Friday, 26 January 2007

Mountain Rescue Fund Raising

Mountains by their very nature involve some element of risk and there will always be those who are caught unawares. I've climbed the world over and seen rescue services swing into action, in such cases some of those rescuers have been paid professionals, others as is the case with our own Mountain Rescue Service, are unpaid volunteers. They go out in all weathers in the service of all who enjoy the hills and high places. The British teams are without doubt the best in the world and I hope you will do all you can to support them in their work. Chris Bonington, C.B.E

Hard Rock Challenge will attempt to raise over 30,000 GBP and the money will be split between Mountain Rescue England and Wales and Scottish Mountain Rescue.

Click on the logo of choice to make your donation. (we are awaiting permission to use Scotland MR Logo)

If you prefer to support us in another way then please email us on


One thing I love about a new project is the contacts I can make and this attempt should allow me to speak to some really interesting people. My first phone call had to be to Ken Wilson himself just to let him know what we are up to, and also to pick his brains about who had already done it and if anyone had been mad enough to attempt it all in one go.

I called Geoff Birtles first who I have met a few times and told him our news, he chuckled. After chatting for a bit about his classic photo in the book (page 188) on ´Right Unconquerable` he passed on Kens number and wished me good luck.

After sending more emails and faffing about I picked up the phone and dialed Kens number.
Guess what? he chuckled too. I think we spoke for about an hour and he was really nice, helpful and supportive. He gave me a long list of people to call, mostly the first ascentists and also Stephen Reid from Needlesports who is one of only 2 known people that have completed all the routes.

The chat turned to cricket and then moved onto bolted climbing and how it was a scourge on the sport, I knew it was time to say "thanks and goodnight".

Stephen Reid was really helpful and after picking his brains a little bit I left it that the boys can call him nearer the time for any beta. The link above is to the main Needlesports website and then go to Features down the left hand side.

I then decided to post my first thread on the UKClimbing forum the font of all knowledge and home for many a sad climber. My first post was asking about the route´ The Scoop` on Harris, I think I was asked " you ticking Hard Rock then" within the first 10 mins. You cant pull the wool over these guys eyes.

The Scoop at Sron Ulladal on the beautiful island of Harris was mentioned as having a locked gate so contact was needed to get more information. I had a really helpful email from the Land Manager Duncan MacPherson who has offered much needed help. The Island has a great website, take a look at some of the stunny scenery. I wish we had longer to explore, but as Rich rightly says " at least we will know where we want to go back to!" North Harris Trust .

Another problem was going to be Cheddar Gorge and we need to be able to climb Coronation Street. Access issues are listed here on the new BMC climbing crag site. Basically we/you can not climb in the Gorge during July and August or Bank Holidays.
So my first port of call was Martin Crocker. I fired off an email and Martin was quick to reply and arranged a meeting with Hugh Cornwell of Cheddar Caves & Gorge. When we asked for his consent to climb his reply was very encouraging. The conditions are that we are to climb on a Friday as that is the least busy day during school holidays. Also they need maximum notice which means we may have a start date and place - FRIDAY the 13th!

Thursday, 25 January 2007

The Team

Tufa The most important team member is a 6 year old half Husky, half German Shepherd. At present she is the mascot for the Spanish under 15 Cricket Team (yes cricket is played in Spain) and she loves to travel.

Even though she only has 3 legs (hit by a 4x4 a few years ago) she does like to chase the sheep in North Wales and the rabbits in France.

She will be fitted with a special harness for this adventure so she can help to carry water for the boys.

Rich Mayfield “I first read the full list of Hard Rock routes over 20 years ago. To try and climb them all in one trip is possibly the greatest climbing adventure in Britain that I can think of!

Rich was born in North Wales in the late 60s and spent much of his youth climbing and walking in the Welsh hills. After distinguished service in the Army, he relocated to Spain 5 years ago where he works as a full-time climbing instructor. It was, he says 'best move I ever made'.

Rich joined the Army shortly after leaving school in 1986, and lived in West Germany for six years, before passing the All Arms Commando Course and moving to Plymouth to serve with 3 Commando. He worked at the Army Mountain Training Centre in the Harz Mountains of West Germany, and was an instructor on many expeditions and adventurous training programs.

In 1994 he was invited to participant in the infamous British Army Expedition to Borneo, to descend the North side of Mt Kinabalu via an area known as “Low’s Gully”. The expedition was a spectacular debacle; no communications, poor weather, inappropriate planning, training and equipment, lead to the disintegration of the expedition. Rich was one of the few to facilitate his own escape, but only after an eight day period with no food. His escape initiated the largest ever peacetime mountain rescue operation which involved over one thousand British and Malayan military personnel in a race against time to find the remaining members of the expedition.

The aftermath of this expedition was acrimonious but Rich was exonerated received a formal commendation for bravery. With a successful book about the expedition and his escape from the jungle under this belt Rich has since left the Army and concentrated on a career in the outdoor industry.

He has been a qualified climbing instructor since 1987 and his personal climbing experience is vast which takes in his early beginnings in Wales, then to Germany and the South West of England. His most recent travels have taken him to climb in Peru, Bolivia, Norway, Morocco, Tunisia, Russia, USA, Oman and closer to home in the French Alps and the Spanish Pyrenees.

Rich remains an active member of the Army Mountaineering Association and still regularly instructs and coaches members of the British Armed Forces. He ownes and runs The Orange House on the Costa Blanca, accommodation and guiding experts.

Mark Stevenson

“Despite spending 12 years climbing throughout Britain there are still dozens of the most amazing climbs in remote locations I’ve never even visited. Climbing these 60 routes will be like compressing a lifetime of climbing into one summer. Given the British weather, everyone seems to think we’d be crazy to consider even trying it over 3 months let alone 5 weeks! Whatever happens this is going to be an adventure...”

Mark was born in Dundee in Scotland in the mid 1970s. As a youth he spent his summers exploring the Scottish Highlands as member of the local Scout troop. At University he progressed from hill walking onto rock climbing and mountaineering and has been climbing mountains, cliffs, outcrops, boulders and frozen waterfalls ever since.

A capable scholar, Mark studied electronic engineering at Cambridge University before being tempted by the active lifestyle of an Officer in the British Army. After initial officer training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, he joined the Corps of Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers and was awarded the DEME(A) Sword as the best officer of his intake.

Mark has served in both the UK and Germany and has completed operational tours in both Kosovo and Northern Ireland. He currently holds the rank of Captain and is employed as a specialist aircraft engineering officer with the Apache Attack Helicopter Project Team.

In 1998, Mark made the first British ascents of two 6000metre peaks in the remote Pamir Mountains of Kyrgyzstan. Since then, as an active member of the Army Mountaineering Association he has instructed on numerous expeditions worldwide and in 2002 led a major Army climbing expedition to the USA. In 2006 he was part of the successful British Services Big Wall expedition to Yosemite. He is currently short listed to participate in the next British Services’ Expedition to the Himalayas in 2008 which will attempt the taxing South East Ridge of Makalu, the world’s 5th highest mountain.

For the last four years Mark has been ranked as one of the top 3 sport climbers within the entire Armed Forces and has regularly represented the British Army in national and international indoor climbing competitions.

Mark has been a qualified climbing instructor for 9 years and has still not lost his enthusiasm for introducing new participants to rock climbing or for visiting and climbing in new areas.
Mark Stevenson is still in the Army and has been climbing for over tens years, based in the South must be hard for this lad from Scotland. He must also be the only person to be airlifted from The Roaches after taking a 4ft fall.

Sam Mayfield

"I love to spend the summers in the UK, catching up with friends and chilling out, I have a funny feeling this summer will not be all that relaxing"

Born in Barnsley and living on the edge of The Peak for most of her life, Sam was actually introduced to climbing late in life when she met and fell in love with Rich after she "retired" to the Costa Blanca with her boys. Now hooked on climbing and running The Orange House with Rich her time is not her own.

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

The beginning.

Mark came over to visit this weekend (22 Jan 2007) and sort of messed up our plans for the summer holidays.

He said on arrival "I have a bit of an idea that I want to run past you. How do you fancy climbing all the routes in Hard Rock in one go?" I think Rich laughed but for some reason I liked the idea. The two of them went off climbing and I sat in the sun with my laptop and started to list the routes with grades, walk in times, heights etc. When they returned I took great pleasure in telling them. " 22.000 ft of climbing which should take approx 150 hours, 180 miles of walk in. Over 3000 miles of driving (all done by me), but I think you (we) can it"

The book
documents 60 of the most spectacular and adventurous rock climbs to be found anywhere in the British Isles. Sir Chris Bonington and Hamish MacInnes head a formidable cast of professional and talented climbs who have contributed by writing essays, giving an inspirational account of the climbers and climbs.

This is more than just a book of climbs, it’s a unique journey to the steepest, most exposed and wild places the British Isles has to offer. Derek Walker has written a great appreciation of the book on the above website.

Our boys both have the third edition Rich was only 6 when the book was first published and Mark was only a twinkle in his mums eye.

So why do we do want to do it then?

Mark - " I have always wanted to tick all the routes in the book and just never imagined that I would get the chance to do them all in one go.

Rich - "
I’ve owned a copy of this book since the mid eighties, and periodically been referring to it ever since. One thing strikes me, every time I’ve completed one of these routes, I`ve been filled with a sense of achievement that can only come from an adventure where the out come is uncertain, and the hardship real".