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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.

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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 £10.00

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

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.

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.

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

Get this Magazine FASTER

To arrange for email notification that the latest issue of the magazine is ready for you to download, contact the membership secretary at:

Photos Unless otherwise stated all photos in this issue were taken by the author of the article. December 2008

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

Cover Shot Tim Catterall on Lillaz Cascade alternative route, Cogne, Italy, February 2006 Photo by Bryn Roberts

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What’s in this issue?

Wednesday evening meets

Weekend meets............................................. 3 Wednesday evening meets ........................... 3 Guest speakers & socials .............................. 3 Club Annual Dinner ..................................... 4 NMC news.................................................... 5 Rat Racing for Beginners ........................... 10 Weta Prowl ................................................. 12 Murcia......................................................... 15

Wednesday evening indoor meets start from 15 Oct 08, at the excellent wall at Burnside Community College in Wallsend.

Note: For College insurance purposes all climbers at the wall must be either a Full or Prospective NMC member.

Weekend meets The following list shows the weekend climbing/social meets currently arranged. 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. 27 Dec 08 2/3/4 Jan 09

Chamonix/Cogne postponed until February Alex McIntyre Hut—Tim Hakim/Richard Pow, Beginners’ Winter Skills at Glencoe—see full details on page 7. Hut also open to members not on the course.

9/10/11 Jan 09

Black Rock Cottage—Mike Frost 07866 388 1872

29/30/31 Jan/ 1 Feb 09

Snow caving—Adrian Heath see details box on page 9

Sat 7 Feb 09

Ceilidh—a fun get-together in Chillingham Arms pub where you can show off your dancing skills—Sam Judson 07793 522 261

20/21/22 Feb 09 Inchree—Peter Bennett 01670 515 263 20/21/22 March 09

Muir of Inveray—Jon Trafford, 07974 345 551

3/4/5 April 09

Milehouse, Kincraig—Eva Diran 07824 627 772

NMC Quarterly Magazine

The club has the wall booked exclusively for NMC members and it’s a great venue for us. Bring all your own equipment.

Changes to sign-in method: Members MUST show their NMC membership card at the College reception desk and pay the £4 entrance fee and sign in at the desk.

The wall is available from 18.00 to 21.00 after which we adjourn to the Shiremoor House Farm Pub for beer, food and chat.

Guest speakers & socials Our winter series of guest speakers has been arranged by Sam Judson and are held in the lecture theatre at Burnside School, starting at 20.30 after Wednesday evening climbing. Don't forget we're allowed to bring a carryout (can/bottle) in with us—just as long as we do carry it out afterwards. Wed 17 Dec 08

Guest Speaker —

Wed 28 Jan 09

AGM—committee members provide feedback on their tasks and future issues, and a new committee is elected. It's your club so come along and have your say!

December 2008


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Club Annual Dinner Peter Bennett, President

The club dinner took place on 28th June at the Borrowdale Hotel. Fine weather over the weekend enabled those so inclined to work up an appetite on the Saturday and work off a hangover on the Sunday. Following much discussion at the hut re possible climbing venues on Saturday morning, Jon, Amanda, Gemma, and Bryn opted for Black Crag/Shepherds, Peter and Alison took a short stroll to Quayfoot Buttress and Lewis and Eva set off to Buttermere with the intention of climbing on High Crag. Ambitious you might think, given that they had to be back in time for the dinner. Particularly so since they did not have transport and were hitching! I fully expected that it would be necessary to ask the hotel to keep their dinner in the oven, but in the event they did get back in time.

The Borrowdale laid on the usual sumptious feast, and a convivial evening was enjoyed by all. The benefits of the club under 18’s policy was evident in the presence of George Cranston, aged 17 months, and Elliot Wilson, aged 10, whilst the other end of the scale was championed by Hedley Smith, aged 74 (as far as he can remember). With the Hermitage acting as the family wing for the Cranstons and Wilsons, the late night revelries back at the hut following the dinner did not disturb the young children, despite the fact that the older children were pretty boisterous, fuelled to a greater or lesser extent by the demon alcohol. Tim showed the way on the table traverse, whilst Sarah, Eva and Gemma followed with creditable efforts. Those with age related injuries such as dodgy backs, shoulders, or whatever part of the human anatomy you care to name, looked on with amusement and doubtless a little envy.

Suitably exercised, the 18 members staying at the Bowderstone gathered for the preprandial preparations of scrubbing up and donning the glad rags. A good effort on the A glorious day part of all, and a good on Sunday, and result, the ladies being despite the particularly elegantly revelries of the turned out. Bryn’s previous night, a declaration that ‘we party comprising have a waist situation Jon, Amanda, here’ on finding George and Hedley sharing a joke Bryn, Gemma, difficulty squeezing Eva and Lewis headed for the South Crag into his DJ, set the tone for a merry of Castle Rock. The Cranstons and the evening. Wilsons spent the day in the valley We were joined at the hotel for the encouraging the next generation of rock dinner by Dave Robert’s party, Anne stars. Peter and Hedley opted for a walk up Marie and Polly, and Brian Metcalfe, to onto High Spy. A fine conclusion to an making a total of 26 members and friends. enjoyable weekend. NMC Quarterly Magazine

December 2008

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NMC news

New discount Peter Flegg

Membership renewal reminder Your membership expires on 31 Jan 2009. Please send your membership renewal payment cheque—refer to inside cover of this magazine for figures—to the Membership Secretary (with your name and address written on the back of the cheque) to:

NMC member and champion boulderer Andy Earl has opened a new climbing wall called Climb Newcastle, at Shipley Place, Byker. Climb Newcastle is offering NMC members a £1 reduction on Wednesday evenings. That is £1 off the advertised entry price (actual figure depends on whether you are an adult/child or concession.)

Carolyn Horrocks, 24 Tenth Avenue, Heaton, Newcastle, Tyne & Wear NE65XU

For further details on the wall refer to their website:

President’s walk Seven of us—Peter Bennett, Cliff Robson, Doug Blackett, Alison Jones, Lewis Preston (and dog Cleo), Howard Adamson and myself—braved the cold winds and deep drift snow on Sunday 7 December. We started from Langlee up the Harthope and for Peter B, Lewis and Howard reached the Cheviot summit.

Cutting costs In an attempt to cut postage costs we are doing a single mail-out of both magazine and AGM paperwork.

Correction Adrian ‘snow-hole’ Heath, claims that last month’s cover shot showed him and not Rob Say as stated.

New hut keys Don’t forget the keys currently used to access the Borrowdale huts are to be phased out in 2009. You can exchange your old key for a new electronic key fob free of charge from Neil Cranston of the Hut sub-committee. Give him a call on 07966 284 433 to arrange the exchange.

Deadline for the next issue Lewis and Howard on the summit By Peter Bennett

NMC Quarterly Magazine

The deadline for contributions to the March issue of the Quarterly Magazine is 18 March 2009.

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NMC news—continued

To download the magazine:-

Electronic copy of this mag

1) Login to the website, using your user name and password, as specified during the registration process described above.

After reports of problems downloading the last issue from the website, the following clarifies the requirements. Note: You first need to be registered on the website for downloading before you can actually download the magazine.

2) Click on the Main menu and then select ‘Download area’. 3) Click on the Quarterly magazine section. 4) Choose the issue you want to download.

To register for downloading:-

5) Note: You will need to have Adobe Acrobat installed on your PC in order to open the downloaded file. This is a free download.

1) Inform the Membership Secretary that you want the electronic copy of the magazine. 2) Next register with the club’s website— follow the ‘Register’ link in the ‘Login’ menu section, where you need to specify that you want the download version and tick the ‘NMC downloader’ box at the bottom of the page. 3) The web co-ordinator will later check your registration and verify from the Membership Secretary the validity of your request, and add you to the Downloader list.

Quiz night We only seem to see NMC member Barry Imeson once a year—when he comes along to run his annual Christmas Quiz Night. This year was no exception and the Quiz Night was, as usual, a great event— the winning team claimed 74 points and all received a prize magazine from Barry. Thanks to Barry for all his hard work.

Once on the Downloader list you can then download the magazine. Note: Those members who have registered with the Membership Sec. for download will be informed by email that the magazine is ready for download—but note you will still need to register with the website before you can download. (continued next column)

Quiz Master Barry Imeson (on the left) at work NMC Quarterly Magazine

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NMC news—continued

NMC AGM Wednesday 28 Jan 2009

Constitution and Rules

8.30pm at Burnside wall lecture theatre.

John Mountain, Treasurer

Many of you were very excited by my earlier article on a proposed new Constitution and Rules for the NMC and have begged me for more…

On the agenda (enclosed as a separate page with this magazine) is the election of incoming committee members and a proposal for a new Constituttion and Rules. Come along to have your say and cast your vote.

Update on the CASC application You will recall that the spur to producing a Constitution and revised Rules was the Committee’s agreement to seek Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) status. Unfortunately, our application has been withdrawn. There were a couple of issues that HM Revenue and Customs had with us, and it became clear that to comply with their strict interpretation of the legislation, we would have to change the nature and spirit of the club. So why continue?

Beginners' Winter Skills Weekend Sat/Sun 3/4 Jan 2009 This weekend will provide you with a basic grounding in winter Mountaineering, it is not a climbing course. Both days will be spent in the mountains with day one learning the skills and day two ascending a peak. Course covers: • Winter clothing • Ice axe & crampon use for walking • Winter navigation • Avalanche theory (intro) • Weather • Emergency techniques

In formulating the CASC application, I took the opportunity to include in the Rules and new Constitution, various clauses which clarified current operating procedures (eg for membership applications) and also stated existing policy which has never been documented (eg that our financial year runs from 1st November to 31st October.)

Requirements: Reasonable fitness with summer walking experience

Despite the demise of our CASC aspiration, it seemed a shame to lose these updates, so with encouragement from the Committee, I have edited my handiwork, removing redundant CASC material. I now intend to present the documents to the AGM on Wednesday 28th January 2009 for adoption. The drafts, including a draft of the financial status of the club, are attached as extra pages to this copy of the magazine for your delectation.

Location: Glencoe, at the Alex MacIntyre Memorial Hut, Ballachulish. Cost: £68, includes accommodation (to be paid by 15 December 2008) Instructor: Tim Hakim (MIA, Winter ML) Bookings Richard Pow, preferably by e-mail (or on 01665 570590) Note: Accommodation will also be available at the hut for other NMC members wishing to attend the meet but not the course.

NMC Quarterly Magazine

December 2008

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With Bare Hands Advertisement Note: The following is a publicity statement for the book’s release. Its inclusion here does not imply any recommendation by the NMC magazine editor or the NMC.

Alain Robert rises toward the clouds in nearly every city he visits. As one of the world’s most amazing people, his autobiography, With Bare Hands, The Story of the Human Spider should be fascinating, and it is—in spades.

shiny tropical city is certainly orderly, tidy and very pleasant… but there is no denying the fact that it lacks artistry, diversity and that most essential ingredient, the passion of the human spirit. Singapore has wealth, but it is clearly one of the least human cities on the planet, a city of conformity.’ Forty-five-year-old Robert weighs 52 kilograms and hails from Valence, France, where he previously worked part-time in a sports store. As a climber, he has endured towering triumphs and bitter setbacks.

A true-life adventure story unlike others, this book (edited and adapted by John Chan) tells why and how Robert climbs the outside of the world’s tallest buildings and rarely uses ropes, hooks or safety gear. ‘Without fear, danger is intangible, thus impossible to appreciate and respond to… I grapple with buildings and cliffs… and I do it for the pure joy of it. The proximity of my mortal watershed offers an almost sexual excitement.’ Relying just on hand powder and climbing slippers to grip ridges, edges and ledges, the author has conquered the Petronas Towers (in Kuala Lumpur), Taipei 101, the Sears Tower (Chicago), Canary Wharf (London) and many more. Since 1994 when he identified ‘a whole new universe… a range of mountains of glass and steel’, this urban mountaineer has scaled 80 skyscrapers in dozens of cities. If Robert plays the hero, then certain buildings must be villains. ‘The Sears Tower is square at its base, but as it climbs it tapers inwards with several receding tiers to leave the segmented core standing proudly clear of the impressively aerial city of Chicago. Cloaked in villainous black, there is more than a hint of Darth Vader about this awesome monster.’ Bird’s-eye views and death-defying experiences give Robert strong opinions. For example, he dislikes Singapore. ‘The NMC Quarterly Magazine

Like its author, With Bare Hands focuses on climbing tall buildings—why, when, how and what happens next. This unusual theme never turns dull. Many readers will want to cheer as Robert conquers the dangers of clambering up challenging skyscrapers. Others will be disappointed that he reveals little about his childhood and

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family life. ‘Like all kids I wanted to be brave in the manner of Zorro or Robin Hood and climbing seemed to offer me that,’ he writes. But exactly what do his parents, wife Nicole and three sons think of his escapades? When promoting the book in Hong Kong, Robert climbed another edifice, this time a hotel. On earlier visits, he scaled two high office towers. No other author takes such risks. No fellow climbers muster the courage to join Robert in this zany sport. ‘Time moves very slowly when you teeter between life and death. Seconds, minutes or hours, they are all the same. The world becomes spectacularly vivid and moves in slow motion.’ A climber since childhood, Robert suffered serious injuries years ago in falls from rock-faces. He hasn’t plunged from high on a building. If he does, his exploits and life end instantly.

everyone. ‘Man creates his own limits, but we all have in us the power to overcome them and to reach our goals. We just need to find this power within ourselves and harness it, for it is there within all of us, within you. We have the ability to soar to great heights if we direct our energies away from doing other people’s work, fulfilling other people’s dreams.’ Prepare to clutch at the pages, holding on, hardly daring to breathe, as Robert tells of clinging to giant buildings. Reading With Bare Hands may induce serious vertigo. Pulses will quicken. Hearts will thump. Why does the magazine include the above advertising blurb? With some hard effort by those whose arm(s) I regularly twist, I normally receive enough articles to produce a 20-22 page magazine.

‘Falling from 40 metres or 400 metres leads almost certainly to the same result: death. Or perhaps there is a small chance of incapacity, another kind of death. My wrists and knees, already damaged in my youth, would not support a significant fall. I am not a stuntman and the doctors have firmly told me that I am banned from falling.’ Unauthorized climbing often leads to the author’s arrest on charges like trespassing and reckless endangerment. Although usually released within days, he’s become a rare authority on jail conditions around the world.

For this current issue I have received enough for only 14 sides and felt that as the above article was climbing related and included a good picture it was worth using. What’s the moral of the story? If you don’t want to read advertising statements then you need to start writing about your climbing exploits—the alternative is a very thin magazine.

Snow-caving weekend Somewhere in the Cairngorms 29 Jan to 1 Feb 2009 It’s easy…come for a walk, dig a hole, and sleep in it.

‘I have seen my fair share of prisons… but this Malaysian jail was something else…. The ground was sticky, disgusting. Even the cockroaches had difficulty moving around… The air was stale and thick with pungent sweat and urine.’

No hot showers, and long cold nights guaranteed. Wake to a glorious sunrise on the plateau (or maybe a blizzard.)

Despite the ‘high’ stakes, Robert finds humor everywhere and shares it. To maintain his sanity, he laughs at danger.

You know you want to!

Along the way, this offbeat author draws meaningful conclusions of value to NMC Quarterly Magazine

I am intending to make it three days if there is sufficient interest. It will involve walking in, snow-caving, and maybe some easy climbing on the way.

Call Adrian Heath for more info and to book your hole: 07903 377 012 December 2008

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Rat Racing for Beginners or Adventure Racing for Dummies Colin Matheson

All of us in the NMC can climb a bit, may have done some abseiling, passed their cycling proficiency test, perhaps done some orienteering at school and may have paddled a canoe on occasion. Now try bringing that all together over a weekend, in a major city somewhere near you, with the occasional silly challenge thrown in, and you have the idea of Rat Racing.

another of my workmates. Our third member dropped, and through my son’s landlord’s friend’s friend a super-hero called Steve joined us—he leads E2, won the A course in last year’s OMM and looked seriously fit. Saturday night’s street orienteering had a mix of control points spread across the City, with the option to pick up bonus points on the way by participating in strange deeds such as Spacehopping, Wii snowboarding and eyebrow shaving depending on which checkpoints were visited.

Mountain marathons have been around for the past 40 years, culminating in adventures like this year’s Original Mountain Marathon (OMM) aka ‘Lakes could have been turned into a morgue’. A few other races have Colin, in the center, at the start of the Newcastle Rat Race built on this format, Sunday was a big day, mountain biking throwing in a bit of biking and across the Forth Road bridge to Fife, orienteering, with the ACE Races and abseiling into the Water of Leith, bike Open Adventure series being just about orienteering, kayaking under the Forth manageable by mortals. The Rat Race was bridge, ascending and descending a pit first held in Edinburgh 5 years ago, and bing (slag heap), canoeing on the Union has gradually grown to include races in Canal, a short orienteering race and a most of the country’s major cities. There is series of climbing challenges at Ratho. a strong emphasis on having fun, but take Then it was into the city centre for a bit of it from me there are some seriously fit abseiling before heading for Arthur’s Seat looking competitors in the mix who are in and a few more kms of foot orienteering. it to win it! Then it was back into town, riding the Edinburgh was my introduction to Rat steps if you dare (I didn’t) before a final Racing, with former work colleague and climbing wall and run into the arena. That NMC member Albert teaming up with me was it for the weekend—finishing just while Stephen (long thin Aussie) joined NMC Quarterly Magazine

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outside the top third (of around 150 teams) but well pleased for my inaugural event.

The next phase involved biking out to the Metro Centre, somewhere on route contriving to have a high speed collision with a very large building that left a magnificent bruise on my upper arm. Navigating to Berghaus in the Metro Centre was one of the tasks, slightly surreal as we were kitted up in full adventure racing gear while everyone else

The temptation of the first Newcastle and Gateshead Rat Race was too hard to turn down, but this time I found myself on the starting line with Rory, my super fit son who is some 30 years younger but by now a veteran of several races including three Rat Races, Mighty Deerstalker, Tough Guy ‘Nettle Warrior’ and an ACE race. NMC members included Kin and Mike. This race was going to be a one day format, so that meant straight out on a Colin on the boulder in the Edinburgh Rat Race short urban was waddling along in their Adidas and orienteering race before jumping on the Puma gear. On to Whickham Thorns for bikes and heading in the general direction activities including the assault course, of Tynemouth. Rory had carefully marked archery, orienteering, high wire and Kin’s up the map, and stopping to have snacks, favourite boulder. It was onto the bikes for drinks or take photos wasn’t an option with one last time, back to the Baltic before one him in charge. Instead he fed me morsels last navigation section around Newcastle and I sipped from a Platypus via a long City Centre. A final nasty sting in the tail tube. We reached the canoe stage at the was the ascent (and descent) of all the mouth of the river in 3rd place out of various flights of stairs that go up from the nearly 50 teams, quite a shock as when I riverside towards the town. One final looked around the pack at the start I sprint took us over the finish line—we had thought I would have been 3rd from last. lost out to some younger and fitter teams, We completed a few additional challenges but came in a very credible 6th place. around Cullercoats before leaping back on the bikes and heading down through the In 2009 the Rat Race will include the pedestrian tunnel under the Tyne. It was a full ‘weekender’ event, but there are long way back to the Baltic (start and options to do either the Saturday night finish area), where we dumped the bikes ‘mean Streets’ or a Sunday ‘9 to 5’ if you and completed a few more tasks including don’t fancy the whole lot. I have an entry the obligatory abseil off the Tyne Bridge. in for Edinburgh—anyone care to join me? NMC Quarterly Magazine

December 2008

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Weta Prowl Adrian Heath

The Weta is one of the world's largest and heaviest insects and is endemic to NZ. They have large, sharply barbed hind legs, powerful mandibles, and a large proboscis, and are usually found in forests and scrub, or a conveniently placed gumboot. I've never seen one on a mountain.

away, before veering North as it climbed steadily to the head of the valley. The walk is fairly short by local standards at only four and a half hours (some areas take 1-2 days to get into) and only taxing because of the amount of food and gear we had for 4 days away (and my complete lack of any decent training over the winter compared with the bunch of runners I was with). We arrived late in the day and found a suitable campsite raised above the main river and a smaller tributary at about 1000m, and cooked up the mandatory big billy of pasta, cheese, veges and salami for dinner, while watching a promising twilight glow descend on the surrounding peaks. All was looking good for a couple of days of favourable weather and clear skies.

At the end of March I hooked up with my mates Greig Hamilton and Mark Flintoft, and Chris Heppenstall who was visiting from the UK and went into the South Temple valley, about 50km south of Mount Cook in the Mackenzie basin, Central Otago. The area is mostly visited for access to Mt Cook, our highest peak at 3755m, and for the spectacular views across the glacier-fed emeraldblue lakes that also provide a significant portion of New Zealand's hydo-electricity. To the South of Mt Cook are some of the classic remote tramping and climbing valleys, such as the Huxley, Landsborough, and Copeland, to name but a Weta Prowl climbs the main face and ridgeline to reach the few. The South Temple pointy summit in the centre stream empties into the top of lake Ohau, where We were up at 0530 the next morning you leave the car and sign in to the DOC for a 0630 departure by headtorch, starting (Department of Conservation, like the the 1000m of ascent to the base of Weta National Trust) intentions book—just in Prowl, our intended route up onto Steeple case you don't come back out. As with Peak. The route began by climbing steeply anywhere in the NZ backcountry, there are through low alpine scrub and a rocky many river crossings and it is not stream bed, leading into a high tussocky uncommon to get stranded in bad weather hanging valley that is a tributary to the by flooded rivers. main temple valley. We then plodded up the steep loose scree slopes to the start of We arrived in the early afternoon and the buttress. The weather was looking with minimal faff got our gear sorted, good for the day with mostly clear sky and deciding to leave crampons and all but one only light winds, with some shelter ice axe behind as there wasn't a lot of snow afforded by the mountain itself. left about. The walk in followed the river to the South Temple hut, about 2.5 hours NMC Quarterly Magazine

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Weta Prowl is 300m of mostly excellent rock, first climbing the face of a prominent buttress, and then continuing along the side of the sharp ridge crest to the summit. The route is alpine grade 3+, with a crux grade of about 14, which translates roughly to VS/4c-ish, except that it is a mountain route, topping out at 2300m in a pretty remote setting. Although mountaineering has been popular in this area for many decades, the development of rock routes is mostly relatively recent. Weta Prowl was first climbed in 2002 by Ross Cullen and Bill McLeod, and there are several nearby routes with first ascents in 2007 and even early 2008, and plenty more still to go at in the area. The mountaineering guide to the area—the BarronBrewster guide—is quite comprehensive, and is complimented by regular online updates. The good thing about the guidebook is that most route descriptions are about 3 lines long, giving an exploratory flavour to the routes, and leaving plenty of scope for imaginative route-finding, or lots of cursing, as the case may be. With four of us climbing together on a pair of ropes (we only carried one rack in) it wasn't fast, but we made good progress, completing the route in about 5 hours. We swung leads, and were able to second with two on one rope and one on the other due to the easy climbing, and at least crowded belays make for less boring belays! We summitted in bright sunshine with some spectacular views into the Southern Alps and surrounding valleys, and with time to sit back and take it all in for a bit. The descent was the antithesis of the route up: a loose choss-pile, the sort that you have to hold in place as you climb down it, which is, unfortunately, quite NMC Quarterly Magazine

typical of some of our mountains. A bit like weetbix and oats, if you will. We were soon on the col to the south of the peak where the scree started, along with the rapid descent. The right sort of scree is a great way to get down a mountain, and this was a mix of good (fine and loose) and bad (big blocks/hard packed). Rolling TV's at the top, and ball-bearings in the middle. Unfortunately we had all walked in in trainers to save carrying boots up the route, and scree eats trainers. My new ones were definitely a bit raggy by the end of the trip as a result.

Mark enjoying pitch 3

The following day the weather wasn't looking too good, but we headed off for the neighbouring Bruce Peak to do Bob's route; 500m of crux grade 15 climbing on 'interesting' rock, harder at the bottom and easier at the top. When a 3 line route description includes the words interesting, and exciting you know to look out. 'Interesting' generally suggests you might benefit from a big tube of no more nails... By this stage my legs were struggling with the steep approaches, as a result of a year's break from hill running due to a knee injury (excuses, excuses...). I was disappointed to find I could no longer keep up with my mates who I used to be pretty equal to, but that's understandable when they are training for bike races, rogaines and orienteering, and you're not. After

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soloing up the first easy pitch to a big ledge, I decided to bail out and go for a walk up to the head of the valley, while they continued a bit quicker. I didn't regret the decision too much when they returned and said they wanted to abseil off after 2 pitches but couldn't because there was no sound rock around. The bottom half of the route was loose, had poor protection, and small to tiny belays. It was a bit of a shame to finish the trip with my little climbing demon sitting on my shoulder, but I was glad to have had a brilliant climb the day before. That night it bucketed down, and I had (happy) visions of being stranded by a raging river the next morning, however it stopped by the time we got up, and we even managed to pack semi-dry tents. We knocked off the walk out in 3½ hours this time, even though Greig was trying to rest his legs for a 100km, very hilly road bike race the following day. At least leaving was made easier by the fact that all of the surrounding routes were dripping wet now. Then it was time for the 5 hour drive back to Christchurch, with a stop to scoff the remaining food, and the obligatory stop in Geraldine for monster ice-creams. I was stoked to have squeezed in a good trip in the hills during my visit home, and returned to the UK contented, looking forward to the onset of the great British summer. (Could that be tongue-in-cheek humour? Ed.) For information on climbing/mountaineering in NZ have a look at the links below, or get in touch with me and I'll be happy to help if I can. My former club, the Canterbury Mountaineering club, is very active in the NMC Quarterly Magazine

mountains, with many weekend trips (sorry, no campsites and warm showers on these ones) over the summer and winter, as is the Canterbury branch of the NZ Alpine club. Happy climbing, and remember, this magazine doesn't write itself—help Pete out by sending him something!

The scree descent

NZ info Guidebook covering area described: Barron Saddle to Mt Brewster by Ross Cullen, 2nd Edition 2003 Updates: /category/barrier-range-region/ Other useful links: Canterbury Mountaineering Club: Guidebooks and info: General NZ climbing info:

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Murcia Peter Bennett

At the end of October, just two days after returning from a three week family holiday in Majorca, it was back to Spain, Alicante this time, for a climbing trip. That kind of thing is possible for the old or the wealthy (the former in my case). I was met at Alicante by the not so old Muny Baborovsky, an NMC member since the early eighties, now living near Gloucester, and whisked off to our luxury villa near Orihuela, and thence to meet up with other members of the party at La Panochia, a crag which overlooks city of Murcia. We found them climbing on the South face and immediately set off up the grade IV Ariste Sureste, just a warm up mind! Well, didn’t it start to rain when we were half way up. Bugger, that’s not supposed to happen in Spain. That was it for the day; by the time we had reached the top and abseiled down, the rain was well set in and retreat was in order. Never mind, the beer, food wine and crack went down well later.

Our party was in fact two groups, five in the villa and four in an apartment a few km away. Between us we managed a large proportion of the middle grade routes with the stronger climbers also doing some harder stuff. I can personally recommend the multi pitch routes, Derecha Del Espolon and Espolon de la Pared Negra, on Pared Negra. IX Capitulos on Callosa was excellent also, though I found the harder pitches rather taxing, due partly to the sharp rock which is very painful to pull up on. For single pitch routes the Paisaje Lunar sector of La Panochia is excellent with a lovely outlook to the south and the Mar Menor. Pils on the South face of la Panochia was considered good value by all, though yours truly managed to stray off route. (How do you go off route on a bolted route I hear you ask?)

Happily the weather for the remainder of the week was generally excellent for climbing. We were rained off just once more and at the end of a good day. Our base was a splendid villa between the small pueblo of Redovan and it’s larger neighbour Orihuela, just a few minutes drive from four decent sized crags, Callosa, La Pancha, Pared Negra and El Diedro. La Panochia, is about 30 km to the south. The rock is mostly limestone of course, some of it very rough and sharp on the fingers, though the Paisaje Lunar sector of La Panochia is an unusual conglomerate of medium sized boulders in a what looks like a sedimentary matrix. Excellent for climbing though. As indicated in the guide, there is a good mixture of multi and single pitch routes at all the venues. In general the bolts are good, though widely spaced in some places, so a small rack is advisable for those of nervous disposition.

NMC Quarterly Magazine


Orihuela is not a tourist area, rather a mixture of industry and agriculture, with lots of orange groves. In some ways that is an advantage, not least because the local shops do not charge tourist prices. The little carniceria near the villa, run oddly enough by a Frenchman, catered very reasonably for all our requirements. The tavern in the square in Redovan can also be recommended, though it helps to speak a little Spanish.

December 2008

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• Northumberland Bouldering Guide £12.50 to members (RRP £19.95)

Indoor climbing: •

Sunderland wall offers a £1 discount to NMC members off the standard entry price. Climb Newcastle, Byker offers a £1 discount to NMC members off standard entry price on Wednesday evenings.

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!!!

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.

Contact Martin Cooper on 0191 252 5707

T-shirts and Fleeces

• 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)

Various styles of T-shirt with printed NMC designs and fleece tops with embroidered logo are available. Order direct on the website ( or contact John Dalrymple 07976 276 464.

Contact Steve Crowe on 0191 584 3361

Looking at the picture below in BLACK AND WHITE ? Consider signing up for the electronic version which comes in colour.

From the September pink theme’d women’s meet at the club hut, by Alison Jones

NMC Quarterly Magazine

December 2008

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County climber winter 2008  
County climber winter 2008