Cioch Climbing Club

On the crag, the regular familiarity of limestone must have brought on a mood of confidence as little by little, the Cioch began new routeing, the first record of such being from November 1962 with Axle, A1 HVS, which traversed Prayer Wheel Wall on pitons, starting from a point some way up Asparagus. This mini-milestone was done by Chris

Bob Dearman
Bob Dearman

Jackson and Bob Roe. (Artificial grades went A1 to A3 then, A3 being the hardest.) For whatever reason, this route never got recorded in any guidebook but is significant in our group adopting the notion of new routeing. Chris went on to make significant first ascents not only at Stoney

Chris Jackson
Chris Jackson trying to look old.

Middleton but elsewhere in the Peak District, North Wales, Scotland, Ireland and was a member of the successful Patagonian expedition to The Fortress in 1967/8.

Continuing on from the Axle, at the beginning of 1963, Bob Dearman and Graham ‘Graz’ Hawker climbed Helicon on Garage Buttress as an aid route, A2 V Diff. During this ascent, they placed the first bolt at Stoney which has since gone. It was a gutsy beginning for Bob who went on to make other first ascents, often aided climbs as was quite normal at that time with such as Damocles, A2 Severe, accompanied by Jack Street and Chris Jackson, Circe A2, Kellogg with Graz and, moving further afield, the then futuristic Prow at Raven Tor.

Graham ‘Graz’ Hawker
Graham ‘Graz’ Hawker probably removing gear from Damocles

Even further afield, he was also the first of us to do Cenotaph Corner, climb at Cloggy and years later make an ascent of the North Face of the Eiger.

Around the same time, the club’s great technician, John ‘Ackers’ Atkinson made the first free ascent of the nice short problem, Om, which had been A1 but now became HVS. This was some decades before the alternative entrance to Carl’s Wark Cave was uncovered down which you would now fall if you fell off. He also did the Direct Start to Minestrone at VS. More significantly he did the first free ascent of Barry Webb’s Padme (aka Pology Wall) without the two pegs for aid.

Throughout 1963, Gerry Langsley, now at Leeds University, was active with fellow student and new Cioch member, Dave Nicol. In The Quarry, they overcame vegetation to climb Acrophobia VS, Pastoral Corner HS, Prolapse VS and Predator MS. Back on the Promenade they also climbed Jungle Arete MS

John ‘Ackers’ Atkinson
John ‘Ackers’ Atkinson looking worried

which some time later  fell down and the route became Jungle Groove. Braver still, they ventured onto the heights of Windy ledge to make an aid ascent of Inquisitor at A3, a hard grade then.

It was normal at this time, and for some time afterwards, to carry a peg hammer either hanging from the rope tied round your waist or in your back pocket and to place a peg for a runner or as direct  aid whilst you climbed and it was often the case, for financial reasons, for the second to remove them. As aid climbing became popular, visitors to the area often left numerous pegs behind and such as Bob Dearman, who needed them for his prolific activities, would make abseil expeditions to re-home them. Another member of our club Brian ‘The Nose’ Moore and a club acquaintance, Pete Fieldsend, embarked on a siege of the great rake that traversed Garage Buttress. There was always a bit of affectionate cruelty in the Cioch and Brian’s nickname was Brian the Nose due to the front forks of his bicycle collapsing whilst racing downhill which virtually wiped out his nose. I seem to recall that the rebuilding of his nose by attaching  living strips of skin from his chest was a first of its type. He was quite a bit older than the rest of us with a wife and child. Most of us didn’t even have a regular girlfriend then so he was a good source of information about the opposite sex. Regardless, Brian and Pete climbed the great rake over a number of days and with the pegs in place made a complete ascent in four and a half hours, graded VS A3.

I suspect the A3 bit was due to climbing from right-to-left which would involve putting pegs

Homemade Bolt
An example of a home made bolt and split copper sleeve. The thread here is 5/8th” long.

and wedges in left-handed. Chris Jackson and Jack Street subsequently climbed it as a free route with two points for aid which in due course were done without. Brian made quite a number of first ascents and specialised in aid climbing culminating in the first ascent of The Spider which takes the widest point of the overhang on Plum Buttress, Chee Dale.

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