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with ‘HEDERA’

Two indoor, outdoor events worth having this month.  A B.E.C. radio programme on climbing and Ken Wilson’s Cloggy lecture.

The B.E.C. effort, “Arêtes, Faces and Cracks” was an hour long.  Why do it?” with answers ranging from Mallory’s “Because it is there” to a frank female opinion that “Women are in it to get a Man”; and if that doesn’t frighten you then you must be married.  Bar or Apres Grimpagne noises were pretty dreadful with, “She’ll be coming round the Mountain when she comes” etc sung with tremendous apathy by a Holiday Fellowship group making merry on cocoa.  Though I must admit Tom Patey’s Ballad of Joe Brown (see The Hard Years) and particularly one about Bill Murray were intriguing.  I liked the blow by blow live recording of a snow climb too. Very real.  As was the advice given by Longstaff, a very old man:. “Take all precautions, take all the precaution you can, but once you have started don’t be put off.”

Ken Wilson’s lecture was different entirely.  He knew precisely why he wanted to climb Clogwyn du’r Arddu, this was reflected in the precision of the account of the cliffs development.  There is to be a book.  It must compare in technical content to Graham Brown’s masterly account of the Brenva Face, but I imagine that if the lecture is anything to go by then it will also be humorous.


The Feb. 17/18 must have been a good W/E for travelling.  B.E.C. went to the Lakes, joining the Insman at Langdale, and to North Wales.  A careful evaluation showed that conditions were better in Wales and there were 30 consecutive photographs top prove it.  Reports suggest that mattresses left for months are better used with a groundsheet and that a mattress sandwich is worse than a sleeping bag.  Easy gullies were climbed to the absolute stunner of the tops in sunshine.  Fantastic! There was no time for beer on Saturday for the flowing reason: -


A B.E.C. party of seven having climbed Y Garn in superb snow conditions were in a dilemma.  The day was bright, the snow was good, there was sufficient day light remaining to continue to Glyder Fawr by way of steepish snow.  However, two of the party were without ice axes, one of then had in fact been discouraged from buying an axe that day “Because he wouldn’t use it much”.  These two decided to descend the tourist route into Cwm Idwal.  Though one was familiar with the route the conditions were unknown.  So, should the party have split?

Two descended, five climbed the Fawr then glissaded and walked back to Idwal arriving about an hour or so after nightfall.  At the Slabs they apprehensively discovered that the two were climbing, rather slowly, up the Ordinary Route.  While the leader had little mountain experience, he had climbed hardish rock easily and is a competent caver.  His second was not completely fit and had done very little climbing.  They had completed about two pitches and communication was difficult but it was established that the leader knew the way off. What could be seen of the rock was dry. They had about 400ft. to go and time was short.  Should they have been made to come down?

The five decided to stay warm by returning to the cars at Ogwen and waited.  Should they have waited at the Slabs?

The two did not return within the estimated time and so the party returned to the Slabs with torches and ropes and warm clothing.  One member was left to warn the Rescue Post as a precaution.  At the Slabs two lights were seen, high in the Cwm, descending. Shouts were answered by one of the two so a runner was sent back to Ogwen with the good news.  When the two arrived they were seen to be with two rescuers with torches.  The rescued pair had been calm and had decided to sit it out until, eventually, they saw lights in the Cwm and naturally requested aid which was willingly given.

Of the pair, the leader wore wet Masters (for the Ordinary Route, his other boots were rubbish) the second’s boots were more suitable for walking.  It was seen that the second’s screw gate snaplink was unscrewed with the gate uppermost; the classic position for the running rope to slip through. They had no spare clothing to face a freezing night and had allowed no time for unforeseen difficulties, in this case snow filled cracks and the way off obliterated by snow, and of course without torches.

There go I.

Is a life worth a little forethought, a few quid on the right gear and not minded being thought a nagging old twit?  Not to mention selflessness.

Good reading, get it now, nag Dave Searle for it.  The lesson is taken from “mountaineering” – a Penguin Handbook by Alan Blackshaw (a good bloke) at 18/6.  Oh, and have a look at your gear – now.  Rope worn? Boots bloody awful?  Anorak, have you even got one, let alone warm trousers?

 ‘HEDERA’ (nagging old twit)


(A complete list of books in the B.E.C. library is being published in the April B.B.  Ed.)