WiltonFest this year was another massive success with over 400 climbers getting stuck into Lancashire’s premier crags. It’s hard to go wrong though in an area so overflowing with psyched climbers who will come out smiling rain or shine, as demonstrated at last year’s event when despite monsoon style weather several hundred still turned out for a more social than climbing focused day of festivities. This year the weather swung the other way and we were lucky enough to enjoy sunshine all day with a huge number of routes climbed from ultra-classics to esoteric delights. Andy Cave’s trad masterclasses went down a storm with participants meeting new climbing partners and many breaking into harder grades. Tim Greenhalgh’s bouldering tour saw 25 keen blocheads visiting a handpicked selection of the finest problems in the quarries and the crag first aid workshops run by Bolton Mountain Rescue were popular too. Less experienced climbers were well catered for with outdoor taster sessions organised by Rockover climbing wall increasing in popularity throughout the day and 8 people learning how to safely begin their trad climbing careers on a Ready to Rock course.
Evening festivities were as popular as ever with a very sociable BBQ, plenty of beer, an inspiring slideshow from the BMC’s very own James McHaffie, the legendary WiltonFest raffle and a very exciting auction of some rare books and prints (including the seminal Extreme Rock) that culminated in a nail biting finish to a bidding war, all raising record amounts of money for Climbers Against Cancer. This year’s festival was dedicated to the memory of our good friend Nick Bond (the man with a plan who started WiltonFest back in 2013) and sadly passed away earlier this summer following a long fight with lung cancer. Not only was Nick a driving force behind the festival, he was also involved as a BMC volunteer in a huge number of other ways, a super keen Lancashire climber and as quick with banter as he was with his advice and encouragement. Nick will be sorely missed by many and this event was the perfect way to remember him with a record turnout, amazing weather and a huge £1400 raised for CAC in his memory. Nick’s humour and passion for Lancs climbing will live on in this event which is now a staple on the climbing calendar – roll on WiltonFest 2018!