The 2005 Issue - Preview
(A summary provided by Editor C.J. Orr)
Front Cover illustration: Chris Cartwright contemplating the crux roof on the first ascent of Steinway (E2), Ben Cruachan. Photo: Simon Richardson.
Summary of 2005 Journal Articles
Regular Journal readers will know what a pleasure it is to read anything from the pen of Iain Smart and his contribution this year more than lives up to that well deserved reputation. The Far End Of The Far Cuillin, although an excellent piece of writing in it's own right is, in part, a continuation of an article he wrote for the 1996 Journal Disobeying The Rules, in which a chance meeting with two young climbers in a storm bound CIC Hut led to some experiences of a magical nature during which the author was introduced to a prototype elixir of eternal youth. This time round he is dabbling again but, after due consideration concludes that there are perhaps too many practical difficulties in "deserting the doomed ship of your own generation." - masterful!
Alexander M. Kellas is not a name that figures large in modern climbing literature but in his article Alexander M. Kellas - Everest Forerunner - Ohio State University Professor George Rodway paints a very interesting picture of the Scot who was responsible for the pioneering work on the use of oxygen at altitude. Although he died during the 1921 Everest reconnaissance it is fair to say that Kellas through his research and trials in the field opened up the way for the successful use of oxygen on Everest which eventually led to success in 1953.
When you read that "A year after I left school (working for 160 pounds a year) I had managed to acquire a "Commando" rucksack, a pair of boots and a groundsheet", it would be fair to assume that some revisiting of the past is in the offing. Here Bob Richardson tells of his long standing relationship with The Peak Of The Quarters from the days when "The flags put out at Invershiel for the coronation hung limp and wet." To the time when the realization that "--- the decrepitude of age and the weight of my pack combined to tell me firmly that my days of scampering the hills had gone---".
Graham Little in his piece Coming of Age on The Lammergeier Spire. Gives his thoughts on much the same subject, ageing and climbing, as well as a description of a first ascent of the 5350m Lammergeier Spire in the Miyar Nala area of India .
Guiding is fairly commonplace in Scotland nowadays but it is not so long ago that it was virtually unheard of and any 'guiding' was very much an ad hoc affair. It is just such a time that Davy Gunn revisits in his piece A Guide's Tale. "Guiding was confined to an elite few within The Glen and these few mostly in the employ of the Old Fox or his 2ic 'Big Ian' Nicolson at that time. A 70's guided ascent of Clachaig Gully followed by "-- the knee wrecker down to the pub and a beer by the fire."
In his article Dungeon Days, Stephen Reid provides a well written and well researched account of the history of climbing in Galloway . Such a comprehensive review has the danger of succumbing to boring repetition but Stephen manages to combine the nuts and bolts of route description (perhaps not the best of metaphors!) with a light touch. "And yet, and yet, and yet----- there was an extraordinary magic about the place: the wildness and the ruggedness and the massive emptiness of it all." The result is a flowing narrative that will stand well as a historical document of climbing in this remote area of Scotland .
With the saga of the missing 'Accidents' dragging on for yet another issue Adam Kassyk
perhaps goes some way to dishing up a small portion of sustenance for those of our readership who enjoy the schadenfreud of such reading. In his A Tale Of Three Accidents he examines the coincidence or otherwise of his involvement (as rescuer not rescued) in accident situations on three consecutive visits to the hills. "With hindsight, it is always possible to analyse cause and effect. Certainly all three incidents were the result of a combination of circumstances and some degree of human error. Yet what is striking is not the coincidence of timing, but the fortunate accidents of chance that prevented each incident from becoming a tragedy."
Dancing With Sticks is a lovely and sometimes thought provoking tale by Phil Gribbon of the chance finding of two 'sticks' and their subsequent careers as aids/companions in mountain ventures. Used shotgun cartridges acted as ferrule for Sticka, an abandoned cowherds stick found in an Alpine meadow "-----few of the high technological, spring loaded, telescopic, collapsible, basketed, buffered, metal alloyed aid walking poles have golden brass replaceable varicoloured tips." The other was found on "the slopes of
Druim an Ibuhair far above the rush of waters coming down from the great rocky corrie of Garbh Beinn.--- Here lay Stic an Dubh, a helpmate for Stika in a good gaelic sort of way." This tale stravaigs from the devastation of Chernobyl to the Thearlich Dubh gap and many points in between.
Adam Watson uses his lifetime of experience of studying the Cairngorm environment to give us a detailed summary of just why it is that winters are not what they were. In his scientific piece Warmer Climate and Scottish Snow he explains just why it is that "Since the late 1980's - winters have become milder, and skiing and winter climbing poorer."
Minus One Direct With The Doc by John Workman is just that, an account of climbing said route on The Ben with attendant route finding problems, (which he lays firmly at the door of the SMC "If the SMC guidebook hadn't given us that bum route description we'd have been well past the hut by the time it got dark and we'd have saved ourselves all this faffing about", forgotten headtorches, mislaid rucksacks "left under an 'obvious boulder.'" You know, the stuff all great days are made of.
"The pilgrimage had started on The Curtain. Queuing for communion service on Sunday morning at the pulpit of some vast and cold cathedral. Their Bibles were guidebooks with neat ticks or circles on each chapter that they had completed. Journeys there and back again were etched into that personal code, not even a date was scribed, no sign of the epic struggles that climbers seem to be able to recall. When I was young, I had a bird book with a tick list, once you had spotted a new bird you ticked it off and then it was forgotten history. Some climbers are like that." In A Moving Experience, David Adam takes a humorous look at winter climbing on The Ben and a chance meeting with two 'Eskimos' camped outside the CIC.
Finally Dave Broadhead celebrates the 50 th anniversary of the Ling Hut in his article Golden Jubiling - recalling the hut's history using quotations from The Journal as a framework on which to hang his tale.