Ten Years On – Newsletter 1983

Ten Years on – Ron Kenyon, 1983

It is now nearly ten years since the club was formed. A ten years which has seen not only the club but the whole climbing scene in Penrith flourish and I feel that the main force in this has been the club.

There was a Penrith Mountaineering Club many years ago which was very active but this finished, however quite a few of its members were founder members of the Penrith Mountain Rescue Team. In the late sixties there was an active group at the Grammar School, under the guiding light of Keith King. Climbers such as John Workman, John Simpson, Dennis Hogdson, Clive Newall, Neil Marser, Ron Laidlaw etc were taken up their first routes in this group. In the late sixties a rather plump Alan Beatty cane onto the scene and a little later Phil Rigby and Tim Dale. Everyone knew everyone in our small group. The idea of a club had not really been thought of, however two people, totally unconnected, for me at least, started off the idea that the town needed a club.

The first was a chap called Jim Kilduff – he came to the town with the intention of being nearer the mountains for climbing – when he arrived he could not find anyone in the town to climb with ~ our little band was rather insular and of course there was no climbing shop in the town then. Jim joined the Carlisle Mountaineering Club and climbed with them and also started climbing with Tim Dale. We eventually met him and he was most surprised to find our active little group – this brought home the usefulness of a club not only for newcomers to the area or other climbers in the area but also for our group to meet other climbers.

The other person was a certain man called Doug Scott. Whilst at college in Nottingham I used to go along to ¥he Nottingham Climbing Club meets at the Dolphin and one night I had a lift back to my digs in the back of a mini van. Also in the back was Doug and in course of conversation I said that I would be going back to Penrith.

He said hat he would be willing to give a slide show in Penrith on “Big Wall Climbing”. When I returned to Penrith I asked Rescue Team if they would be willing to put on a lecture by Doug but received a no – this was mainly due to the fact that they had organised, but badly advertised, a lecture by Ian Clough many years before which had been a failure. I approached the Photographic Society and again
received a negative reply. I even thought about putting the lecture on myself. This again showed the need for a club to organise such slide lectures.

The idea of a club was discussed, an advert was put in the Herald and an inaugural meeting was held in the bottom bar of the “Gloucester” in December 1973. The first official meet was on Boxing Day when we went up Great Gable and this was followed in January by a meet on Helvellyn. A list of monthly meetings and summer evening meets was drawn up and the club was born. The name Eden Valley Mountaineering Club was suggested by Stew Wilson in order to attract people along the length of the Eden Valley. Also the club was not only for climbers but also walkers, cavers, fell runners, skiers – in fact anyone with an interest of the fells.

Initially the meets were a great success however as time went on members wanted to bee more independent. The meet system is a very useful way of keeping the club together and there have been some memorable such meets.

In the mid-70’s there were some good Easters and we made our way to Glencoe – unfortunately Easters seen to have become colder and wetter. Memories flood back of Stuart and Alastair Miller climbed on the west face of Aonach Dubh – Trapeze one day and then climbed Green Gully on the Ben the next day. Ray parker and myself made 2 late start ie 2.30pm on Crowberry Gully and finished it just before dark – the next two days were spent on Etive in glorious sunshine climbing Pause and with Alan Stark – Swastica. Another Scottish meet vas to Kirkcudbright when we climbed and demolished most of the main routes. By far the moat successful meets of recent years have been those to the C.I.C. hut when members have scored very well off all the classic routes – both hard and easy.

Forays to Wales are usually rewarded by good routes, It would be nice to swap Wales for the Lakes for a few years. One meet we had was based at the Chamois Mountaineering Club Centre at Ceunant. A large team made the trip and visited Tremadoe, Gogarth and Clogsy and climbed in between the showers. Harold Edwards and myself sheltered above the first pitch of Vecter whilst the heavens opened, then after it stopped we climbed a surprisingly dry second pitch through the overhangs. At Cloggy – Alan Beatty, Phil Rigby and Harold were on White Slab and Harold had just started to second the last slab pitch when again the Heavens opened – all three reached the top but were very wet.

A Lyke Wake Walk meet was organised by Ian Miller and proved like long distance walking/running events to bring out the comradeship of those participating and those helping. Six people set off from Beacon Hill on the 42 mile trek, initially over the whale backs to Haste Bank and then through the evening gloom to Hamer Hill}. Night descended and then the morning saw the arrival in Ravenscar, at the end of the walk, of Ian Miller, Anne Pendlebury and Ulrich. Nora Miller and myself helped with support for this memorable day – memorable not only for the walk but also of the excellent company of Nora, who now alas is unfortunately no longer with us.

Malham area provides for excellent meets with its stupendous routes and the pleasant circular walk up Gordale to the tarn and back to the Cove. After the Lakes limestone seems very steep and causes transition problems. On one trip Phil Rigby set off up Wombat but ran out off holds near the top. He settled himself on a ledge with his cigarettes to wait for a top rope – it would be a different story if he climbed it now. Another time Alan Beatty and myself did the Right Wing Girdle – which provided a dramatic moment when I lost contact with the rock at the crux and smashed into the corner of Scorpio. Luckily I was alright and continued along the tremendous last pitches. Another time the wind was blowing strongly up the cove and almost blew us up the easy but exposed Terrace Stairs.

On the social scene there have been pub gatherings – initially in the Gloucester, then the Sally and now the Lowther Arms. This is an important feature of any club. Organised slide lectures have been held and we have been lucky to get some top climbers to come. As indicated at the start Doug Scott came soon after the club was formed and gave his lecture, based on his book, “Big Wall Climbing”. He returned some time later to talk on “North American Climbing” – with his ascent with Dougal Haston of the South Face of Mount MacKinley, together with Salathe Wall and Baffin Island. Chris Bonington gave his lecture on “Changabang'” and returned in the wake of his Everest lectures to give his first non-Everest lecture – nicknamed the “Golden Oldies” — with slides not shown publically for many years including Central Bfllar of Frenzy and the North Face of Triolet. He returned again with his lecture to tell about the super epic on the “Ogre”. Another epic moment of climbing history was recalled by Martin Boysen of when his knee was jammed in “his” crack on Trango Tower. The same expedition was shown on film by Tony Riley, who also showed the making and film of the “Bat”. Martin Boysen also gave his lecture on “Torre Egger”. Jim Bridwell gave us a gripping lecture on his alpine ascent of thé neighbouring peak to Torre Egger – “Cerro Torre” and an ascent in Alaska. Soon after the S.W.Face of Everest had been climbed Tut Braithwaite gave his lecture on this marathon expedition – a well documented trip and a very popular lecture with over 300 people crammed into the Ullswater School Hall.

An insight into Yosemite was given by Dave Nicol and later Ron Fawcett, showed the world of hard rock with Astroman. In the super alpine vain Dick Renshaw showed slides of his ascents with Joe Tasker of the Eiger N.Face in winter and Dunageri – one of the epics of all time. Brian Wyvell showed his slides on his ascent with Brian Campbell-Kelly of the French Route on the “Troll Wall”. On a more local note Paul Nunn came with “British Ice Climbs” and recently Dave Alcock followed similarly with “Cold Climbs” – the slides of the book, On a non-climbing but very popular theme Hamish Brown gave his “The Long Walk” about his traverse of the Munros. All in all a very varied and interesting selection of lectures.

What else has the club done – well in the early seventies the Penrith climbers were instrumental in the development of the Eden Sandstone outcrops at Lazonby and Armathwaite and an interim guide was produced by Stew Wilson and myself for the club. Development continued not just at these crags but many others which lead to the production of the North of England guide.

What of the members – well they seem to have climbed in all sorts of places – infact on all continents of the world from Greenland to Antarctica and the Andes to Himalayas. In Britain most crags have been visited not only in the Lakes but Wales, Scotland, Derbyshire, Cornwall, Pembroke and even Dumbarton Rocks. Further afield there has been the trips to the Alps at Chamonix and Zermatt, the Dauphine and Zermatt, Central Switzerland, Handegg and the Dolomites as well as skitouring around Chamonix, on the Haute Route and in the Bernese Oberland. Rock climbing in the South of France limestone at Verdon, Fuoux, Vercours etc, the sandstone of Fontainbleu and the Phalz and the interesting areas of the Romsdal and Picos de Europa.

In America visits have been made to New Hampshire and Bugaboos as well as of. cause in the Himalayas and the Australias. So much has been done and it is impossible to list everything but the following must rank with the best in the world – Staztt Miller on the Nose on El Cap, Ray Cassidy on the South Face of Alpamayo and Steve Howe and Ray on Diamond Couloir on Mount Kenya.

Well what of the club – it has been a success – membership has varied with at one time sixty and now about thirty members? The club is for the members and not the other way round but efforts should be made to attract new members all the time, whether they are raw novices or superheros – it is surprising who turns up. As for the next ten years I hope they will be as active as the last. I hope the club is still in existence and has brought climbers and walkers, skiers and cavers etc of the Penrith area together. I hope a decent climbing wall has been built, Dave and Mike have climbed Everest and the Robin Curleys of the area are helped along and climbing hard.

Good Climbing