Frank Cannings


Quick Info

Nationality: GB
Hardest Trad (Worked): E5
Hardest Trad (Onsight): E3
Notable Partnerships
Pat Littlejohn
Henry Barber
Social Media

Frank Cannings is a British climber. He was active in the south west of England and climbed extensively with Pat Littlejohn during the 1970s, adding many high quality additions on Lundy and other crags in Devon and Cornwall.

During one unfortunate trip to Lundy in August 1971 Frank took a very bad fall, landing 80ft below at the base of the cliff and sustaining head injuries and a broken pelvis. A helicopter was summoned from the nearby RAF Chivenor in Devon, but when the helicopter arrived the winch cable was too short and so the helicopter had to wait idly by why other climbers on the island strapped him to a stretcher and hauled him to the top of the cliff.

Relief upon boarding the helicopter was short lived. Just five minutes after taking off the helicopter developed engine trouble and the pilot had to cut the engine and ditch the aircraft in to the sea! The pilot and co-pilot managed to escape through the cockpit windows, but Frank, the winchman and Patricia (Frank's then wife) were trapped in the rear of the aircraft, with Frank still strapped to a stretcher.

As the helicopter started to sink beneath the waves the winchman, Flight Sgt Geoff Parker, was able to force a way out and Pat was able to get free from the aircraft. Bravely, Parker returned to the sinking aircraft to try and free Frank. After struggling underwater with the stretcher, which had become jammed, Parker was unable to free it and had to return to the surface. Much to his surprise, when he reached the surface he found Frank there already!

Frank:

I got called Houdini at the time because I was still tied up in the climbing ropes and had been securely strapped to the stretcher. The winchman swore he hadn't released me - and I certainly couldn't have done it myself. It seems that I somehow slid out of the straps, leaving the stretcher still jammed across the exit, trapping Geoff until he could remove it.

From here their luck improved, and Parker was able to inflate a one man dinghy and get Frank and Pat aboard. After another 30 minutes a second helicopter arrived, winched them aboard and was able to take them to hospital.

References

[1] https://www.thefreelibrary.com/I+CHEATED+DEATH+TWICE+IN+ONE+DAY%3B+BBC+researchers+have+trawled+the...-a060631784

Contributors: remus

Quick Info

Nationality: GB
Hardest Trad (Worked): E5
Hardest Trad (Onsight): E3
Notable Partnerships
Pat Littlejohn
Henry Barber
Social Media

Frank Cannings is a British climber. He was active in the south west of England and climbed extensively with Pat Littlejohn during the 1970s, adding many high quality additions on Lundy and other crags in Devon and Cornwall.

During one unfortunate trip to Lundy in August 1971 Frank took a very bad fall, landing 80ft below at the base of the cliff and sustaining head injuries and a broken pelvis. A helicopter was summoned from the nearby RAF Chivenor in Devon, but when the helicopter arrived the winch cable was too short and so the helicopter had to wait idly by why other climbers on the island strapped him to a stretcher and hauled him to the top of the cliff.

Relief upon boarding the helicopter was short lived. Just five minutes after taking off the helicopter developed engine trouble and the pilot had to cut the engine and ditch the aircraft in to the sea! The pilot and co-pilot managed to escape through the cockpit windows, but Frank, the winchman and Patricia (Frank's then wife) were trapped in the rear of the aircraft, with Frank still strapped to a stretcher.

As the helicopter started to sink beneath the waves the winchman, Flight Sgt Geoff Parker, was able to force a way out and Pat was able to get free from the aircraft. Bravely, Parker returned to the sinking aircraft to try and free Frank. After struggling underwater with the stretcher, which had become jammed, Parker was unable to free it and had to return to the surface. Much to his surprise, when he reached the surface he found Frank there already!

Frank:

I got called Houdini at the time because I was still tied up in the climbing ropes and had been securely strapped to the stretcher. The winchman swore he hadn't released me - and I certainly couldn't have done it myself. It seems that I somehow slid out of the straps, leaving the stretcher still jammed across the exit, trapping Geoff until he could remove it.

From here their luck improved, and Parker was able to inflate a one man dinghy and get Frank and Pat aboard. After another 30 minutes a second helicopter arrived, winched them aboard and was able to take them to hospital.

References

[1] https://www.thefreelibrary.com/I+CHEATED+DEATH+TWICE+IN+ONE+DAY%3B+BBC+researchers+have+trawled+the...-a060631784

Contributors: remus

Pics + Vids

Liberator (E5, FA)
Added at 09:12 on 03 December 2023
The Thing (E2)
Added at 07:12 on 08 December 2023

Ascents

16 recorded ascents.

This timeline is missing some ascents where the date of the ascent is unknown. Use the other tabs to view these ascents.
Year Climb Grade Style Ascent Date
1964 The Spider E1 Lead 15th Jun 1964
First ascent.
1965
1966 The Thing E2 Lead 20th Mar 1966
1967
1968 The Mitre E3 Lead 1968
First ascent.
1969 Dreadnought E3 Alternate Leads 1969
First ascent. With Pat Littlejohn.

Some aid used.

Seventh Dread E1 Alternate Leads 5th Apr 1969
First ascent. With Pat Littlejohn and Peter Biven.
Desolation Row E2 Alternate Leads 14th Sep 1969
First ascent. With Pat Littlejohn.
1970 Cadillac VS Lead 14th Feb 1970
First ascent.
Questor VS Lead 14th Feb 1970
First ascent.
Liberator E5 Alternate Leads | worked 25th May 1970
First ascent. With Pat Littlejohn.
1971
1972
1973 Headline E1 Lead 19th Apr 1973
First ascent. With John Kingston.
1974 Déjà Vu E4 Alternate Leads May 1974
First ascent. With Henry Barber.
1975
1976 The Exorcist E3 Alternate Leads | onsight 24th Apr 1976
First ascent. With Arnis Strapcans.

References

[1] Arnis Strapcans' first ascents book, Mountain Heritage Trust collection.

Climb Grade Style Ascent Date Suggested Grade
Climb Grade Style Ascent Date Suggested Grade
Climb Grade Style Ascent Date Suggested Grade
Liberator E5 Alternate Leads | worked 25th May 1970
First ascent. With Pat Littlejohn.
Déjà Vu E4 Alternate Leads May 1974
First ascent. With Henry Barber.
The Mitre E3 Lead 1968
First ascent.
Dreadnought E3 Alternate Leads 1969
First ascent. With Pat Littlejohn.

Some aid used.

The Exorcist E3 Alternate Leads | onsight 24th Apr 1976
First ascent. With Arnis Strapcans.

References

[1] Arnis Strapcans' first ascents book, Mountain Heritage Trust collection.

Jetset E3 Lead
First ascent.
Bender E3 Lead
First ascent.
Interrogation E3 Lead
First ascent.

Some aid used?

The Great Divide E3 Lead
First ascent.
Desolation Row E2 Alternate Leads 14th Sep 1969
First ascent. With Pat Littlejohn.
The Thing E2 Lead 20th Mar 1966
The Spider E1 Lead 15th Jun 1964
First ascent.
Seventh Dread E1 Alternate Leads 5th Apr 1969
First ascent. With Pat Littlejohn and Peter Biven.
Headline E1 Lead 19th Apr 1973
First ascent. With John Kingston.
Cadillac VS Lead 14th Feb 1970
First ascent.
Questor VS Lead 14th Feb 1970
First ascent.
Climb Grade Style Ascent Date Suggested Grade