I was thumbing through the latest addition of Summit, and saw a picture of Caff of The Unrideable Donkey, one of the instructors I work with said that it was him who named the route, or at least dreamt the name up. The story goes that the Spanish not well know for their animal rites had a couple of very sick practices that happened at what were village fetes/carnivals.
One was the Cat tests, where the a live cat was thrown of the church tower to see if it could land upright! Yes they all died a horrific death, a reason to avoid Spain, if the sheer number of Brit’s abroad isn’t enough to put you off. The other ritual was they got an extremely small donkey and put and extremely large person on the donkey who rode it till it collapsed. It was called the Unrideable Donkey.
Anyway this set Steve off on a trip down memory lane, and he got into the naming of a few other routes, in particular he climb Short Stories on Never Neverland, now for those who have done it recently the addition of the bolt, just before the top is a welcome friend. However this was never there on the first ascent, so the very tricky final moves had some potentially very long falls.
However the real story comes from the what the route was going to be called, given the adjacent routes being call Kubla Khan and Genghis Khan, the last of the Khan trilogy never got its name as the first ascentionist thought that the notorious member of the Caernarfon Khan Mafia that he was going to name the route after might not find it very funny. So Kenny Khan became Short Stories.
Another great story from the second ascent was Moose, who when he got to the final ledge, where a tricky 6a move leads to the top for the tall, and a near impossible move for the short. So to overcome this move Mike pulled up one rope and with it a piece of wood, and balancing it length ways up on the ledge to gain height, performing an act usually only seen in a circus. He reached the top with only one unusual point of aid!
The final route that is next to The Unrideable Donkey is the Mad Brown, which when Joe’s wife enquired about the boys climbing a new route named after her Joe, when it made it to the cover of High Magazine. The reply she got was that route wasn’t named after your husband it was named after your daughter, who was a well known and well liked fixture in the Llanberis party scene at the time.
Anyway a little of the History of the Llanberis new routing scene, I have to thank Steve for sharing those stories in the staff room of PYB this evening. Priceless. He also reminded me of the Boil all Irishmen, and Sex Lobster story, both routes named after a particularly nasty character in llanberis, he is still around from time to time, and when I was originally told the story of him being walked down the Easter Island gully descent by a local climber, to see if he could. I asked why he was hated so much. In my research I asked a few random Heights locals a few years back and whoever I ask about him the reaction of hatred was similar. The fact he used to rob to order said a lot about him? His nick name was the sex lobster so flushed was his face with the intake of alcohol, and so obsess with sex he was.