University Invitation Meet

22nd March, 2015

MTN: Aoife's first lead

MTN: Aoife’s first lead

As an experiment we contacted a few university climbing clubs and invited them to send along 2-3 young women to join members for a weekend at Cwm Dyli. The aims were two-fold: to encourage young women in their climbing and (hopefully) to sow a seed for future interest in the club. The response from the young women we contacted was very enthusiastic and the women’s bouldering group at Lancaster actually saw a surge in popularity as a result.

It felt a bit of a risk holding the meet at the end of March, which was the start of the Easter holidays for the students. As it turned out we had superb weather and climbed on both days in perfect conditions. The students were markedly different in their abilities: the Bangor Duo, from climbing families, already confident Extreme leaders; the Lancaster Lasses very much at the beginning of their climbing careers, with only a little outdoor experience.

Gwen nears the crux on Toreador

Gwen nears the crux on Toreador

We teamed students with members and headed off to various parts of Tremadoc on Saturday. Team Bangor clocked up an impressive list at Craig y Castell with Pryderi, Pwyll, Lonely Edge, Gestiana, One Step in the Crowds, and Creagh Dhu Wall Direct. Team Lancaster went to the delightful Upper Tier of Craig Pant Ifan where they climbed Madog, Falling Block Crack, Mistook, MTN (a confident first outdoor lead by one of the students), Central Staircase, Bulging Wall and Quatre Fois Direct.

Swapping partners round for Sunday, the re-formed Team Lancaster headed for the excitement of multi-pitch climbs on Carreg Wastad in the Pass: Ribstone Crack, Skylon, Crackstone Rib and Overhanging Chimney. Team Bangor stayed closer to the hut and did battle with Bovine, Ferdinand and Toreador on Clogwyn y Wennallt.

We came home buzzing and wondering when we could do it again. It was great both to be taken out of our early-season comfort zones by the more experienced pair and to be able to share our experience with the beginners and watch their progress, even over a couple of days.

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Pinnacle President on the One Show

28th February, 2015

Eileen-HealeyIn August 1959, Eileen Healey, then President of the Pinnacle club, was part of the first all-women expedition to an 8000m peak in the Himalaya. Led by French Alpinist Claude Kogan, the party aimed to climb Cho Oyu and as the expedition’s official camerawoman, Eileen also caught this historic moment on film. Although a major step for women’s mountaineering at the time, the expedition did not end well. Four climbers lost their lives on the mountain due to bad weather and avalanche, including the expedition leader Claude, and the party did not reach the summit.

The expedition was recently featured on the One Show, including original footage and interviews with Eileen’s husband and son: watch it here (about 20 minutes in) until March 20.

The film Eileen made was rejected at the time by the BBC, shown to a number of climbing clubs then left languishing for many years in Eileen’s attic. But over thirty years later, it was discovered by one of Eileen’s children, who renovated and digitised it and the film was included as a special feature at the 2009 Kendal Mountain Festival.

Eileen was born in 1920, joined the Pinnacle Club in 1946 and from 1932 to 1958 she kept meticulously detailed climbing diaries. Following her death in 2010, her husband Tim has been digitising these diaries and they will be eventually be accessible online.

An excerpt from Eileen’s diaries, covering a Pinnacle Club meet over the Easter holidays in 1957, was reprinted in the latest volume of the Pinnacle Club journal, available now on Ebay.

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Sunshine, storms and ghosts

11th July, 2014

Joint Pinnacle Club/Climbers Club meet in Cornwall

It’s a rare meet when it’s too hot to climb but we suffered good weather this year and so around 60 climbs were ascended; the classics at Bosigran were well patronised, along with forays to Chair Ladder, Sennen, Pordenack Point, Gurnard’s Head, Zennor cliff, Carn Gloose, the Lizard cliffs, Carn Kenidjack and others.Stepup

Rosebud in June and Royal Forester at Zennor had the most ascents.

The most adrenalin pumping route (I am told) was Astral Stroll, with ascents by two teams, one of them after an early morning warm up on Bow Wall, the other accompanied by threatening thunder and lightening (but fortunately no rain). The grittiest effort prize was hard fought with lot of people testing their limits of mental and physical determination on climbs as varied as Demo Route, Bow Wall, Commando Ridge (that well positioned first pitch), and Little Brown Jug. The meet coordinator herself just sauntered around, mainly on the back end of a rope, due to a foot op eight weeks earlier, grateful to brave leaders and the occasional anti-gravity top up.

Climbing1Other highlights were the sociability; you can do 10 hour climbing days in Cornwall by hitting the tides right, or swapping crags to non-tidal cliffs, but this meet included; Tosca at the Minack, (not as storm tossed as the previous La Boheme) with a linear picnic and alcohol in the interlude; a discussion about the state of the cliffs following the winter storms and the impact on grades (Terriers Tooth slab has peeled away on the first pitch); the Lafrowda festival at St Just; the mines at Geevor and Levant; a sunny barbecue on the Thursday; homemade scones with jam and cream on a couple of nights; and communal lightning watching on Wednesday.

The cast mixed and matched on the climbs with alacrity, and there were some 30 combinations over the week which added to the fun and conversations. Finally the ghost may even have joined us and opened a window and a couple of bolts one day after the hut had been left secure; it probably knew the hut warden was coming, and the mystery was not solved . . . .

Group photo

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Lost and found: 10 days in Morocco

13th March, 2014

by GView from the hotelrannite

3rd March: A long day, flying to Agadir then driving to the Ameln Valley (passing goats, camels, and various other wildlife) to our destination for three nights: the Hotel Tete du Lion. Those with a very good imagination will see why it has that name when looking at the mountain opposite.

4th March: We found our way, following many half-formed paths and over many boulders, to the Tizgut Gorge on the south side of the Anti-Atlas mountains. Lots of very amenable two-pitch routes. Here, we met a group of Belgians: unusual, because we met few other climbers on the rocks throughout our stay, and most were British.

Ride the Wild Wind 5th March: To Anergui (an adventure in single-track driving just to reach the village), intending to climb a 7-pitch route, “Ride the Wild Wind” (VS, 4c). Even though the route description described it as “adventurous” and warned of the risk of being benighted, the line looked clear on the topo. But we got there and it was far from clear. Undaunted, we chose a line and set off. 45 metres up the crag, it was all feeling implausible: harder than 4c, and taking too long (at this rate, it would be dark before we reached the top, never mind the bottom again). Time to bail. Instead, we went for a walk and a scramble. Somewhere, my glasses fell out of my daysack; by the time I discovered they’d gone, we’d covered so much ground, in such a non-directed way, that there was little point in trying to retrace steps to find them. I never did like those glasses anyway!

6th March: Heading off to the Kasbah Tizourgane, we stopped at the Tarakatine Gorge. The rocks here are reminiscent of Burbage North: 8-10 metres high, broken up with horizontal and vertical cracks. The views and the weather were amazing. But these rocks were such a contrast from Anergui! The Kasbah is beautiful, though many little things don’t work quite as expected (or at all).

7th March: To Dragon Buttress in the Samazar (or Tamza) Valley. 9km along a dirt track took over 40 minutes to drive: going over rocks and through hollows, it felt as if the decision was whether to risk the tyres or the sump. Climbing Dragon Ridge wasn’t technically demanding, but it was a pleasant day out, and a chance to get used to the looseness of some of the rock without worrying about the route finding. The descent (which includes more unexpected ascent, as well as lots of bush-whacking) was more exciting than the guide book suggested.

GlassesBack at the Kasbah, we were asked whether we had left anything at the Tete du Lion; not as far as we were aware, so we phoned to check. The Belgians had found some glasses on a path near Anergui; maybe they belonged to one of us? Wow! Who would have expected that? I’m so glad I’d put that ridiculous orange sticker on the case.

8th March onwards: the weather turned colder: apparently more ‘normal’ for this time of year. So we never did get to climb Pink Lady (which is north facing). But we visited more excellent crags, ate lots of tagine and Laughing Cow, and vowed to come back again another time.

la vache qui rit

Tagine at the Kasbah

Tizugt Gorge







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