The Rock And Ice Club of Manchester- Whillans & Brown 1951

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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 14, 2009 - 10:28pm PT
On September 26, 1951 a group of Manchester climbers formed The Rock And Ice Club. The founding members were; Nat Allen, Doug Belshaw, Joe Brown, Don Chapman, Don Cowan, Jack Gill, Pete Greenall, Ray Greenall, Ron Moseley, Merrick (Slim) Sorrell, Dick White and Don Whillans. Brown and Whillans were the rising stars and destined for greatness internationally.
Pretty hard to match the talent and influence that this group brought to British climbing scene and by example to American climbing.

First a profile and interview with Don Whillans from Mountain #20.









fattrad

Mountain climber
GOP Convention
Nov 15, 2009 - 12:11am PT
Steve,

I love reading Whilans stories, but your post is too small. I'm guessing that somewhere in the story he drinks many pints and hits someone.


the evil one
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 15, 2009 - 12:44am PT
I scanned this material a long time ago. I will see if I can redo it a bit larger. I can read it and I am hardly a sharpshooter.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 21, 2009 - 07:57pm PT
Hardmen bump!
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Nov 22, 2009 - 12:18pm PT
hey there steve, say, thanks for sharing this bit of history...

:)
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 26, 2009 - 07:10pm PT
A classic shot of Whillans at the bivi on the Central Pillar of Freney.

Pate

Trad climber
The Lost Highway
Nov 26, 2009 - 10:24pm PT
Another absolute classic. How do you get anything done Steve? With your collection of mags I'd sit around and read until I was stoked to climb, go climb, then come back and do it all over again in a never ending cycle.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Nov 26, 2009 - 11:44pm PT
Thanks Stevie. The text scans are readable too; not an easy feat!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 27, 2009 - 12:09am PT
Mountain really liked to squeeze a lot into those issues! I still need to sort out how to expand the output more easily.
Rokjox

Trad climber
Boys I'dunno
Nov 27, 2009 - 12:13am PT
Cntrl+plus

(over and over as needed)

will enlarge the screen from the users side.


Or use the little button at the lower right corner of the window in I.E.



Setting your scanner at a higher resolution will increase the scanned size.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 27, 2009 - 12:25am PT
That does the trick! Thanks, Lance.
Dodo

Trad climber
Spain/UK
Nov 27, 2009 - 04:50am PT
I climbed with three of them, Nat Allen was one of my childrens godfather, sadly he died of cancer a few years back, Don sadly is also dead of natural causes, the star moment was him turning up at my wedding on a 1000cc motorbike and whisking my wife off, still in her bridal gown, for a burn up round the Peak.
Joe is still climbing though walking is hard, if you can get him to the crag he still climbs 5b.
duncan

climber
London, UK
Nov 27, 2009 - 08:50am PT
The new guide to the gritstone crags of the western peak district has a great picture of the young Whillans in action. It makes the point well that whilst the stereotypical image is of the paunchy beer-swilling pugilist he was a superb rock-climber in his youth.

Can't link directly to the picture but it is in a pdf. sample chapter here.
Gobee

Trad climber
Los Angeles
Nov 27, 2009 - 09:01am PT
Use the zoom button!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 27, 2009 - 04:54pm PT
Duncan- How many FA's on gritstone between Whillans and Brown, roughly?
Pate

Trad climber
The Lost Highway
Nov 28, 2009 - 11:43pm PT
bump for chain smoking motorcycle riding anglo-climbers.
duncan

climber
London, UK
Nov 29, 2009 - 04:29am PT
How many Brown/Whillans grit routes? An obvious question when you think about it but I've never seen a number quoted. You'd think Wikipedia would have a list. These guys climbed all the Stafordshire Brown/Whillans routes in a day recently which usefully gives us a start of 31 routes.

I would guess around 150 between them, and the great proportion of these would be Joe's. Not a large number but what is remarkable is how good they all are. They were just interested in the plums and picked them. For the 5.8-5.10+ trad. leader they are almost a guarantee of quality (as long as you don't mind a bit of a scrap occasionally).

Doing all the Brown/Whillans grit routes would be a nice challenge for someone. Now where are my guidebooks...
Alan Rubin

climber
Amherst,MA.
Nov 30, 2009 - 09:37am PT
Mr. Grossman, you are a dangerous man!!!!, especially for someone of my proclivities. I was homebound for part of the weekend, so I took your query to Duncan as a challenge. I came up with a far from complete total of 128 done by one or the other or both. Since I used several sources there may be some double counting of routes, but I'm also missing complete material on several areas where I know they were very active. As Duncan mentions Brown has by far the larger number of routes, though those that Whillans did on his own all have a particular "stamp" that clearly IDs them as his. While the total number isn't high compared to some later grit activists, it is most important to look at them in context. They were all put up betwen 1947-and '62 or '63, with the vast majority in the early-mid-'50s. During much of that period they only had, at most, a day and a 1/2 off from work a week, they had to travel out to the crags by bus or train followed by often substantial walks and reverse on the Sun. to get home in time for work, giving little actual time on the rock.And, with the Britiah climate, this explains why so many of their routes were climbed in foul conditions. Many of these routes were at or near the upper limit of the day, and a good number actually advanced the limit--at least in Great Britain.(The fact that equally hard or harder routes may have been done decades earlier in Dresden, etc was effectively irrelevant, since neither they nor anyone else in the British climbing community was even aware at the time that such routes existed). These routes were mostly climbed either in nailed boots or cheap tennis sneakers, with minimal and primitive protection possibilities, if any. Even more impressive, during much of this time period, and facing the same constraints(though later transport was helped by motorcycles)they were also climbing and putting up standard setting new routes throughout Britain from Cornwall in the far west to Scotland in the north, but particularly in North Wales. They also somehow found the time to do the same in the Alps, the Himilaya and the Andes. Pretty amazing for a couple of guys who still had to make a living at manual labor, since sponsorship options back then were non-existent.Hardmen for sure.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 30, 2009 - 10:24am PT
Al- Thanks for the research and history. One has to think that having the R&I Club structure enhanced their productivity by putting climbing and climbing objectives in the fore on a regular basis. Without delving into their biographies, the reason that I centered this thread on the club itself is to learn more about the other members and the support that Whillans and Brown may have received financially and logistically from the organization and its connections in the larger british climbing community.

Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Nov 30, 2009 - 11:27am PT
Thanks al for the interesting postups. If you want way more Whillans: his bio "The Villain" is a great read.
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