Steve Pardoe's uk.rec.climbing Trip Report Archive Pages

John Haslam's Reports

Edition of 3/05/2011

Index to John's reports...
John H, Slate, April 2011
John H, Idwal, Jan 2010
John H, Snowdonia, Feb 2009
John H, Moel Siabod (scrambling), January 2009
John H, Stanage High Neb, April 2007
John H, Moelwyns, August 2006
John H, Pic d'Aneto, Spanish Pyrenees, May 2006
John H, Costa Blanca, Spain, February 2006
Trowbarrow, August 2005 John H, Llanberis Pass June 2005
John H, Frodsham May 2005
John H, Costa Blanca, Spain (with Stefan Beyer) March 2005
John H, Old Man of Hoy (Orkney) June 2004

----- Original Message -----
From: "john.haslam63"
Sent: Tuesday, April 26, 2011 11:11 AM
Subject: [] URC-Slate

Dear All,
Under the expert guidance of Goi, Marek and I had a great day exploring Australian Quarry, helped on by an excellent weather day. Goi introduced us to the delights of slate at The Sidings where we enjoyed about 6 routes from F4 to F5+.
In return we enjoyed holding Goi's rope on 4 routes ranging from E4 6a (UK) to F7a.
For a pictorial tour of what we did perhaps with some route names too, look out for Marek's invite to view his 'usual place'.
As ever we finished with an excellent Marston's brew at an A55 pub. A grand day out.
Looking forward to the pics Marek. [Editor's note - Marek's web page of pictures is here]

We did wonder if we could claim the first URC Slate meet but rumour has it that Goi and Dr M had made an earlier visit, though this may not have been posted as a URC Meet?
We then reflected on why we hadn't seen Dr M for a while and someone suggested that his pink shirt had finally met its demise and so without this talisman, its absence was preventing him from climbing?

[Editor's Note - Goi later added routes and grades as follows:]

Thomas The Tank / Sev,4a / Fr4 / Australia Quarry
Derailed / HS,4a / Fr4 / Australia Quarry
N Gauge / E1,5b / Fr5+ / Australia Quarry
Side Line / VS,4c / Fr4+ / Australia Quarry
Here Today Gone Tomorrow / E4,6a / Fr6c+ / Australia Quarry
Ancestral Vices / E4,6b / Australia Quarry
Sodor / E1,5b / Fr5+ / Australia Quarry
The Mallard / E1,5b / Fr5+ / Australia Quarry
Rack And Pin / HVS,5b / Fr5+ / Australia Quarry
Gymnastic Fantastic / E4,6a / Fr6c+ / Australia Quarry

----- Original Message -----
From: "john.haslam63"
Sent: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 7:59 PM
Subject: Re: [] Idwal

Hi All,
Just back from a day in Cwm Idwal.
We set off to do Central Route but the wind was gale force and my mate Ian started to shuffle his feet and so I suggested Introductory Gully, a nice sheltered grade II ice route right of the Slabs.
It was fun. Not challenging like what Dunc's do was, just nice easy angled ice. The descent was somewhat different!
Soft snow meaning we had a energy sapping ascent to get to the descent gulley. We did however have an exciting bum slide down the gulley back to our sacks.
We were early (probably 2nd party of the day) but as we did the route many teams passed us and by the time we were down we could see some of the routes being attempted. The ice is still good. Our problem was the wind. It blew us off balance on numerous occasions. It looked though as some teams were hardier than us and endured. We decided we would rather enjoy than endure and so left it at one route and went for a bacon bap at the Pinnacle in Capel Curig (my local, well almost).
Thursday is a much better forecast, though with the expected snow tomorrow the 'swim' in will be tough. Temperatures in the cwm were still very low, though there were signs of the snow warming. An early start will solve that Marek and perhaps show us some snow in reasonable nick (one can dream)
Are you up for it?

Click here for John's Snowdonia pictures

----- Original Message -----
From: "john.haslam63"
To: "URC Rockchat"
Sent: Friday, February 06, 2009 12:19 PM
Subject: [] Snowdonia-Wed 4th Feb 2009

Click here for John's Snowdonia pictures

The snow had fallen, the weather was cold (but not cold enough it was discovered) and plans were set for a morning dash to the Ogwen Valley. Marek, Ian & John were packed and ready, then at 0545 John received a text from Marek. "Hip gone, so won't be able to come, sorry". Bet he was; a planned escape from work thwarted.

John & Ian arrived Ogwen about 08.30 a.m. and decided that Idwal Stream (suggested by Marek) would not have enough ice. Cwm Bochlwyd was therefore chosen with an eye on a gully on Glyder Fach.

The snow was very powdery, to be expected (not much of it though), but surely there was some old snow we could find. There was plenty on the Carneddau last week! We walked leisurely up to Llyn Bochlwyd and round to the cliffs of Glyder Fach. The snow was still powdery but there looked to be a reasonable deposit on the cliff, may be some ice up there too & frozen turf!

Looking for a line, we set off to follow roughly, the line of Main Gully. To the left of Alphabet Slab was what we found to be the only good patch of neve around. This was covered in 6" of powder but was enjoyable. The traverse across to Main Gully looked uninviting but a line above looked to hold some snow and turf. Off went John, trailing a rope behind. After 25m and three 'interesting' moves. He decided that rather than doing a relaxing route it was becoming a proper climb. This was Ian's first proper winter outing and so after torquing up a step with none of the hoped for solid snow or frozen turf, it was decided to put in some tat and get down. Pity really, the weather was superb! Just insufficient ice or solid turf to make a go of it.

Off down to the little Llyn which seemed to take for ever on lose wobbly scree and boulders. We did contemplate going up onto the plateau but a Bacon & Egg Balm in the Pinnacle Cafe seemed better, (I'm sure Dunc would have voted for that) so off we went; well exercised, but lighter in gear and unfulfilled.

I'm sure Marek would have found a better line!

----- Original Message ----- From: "john.haslam63"
Sent: Tuesday, January 13, 2009 9:29 PM
Subject: Re: []

Andy side stepped my invitation to him to write a TR for our Moel Siabod trip, being wet after our walk I guess he was a bit slippery!

Andy and I arrived later than planned on Monday morning at the carpark by Pont Cyfyng on the outskirts of Capel Curig owing to Andy having difficulty with his new Paramo Trousers (see later). The Afon Llugwy was spectacular, Pont Cyfyng being the best place to view its waters. Low cloud showed us that we were going to get wet (as well as the forecast too).

Andy sported his new top and trousers and cut a dashing figure. Our route was up the East Ridge and down the North East ridge, though forecast high winds did give some cause for concern. However, in the event the wind was only John's problem (an age thing I guess) The scrambling was enjoyable and the rock not too slippery. We experienced only light showers but were in cloud for most of the trip. Progress was slow due to a combination of Andy nursing his weak knee (the purpose of our trip being for him to test it out in readiness for a forthcoming Lake District trip) and his new trousers popping open at the waist and becoming in danger of tripping him up!

He did claim to have tried the trousers on when he bought them several months ago but I guess Christmas indulgences had enlarged his waist! As the day improved we descended the North East Ridge and retired for some retail therapy and a pint of the Royal Oak's best (Rev James & Speckled Hen) beers.

Photographs to follow when Andy has dried out; from the beer that is, the clothing worked well apart from falling off!!!


Click here for John's Snowdonia pictures

----- Original Message -----
From: "john.haslam63"
Sent: Tuesday, April 10, 2007 9:32 AM
Subject: Stanage-High Neb-9th Apr

We were surprised that no one wanted to join us yesterday on our trip to the High Neb Area of Stanage, then as we drove out of Runcorn into the mist and drizzle we started to understand the reason why. It was a bleak, misty moor that greeted us, with a hint of damp in the biting breeze - there were certainly no crowds, though there were a few brave souls.

John M. set off up Straight Crack. He opted to belay from the bottom due to the biting wind on the top, both of us having come without gloves! (I even had my shorts!!! silly me) John H (me) set off and proceeded to struggle and pull on the rope at the jambing section towards the top. I still have much to learn on this technique.

I wanted to lead High Neb Buttress and so John M. selected a slabby route that might return my confidence after the abysmal start. I therefore led Tango Buttress, no jambing, much better. Having repaired my confidence I set off on High Neb Buttress, quickly, before the threatening clouds engulfed us. John M confidently cruised up after me.

So it was John M's turn. Having considered a couple of 'interesting' routes, he settled for Sogines (not shown in the Rockfax Guide but I think that was the one). Having set his mind to the task I pointed out the rain and drizzle coming in. The route was in a corner sheltered slightly from the now chilling wind. We considered our options and joined the few other groups around and packed up and went to the pub. The Barnsley Bitter was good, which we drank as the rain fell. Some might say we should have been more stoic, perhaps, but we did get out there!

Where is all this sun, that's what I want to know... down south I guess!
No pics I'm afraid.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Johnh"
Newsgroups: uk.rec.climbing
Sent: Sunday, August 13, 2006 11:32 PM
Subject: The Moelwyns

Nick wanted to go and climb some multi-pitch stuff in N.Wales. I didn't want to spend my time queuing. So we decided to visit the Moelwyns.

I emails the usual N.W. URC posse to declare our intensions but received only a couple of 'have a good time, I'd like to come but......' Well we did; have a good time that is. Must have been your good wishes! Then late on we had a 'nothing better turned up, so think I'll join you' from JohnM.

We welcomed him aboard. Arnaud's loss was our gain. The trip had been planned to be a Friday evening to Sunday evening do but young Nick soon whittled that down to early Sat. to late Sat. Saturday 12th August.

Off we went on Saturday morning, JohnM. suggesting we take the Clwyd Limestone Guidebook as backup as he had spied from the Met-Office Radar site that it was raining in Blaenau. Well we didn't need it. The Web info. was right though. We learned this from two locals who were leaving the carpark as we arrived. They were setting off to go fishing for brown trout up in the mountains and had delayed their departure until the rain had stopped. We were surprised by the number of teams around. No queuing though, so that was OK.

We went to Clogwyn Yr Oen and opened with Kirkus Climb Direct,a severe on which JohnM and I swung the lead. JohnM. taking the best pitches. Did he have prior knowledge I wondered?

This route enjoyed, it was Nick's turn to try out leading his first multi-pitch route; the purpose of the trip. He selected Slick, which turned out to be an excellent V.Diff. route, which he climbed in great style, making his day. I partnered Nick as JohnM. explored the cliff, kept a watchful eye on Nick and soloing the parallel route of Bent (with what looked like a challenging top two pitches).

Next it was time for JohnM. to make a selection.

He made an excellent choice of the first pitch of Pinky (which I had declared an earlier interest in), followed by either Plasma or Ectoplasm on the head wall above. (think these names are right, I have no guidebook to confirm them)

I set off on Pinky which proved to be a very pleasant V.S. 4b 120ft (in old money) pitch.

Nick's turn to sit it out and do some bouldering and take some pics. JohnM quickly followed and then set off to find the start of the H.V.S. routes he had suggested. We agreed on the 5b of Ectoplasm, it being a straight line with no route finding problems and a straight pull for me if needed!

In the event the route proved an excellent choice. A bit thuggy to start and one tricky section after the 'spike'. JohnM delivered his usual sound performance and I managed to avoid the embarrassment of requiring a tight rope.

It was an excellent day. The rain threatened a couple of times but held off and we all got something out of the day.

It would be good to say the usual, pictures are on www..... but I don't have that facility and in any case the batteries on my camera ran out, Nick forgot to put the S.D. card into his camera and I've yet to see if JohnM. managed any shots.

Thanks for a great day out and my thanks to JohnM. for getting me up an excellent H.V.S., steep but with really good holds.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Johnh"
Newsgroups: uk.rec.climbing
Sent: Monday, May 08, 2006 2:45 PM
Subject: Pyrenees

My first trip to the Pyrenees

Does anyone fancy doing the north face of Monte Perdido, Stefan emailed the NW of England URC posse?

Always up for a trip, yes I emailed back, count me in.

Quickly followed by a search on Google to see where it is.

The third highest peak in the Pyrenees the route is given an alpine AD grade.

As the agreed date for the trip got closer we confirmed arrangements. I would fly Easyjet to Barcelona and Stefan would drive up from Valencia to pick me up and we would drive north to the Odessa region of the Spanish Pyrenees. Flights were booked for a quick weekend dash. Friday out, Monday back and the climb in the middle.

With two weeks to go there was a quick change of plan, Stefan had not managed to get out with a pair of crampons on and done little climbing since a short trip in February. How about Pic d'Aneto, by the Estasen Couloir? It was on his list of routes to do and was a modest PD with the possibility of a corniced exit on the highest peak in the Pyrenees. Fine I said, I've booked the flights, so don't want to waste the money.

Now anyone who has read any of Stefans T.R.'s will know that he has a reputation for epics. It was with some concern then that the day before my flight I learned by an email subjected 'Disaster' that his car had broken down and we were carless.

Quickly we agreed that a hire car should be arranged. Stefan did his stuff and on Friday morning I boarded a flight to Barcelona whilst Stefan kicked his heels for an hour waiting for the hire car to be sorted out. I had a longer than planned wait at the airport but Stefan did arrive and we did meet up.

The three hour drive to our overnight Refuge accommodation went well. However, upon arrival, disaster, the place was locked up. We phoned the phone numbers displayed; number not in use and no answer from the next one. So after trying two other locations we did get fixed up in 'The Mad Bird', Pajaro Loco was its name. We were back on track again and following a good meal and a good night's sleep we drove to find our approach track up the mountain. It was a bit rough and we decided to stop rather than try to cross a ford. Inspection of the map revealed an alternative track up the mountain which turned out to be the correct one. So off we went to find it. Its location was no problem but enquiry indicated that the track was open from the snow up to half way, ten days ago. Should we risk it? Caution made us choose the safe option, which unfortunately meant a five mile walk. The walk, with full rucksacks packed with climbing and bivvy gear was made all the worse by the many cars that passed us as we plodded on. We eventually made the 'Car Park' at the end of the track with only another three miles and 1500m of ascent to do!

Our plan had been to walk to the bivvy site on the glacier below the south face of Aneto, drop off some gear and do a subsidiary peak to acclimatise. The long walk in put pay to that idea. Could this be the start of the epic niggling the back of my mind? I checked I had my torch and spare batteries! We opted for the lazy, relaxed setting up of the bivvy, and an early meal. Having plenty of time on our hands we studied the route or as much as we could see rfom our position. The couloir was obscured. The snow slope we needed to ascend to get into our gully had three avalanche scars clearly visible. Mmmm another chance of an epic! Well we could only be cautious on the day and check it out when we got there.

Up at 5 a.m. and off by 5.30 a.m. we were about an hour behind a team of two on our route. Perhaps any impending avalanche would be triggered by them. Not a very Christian thought! The first team was up the snow field and into the gully proper as we started up the steepening snowfield. It was softer than hoped for and making that worrying squeaky noise! I guess there was about a six inch layer of newer but not recent snow that had not fully bonded to the lower snow mass. Mmmm, the other team was up OK. Let's see how it goes. Feeling the altitude I lagged behind Stefan, or was it that I wanted to see what happened to the snow pack? As we entered the gully we noted two things. Firstly, there seemed to be little or no cornice. Secondly, there was a mass of people behind us, quickly catching up! On we went placing our feet in the boot deep foot prints of previous climbers. The gully was about grade 1 Scottish with a bit of ice near the top as it steepened and then snow again for what could have been but wasn't the cornice. We exited onto a brilliant knife edge snow ridge, turned left and followed it after about 10m to a mixed ridge. Up this we went to the summit. We had it to ourselves. The first team had gone and we had 10mins or so before the next people were to join us. Summit photos were taken and then as the first of the next team arrived we were off down the normal route which to me was the best bit of the mountain; a narrow mixed ridge with a couple of tricky slots to cross. We had done well to be there before those ascending the normal route were tackling it. That would have been a right fight to pass each other. Well done Stefan with the timings.

As we descended we were met by two guys skinning up from the north side glacier intending to ski down from the top. Then further down, tucked in a rymma was a tent pegged out using skis. Skiing this area was confirmed as a popular past time as we saw other skiers skinning up the glacier.

We passed easily over the col of the normal route heading for our bivvy site on the Spanish side. I broke the monotony of the descent down the glacier with some glissading, landing back at the bivvy site ahead of Stefan and so enjoying an extra rest in the sun. Stefan arrived; we enjoyed our rest in the sun, had some food, packed and set off for our long walk down. We were very happy with our efforts with epics avoided, though we both found it hard going (a bit depressing as the full cars passed us on the track down) and agreed that we would have been struggling on Monte Perdido.

It remained to find somewhere to stay for the night before our journey south. This we soon did and enjoyed an on suite room with breakfast and an evening meal for 33Euro each.

It was an excellent weekend trip for my first visit to the Pyrenees only marred by my carelessness of loosing my credit and debit cards in Barcelona airport! Doh!

Thanks for a great trip Stefan. See you in three weeks!

Pics on

----- Original Message -----
From: "Johnh"
Newsgroups: uk.rec.climbing
Sent: Wednesday, February 22, 2006 1:12 AM
Subject: TR - 4 Days in Calpe

4 Days on the Costa Blanca - Feb 2006

Meeting up with an old friend who had not climbed for 12 months or longer meant a considered approach to our programme.

Day 1 saw us climbing up on the friendly Toix far Oeste, climbing 4 introductory single pitch sports routes. Full of confidence from our success on these 4 & 5 graded routes we decided to try a multi pitch route on Toix Oeste. remembering Stefan Beyer's (see earlier TR's - ) epic rescue off this multi pitch cliff, we were cautious to avoid a similar experience. We chose Espolon Gris(4+) but were thwarted by a large group of schoolies from Britain, queuing for it. So we moved on to Toix Oeste - right to do Renov (5). John led off thinking he would also lead the next pitch but Ted was feeling so good that he led through with no problem. Abseiling off, may have left time for a further route but we thought of Stefan and opted for the supermarket in Calpe where we purchased supplies for the rest of the stay.

Day 2 - With the weather looking good we went for our plan of Via Valencianos (5+) on Penon de Ifach. Not another TR on that, some might say, but with such an imposing lump of rock, John (who had climbed there before) couldn't keep Ted from enjoying the experience. An excellent route. It was a bit busy with 2 ropes of Liverpool sixth formers in front of us (doing NVQ & A level sports) (nice if you can get it) and a rope from 'Sun & Rock behind. The latter team had hoped to climb on the North Face but with the access path under maintenance, they were prevented access. The crux pitch is still slippy!!! The slab is great - thin in places but good though perhaps polished at its start. The ridge is a fantastic stance with the 6th pitch an excellent capped groove with a pull out left on good holds - really airy. After that - scramble to the top & enjoy the view - that's what we did, followed by a drink in a bar at the bottom - tradition I think (that is unless you're an NVQ/A level 6th former).

Day 3 - We were delighted to be joined by our UKRec man in Spain, Stefan Beyer (soon to become a father), who drove down to Calpe from Valencia to join us. He sends his greetings. We opted for the gorge 'Barranco Del Inferno'. Again, John had done it but neither Ted nor Stefan had and both were keen to do some above ground caving. Magnificent rock architecture, well equipped abseils and a dry spell meant we all enjoyed the trip down the gorge. We had it to ourselves until a Spanish school trip joined us at the bottom. They had walked in from below. The route out is amazing, with the stepped mule track leading up the mountain at a wonderful steady gradient. Another plan had come together.

Day 4 - Unfortunately, day 4 plan was a bit under threat. Firstly, Stefan couldn't stay and be our guide. He had unplanned work to get done, so had to make a premature departure. The weather had changed. Overcast, cloudy and high winds put our plan for the Bernia Ridge in doubt. We decided to go and have a look. As we parked the car, there were spots of rain and the wind in the trees made noises like a Scottish pine forest! Fortunately, the rain was slight and our commitment to continue was rewarded with improving weather, though the wind remained strong and approaching gale force on the ridge. The Bernia Ridge is an excellent full day mountain expedition. Though well marked, the route is a trip of discovery involving numerous twists and turns to make use of hidden exposed traverses, easy scrambles and well equipped abseils. We did it in high winds (not the most sensible of conditions) which made the crux pitch 'interesting' but not unsafe due to the closely placed bolts. There are nine bolts in a short section of what the guide book says is 4+ climbing. We did it in lightweight walking boots and found the friction good. If preferred, doing it as A0 is perhaps acceptable on a mountain scramble route. We found it a long day.We did make a mistake at the approach and lost an hour, which is remarkable for a 35 minute approach! It took us 9 hrs car to car.(including the 1 hr going astray, 30 mins lunch+ 15 mins second lunch). We used the rope only for abseils and the crux pitch, so we did keep moving along. Unfortunately, a 60m rope did make the abseils a long job uncoiling and recoiling, but that's all we had with us. The short rope went back to Valencia with Stefan! We found the walk up from the 'teeth' to the final summit quite a grind and were glad to reach the top. Younger legs may make easier work of it. We descended WSW down to the old fort and then round the mountain clockwise back to the car, which we were glad to find. It is a fantastic ridge and a must if you enjoy mountaineering for a change to sports routes.

We like it when a plan comes together!


[Actually circular e-mail rather than to u.r.c]
----- Original Message -----
From: "john.haslam63"
Sent: Monday, August 29, 2005 7:07 PM
Subject: Re: Monday 29th Aug.

Well, what a glorious day. A brilliant call by John M. saw us speeding (sticking to the speed limit obviously....) up to Carnforth, leaving the rain of Cheshire and finding the sun and clear blue skies of yes, unbelievably, Lancashire.

A quick look at Warton Quarry (JohnM. wanted to explore it) and seeing the telescopes and binoculars of the birders, we decided to move on to Trowbarrow. We were spurred on to this when Dunc phoned us and asked what the weather was like, him looking at the rain that we had left behind. See you at Trowbarrow he said and rang off!! Ok, think we'd better go to Trowbarrow. That'll mean I'll have to do an E2 and I was planning on E1's today said John M.

Off to Trowbarrow and straight to the sunny corner that holds the Main Face with Cracked Actor. After a brief bite to eat John M. was off. A competent and steady lead saw John M. at the top leaving John H. to follow. With many rests (tiring getting out this protection, that was the excuse) He, me, I eventually made it to the top. A brilliant route and an excellent lead. As I was resting on the crux, Dunc and party arrived, on their 10 E points for the day quest. How did you do Dunc?

Following another bite to eat, a quick chat with Dunc, as he tip toed up a 2 pointer, we were off to try Jean Jeanie. A bit more my grade, at VS 4c it's a fantastic line and route. I made a bit of a meal of it, running out of large protection as I neared the top, resulting in anyone looking believing I was well in control when in actual fact I was praying for a rock 9 size crack instead of the friend 4/5 size crack I was jambing. I eventually got to the top and John M. efficiently followed, enjoying the excellent rock and positions the route required.

Following a quick chat with Dunc and his mate (who's name I forget, sorry....) we were off down the M6 to deliver John M. home in time to cook some BBQ food for his and Claires guests.

What an excellent call John. A brilliant day with unexpected (by me anyway) sun and excellent routes on perfect limestone.

I'd definitely go there again.

[Actually circular e-mail rather than to u.r.c]
----- Original Message -----
From: "john.haslam63"
Sent: Friday, June 24, 2005 10:58 AM
Subject: Re: Change of plan: Wed the 22nd

Ant and I had an excellent day.

Arriving at 'The Pass' at 09.30 we dawdled up to Cyrn Las and got on the rock in the blazing sun at 11.00. Ant set off up the first pitch of Main Wall having recounted that many years ago he had tried to do the route and strayed onto Lubyanka (and did that instead!!). At E3 I was hoping we didn't do that! Up to the pulpit he went for one of his usual rants. Pitch two for me with its dribbles of water and water filled pockets. The sun had by then left the face and put it in shadow, leaving us to feel the chill of the mountain air, Brrr. Up the chimney and along the traverse. I found the piton except it was too far along the traverse, which left Ant the task of going half way back before getting back on route for pitch 3.

Pitch 4 was sensational. with wonderful exposure on brilliant holds which left Ant to savour the delights of 'The Slab'. It was magic and out into the sun again. It was all over then bar the shouting, and the long decent on knackered knees!

An excellent day. We slowly hobbled down to the car and off to the Vaynol Arms for a pint. Brilliant. We recommend the Unicorn.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Johnh"
Newsgroups: uk.rec.climbing
Sent: Saturday, May 28, 2005 7:11 PM
Subject: A Splendid Afternoon

Having no one interested in a half day climbing and as a friend of mine (Arnaud) would say, " the rat squeeking", I decided to go to my old fave place for the afternoon.

What an excellent idea. I had the crag to myself on a Bank Holiday Saturday. Some would say, "no wonder" but for those who enjoy proving their lineage, Frodsham Buttress is the place to be. It is true though that hanging upside down is not everyones pleasure.

The rat needed feeding, but as is often the case; the eyes are bigger than the stomach and my first selected problem on Hoopla Buttress gave me indigestion! Not a good start. It was supposed to be, indeed was, one of the easier routes (problems the bouldering fraternity say).

Oh well, I'm only warming up I thought. On to the next. More success here. I passed on the main event of this buttress, I've only ever done that when on a roll. Off to Neb.

Couple of the lower grades then try head on, quickly moving down mmmm. Must be doing something wrong. Quick revision and up and over. All the finishing pockets dry and waterless. At the top I was reminded why I like the place. Quiet, sunny, protected from the wind and the rhododendron in full bloom, wonderful. Then on to the next litle outcrop. Described in the guide book (no name) as having a few little problems. It looked like they were too little for present day vistors as they showed signs of neglect. Still very pleasent I thought. Quickly passed Green Slab, another for when I'm moving well! Changing Room next, another 'must be missing something' feeling. Second go I found what I was missing and I was up. A bit of traversing then on to Long Buttress. Three routes on here were separated by quiet moments sitting admiring the view from the top. The M56 with its dinky vehicles shushing along, a lone ship gliding down the Manchester Canal with a back drop of golden sand in the River Mersey and the two Cathedrals of Liverpool standing proud. All this complimented by the cry of a buzzard and the swooping and churping of swifts in the sky.

All to soon it was time to go. Good thing really. Time was when I'd visit all the outcrops but that would be tempting fate for the first visit in 12 months and my aging limbs.

There must be many little crags like Frodsham that are away from the Bank Holiday crowds. There is still Sunday and Monday, perhaps I'll find some others or just return to Frodsham!


Costa Blanca, Spain (with Stefan Beyer) March 2005

----- Original Message -----
From: "Stefan Beyer"
Newsgroups: uk.rec.climbing
Sent: Tuesday, March 22, 2005 10:03 PM
Subject: TR: Costa Blanca March 2005

Stefan writes : "This TR was mailed to me by John H. to check the spelling of the Spanish place names and then post it on here (Steve P.: should be archived under John's name). There is photographic evidence at :"

Having failed to entice any of the URC NWF Posse into a 'Hot Rock' holiday in Spain, it was a lone Johnh, who set off from Liverpool, flying Easy Jet, to meet up with Dr Beyer, to forge an Anglo/German alliance on the Costa Blanca.

Hopes were high for some classic lines. Stefan met John at Alicante Airport as planned and was surprised by the mass of luggage carried by his amigo. Off they set to find 'The Orange House' much improved since Stefan's previous visit and despite the still small kitchen, things were well organised, clean and tidy.

Day 1 saw a 6 a.m. rise for an early dart to Calpe to get 1st place on the Peñon de Ifach. Needn't have bothered on that count as we had the lot to ourselves! It was a good move from another point of view as will be revealed! Some mist, but the promise of it clearing for a good day bode well and Stefan took the first pitch on Valencianos, the easiest and classic 4+/A0 or 5+ (depending on who you believe and what you read) line up the impressive South Face. As described in the guide book, it was a bit loose but no problem. John followed only to be reminded by Stefan that he should have been wearing a rucksack with food, drink and shoes for the descent. Whoops! - the onset of Alzheimers.

Down, then up, with the sack this time. Quick swap of sack and gear then off went John on a wandering stroll to the next stance. Easy climbing but difficult jungle work through the bushes. A further easy amble for Stefan, then the crux, an open book corner with the right wall leaning to give a slab which has been polished to a glassy finish by the passing of many feet. John stepped up a couple of moves, inserted some pro. and selected a right foot hold on the slab, required to allow a look into the higher corner crack. The glass did its stuff and that idea was quickly abandoned in favour of a technique developed on the Old Man of Hoy, AKA grab the fixed sling and pull round. More pro. in and it was over. Well, he wasn't the first and certainly not the last as witnessed by Stefan when he followed. (Frigging we believe its called).

Next pitch to Stefan - "now here is where we have the having a rest". This wasn't the answer Stefan was expecting. He's read all the text books and you always face the rock (except in Cliff Hanger that is) Anyway, after a suitable rest in a superb niche and placing ample pro. John proceeded up the delicate slab to the waiting ridge. What a stance - 400ft of slab and wall on one side down to the sea and an equal amount the other side down to Calpe, with the ridge pointing out to the blue Mediterranean Sea. Stefan followed, hampered by the rucksack on the balancey slab section.

Time for food and to enjoy the view. Drinks had been taken regularly on route by means of the Platypus system. Doesn't time fly, 2 p.m. already. We'd planned to be finished by then. Well it was really, all bar the shouting. That was John asking for a tight rope on the next pitch. The new rock shoes were making their mark! Painful toes don't go well with delicate slabs. Stefan's next pitch from the ridge was excellent. The climbing was clean grade 4 with superb exposure down to Calpe Harbour. After that, John ran for home. Two pitches of scrambling in one, no runners; just go. Got to get these shoes off. The end of a perfect day. A great route, good weather, great views improved at the top when four bikini clad girls appeared at the top to greet us. They had walked up the path on the back of the Peñon, which was our descent route. Summit photos then down. 9 hours car to car, it was a good job we had that early start. It was much longer than we planned but we had an excellent day, finished off by a beer in a bar below the magnificent Peñon de Ifach.

Well what for Day 2? The tentative plan or wish list was Espolon Central on the South Face of Puig Campana. No chance - at the rate we were climbing, the 13 pitch classic 4+ HS would have turned into a Beyer Epic! No thank you. Despite Stefan having 2 new torches, presents from the NWF Posse, best to leave it until we're climbing faster. Besides that, John's bones were creaking after the 10 pitch, 7 hours on the Peñon route. So it was a sport climbing day at Marin. Now in the new Rockfax Guide, this delightful cliff was again left to just the Anglo/German team. That is until 3 p.m. when we'd had enough and went for a beer. Unpolished, lower grade routes that we could do. Wow! A great day marked by another Alzheimer incident when John set off up a route without the required quickdraws!

Day 3 was a drive to Valencia, a trip to see the Fallas Statues prior to their burning, a siesta, then out again to see some of the 200 fallas bonfires burning. Not to mention the non-stop fireworks all around the city. Then bed at 1.30 p.m. Day 4 started with a lie in. Up at 10 a.m. then out to one of Stefan's local crags. An excellently situated sports crag called Jérica. A very pretty valley, unpolished routes in our grade, though the 4's seemed like 4+ and the 5's like 5+ to us. That was it. Back to base ; Stefan's and 'The Wife's' apartment in Valencia, via the local bar of course, which served the most spectacular freshly made succulent burgers. Then Day 5 for John, sight seeing, then travel home to the UK and work for Stefan. We look forward to word of the Anglo/French alliance team about their Chamonix trip and perhaps a 2006 URC, NWF Posse Costathon.

John & Stefan.

Old Man of Hoy (Orkney) June 2004

From: "Johnh"
Newsgroups: uk.rec.climbing
Sent: Tuesday, June 15, 2004 10:32 AM
Subject: The Far North

One wet, dark and miserable night a group assembled as usual at The Lord Rodney in Warrington, after a puffing and grunting, reaching and cripping ( nothing new there ) sort of night at North West Face Indoor Climbing Wall. Idle chatter about what to do when the weather improves, hopes, dreams and pipe dreams were shared. Included in all this JohnH ( that's me ) had foolishly let slip earlier to one Andy Holland that his pipe dream was to climb the Old Man of Hoy. Recalling this foolish comment Andy slipped nonchalantly into the conversation " you fancy the Old Man of Hoy don't you John?" Oh yer right I answered, not wanting to look foolish (but already having proved I am by ever sharing my thoughts with Andy). "I fancy that" said John Marsland, it sounds really interesting. Blast! What now. How do I get out of this and still keep face. No way. Go along with it and hope it's the beer talking. Well it wasn't. I've got the guide book said Duncan Irvine, I'll bring it next week. It's a really good route, I recommend it. Oh well, we might have guessed he'd have done it! So the germ of a trap, sorry plan was hatched.

Thursday 10th June saw John M and me setting off to drive up north to Castletown, between Thurso and John O Grouts for a B & B and then the 6.00 a.m. ferry from Gills Bay to St Margaret's Hope on South Ronaldsay, Orkney on Friday morning. We arrived at the B & B with comments from our hosts of the down pours they had suffered during the day. The roads were wet and puddles lay but the evening improved though plenty of clouds lingered. Still the plan was to get that ferry, so that's what we did, as the rain fell at Gills Bay!

Onto South Ronaldsay and off across the Churchill Barriers for a quick, very quick dash to catch the 8.00 a.m. Houton Ferry to Hoy. Then on we went continuing the dash to Rackwick Bay. From there it's an hours walk to the Old Man, across the moors and along the cliff tops. The weather was threatening with plenty of cloud but never the less things looked dry ish. So on we went.

The famous sea stack stood proud above the cliff as we approached. It didn't look very big! That was because most of it was below the cliff, out of sight, lurking to surprise the unwary. At the cliff top we loitered and viewed the objective. Tracing the line of the East face (Original) Route we had planned. The only one I knew I had a chance of doing and hey I was in my climbing prime when it was first done in 1966. (Not another Old Man on the Old Man tale you suddenly think) Nostalgia was the root of my dream.

Fortunately, John M had done his homework and knew how to get down the cliff to the foot of very impressive stack. Two gullies to the right he said without hesitation, deviation or repetition. Sacks on our back and good footwear on our feet we set off down the WET and SLIPPY faint path down the cliff. It could be wet said I. Let's just see, we can always come back said John M. So on we went.

It was gone 12.00 noon by the time we were ready to climb, having had some food and drink and sorted out the gear. "I'll look at the first pitch" I said, knowing that pitch 2 was the crux! So on we went.

Amazement, the rock was dry so on I climbed up to the 'Gallery'. The big ledge that is the stance from which the main pitch starts. No problems for me. After all it was only V. Diff. climbing. Even I could do that. John was up in a flash, took a sly but not unreasonable look at my anchors and was off to discover the treasures around the corner. I had thought of suggesting a relocation of my stance for this pitch, so I could see John's progress. However, I didn't verbalise my thoughts, so on we went.

Down and across then up and under the two roofs that need to be surmounted.I could visualise the guide book description, almost see the video pictures I'd watched of some young French lass soloing the pitch. But I couldn't see John. The rope went out very nicely. Then nothing. I stood and waited, watched the dozen or so people up on the cliff watching us there on the stack. I paid out some rope, perhaps there was drag and I couldn't feel John on the rope. Not too much, he may not welcome any slack. Take it in. If it comes then he doesn't want it! Time passed by with this game of give some rope, take it in thing. No word from John. I guess he was otherwise engaged, without time to talk idly to me. At last the rope moved and slowly I gave and it disappeared around the corner. Then a crackle and John's voice on the radio around my neck. Smart hey, yes we'd got radio communication. John's voice echoed, I'm at the stance. I found it hard. Sorry about the delay, I'll set up a belay and let you know when you can come. Well thank God for that I thought, both thinking 'Thank God' and about time all in the same flash. After all John could climb 5b I've seen him do it. A call on the radio. "I'm safe"... "Off belay" said I, "taking in".... the usual stuff, so on we went.

Around the corner - shock, horror! From really good friction on dry sandstone - rock covered in loose dry dusty sand, from what was probably the drainage line from above. The traverse was Ok ish but made tricky by the sand coated on everything. Then boldly up to the first roof. No problem really, though a look down to place my feet revealed an awful lot of air! Two or three moves and I was up that one - OK really. On reflection HVS 5a I guess. Then up into the wide crack/capped chimney. I removed the pro and a voice on the radio said - "Face right". Oh, I was about to face left. Still, if that's what the voice said !! Facing right on we went.

Facing right, my right foot out wide on a small crack, my helmet wedged into the roof crack, I grappled and looked around for a right hand hold so I could pivot and face the stack , place my left foot and pull out from under the roof. My helmet stopped me positioning the way my senses said to go. Looking down all I saw was space and the sea and boulders below. Best not dwell on that I thought, get climbing. Then a quick pivot around, a reach and up. Wild!!!! Get my composure then steadily up the fist sized crack above. Well done I said to John with real feeling. I meant it. I really found it hard. "I used the sling" he said. I thought how I did it! I'm sure lots of people use it I said without divulging that I had too! We looked across at the cliffs to see our audience but the mist had drawn a veil. We were fine but the cliff and land opposite was shrouded in mist. Anyway, we were up the difficulties. So on we went!

My turn - easy stuff - John's turn, slightly trickier. Fulmars were in evidence but we managed to persuade any in close proximity to move on. Then we were at the bottom of the final pitch, the open book corner. What a sight - I'd got it wrong - it was my lead - swallow deeply. It certainly looked steep and imposing but it was dry and good friction - so on we went.

Bloomin marvellous, tremendous, every superlative you can imagine...... What a pitch. Cruise and enjoy. Then the top. Hand shakes, photo's, wave to the Scrabster Ferry and looking at each other on we went. Down, down, down and down. All fantastic abs but number 3 was something else. The guide line we'd left to get us back across the traverse worked like a dream, though as second man down, hanging free by at least 20 feet, slowly gyrating, I did wonder what to do. Then John pulled me in and on we went.

We wanted to celebrate but thought, not there yet. Get up the cliff - and you know the next line. At the top, knackered, hungry but flushed with success, we relaxed, smiled and enjoyed!! Fantastic. Fantastic. Fantastic.

Thanks to John M for helping me to realise my dream and to all those URC guys who advised and encouraged the venture.

Who dares wins!


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