Fri 20th Sep - Sun 22nd Sep, 2019

Roaches KMC First Ascents meet

Roger Dyke

Full Weekend Meet Friday 20th – Sunday 22nd  September 2019

Many years ago – most likely 1972 – I was at The Roaches with Bowden Black one dull November day.  We were prowling Skyline looking for something suitable for the damp conditions when the drizzle arrived.  We dived into a little cave where we were joined after a few minutes by a pair who’d been on a nearby route.  Bowden asked “Did you like that route?”, prompting a lively discussion about the detail of the route.  “ How come you know it so well?” one of the lads asked.   “It’s one of my routes” said Bowden.  “I did the first ascent.”

That was by no means the only route at The Roaches that was pioneered by Bowden and other KMC members.    In the 1940’s and early 50’s KMC members opened up many of today’s classics, including Technical Slab, Maud’s Garden……   We even had a hand in the superb classic “Valkyrie”. 

This weekend, we’ll celebrate their contribution to UK climbing, hopefully by repeating the routes but failing that by drinking to our predecessors’ memory.


We’ll be staying in the Don Whillans Memorial Hut, skilfully integrated into the lower tie of the crag.  There are 2 dorms, a total of 12 places.   Lots of info about the Hut at

It’s £24 a head for the weekend, best payable by electronic transfer to KMC Account 11838301 Sort 16-22-27 and email to Al or me.   Failing that, cheque or cash to R Dyke.    Payment in advance is the only way to be guaranteed a place.  If you’re on the Intend to Attend list and haven’t paid yet, please do so now…..

If you decide to come for just the day and not stay, that’s fine.   We residents will treat you to coffee & tea, then in the evening you can treat us to supper at the pub.


There is a lot to do at The Roaches.   My 1968 guide lists 162 routes.  The 2004 guide (I don’t buy them very often) lists three times that number

One of the best Diff’s here is the meandering one-and-a-half pitch “Inverted Staircase” with its tunnel finish - but it's not a beginner's route.

More conventional routes include (in order of increasing difficulty to me) :-

“Right Route” just VD – you can skip the rather bold 2nd pitch.

“Pedestal Route” HVD

“Jeffcoat’s Chimney”  VD

“Tealeaf Crack” S 4a – easier than it looks, but I have fallen off it even so.

“Black Velvet”  HVD 4a – 24m in one pitch.

“Black & Tans” S 4a. 4a – same start, bold top pitch.

“Right Hand Route” S 4a – ask me how to avoid the 5a start.

“Damascus Crack” HS 4b - superbly protected (but only if you put runners in, as Neville once reminded me).

“Aqua” VS 4b – it’s just a laugh.  Take an ice-axe to clean the crack above the crux.

“Runner Route” HS 4b – nice gear just when you need it, but nothing before that.

“Jelly Roll” VS 4b– fabulous finish, that I only managed with help from James last week… If you can get out of an empty swimming pool onto the end of a diving board, you’ve no problem with this.

“Crack & Corner” S 4c, 4a(?!)  has the same finish and a nicer, harder start.

“Technical Slab” HS 4a needs nerves of steel.  And little else.

“Rotunda Buttress” VS 4c is another of Bowden’s routes, and has a superb finish.     

To the R of Rotunda “Batchelor’s Buttress”  VS 4c taken direct is excellent.

On the lower tier, “Via Dolorosa” VS 4c,4a,4c is a 3-star, 3-pitch route, and it’s neighbour ”Valkyrie”,VS 4b, 4c is a must, of course.

If you’re into HVS and above, you don’t need any guidance from me and you’ll relish   “Saul’s Crack”, “The Sloth”, “Roscoe’s Wall”….

For something easier and more direct, to give newcomers a top-rope on, “Breakfast Problem” VD and its neighbour “Days Gone By”  share a stonking belay on top of Alpha Buttress. 

Or there are the nicely-sheltered cracks at the RH end of the Lower Tier around “Commander Energy”, if they haven’t been bagged by a Group.  


Roger Dyke

Intend to Attend:   
Roger D
Colin Maddison
James Meakin
David Rainsbury
Andy S
Catherine Machalinsk
Emily Pitts
Natasha H
Fergal Mccullough
Dave Wylie
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