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Some Climbing Snippets

John Watson

The B.E.C. conjures up many images; - crawling around in dark dank holes, never ending sessions at the Hunters Lodge, digging for that elusive 50' of a cave passage that will win the digging Barrel and many more.

The club's name however suggests, unlike most other caving clubs, a tradition in other fields of exploration, lost to all but a few older members.  Whilst looking through an old B.B. about the original exploration of Manor Farm.  I was surprised to see on the list of committee posts the words 'Climbing Sec'. This inspired me to write this article and perhaps rekindle an old tradition.

This year more than most, climbing has become a frequent topic of conversation in the Hunters - even the likes of Martin Grass has expressed an interest, a number of offers have been forthcoming, one from an ex-member related to the "Mallard" family but I fear for some ulterior motive.

Early this year (1990 - Ed.) at an all too infrequent barrel at the Wessex, silly games were the order of the night. Now as anyone who has been to the Wessex will know, they have some very fine climbing frames - roof supports in the main room.

A voice from the crowd suggests a race from one end of the beam to the other, a 'stranger' suddenly appears at one end and quickly demonstrates his prowess by falling off and upsetting my missus by landing in her knitting.  'Who is this bloke'?!  No challenger forthcoming I volunteer, 'Climber versus caver' suggests a voice. I lost but he cheated - well that’s my excuse.  Who is that bloke? “Oh that's Dick Broomhead", J'Rat says.

A few weeks later Dick suggests that Derek Targett myself go climbing in Cheddar Gorge one evening as Dick cleared some new lines above the reservoir area, just before you get to Pig's Hole.

The evening was fine, the climbs were fine, one Hard Very Severe 5a, the other Very Severe 5a, both about 70' high, well protected and excellent routes.  Another climb just to the right, an H.V.S., was climbed a week later by Dick and myself.  Snablet and I repeated the first climb several months later and judging by the other routes in this area is well worth a star.

Climbing these new routes reminded me of the potential of a small quarry behind the village of West Horrington.

Apart from the quarry there is a very fine lime kiln and number of interesting old mine workings, all explored.  I think, by B.E.C. members In the past.  The area is well worth a visit.

Back to the quarry, the main face is 45-50' high and 30' wide, vertical and featureless apart from a small overhang at 20'.  There are a number of other bays and interesting crack lines.  I remember looking at the main face thinking it would go at E5, too hard for me!

Two years later I found myself living in West Horrington and spent many hours bouldering in the quarry, but I was not alone.  One weekend I arrived at the quarry and was surprised to see Brian Prewer dangling on a piece of rope, practicing S.R.T. for the Berger.  He had placed a bolt at about 15' for a change-over manoeuvre; this was to come in useful a few years later.

The drawback of living on Mendip at the time was that nobody went climbing, apart from our feathered friend, a very elusive Duck when it came to arranging climbing, so I enlisted the help of Lavinia to top rope me up a number of lines.  Later Steve Milner, Snablet and a couple of local lads were to become climbing partners, it was time to divulge crag X, i.e. Horrington Quarry. So, one Saturday morning, Steve Milner, Snablet, Mike Macdonald and myself spent a couple of hours top roping up and down on the end of a rope, Snablet managing to invert himself at one point in the way only Snablet could do.

In all, three climbs have been led and one soloed.

The first a flared corner crack, 40' high, grade 5a with very sparse protection.  At the moment the crack is a bit dirty but cleaned out it would be an excellent route, if somewhat serious.

Later on in the year, Dick and I managed two new lines.

I led the main wall at the third attempt, 50' high, grade E2/3, 5c/6a, protection being a peg at 25' and Brian's bolt at 15’ which is the crux, the climbing is very fingery and sustained and probably at the higher grade.  Dick led the overhanging crack line in the next bay, after extensive gardening, the first 20' is very sustained at 5b, H.V.S./E1

Both climbs are short but very good.  There are at least 6 other routes to be done if anyone is interested but all of them will be extremes.

Next spring, I hope we can have a club climbing/caving meet.  If anyone is interested see either Dick or myself.  Hopefully 1991 will see even more members climbing above ground as well as below and perhaps even a climbing sec. post on the committee!  Any offers?