My best recollection of the following events is that for whatever reason, I was abseiling down Windy Buttress down the line of Flakes Direct when I noticed a line of holds between me and Windhover and realised what a magnificent exposed route it would make. However, being naive, I mentioned this to the others and in my innocence was surprised to find out the following Saturday that Hot Pants had climbed it with Wattles that morning, knowing that I worked Saturday mornings, and called it Armageddon. It was and still is a classic climb of modest grade with thrilling exposure and NO, I have still not forgiven him.
We had many other groups of climbers frequenting Stoney by 1964. There were the Ripley lot, in particular Big John Cooper. The Nottingham Mountaineering Club was dominantly led by Doug Scott who went on to do some bigger climbs such as on Strone Ulladale and Everest. The Black and Tans from Manchester used the hut for dossing and occasionally paid their fees. Also, the Manchester Grit lads sometimes stayed who engaged us in ‘Putty Tin Wrestling’ whereby two people gripped the edge of an empty tin and
tried to wrestle it from the other. The North Staffs Mountaineering Club became quite close friends and even invited us as guests to their dinners. One of their members, Pete Ruddell, was first reserve for the Olympic judo team and many a happy hour was spent being tied in knots by him on the club bunks. From this club, Dave Sales and Rob Hassall joined the Cioch. Dave was an outstanding climber, one of the best around at that time. He was calm and steady with arms that never seemed to get tired. He was also involved in engineering and designed the first custom built alloy multi-faceted nuts that I ever saw or heard of. In the summer of 1964, I held Dave’s rope whilst he made the second ascent of Brown Corner in The Quarry. The bottom of this route is muddy and unwelcoming and had stopped a few attempts but Dave made a steady job of it. I found that after the bottom bit, the rest was actually quite nice climbing on good rock. The next day, I went with him to Stanage to do Quietus. None of our generation had repeated this classic Brown route so it was a big hit for us. It had rained heavily in the night and the cracks above the overhang were still wet. Basically, Dave fell off whilst trying to place his foot on the lip, the runners pulled and he fell to the ground making a perfect landing on both feet on grass. He had caught his side on the slab below the overhang which ruptured his spleen and which caused his death at the scene. It was Sunday 21st June 1964. He was 23 years old.
I was back on Medusa again but this time I stepped right at an early break and climbed a parallel crack to finish up the upper arête of Golden Gate. It made a nice HVS addition to the crag which I named Gesemini. I think it was supposed to be Gethsemane but I didn’t know how to spell it then.
A week later, the book records that Jack led Carl’s Wark Crack with a nut for aid. We then walked to Chatsworth where I did Sentinel Crack, a third ascent possibly. We were steadily climbing the hard Brown/Whillans routes by now and feeling more and more confident.
Initially, according to Paul Nunn’s history in the 1969 guidebook, ‘ Bob Dearman and Brian Moore traversed Windy Ledge Buttress, their first crossing ending at Kingdom Come and involving much loose rock and artificial aid. Chris Jackson with B Moore later managed to dispense with most of the aid, also adding two fine extra pitches.[Dec 1964]’ This would have been from Windhover to Inquisitor.
Later, Chris and myself went back and made the first complete ascent of the whole route in two and a quarter hours. Quite why we recorded times seems quite odd now. What I do recall was having to descend part of Windhover from the high stance to join the traverse of The Flakes which was heroically unreasonable for the second compounded further on by the downward moves into Kellogg where on both occasions the leader would have had the comfort of effectively a top-rope. Was I really so naive as to fall for that? Whatever, it was a magnificent route and enjoyed by so many since. Jack made a smart repeat of the route making a traverse straight across at the foot level of the Windhover stance to reach The Flakes where the Direct exits. It was not only better climbing but avoided most of the down and back up bit to join the Flakes.
Dead Banana Crack – circa July 1965
From the hut book:
The route follows a thin crack and series of flakes about 20′ right of the start of Froth. 1. 60′ Ascend the crack for 20′ then using a nut for aid gain the better crack above. Continue straight up (avoiding its escape route to the right) until a trying move allows the niche on Froth to be attained.
Jack Street & Chris Jackson [the same Chris Jackson who pinched Armageddon]
I must have had ‘Gullible Youth’ tattooed on my forehead as the week before this we stripped the ivy off the wall below the traverse of Froth by abseil to reveal various possibilities but, in particular, one crack which caught the eye. It was considered fair game to run off with somebody’s abseil rope whilst they were still descending and tie it tight to a far away tree which is what happened to me on this occasion. This was before figure of eight descendeurs when we used a karabiner twist and the result was that I stopped dead on the rope somewhere out in space. The only solution was to drag myself down the rope, all the way to the tree. I wasn’t being picked on as this kind of thing happened to everybody. To the credit of the Cioch, piss-taking and practical jokes were evenly spread; unlike new routes. As it happened, I was working the following Saturday morning (again!) when Jack nipped out and nabbed Dead Banana Crack up the newly cleaned wall beneath Froth finishing up that route. Yes, I was poked off and quickly made a second ascent adding a top pitch. It wasn’t just us that were competitive when it came to new routeing which was common worldwide throughout climbing history which is rich with such stories and really, an odd crack at Stoney is small beer compared with say the Eiger Direct; apart from Armageddon that is.