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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


Simon Phillips on Central Gully RH Finish, II, Great End, Lakes by Gareth Crapper

Unless otherwise stated all photos in this issue were December 2010

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What’s in this issue? Wednesday evenings meets .......................... 3 Social events ................................................. 3 Weekend meets............................................. 3 It’s sport climbing…but not as we know it! . 4 A Walk Along River Northumbria Pt 2 ....... 7 Climb, eat, drink Mythos.............................. 8 Hut Working Meet...................................... 12 History Lesson: Bowderstone..................... 14 NMC T-Shirts ............................................. 16 Bowderstone hut – update .......................... 17 1) Sewage Situation ................................. 17 2) Lease Renewal?................................... 17 Naked climber arrested............................... 19

Wed 19 Jan 11

NMC AGM, Burnside Community College—your chance to vote on club issues

Wed 2 Feb 11

Members’ at home slides— bring a few of your own climbing trip fotos on memory stick, bring enough fotos for 10-20mins

TBA Feb 11

Ceilidh a fun get together in a local pub were you can show off your dancing skills—Eva Diran 07824627772

Wed 16 Feb 11

Tim Emmett—BASE jumping, wing suit piloting, big wall, mixed, speed, sport, and DWS climbing—UK extremist Tim Emmett is anything but idle. Tim will be talking about his recent climbing adventures; it’s bound to be exciting!

Wednesday evenings meets The NMC has the excellent wall at Burnside Community College, Wallsend booked for exclusive NMC use on Wednesday evenings from 18-21hrs. Bring all your own equipment. Note: For college insurance purposes all climbers at the wall must be either an NMC Full or Provisional member.

The following list shows the weekend climbing meets currently arranged. You MUST contact the meet leader in advance, as any accommodation may be limited or already fully booked.

Warning: It is recommended that you contact Sam Judson (Membership Secretary, 07793 522 261) in advance if you are not currently an NMC member.

Note: A deposit may be required to reserve your place on a weekend trip.

Members MUST show their membership card at the reception desk and pay the £4 entrance fee. The entrance to the wall has moved and is now via the Leisure Centre, the new building left of the school entrance. We usually adjourn to the Shiremoor House Farm pub for beer, food and chat.

Social events Wed 15 Dec 10

Keith Partridge—One of the country’s most experienced adventure cameramen. Keith will be talking about his climbing related camera adventures. Expect to see some amazing pics!

Friday 17 Dec 10

Christmas Drinks, location TBA—Eva Diran 07824627772

NMC County Climber

Weekend meets

7-9 Jan 11

Winter skills course, Mill Cottage, Feshiebridge—Tim Hakim 01434 606 825

14 – 16 Jan 11

Milehouse, Kincraig—Gareth Crapper 07768 464 396


Snow holing, Location: TBC, Adrian Heath 07903 377 012

11 – 13 Feb 11

Black Rock Cottage, Glencoe, Ballachulish—Robin Sillem 07940 169 220

4–6 Mar 11

Raeburn hut, Laggan—Tim Catterall 07704 614 814

18 – 20 Mar 11

Alex McIntyre hut, Ballachulish—Richard Pow 07831 216 024

December 2010

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It’s sport climbing… but not as we know it!

Laissez bronzer les cadavers (Let the dead tan), Tete de la Draye (TD, 500m, 6a)

Ailefroide, Sept 2010 Bryn Roberts

The village and campsite of Ailefroide nestle in a high valley on the east side of the Ecrins range in the French Alps, an area also famous for the high mountains of Barre des Ecrins, Ventoux and La Meige,

The slabs, ribs and buttresses of the Tete de la Draye rise straight from the valley floor to a rounded summit, with an easy but quite spectacular path leading in an hour or so back to the valley. The route isn’t continuous, split by two grassy scrambles, but that doesn’t detract too much from it’s quality; pitch upon pitch of

Campsite and surrounding rock at Ailefroide

the ice of La Grave and the rock of La Barade. Kenny and I had packed the usual gear for an Alpine trip, yet in our nine days of climbing at Ailefroide the boots, ice axe, crampons, nuts and Friends were never used, as we selected fully bolted routes up to 500m long, in a wonderful mountain setting. So where does sport climbing stop and adventure climbing start? Our time at Ailefroide had elements of both, and the following is an account of some of the highlights.

NMC County Climber

perfect granite slabs, a steep 6a wall (wow! jugs!) near the top and views across to Pelvoux and up to the Glacier Blanc. After a first day mostly in the shade, this was shorts and t-shirts all the way; continuously interesting climbing with bolts generally close to the crux moves. Voyage en Cathiminie Pilier des Violettes (TD+, 280m, 6a+) After escaping thunderstorms for the pocket-pulling delights of Finale on the Italian Riviera, we returned to the valley for more perfect granite. Voyage en Cathiminie has walls, slabs, cracks,

December 2010

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everything – a bit like four Bosigrans piled on top of each other – plus a monster roof as we were to find out later. Kenny led off up the first and hardest pitch, a steep 6a+ wall. I struggled with the crux moves, but then took over and relaxed into the climbing – technical rather than strenuous; edges, friction, well protected. The route takes a wandering but logical line through unlikely territory. At mid-height I traversed across a hanging slab and as I placed my left foot on the edge I was well aware of the gaping void below. I passed an abseil point and continued upwards and inadvertently took in part of the next pitch, a 6a crack. Kenny led through up the final slabs and I joined him on top of one of my best-ever routes on granite. But the fun had only just started...

Two abseils down and we were at the double bolt and chain above the gaping void. I threw the 60m ropes down, doublechecked and launched into space. With no contact on the rock I slowly turned around and took in a panorama of the valley. I passed a hanging slab and aimed for a worn area on a ledge; the next ab point must be around there somewhere! I search around and no chain was to be found, and looked up and saw nothing. With 5m left I continued to another earthy ledge and, cutting some nice 6mm cord, secured myself to a spike. Kenny was getting restless and I beckoned him down. As he turned in mid-air he spotted the ab chain on the hanging slab above me and swung in to grab it at full stretch. He then let go of the white rope and pulled on blue. Wrong rope! The white was now hanging 2m out of reach. Oh s***!! Various potential rescue scenarios went through my head before we worked out that I could reach the two ropes at a stretch and tie them together so Kenny was able to pull on the blue and thereby retrieve the white. This time he pulled on white, set up the ab and lowered past me to the next point. After this singularly unimpressive performance by us both, I clipped into the ropes, joined Kenny below and, after two more uneventful abs, we arrived happy at the base of the route. La vie devant soi Palavar les Flots (TD+ 350m, 6a+)

The slabs and arêtes of Palavar from the campsite

NMC County Climber

December 2010

Palavar is the pyramid-shaped rock face which we looked at directly from our prime page 5 of 20

pitch on the campsite every morning. I had watched the morning sun creeping down from it’s summit, bathing it in orange light, had cast my eye up the lines of it’s soaring arêtes and later in the day had observed how the angle of the sun picked out the detail of corners, overlaps and other weaknesses where only blank slabs had appeared to exist before. Our chosen route took a fairly direct line up these slabs in the middle of this vast face. On our first attempt we abseiled off after some route finding problems on pitch three and then a strong wind convinced us that it wasn’t our day. Round two and we avoided the indirect start of the first four pitches by scrambling up a steep gully and traversing in to reach the main event of the climb, a series of slabs starting about 250m above the valley floor. What followed was some of the most immaculate slab climbing I have ever done, on featured granite in a wonderful position, looking across and down on other parties on the more

amenable, but spectacular arêtes. Looking down at the campsite it felt like being on the walls of Yosemite with Camp 4 below. Kenny and I both climbed close to our limit, but, as neither of us were up for the final 6b and 6b+ pitches we abseiled off. It mattered little to me that, after two days, we still had not climbed the complete route; what we had done had given me one of my most enjoyable cragging experiences ever.

Logistics: Season—Early September was ideal for the sunny valley-based climbs. Warm days and cool (tho’ long!) nights. Best go mid summer for the higher-mountain routes, which had a smattering of snow on them after the Sept thunderstorms. Travel—Easily reached from Milan and Turin, or Lyon on the French side. Camping—Large campsite occupying the valley floor, pitches on open ground or in trees, c. £6 per night. Campsite and most of the village close mid-September. Approaches & descents— Most routes no more than half hour from campsite, often with little altitude gain. It’s common to abseil off (double bolts and chains). Gear—A sport-climbing rack and 2x50m ropes gives a wide choice of routes; the guidebooks make it clear which are fully bolted. Full rack to open up more routes, especially higher up. 2x60m ropes give a little more re-assurance on those long abseils! Rock shoes – soft rubber is great on the slabs but wears out fast!! Guidebooks—Escalades autour d’Ailefroide – Jean Michelle Cambon (covers valley-based routes); Oisans Nouveau; Oisans Sauvage (Livre Est) – Jean Michelle Cambon (covers valley and mountain routes)

Bryn high up on the slabs of Palavar NMC County Climber

December 2010

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A Walk Along The River Northumbria - Part 2

Sand Volcanoes

John Dalrymple

In the last issue we paused our walk at the fabulous channel cut into Wave wall, now, continuing the walk down the riverbed, we next arrive at Hanging Crack.

The top half of the wall to the right of Hanging Crack contains current bedding inside current beds. This is another big tick for Bowden, the photo doesn’t really do it justice - you aren’t likely to see anything as complicated anywhere else. The river flow here must have been VERY disturbed, maybe as a result of seismic activity. Deformed Foresets

This picture above shows the area underneath the flakes on Tigers Wall. The colour of the iron oxide has picked out the Deformed Foresets perfectly. You now have no excuses when someone asks what these things are. NMC County Climber

Our next port of call is Klondike Wall, where another strange feature can be seen just above the overhang at the start of the route.

This is called a 'Sand Volcano'. It was formed by water being squeezed out of the sediment by earthquakes and creating this strange formation as it carried sand up to the surface. The top of this one has been eroded away by a sudden fast flow of water. Too new to see

We end the walk at the quarried western end of the crag, where the walls from Exhibition Crack along to Handrail seem to be missing features altogether. They are there, but you can’t see them because the rock isn’t weathered. This is how you can tell that this end has been quarried, there’s no weathering and there are no large boulders lying around at the bottom. You may have noticed some large smooth curved grooves in the scoop between These are stress fractures when that bit of the face fell away during quarrying. So that is what makes Bowden Doors special to non-climbers. You can look out for these features elsewhere on sandstone crags in Northumberland, although you’d not see them as well as here. So look after the rock and enjoy what the river has given us.

December 2010

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Climb, eat, drink Mythos

until gale force winds propelled us off the crag and back to the car.

A gastro-climbing update to Kalymnos

Next morning we were back to cold but bright weather, with the wheels for one more day, we headed up to Noufaro. We were enjoying the excellent slab climbing, when we saw the storm clouds out at sea heading towards us. Unfortunately we judged it a little too finely and one or two of us finished up getting a little wet going back to the car. Nothing else to do except head back, to dry out in Massouri. One damp but relaxing lunch later, with the sun again shining, we went up to have a look at the area that's been developed opposite Kastelli, at Dolphin Bay. A hairy descent takes you down to some excellent routes on rock that looks like polished marble but mostly handles really well. We were just enjoying the sea cliff experience, when a goat did a triple somersault from somewhere and thudded down behind us with its legs in the air. An omen? We thought so and headed back for a couple of restorative Mythos.

Cliff Robson

Aegean Tavern Business was brisk and we were ready for what the best restaurant on Kalymnos could throw at us. First, to quench our thirst, came a carafe of excellent red wine followed by a board of deliciously aromatic, hot bread. Next, plates of dolmades, a huge salad of egg and feta and dishes of calamares. Then the silver snapper. Soft white fish, tasty and tender. Eventually only the fishy skeletons remained as if they'd been picked clean by the local street cats. Finally came a complimentary plate of deep fried dough balls smothered in Kalymnian honey. Then it was off to the Sunrise Bar for a Metaxa and to decide on tomorrow's crag. Maternity Ward The shutters were flung open next morning, to reveal a depressing scene of lashing rain, high winds and leaden skies. There was nothing for it but to head to the Glaros bar for brunch and wait for the weather to improve. With the four of us squashed into a Chevrolet the size of a chalk bag, we headed up to the top of the island, to the Maternity Ward sector. Horizontal striations and razor sharp rock have produced an attractive limestone wall of a different character but with only a handful of excellent routes under our belts, torrential rain forced us take refuge in a nearby cave with a pair of goats. Eventually we managed to get back to the car and head to Massouri for lunch. After drying out in The Climber's Bar, being entertained by the somewhat dysfunctional family who run it, a break in the weather meant that we could return to climbing. With wheels, we were able to head up the new road to Vathi and visit one of the recent developments—Sector Julian. It's quite small and quite short but provided us with a couple of hours of good climbing, NMC County Climber

Big Screens Bad Music By now it was so cold in the evening that we had to find a restaurant with a warm indoor section. Prego is a brash new place which serves Greek/Italian food, has giant screens to watch climbing on but most importantly has wall heaters. We soaked up the heat, savoured the mushrooms in cream and garlic and the veal stifado. Moussaka wasn't brilliant and was a lot better at the Restaurant Noufaro, where it was freshly made. However, at last we were warm. Unfortunately Nana Mouskouri's grandaughter arrived and started thumping out toneless muzak on a keyboard and then trying to sing over her own excessive volume. Even a huge chef with a cleaver couldn't quieten her down. We decided it was time to leave. Is this the way things are going in Massouri? Look forward to a Hard Rock CafĂŠ soon. Irresistible Lure of Katarina Arhi is still being developed and some new routes on the Upper left section

December 2010

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Dave on top of the multi-pitch Wings for Life

provided some challenging climbing in a much quieter situation than popular sections lower down. Rock Shrimps gave Dave his first 6a lead so, on the way back, we had to drop off at Katarina's Taverna at Arginonta to celebrate, while we waited for the bus. Katarina is a lady with a charming smile and an ample girth— possibly a victim of her own success with home produced honeyballs! We ordered the inevitable Mythos but the charming Katarina brought us complimentary dolmades from a traditional family recipe, as well as honeyballs, soaked in honey from her own bees. Dave was so impressed, he snapped up most of her remaining honey supply to take home. The weather was at last set to improve so it was time to head to the Glaros bar to see if there was any fresh beta on the big project we had for the trip—a new eleven pitch route called Wings for Life (5a-6a) on the tiny nearby island of Telendos. Steve, the legendary depressive Scouse landlord of the Glaros and author of the World According to Steve had apparently been NMC County Climber

involved in the first ascent so was indeed in a position to wax glumly eloquent on the route. The magic coincidence of the clocks going back meant that we were able to recover sufficiently from too much food, wine, Ouzo and Metaxa, to get the 8am ferry the next morning, to do the one hour walk in and to be on the route before ten. Wings For Life The route takes the right hand side of the massive cave of Crescendo delivering you to the summit and providing a walk back down via the little church to Telendos. It's very generously bolted throughout and all the pitches are pleasant fives, apart from two at 6a, which provide distinctive challenges. The first, halfway up, is a very awkward wide crack with smooth, featureless rock on either side. Trevor and Gary managed to force a way with some ruthless, body snapping bridging. Dave, Master of the Impossible Crack and Lord of the Fearsome Finish launched himself into the crack and flopped casually onto the adjacent slabby

December 2010

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wall like a walrus heading for a warmer piece of rock. Enough said. Masterclass over. The second crux nearer the top is an awkward bulge leading to a delicate traverse and finally two easier pitches to the top. Enjoy the views before you make the long difficult trek back down. By the time you reach Telendos your reward will be waiting for you in the form of cold Mythos in iced glasses. Fortunately a local bar owner was trying to offload his remaining draft Mythos before the end of the season and was so impressed by our passion for the drink we actually got free beer and complimentary grappa before heading for the ferry. The Mad Boatman of Telendos powered us across to Myrties through the darkness with deafening heavy rock music shivering the timbers of his ancient craft. Our last celebratory meal had to be back at the Aegean Tavern where we dined on calamares, tender lamb falling off the bone and more of that wonderful warm bread. Gary, surprisingly beaten by the lamb, took the remains away in a doggy bag, to be eaten later, on the way home, in the gloom of a London dawn at Kings Cross station. Fellow climbing gourmets and bon viveurs: Gary Brosnan, Dave Hume, Trevor Langhorne.

New climbing wall opened A new indoor climbing wall has been opened at Barnard Castle.

Membership Expires Your membership expires on 31 January 2011. Please pay your membership renewal fee (£25) to the membership secretary, Sam Judson, either by cash if handing over the money in person or by cheque if sending in the mail. Unfortunately we are unable to accept payment by Direct Debit. The membership fee must be paid promptly if you want to be sure of third party insurance cover by the club’s BMC affiliated status. CONFIRM YOUR CONTACT DETAILS When paying the membership secretary, please also confirm your postal and email address, your home and mobile numbers and also state whether you want to take the magazine by electronic download from the club’s website. Sam Judson 31 Kenmore Close, Wardley Tyne & Wear NE10 8WJ

The address is Teesdale Leisure Centre, Strathmore Road, Barnard Castle. 07793 522 261

There is a one-off registration charge of £5.50 and climbing fee of £4.95.

NMC County Climber

December 2010

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Simon Phillips climbs and Gareth Crapper belays, Central Gully RH Finish, Great End, Lakes NMC County Climber

December 2010

by Rich Gale page 11 of 20

Hut Working Meet Neil Cranston, Hut Co-ordinator

The people who attended were: Gareth Crapper, Piotr Bamberski, Sue Bevan, William Blyth, Adrian Wilson, Adrian Heath, Sarah Hawker, Ian Ross, Ross & Louise Freeman, Caroline and I and our young son George. On the Friday morning, William picked up Sue Bevan and me, we had a leisurely drive over to the hut arriving there at 13:00, at which point the work started. Sue got stuck into cleaning the Hermitage, while Bill and I swept the chimneys in the cottage, making the usual mess. I then had a trip into Keswick to purchase some building supplies for the weekend while Bill pulled the ridge tiles off the roof. We had half the tiles back on by 19:30 when it got dark. The Saturday morning arrived and more jobs were given out. Adrian and Ian were landed with (or volunteered) to change the Hermitage door locks to something more substantial—the Hermitage has recently been broken into twice. It took them all day to complete the job, they blamed that on my tools not being sharp enough and made frequent mention of 'German Engineering' because the finished job had a satisfying clunk similar to an Audi door closing. Yes, all good things are worth waiting for! So just to clarify to future visitors, both new locks are opened simultaneously by the existing key fob. I have all the bits to do the same job on the Cottage door, so if you have a suitably sharp set of carpentry tools and some time on your hands the Cottage door still needs upgrading. Speak to Adrian Wilson or Ian Ross, if you think you have the time and skills.

NMC County Climber

Piotr and I continued with the roof job, joined later by Adrian Heath. The second half of the roof ridge tiles were accidentally fitted with a mix of three parts sand and one part very dark gray SAND! Not surprisingly, this mix had not set by Sunday morning. Just as everyone was making climbing plans, Adrian Heath made the ridge tile discovery. Thankfully many hands made light work of removing the large quantity of sand and re-fitting the ridge tiles with the correct sand to cement mix. There is more work to do on the roof as the chimneystack could really do with re-building, do we have any volunteers out there?

George finds painting fun

Inside the Cottage Ross, Caroline and Sarah washed down all the walls and cleaned everything. Young George was in on the action as well when it came to painting the toilets. He thought the paint December 2010

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Working meet lunch break

roller was just the ticket for him to use, but he definitely got more paint on himself than the walls. Outside the Cottage, William and Sarah cleaned out the channel round the back of the kitchen wall. Louise hacked down all the undergrowth, and Ross discovered his glazing skills replacing a couple of broken panes. Ross had the added excitement of things coming down from the roof, I even dropped a small hammer at one point. Bill made a start at re-building the dry stone wall. Gareth Crapper rose to the challenge of keeping the work force fed in fine style (courtesy of the NMC) presenting a large quantity of meat balls and rice with a vegetarian lasagne option. Some people headed out to Shepherds, mid-morning Sunday, and got some climbing in. The rest of us took a nice slow walk down the side of the Derwent River in the sunshine.

Magazine articles Articles for inclusion in the March 2011 issue of this, the NMC County Climber magazine, need to be submitted by:

March 7th: Fotos: DO NOT send small ‘sample’ fotos, please send only large (ie over 200KB) files. Send each foto in a separate email. Text: Email the text file separate from the fotos. Submit text only in DOC, RTF or TXT format to:

NMC County Climber

December 2010

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History Lesson: Bowderstone

deserted to Bowderstone to fit that out. Gable end damage saw us eventually give the Knowe hut up—everything has its day. Clive Goodwin

As someone who last saw the Bowderstone Cottage four years ago, I have read John Mountain's hut update articles in the County Climber as an ‘outsider’, but it is not difficult to conclude that in time we should let our club hut go. Many years ago much ‘blood’ was spilt at AGMs in the old Eldon Grill as to whether the club should seek a Lakeland hut with club money or pay for the publishing of a new softback guide book. One of the main arguments for getting a hut was reciprocal rights to other club huts, thus reducing our dependency on the Fell and Rock huts. The hut won, we looked at a mine building in Glenridding and a pig sty to convert in Rosswaith before entering the Bowderstone Cottage via a sash window to see a bunk free interior. The hut had been used to serve real lemonade to tourists in the late 1940s. We got the lease against much competition and went on to fit the place out and provide a water supply above and behind the kitchen. The mine water supply and its extension to a fitted out Hermitage came later. I was Hut Warden at the Knowe for several years. It was taken on in the late 1940s when few people had cars and access was by train or bus to Bardon Mill and a brisk walk. I saw some excellent weekend meets at Crag Lough and Peel Crag plus parties that began in the Bowes at Bardon Mill. Huge working meets made two rooms into one, calor gas was installed, and a new floor, bunks and roof were put in after high winds damaged the old roof. Alas it became a place for day meets once we all had cars and the workers NMC County Climber

We had the use for many years of a family cottage in Gunnerside in Swaledale but later it was a relief to see it sold as we were only going because we thought we had to. Likewise we know Borrowdale well because of the hut, but only to the neglect of the other valleys and peaks. I am an active NT member and supporter yet find their recent green policies rather strange and would question NT motives in requiring the Bowderstone sewage improvements. It is worth remembering that the NT has always put restrictions such as no cars up the track (which is understandable) and no washing on a line. The hut lease has been renewed several times now, which reminds us that no matter how much we spend, it will never be ours. The long term costs to the club can only be justified if member usage is high enough but to run it as a business, mainly for the benefit of other clubs, does mean an awful lot of work and effort by NMC volunteers (ie hut warden, bookings secretary, working meet helpers.) We spent so many weekends with paint brushes etc in the 1970s, that our climbing suffered. Some members camped to avoid this! By all means keep the Cottage and Hermitage if the majority want it, but unless the NT offer to finance most of their required improvements, then perhaps it is time to use other accommodation where there is no responsibility for its upkeep.

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NMC Winter Skills Weekend Course Director: Tim Hakim 07974 413562 Dates: Saturday 8th & Sunday 9th January 2011 Approx. Times: 8.30am – 5pm Price: £59 (tbc) Venue: Based in MCofS Mill House Hut, Feshiebridge near Kincraig, Kingussie Aims of course: To introduce already experienced hill walkers and rock climbers to the basic skills needed to move around safely in the winter. It is NOT an ice climbing course. At the end of this course student will be able to: 1. Identify and minimise risks 2. Choose, fit and use crampons and walking axe 3. Be able to self-arrest a fall 4. Demonstrate a basic awareness of avalanche danger 5. Demonstrate the basics of seconding in winter


Venue (subject to weather)

Topics covered


Northern Corries of the Cairngorms

Course paperwork, syllabus & BMC participation statement/risk assessment. Introduction to basic skills. Use of the axe and moving with an axe only. Step kicking, step cutting and self-arrest. Using crampons. Avalanche talk in evening


Weather dependent but I aim to climb a peak to consolidate the previous day’s skills

Consolidation of basic skills & Introduction to winter mountaineering. Use of axes and crampons. Stances. Rope management. Gear placement in the winter. Moving around on steep ground. Basic snow belays. Avalanche awareness. Emergency Snow shelters. Navigation coaching.

Useful maps: OS 1:50000 Landranger sheet 36 Recommended texts: “WinterSkills: Essential Walking and Climbing Techniques” Cunningham, A & Fyffe, A (2007), Mountain Leader Training UK. ISBN: 0-9541511-3-5 nd “Snow Sense: A guide to evaluating snow avalanche hazard” Fredston, J & Fesler, D (2000), 2 Rev. Ed., Alaska Mountain Safety Center, Inc. USA. ISBN 0-9643994-0-7 Web: Official site of the British Mountaineering Council. Has good safety information and access details. Official site of Scottish Avalanche Information Service. Has daily snow reports and avalanche forecasts during the winter (mid-Dec – early April) Great weather forecasting site specifically aimed at hill goers Course requirements: Good level of fitness. Prepared to accept a degree of risk. Experience of summer hillwalking. Equipment requirements: Walking axe, crampons, B2 or B3 rated boots, helmet, harness, belay plate that will accept double ropes, full set of waterproofs which have an integral hood, gaiters, suitable warm clothing including hats & several pairs of gloves, double lensed ski goggles, compass (e.g. Silva type 4), Headtorch and spare batteries. (A more comprehensive kit list will be issued after booking) Progression routes: Walk independently with other course members Join NMC winter meets Develop winter climbing skills NMC County Climber

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NMC T-Shirts Men’s style colours

Ian Birtwistle has been working overtime again! Not only running the club’s website but he has also arranged to get two different NMC design T-Shirts printed.

Design A—Royal blue, Orange and green Design B—Black, royal blue, orange or green

The two designs to choose from are: ‘Climbing’ T-shirt (Design A below), has the club logo and name on the front, and the name in large letters vertically on the back with a climber and belayer on the letters.

Women’s style colours

‘Crags’ T-Shirt (Design B below), has the club logo and name on the front, and the club’s initials on the back where each of the 3 letters is composed of text in a smaller font listing Northumbrian crag names.


Each design is available in men or women’s style. They are manufactured by different companies hence the colours are not quite the same.

Design A—Royal blue, white or green Design A—Black, navy , orange

T-shirts are available in sizes Small to Extra Large, but bigger sizes may be available on request—contact Ian directly if you require other sizes.


T-shirts cost £17 each. Ian must be in receipt of your payment in advance of placing the order. Please send a cheque made out to the NMC to: Ian Birtwistle 17 Stratford Grove, Heaton NE6 5AT

Women’s style T-Shirt – Design A is shown

Note: the address listed for Ian in the handbook is not correct.

Men’s style T-Shirt – Design B is shown NMC County Climber

December 2010

page 16 of 20

Bowderstone hut

the Club would submit its proposal to the EA. This is now in hand.

– update John Mountain, President

1) Sewage Situation You may recall that the dilemma facing the club is that the ‘old’ sewage system that we have lived with for so long, no longer meets current regulations. The National Trust has proposed a scheme which involves installation of a Bio-disc sewage treatment plant. This installation cost has been estimated at over £40,000 and there will be 24/7 running costs plus a responsibility for maintenance and any emergency repairs. The National Trust has reminded us that our existing lease is a full ‘maintenance and repairs’ lease. The Club has taken professional technical advice and has come up with an alternative system, which involves increasing the size of our existing settlement tank, and linking this to a soakaway. The latter would need to be provided in a suitable location. A meeting was held with the National Trust (NT) and ourselves, at the Bowderstone, on the 18th November, to review the Club’s proposal, including the location and sizing of our proposed soakaway. The NT said that they would be happy with our system, provided that the Environment Agency (EA) was satisfied that it would comply with current regulations. The NT also said that Natural England would need to be involved (the site is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and that planning consent would be needed from the appropriate authority. These latter considerations would also apply to the NT system, of course. It is the case that there was disagreement between the consultant fielded by the NT, and our consultant, as to whether the soakaway would be adequate. However, it is for others to agree our proposal, primarily EA who will issue the permit, and the above meeting agreed that NMC County Climber

I take this opportunity to remind Club members that if/when we get the green light to install our proposed system, we will need some serious digging to be done! Alongside the above proposal, the availability and use of ‘dry eco-toilets’ in hostels/bothies has recently been mentioned. This is another avenue which will be explored. 2) Lease Renewal? At a meeting with the National Trust (NT) recently (to discuss the sewage system), the NT indicated that they would like to commence discussions on our lease, which expires in March 2013. The NMC Committee has discussed the lease during the year, usually in the context of on-going issues with the sewage system. We recognise that, whilst there will be a few polarised opinions already among our members, the majority of members will feel, rightly, that there is not enough hard fact to come to a decision on what to do regarding renewal. Accordingly, we are going to open the debate with the National Trust. Bill Renshaw will be leading our negotiations. Whilst we do have at least one legal eagle amongst our NMC members, I am not aware of anyone who is a Solicitor who specialises in property leases. If there is someone out there reading this, who is prepared to step forward and assist Bill in his deliberations with the NT, then please get in touch! The NT has been told that it is unlikely that we would want to renew on the same conditions as the current lease ie a 21year, ‘full repair and maintenance’ lease with no limit on our financial liability. They have indicated that other options would be available. So the first step will be to look at these options, which might include a) a repairing lease with limited liability, and/or b) a lease that places external maintenance with the landlord.

December 2010

page 17 of 20

In order to assess the financial consequences of what is on offer, we are gathering data on what historic spend has been incurred on the external fabric of the hut. We have hut income recorded, but we do need to look at future projections on income.

The NMC Annual General Meeting is to be held on

With a repairing lease, even with limited liability, we also need to bear in mind major work that might arise during the tenure of a new lease. Items that come to mind here are the roof, and the water supply.

Wednesday 19 January 2011 The meetings starts at approx. 20.15, at the Burnside Community College upstairs lecture theatre (ie after the usual Wednesday evening climbing meet.)

I have raised the lease renewal on my existing Web Forum item ‘Storm Clouds over the Bowderstone’. I think it sensible to separate these two issues, and so I will post a new item on the Forum, specific to the lease renewal. Please use this to foster debate within the membership on this important issue.

The meeting will, among other things review the minutes of last year’s AGM, hear the Treasurer’s financial report and elect new officers to the NMC committee. Note: To stand for election to the committee at the AGM you need to get a proposer and seconder and be registered with the president John Mountain:

In addition, you can lobby any Committee member with your opinions! One final thought to ponder: Three Trustees will be needed if we do proceed with a new lease. One of the existing Trustees has said that he will continue in this role, if needed. So a new lease will require two new Trustees… any volunteers? If you wish to understand more about what is entailed, please contact me. Updates will be given, as ever, in ‘County Climber’.

NMC AGM this can be done anytime before the start of the AGM. It would be good to see you there and hear your opinion on the running of YOUR club. Note: A copy of the Agenda for the meeting and a copy of the draft minutes of last year’s meeting are enclosed with this magazine.

Reminder to new committee members… Incoming committee members: The first committee meeting is held, in Gosforth, on Tuesdsay 25 January 2011 ie only 6 days after the AGM.

NMC County Climber

December 2010

page 18 of 20

Naked climber arrested Peter Flegg, Magazine Editor

As they say, ‘now that I have your attention…’ we can discuss the wonderful world of magazine statistics. Costs The total magazine costs, in the club’s last financial year, were £409. That figure is the overall cost of printing and mailing out all the paper copies of four issues of the magazine. The number of printed copies required has again, slowly decreased over the last year: 110 copies required for December 2009 and only 60 copies in September 2010. The related total printer costs have obviously also decreased, but as print runs are lowered the actual price per copy charged by the printer has increased. In December 2009 the total cost of an issue, including postage etc, was £1.25 in September 2010 it had increased to £1.45. There were of course no costs incurred by the club for those members who choose to download their electronic, colour version of the magazine from the club’s website. Downloaders Data supplied in November this year, by Sam Judson (Membership Secretary) shows the following:

as the number of printed copies required has been reduced in the last year by 45%. Readers Just because the club produces a magazine doesn’t mean we all want to read it. In November Ian Birtwistle (Website Manager) supplied magazine download figures: The March 2010 issue was downloaded by 62 members, and the June 2010 issue was downloaded by only 52 members. These actual download figures are at odds with the membership database which shows 95 members wanting the download version. After my efforts to persuade members to write articles for the magazine, I admit concern that possibly not all members are getting to see the magazine. The committee has argued that this should not be a concern, because not everyone wants to or has time to read the magazine and that lower download rates could also reflect the fact that one download copy is being shared by members living at the same address. The 6 members noted above, who request a printed copy of the magazine, have said that they will not read the magazine unless it is delivered as a paper copy. Questions

We had 158 full members and 62 prospective members; only full members are entitled to a copy of the magazine. The membership database shows that 95 of the full members have specified that they will take the electronic download version of the magazine and 6 have requested a paper copy. The remaining 57 members have not yet specified their requirement to the Membership Secretary and, by default, are sent a paper copy.

These figures raise, at least to me, a few questions:

With each issue mailed out I enclose a short personalized letter asking the member to consider switching to the download version of the magazine. The letter has obviously been having an effect,

Q3 Is the magazine still relevant in today’s world of instant communications? (ie web discussion forums, online photo albums, eNews, etc.)

NMC County Climber

Q1 Is the magazine distribution system wrong—ie should we perhaps email the magazine to the members rather than rely on them first registering with the website before downloading the magazine? Q2 Is it important to keep the magazine costs down? Lower magazine costs help keep the membership fee down.

December 2010

page 19 of 20

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)

Fiachaill a’ Choire Chais, NW of Cairngorm summit

NMC County Climber

December 2010

by Gareth Crapper

page 20 of 20

County climber winter 2010  
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