Women’s climbing history for all to see

15th November, 2016

journal-coverThe Pinnacle Club library has been steadily built up since the foundation of the club in 1921 and the historic collection is now available at Bangor University Library to researchers and anyone else with an interest in the history of climbing.  The collection includes memoirs, instruction manuals, journals and even novels relating to mountaineering and rock climbing in the UK, the Alps and the Himalayas, spanning the breadth of the 20th century.

As a reflection of the climbing interests and focus  of the Pinnacle Club over the last century the collection provides a fascinating glimpse into the history and development of climbing and mountaineering during the 20th century.  The Pinnacle Club journals in particular, with their detailed descriptions of meets and the routes undertaken, offer a unique insight into how the club was pushing the boundaries in women’s climbing during this period.

tents-in-clouds-coverThe Pinnacle Club library is housed alongside the Climbers Club library at the Normal Site Library in Bangor and together the collections form an extensive and wide ranging history of climbing and mountaineering. Visitors are welcome in person (details https://www.bangor.ac.uk/library/) and the collections are catalogued on-line at http://tinyurl.com/hj8lvk7


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The best week of 2016?

27th June, 2016

We’re feeling rather proud of ourselves in the Pinnacle Club this month, for pulling off what has to be one of the best climbing events this year.

We didn’t do it alone of course – it was the combined effort of 80 women climbers, who came to North Wales from 24 different countries, determined to share some good climbing and some laughs.

We had plenty of both. Rain being no deterrent, women were out climbing every day, overseas climbers paired with UK hosts, partnerships changing through the week, friendships made at every turn. (Read a conventional report of the meet on UKC here.)

It was inspiring, exhilarating, heart-warming and exhausting (for those organising it at least!) in equal measure.

We’re proud and not a little dazed to have managed it – essentially pulling the event together in around six months from when the BMC confirmed they’d help to fund it.

It was our current president, Hilary Lawrenson, who set it all in train, determined as she was for the meet to happen during her presidency. She was ably assisted by Alison Cairns, well known within the Club for her organisational ability and eye for detail. But they were not alone – many others helped in both the run up to the week and during the week itself – to help it all run more or less smoothly.

But it was the women who came to take part, from the UK and overseas, who were the real stars. Their psyche, enthusiasm and smiles despite the rain and midges ensured the meet was a huge success.

Will we do it again? I hope so – but we’ll maybe have a little rest first …

As you’ll find lots of climbing photos from the meet on Facebook, UKC and Twitter (@WICM2016) – here in contrast are some portraits of just a few of the women who made the meet what it was.

Photos by: http://www.facebook.com/jessieleongphotographyuk Instagram/ Twitter: JessieLPhoto



Fani Kousipetkou (Greece) and Julie Mair (UK) – photo Jessie Leong



Photos by: http://www.facebook.com/jessieleongphotographyuk Instagram/ Twitter: JessieLPhoto


Franzi Wiele from Germany – photo by Jessie Leong




Photos by: http://www.facebook.com/jessieleongphotographyuk Instagram/ Twitter: JessieLPhoto



Alena Cepelkova (Czech Republic) and Cathy Woodhead (UK) – photo Jessie Leong


Photos by: http://www.facebook.com/jessieleongphotographyuk Instagram/ Twitter: JessieLPhoto


Gilly McArthur from DMM, during one of the tours she gave us of their factory. Gilly not only ran the tours, provided gear for people to borrow, but also came and joined in the meet as well – photo Jessie Leong.

Photos by: http://www.facebook.com/jessieleongphotographyuk Instagram/ Twitter: JessieLPhoto


Emma Biczyk (UK) and Ilona Antonoviciute (Lithuania) – photo Jessie Leong.



Photos by: http://www.facebook.com/jessieleongphotographyuk Instagram/ Twitter: JessieLPhoto


Pippa Archer (UK) – photo Jessie Leong




Photos by: http://www.facebook.com/jessieleongphotographyuk Instagram/ Twitter: JessieLPhoto



Gilly McArthur (UK), Ishani Sawant (India), Hilary Lawrenson (UK), Mishtu Tiwary (UK) and Vedrana Simicevic (Croatia) – photo Jessie Leong.


Photos by: http://www.facebook.com/jessieleongphotographyuk Instagram/ Twitter: JessieLPhoto


Hazel Jones (UK)





And finally – one of all of us who were there on the first day, as many as we could fit in the shot! Some had to leave before the end of the week, and by the final weekend, we were just too many to get into one photo!

Photos by: http://www.facebook.com/jessieleongphotographyuk Instagram/ Twitter: JessieLPhoto

For more photos by Jessie, see her Facebook and Instagram or @JessieLPhoto on Twitter.

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Women’s International Climbing Meets – 1984-2016

20th February, 2016

The BMC and the Pinnacle Club are joining forces this year to run a Women’s International Climbing Meet in North Wales, celebrating women’s trad climbing and hopefully inspiring more women to get involved and push themselves in the sport.

1984 Meet at Cwm DyliIt’s not the first time an event like this has happened – 32 years ago, in 1984, the Pinnacle Club ran a ‘climbing meet with an international flavour’ that saw some of the best and most enthusiastic women climbers of the day come to test themselves on North Wales trad.

Jill Lawrence, Angela Soper and Gill Price from the UK (all three Pinnacle Club members); Catherine Destivelle and Christine Jambert from France; Rosie Andrews from the USA; along with climbers from Switzerland, Ireland and Belgium. The meet included the full spectrum – beginners to extreme leaders, rock climbers and mountaineers.

May 29 was the highlight – as Angela, then Vice-President of the Pinnacle Club, wrote at the time:

The place: Dinas Cromlech. All stances and ledges occupied. Leaders on Left Wall, Resurrection, Cenotaph Corner and Right Wall. All women, with women waiting to climb. Madeleine had settled for a damp Corner and Christine for a dry Resurrection. Janet queued for Left Wall while Alison moved round to The Thing. Jill and Rosie, who have climbed together extensively since the last Women’s International, tossed a coin about Right Wall. Jill won and chose to go for it.

How did it feel to be the first woman to lead Right Wall and break into the E5 grade? Was Jill aware of Christine cruising up Resurrection, of Judy seconding it beautifully, of Catherine leading the next rope? Did she envy the climbers on the warm left wall and feel for Janet on her first E3? Was she bothered by the photographers, the abseilers, the jokers on the ledge? Could she feel good vibrations from everybody willing it to go well?

Jill could tell us now. As the sun warmed the Right Wall, she won the battle Catherine Destivelle on Right Wallin her head, committed herself to the unprotected moves of the first crux and made them safely. A rest, the second crux, and twenty voices shouting ‘Well done, Jill’. Rosie then led Right Wall confidently while we others dispersed to Grond, Curfew and Crucifix. Next day both French girls led Right Wall (Catherine Destivelle pictured right) Would these ascents have been made but for the meet? Probably not yet. In Rosie’s words ‘If it hadn’t been for the others wanting to do it, I’d have waited till I was ready’.

On a meet we encourage each other, in words and by example, and this is how psychological barriers get broken. Jill on Right Wall, Janet on Left Wall, Sheila on Meshach, each pushing into a new grade, could all sense the communal spirit of ‘go for it’. We understand that everyone gets the same reward from climbing, whatever her personal limit. If climbs were graded by women, many would be in a different category, and it helps a lot to discuss a route with a woman who has already done it.

Women climb with imaginative footwork, balance, exact positioning of the body. They become stronger from climbing, but depend mainly on technique. During this meet well over a hundred Extreme leads were made, at least thirty E3 or harder, on all types of rock, and there were very few falls or lapses from good style. But the meet was not entirely about hard routes. Many less experienced climbers enjoyed the classics and had their first taste of more challenging climbs.

Who knows if new barriers will be broken on the 2016 Women’s International Climbing Meet – but we can be sure that the sense of community, encouragement, challenge and reward will be there in spades.

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Honours for Gwen Moffat and Angela Soper

19th December, 2015

Gwen Moffat. Photo: Jen Randall

Angela Soper at Leeds Wall

Congratulations to club members, Gwen Moffat and Angela Soper, who are the first women to be made honorary members of the BMC. They joined the Pinnacle Club in 1949 and 1967 respectively and were both made honorary members in recognition of their contribution to the Club and for inspiring women climbers for many years. Alongside a fruitful mountain writing career, in 1956 Gwen became the first female British mountain guide and in 1961 wrote her renowned climbing autobiography Space Below My Feet. It has been great to follow the recent successes of the “Operation Moffat” film. Angela was Pinnacle President between 1981-83 and organised the successful Women’s International Meet in 1984, which saw Jill Lawrence become the first British woman to climb E5 with her ascent of Right Wall – a route which Angela also led some years later. Angela is still a regular on meets – last seen a week ago making light work of the steepest overhanging section of Leeds Wall.


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