North Wales pioneer Colin Goodey passes away

© Filmuphigh

On 5th March 2018 Colin Goodey passed away aged 82. A true pioneer of North Wales climbing, Colin began his new routing career as far back as 1947, by developing his local crag - The Great Orme - many years before it actually became popular. In 1967 he made the first ascent of what is perhaps his most famous route, the Extreme Rock classic 'Great Wall' on Craig y Forwyn, which for those lucky enough to have climbed it (it is currently banned) is one of the finest pieces of inland limestone in the country. However, Colin was not a man stuck in the past, he was a man who despite his years very much kept with the times. In/around the time of foot and mouth it was him that gave the green light to bolt routes at Castle Inn Quarry, which were transformed from an esoteric backwater to the much loved and popular venue that it is today. In 2007 he went through another of what became many leases of life, when he set about developing a whole set of routes in the Llanberis slate quarries, producing once again a series of climbs that transformed a previously inaccessible area into somewhere that everyone could enjoy. This is a legacy that very few climbers can offer

Calum Muskett recounts some of his own memories and experiences of life with Colin:

There can't be many people who have had a life as colourful as Colin Goodey's. I first met Colin some 12 years ago in the slate quarries above Llanberis when he was at the beginning of one of his archetypal bursts of energy, re-invigorating the local climbing scene with a quiver of quality low grade sport climbs. Over fifty years my senior, Colin's enthusiasm, warmth and vigour were infectious and never failed to inspire me to make the most of my day. At the heart of Colin's new routing ambitions was a desire to provide quality low grade sport climbing for all to enjoy. He wanted to share his passion for the outdoors and soon enough climbers young and old were flocking to the slate quarries from near and far – I even remember seeing Joe Brown enjoying a warm afternoon in the quarries repeating one of Colin's routes.

Colin Goodey in his element, bolting a new route on the Great Orme
© Ray Wood

Colin's background was as a teacher at the then HMS Conway on the Menai Straits which he would often reminisce about with his prodigious talent of spinning yarns. I remember one tale of him sneaking in a football for one of his students despite football being banned in that old-fashioned establishment. That student later became rather famous for using a different shaped ball when he managed the England rugby team to their World Cup victory in 2003.

Colin learnt to rock climb soon after the second world war and one of his earliest memories of climbing in the Llanberis Pass was as an apprentice to Don Whillans making an early repeat of 'Ivy Sepulchre'. The pleasure, Colin remembered, was all his and Whillans ate the teenager's lunch after the climb as a just reward for taking him up one of the hardest routes in the country. Whillans moved to Llanfairfechan in later life and the pair remained good friends for many years.

It was soon after Colin's time at HMS Conway that he opened the Towers outdoor centre with his wife Sue where he combined his passion for teaching with the outdoors. One of his favourite trips to take groups on was down the local slate mines and he used to take great pleasure telling the kids that if they were quiet they would hear the ghosts of the miners; when they were all quiet he would turn a cassette player on with pre-recorded voices and pretend not to hear them himself. Unfortunately, the ghosts became a little too well known when the BBC caught wind of the story and the ghosts were silent once more.

Colin repeating his own route, Great Wall at Craig y Forwyn, with Calum
© Ray Wood

Colin Goodey on Hawk Eye
© bryn

One of the last occasions I climbed with Colin was taking him up his own route on Craig y Forwyn, the famous 'Great Wall (E4 6a)'. Colin had made the first ascent of the route in 1967 with Dr. Noel Dilly with a few points of aid and we returned, 43 years later for the septuagenarian to climb it once again, only this time on a stealth mission to keep the landowner from hearing us. All was going smoothly until Colin reached the final ten metres and needed a bit of extra help to reach the top of the cliff. At this point the landowner was alerted to our presence and started shouting at us from below, whilst Colin retorted pleasantly that he remembered climbing there before the landowner owned the caravan park – myself and Ray Wood were left with the more difficult job of keeping our heads down and hauling Colin up to the top!

Colin will be dearly missed but his new routes, anecdotes and tales leave behind a lasting legacy that many will never forget.

For a little greater insight into Colin's lust for life, take five minutes out of your day and watch Rob Johnson's superb production Do What You Can Now which was filmed back in December 2016.

This post has been read 15,353 times

Return to Latest News

Support UKC

As climbers we strive to make UKClimbing the kind of website we would love to visit, with the most up-to-date news, diverse and interesting articles, comprehensive gear reviews, breathtaking photographs and a vast and useful logbook system. As a result, an incredible community has formed around the site - we’ve provided the framework but it’s you who make the website what it is today. If you appreciate the content we offer then you can help us by becoming an official UKC Supporter. This can be a one-off single annual payment or a more substantial payment paid monthly or yearly which includes full access to Rockfax Digital and discounts on Rockfax print publications.

If you appreciate UKClimbing then please help us by becoming a UKC Supporter.

UKC Supporter

  • Support the website we all know and love
  • Access to a year's subscription to Rockfax Digital.
  • Plus 30% off Rockfax guidebooks
  • Plus Show your support UKC porter badge on your profile and forum posts
UKC/UKH/Rockfax logo

6 Mar, 2018

Very sad news indeed. I had the privilege to meet Colin and Sue and climb with him in the late 1970s as I was renting a flat in the Towers at the time. I can vividly remember climbing Mojo at Craig y Forwyn with him as he very briefly gave me a lot of unwanted slack after I asked him to watch the rope on the traverse. We met again at Tremadog's Craig y Castell some years later; he was there with Sue and their daughter Delyth (aka 'the rock dancer's daughter'.) True to form, he pointed us at the first pitch of Tarantula as a better start to Tantalus, saying it was grossly overgraded and a 'piece of piss'. A little later I could hear him laughing at all the squawking going on about the lack of holds on the slab. Yes, very funny indeed......

I followed his bolting exploits in the slate quarries with great interest and later on had a couple of memorable balmy October days in Dali's Hole climbing Colin's routes side by side with Joe Brown, who was there climbing on his birthday two years running. Joe wasn't very complimentary about sport climbing in general despite clearly really enjoying himself. He very dryly dismissed Colin's bolting as  the product of 'a hyperactive pensioner who has more money than sense'. Colin had sense though and it was a shame that his efforts to provide easy sport routes at Dali's were later abused and the bolts removed as a result.

Lovely tribute by Callum and I really enjoyed the video. It brought back some fond memories and it was nice to see that the self-effacing sense of humour still remained.

Despite living in North Wales for over 10 years I never met Colin, which is something that I'm actually quite sad about as I've heard so many stories about him. They say never meet your heroes, but here is a real life hero that I'm pretty sure would have excelled all expectations had you have met him in person.

What I find particularly fascinating about Colin is his open-mindedness and how he moved with the times. It is easy to get stuck in the past and fixated on a perceived 'golden age', but Colin - from the outside looking in - just seemed to live the golden age. Do What You Can Now is aptly named not least for his approach to climbing, but also his approach life. Were there to be a philosophy to live your life by I think you do worse than live it by this.



6 Mar, 2018
I am lucky to have a few great memories of Colin, nowhere near as many as others but enough to bring a smile to my face every time I think about him.

My condolences to Sue and his family. 


6 Mar, 2018

Beautiful film, thanks.

6 Mar, 2018

Apart from Castle Inn I think he was responsible for the newer bolted routes in Bus Stop. One of life's characters. RIP Colin.


More Comments
Loading Notifications...
Facebook Twitter Copy Email LinkedIn Pinterest