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Saturday, 22 January 2011

Ormesman of the Week: Norman Clacher, 5 decades on the Orme.

I was trying to think of something a bit different i could write about on here every week when i came up with the concept of Ormesman of the week. What better than to start a short feature celebrating those men who have dedicated weeks, months and years of their lives to climbing on the Ormes. One of the first obstacles i came across was that although Ormesman is a recognised title in North Wales there is no set criteria that defines what one has to do to gain a key to the Ormesman country club. Over the years friendships have been broken and many pint glasses smashed in arguments about what constitutes an Ormesman. The truth is that everyone has there own interpretation. There are those who have been climbing on the Ormes for decades and those who have had a brief intense relationship with the place. There are those who just enjoy getting out and ticking some classic routes and then there are those with an insatiable hunger for new lines and leaving there mark. These days bouldering should be taken into account too but it is on the showpiece cliffs of the area that the true Ormesman cuts his teeth. So there you go, as vague as a term it is i shall do my best to celebrate the way of the Ormesman. I'm bound to leave some people out and i only know a limited amount about some so some weeks will be shorter than others.

Norman Clacher

Thought i'd start with Norman as i've been climbing with him recently. In his late 50s now Norman has been climbing on the Ormes since the 70s. It's hard to believe when you see him as he only looks about 45. Obviously after climbing in the area so long Norman has done his share of new routes but he rates Crigyll Outlaws E1 at Seal point as his best. Crigyll is described in the guide as possibly the best E1 on North Wales limestone. Norman has been a member of many a first ascent party and other FAs of his include Five Miles Out e4, Adams roof e2 and Mumbo Jumbo 6a. Norm rates Face Race as his favourite hard route. Today he was telling me tales of his adventures with Andy Pollitt on the Little Orme. Norman recollected how they had been on the Great Zawn traverse with Pollitt when they got stuck due to rainfall. Pollitt then proceeded to attempt a 40ft pendulum on an old peg that was bending and flexing to try and reach an escape gully. Peg failure would have meant a nasty splashdown! They tried to escape by climbing out barefoot but it was in vain. Pollitt made an escape up vertical wet grass and lowered a rope down to Norm. Just an average day out on the Little Orme!
Despite having 13 grandkids Norm is as keen as ever and played a big part in developing the nearby Penmaen head in recent years. Norman must be one of the only 70s ormes activists still climbing in the area today and this is testament to his motivation.


Richie Crouch said...

Great bit of history and a nice story.

Looking forward to the next installment :)

Dave Redpath said...

Must be the sport climbing that keeps hime young :)