose a cheque for £25 for my NMC membership fee in anticipation of the increase being agreed at the AGM. I appreciate that costs go up and we cannot rely on hut fees and guide book sales to subsidise running costs. I do enjoy the magazine these days and it is interesting to read about the problems of transfer from climbing walls to ‘live’ rock. I used to find vertical walls a shock after the nice sloping rock of our Lakeland and Northumberland climbs. Mind you 120 foot run outs on Dow Crag were quite common as all that protection gear was only just coming in. I still keep a sling with hexagonal nuts from a car engine for old times sake! I can now climb the 99 steps to my seat at the Stadium of Light without begging to use the lift—which the stewards guard with their lives— following a free hip replacement operation in September. Low level walking should soon be possible! Clive Goodwin

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Income & Expenditure Account for the year ending 31 Oct 2007 2006 /2007 Subscriptions

2005 /2006 3,682.50


Less expenses President Secretary














BMC Miscellaneous Web Site


Room Hire





Income Expenditure


Income Expenditure











6.68 -1,240.00



Note 3

Hut rent provision


Income Income Income Income Expenditure

Corporation Tax




Expenditure Away Meets


Note 2

Expenditure Climbing Wall



Expenditure Bouldering Guide




Depreciation 2004 District Guide

Note 1


rebate payment














3,159.41 Note 4


-318.05 4,165.85 -2,725.00



















Add: Interest received


Tax provision b/f

342.77 2,569.70 13.00 Note 5







Tax Provision c/f



Balance Surplus/(Deficit) to Accumulated Fund



Notes: 1—Web site, room hire, library, Climber ad; 2—See Hut Management Report; 3—£2200 rent outstanding; 4— includes £2172.90 write-off costs; 5—No Nobler County.

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March 2008

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NMC Guidebooks NMC members pay a discounted price for any guidebook published by the NMC.

Indoor climbing: •

Sunderland wall offers a £1 discount to NMC members off the standard entry price.

NMC Website The NMC has a very informative website The website includes various discussion forums, a photoarchive for members climbing photos, online guides for most Northumberland crags and you can also buy from a large range of climbing books available.

Currently available are the following guides: • Northumberland Climbing Guide Definitive Guide to climbing in Northumberland. £12.50 to members (RRP £18.95) • Northumberland Bouldering Guide £8.00 to members (RRP £11.95) For the above 2 guides add £1.50 P&P if required. Contact John Earl on 0191 236 5922 • No Nobler County A history of the NMC and climbing in Northumberland.

Now ONLY £2.00 while stocks Last!!!


Contact Martin Cooper on 0191 252 5707 • Climbing In North East England A guide to the best climbing in South Tyneside, County Durham, East Pennines and North York Moors £17.95 (incl. P&P) Contact Steve Crowe on 0191 584 3361

T-shirts and Fleeces Various styles of T-shirt with printed NMC designs and fleece tops with embroidered logo are available. Order direct on the website ( or contact Steve Orrell on 07792 518 934.

Have you got a good climbing/mountain-scenery photo to use in this space in future issues? Please send any submissions to me at

Ian McNeil on Stob Ciore nan Lochan, Aonach Eagach ridge in background, by Tim Catterall

NMC Quarterly Magazine

March 2008

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County climber spring 2008  
County climber spring 2008