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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.

NMC Meets The NMC Members’ handbook (available to all members) and the NMC website list the dates and locations of all meets. This magazine lists the meets arranged for the next few months. Non-members: Are always welcome to attend meets.

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BMC Public Liability Insurance for climbing incidents. Discounted NMC guide books. Discounted entry at certain indoor climbing walls and shops. 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. Membership Fees •Full £25 •Prospective £15.00

Magazine articles This is YOUR magazine so please keep it running by writing about your own climbing experiences. Even beginners have something to write about. Send Contributions to:

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 County Climber

Black & White Photos? If you received this magazine as a paper copy, then you are missing part of the picture as the download version of the magazine is in colour. To arrange for email notification that the latest issue of the magazine is ready for you to download, contact the membership secretary at:

taken by the author of the article.

Committee 2010/2011 President – John Mountain Vice Pres. – John Dalrymple Secretary – Caroline Judson Treasurer – John Earl Membership – Sam Judson Access – Colin Matheson Hut Co-ord. – Neil Cranston Hut Bookings – Derek Cutts Magazine Ed. – Peter Flegg Social Sec – Eva Diran Librarian – Sam Judson Web – Ian Birtwistle General: Malcolm Rowe, Peter Bennett, Ian Ross, Gareth Crapper & Andrew Shanks.

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.

Cover Shot


Martina Mederiova on Woodburn Wall (E1 5b), East Woodburn, by John Dalrymple

Unless otherwise stated all photos in this issue were June 2010

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What’s in this issue?

Weekend meets

Wednesday evenings meets .......................... 3 Weekend meets............................................. 3 From Nothing to a Half: ............................... 4

The follow list shows the weekend climbing meets currently arranged.

Zero Gully..................................................... 4 What's the Point? .......................................... 5 Three on Point 5 ........................................... 7

NMC News ................................................... 8

You MUST contact the meet leader in advance, as any accommodation may be limited or already fully booked.

Storm Clouds over Bowderstone Hut ........... 8

Obituary - Alec Muir .................................... 9 Annual Ladies Meet .................................. 10 North Wales – May 2010 ........................... 11 A Mt Wilhelm Odyssey.............................. 14

Wednesday evenings meets No need to call anyone—just turn up with all your own equipment. The NMC website has crag location details (, also check the website forum for indoor wall alternatives if the weather is not good. Meet afterwards at the pub shown in italics.

23 Jun 10

Callerhues – Cheviot, Bellingham

30 Jun 10

Kyloe In – Salmon

07 Jul 10

Simonside / Ravenheugh – Turks Head

19-20 Jun 10

Bowderstone—Family Meet—Neil Cranston 0191 270 2648

3-4 Jul 10

Annual Dinner, Belford— John Mountain 01670 505 202

17-18 Jul 10

Lakes—Eva Diran 07824 627 772

7-8 Aug 10

Peak District—Gareth Crapper 07768 464 396

28-30 Aug 10

Bowderstone—BBQ Meet— Sam Judson 07793 522 261

11-12 Sep 10

North Wales—John Mountain 01670 505 202

25-26 Sept 10

Bowderstone—Working Meet—Neil Cranston 0191 270 2648

9 Oct 10

North Yorkshire—Chris Davis 07967 638 826

31 Oct 10

MTB Meet—Neil Cranston 0191 270 2648 Kendal Mountain Film Festival—DIY Presidents Walk—John Mountain 01670 505 202

14 Jul 10

Wanneys – Highlander

21 July 10

Crag Lough – Twice Brewed

28 Jul 10

Back Bowden – Salmon

04 Aug 10

Simonside / Coe – Anglers Arms

18-21 Nov 10

11 Aug 10

Kyloe Out – Salmon

05 Dec 10

18 Aug 10

Wanneys – Highlander

25 Aug 10

Bowden Doors – Percy Arms, Chalton

01 Sept 10

Peel – Twice Brewed

08 Sept 10

Drakestone – Anglers Arms

15 Sept 10

East Woodburn / Wolf –

Magazine Deadline Articles for inclusion in the September issue of this, the County Climber magazine, need to be submitted by September 7th:


22 Sept 10

Corbys – Anglers Arms

29 Sept 10

Rothley – Dyke Neuk

06 Oct 10

Shaftoe – Highlander

Send photo files separate from the text file, submit text only in DOC, RTF or TXT format to:

NMC County Climber

June 2010

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From Nothing to a Half: Ben Nevis via Zero and Point 5 Gullies Lewis Preston

Prior to 1973 I had done nothing on ice. I owned an old Swiss Stubai alpenstock (walking) axe and had made a pair of crampons in metalwork at school. They were welded mild steel without front points and weighed several kilos each! The first and only time I used them, they totally 'balled-up' and were impossible to move in without falling over. It was about 10 years later when, with slightly up-graded equipment, I stayed a few February nights with friends in the then existing Jean's Hut (aka garden shed) cable-tied to the boulders of the Corrie an Lochain in the Cairngorms. We practiced winter skills (from a book) before a first summer trip to Switzerland, all of us Alpine virgins.

hatched a plan for a three-man team to attempt Nicky's first grade 5. As Patey reported success or otherwise on Zero can depend on the quantity of spindrift avalanche pouring down on (and at times engulfing) climbers. We arrived at the foot of the north face early to find good, solid ice. I led the first few difficult pitches without being vertically buried. The second pitch included the ice bulge out from the vertical and teenage Nicky held his cool without a tight rope. Belay points on Zero are notoriously bad and trying to secure three on a stance before the next lead was a challenge. With no rock visible, we found three onto two (ice screws) provided just enough security assuming no leader falls. Further up the avalanches of spindrift began and on several stances I could not see the ropes at all by the time the two Sillems arrived. We

Much later in 1996, on return from 6 years in the tropics, I dug out old hardware and have since averaged one NMC winter trip per annum gradually experiencing leading harder routes but, until this winter, the grade 5 classics of Zero and Point 5 had still eluded me. This was to change over two weekends, three weeks apart, with two different three-man teams as described below with contributions from the fellow ascentionists. Zero Gully No one can have read Tom Patey's classic essay, 'The Zero Gully Affair' without a niggling aspiration to follow in the crampon-marks of the great man. The chance for me came on the Black Rock Cottage meet this winter. On the Friday evening in the hut, Robin and Nicky Sillem and I NMC County Climber

Lewis on Zero June 2010

by Nicky Sillem page 4 of 16

then hit the soft snow of the final few pitches to the summit cornice and moved together trusting to each other's capability as no one was then attached to the face. Crawling out onto the plateau we were pitted with ice needles blown in an acrosssummit gale. It was 5pm and there was zero visibility. The figure-of-eight knots on the harnesses of Nicky and myself were frozen solid. We had to down-climb the CMD arete and into the corrie above the CIC roped together. A good day out? Let's just say character building! Patey never promised a picnic. What's the Point? Jeff Breen

Here's my slant, on a rather interesting day on the Ben, with the NMC comedy climbing team. We have come north to do Point 5 but the road to the fort is closed overnight for road works, so we have to start late. (That’s the excuses out of the way.)

We decide to gear up about 130m below the start. It looks good, with calm conditions, good visibility and only one party ahead. What could possibly go wrong? It’s then Richard discovers his crampons are still in Newcastle. Bollocks! He decides to go down to the CIC hut to see if he can borrow some crampons. Lewis and I are not hopeful. We discuss options, can we do it without Richard? We decide we probably can, at a push. Richard is back, fantastic. A girl in the hut has lent him her very expensive Black Diamond hyper ding-dong crampons. After a slight delay mislaying a crampon bale we are on our way. I lead the first pitch and feel comfortable coming off the steep section thinking, these new axes are terrific, and the ice is good. Richard leads the next pitch, but the ice is vertical and rotten with picks pulling through. A good lead Richard, good job he had state of the art crampons. Lewis follows but about 7m up he comes off. Climbing on a single 8mm rope the stretch is impressive and he rattles

The approach to Point 5 NMC County Climber

June 2010

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down hitting me and knocking me off my stance. Lewis has hurt his wrist. I have visions of having to abseil off (nooo I really want this route) but after a short recovery Lewis is ok and does the pitch. I follow climbing blind and placing axes by feel because of all the rubbish coming down from the party above. Lewis, now fully recovered, leads the third and final difficult pitch, called the Rogue pitch. It’s wet but the ice is better and we climb it without incident. At last on easy ground we climb on alternate leads, this taking time as we have to keep swapping ropes, but the ice and neve are perfect, and the situation is absolutely superb. Lewis has now lead the sixth pitch and is taking in the rope when it lifts out my expensive new axe which is stowed in the ice. We watch as it tumbles down the gully in slow motion, and I am just about to burst into tears when it miraculously stops. Richard who still has two axes kindly offers to down climb to get it and just manages to reach it on the full stretch of the rope. (Cost me a pint that did but still

bargain!) Finally we top out in sunshine and a fantastic view. We are elated and it’s high fives all round. Bloody hell it’s half past six!?!?!?? We descend via no. 4 gully to the CIC where Richard picks up details of the girl's address in Fort William, in order to return the crampons. We then realised it’s late and the road is closing. This sees the team running down to the car (I’m too old for this) and rallying through the forest and the Fort to get back. Of course we are too late for the road works, but they eventually let us through after a 45min wait. What a day! What a route! (That's the point!) What a farce! PS—Richard returned the crampons the next day with a box of chocolates as thanks, which turned out to be the most dangerous part of the weekend as her large hairy gorilla of a boyfriend stood behind her in the hall when she answered the door.

Richard, Lewis & Jeff on top of the Ben after Point 5 NMC County Climber

June 2010

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Three on Point 5 Richard Pow

Off we went up the alt t muillin The three of us all cruising for a bruisin’ Hard neve in Observatory Gully Lewis stops to pull on a woolie-pullie But oh no! Richard has forgotten his crampons! So sprints to the CIC to beg or borrow someone’s Phantoms He returns beaming with Black Diamond mono’s Having charmed a pretty girl in his shades like Bono’s The three reunited toil up the gully All of us now psyched up fully Jeff leads pitch one without further a do We two follow-on calling yippee, yippee dooh! High above us, a pair struggle up pitch two Belayed in the wrong place – there surely in the dooh dooh! Eventually I lead off, wondering what was all the fuss Then I hit the soft snow just when the pitch gets really tough Borrowed mono’s teeter, as I bridge wide to avoid the slush Hoping that my axes don’t rip out and I fall with a whoosh! Snow just good enough but runners are poor But I eventually reach the belay without falling to the corrie floor Up comes Lewis, with straight axes and Dachstein mits Spindrift is falling heavily as he gets really gripped Then with a yelp he is suddenly very much airborne Here’s hoping that my old rope isn’t really that worn… The rope goes tight as my chocolate bar is dropped Lewis lands in Jeff’s arms; I’m relieved my gear hasn’t popped He girds his loins and re-enters the white and windy fray I hold him tight and yell “Lewis, you OK?” NMC County Climber

Lewis appears before me shaken but not stirred I tie him off tightly and don’t say another word Soon Jeff joins us and Lewis grabs the rack He soon has a good runner in, just up by yonder crack He cruises the Rogue pitch, no stopping for poor runners We blast up to join him, like muscle-bound Gunners I lead the next pitch; tricky but not that bad Then Lewis does the next one, now excited and not sad Feeling we were nearly there now, we perhaps dropped our guards Then flick! Jeff’s axe flew out and went down many yards I reversed down the gully, focussed on retrieving his axe Just got there on rope stretch as I dangled to the max Back up to join Jeff to re-unite him with said tool He was a bit dumbstruck and felt a bit of a fool Now on to pitch six and the hard stuff all behind us We pushed on to the summit, fuss and calamity all behind us. But shenanigans continued as we sprinted down from CIC The Road to Glencoe was closing and we risked not getting our tea Rattling down the forest road in my work lease car Past all the golfers striving to hit par We eventually made it to the Alex MacIntyre All that remained was for us to sit, feet up and enjoy the warm fire But alas next day I had to return the mono’s So slipped back on the shades that are just like Bono’s With Milk Tray in hand, we searched the streets of Fort Bill Till coming upon that sweet girl and her great big boyfriend Phil So here endeth the tale of the time three did Point 5

Till next time, that is, I went up there, on the skive. June 2010

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NMC News

You need to read this! The following letter from the Club's President was emailed out in May to those NMC members who have provided us with an email address, the letter was also placed on the Club's website. The letter is reprinted here for the benefit of any members without internet access.

NOTE: A short update on the situation follows the original letter. Storm Clouds over the Bowderstone Hut John Mountain, President, May 2010

The Problem The National Trust, our landlord for the Bowderstone hut, has recently informed us that the sewerage system is not fit for purpose, and their external consultant has suggested a replacement system, estimated cost of £40k excluding professional fees and vat. The NT has also reminded the Club that our lease is a full repairing lease, which means that we are responsible for all maintenance, including “all pipes drains and sanitary and water apparatus”. How has the Committee responded? A small working party has been set up to try to find a way through this problem. Members of the group are Neil Cranston (Hut Co-ordinator), John Dalrymple (VicePresident), John Earl (Treasurer), David Ladkin (NMC member who is a Consulting Engineer), Stephen Porteus (Trustee and Solicitor), Bill Renshaw (NMC member and an experienced Land Agent), and myself. Contact has been made with other organisations, most helpful being the Environment Agency (EA) who grant approval for any sewage system. We have NMC County Climber

met with an EA representative at the hut, who advised that our existing system could meet current regulations and be given approval subject to a) the EA being satisfied that it can handle the current discharge levels b) a soakaway being provided to deal with the outflow. The NT’s consultant is dismissive about the likelihood of locating a suitable soakaway on the site. Our own investigations have revealed two possibilities which need to be tested. Given that our site has SSSI status (Site of Special Scientific Interest, a conservation designation), there could be issues over any ‘building’ work required by any solution. The bottom line is that if we can come up with an enhancement to our system that satisfies the EA, then we have discharged all of our responsibilities under the terms of the lease. If we can’t, then there will need to be some serious negotiations with the NT about who is funding the ‘RollsRoyce’ system that they are specifying. If there is anyone else out there in the Club who feels that they can contribute to our efforts, either as a sanitary engineer, legal eagle, or whatever, please get in touch. Beyond the Storm Clouds Having outlined the above problem to you, I also wish to remind you that the Club’s lease on the Bowderstone ends in March 2013. It was always my intention that the Committee would this year look at the pros and cons of seeking to renew the lease and take into account the views of Club Members. The outcome of this consultation would be a recommendation to members at an AGM, if not 2011 then 2012. In reflecting on what is happening at the moment, you may also give some thought to the water supply at the Hut; there has been a suggestion in the past that a ‘proper’ water supply be provided (at our expense). June 2010

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Further Consultation The above is a précis of what has taken place over the past 3 months. I will provide updates in future issues of the NMC magazine 'County Climber', however I’m sure that there will be comments and questions that some of you will wish to raise. I suggest that this is best done via the members’ forum on our website. For those without internet access, give me a call and I will try to answer your questions. Bowderstone:

an Update

In the last few weeks the Club has made significant progress: Firstly a meter has been fitted to the incoming water supply, to give some idea of the quantity of effluent being discharged into the septic tanks (the tanks take ‘grey’ sink and shower water in addition to more toxic waste!). Early indications are that water usage is less than assumed by the NT’s Consultants, however the key issue is whether the quantity is ‘manageable’ by the existing septic tanks, with the current hut usage figures. Secondly the preferred site for a soakaway has been identified. This needs to be sized, based on the data from the water meter, then we can determine whether it will ‘fit’ on the site. Assuming all goes to plan, the Club will be looking for strong and willing young men (and women) to get stuck into the not inconsiderable task of building the soakaway and trench for the feeder pipe! It is not too early to volunteer!!

Obituary - Alec Muir Clive Goodwin

Alec Muir, an NMC member between about 1963 to 1973, died suddenly at his home on 22 April aged 73 years. Alec originated from Wallsend where he was involved in the Scouting movement and he trained and worked in London as a Chartered Accountant and continued to lead Scout troops there. He became a NMC County Climber

member of the North London Climbing Club. When he became an accountant in a Sunderland manufacturing firm, Electrosil, he introduced himself to the NMC at a Knowe working meet - which often speeded up club membership in those days! We climbed together at Crag Lough, the Lakes and in the Corries of Cairngorm in winter. He also brought NLCC members to the area to climb with us. Alec soon became a committee member and organised what was probably the last of a series of club dinners we held at the Royal Oak in Keswick. It was the one where the lady members insisted we had dancing! He was also a member of the North East section of the Austrian Alpine Club and Past Presidents Jack Donaldson and I climbed with him one August in the Őtztaler Alpen where we made the first ascent that season of the Langtauferer Spitz from the Hochjoch Hospiz. Alec and I represented the NMC at his NLCC dinner held at Trefriw, North Wales and I was later shown Cenotaph Corner before doing a really good ridge walk with him. Later we met the illustrious Joe Brown in his shop, as we drove around the Llanberis, Pen-y-Pass area. He shared a flat in Sunderland with Graham Townsend before buying his own home there, marrying Vivien whom we first saw with him at Milehouse in Glen Feshie. Sadly we lost his services as his jobs took him to Paris, the States, Scotland and even Iran. They retired to France about 16 years ago where they had excellent mountain views of forest and the Auvergne extinct volcanoes. They were in the process of moving to their apartment in the Chartreuse National Park to be nearer their daughter and French granddaughters north of Grenoble, when he died. Alec always kept in touch with exPresident Stuart Miller, myself and his London climbing friends. Joan and I have had some excellent summer holidays at their mountain home. We will miss him very much.

June 2010

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Annual Ladies Meet (plus 4 boys) Alison Jones

The third annual NMC Ladies Meet was attended by six ladies (Caroline Cranston, Francis Catterall, Raffia Adamson, Ewa Szymczewska, Susan Patterson and myself) and four boys. Arriving late at the Borrowdale hut on Friday night we were initially a bit surprised to find two lads already getting into the swing of things! The two lads had just set up a roaring fire which they pointed out they would have difficulty transferring safely to the Hermitage. After some negotiation we eventually agreed they could stay if they kept the fire going which later meant one of the lads getting out of bed to keep it stacked up, while the rest of us were socialising. Despite this forfeit they eventually agreed it was the best ladies meet they had attended for a while.

back through Stonethwaite. At the end of the walk it was agreed that rather than go to the pub for a meal, we would go back to the hut to cook. There were some initial concerns that with extra mouths to feed, there would not be enough food to go round. By the time we fed ourselves plus every boulderer sitting around the Bowderstone, our fears were alleviated. On Saturday night one member of the group thought they could hear munching sounds during the night. The following morning we discovered a mouse had munched its way into a rucksack leaving a fairly large hole. There was a mixture of shock at the damage inflicted on the sack

The following morning it was discovered that Raffia, Ewa, Caroline and Frances the lock on the Hermitage was and amazement at the skill of this creature broken. Needing advice (and also because which had unfortunately succeeded in its we didn't have the tools to do the necessary objective. repair work) a call to Neil Cranston was made. This resulted in Neil very kindly On Sunday the team walked up behind driving over with son George in order to the hut to Grange Fell. This rewarded us fix the door. Thus the ‘ladies’ meet was with great views across the Borrowdale attended by four boys. Valley. Thanks to great weather and fab company the third ladies meet became The weekend activity consisted of another memorable Borrowdale event. hiking locally in Borrowdale. On Saturday we walked up to Watendlath which incorporated a stop over at the tarn where we were joined by a family of ducks. We then walked across Watendlath Fell and NMC County Climber

June 2010

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North Wales – May 2010 Gareth Crapper

Friday First the fight with the early May Bank Holiday traffic around Liverpool, then a massing of the gang on Friday evening at the Gloucester Mountaineering Club (GMC) hut (named Cefn Goch) – in attendance were: myself and my friend Iain, John Flitcroft, Andrew Shanks, Bryn Roberts, Sarah Follmann, Richard Pow, Eva Diran, Adam Johnson, Dave Hume, Gary Brosnan, Lucian Peterca, Peter Flegg with his aussie mate Mike, and ex-NMC member Clare Morely. It was my first introduction to Lucian, this larger-than-life character chose the bunk next to Sarah, who reported it was only after midnight that she (slightly) released the grip on the knife under her pillow!

Saturday The weekend started cold. The teams dispersed across the area seeking out lowlying warming cragging, or mountain adventure and frostbite. We took my car round to Ogwen and John and Adam started out the walk with us, but then broke off up the hill to Tryfan. They had a good day out on Grooved Arete (HVD ***). We (Iain, Andrew and myself) headed for Little Tryfan to give Iain a gentle introduction to rock climbing. Andrew and I took turns in leading, and as Iain had left his rock boots in the car, his first route, Little Tryfan Arete (Diff ***) was in trainers. The routes were pleasant, though testing enough for Iain, so he headed to the car to get his rock boots. I went off route on Central Slab Route (V Diff) and it seemed to require multiple Rock 6 to protect it, so once I’d improvised with everything close, the runners became quite

Eva Diran at Gogarth Bryn Roberts NMC County Climber

June 2010

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scarce, and I was rather glad to reach the belay on the Chimney Crack route; Andrew said our variation felt like Hard Severe. As the boys came up, it started to rain, and I contemplated finishing up Chimney Crack. However, the moment of weakness passed and we finished the route proper.

Iain and I went for a big ridge along the Carneddau, following a recommendation from Clare to incorporate some scrambling at the beginning. It was a superb long ridge walk with rime ice forming on the tops and some big gullies still jam-packed with snow. It wouldn’t have taken much to be “in” for winter climbing.

To finish the day, Andrew led Mossy Slab (S 4a) just as John and Adam arrived from their day out on Tryfan proper. While Iain and I waited for Andrew to build the belay, the rain started, and we had a truly miserable top out. John and Adam didn’t even wait for us to finish the route, but left us to soak on the ledge and headed for the warm, dry car. Dinner was in Pete’s Eats: fish and chips, but the guys on the next table looked to be having a fantastic burger, which sowed the seed of an idea for tomorrow’s dinner.

Andrew and Adam headed out to climb something near “Clogwyn Y Bastard”(?).

Lucian had a day out with the old guys (Gary and Dave) at Tremadog where they did some classics including Poor Man's Peuterey (S **) and Valerie's Rib (HS **). Richard, Sarah, Eva and Bryn headed for the sea at Gogarth. North West Passage (E1 5b **) at Gogarth got done, although Dream of White Horses (HVS 4c ***)was apparently great despite them going off route a bit, scaring Sarah silly on the traverse and finishing up Wen (HVS 5a **) to maintain a clean sheet on the crying girls front! Pete, Mike and Clare headed for the cold of the Llanberis pass and had success on Wrinkle (VD), Skylon (HS), Crackstone Rib (S 4a) and finished in the rain on Ribstone Crack (VS 4c). Sunday Breakfast for some was in Pete’s Eats, which was fast becoming established as the most-frequented attraction in Snowdonia. As Clare was preparing for her navigation test, we dropped her at Plas y Brenin and she spent the day wandering around the woods, eventually heading up onto the hills. NMC County Climber

As the geriatric team had been to Tremadog yesterday, they planned an ambitious link up on the Idwal Slabs in Ogwen. It was to be Tennis Shoe (HS 4a), Lazarus (HS 4a) and then something else to finish but following the walk in to a busy Idwal Slabs and a very slow party of three on the first route, it was discovered that Gary had forgotten his shoes, so a retreat to the Deniolen hut was made to retrieve them, hence a second visit to Tremadog was made as it was too embarrassing to go back to Idwal! They had fun on Craig Dhu Wall (HS 4b ***) and Christmas Curry (HS 4b ***), but had to back-off one of the climbs following a scary foot traverse! Richard, Eva, Sarah and Bryn also climbed at Tremadog along with Pete and Mike who enjoyed Poor Man's Peutery (S), Grim Wall (VS 4c) and Christmas Curry/Micah Eliminate (HS 4b). John and Lucian headed for the Pass, we had arranged to meet them at the pub at the top of The Pass later, but found the pub wasn’t serving food so we went down to Pete's Eats and left them to their own devices. John and Lucian hitched back from the Pass, and in Deniolan got into discussion with the locals who extended a welcome to Lucian to come and live in the area, but John, as an Englishman, was “not welcome.” I’m not sure the locals knew what they would have been letting themselves in for! Dinner was in Pete’s Eats, and I had the burger I’d been eyeing up the day before. It hit the spot.

June 2010

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Monday It was a cold morning so a bunch of us went down to Llanberis to take a tour of the power station. I was worried we may need to rename the club to the “Northumbrian Grockling1-around-theattractions Club”, but the scale of the place was amazing, and the speed with which they can put the power onto the grid is pretty fantastic. I’m just not sure that being able to supply power for the postCoronation Street nationwide tea brew would motivate me to turn up to work though… On the way out we go to see someone climbing on the Rainbow Slab, which looked pretty impressive.

the rope was not chopped! The route was climbed, however. Richard had a go on Geordie War Cry (7a+) on the slate! He got up it but couldn't do the steep and technical section between the fourth and sixth bolts without a few rests. Good nevertheless. Gareth had the camera in full paparazzi mode, so there are thousands of pictures of Richard struggling up it. Pete and Mike headed for the sun at Gogarth where they had T-shirt and shorts weather and climbed Lighthouse Arete (VS 4c) and Rap (VS 4c).

In the afternoon we joined the rest of the gang at the Dinorwig Slate Quarries (Bus Stop Quarry) where the cold weather seemed to have given up and much sun bathing between bolt-clipping was being done. On one of the routes Lucian found a lodged Friend, and Richard Pow on Geordie War Cry (7a+) at Bus Stop Quarry by Bryn Roberts proceeded to try Disaster struck at the final minute when to get it out. Andrew started lobbing during check out the hut door was closed lumps of rock up for Lucian to try to and locked with the one and only hut key hammer out the Friend. I could just still inside! Pete and Mike who were imagine success retrieving the Friend planning on staying for another couple (probably worth 50p in scrap metal), but days returned last to find themselves shut having chopped the rope by the number of out with food etc locked inside. Luckily lobbed rocks that were not caught and with help via a call to the GMC people headed down earthwards and ropewards. In they managed to locate a spare key and get the end the Friend was not retrieved and back in. 1 Grockling - Slightly dismissive term for a 'tourist' (from the AskOxford website) NMC County Climber

Looking forward to the NMC Autumn Wales meet!

June 2010

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A Mt Wilhelm Odyssey Lewis Preston

In January of 1996, after five and a half years in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and with less than a month to go before leaving, it was a shame that my attempt to climb Mt Wilhelm wasn't longer and better in the planning stage: but then with God's blessing some things are better not planned, just done! At 4509m and the highest point in PNG, Mt Wilhelm had held a fascination over me since I got close to the area in '91. Mt Giluwe, the second highest, I had climbed in 1991 in a five day epic. Mt Albert Edward, the fifth highest I failed on in '93: Mts Victoria & Bangeta third and fourth are basically both inaccessible and never attempted. But Mt Wilhelm is feasible, if only... On 9 January Brother Bernie, the principle of the Roman Catholic mission school Rosary High, walked into our office in Boroko to discuss the redevelopment that we were supervising. I happened to mention my idea about climbing Mt Wilhelm, which was not so far from the school in the central highlands of PNG. Bernie was helpful, 'Do it in June, it's rainy season now.' I said that I should like to try at the weekend, 72 hours hence, so Bernie organised transport for me in a 4WD to the base of the mountain, between Friday and Monday meetings. And so it was on the Saturday (13 Jan) that I found myself heading out of the mist filled Kondiu valley, at 6am, with David at the wheel of a Toyota Hilux Utility. I had left my work papers at the school and swapped sacks to one containing a sleeping bag, gas stove, weatherproof gear, six man-days of food, a compass, map and torch. I felt exhilarated. NMC County Climber

The feeling collapsed 5km out of 'town' when we confronted a terrible scene - the 'road' (a dirt track) was obliterated for 400m by a colosal landslide. David surveyed the destruction of our route and asked a deaf-mute for local advice. The hand-signalled response encouraged David to try to cross the unstable mud-slide; a feat so certainly impossible - with the consequences of failure being an uncontrolled and very rapid journey to the bottom of the gorge. So I was amazed when, prayers answered, we regained more solid ground after much revving and sliding across the impasse. Thereafter, we enjoyed the spectacular scenery of a chasm of vertical to overhanging limestone, the track clinging by some form of engineering miracle to ground never designed to be walked upon, never mind driven across. A further landslide from the night before was being cleared by hand-shovels when we halted mid-way up the gorge.

In Kegsugl at the start of the climb

David was downhearted but after waiting 1.5hrs and then making a 'compensation' payment (for their hardwork) we were able to continue our journey. Wantoks (same language clansmen of David) were now hitching a ride in the tray of our utility - up to 15 hanging on as we negotiated the last few torturous miles to the valley head: the 60km and 2000m of ups and downs had taken us 5hrs. June 2010

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I had hired one man as a guide in a previous village, but two decided to come. We set off into the beautiful rain forest - a botanist's delight, an enclosed, enchanted world. At a place called 'Kombuglomambono' (a long name for an empty clearing), we emerged with a magnificent view down the Chimbu gorge. Here, with the disused airstrip at Kegsugl visible below, we stopped and chatted in limited pidgin.

on the final summit pinnacle. The summit plaque declared: 'Jesus is King, and Lord of PNG'. I gave thanks for life, and this moment in time. The view, post dawn was not coast to coast, but was still impressive of the surrounding peaks and deep clefts of rainforested valley.

Up the Pindaundi Valley, negotiating a simple rock step beside a fine waterfall, we reached Lake Aunde at 3480m just as the late afternoon rains began. We dropped our sacks in the hut and rested. The rain eased and the two guides went in search of dead wood. I explored the route up to the second lake, up a 90m waterfall and sat admiring the double glacial cirque formed by ice 15,000 years ago. On return to the hut, a log fire was smoking the interior and a party of 'school monkeys' (terminology as used by the locals!) arrived with their leader just before dark. We cooked supper on my stove, had tea round the smoke, and I was in my sleeping bag at 7.30pm. Sunday 14 Jan The smoke and the chatting prevented any sleep: I got up at 1.30am and brewed tea. At 2.30am we began the ascent: we had one torch between us but a half moon out-shone a myriad of galaxies from a brilliantly clear sky - perfect: 'Thank you God', I prayed, 'for this experience.' Up the waterfall step, and steeply beyond onto the Bogunolto Ridge. With the torch we spotted the memorial to an Israeli climber who fell off the mountain at this point. From the ridge camp we traversed under huge rock buttresses towering into the night, until reaching the saddle at 4380m. Here a plaque to a lost Australian Airforce man read: 'If heaven is in a high place, then Chris is privileged to be so near to God.' Dawn had crept up on us from beneath a rose-tinted cloud mantle surrounding the lower slopes of the Wilhelm massif. It was near freezing as we scrambled up the easy rock tower and balanced, the three of us, NMC County Climber

On the summit

By 7.30am updraft on the valley walls, caused by rising temperature, formed a swirling, engulfing cloud mass and we left the summit. Previously unaffected by altitude sickness, I now became dizzy and stumbled several times on the steep initial descent. I began stripping off some of the five layers of clothing as we descended. Beside the remains of a wartime USAF bomber we stopped to read from Matthew, chapter 5, when Jesus went up the mountainside and taught the people the Beatitudes. Back at the hut we found the children playing by the lake and after a rest and lunch, we stormed down the mountain, soaked in the jungle rains, and happy to see our friends at Kegsugl.

June 2010

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The website includes various discussion forums, a photoarchive for members’ climbing photos, online guides for most Northumberland crags.

Indoor climbing: £1 off the standard entry price at: • Sunderland Wall. • Durham Wall. • Climb Newcastle (Wed. nites only). • Newcastle Climbing Centre (Byker) • Morpeth Bouldering Wall Also winter season Wed. nights at Burnside college, £4 entrance fee, open to NMC members only.

NMC Website The NMC has a very informative website

NMC Guidebooks NMC members pay a discounted price for any guidebook published by the NMC. Currently available are the following guides: • Northumberland Climbing Guide Definitive Guide to climbing in Northumberland. £12.50 to members (RRP £18.95)

For the above 2 guides add £2 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 Hurry while stocks Last!!! Contact Martin Cooper on 0191 252 5707

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 Ian Birtwistle 07828 123 143.

• Northumberland Bouldering Guide The new guide, £12.50 to members (RRP £19.95)

Eva (front) with Richard & Sarah climbing at Gogarth NMC County Climber

June 2010

by Bryn Roberts

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County climber summer 2010  
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