Geiles Gogarth

Crazy Germans huh? For some reason, Dennis insists on visiting the Peak District every year in the middle of summer. Undeterred by slopers hot and slippery, unfazed by clouds of midges thick, black and hungry, he returns, tries really hard, and falls off. A lot. "It's good for my head" he says. I try to convince him otherwise, at least get him out to the Lime, but he always declines. " I have much limestone in Frankenjura" . Maybe he's never experienced good connies? After a few evenings I just refuse to climb with him anymore. "See you next year," I say, "and you really should come earlier next time!"

Finally he listened, and came back for a couple of weeks in May. Much cooler than before, he starts ticking some slightly harder routes, It's still not exactly primo, but it's passable,  and no midges! For his last weekend I bundle him into the car and head for North Wales, keen to show him what British climbing does best - big gnarly sea cliffs.

As is the norm for Welsh Wales, we arrive in the pouring rain. A full winter of chronic desk-related RSI has left me too weak to even consider the standard climber's wet weather option of Parisella's Cave, so we head off to explore the slate quarries. I explain some of the history, how unique slate climbing is, but he isn't one bit impressed. Rusty chains, wobbly ladders and choss scrambling sind furchtbar. We bimble round half of the Snakes and Ladders route before sacking it in.

Rostigen leitern sind schrecklich!

The next day sees sunshine and the seaside is calling! Yellow gorse flowers fill the air with their thick, buttery scent as we stumble across the cliff top. What better introduction to proper UK trad (grit really doesn't count) than Drummond's classic Dream of White Horses? An exciting ab into an impressive zawn, belaying above the sea, fiddly gear, double ropes, tons of exposure and easy climbing. Unfortunately there's another team up ahead and they're taking forever to leave the first belay. Two teams behind too, it's gonna get busy.

Under normal circumstances, climbing a girdle traverse on a popular crag on a busy Saturday is about as anti-social as queue jumping at the bar, but what if the girdle traverse is THE major route of the crag? Surely then, climbing the straight-up routes is the charmless thing to do?

Concrete Chimney - Prima!

I ponder a moment, see the tangle of ropes surrounding the first team and zip off down the rope for a plan B. The tide is fully in, so we amble along the belay ledge to start the second pitch of Concrete Chimney, a delightful romp (yup, it's actually better than Dream) on steep and satisfying jugs. As planned, we're up and off in no time.

Teams on Dream of White Horses and Quartz Icicle - Toll!

Basking in the sunshine, Dennis spots the striking line of the Quartz Icicle and racks up. "Make sure you take lots of nuts!" I advise, handing him my bunch of smalls, knowing full well that he's come to the UK with a double set of cams, 8 DMM Offsets and that's it.

The Icicle Pitch is amazing, nice and sustained, mostly incut holds, a bit tricky for feet at times, and generally decent gear. Dennis sprints up but stops at the first distinct crux. He dallies; heavy breathing, some bizarre Ondra-style noises, a shout of "Watch Me" and ….. oh …. he seems to have traversed into Concrete Chimney and reversed all of the way back to the belay.

Dennis Bergmann on The Quartz Icicle - Ich habe Angst!

“I am really scared of this rock. It is like nothing I have ever climbed before, I think the hold will snap, maybe you try?” Sounds good to me! And hopefully it will get me out of leading the last pitch cos I found that really hard last time!

I pull the ropes, and rack up. Dennis has only gone and left all the small nuts on the top of the cliff, no wonder he's frightened! I give it a go, micro cams seem to do okay, although I could really do with a Wallnut 3 to stop my leg from trembling. Dennis leads the top pitch in good style, having finally got his head around the double rope system, and relaxed into the weird, flakey quartzite. Grinning from ear to ear we stroll back to the van.

Next morning, I have the great idea of nipping down to Castell Helen for a quick route before the South Stack Cafe opens for breakfast. Tangled ropes, soaking wet rock, razorbills and far too much fun mean we don't reach the top until after 1pm, and we stagger into the Caff and order two lunches, each. And cake.

Dennis on North West Passage - Einfach Klasse!

Unfortunately, the rest of the day isn't quite as fun. I manage to twang my shoulder on The Strand, I think the repetitive left hand slapping for 40 metres bores it to death or something, then, on his final route of the trip, Dennis totally shreds his hands on some little overhanging jam-crack up on Holyhead Mountain. And that's it, see you next year buddy!


By Simon Kimber
Web Editor

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Dads Crush

So it's been a while since my last blog, sorry about that, but as I mentioned many moons ago, I was about to become a father and hence the climbing may slow down a little. So now I am a father, and my daughter Isla is bloody ace, but this is a climbing blog. If you want to see one of my billion photos of her you will have to come in the shop and see me.

Just before Isla was born we hosted a lecture in the shop by Mr Energizer Bunny himself, Tim Emmett. As a father we asked him if it had slowed him down, his reply was simple “Dads crush!”. Hence the title. My climbing has slowed and changed, but I wouldn't say suffered. Having time constraints turned me into a boulderer for a little while, embarrassingly I quite enjoyed it and, for once, stuck with one discipline and I think I saw improvements.

Ginger Rich clamping the prow of Boyager, Font 7A+, Burbage North

Many of the Peak classics I had previously thought too hard for me got sent, which was cool! The Terrace (7C), T-Crack (7B), Late Junction (7B), Electrical Storm (7B), Purple Haze (7A+) all got ticked for the first time, and things I'd barely scraped up like Submergance (7C), Sparks (7B), Boyager (7A+) and Monochrome (7A) went with relative ease. It was nice to have felt the extra power from just bouldering, but unfortunately I don't feel like I used it on any real routes and I’m sure it's faded now, booo!

However bouldering season is over and it's time for trad! Of course we headed to Stoney, the greatest crag on earth, to re-familiarise ourselves with the classics including Scoop Wall, the easiest E2 on the Windy Ledge in our eyes (or is that E3, as the BMC Grading Squad seem to think?). Not many big things have been climbed of interest since the ropes came out but it was great to reclimb some amazing routes such as Asp (E3 6a), Tippler Direct (E3 6a), Chameleon (E4 6a) and other mega classics. The other reason for this blog is for once I have some awesome photos for you, since the one and only POD (Pete O’Donovan) was on hand to take some great pictures. Keep an eye out for (yet another) great selective guide book to the Peak District from him.

James on the classic Left Unconquerable, E1 5b, Stanage

Awesome finishing jugs - I couldn't resist the pose!

Surprisingly tricky moves above the roof of Flying Buttress Direct, HVS 5b, Stanage

James cruising through the crux of Chameleon, E4 6a, Stanage

So now it's summer it means it's time for lime! If you ever struggle for motivation the brand new BMC Peak Limestone guide book is now here too, the greatest guide ever written to the greatest crags on earth! You lucky, lucky people. I will try my best to do as advised by Mr Emmett and next time, hopefully, have some more exciting things to write about.

Thanks to Pete O'Donovan for the photos!

By James Turnbull

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James Turnbull
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Climbing Scafell on Borrowed Lungs

Huge congratulations to Amanda Henchliffe, one of our regular customers, for successfully climbing Scafell Pike just two years after receiving a life-saving full heart and lung transplant!

Amanda Henchliffe, hiking England's highest mountain Scafell Pike, just 2 years after a full heart and lung transplant Amanda Henchliffe, hiking England's highest mountain Scafell Pike, just 2 years after a full heart and lung transplant

Managed it!!!!  It was truly amazing, very busy but none the less awe inspiring!! We had a lovely view, and it was extremely emotional - I did not find the ascent (or descent!!!!) easy. My heart and lungs were amazing not breathless at all but my legs had definitely met their match!!!  It is testament to the donor and her family as well as the skill of the surgeon and medical/nursing team!!!

 p.s. Good fitting boots, appropriate clothing and walking poles made my trip possible, safe and comfortable!!!

Amanda Henchliffe, hiking England's highest mountain Scafell Pike, just 2 years after a full heart and lung transplant Amanda Henchliffe, hiking England's highest mountain Scafell Pike, just 2 years after a full heart and lung transplant Amanda Henchliffe, hiking England's highest mountain Scafell Pike, just 2 years after a full heart and lung transplant

My condition

I was born with a coarctation of the aorta. This was not corrected until I was aged 4. As a consequence I developed Endocardial Fibroelastosis-a very rare condition. This was diagnosed during my nurse training when it was found that I had Severe Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension.

At the age of 26 I went into Atrial Fibrillation, ultimately requiring ablation of the AV node with full pacing support from a pacemaker (to give me a heart beat). This was my Millennium present!!

Subsequent years found my symptoms gradually deteriorating with the onset of heart failure. This had a devastating effect on my family, friends and myself. I had to stop being the outdoor, active, Mother, Wife, academic person (-always trying to progress myself in my career) and gradually become dependent upon others for help with the simplest of things. I had to stop my career as a Practice Nurse as I became too ill to be added to the transplant waiting list despite still managing to work 40 hrs a week. THIS WAS ALL UTTERLY DEVASTATING!!!!!!!!!

The transplant

The Freeman Hospital in Newcastle serves the whole of the UK especially where rare, complicated conditions require treatment. Combined heart and lung transplants are extremely rare. In the year that I had mine only 4 of these procedures were carried out in the whole of the UK.

I had my first call in August 2012. This was a false alarm so was sent home. At the 2nd call in February 2013 we had the 999 ambulance dash to Newcastle. When the call came it felt very different to my false alarm call - I just knew this was it and was initially frightened to go through with it. With David and Evan with me I never doubted that it was the right thing for us. I was in theatre for 6 1/2 hours going to ITU at approx 11.30-12 midnight. By 9am I was waking up, off ventilation, my new organs fully supporting me. I was warm, in fact I felt hot and flushed. I could breath, lie flat. I knew I had made it through. Those caring for me were absolutely tremendous, caring, supporting, encouraging and I was able to return home after 3 weeks!

Life after transplant

For my 1st birthday, I held a party, in recognition for everyone who had supported us, but mostly to acknowledge my donor family. We raised a little money for the Freeman Heart/Lung Transplant Association.

Despite a few little niggles, I am: back at work nursing, pain free, I can breath, I am warm, can eat/drink, am able to socialise. I take less tablets than before. With support, I am able to take part in physical activity, and have increased my self confidence trying new skills like climbing, and I plan to integrate scrambling into my walks. I take part in Transplant Sport.

During the past 2 years since my surgery, my husband and I have purchased our equipment from yourselves purely because any purchase has been supported with expert advice from friendly staff. This has been greatly appreciated keeping me safe, warm and comfortable!! As a way of thank you I wanted to 'fly the flag' for your company and my 'summits'.

This year my goal was to climb/walk Kinder Scout, I achieved this in March after having climbed High Cup Nick in Cumbria, and so on to Scafell!

Amanda Henchliffe, hiking England's highest mountain Scafell Pike, just 2 years after a full heart and lung transplant Amanda Henchliffe, hiking England's highest mountain Scafell Pike, just 2 years after a full heart and lung transplant

I am alive and am positive about life and the future. My motto throughout has been “I will try” and I am hoping that this is fulfilling my part of the contract with my donor family and the team looking after me, helping to make the transplant process a success to inspire others.

Well done Amanda! Hopefully we'll be seeing you up many more mountains yet! If you haven't already, please take a moment to join the Organ Donor Register. It really is as close as you can get to life after death. 

By Simon Kimber
Web Editor

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Simon Kimber
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