North Wales pioneer Colin Goodey passes away

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'. 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.

Forums (12 comments)

I only said hello once, briefly, from halfway up one of his CIQ routes, so don't have any real anecdotes, but owe a great debt of gratitude as without Colin Goodey (and more  lately the Lloyd Jones clan) there would be...
I met Colin several times. First time was on the slate, where he showed me round all his recently climbed routes and left me with his phone number and e mail for future reference The next time was in Penmaenbach last...
Much saddened to hear of Colin's passing. Harder to accept as I'd been in contact with him only recently. He started climbing at Castle Inn in 1958 with friends and as late as 2011 he was still putting up some much...
Funnily enough it was me that created that tick-list, but promptly removed it after one user (rightly) highlighted that access negotiations to Craig y Forwyn are currently taking place and it might not be a wise time...
  I climbed with Colin in the 70’s mainly at Craig y Forwyn when the University climbing club was putting together the first route descriptions.  A fond memory after tea at his house  was spending a warm barmy...
Beautiful movie, thanks.   The film mentions 42 FAs I think, anyone have the full list? I noticed a ticklist added today but it only has a few so far ( A couple of...

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