Around one hundred climbers descended on Stoney Middleton this weekend for a get together to celebrate the past and present of this iconic limestone crag in the Peak District.
The climbers' ages ranged from 2 years old to 80+ and included those intimately involved with new routing in this limestone dale, to climbers, like myself, who just enjoy the fruits of their labour.
UB40 climbers of the 1980's
Well represented were the UB40 climbers of the 1980's, once unemployed youths who essentially got a government grant to climb full-time. Some, like Jerry Moffat and Ben Moon - both there this weekend, used their training at Stoney to establish some of the hardest climbs in the world and many of that generation are now successful business people or academics.
The weather was mixed, alternating between glorious sunshine and torrential rain, but that didn't dampen the re-establishment of relationships forged decades ago and many episodes were recalled from the past. In the words of Nick Colton, deputy CEO at the BMC, "the craic was good".
The BMC, Wild Country, UKClimbing.com and Infantechnology paid for food over the weekend which started with breakfast on Saturday morning, a BBQ Saturday evening and a full breakfast on Sunday morning. In the evening it was down to The Moon - now the only pub in Stoney - which was the hang of climbers in days of old. It was lovely to meet Kath Proctor, widow of Tom Proctor. At the end of the evening, many climbers stayed over either dossing up on Windy Ledge, in tents or in their cars. Some even had an very early breakfast. Yes the barbie was cranked up for a hungry Martin Atkinson, CEO of the new Wild Country/DMM company, Excalibur Wales, and Chris Gore at 1am as a punk rock compilation pounded out from the stereo.
How It Came About?
The stimulation for the weekend came from Phil Kelly's work collecting, scanning and indexing the UK's new route books at his website The Rock Archivist.
Flesh was put on those bones by Mick Ward's article published at UKClimbing.com Tales of Windy Ledge
The forum thread associated with that article had over 100 replies and was noticed far and wide, bringing some old time climbers out from the woodwork. Forums have a complex dynamic and are often misunderstood but they can often stimulate positive climbing and social experiences beyond cyberspace. This weekend was a good example of that.
Much climbing was done over the weekend. Most of the classics had ascents, Om, Man, Padme, Minus Ten, Double Scotch, Wee Doris, Dead Banana Crack, Dies Irae, Circe, Windhover, and Scoop Wall. On Saturday one young man tumbled the full length of Minus Ten stopping just short of the floor, and unfortunately someone decked out from Double Scotch late Sunday when their three cams ripped - we wish you a speedy recovery and thanks to Edale Mountain Rescue for the fast response. Perhaps one of the most impressive performances was by Neil Foster on Circe, given E5 6b in the guidebook.
Nick Colton provided a preliminary list of climbers present. They include:
'Steve Bancroft, John Allen, Chris Addy, Claudia Dunn, Jim Reading, Dave Vose, John Stringfellow, Nick and Tom Bond, Paul Mitchell, Phil Burke, Rory Gregory, Brian Hall, Greg Rimmer, Neil Foster, Clare Reading, Keith Sharples, Bill Briggs, Loris Doyle, Pete Mead, Jim Curran, Dennis Gray, Terry and Gill Gifford, Mick Ward, Geoff Birtles, Kath Procter, Jack Street, John Atkinson, Bernard and Jan Newman, John Beattie, Jerry Moffat, Craig Smith, Ben Moon, Quentin Fisher, Mark Leach, Martin Atkinson, Chris Gore, Graham Hoey, Chris Plant, Simon Lee, Bob Dearman, Al Phizacklea,James McHaffie, Sophie Evitt, Mike Waters, Martin Veale, Andy Elliot, Rick Scott, Dominic Lee, Daniel Lee, Mike Chapman, Steve Lewis, John Loy, Geoff Birtles, John Bray, Paul J, Si Berry, Paul Niland ...and very many other people - probably about 100 people altogether over the weekend.'
We will try and update that list.
Further Reading and Photographs
Nick Colton has a report about the weekend at the BMC website
Keith Sharples, who was taking photographs at Stoney for his forthcoming calendar has a report and photos up about the weekend as well at his blog: blog.keithsharplesphotography.co.uk
UKClimbing.com will have more photographs up later this week. See photos below.
A huge thank you to all involved, especially to everyone who turned up and to the sponsors: The BMC, Wild Country, UKClimbing.com, The Rock Archivist and Infantechnology.
A Very Special Thanks
A very special mention to Adrian Heath, the owner of the Lover's Leap Garage and most of Stoney where we climb. Adrian gave us permission to hold this weekends event, allowed access for cars to the parking and supplied us with water. Adrian is a guardian of the area as well as owner, and he takes great pride in the upkeep of the Stoney Middleton dale which is used for other outdoor activties as well as climbing. Thank you Adrian on behalf of the climbing community.
Thank you also to Michael Miller, church warden and the parish of St Martin's Church, Stoney Middleton for lending us some tables.
Phil Kelly is contemplating another Stoney weekend next year, and maybe similar weekends celebrating other crags, Malham/Yorkshire Limestone, Pembroke and the Lakes were suggested.