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Review 2009

Submitted by: Peter Cooper

A review of Peter Cooper's, foreshortened, 2009

Three years on from my first annual review, I am still waiting and wanting to see your annual reviews too. I want to hear about 1000-pitch traverses of coastline and your new E10 scramble.

January saw a very keen start to 2009. Anthony Feeney and myself braved a bitterly-freezing day at Dunmore Head; Anthony led the perennially popular 'Orange Blossom'. We found some more sheltered climbing around at Finbarr Wall, where we eventually went blue. By enlisting some basic Irish survival skills, we were able to recover our lost body heat. No we didn't avail ourselves of sheep or each other, we thrashed-out a new meets lists by the fire; in a Culdaff pub.

Sometime later I got to do some warmer climbs with Anthony, at Birmingham's Red Point Climbing Wall. Derry to Brum flights can be extremely cheap. Later we had the odd jar or two in a few odd bars. Very kindly, Anthony put me up in his luxury apartment. Next morning (sensitive types turn away now) my bum felt a bit sore. A tired-yet-contented-looking Anthony rolled over and said he had no idea where the empty bottle of chloroform, on the pillow, had come from! Unbelievably, the same brand of chloroform was found in the bivvi bag that Anthony shared with Michael Hassan, when they were benighted on Ben Nevis. And, come to think of it, on that ledge up Tryfan when Anthony and Pete Smith were nearly benighted. What were the chances of that? Surely mere coincidences.

In the springtime I was lucky enough to have some trips to North Wales, for the first time in years. First trip was with Dave Millar and Valli. We climbed on Holyhead Mountain, Anglesey, which I found testing. The next day we climbed on the llanberis slate finishing off the day up The Pass. A nice return to some of my favourite places.

A second trip was had with Geoff Thomas. At Tremadog, Geoff pointed me up 'Scratch Arête' and 'Merlin Direct': HVS-heaven. Thanks Geoff. A stop in the Ex-Aber CC hut provided a good base, I slept well and didn't see any chloroform bottles in the morning; Geoff mumbled something like 'Anthony hadn't stayed there'. I even managed to climb a new micro-route with Geoff and, his friend, Dave Williams in the Ogwen Valley. With new routes in Ireland, Yorkshire and Wales; Scotland must be next.

In May, fellow Inishowen local Alan Tees and myself climbed 7 new routes in a day at Malin Head and Glengad Wall, Galavoir. Those of you that know me well will be aware that new-routing is where it's at for me. Keen to get feedback on those routes, particularly 'FFS' at Malin Head.

The Climbfest 09 was a great occassion, as ever. Skelpoonagh was a 1st for me and the return to Malinbeg was great. Why is there never enough time? Geoff Thomas and myself got early repeats of the new Alba Wall climbs, done by Chris McDaid and Iain Miller. 'Flying Enterprise' was a delight, with its tough 5a crux, it remains memorable and deserving of its 3 stars. Geoff, Valli and myself even slipped in a new route to round off the fun.

The year was proving enjoyable and going well. I replaced my worn out climbing shoes, ready for the rest of the year's climbing adventures; by crippling myself in extremely tight new scarpa climbing shoes. Then came June.

June 13th was a Saturday, not a Friday. I got to climb, again, with Dave Williams in North Wales. A fixed lower-off failed, I fell 11metres and spent six weeks in Hospital. Folks at the crag were amazing, administering 1st aid and stretchered me to the helicopter. Dave was an absolute rock,no pun intended. Dave and, another new friend, Tim Sparrow travelled 5hrs+ (round trip from mid-Wales) for 1hr visits to see me in Salford hospital - great guys indeed! I wouldn't have done it for me...and I'm me. Later in June, Dave had an accident too, smashing his heel 'good-and-proper'. I managed to get to his hospital in Wrexham (Wales), on the last day he was there, his face was an unforgettable picture as I rolled into his room in my wheelchair. Also in June, my good friend Alan Tees managed to get his hand broken. Some month. Fortunately, Dave's progressing well and will soon be walking tall, again; without crutches. Alan is now climbing again and once more he's joyfully playing his banjo... unfortunately! I eventually walked again in September, with crutches, and should have my Ilizarov frame off around springtime. Out of 'the four of us', Michael Jackson definitely had the worst June.

And, after a short interruption (see above), guidebook work began again at the end of summer. I am going back to primary sources and I've already found some lost routes, crags and occassional errors; some of which have been repeated for over 45 years! It's a big job and I must thank all those who are contributing, via phone, mail, e-mail and the on-line guide. Thanks also to the IMC and CC for their help too. A historical article on The Poisoned Glen should appear in the next IMC Journal, to whet appetites. Keep up your contributions, YOUR GUIDE NEEDS YOU.

November saw the CCC AGM and that was great to catch up with a lot of folks, who I had missed greatly. Membership's up. We voted to produce a journal, for our 'official' 10th anniversary year; hopefully this will become an annual publication. So contact me or Anthony to let me know what you want to see in the Journal. I was also able to say a big thanks for calls, cards, texts, e-mails and the very kind donations you've made (Thanks again, CCCrs and Sligo climbers). And, thanks again for voting me in as President, once more. It means a lot to me, even if I can't participate in the climbing at the moment.

Paul Dunlop, three years on, continues his marathon-epic-near thankless task to help Derry get a badly-needed new climbing wall. Congratulations to Paul on his great progress, architects-plans have been circulated. Once built we should see a great rise in fitness, standards of climbing and, over time, a huge growth in the North-West's climbing scene; locally and within the region's educational establishments. We need to support him in this work whenever he asks.

What a winter! Donegal saw its best winter conditions since I, honestly, don't know when. It brought folks out of the woodwork who I thought had died, or worse given up climbing.

2009 A year to remember, especially for my family. It's not all bad news though: Sheila's learning guitar, in-between looking after our three girls (who are thriving), the dogs, the gerbils and, then, me. I hope 2010 is a bumper year for all of us in the Colmcille Climbers Club.


26 Jan 2010

Thanks for that Pete. You're a tonic. A great example of smiling through adversity. Good luck in 2010.

10 Feb 2010

Well done Peter. Amazing how some people dont whinge through adversity. I would!

10 Feb 2010
Chris McDaid

Pete, Any assistance reqd with topos let me know. Hope yer recovery is goin well Cheers

11 Feb 2010

My secret is out. Now what am I going to do with that shedload of chloroform I bought cheap off that Russian sailor at Lisahally docks? ;)

18 Feb 2010

Great stuff Peter. Glad to hear that you're on the mend!

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