2002 Issue - Preview
(A summary provided by Editor C.J. Orr)
member John Inglis was killed in a fall from Parallel Buttress
Lochnagar in February,1994. For a number of years prior to his
untimely death John had been researching the climbing career of
arguably one of the most influential climbers Scotland has ever
produced, the enigmatic Robin Smith, who himself met an untimely
death in the Pamirs in 1962.
It is fitting that, due in no small part to the efforts of Jimmy
Cruikshank, a contemporary of Smith, the Inglis papers have been
drawn together and are here published on the 40th Anniversary
of Smith's death as Smith's Routes - A Short
History. This will doubtless bring back memories for a
few but for the majority it will give an insight into the character,
drive and motivation of a man whose climbs on rock and ice are,
40 years on, still of a quality and severity to make them the
bench mark for many and still unattainable for most.
was a time in the not too distant past when ski-mountaineering
was seen as not quite up to the mark, a bit below what 'real mountaineers'
get up to. Happily attitudes are changing and anyone who cares
to take the blinkers off is in for as much fun, as much challenge
and as many adrenaline producing moments as they care to partake
of, and perhaps some they don't (sounds like mountaineering to
me!) In his article Chile Volcanoes and
High Andes one of the Club's most experienced practitioners
of the art Dave Snadden takes us on an adventurous, and at times
comic, trip to savour the delights of ski-mountaineering in the
Andes. The most dangerous part of the trip seems to be the travel
on the ' horses that seemed quite happy to carry you at V.Diff
over granite slabs!'
That's just before they were about to order the third "double
- two -
double - two" of the week. If you want to crack the code,
as well as finding out which esteemed member of the Scottish Climbing
scene enquired of 'Loopy Lou' a large, a very large, very strong
construction worker from Arkansas "How come so many of you
Americans are fat b*******?" then you'll have to read Allan
Scott's account of the Rannoch Club's trip to Red Rocks, Nevada Beer and Rocking in Las Vegas. -
Not for the faint hearted!
author of Climbing In the Cold tells
us " I was based in London, pennies were tight and I depended
on the cheapest possible reliable form of transport - in those
days an Austin Mini van. I Got through 13 in all!" Enough
of a clue? OK he works in a London tax office and from the mid
seventies to the present day he has been at the forefront of Scottish
winter climbing much of it in the far northwest, and all on weekend
forays from London!
Fowler is a mountaineer of world stature and here he gives us
a valuable insight into the type of motivation required to operate
at this level. Importantly though, one gets the impression that
his primary motivation is enjoyment, an element that sometimes
appears to be lacking in the all too serious antics of the modern
hardmen. This is a man who is up there with the best of them but
who nevertheless exhibits a relaxed sense of humour and a self
deprecating manner somewhat at odds with many of todays 'Glossie
final paragraph says it all. " To me these recollections
sum up a lot about Scottish winter climbing. Conditions are fickle,
early starts wearing and success comes only to those that persevere.
But the memories bite deeply, the friendships are warm and the
pleasures long lasting. These are the important things. I remain
you have ever been bored to death in a committee meeting, not
necessarily an SMC committee meeting, (although these do usually
exhibit a high boredom factor), then Survival
Techniques For Use In Committee Meetings is a must for
you. This is Iain Smart at his metaphysical best. Having been
engrossed the intricacies of climbing Integrity on Skye a voice
interrupts his reverie " 'And what conclusion has your sub-committee
come to on this matter Dr Smart?' I had been waiting for it and
knew what to do. I mentally abseiled down from Sron na Ciche ---------------------------------------------------------
into a committee room in the University in the middle of a meeting
planning yet another curriculum reform. As I was re-entering my
body I heard my pre-programmed voice saying: 'Our sub-committee
agrees with the conclusions of the main committee on this matter
and has nothing to add.'" Whether you are already a fellow
traveller or simply wish to learn a technique that must rank alongside
the teachings of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi himself, then this
article, in which Dr Smart redefines the meaning of Mountain Travel,
is for you.
" He travelled on foot through the whole of the kingdom,as
no one before him had done. He visited all of the islands, occupied
for the most part by inhabitants hostile and uncivilised, and
with a language different from our own; being often stripped,
as he told me by fierce robbers, and suffering not seldom, all
the hardships of dangerous journeys, nevertheless at no time was
he overcome by the difficulties, or disheartened"
wrote Robert Gordon of Straloch in the late 16th Century describing
the work of Timothy Pont, son of the manse, cartographer and stravaiger.
In his article Scotland's Mountain Names:
The View From Timothy Pont, Ian R. Mitchell provides us
with an insight into the man and his mapping work in the Highlands.
" Not only was he the first person to produce accurate drawings
of many Scottish mountains, but he was also the first - outside
of Gaelic poetry - to record the names of many of those mountains
article has been greatly enhanced by reproductions of some of
Pont's maps generously provided by the National Library of Scotland
in conjunction with their venture Project Pont in which our author
has had a major input.
his short article Grade 1 Gullies Can Be
Fun (or the perils of guidebooks) Nigel Suess reiterates
what we all know anyway, but always register surprise at when
caught out, the fact that winter gradings should always be taken
with a sack of salt. "90-ft of rope, four krabs, and three
hexes ------ no slings, no pegs, no ice-screws, no deadman, no
second ice tool, no harnesses ---- My last bowline tie on was
in 1973." In the end this proved to be enough, but only just
an article very reminiscent of Alistair Dunnet's Canoe Boys, Douglas
Wood has pulled together from his father's diaries the exploits
of The Boys' From Edinburgh. His
article graphically describes the climbing exploits in the early
1930's of a group of young men, all of who worked out of the offices
of the Bank of Scotland on The Mound in Edinburgh.
group, who referred to themselves as 'The Boys', included Ian
Charleson and Ted Forde. Charleson was later to become president
of the SMC and, along with Forde, he is credited with making the
first Greater Traverse of The Cuillin - including Clach Glas and
Blaven - in a single day, in June,1939.
were the days when it was commonplace to "---- rise in the
morning and then go for a swim in the nearest river or loch. They
would then go looking for milk and eggs at any habitation nearby
and quite often this was provided without payment - indeed the
offer of payment could sometimes cause offence."
don't think that Wood is overstating his case when he concludes
his piece by postulating that, "While the hills and the routes
may have changed little, developments in communications, equipment
and transport have, without doubt, altered the element of adventure."
If you want to know how the pursuit of 'Project X' and Capstan
full strength can lead to Weird Scenes In
The Gold Mine then you'll have to read Bish Mcara's piece
of that name which, as well as revealing the secrets of the said
'Project X', takes a wry dig at the cult of self-publicity and
aggrandisement that he perceives among the upper echelons of the
present day climbing scene.
beautiful granite slot provided a perfect Rock 7 placement right
at the start of the traverse. I couldn't see where the next gear
would be and it looked thin. I could feel the sea spray wetting
my hair as I leaned back and pushed the tiller further out."
metaphysical musings from David Kirk in his piece Where
The Land Meets The Sea, but I think we can forgive him
for that. After hours and hours of lists and numbers, Corbetts
and Munros, Compleaters and 2nd Rounds (Dave is the SMC Keeper
of the List) some mental wandering must be in order, if only to
fiction piece (I think!) from Nic Bullivant "The Crow. It
must have been the crow. I woke involuntarily , sweating despite
the cold. It was pitch dark inside the snowhole. Why had I decided
to bother snow holing" (why indeed?) starts Nic's piece,
fittingly called The Crow. Ever felt
a bit guilty about leaving behind wife and family to indulge your
passion? No, no not mistress, climbing I mean, the former is somewhat
outwith the scope of The Journal. This is just one strand of Nic's
thought provoking tale.
was Peter Ayscough? Well, most Club members will be happy to tell
you that he was the man who some years ago left a very substantial
legacy to the club but that's as far as it goes, not much more
is known about him. And to be honest after reading Bill McKerrow's
article Peter B. Ayscough and The Naismith
Hut you will not be a great deal further forward in that
has nothing to do with Bill's research however, our benefactor
was a very "private man", arguably bordering on the
reclusive it would seem. But you won't find us complaining about
that. Ayscough's generous bequest was used to fund the building
of the Naismith Hut at Elphin in the northwest and Bill gives
us the full story from the genesis of an idea to the up and running
finished article which, by all accounts, is another wonderful
facility which the Club can offer to the wider climbing community.
I feel sure that Peter B. Ayscough would be more than happy with
this his lasting legacy to climbing in Scotland.
his article Twenty Nine Hours In The Cuillin Adam Kassyk provides an atmospheric picture of a solo winter traverse of the ridge. After a first day of perfect
conditions, a change of weather while on bivouac under the Inaccessible
Pinnacle meant a shortened expedition. "The wind whistled
around the towers of An Stac and smacked against the wall of the
Pinnacle above me. Instead of counting sheep, I counted the minutes
between the gusts. The decision was made when the interval between
gusts could be measured in seconds rather than minutes" Despite
this rebuff, the author has no hesitation in pronouncing his adventure
as "----- the best mountaineering I had experienced in Scotland."
On The Ben- No not a ghost story, a survival story. A very close call and
rescue after falling from Observatory Ridge wonderfully told by
M.G. Anderson. A tale full of humour, mistakes and lessons to
fine bit of historical detective work by Robin Campbell has resulted
in solving just who did climb The Northern
Pinnacles Of Liathach and just who is in the photographs
of The Kinlochewe Meets of 1899 and 1900. Robin's usual meticulous
research unravels these mysteries while giving us an insight into
the style, manners and, with the wonderful accompanying photographs,
even the physiognomy of our forebears.
short articles by Jamie Thin complete this years main section
of the Journal. In Grand Traverse he concludes that " The best adventures are on your own doorstep."
To tell you more here would give the show away. His other piece Moonlighting shows just what can
be done when one has a sense of adventure and an impetuous spirit
(like minded friends an advantage!) Jamie has also written a major
piece on an epic hill running round which appears elsewhere in