Ecrins early birds

Work commitments meant Dave and I had to head to the Ecrins before the rest of the club, arriving in a very hot Argentiere la Bessee the first week of July. We based ourselves at the beautiful Maison Abeil for the first few days while we got our bearings. After arriving Monday evening we headed to Les Collets for a bit of cragging. The next day we headed to Ailefroide to get some tips on what was in condition at the guide’s office and climb the lovely A Tire D’Aile Froide (5c).  By 10.30am  the next morning the thermometer was at 37 degrees in the valley, so we headed up into the mountains to acclimatise and read some guidebooks.


The La Grave telephrique opened in full on Thursday so we took the first one up with the intention of climbing the west summit of the Rateau. The weather was looking unstable and the snow was hard going after the recent high temperatures, so we switched objectives and headed for the Pic de la Grave. After fruitlessly trying to find a decent snow bridge across the bergshrund we abandoned this objective and had a picnic atop of the Dome de la Lauze (F) and headed back into the valley before the bad weather hit.

On Friday we took advantage of the lingering mizzle and walked to the Pave hut. Idyllic alpine meadows full of flowers, butterflies and marmots gave way after a few hours to a monochrome slog into the cloud up a seemingly interminable moraine. After nearly 5 hours we reached the Pave hut – despite being a basic metal prefab with a hosepipe bringing water from the glacier its only luxury,  it is one of the cosiest huts we’ve stayed in. We were the only guests that night and the guardian Sophie gave us a warm welcome. After a leisurely start the next morning we climbed the Pic Nord des Cavales (PD+), a superb route on excellent rock with some amazing positions. We were lucky enough to have the whole route to ourselves and the only other voice we heard was that of a lone French paraglider. We found that a single 50m rope was sufficient for the descent. We arrived back to a hut at full capacity, with beds being made up in a little cave outside the hut and in a storage area. A new bigger hut (with the same number of beds) is to be built next year. After walking down from the Pave the next day and eating enormous ice creams in the Restaurant Les Glaciers we headed to Chalet Mournier in Les Deux Alpes to take advantage of their pool and sauna.IMG_0856.JPG


Monday saw us walking into the Soreiller hut, nestled at the foot of the Aiguille Dibona, a perfect needle of rock which compels you to climb it. With feet in a bad way after the epic walk down from the Pave, we took the walk at a lazy pace and after 3 hours reached the hut. There we met with a French guide and the next day climbed Visite Obligatoire (TD+), enjoying pitch after pitch of astonishing rock, although some sections felt hard with a rucksack. A shoe-related incident meant that close to the top, once all the difficulties had been overcome, we ended up taking in a few pitches of the mountain’s other classic route the Voie Madier, before rejoining our route for the final hard pitch and then taking the easy ground to the summit. After returning to the hut we decided to stay an extra night to give our feet chance to recover and were rewarded by an impromptu concert by a band of travelling folk singers who travel hut to hut.



We headed back to the sanctuary of Maison Abeil on Wednesday, looking forward to sampling some more homemade muffins and bergamot marmalade and a bit of R&R. The thermal pools at les grands bains du Monetier, a 3 hour yoga class and a 7-course meal at the tiny Les Tables de Gaspard in Saint Crepan were the perfect way to round off our trip.


Stanage , Manchester Buttress

Tuesday 24th July saw the club heading to Stanage again, this time to Manchester Buttress area at Popular end. With 4 members still in France we still managed a good turnout to climbing and  had 4 in the walking group.

As would be expected Derek (fresh from the Ecrins granite), Chris, Brid, David, Ann and Simon all managed to climb Manchester Buttress. All doing the traverse in slightly different fashions

Anne seconding Manchester Buttress


Anatomy and Physiology were all pretty popular as was Black Hawk Hell Crack

Chris on Black Hawk Hell Crack (S4a)
Jo on Black Hawk Hell Crack (S4a)

Tim climbed both Gargoyle Buttress (VS 4b) and Lancashire Wall (HVS-) but unfortunately I was belaying both of those so no photographic evidence. Simon on the other hand went for Gargoyle variant (HS 4b) and Tinkers Crack (VS 4c).


Gemma taking her own path while seconding Simon on Tinkers Crack. David on Physiology

David led Black Hawk Traverse Left (VD) while Jo led the tricky Black Hawk (HS 4c) seconded by William and Stuart,

Jo getting acquainted with the underside of the flake

First time attendee Kate managed to second 2-3 routes, enjoying a late night of freedom while child free. Hopefully she will return….she couldn’t have got a better introduction than a warm, midge free evening at a fairly deserted Stanage.

Karl, Steve and Dan headed off right to do some routes in that direction and Hattie got bored and took herself off to to see what was happening in the carpark.


The walking group of the Alps fit, Wendy, Daryl and Alison… plus Andy  set out from Hook’s car Car Park and enjoyed a short scramble up a descent route somewhere north of Robin Hood’s Balcony before heading south to inspect the climbers. They then visited Burbage North and Higgar Tor before returning to Stanage.

Andy Walk

Midges and Mayhem at the Mynydd Hut By Dan

The Buxton Mountaineering Club had another fine meet at the mythical Mynydd club hut at Blaen y Nant, Wales, in June. The weather was glorious. Sunny, warm, and not windy— just right for midges!

Mynedd Hut

The hut is set completely on its own, up a long, narrow, bumpy dirt track. It has a large kitchen and a very spacious living room. There are several rooms with bunks to accommodate many climbers. There is ample parking, and the garden consists of a huge lawn surrounded by trees. The interior and gardens both even boast paraphernalia and tributes to former Mynydd member and famed mountaineer Pete Boardman, adding a touch of mountaineering history to the mix. For most, these aspects would make it an easy sell. It is practically the Chequers Court of climber’s huts. But not for the Buxton MC! These virtues were simply not good enough. Throughout breakfast, throughout supper, throughout the day, complaints from our members raged. Too far away from the climbing. Too bumpy of a road. Not near any good walking areas. Wild horses shitting all around my camper van! And get these “&§%(!!ß(€ midges out of the room! It was like watching the Grinch rail on about how much he hated Christmas.

pesky horses

In truth, though, this opinion had a clear age-group split. Those under the age of 12 loved the hut. They loved the rope swings in the trees. They loved the wild horses walking past. They loved the space to play tag, hide and seek, they loved the giant-sized jenga blocks. They loved Brid’s magic show. They loved the view. They loved life!

Kids love rope swings!

Brid mesmerises

Saturday’s activities included a group of the climbing faithful (Declan, Derek, Alan, Saff, Stuart ….) hitting hard routes at the Moelwyns. Jo and son William had a scramble at Moel Siabod. Les n Del, grandkids, Moa (pronounced Moo-ah, for the 10,000th time) and Dan walked over to Capel Curig.

karate chop to top!!

Dec big and bold


ging gang gooli

A late night drinking session led, as it only could, to an arm wrestle between big guns Alan and Stuart.

Sunday was spent in the beautiful slate quarries. Mordor has nothing on this place! It’s all about the slate- walking up it, climbing on it, making toys out of it. Adrian, Robert… have I missed anyone? All had a swell time. 

safe quarries

Stu let's it all out

Slippery, sharp, and short, slate has it all! Jo led her first slate sport route, and not an easy one at that. There are no easy ones.

Jo leads

Declan Grafitti King

All in all, despite the sharp split of opinion on the hut, we all had a good time. The kids more than the adults, the midges most of all. They sure had some good meals that weekend….

Nitty Gritty – May’s Monthly climbing blog By Saffra

It’s been an active month in the club with several weeks of very settled warm weather with very little rain. Here follows summary of our climbing activity since the beginning of the season (inclusive of April), starting with the limestone. At the beginning of the month several members enjoyed a visit to horseshoe quarry where Tim, Declan and Rob climbed several 5’s (up to 5c level) and Gemma led her first route outside (I believe) which was an on sight lead on bolted limestone (4a). Well done Gemma!


Declan, Jo, Emma Jo, Brid, William, Saffra, Dave (Espley) and Jaimella have also been hitting the bolts at Intake Quarry a few times over the month. We have managed to lead most of the routes on Take Away Wall inclusive of several 6a/a+’s and even a 6b (Chop Suicide – red point) and a 6b+ (clip sticked). Saffra, Dave and Jaimella managed to top rope the 6c+ (Big Moon Night) in the middle of Take Away and decided that it was something that none of us would ever be able to lead. This led to talk of super glueing fingers and other extreme measures!


In addition to the limestone sports routes there has also been some limestone trad action this month. I heard talk that Rob led one of his first VS’s at Alderly early in May (not sure which one). Saffra and Jo have been along a couple of times in the week and managed to lead a number of HS’s, VS’s and an HVS including Ash tree slab, Nettlerash, Clothesline, Mitre crack, The cardinal and Broken toe. Still on the list to do are HVSs Anti-digestant and Janbaloo.  The crag is getting quite vegetated now and getting off is challenging at the top of Clothesline due to nettles and a dodgey scramble to the top (trousers are recommended here).


There has also been some action on the sports routes (on the stone viaduct) down at New Mills Torr. Myself and Jo, Emma Jo and William managed to get up seven of these over a couple of visits (sports grades 6a up to 6b+/6c).


Now onto trips away and multi-pitch adventures. Two climbing days were achieved at Dow Crag on the Coniston meet with myself, Declan and Rob climbing. Two routes were completed (one on each day). Due to us climbing as a three it was not possible to complete more. These were Arete, Crack and Corner and Abrahams route. Both of which were graded severe but certainly felt harder in places. Declan got the prize for choosing the worst most sandbaggy pitch with the last pitch of Abrahams route which (even though he was very sure he had not gone the wrong way) appeared to be much harder than the severe 4a grade it was supposed to be. Unfortunately the sun was not shining on Dow Crag that day and, as Saffra and Rob observed from their decidedly chilly ledge, opposite everyone seemed to be having a great time walking up Coniston Old Man on a brilliantly hot sunny day.


Finally down to the nitty gritty! Obviously being based in the Peak District this section will be the largest and most exciting. So a lot has been done at Stanage with Alan, Tim, Saffra, Jo, Rob etc leading routes such as Tango Buttress (HS 5a), High Neb Buttress (VS 4c), Tinkers Crack (VS 4c), Paradise wall (HS 4b) and Paradise Arete (VS 4c) with a couple of exciting back-offs and climb arounds on the latter. We had a successful day at Bamford Edge one Saturday in Mid May with Bilberry crack (VS 5a) being led twice, Browns crack (HS) and Quien Sabe – Who knows!  (VS 4c).


The weekend after Ross and Rob tackled Ramshaw (there be demons there!) where they tackled The Arete, Boomerang, Magic roundabout before finding some real demons on Wall and Groove (presumably in the groove part of the climb rather than the wall part). Then Rob thought that Louis Groove looked ‘OK’ to top rope. He found many more demons in that groove. The moral of the story probably being don’t climb anything at Ramshaw with the word ‘Groove’ in the title unless you are a descendant of Don Whillans. Or you could do what I do and avoid Ramshaw all together.


Anyway more grit stories are Dave and Jaimella have been getting out bouldering quite a bit at Burbage South. Dave quite recently led a HVS at Froggatt but I can’t remember which one or find it in the book. We had the club meet at Lawrencefield which was covered by the weekly blog. Since then Saffra and Jo have returned and knocked off Meringue (HVS 4c), Tyrone (VS but apparently HVS in the definitive guide but who knows (Quien Sabe?)), One pegged wall (VS 5a), Nova (HS 4b) and Limpopo Groove (VS 4b).


Quite a bit has been done at Windgather this year so far with 3 lead ascents of Struggle (VS 4c) by Chris, Alan and Saffra. Probably all of the V Diffs, Severes and Hard Severes have been done now.


Other bits and bobs are: an aborted Sunday meet to Shining Clough (too windy). People have allegedly been to Hobson Moor Quarry but I haven’t heard a report. There was also visit to Castle Naze (early on in the month) where Rob led Nozag (VS 4c). Recently Declan and Rob took a trip to Laddow Rocks and completed Long Climb (S4a) which sounded nice and no epics were encountered.


So lots of climbing done, a couple of minor falls, a bit of tennis elbow, a broken toe nail, some sore fingers and the tans are improving. Bring on June!

A Night to Remember, Roaches Lower – By Dan V

On Tuesday, 30th May ,  Buxton Mountaineering Club enjoyed a wonderful evening of outdoor pleasures at the Roaches, Staffordshire.  Walkers walked. Climbers climbed. Dogs scampered about. The sun shone. The wind blew. The New Inn pub in Flash made a tidy profit.

And all was right with the world…..for the moment.

These photos illustrate events of the night, as well as providing solid alibis for those pictured.




What do you call a group of climbers? – Stanage

A troop, a gaggle, a rope of climbers?….. Who knows, but whatever it is I need the term to describe Tuesday at Stanage. By my own reckoning, trying to remember the teams climbing together we had 30 people out climbing . I’ve been in the club 14 years now and can’t remember ever having that number out on one evening at one crag.

There was an element of almost tripping over each other but it worked as it was Stanage….. If it got crazy busy you only have to walk 50m in each direction and you are at clear rock. At one point I looked down to see a melee of club members below me then looked over at popular end car park to see only 5 cars!…. Yes you read it right 5 cars at popular end on a sunny 🌞 Tuesday evening it was like some weird parallel universe.

saff paradise wall
Saffra on ‘the move’ on the Arete By Emma Jo

There was a real mix of the old guard (sorry Steve that’s you, despite your knowledge of modern youth dance culture), established members (Karl, me,Saffra, Alison and Stuart to name but a few) and even three people joining us for the first time.

Paradise Crack and Paradise Wall were popular, Sand Crack and Paradise Arete also saw some action. To be honest too much was climbed to mention it all but everyone was enjoying the good weather… climbing till the sun went down and then across to the Anglers rest in Bamford, sadly arriving too late for Pizza

Paradise Wall
Sundowner by Jo

The walking group numbering at least 10  split into two with one group completing the circuit from the Plantation to Crow Chin by following the paths below the road. A very interesting route worth exploring more thoroughly.

Stanage view
Contributed by Andy B
blue bells
Blue Bells by Andy B

A great night, thanks everyone… hope you all enjoyed it.

Fingers crossed for the Roaches