2003 Issue - Preview
(A summary provided by Editor C.J. Orr)
Garthwaite on 1st WA Cat Crawl VI,7 (N. Peak, Cobbler. Photo:
Summary of 2003 Journal Articles
say if you can remember the sixties you weren't there. But I was.'
So begins Dennis Gray's essay A Dreamtime
In Auld Reekie in which he recounts his time staying in
Edinburgh during that period, mixing with, and doubtless being
changed forever by, such characters of the Scottish Climbing scene
as Robin Campbell, Eli Moriarty, the Marshalls and Graham 'Typhoo'
Tiso and others. For anyone interested in the arcane lore of the
'Squirrels' this is an important reference. 'It was into the bosom
of the latter (Squirrels) that I was gathered when I arrived and
first impressions did not disappoint, varying little from the
forecast made by an old acquaintance, Tom Patey, regarding the
hedonistic possibilities of climbing with such an organisation.'
is a very select few who can even imagine what it is like living
with the image of a new rock climb at the very cutting edge of
the game, at the very boundary of the possible and nurturing that
image through months of sinew stretching nerve shattering effort
and frustration until it is finally brought to fruition. Club
member Dave McLeod is a fully paid up member of that elite group
and in An Inward Adventure he has
produced a fine piece of writing built round a new route on the
overhanging Chemin de Fer face at Dumbarton. I think what impresses
most here is the need for mental rigour and discipline as well
as physical ability. 'Finally, I spent the rest of the time just
sitting in my harness, 120ft up on the headwall, staring at the
rock in front of me, computing all the information I had just
soaked up and trying to take it from the imaginary towards a sequence
of movements which one day might be a route.'
MacLeod on Requiem E8 6b, Dumbarton Rock (Photo: Nick Tarmey,
Dave MacLeod Collection)
Biggar takes us back to gentler things, but perhaps bigger issues
that none of us can opt out of. In his short story The
Secondsight the setting is not that far back in time, and
may indeed be present day, but the pace is very much that of bygone
days, of primuses and porage oats as opposed to Trangias and energy
bars. It deals with death in the mountains on more than one level
and is a cleverly crafted tale which makes a deft and imaginative
use of language, especially in the area of description, where
the trap of purple prose awaits the unwary. 'As the breeze shifted
the clouds, warm shafts of sunlight came through making the myriad
dewdrops sparkle on the spider's webs. Away down in the valley,
smoke rose from dwellings by the river and a small boat moved
imperceptibly over the surface of the sea-loch on its round from
one orange buoy to the next.'
Climbing has become a fleeting enough business in recent years
so it stands to reason that it will be even more ephemeral in
the warmer climes and lower altitudes of the Galloway Hills. Stephen
Reid travels in hope as he takes us over the Silver
Flowe to sample the delights of Dow
Spou ' An easy climb by today's standards, but given a
clear day of sub-zero temperatures, it is hard to imagine a finer
place to be or a route more likely to be enjoyed by everyone,
whatever their ability.'
are two characteristically idiosyncratic articles from Al Scott, Psyche Ling Weekend describing the
culture shock experienced when returning to winter climbing after
a break of eight years. 'It's like riding a bike - you never forget
how to do it.' Or is it? 'My gear-ratio was all wrong - riding
a bike, riding a bike- My 'gear' was ancient, a 20 year old Charlet
Moser curved axe, a mid Eighties expedition freebie Cassin Ice
Hammer (rubbish, no wonder they were giving them away) and a pair
of old Salewa crampons with the points all but filed away.' There
were other changes too 'The crags soon came into view and it was
with incredulity I saw there were millions of the buggers! A swift
head count revealed it was closer to 150.'
Al's other contribution Finnieston - Greater
Himalayan Traverses and Urban Rescues takes a wry look
at the famous Finnieston Walls, or 'Finnie' to the cognoscenti,
as a forcing ground for Glasgow climbers. 'The premier rock-climbers
training venue in Glasgow (or should that be the rock climbers
premier training venue?)' Sample the delights of this urban venue
and share the author's angst at the desecration wreaked by 'Scratchy
The Dry Tooler.'
East Outcrops Guidebook Editor Neil Morrison on Family Life E3
5c, Bridal Cave, Longhaven Sea Cliffs (Photo: John Wilson)
On The Mountain by Gair Swanson may sound mundane and predictable but believe
me it isn't. Let's list the characters that make cameo appearances,
Jim Reeves, Buddy Holly, General Pinochet, Alisteir Crowley, Michael
Scott (ask Iain Smart), Mary, Mary quite contrary and Timothy
Leary. Then there's the props. A B&Q pressure hose, a Tailor's
dummy, Brussels sprouts, a Volkswagen 'Surfing Van,' a tin of
polish and a Rogan Josh. Now the trick is to incorporate all of
that, and more, into your main setting, Coire Etchachan in the
Gorms, without the use of an over intrusive shoe horn. Your man
Swanson manages it. How? Well that would be telling wouldn't it?
his article Older, Wiser - 40 years In Mountain
Rescue Leader of the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team, Terry
Confield takes us back to 1964 and the formation of what is now
recognised as the busiest outfit in the country. Hardly surprising
is it! Way back then ' --- the team was lavishly equipped with
12 ice-axes, 12 pairs of Robert Lawrie MkIV boots, 12 pairs of
mitts and 12 yellow waterproof jackets with 'Mountain Rescue'
stamped on the back.' Other glimpses into the Rescue's past (accompanied
by photos) include the fact that ' One of the great benefits of
a rescue on The Ben was being able to place the casualty on the
British Alcan small gauge railway after the long carry down the
Alt a'Mhuilinn. This trolley was known to the rescue team (but
thankfully not to the casualty) as the 'Dead Man's Bogie.'
to the Young Guns and the hard stuff, in winter this time. Alan
Mullin gives us a look at his motivations and ambitions with another
top end winter solo in A Hard Days Night.
In describing his new route After Dark (V11,7) in Coire an Lochain,
climbed as an on-sight solo at night, he talks openly of his attitude
to fear '----- I was now aware that fear no longer presented itself
as the intimidating emotion that I had experienced in the beginning.
My sense of it had been placed well into the back of my mind and
it no longer represented a great threat' Anyone involved actively
or passively in the Scottish Winter scene knows that Mullin is
pushing himself hard in the physical and technical arena. Perhaps
less evident is just how hard he is pushing, and has had to push,
to achieve the mental discipline so necessary for what he does.
he has upset others along the way is also self evident but there
are signs in this essay that Alan Mullin is beginning to round
off some of the edges of his character that he will not tolerate
others trying to do for him. 'It was 8am and I had been climbing
for five hours. It had been, as they say a Hard Day's Night. As
I walked over the plateau towards the ski-centre, the sun was
just rising and its golden hue covered the ground before me. These
were the moments I had usually taken little if any notice of.
But as the years go by I find myself appreciating the beauty of
my surroundings more and more and for once, I bathed myself in
the sunlight, up there alone where I felt completely at home.'
In his unusually structured piece The Final
Year? - A Climber's Introspection, John Steele offers 'A
personal account, an examination of a CLIMBER'S thoughts and recollections
as he comes to realise that his decades of mountaineering activity
are about to change down a few gears, maybe even go into idle.
Perhaps he is not alone in his tale.
The observations are loosely based over a year's mountaineering
activity, during which time the CLIMBER has seen that the sands
of time, the tank, is running low to empty and the road end appears
to be in sight.'
Currie on the Grand Traverse of the Rabada-Navarro (ED-) on the
West Face of El Naranjo de Bulnes, Picos de Europa, Northern Spain.
(Photo: Adam Liversedge, Jason Currie Collection)
it seems that no-one is much farther than a helicopter, boat or
lorry ride from one's destination, and, once there, umbillically
linked to civilisation by radio, satellite and perhaps even postcard.
One can summon support, and for all I know, a delivery from the
local takeaway, at the flick of a switch. A few years ago an application
to The Trust for expedition support quoted 'Bus' as means of access
and 'Guidebook' as the reference to previous exploration. The
world has happily become a safer place, but sadly, a much smaller
one.' So writes Mike Fleming at the start of his article GIVE
ME SUNSHINE (Retrospective on the 1961 JMCS East Greenland
Expedition.) This major piece of work will revive memories for
many and will doubtless inspire the present and future crop of
Greenlanders. Perhaps they, unlike Mike and his team cannot so
easily do a Star Trek and go where no man has gone before, but
make no mistake there's still plenty out there.
Dickson offers a humorous and informative article on climbing
in Colorado. Last Summer - Rambles in the
Rockies and High Sierras - but, be aware, this article
does not do exactly what it says on the tin, at least not if my
understanding of terms like 5.13c is correct! One of Cairns' biggest
fears on this trip was bears but his mind was put at rest on meeting
a local who told him that he needn't worry, 'bears, you don't
want to worry about bears ------ it's the mountain lions that
you really want to worry about, they'll stalk you for days.'
off the main articles is something which I imagine would be classified
as 'Faction'. M.G. Anderson's Dropping In
On Friends is a humorous tale of an unplanned night out
on the Cairngorm Plateau, but to say more than that at this stage
might spoil things a bit. I will tell you that much of the dialogue
is peppered with what Terry Gifford, reading it for this years
W.H. Murray Prize termed ' the Royal language of Lower Deeside.'
Some southerners might deem 'the lower language of Royal Deeside'
more appropriate. But perhaps this is purely a value judgement
based on limited contact with persons from that region. Derek
Pyper has kindly offered to translate if required.
(Photo: Chris Comerie)
covers the articles. The remainder of the Journal will have other
reports, many of them, though in smaller print, at least as interesting
and as readable as the main articles, while the following are
regular sections: New Climbs Section, Munro Matters, In Memoriam,
Proceedings of the Club, JMCS Reports, SMC and JMCS Abroad. Add
to this Book and Journal Reviews by acknowledged experts and it
all adds up to a journal packed with good reading, useful information,
outstanding colour photographs and more.