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On Climbing

‘Vitis’

It was interesting to read, in February’s B.B., that some of our younger members are enjoying themselves by pottering up and down the cliffs in Cheddar Gorge.  At the same time it was a little sad to see that they are under the impression that this is ‘real’ climbing; not that I have any wish to denigrate the activities of the ‘rock-apes’ into which these lads are in danger of turning themselves: merely to put the matter into its correct perspective. Rock climbing is one of the techniques required to get to the top of a mountain.  Mastery of this technique, together with the ability to ascend snow and ice, to trudge foothills and to ski, amongst other practices, enable the person to enjoy ‘the mountain grandeur’.  That mountaineering is enjoyable I have no need to argue: it has been argued eloquently, by far better than I, for the last hundred years.  Occasionally a mountain is constructed that it can be climbed from bottom to to top on rock alone; thus arises the ‘classic’ rock-climbing route and surely there is no greater joy for the rock-climber, having scaled their selected route, eschew the final hundred feet to the summit in favour of the quickest and easiest way back to the nearest inn!

Finding the classic route is easy; one merely looks at a mountain and pick out a line of weakness which runs the full height.  This maybe a buttress or a gully and in the case of higher peaks may be combination of several lines of weakness; nevertheless, this is the classic route and as such is without compare.  True, modern aids have enabled other lines of attack to be mounted and there is no need to reopen the futile arguments of the fifties, for and against artificial climbs. Let us admit, as a kind of modern ‘classic’ the routes which have been best described by, I believe, Bonatti who said ‘show me the path of a drop of water as it falls from the summit, and that is the route I will take’.

So that is the modern and that is the classic.  Practice rock-work on Cheddar Cliffs, in the Avon Gorge, on any outcrop or boulder you an find, even in practice in North Wales and other mountainous areas if you must, but please do not confuse it with climbing. And as for ‘real’ climbing; well…….

Just a Sec

With Alan Thomas

I have had a letter of thanks from D. Wallace of Wells Museum to those members who prepared and set up the exhibition recently.  He also commended the efficiency of the members who dismantled the exhibition afterwards.

At the April Committee meeting it was decided to co-opt Bob Cross onto the Committee as Assistant Hut Warden.  Phil Townsend is unable to spend as many weekends at the Belfry as he would like and so it will often fall to Bob to be Hut Warden.  

We wish him every success with this extremely difficult task and are sure that he will have the full co-operation of all Belfry users.  On the subject of the Belfry; there has been some falling off of late in the standard of cleanliness.  We hope this will; improve again – it is not difficult if every one does his fair share. In an ideal community people would do this without being told and the Hut Warden (or his assistant) would have little to do beyond collecting the money.  In practice, however, the decision of whoever is Hut warden at the moment is final in all matters affecting the Belfry and he will always have the full backing of the Committee.

Still of the subject of the Belfry, we have had a lot of difficulty with the dustbins.  I have at last managed to arrange for the dustmen to bring the lorry into the Belfry site so that there is not longer any need to carry them to the end of the drive.  This means that in future they will be emptied regularly.  It would be a good thing if people could still remember when it is dustbin week and top them up with any of the old rubbish lying about the place, old caving clothes, car springs etc.

Theft seems to be continuing on Mendip.  In your own interest do not leave anything of value about.  See that tackle is under lock and key – in your car if not in the tackle store.

Anyone wishing to visit the new cave (or indeed any cave) in Fairy Cave Quarry must first obtain a form from me.  When it is completed and signed over a 6d. stamp, it must be returned to B. (Prew) Prewer, East View, West Horrington, Wells, Somerset.  No permit will be issued but you must remember the serial number on your form as the quarry manager may wish to check this against the list of permitted names.

The Royal Forest of Dean Caving Club is holding yet another barbecue, this time on 17th. May, in British Mine near Coleford at 8.00pm.  If you want accommodation contact their Hon. Sec.