Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Coming up: Ken Smith on the legendary Colin Kirkus

Alan Hargreaves and Colin Kirkus circa 1930

" It was during one of Kirkus's solo outings when he met up with a group of CUMC members, including Ted Hicks,one of the Cambridge Club's leading climbers, and Charles Warren. Memories of that day in 1929 are tantalisingly rare, but Warren recalls the incident with some surprising clarity:`Hicks and I had been climbing on Tryfan and were at the foot of Terrace Wall, we were about to embark upon Ivan Waller's classic climb when a solitary figure appeared from below. Now, in those days, we were strictly brought up in the traditions of the Club and climbing solo was something to be deplored. And here was a climber on Tryfan unroped. We accosted him and invited him to join our rope. It was Colin Kirkus. We thereupon proceeded to climb Belle Vue Bastion. After that  we realised the fellow was no ordinary person and was the dominant leader throughout the rest of the day when we went to climb the Direct Route on Glyder Fach. Kirkus then indicated he would like to attempt a narrow groove on the East Buttress, previously unclimbed. At first he explored it on a top rope then led it soon afterwards. The crux being the last 20ft, preceded by a difficult overhang, when there is no looking back — the route was duly christened, Lot's Groove. Hicks was the only one able to follow'. The modem grading of Lot's Groove is Hard Very Severe 5a.'

This Friday, Ken Smith offers an in depth portrait of the remarkable life and times of the a true climbing legend- Colin Kirkus. An activist who with contemporary, Menlove Edwards, took Welsh climbing to new heights and established the region as the pre war crucible of hard climbing.