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The 2002 Issue - Preview
(A summary provided by Editor C.J. Orr)

Club 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.

There 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!'

"Gonnygeezalookatamenu." 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!

The 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!

Mick 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 Superstars'

His 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 hooked."

If 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"

So 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 as well"

Mitchell's 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.

In 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 it seems!

In 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.

The 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.

These 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."

I 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.

"A 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."

More 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 keep sane!

Another 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.

Who 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 respect.

This 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.

In 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."

Reincarnation 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 be learned.

A 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.

Two 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 the Journal.

 


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