Eric Byne occupies a significant place in the history of gritstone climbing. Originally from the Black Country, he started his climbing on gritstone and became a driving force in the loose association of working class climbers known as the Sheffield Climbing Club. This was in the depression years of the 1930s and the SCC members had to walk from their homes to get a day’s climbing, thus concentrating on the Eastern Edges. These climbers were highly competent and peppered the crags with high quality routes: there was then a wealth of unclimbed rock. Some are routes which to this day are no pushover and some bear the names of SCC members, such as Moyers Buttress on Gardoms and Elliots Unconquerable at Cratcliffe. A number of their routes have grades up to E2 5b today and it should be borne in mind that they were done with no modern gear; many were virtually solo ascents; and we should note Byron Connolly’s solo descent of Right Unconquerable years before it was led by Joe Brown.
Eric was an obsessive keeper of records and it is due to him that the SCCs routes were recorded. He moved to Birmingham and thereafter climbed with the MAM. At the end of World War II the first comprehensive gritstone guides were published with Eric as the Editor. He submitted the manuscript for the little crags at Rainster and Harborough; this did not fit into the pattern of the new guides so the MAM published it soon after. This is now an extremely rare item.
After Glan Dena was opened he, with his wife Ivy, based their activities on Tryfan, doing over a dozen relatively low standard first ascents with MAM members. During this time he kept in touch with Peak activities and for some years the MAM Journals had a section on new developments in the Peak, in some cases being the first records of these routes.
‘High Peak”, the book on the history of Peak climbing (and long distance walking) written by Eric Byne and Geoff Sutton, was published in 1966 and remains a classic account of British climbing. He died at a relatively young age in 1969 but seemed to be ever present at Glan Dena up to that time, one of the most approachable and modest of men.