If you’re running out of stuff to watch or you’re fed up with Homes Under The Hammer then here’s a few short climbing films i’ve found on Youtube to watch from the TV series Lakeland Rock which was broadcast some years ago.
By Michael Faulkner
Back in the 1990s, I moved up from Manchester to Co Durham and was introduced to Tony. We made friends, and started climbing together.
One of Tony’s ambitions was to climb the Matterhorn. He and a bunch of mates had been several times to Switzerland, with a view to climbing the mountain. Amixture of bad weather, and probably too big a party of mixed ability, meant they never made it.
After yet another trip to Zermatt, Tony came back frustrated at spending time and money; and with an idea: the best thing was to wait for a weather window, and then just rush out there and do it.
So it was that on a Friday morning in August 1995, I left home at 9.30 (I had to wait for the morning post to bring proof that Tony was now insured to drive my car), and headed off to pick up Tony who then lived in Northallerton. Then it was onto the Ai and southwards to Dover. We’d thought about camping en route, but with the ability to drive alternately, we just kept going. By 7.30 on Saturday morning we were having breakfast ina lay-by in the Rhone valley.
An hour or two later, we rolled up at the campsite in Tasch, put up the tent, and had a sleep. The plan was to acclimatise Saturday and Sunday, and then climb on the Monday, so after lunch we walked up to Zermatt in perfect weather. A bit of a shock then when we went to the Guides’ Office, and discovered that the forecast had changed. Bad weather was due to arrive later on Sunday.
So our plans changed too: off to the station, train to Tasch, pack up the gear, back to Zermatt on the train; last cable car to Schwarzsee; and then trek up to the Hornli hut. At 3.30 next morning, we set off with a string of others to begin the ascent. I’ve never been a fan of climbing in crowds, but at least there was no problem route finding. To be honest, a lot of it felt like climbing a slag heap, and it was relief to reach the Moseley Slab and climb a bit of fairly solid rock to the Solvay hut.
On the platform of the hut we met a couple of German climbers. They were looking anxiously at some gathering cloud, but we decided to press on. Being totally unacclimatised, we were on the slow side, so on the shoulder above the hut we began to meet quicker parties coming down. On the fixed ropes and summit pyramid, there was serious traffic. But the upside was that when we reached the summit, we had it entirely to ouselves. The sun was shining and there was little wind, but cloud was increasing, so we didn’t stay long.
We rapidly got down to the shoulder, where the first cloud swirled round us. Even then it was light stuff, and not a problem. Then suddenly it changed. The cloud thickened and it started to snow. We abseiled down to the Solvay hut and thought about sheltering there, but pressing on seemed the better option. So far route finding had been no problem, but once we got on to the loose slopes below the hut, it was hard to be sure where we were heading.
Suddenly, out of nowhere came a most enormous bang and a flash. The ground fizzed under my feet. Tony was somewhere behind and above and I was sure it had struck him. For a few moments, I was sure I had a dead companion. Then he emerged from the mist, grinning as usual.
Fortunately the lightning seemed to have been an isolated bolt. We continued our descent through the soft snow, constantly feeling our way. If we’d had the acclimatisation day we had planned, we would have climbed the crumbly pitches above the hut in daylight to get the lie of the land. As it was, with minimal visibility, it became a slow and laborious attempt to descend safely.
When we finally reached the hut, the warden was looking out for us. We were the last of the people she had been expecting, so now everyone was accounted for. She pressed us to stay, but we decided to collect our passports and carry on down to Zermatt. That in itself is a long walk, especially as at a lower altitude it was now pouring with rain. It was a weary business, but we were buoyed up by the fact that we’d actually managed what we came for.
We caught a late train back to Tasch, had a long night’s sleep, and woke to a glorious sunny morning. After suitable refreshment, we packed up and got going. At 7.30 on Tuesday morning, we stopped at the Little Chef near Northallerton for breakfast, surprising Tony’s wife when we walked in a 9.00 in the morning.
Glad to have done it – but I wouldn’t want to repeat that particular adventure.
Article by Chris Heald
On a recent rock climbing trip to the Greek island of Kalymnos, we found a route called “La Troisieme Age” (The third age). Perhaps a French U3a member had been here and created the route?
It was a lovely 30 metre long route and climbing it prompted me to write this, for several reasons- partly to illustrate how changing fortunes have affected the island, partly to explain to friends in the Walking Group about how climbing works and partly to see if there are any other climbers in Craven U3a (as there are in Ambleside U3a).
Kalmynos is part of the Dodecanese Islands, 183 nautical miles south east of Athens and a 40-50 minute ferry ride from Kos. The ferry arrives at Pothia the island’s port and capital.
The island was the centre of the sponge diving industry, (a dangerous occupation), in the Mediterranean until the 1980’s when the industry declined and the economy was hit badly. Now, Greek tourism has grown to fill some of the gap. When the Greek holidays are over, the west coast village of Masouri in particular now offers a home to visiting climbers from Europe and all over the world. The peak climbing seasons are Autumn and Spring, so the many climbers extend the holiday season substantially and are welcomed by the local people involved in tourism.
Other villages like Emporios, Palionosis and Vathy offer havens to visiting yachties.
Kalymnos has considerable archaeological interest, with sites dating back to Byzantine and Paleochristian eras. The sites I have seen are protected, but low key and just a part of the landscape. There is a recommended archaeological museum in Pothia.
Generally the islanders are warm and welcoming and a typical exchange in one of the many good restaurants may go like this – “But, we didn’t order any soup.” “Ah, this is Mama’s homemade soup. Everybody can have it. It’s complimentary”. Followed later by,” But we didn’t order dessert.” “Ah, this is on the house”. Add to that good Greek wine for a brimming glass at 2 euros and all is good!
Prior to 1997 there was virtually no climbing on Kalymnos. Then an Italian climber visited in 1996 and was stunned by the huge unclimbed limestone cliffs and caves above Masouri.
Soon after this, Aris Theodoropoulos , a Greek climbing Guide, liaised with the local authorities to progress the potential of the island as a climbing destination. Top climbers were invited to visit and create new routes. Aris began to do new routes himself and produce guidebooks to the new climbs, with updates provided between guidebooks by a Brit expat living in Masouri.
In 1997 the first 43 routes were climbed. Now there are over 3,500 climbs of all grades.
Kalymnian climbs are what we call “sports” climbs. This is where the route creator has picked out a potential line to climb, then has drilled bolts into the rock at intervals for protection. There are also fixed bolts to provide a “lower off” at the top, if it’s a climb of 40 metres or less. She or he then gives the new route a name and a grade (of difficulty) and it goes in the guidebook.
Subsequent climbers leading the route clip karabiners in to the bolts as they climb upwards and their rope into the karabiners, in effect to act as pulleys if they fall off.
At the top of the climb the leader clips the rope through the ”lower off” and is then lowered to the ground by their belayer, nowadays using self-locking belay devices.
It’s a far cry from “ traditional”, or trad climbing, where the leader places his or her own protection into cracks as they climb upwards, then you generally walk off from the top of the climb, or abseil down, if you can’t walk off.
In the 50 years that I have been climbing my aim has been to maximise “reward” and to mitigate risk. So I take into consideration – the choice of the right climb for the conditions and my level of fitness. I also ensure that I have a very reliable partner. I do lots of research about a climb and have the best equipment and training.
Both climbing and hillwalking are activities with a risk of injury or death. Interestingly, according to ROSPA you are actually more likely to be injured playing football or cricket than hillwalking or rock climbing. ROSPA also reports 1000 accidents per 100m hours for walking and 4000 for rock climbing. Cycling scores 7000 and horse riding 10,000.
Accidents in sport climbing are rare and generally avoidable.
When I started climbing in 1968, doing trad routes, the mantra was still that “the leader must not fall”. Now for many climbers doing sports climbing, falling off is part and parcel of trying harder routes, often falling off until you have worked out the moves and can then climb the route in one go (which is called “red pointing”).
Kalymnos is not the only “sun rock” destination for Brits looking for warmer climes during our winter, but for me it offers a lovely combination of good weather, great climbing, friendly local people and that special island atmosphere.
If there are any climbers in our U3a I would be happy to get together for a chat and a session at the Harrogate climbing Wall.
This series was aired some years ago on the BBC, for those that didn’t see it then here’s a chance while socially isolating. If you’ve got YouTube on your smartTV then just search for The edge mountaineering