/ Climbing university buildings

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Wanderer100 - on 11 Apr 2019

I thought this was worth a share. Quite an entertaining pastime!!!

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-47537261

Dave Garnett - on 11 Apr 2019
In reply to Wanderer100:

There was quite a lot of this sort of thing at Birmingham University in the late 70s.  My impression was that it progressively became less popular as the fear of serious repercussions increased.  I don't think the buildings at Bristol particularly lend themselves so much rooftop exploration and, anyway, the Gorge is within easy reach and so we weren't so desperate!  At Oxford there were the occasional rumours but I was too sensible and had too much to lose by then.

Post edited at 09:48
dread-i - on 11 Apr 2019
In reply to Wanderer100:

"It describes in detail the routes up particular colleges - and indeed the routes off them: the "Senate House leap" is achieved by jumping across the 6ft (1.8m) gap between the roof of Gonville and Caius College and the neighbouring Senate House."

I did a walking tour of the city once and the guide pointed this leap out to us. From ground level, it looks like the sort of thing that needs 100% commitment, as the landing is a long way down onto hard pavement.

Isn't there a dome with the names of various the climbers through the ages scratched into the lead? I seem to remember Grylls and Fiennes, and possibly an Everest pioneer, being mentioned in that context.

The New NickB - on 11 Apr 2019
In reply to dread-i:

Neither Grylls or Fiennes went to Cambridge, so perhaps unlikely.

Post edited at 11:54
wintertree - on 11 Apr 2019
In reply to Wanderer100:

The armoured cables for exterior floodlights on “tourist” buildings certainly make a handy grab rope to assist ones drunken descent with.  Not so good when they’ve been fitted to knackered old sandstone by a facilities division of questionable competence.

Fellover - on 11 Apr 2019
In reply to dread-i:

> Isn't there a dome with the names of various the climbers through the ages scratched into the lead? I seem to remember Grylls and Fiennes, and possibly an Everest pioneer, being mentioned in that context.

This is at Eton I think.

Toccata on 11 Apr 2019
In reply to Wanderer100:

I have climbed a few of the classics (although not King's College). I remember reading Nightclimbers in my first year looking the window at one of the iconic photo locations (New Court Tower, John's). It took me a few months before plucking up the courage...

Unfortunately there is an awful lot of damage done by climbing these old buildings (I can't deny loosening a few bits of masonry despite great care). I know of one very serious injury (and 3 months in hospital) when a corner stone crumbled; we never used ropes. King's installed spikes around the top of the chapel in the late 90s to deter climbers. There are lots of new buildings to climb so maybe leave the old ones to history. There are (were?) other challenges too such as the duck in Trinity Hall! 

Doug on 11 Apr 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

I went roof climbing at Cambridge back in the 70s when visiting friends although I was never a student there. Also climbed a bit in Oxford (where I was briefly a student) but never at Stirling & only a little on the physics building at Aberdeen. But Aberdeen had some interesting railway viaducts in the city centre & Stirling the quarry in Bridge of Allan & both had real crags close by

Post edited at 12:15
The New NickB - on 11 Apr 2019
In reply to Fellover:

> This is at Eton I think.

That would make more sense.

Timmd on 11 Apr 2019
In reply to Doug:

> I went roof climbing at Cambridge back in the 70s when visiting friends although I was never a student there. Also climbed a bit in Oxford (where I was briefly a student) but never at Stirling & only a little on the physics building at Aberdeen. But Aberdeen had some interesting railway viaducts in the city centre & Stirling the quarry in Bridge of Allan & both had real crags close by

As a teenager I climbed across the roofs of Notre Dame School in Sheffield behind the bell tower with friends and up into it, which was quite fun, but dodgy trusting the integrity of stone work to lay-back traverse along while above a glass roof. Razor wire and CCTV has since been put up, due to people doing worse than that I understand (no details to protect the building). 

Post edited at 15:51
d_b on 11 Apr 2019
In reply to Wanderer100:

The original "night climbers of cambridge", and some of the earlier selective guides are currently in print.  I have a copy in my bookshelf.

Ian W - on 11 Apr 2019
In reply to Wanderer100:

At Aston Uni in 1987, someone who shall remain nameless because he has a really proper job these days climbed Laurence Tower - a 20 story block of flats used as accomodation. Obviously this took more than a couple of mins, and caused great interest amongst campus security. They were carefully and remarkeably cleverly avoided by abbing down a preplaced rope down to the 11th floor, in a conveniently open window, and down the stairs, past waiting plod. 

Just like Alain Robert, but on the cheap.

Post edited at 16:49
LastBoyScout on 11 Apr 2019
In reply to Wanderer100:

I remember when I was at Nottingham Uni in the early 90s, there was a ragged set of photocopied pages of an unofficial climbing guide to the Cambridge buildings doing the rounds of the Mountaineering club.

Around that time, a couple of members of the club put a traffic cone on the top of the Trent building at Nottingham Uni, which was quite an airy solo!

Most of my edificeering was limited to the boulder problems on the stonework by the lake and a drunken campus pub crawl that seemed to involve getting around some of the bars without touching the floor.

Sam W - on 11 Apr 2019
In reply to Wanderer100:

Have fond memories of a couple of trips up the buildings at Brum Uni.  The first, and more worthwhile, was a dawn adventure onto the roof of the Great Hall.  My mate and I strung up an anti-war banner on the first day of the 2nd Gulf War, it hung between 2 of the domes facing out towards the clock tower.

The second was a team effort to infiltrate a sold out event at the student guild.  After a few drinks at a house party for bravery, we went for a recce and found a window that could be accessed via a drainpipe and a hand traverse of a window sill.  Several of us made the ascent, and were delighted to find ourselves in a locked room bu able to hear everyone having fun just the other side of the door.  As ever, escape via downclimbing was considerably trickier than the original ascent.

A friend from the climbing club was something of an electronics genius, and somehow disabled the alarms on the main clock tower, managed to get in through a window about 20ft of the ground and spent the night in there.  Sounded like a great adventure.

Hope students are still finding ways to express themselves through non-damaging mischief

DubyaJamesDubya - on 12 Apr 2019
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> There was quite a lot of this sort of thing at Birmingham University in the late 70s.  

I was reliably informed that every climbable part of the Uni had not only been done but also given a grade, including the clock tower! Used to climb on the wall by the sports field a lot  and had a sheet with hundreds of problems on it, but last time I went I was stopped by a security guard which was annoying to say the least

mbh - on 12 Apr 2019
In reply to Wanderer100:

How could they have got that Austin 7 onto the roof of Senate House?

Andy Clarke - on 12 Apr 2019
In reply to Wanderer100:

When I started at Cambridge they still locked the college gates at midnight, so if you had a good night out you had no option but to climb back in if you wanted to eventually sleep in your own bed. I was fortunate to have garret rooms for most of my time there, which gave ample opportunity for roof wandering and watching the world below pass by all unaware. Wasn't into mountaineering or climbing back then, but uni life offered many different ways of getting high. 

McHeath - on 12 Apr 2019
In reply to mbh:

> How could they have got that Austin 7 onto the roof of Senate House?

Dismantle it into manageable parts, haul them up, and reassemble ... we did the same (but no climbing involved) with a Citroen 2cv in the staff room at school on our leaving day

tlouth7 on 12 Apr 2019
In reply to McHeath:

Not the only daft place that Cantabs have put a car:

https://earlymodernjohn.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/cambridge-from-above/

I happen to know that there is some great chimneying on the John's College Cripps building, some of the climbs are even deep water solos!

Dave Garnett - on 12 Apr 2019
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> Used to climb on the wall by the sports field a lot  and had a sheet with hundreds of problems on it, 

It might even be the version that I compiled!

I did the arch problem comparatively recently on an open day, much to my son's embarrassment.  I thought the tweed sports jacket was a nice touch.

Dave Garnett - on 12 Apr 2019
In reply to tlouth7:

> I happen to know that there is some great chimneying on the John's College Cripps building, some of the climbs are even deep water solos!

Yes, I thought so too, but, again, was restrained by the potential embarrassment to offspring. 

PS.  Great overhang and mantelshelf where the punts are tied up.

Post edited at 10:17
DubyaJamesDubya - on 12 Apr 2019
In reply to Dave Garnett:

Ah the Arch. I was really chuffed when I did that. 5c on my sheet but somewhat harder than most of that grade I think. Someone in our club used to traverse the whole wall, including the arch, on his way to work and then the other way on his way home.

HardenClimber - on 13 Apr 2019
In reply to Wanderer100:

https://www.ukclimbing.com/photos/dbpage.php?id=326042

It still happens now, but more discretely.

HardenClimber - on 13 Apr 2019
In reply to McHeath:

I think it went up relatively intact (apart from no engine) with an A frame rigged on the caius side of Senate House Passage

Robert Durran - on 14 Apr 2019
In reply to Wanderer100:

I did a few routes in Cambridge in the early eighties including the South Face of Caius with the Senate House Leap. We did use a rope which was fortunate because my second half stalled onthe leap, met the rim at waist level and ended up dangling from his hands and being hauled up on a tight rope. I remember the Lion Chimney on the Fitzwilliam Museum being a bit of a classic. There were quite a few active night climbers at the time.

kevin stephens - on 14 Apr 2019
In reply to Dave Garnett:

I never had the bottle to complete the crux of the Arch Problem. I remember seeing a regular contender in the Library trying to get  a book off the shelves with both fore arms in plaster. I didn’t need to ask how he came by his injuries 

Post edited at 10:53
DubyaJamesDubya - on 15 Apr 2019
In reply to kevin stephens:

> I never had the bottle to complete the crux of the Arch Problem. I remember seeing a regular contender in the Library trying to get  a book off the shelves with both fore arms in plaster. I didn’t need to ask how he came by his injuries 

It definitely required commitment and an ability to forget where you are. I think it was all the harder because you had to keep some 'safe-fall margin' in reserve.

Dave Garnett - on 15 Apr 2019
In reply to kevin stephens:

> I never had the bottle to complete the crux of the Arch Problem. I remember seeing a regular contender in the Library trying to get  a book off the shelves with both fore arms in plaster. I didn’t need to ask how he came by his injuries 

I remember the incident well!


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