Slovenia trek – 6-13th September 2008 or It’s either macaroni with meat, or sausage with cabbage … again! See photos of the meet.

With so much bad weather in England, and the clouds in Kranjska Gora promising more of the same, it was debatable whether the luck had finally run out on having good weather for the September trek.

Sunday started with the clouds a little higher, but still moving ominously in our direction. To help with the start of the walk, we took the local weekly bus to the top of the Vršic pass, the highest in the country. This pass was constructed in the first world war by Russian PoWs, when the Soca valley formed the front line between the Italians and Austro-Hungarians. Up until dinner time, the scenery (and weather) let us in gently, with the path contouring round a steep wooded valley, with only the odd rock step to cross.

After dinner, the scenery changed abruptly, with a set of traverses out and over a series of rock slabs, with several of them with pegs and wires (for comfort only, I hasten to add). As ever, on the descent over steep wet limestone, the pegs ran out, and there was a nervous few minutes crossing the next section of rock. The path then ascended into the clouds, winding its way ever upwards, before flattening out at the col at Planja. We then descended a steep section of scree between Planja and Razor, at one stage crossing a set of pegged rock slabs, before arriving at Pogacnikov Dom, our accommodation for the first night. The hut was in an incredible location, right next to a doline (a giant enclosed limestone depression), over 500ft deep, and half a mile across. The welcome from the young people running the hut was welcoming, despite the goulash refusing to cook. “He is taking his time to cook today” protested the young lady in charge of the cooking.

The following morning, whilst clouds were still milling round the mountains, we headed out on the big walking day. This would involve a descent of over 3,000ft into the valley, and then ascending a further 5,000ft to the Triglavski Dom. Away from the hut, before descending into the valley, we passed a line of fortifications on the ridge, a reminder of the turbulent times in the mountains in the first and second world wars. The descent to the valley was straightforward, down steep scree and grassed slopes, to the river at the bottom of the valley.

Immediately on the other side of the valley, we set about ascending the Prag route, and straight away the path steepened to pass through a rock band, with the normal steel pegs and wire ropes for the most exposed parts. Up and up the path went, sometimes steep but straightforward, at other times, ascending rosk steps with pegs and wire. At one point the path rose nearly vertically for about 60ft in this manner, with just a few incut steps into the limestone for comfort.

At the top of the valley, the scenery changed dramatically, opening out into a vast area of undulating limestone, devoid of any large area of vegetation. It was with some relief, after almost nine hours of walking, we arrived at the Triglavski Dom, the proverbial stone throw away from Triglav itself. The hut was crowded with folk of all nationalities, and the neighbouring plateau had a church, weather station, helicopter pad, wind farm and reservoir, not to mention a number of mobile phone masts – civilisation with a vengeance. Apart from one thing – water – which was only available in bottles, a situation which was going to be repeated on a number of days.

An incredible sunrise above the clouds introduced the next day, with most of the party taking the opportunity to ascend Triglav, the highest mountain in the country. All sorts of people were ascending the mountain, including old ladies on the trip or a lifetime, and even one person with his stone hammer, maintaining the steps! The path was entirely on rock, with the ubiquitous pegs and handrails in abundance, until they are really needed. On the top of the mountain is a stolp – an ancient form of shelter – but as it is metal, not to be recommended in a storm. In the afternoon, we walked out to Tržaška Koca Na Dolicu, a much smaller hut, passing Dom Planika on the way. Here the local flying skills were on display, as a helicopter servicing the wind turbines took off with less than 3ft clearance.

Wednesday saw us ascending Kanjavec, on the way to the seven lakes valley. The scenery here was at its most stark, with little plant life in evidence, yet alone water. Often by the path were massive sink holes, often over 100ft deep. On our way, we came across two herds of Ibex, complete with young. Earlier we had seen the most cool trekking dog ever, complete with its own saddlebag rucksacks. In the afternoon, the supposedly easier slopes overlooking the seven lakes valley gave occasional raised pulses, as the path dropped away to the scree slopes on the far side of the mountain. The Koca Pri Triglavskih Jezerih at the seven lakes valley was in a superb setting by the side of a wooded lake, and we were all very well looked after by the young lady who ran the hut. She was very keen to try her English out on us, as well as her Slovenian jokes.

On the next day, part of the team took the relatively gentle route to the top of the valley and the next hut, Zasavska Koca na Prehodavcih, whilst others opted for the seriously exposed ridge, complete with an Ibex demonstrating its sure footed nature, by jumping 20ft down onto a ledge, over a 3,000ft drop. At the hut, it was evident that we were approaching the end of the season, as painting of all the exterior was in progress, even the WC, which fell into the basic and alive category. The hut was run by another young person, and was very much a social stopping off point for people moving between the valley and the tops. As always, we were made very welcome. Around the hut, in addition to the lakes, were some amazing sheets of limestone, which looked for all the world like a fossilised glacier, complete with crevasses.

The last day was an easy descent to the valley, along some first world war mule tracks. This was followed by a winding track through a forest, which neatly dropped us out on our exit road, and the local village of Trenta. As usual, we managed to locate a suitable hostelry in the village whilst we waited for our mini buses to pick us up. They took us back over the Vršic pass to Kranjska Gora, stopping off at several points on the way, to view local points of interest, including the face in the rock, and the Russian chapel.

Arriving back in Kranjska Gora, we knew that we had exhausted our luck with the weather, as within an hour of us arriving back, the heavens opened, and the clouds were once again drawn over the marvellous mountain scenery, but not over our experiences in the week, not least of which was the great hospitality of the Slovenian people.

Participants: Ed Bramley, Andy Burton, Steve Caulton, Steve Creasey, Mark Davison, Roger James, Mike O’Dwyer, Marian Parsons, Mike Parsons, Ian Mateer, Myles O’Reilly, David Seddon, Marcus Tierney

Report by Ed Bramley

Innertkirchen, Switzerland - 26 July to 9th August. See photos of the meet.

The meet was held jointly with the Alpine Club and the Climbers Club, based at the Grund campsite. Over the period of the meet there were twenty eight in attendance (members & guests) although at no point was everybody on the camp site. It was generally warm and sunny but with mid afternoon precipitation, most attendees getting caught out at least once!

Whereas most drove straight out, the Whymper Couloir on the Verte and the Bluemlisalphorn traverse were achieved en route. The early arrivals were also busy with the classic Fair Hands Line at Handegg and Motorhead at Elderado, although they chose to back off Sagittarius to avoid a soaking.

For the rock climbers, within easy reach of the campsite there could be found a variety of rock, all offering multi pitch climbs, with very smooth granite slabs in the Grimsel pass at Ratenichsboden and Handegg, slightly steeper gneiss on the 350m high Mittagflue and at Steingetscher and steeper limestone above Meiringen and in the Engelhorner. All of these locations were visited in the first week.

For those wishing to acclimatise, ascents included the Sustenhorn and Strahhorn. The Ebnefluh had to be a consolation peak for those after the Hasler rib on the Aletschhorn due to too much new snow. Subsequent routes included the Schreckhorn SW ridge and Mitellegi route on the Eiger. There were various tours of the Oberland approached from both the south via Concordia and the Jungfrau joch with one team avoiding the expense of the railway, taking the purer approach via the Nollen route on the Monch. The Jungrfrau Fiescherhorn, Finsteraarhorn and Gross Grunhorn were all ascended.

To the east of the Oberland can be found the Salbitschijen a magnificent granite peak. Both the West and South ridges were climbed. The west ridge team picked a clear day in week one, whereas the south ridge team in week two, started in low cloud, then after a short shower, when they started to think about abseiling off, managed to get above the cloud and enjoy climbing on sun kissed rock surrounded by a sea of cloud.

The Friday of the second week was initially going to be wet, but a revised forecast of a sunny afternoon persuaded the rock climbers to grab that last route. However the original forecast proved correct and two teams at Handegg could be seen abseiling down newly formed waterfalls! With most back at Innertkirchen, an end of meet dinner was held at a local restaurant.

Report by Mike Pinney

Stubaital and Pitztal, Austria 12 - 26 July 2008

This year’s hotel meet was again shared between two centres, Neustift in the Stubaital and Mandarfen in the Pitztal, two very different valleys but both offering a wide range of walks. Although the weather could have been better, it would have been difficult to better the hotels which provided a surfeit of mouth-watering food, with helpful and friendly proprietors.

The Hotel Bellevue at Neustift was owned by Hans, ex-mountain guide and ski-instructor, and his American wife Patti. They had built the hotel themselves in the 1970’s, literally with their own two hands, and were justifiably proud of it. Nothing was too much trouble for them, even welcoming us on our first evening with champagne, and Hans’expertise as guide as well as chef was much appreciated.

We arrived on a wet Saturday, but were not anticipating the two days of torrential rain which followed. A few stalwarts did long walks on both days, returning to the hotel soaked to the skin, though by the second day most were content to settle for the tram down to the fleshpots of Innsbruck.

The nearest lift to the village was the Elfer, and a popular venue throughout the week was the Elfer hut. On one morning 13 of the group congregated there before heading off in different directions to climb the Elferspitze, the Zwölferspitze, or to make the descent along the Panoramaweg and down into the Pinnistal. Another popular walk on wet days was the balcony route from the village itself along to Forchach and down to Milders.

Once the weather improved most went up to Mutterberg at the southern end of the valley, using the lift to get as high as possible on the glacier to see the views. The glacier itself was disappointing, with a plastic cover down which strolled dogs, small children and unsuitably shod adults, though a more adventurous route was taken by John Monks and Tony Welling from the Dresdner hut over the Peiljoch to the Sulzenau hut. Another lovely objective from Mutterberg without using the lift was the Mutterbergsee, the surrounding peaks mirrored in its waters.

From the nearby village of Fulpmes gondolas wafted up to 2000 metres from where it was possible to ascend the Burgstall then contour down to the Starkenburger hut and thus back to Neustift, a long but rewarding day. Others ascended the lift just to see the wonderful Alpine Garden at the top, and some climbed the 1275 metres to the Starkenburger hut straight up from Neustift. A much less visited hut was the Neue Regensburger, in a completely unspoilt valley with no lifts and a special Alpine flora and geomorphology, recommended by our host Hans.

As the weather deteriorated again, a group of us explored the lift system from Mieders and walked along to the Maria Waldrast convent to be served apfel strudel by a monk. But the descent was unbelievably bad, a wide ski piste of mud caused by the installation of a new pipe-line to Italy, a route not to be recommended.

The highest peak ascended during the week was Habicht, 3277 metres, climbed by Tony Arkley, Mark Davison & Myles O’Reilly after spending an overnight at the Innsbrucker hut. After several training climbs in the rain they had a perfect day for their ascent, with blue sky and views in every direction. Later in the week the Baldwins and Antonia Barlen walked up to the Innsbrucker hut from Neustift itself, a gruelling ascent of 1445 metres, while others walked up to the popular Franz Senn hut, named after the ‘glacier-priest’ who did much to promote the Stubaital as a mountaineering district. From here the ‘hard core’ climbed the Schafgrübler - mainly because they could not see their objective of the Hohe Villerspitze in the mist and rain.

The Rifflsee Hotel in Mandarfen was our base in the Pitztal, a large, modern and extremely comfortable establishment which provided sumptuous meals served by a delightful waitress and waiter. We arrived on a lovely sunny day and after a quick lunch on the terrace hurried to catch the nearby gondola lift up to the Rifflsee to stroll around the lake; those who had worn open sandals ended up with wet toes for the snow still lingered in patches. This was a favourite destination during the week as there were several long-distance walks to be made from there linking the various huts by Höhenweg or high-level paths, some protected by cables. The most frequented of these was the Fuldaer Höhenweg along to the Taschauchhaus hut which gave splendid views, and others took the Offenbacher Höhenweg and the Cottbuser Höhenweg, a more difficult route. Mike Scarr later reported that the Taschauchhaus was the first alpine hut he had ever visited, exactly 50 years ago in 1958.

In general we found the Pitztal harsher than the Stubaital, the mountains rising sheer from the narrow valley. This made for steep ascents to the various huts and lakes on both sides, and knee-crunching descents. The Mittelsbergersee on the west side of the valley was a delightful lake, despite the light snow which began to fall as we neared it, but the descent was not only extremely steep but knee-deep in clinging mud: the two ladies who chose this route were not allowed to forget it. Those who walked up to the Kaunergrat and Russelheimer huts reported equally steep ascents. The Braunschweiger hut from Mittelberg looked an easy though long ascent on the map, but even this path was stony and required care, and the descent to the hut from the mountain railway station was no easier, over a boulder-strewn glacier.

We found the mountains at the northern end of the valley near the River Inn gentler, with hay-stooks in the meadows and cows grazing on the lower slopes. On a cloudy day several of us walked from Wald over the Benni-Raich suspension bridge high above the Pitze River, and on another occasion we caught the lift above Jerzens to a lovely alp from where we ascended three peaks on a long ridge walk, with glorious 360° views in all directions.

But the weather was no better than in the Stubaital, and we had to wait until the end of the week for the sunshine finally to arrive. When it did, most of the group caught the underground funicular from Mittelberg up to the glacier then climbed large boulders to the summit of the Mittagskogel, 3195 metres. James & Belinda Baldwin ascended the Mittagskogel on the same day, though they opted not to take the train but to start from Mandarfen itself. This necessitated a 1485 metre ascent, making their total ascent for the two weeks of the meet a mind-boggling 14,000 metres. From the top of the gondola lift at 3438 metres there were even better views, looking directly over at the Wildspitze and all the climbers on it. This prompted five of our members to its ascent on the following day, the last of the meet. At 3772 metres this was the highest peak ascended during the two weeks, and provided a fitting climax to the meet. Tony Arkley, Mark Davison and Myles O’Reilly climbed the AD route up the E ridge, while John Dempster and Dick Yorke climbed the normal F route, not a bad record for a group with an average age of well over 60.

The flowers on both weeks were wonderful, with Alpine rhododendron covering the slopes, several different varieties of gentians, orchids, primula and campanula, and occasionally martagon lilies and the tiny soldanella pusilla. Eagles, marmots, squirrels and salamander were sighted, but all agreed that the most bizarre animals were the enormous long-eared sheep.

Despite the weather, all agreed that once again this had been a very successful meet in interesting valleys, with plenty of possibilities for all levels of walking, first-class hotels and excellent company.

Participants on both weeks: Alasdair & Pamela Andrews, Tony Arkley, James & Belinda Baldwin, Antonia Barlen, Geoff & Janet Bone, Mark Davison, John & Marj Foster, Wendell Jones, Myles O’Reilly, Bill Parish, Bill Peebles, Mike Scarr, Elizabeth Wells.
Stubaital only: Penny Austin, Peter Goodwin, Ruth Greenham, Eleanor Kirkpatrick, John Monks, Tony Welling, Ursula Woodhouse.
Pitztal only: Sheila Coates, John Dempster, Terry Shaw, Peter & Susan Sharpe, Dick & Karen Yorke.

Report by Pamela Andrews

Skye (unofficial) Meet, May - I have received this report from Ed Bramley about his trip with Andy Burton. See Photos of the meet

It was Andy’s first trip to the island, and my first walking trip there for over 30 years, so we were both looking forward to our week on Skye. Remembering its name as “the Misty Isle”, and the many accounts of rain, wind and worse, we were pleasantly surprised by a week of sunshine and occasional high clouds.

On the first day, we took the single track coast road to Elgol, spotting some otters in the sea loch on the way, before starting our walk down the road to Camasunary. As we came over the rise at Am Mam, the whole of our route up the south ridge was clear, and very impressive it looked. After crossing the obligatory rough terrain, we were very soon on the ridge itself. All very wide and easy, but with increasingly imposing views as we went higher. In the distance, a golden eagle was getting mobbed by a group of crows, and soared off towards the heart of the Cuillins. As we made our way up the ridge, it was occasionally cut into by a number of rifts, which offered spectacular glimpses of the rest of the Cuillins. All too soon we were at the south summit, and on our way across to the north. A few entertaining moves across the top of a little cleft, and we were standing on the north summit, looking down at Clach Glas, and Marsco and the Red Cuillins to the North. Tremendous views across to Torridon, and even back to Ben Nevis, where the still partially snow covered north face could clearly be seen. Not bad for a first day.

The next day, we journeyed round to Sligachan, and headed up the path towards Glenbrittle, to pick up the track into Fionn Chiore. And it was walking in then that reminded me of one of the peculiarities of Skye – until you’re used to it, judging distances can be very misleading. We’d been walking for nearly two hours and we were only just really getting into the heart of the mountains. Up we went to the Bealach nan Lice and … Wow ! Suddenly we were up on our first Cuillin ridge, looking all the way across to the In Pin and Sgurr Alasdair. And what rock scenery it was. We were going to be in danger of having owl necks, the amount of turning to see every view. A short easy walk saw us on top of Bruach na Frithe, with views along the ridge to Bidean Druim nan Ramh, and back to Am Basteir and Sgurr nan Gillean. As our first ridge encounter, we were both struck with the similarity in the walking with a number of the alpine treks we had been on; the loose scree, open vistas, and the whole immensity of the landscape. On our return from Bruach na Frithe, a small scrambling excursion took us to the top of Sgurr a Fionn Chiore, before descending below the cliffs of Am Basteir, into Coire a Basteir, and the boiler plate slabs at the side of the gorge that led out to Sligachan.

We then based ourselves at the Youth Hostel at Glenbrittle, and were able to complete a number of routes from there. The first was an ascent of Sgurr Dearg and the Inaccessible Pinnacle, via the south west shoulder of Sgurr Dearg. After the initial steep rise of the shoulder, the angle then dropped off, before the ridge narrowed, with easy scrambling across to the summit of Sgurr Dearg. From there, the Inaccessible Pinnacle rears like a shark fin above the summit of the mountain proper. Really imposing. Quite an entertaining descent to the foot of the pinnacle, over a steep slab covered by fine mobile scree. No wonder the guide book talks about backsides of breeches being worn out. The ascent of the pinnacle is straightforward, even in boots, with some usefully large holds, whilst looking out to space all around. The abseil off the top of the Pin is easy to organise, as there is a stainless steel chain and integral karabiners, followed by a retrace of our steps down again.

After a breather the next day, exploring the old man of Storr, and enjoying the rest of the island, it was back up into the Cuillins again, and the Coire a’ Ghreadaidh skyline. From the youth hostel, we headed up by the side of the burn, into Coire a’ Ghreadaidh. Our guidebook suggested pulling up onto Sgurr Thuilm, but the scree didn’t look appealing, so we headed right up into the coire, where the slopes and slabs of Sgurr a’ Mhaidaidh rise steeply upwards. There, just where the easy ground and scree runs out, we found a simple sloping traverse up onto the main ridge. This immediately brought us into contact with the Cuillin ridge proper. No more of the wide scree path. This was now a steep jumble of rocks and slabs, with the view between our feet straight across to the other side of the valley. As we descended from Sgurr a’ Mhadaidh, another of those Cuillin features revealed itself. As on Blaven, the ridge is cut through at times by a number of clefts, and we were just reaching the one at An Dorus. An interesting little solo descent of about 15ft saw us on the cleft floor, and the same pull back out again, onto the ridge. Round the wart on the side of Sgurr a’ Greadaidh we went, to meet the start of its knife edge double summit. The more we progressed along, the more the knife-edge unwound, passing a number of guided parties who were more comfortable taking the scree tracks a little way below us. Descending, the nature of the rock definitely changed, from finger filing gabbro, to shattered basalt, which one had to be more careful with in descending. The ascent of Sgurr Thormaid, past the three teeth and Sgurr na Banachdich proved straightforward, with then a very straightforward descent via the shoulder of An Diallaid, before returning to the hostel.

Our last day saw us taking life at a more sedate (?) pace again, with a boat trip in from Elgol to the jetty near the Coruisk hut, with seal spotting on the way. We then headed north east away from the loch, up a side valley that took us up onto the ridge joining Sgurr na Stri to the main Cuillins. The cloud had decided to make up for lost time, so the views up loch Coruisk were not as good as on previous days, but it still represents the classic view of the loch. A bit of time wasted whilst I tried to find the “easy” descent route I’d last been on thirty years ago, but eventually we found another good route down, onto the beach at Camasunary. We then took the cliff path back to Elgol, which must be one of the longest three miles going if you’re tired, particularly when there are a couple of parts that do merit some care. Then back into Elgol, but not before we’d seen a herd of deer jumping across all the gardens.

What an introduction to this magical Isle! Report by Ed Bramley

Welsh Meet at Braich Goch Bunkhouse, Corris, 28 to 30 March 2008
See Photos of the meet

This is the third meet held at the Braich Goch; attendance has again increased, this time from eight in November 2006 to 12. This is very encouraging for the leader and the meet will certainly be held again in a year or so. Ten members stayed at the bunkhouse and two at a local guest house, the latter option will also be available in future years. On the Saturday evening we again had an excellent and good value meal at the Railway Inn at Abergwynolwen, if anything again portions were over-generous. Members, new to the area, seemed favourably impressed with the opportunities for interesting and peaceful walking in relatively remote mountains and hills, and with the general ambiance. However, there are also opportunities for rock-climbing.

Once again the bunkhouse proved comfortable and well equipped, and the live band on the Friday evening stopped before most of us went to bed. The bar provided excellent draught Brains’ Reverend James bitter, so good, one member bought bottles, from another source, as a birthday present for his son, also a Reverend James! In previous years I have described this as a Mid-Wales meet, however, the bunkhouse is in Southern Snowdonia and thus in North Wales. As most members head North or East we tend to walk in North Wales but there is the opportunity to go south to Pumlumon or the Cambrian Mountains.

The weekend’s weather was a mix of bad and acceptable. Saturday was grim, cloud, very strong winds, heavy rain/hail; those meeting a warden on Cadair Idris, who was equipped with ski-goggles, were told gusts were reaching 90-100mph. Sunday was much better, although dull at first it became brighter, the wind moderated, cloud lifted, and it became sunnier and clearer as the day progressed. Although rain was forecasted for later on, all got off the hills before or as it arrived.

On Saturday: despite the weather, three groups went out. One explored local history; with trips to Castell y Beree, and the church at Llanfihangel-y-Pennant, and then, considered a route up Cadair, but by this time the weather had deteriorated. A brave group of four ascended Cadair Idris . They went up the Minffordd path, then along the north side of the lake to the col and made a diversion to Craig y Cau before ascending the summit, after this they went along the ridge to Gau Craig and then back via the bridle way. Conditions on this trip were reported to be horrendous, high winds on the tops at a level to topple and accompanied by hail. The more conservative members of the group, however, explored the Dovey Hills which were judged to have appreciable attractions and deserved another visit to complete the horseshoe under more reasonable conditions.

Sunday was a much better day. Warmer, less wind, some sun, despite a promise of rain later. A group of three; Mike P, Mike G, and Ed decided, fairly late on, to go to the Arans. They had originally planned to ascend the Rhinogydd from the East. However, they went up the Arans from Cwm Cywarch, got to the summit of Aran Fawddwy, the highest peak south of a line from Llanwrst to Porthmadog, and reported magnificent views of Cader Idris and most of the surrounding peaks and later of Creiglyn Dyfi, the source of the Afon Dyfi one of Wales’ premier sea trout rivers.. They arrived back at their vehicles before the rains arrived.

The rest of the group went to the Rhinogydd; parked at Llyn Cwm Bychan, at appreciable expense (£2/car + £1/person). Then ascended the path towards Clip, returned to Bwlch Gwylim and headed south towards Llyn Pryfed and Craig Wion. From here we headed against the grain of the land to meet the Roman Steps exploring some of the less frequented parts of these mountains.

Overall I judged this an enjoyable meet, and hope that many of the attendees will want to come again.

Attending: Ed Bramley, John and Marg Foster, Peter Goodwin, Mike Goodyer, John Percival, Mike Pinney, Terry Shaw, Suzanne and Tony Strawther, Richard Winter, Dick Yorke.

Report by Dick Yorke

Onich Meet, 29 February – 02 March 2008
Nine members gathered on the Friday evening at the Inchree Centre chalets in Onich, which is between Glencoe and Fort William. The participants were: John Dempster, Peter Farrington, John and Marj Foster, Peter Goodwin, Bill Peebles, Jim and Margaret Strachan and myself.

The hill weather forecast for the Saturday was not at all encouraging, a factor we have somewhat come to expect on our winter meets! Initially, snow showers with persistent snow later in the day and summit winds up to 80-90 miles per hour. Saturday morning dawned cold, clear and dry so we were all eager to make an early start. The party, excepting Bill decided to climb Sgurr Eilde Mor (1010m), the most easterly of the Mamores from Mamore Lodge near Kinlochleven.

We set off in optimistic mood but not before a hitch. John Foster had forgotten to pack his waterproof so hot-footed it back to Onich to collect this saying “I’ll catch up with you later”, however, we didn’t see John again until our return to Onich, although he said that he had almost caught up with us on our climb before deciding to turn back!

Soon the clouds gathered and before long the forecasted snow showers began. The tops were snow covered and it was evident from the spindrift on the summits that the wind was strong up there.

We took the track eastwards to Loch Eilde Mor then commenced the ascent along a well-graded stalker’s path under Sgurr Eilde Beag to the bealach at Coire an Lochain. By now, the snow showers were becoming more frequent and the wind was gathering strength. The final 200 metres of ascent was a steep climb on snow and ice that necessitated the use of ice axe and crampons.

Peter Goodwin and I were the first to reach the summit cairn. I was conscious that as we waited there for the remainder of the party to arrive, the wind was worryingly increasing to the extent that I had to steady myself on my ice axe.

Peter and I were on the summit waiting for the rest of the group for roughly 10 minutes and were on the verge of descending, when John, Jim and Peter Farrington appeared. John had just arrived at the summit cairn when an exceptionally strong gust of wind lifted him into the air and deposited him spread-eagled on the snowfield, some 5 metres away. We immediately went to his aid, although shaken, fortunately, he was not injured.

Suddenly, the situation had become worrying, we were pinned down by the gale-force wind at the summit cairn and to extricate ourselves from we had to start our descent. Walking in a crouched position lessened our resistance to the wind and shortly after commencing our descent met Marj Foster and Margaret Strachan also pinned down by the wind, having already been blown over a number of times in the gale. Jim Strachan linking Marj, convinced her to accompany him to the summit. Margaret was for staying-put and I stayed with her, linking her whilst lying on the ground until the whole party was re-grouped.

The wind decreased dramatically once we had descended immediately below the summit dome where we could regain our composure and think about a lunch-stop.

Bill Peebles, wisely, had decided to drive to Seil Island near Oban and enjoyed better weather than the rest of the party.

On the Sunday John Dempster, John and Marj Foster, Peter Farrington, Bill Peebles, Jim and Margaret Strachan decided upon a low-level walk close to Glencoe village.

Peter Goodwin opted for a more adventurous outing on the Sunday as he had travelled from Shropshire and wanted to make the most of his weekend. He climbed Bidean nam Bian from the Glencoe side and via Stob Coire nam Beith, returning by An Sron.

The weekend was certainly a tussle with the Scottish hills in winter and a salutary reminder of the risks encountered at this time of year. Nonetheless, we all had a very enjoyable weekend.

Report by Philip S Hands


NEPAL TREK: EVEREST, CHO LA and GOKYO, 27 October – 18 November 2007

Keith Dillon has posted a selection of photos of the meet on his blog

When we landed at Kathmandu Airport after a long but comfortable flight via Doha, it was for most of the group their first visit to Nepal, or even to Asia. The culture shock was immediate as the sights, sounds and smells of a crowded eastern city greeted us; rickshaws, cyclists and cars weaved crazily across the streets, and it was difficult to believe that only 50 years ago there were no roads into the Kathmandu Valley and all cars had to be transported from India on the backs of porters. But the shock of our bus journey to the hotel was nothing compared to our flight to Lukla 2 days later, in a small Twin Otter plane. For most of the flight we were in cloud, but we finally flew out of it only to head straight at a green mountainside. As we banked sharply to the right, missing it by inches, we headed straight at another mountainside; then, as we swerved again, a grey strip appeared carved in the hill in front of us, impossibly short and steep. We realized in horror that this was the landing strip, and most of us kept our eyes tight shut as we bumped across the runway and ground to a halt.

Our Sherpa team was there to greet us, led by our ever smiling sirdar Pasang, and they quickly settled us into what was to be our routine for the trek. Our days started at 6:30 with a cheery ‘Good morning’, delivered with a cup of bed tea and then a bowl of warm washing water. After a breakfast of porridge and eggs we started our day’s walk, the trails crowded with trekkers of all nationalities and ages, their gear carried by yaks and porters. We passed through villages with neat vegetable gardens, the houses surrounded by dahlias and nasturtiums still in flower; climbed steeply up and down dusty paths; and crossed swaying suspension bridges high above the river. The mornings were mostly cloudless and warm once the sun got up, and the views of the surrounding high peaks were spectacular. Our first view of Everest came as we struggled up the steep hill into Namche Bazaar, but it was the beautiful Ama Dablam that most attracted our attention in the days to come. Namche is the trading post of the Khumbu area, on the route to the Nangpa La into Tibet, and is a bizarre mixture of old and new with yaks wandering the streets and no other wheels apart from prayer-wheels, yet with internet cafés and shops selling the latest trekking gear.

On leaving Namche we headed towards the aptly named Everest View Hotel and had our mid-morning tea-break on its verandah, drinking in the view of Everest just appearing over the Nuptse Ridge with Lhotse to its right. Our objectives that day were the two villages of Khumjung and Khunde where we were to visit the secondary school and hospital built by the Himalayan Trust in the 1960’s. We were given a guided tour of each by the resident Sherpa in charge, as we were later of the Pangboche primary school, and came away deeply impressed by what Sir Edmund Hillary had achieved in setting up this Trust to provide schools and hospitals all over the Khumbu region. The other highlight of our visit to Khunde was our overnight stay in the house of our sirdar Pasang. The house had been in his family for generations, but he had recently renovated it to provide rooms for trekkers on the ground floor, previously the animal shelter. We ate upstairs in the large family room, lined with shelves full of brass cauldrons and beautifully decorated blankets comprising the family wealth, and the following morning visited his private family chapel with a large statue of Buddha and many priceless old Tibetan prayer books.

After a brief visit to the Khumjung gompa (monastery) and its yeti scalp – the closest we got to seeing a yeti - we headed towards the famous gompa at Thyangboche, rebuilt in 1988 after its destruction by fire, again with Himalayan Trust money. On first seeing it in 1953 John Hunt wrote that he had ‘gasped in wonder at the stillness and beauty of it’, but on his return in 1973 he was dismayed at the changes: now it is overrun by trekkers and lodges, and even the site of the highest bakery in the world – which incidentally makes the most delicious apple-pies! The 500 year old gompa at Pangboche impressed us more, but perhaps we were made most aware of the importance of Buddhism to the Sherpas by the proliferation of prayer flags, chortens and beautifully carved mani stones on the trails, all of which had to be passed in a clockwise direction.

On our arrival at Dingboche we attended a talk on AMS given by the doctors of the Himalayan Rescue Association, and the following day, as part of our acclimatisation, most of us ascended Nagartsang Peak, at 5083 metres the highest we had been so far. We then continued up the Imja Khola valley, but the altitude, the cold and the Khumbu cough were beginning to take their toll, especially with the older members of the group, and by the time we reached our highest overnight at Lobuche, some were feeling decidedly feeble. We were scheduled to climb our big peak, Kala Pattar, the next day, and after a 5:30 am start and a long hike up the Khumbu Glacier to Gorakshep for breakfast, 13 of the group finally reached the 5560 metre summit with its classic views up to the South-West face of Everest framed by Lhotse and Nuptse. We could trace the 1953 route from the South Col to the summit, over the Hillary Step, and all the reading we had done about earlier expeditions finally fell into place. It was a moving moment to have reached this high ourselves, and to look down on the tents of the expeditions’ Base Camp on the Khumbu Glacier far below.

Next came the crossing of the Cho La to the Gokyo Lakes. This was the most challenging part of the trek, a pass of 5420 metres necessitating crampons for the summit glacier and the ice-covered rocks of the descent, made worse for us by the snow which began to fall as we got higher. But the views of Cho Oyu and the Gokyo Lakes the next day made the effort worth while, though only 10 of the group opted for the ascent of Gokyo Ri, at 5483 metres another spectacular viewpoint over Everest, Makalu and Cho Oyu.

After that it was all downhill – or almost all, for in the Himalayas there is always uphill too – and all too soon it was our last night and time to say goodbye and thank you to our Sherpas and porters, and to hope that the return flight from Lukla would not be quite so dramatic as the incoming one had been. All that remained was 3 nights in the luxurious Shangri-La Hotel in Kathmandu, with much appreciated modern bathrooms and a sunny garden of flowering bougainvillea and poinsettia trees to relax in. We managed sight-seeing too, including a visit to the medieval Bhaktapur and its temples, last-minute shopping in Thamel, and a final dinner in the Rum Doodle Restaurant where we designed an ABMSAC yeti ‘foot’ to join those of other climbing and trekking groups in commemoration of our trek.

On my return home I reflected on how different this trek had been from my first to the Khumbu area in December 1972. Then we had walked in from Lamosangu, just outside Kathmandu, and in 31 days had met 4 other trekkers. There were no lodges to stay in, only about 20 houses at Namche, and just one small shack at Lobuche. The sun had shone in cloudless skies every day, and I had romped up Kala Pattar with no problem – or was this latter memory just the way we all see the past through rose-tinted spectacles?

Participants: Alasdair Andrews, Antonia Barlen, Hugh Chapman, Steven Creasey, Keith Dillon, Ruth Greenham, Don Hardy, Pamela Harris, Roger James, Bill Jeffries, Roger Newson, John Monks, Terry Shaw, Bill & Rosie Westermeyer, Dick Yorke.

Report by Pamela Harris.

Alptrek, September 2007- Necessity is the mother of invention – a tale of changed plans. See Photos of the meet

The plans were for a strenuous six day trek around the Karwendel range, but it was apparent as soon as we arrived in Innsbruck, from the low snow level, that the original plan was no longer workable. A short telephone conversation with the warden at our first intended hut confirmed this. Half a metre of new snow had fallen, blocking all the passes we needed to use, and more was on the way in the next couple of days. Deep joy! We decided that the best course of action was to make for our first hut, the Solstein, get local knowledge from the warden, and then revise our plans for the week.

As the high passes were out, the next day we took a valley route to the Solstein hut. Even this was not without its tribulations, as the new snow had taken out parts of path, and turned other sections into a mudbath. At one point, people could do nothing but slide across a slope to the continuation of the path. It was therefore mid afternoon before we reached the Neue Magdeburger hut, and the protected path to the Solstein hut. This started out with an exposed but protected traverse across a scree and rock area, before the path, with the assistance of cables, ascended a number of short snow filled gullies. It was then a long snow covered traverse, through and area of junipers, before we reached the hut at gone 6pm. A long first day.

The welcome at the hut was warming, but the fact that part of it was undergoing an extension and the washing and toilet facilities were outside in a container, dampened the spirits somewhat. That night, the warden was in earnest conversation with a number of his counterparts, and confirmed what we already suspected. The original route was not tenable, and even remaining on the south side of the Karwendel would leave us with limited opportunities. We were also due for more snow the next evening. We therefore took the decision to transfer to the Stubai valley, but not before we had ascended a local peak, the Grosser Solstein, the next morning.

The next day began sunny, with glorious views southwards over a cloud covered Inn valley. Our ascent of the Grosser Solstein, which was next to the hut, was straightforward in the upper half, and gave us great views south back towards Innsbruck. It was just the lower slopes, where we were knee deep in snow at times, that we questioned our sanity, particularly as we were wearing shorts. With the visibility of our original route from the peak, we could not only see that the trails were snow choked, but had also been avalanching. We needed no further confirmation that we were making the right decision. To reach our next overnight stop at Seefeld that afternoon, we took the long walk out northwards to Scharnitz; over eight miles; with some of us enjoying the spectacular gorge scenery along the way. At Scharnitz, whilst we had missed the train up the valley to Seefeld, enquiries in the station bar got us a taxi ride instead, and meant we could enjoy a quick beer into the bargain. That evening, we stayed at a hotel in Seefeld, the hot showers being most welcoming.

Next morning, the forecast had been accurate. We were met with low cloud in Seefeld, and snow higher up. By midday, a variety of transports saw us at Milders, where the road to the Oberbergtal and the Franz-Sennhut left the main valley. However, no food in the village, and as we walked on, we thought things were starting to conspire as signs proclaiming first “closed today due to illness”, and “closed – quiet day” appeared on the various hostelry doors. Time to call in the cavalry, and a taxi ride up to the road head, where a very pleasant stuberl was most definitely open, and spirits rose again quickly. The hut was a grand affair, with over 200 beds, and lots of facilities, including showers. Not only that, but the snow line was appreciably higher, nearer 2,000metres than the 1,500metres we had just left. Whilst there were a modicum of walkers and climbers at the hut, the main contingent were about 50 people learning about alpine medicine, who added a lot of young energy to the building. For the next three days we stopped at the Franz Senn hut, and our luck was definitely on the up with the weather. Glorious sunshine each day.

Heartened, we set off on a number of excursions from the hut. The first day took us up a rock step to the glacier and moraine above the hut. The flag cairns on the moraine below the glacier gave the whole place a decidedly Himalayan feeling. If we needed the dangers of the mountains to be emphasised, stonefall at a number of places higher up the valley reminded us of the unstable nature of the terrain. More sets of rock steps and moraine slopes saw us traversing another open path, complete with new snow, before we reached a glacial lake, beyond which the final snow ramparts of the Aperer Turm rose. A number of the party pushed on up the slope, aided by some cabling on the final traverse, to the summit. On the way, we spotted a magnificent Steinbok, complete with a very large set of horns. As the snow softened with the warmth of the day, the descent proved less testing than the ascent, and we were back at the hut by mid afternoon. Not satisfied with the day’s exertions, a number of us went on a small via ferrata in a gorge just upstream from the hut. Whilst “just a bit of fun”, the position of the via ferrata in the midst of the roaring torrent, certainly rounded off the day’s excitement nicely.

The next day saw us heading up the Basseljoch, a simple peak on the way to the Regensburger hut. Once again, the new snow made the paths entertaining, but we were rewarded by superb views over the Stubai valley. On the way up we joked at the “dogs on a lead” sign, but were surprised to meet one on the way down, not far from the narrowest part of the path. Our nature adventure continued, spotting an adder on the path, less than 400 yards from the hut. Luckily, it moved off into the undergrowth without further prompting. Another via ferrata before tea, this time a good 200ft of v.diff style climbing less than five minutes from the hut. Some good overhanging moves on big holds and bent steps – all good for keeping the interest level up.

The last day, Friday, saw parties ascending the Sonnenwand and the Rinnenspitze. Both offered straight forward ascents to peaks, with the occasional cable for protection. On the Rinnenspitze, it was the higher snow covered slopes that gave the most entertainment. Melting snow had turned the track muddy, and a number of large blocks had all the stability of a set of stacked skateboards. Once we reached the upper cabled section, the ascent became straightforward again, despite the occasional section without cables. Another big summit party was again rewarded with more stunning views, although the building clouds made it evident that the weather was on the turn again.

We were back down at the hut before mid afternoon, and after another fantastic Austrian dinner snack, we began our journey back to Innsbruck, pleased at how much we had all got from a week that might not have been.

Meet participants: Roger Aldred, Ed Bramley, Andy Burton, Mark Davison, Natasha Geere, Mike O’Dwyer, Miles O’Reilly, Marian Parsons, Mike Parsons, Terry Shaw, Marcus Tierney, Richard Winter.

Meet report by Ed Bramley

The Brigata Tridentina Via Ferrata - When Alasdair announced that he was planning a trek in the Dolomites that would involve the via ferratas, I put my name down, as I had enjoyed them so much when Mark Davison introduced me to them at the Summer meet in 2001. (I was a very late starter, at the age of 63).

I took my equipment out to this summer’s meet in Santa Caterina to ask Mark if it would be good enough for me to use this summer. I had two slings and two manual screw gate carabiners, all of which were at least twenty years old. You can guess what he said. He then suggested very nicely, that I went home and bought myself a proper via ferrata kit!

Prior to setting out on this trek I was very anxious, as I have always avoided any walking that has involved carrying a full pack. Alasdair kindly sent us a good packing guide, on top of which, I also had to include my new via ferrata kit, harness and helmet. I am pleased to say that I managed to carry it all without too much hardship. However by the end of the fifth day I still hadn’t used my kit and time was running out.

We had climbed up to the Pisciadu Hut, the Rifugio Cavassa, via a very long, steep and impressive gully that near the top led onto some rock terraces, which were provided with assistance. At the top, we had magnificent panoramic views. In the evening I asked Mark if there was anything in the area that I could do. I don’t know what his silent thoughts were but he generously offered to take me back down to the Val Gardena the next morning, so that we could climb the famous iron way called the Brigata Tridentina, a protected rock path in the Sella Group.

We set out at 8.0 am. It was a beautiful sunny morning and we had some magnificent views on our way down, with the walls of the Pizkofel Massif towering above us and at least twenty chamois grazing on a grassy plateau. Again there was some metal assistance on the upper rock but none of it was difficult and we got down in an hour and a quarter. It felt quite humid but it could be just that I was becoming anxious. We found our way to the start of the via ferrata, put on our kit and prepared ourselves for the climb. There were already several people on their way up.

It was five years since my last climb and I really didn’t know how I would cope but I put my confidence in Mark and we set off at 10.00 am. Needless to say I was all fingers and thumbs to start with but eventually got into a rhythm of using my new quick release carabiners on the metal cable running up the first vertical face. The rock offered good foot and hand holds, even if I didn’t always find them! On the lower half of the climb none of it was really difficult but it was very steep and very exposed. Occasionally, as well as the metal cable, it provided some metallic pegs or rungs to assist the climb. The main problem was the number of people on the route and so I felt pressured into moving on which, to some extent, spoilt the enjoyment of it and prevented me from stopping and looking around. “The route forces its way through one of the wildest and most romantic folds in the north flank to the right by the waterfall at 440m, up a vertical slope and on up to a scree balcony” said the guidebook and here I demanded a short rest! It would have been possible to opt out at this point as there is a pathway up through a wide gully at about 2350m to the Masores plateau and the Pisciadu hut, from the balcony. The views both across the valley and looking down from whence we had come were breath taking. We allowed a few people to pass and then set off once more ourselves.

The second section offered a higher degree of difficulty, with an increased level of exposure; this, mixed with self inflicted pressure to keep moving because of the people following up behind, and the fact that I had no idea of what lay ahead or how far I still had to go, all added to my making the climb harder for myself! The climb takes you steeply up the side of a tower and around the east face of the Sella massif. Here I had to search for good hand and foot holds. The route continued up by means of several steep, vertical ladders in the direction of the Exner Tower, from where the view opens up above and suddenly you realize that you are nearly at the summit! A welcome sight, in the distance, is the Rifuggio Cavassa Pisciadu at 2583 metres on the other side of the bridge.

There is an easy traverse and scramble up to the suspension bridge, which spans a deep, bottomless chasm that gapes beneath as you cross it and provided that you’re not afraid of heights it is not a problem. You are then on the Massores Terrace in the midst of classic rock scenery. The time was 12 noon and so we had completed it in two hours – a good time.

The walk back to the hut was slow as, once off the Massif, my legs turned to jelly. It gave me time to reflect on what Mark had helped me to achieve and I was thrilled to have completed it. The end of the climb came much sooner than I had expected and my thoughts were “Now that I know what it involves I would like to do it again.” I have never done a continuous climb like this before and so for me, a two hour climb was quite exacting. I had to concentrate so hard on the climb that I wasn’t able to absorb the full atmosphere and beauty of being on this amazing rock face in the middle of the Dolomites but my memory will be that it was a superb, almost continually vertical, climb, excitingly exposed, but very well protected and on very good rock.

I have read since that you should allow at least 2hours 45 minutes to climb the via ferrata provided that it is not crowded. It involves 750metres of climb up to 2587m and is of 3B intermediate grade; although I am told that because it is a continuous, unrelenting climb it is actually harder than a normal Grade 3 Climb. It is said to be the “number one route”, as well as one of the longest via ferratas in the Dolomites.

Report by Penny Austin.

Loch Carron, May 4- 9th 2007 - The weather was relatively kind for the annual “Book Your Own” Scottish meet, held over the May Bank Holiday weekend at Loch Carron. A party of nine gathered on the Friday evening at the Loch Carron Hotel, situated on the loch side road at the start of the sprawling village and with fine views across the loch to the railway and Attadale Forest mountains beyond.

Recently acquired by a former minicab driver from Dartford in Kent, it was being run with friendly charm by his extended family. A wide choice of well-cooked dishes was offered for breakfast and the bar food in the evening was tasty and with more than adequate portions. A steady rotation of real ale barrels ensured that the beer aficionados remained contented.

The Monroe Baggers had to toil for their hills which sometimes involved the use of bicycles and balancing over wire bridges. But they left with a rich harvest which included Bidein a Choire Sheasgaich, Lurg Mhor, Moruisg, Beinn Liath Mhor, Sgorr Ruadh, Sgurr a’ Chaorachain, Sgurr Choinnich and Maoile Lunndaith. Those content with slightly lower but often more aesthetic hills enjoyed traverses of Beinn Damh in Torridon and Beinn Bhan in the Applecross Hills with its dramatic north-east facing corries. Two of the party on the journey north to Loch Carron revisited Glencoe to traverse Bidean nam Bian where soupy snow had forced them to retreat the previous year.

On the one seriously wet morning, most of the party took to their cars, groped in black cloud over the Bealach na Ba and between coffee stops toured the Applecross coastal road. After refreshment in the Beinn Damh Inn, the weather had improved sufficiently to allow the exploration in sunshine of some of the delightful coastal paths behind Diabaig on Lower Loch Torridon.

During the meet, the club tradition of Scottish bog snorkelling was maintained when one member plunged in so deeply that he broke a pole and claimed he was only saved from drowning by the air pocket in his woolly cap. Those familiar with the game of “Pass the Pigs”, which can while away the hours on stormy days in Alpine huts, would have marked the event as a high-scoring “Leaning Jowler”.

Those attending: Jim and Margaret Strachan, John and Marj Foster, Geoff Urmston, Phil Hands, Bill Peebles, Dick Yorke and Terry Shaw.

Report by Terry Shaw


Braich Goch Bunkhouse, Corris November 2006 - This Mid-Wales meet was held for the second time and attendance was trebled, this was very heartening. There was a core attendance of eight with six staying at the bunkhouse and two in a local guest house, and we were joined on the Saturday evening by Roger James. The bunkhouse again proved welcoming and comfortable. We had a six bedded bunk room with en-suite facilities and some areas such as the dining room had recently been refurbished. Again good real ale was obtainable at the local hostelry near the bunkhouse and on the Saturday evening also in the bunkhouse bar. A good value, leisurely and substantial meal, in one instance perhaps too substantial, was obtained on the Saturday evening at the Railway Inn in Abergynolwyn, for which we were joined by my wife Karen, whose help with transport appreciably aided the social arrangements.

Saturday started with broken cloud above the tops but later the cloud level fell to around 2000ft and in some areas there were periods of rain. The wind was a strong and gusty westerly; this had been forecast, the rain had not. Five of us; John and Marg, Terry, John and I set off to climb Arenig Fawr approaching it from the north and via the lake, the summit was reached in cloud and rain and the wind made progress difficult, therefore, rather than continuing to traverse the ridge a more direct return was made. However, good views had been obtained on the way up including the Aran and Berwyn ridges. Phil and David went to the Arans ascending Glasgwm from Cwm Cywarch and then making a circular exploration of the Western Aran ridges. Peter wisely headed towards the coast and approached Tarrenhendre from the west starting from Brynglas station on the Talyllyn Railway. He covered a number of tops on the ridge including Trum Gelli and was rewarded by good views and no rain.

The forecast for Sunday was for low cloud down to 1000ft or less and rain later. The optimists Phil, David and Roger returned to the Arans to explore the ridge from the west from Llanuwchllyn. However, given the weather they settled for coffee in Bala... The remainder headed for Llanbedr with a view to climbing Rhinog Fach and Y Llethr. Given the conditions we opted for a more coastal walk encompassing parts of the Harlech Dome and the Artro estuary. While lunching by Hafod-y-llyn the rain had stopped and the cloud base rose somewhat to give views of the Rhinogs. Perhaps less notice should been taken of the forecast, or we should have been more committed. Rewards though, included a megalithic burial chamber, good views of ducks, waders and an egret on the estuary and an appreciation of the problems in navigating on footpaths over farmland. This was not aided by finding variations in the paths marked on maps of three different dates. The latter led to some disagreement, confusion and debate as to route, until the cause was appreciated.

General comments indicated that the bunkhouse was thought to be an appropriate and convenient place from which to explore an interesting, wild and relatively unfrequented area of the Welsh Mountains. It is certainly my intention to offer this meet again, possibly next year if a suitable date can be found which does not impact on the Everest Trek.

Attending: David Ellis, John and Marg Foster, Peter Goodwin, Phil Hands, Roger James, John Percival; Terry Shaw, Dick Yorke.
Report by Dick Yorke

Aviemore, October 2006 - Ten members attended the meet and two joined although staying in another hut in Aviemore. On the Saturday the weather was poor. All except Bill set off for a walk on the Speyside Way from Grantown to Nethy Bridge. The weather here was at least dry and all enjoyed the walk including the mandatory pub stop in Nethy Bridge.

Dinner this year was in a local Taverna! A convivial evening was enjoyed by all.

Weather conditions were much better on the Sunday. Jim, Margaret, Buff, Marge, Terry and Bill walked to Ryvoan and up the Corbett Meal a Bhuachaille. The views were lovely and the cloud patterns spectacular. There after all disappeared on their respective ways back home.

Attending: John Foster, Marge Foster, Jim Strachan Margaret Strachan, Bill Peebles, Buff Dolling, Terry Shaw, Geoff Urmston, Peter Goodwin and Ursula Woodhouse. Visiting: Graham Daniels, Alison Daniels.

Report by Bill Peebles

October 2006 Maintenance Meet - Once again I would like to thank all those who attended the autumn 2006 Maintenance Meet. About twelve members attended the meet, and I had hoped for better weather than we had at the spring meet so that we could do more of the outside painting, since our attempts at doing it in the spring had been somewhat thwarted by rain. Unfortunately, the weather over the weekend was rather showery, and rather restricted outside painting. The paint on the front door looked rather sad but we managed to paint it in spite of the showers, since the wind was blowing the rain from a SW direction and the door was somewhat protected.

Jobs carried out over the weekend included the following: fireplce repairs, painting some of the indoor walls and woodwork with emulsion or gloss, further sealing and painting the outside area above the kitchen windows, changing mattress covers and pillowcases,tidying the trees and grass in the car park area. In addition the hut was given its usual very good cleaning especially in the kitchen, washrooms and living room.

On the Saturday evening, Gordon Spence went with some members to the Kirkstone Inn, so that he could entertain the pub by playing his harmonica. The rest of us went to the Ratchers bar for a quick meal before those of us who were on the Hut Management committee had to rush back to the hut for a meeting. Fortunately, because the HMC holds conference calls between committee meetings at the hut, the meeting did not go on too long.

Previously the Directors had provided funds to buy two folding tables and to replace the two cookers with new electric ones and these are now installed in the hut. Also a member has kindly donated some money to replace the refrigerator, and a new ‘larder’ style fridge has now been procured.

Report by Don Hodge

Dolomites Alptrek, Val Gardena

See Photos of the meet

The Alptrek week was also blessed with day after day of glorious sunshine until the final morning when clouds darkened the sky after a thunderstorm of such violence the previous night that many of us were kept awake. The good weather resulted in spectacular views of the Dolomite spires, some of the most impressive being those of the Sassolungo above the Siusi plateau, scene of our first Dolomite trek in 2001.

The trek started at Ortisei with most of the group taking the Seceda cablecar to join the renowned Adolf Munkel Weg via the Brogles Hut to the first night at the Rifugio Genova. Cultural duties at the Edinburgh Festival meant that I had to miss this but I caught up with the group at their next hut, the Puez, after a delightful walk up the Val Lunga to join the Alta Via 2 which we remained on for most of the remaining trek. Two nights at the Rifugio Puez gave us the opportunity to climb the nearby Piz Puez and to relax before the more strenuous crossing to the Rifugio Pisciadu. There were spectacular views over the gorge of the Val Lunga as we left the Puez Hut and contoured round to the Crespeina Lake, which Ed is reputed to have swum in, then another pass to cross before the steep descent to the Gardena Pass where we indulged in a liquid lunch at Jimmy’s Hut before the ascent of the narrow cleft of the Val Setus where the Alta Via zigzagged steeply up scree and then became a rocky scramble aided by cables which the descending dogs seemed to have no trouble negotiating. Two nights at the Rifugio Pisciadu gave most the opportunity to climb the 3152 metre Piz Boe, and for Mark Davison and Penny Austin to do the most famous via ferrata in the area, the Tridentina.

There had been a variety of wildlife each day, with eagles gliding above us on several occasions, ibex, chamois and marmots high up on the rocks, and a surprising number of flowers still in bloom, notably gentians, edelweiss, saxifrages, yellow poppies and autumn crocuses.

The final day saw us descending to the Gardena Pass again from where most of us caught the bus back to Ortisei and the welcome garden of the Villa Emilia, though the four younger members walked all the way down the valley. We all appreciated the Tyrolean evening put on by the hotel with an endless supply of food, wine and beer, and the comfort of proper beds and showers.

Report by Alasdair Andrews

Dolomites Meet, Cortina, September 2006

The joint Meet with the AC, CC and FRCC was held at the excellent Rocchetta campsite just south of Cortina. Thirty two members of the four clubs enjoyed hot and sunny weather for almost the whole two weeks. There was a wide range of ages and abilities but the Cortina area has a good range of activies to offer, so everyone found plenty to do at the level they were looking for.

The Cinque Torri was a popular climbing venue early in the trip with both classic and sports routes available from 3+ upwards and easy access by car. Protected paths and easy via ferrate provided a few days warm up for those not wanting to rock climb. Longer, harder climbs were undertaken as the first week went by and often climbers returned late in the day just in time to grab a shower and start cooking before the sun set behind the hills. Some of the via ferrate tackled were quite demanding as well, both physically and mentally.Even some hardened climbers found them quite exciting. In the chilly evenings the air was full of the sound of famous names as people made their plans, Comici, Dibona, Dulfer... The evenings deserve a mention, although the days were hot, at this time of year as soon as the sun goes down the temperature plummets! Down and fleece replaced shorts and tee shirts and fortified by the local supermarket wine a party atmosphere prevailed on the site. On a couple of really cold evenings refuge was taken in the campsite bar across the road where they also cooked delicious pizzas.

The climbing and via ferrata’ing continued unrelentingly into the second week, as no one wished to waste the glorious weather by taking a rest day. Some very high grade, good quality routes were completed as well as more modest ones. There were a couple of ‘epics’ on abseil descents, a salutary reminder that getting down is often more dangerous than climbing up! And some via ferrata’ists had extra long days due to unexpected circumstances.

The Cortina area was the scene of some savage mountain warfare in the First World War and many of the tunnels and trenches provided historical interest on the descents from climbs or were included in via ferrate. The descent inside the tunnels of the Little Lagazuoi was fascinating.

I think everyone left for home thoroughly satisfied with a good few ‘ticks’ in their guide books. Personally I thought it was one of the most fun Meets I’ve been on, but then I would say that wouldn’t I !!

Report by Jeff Harris

Alpine Camping Meet, Valais, 22nd July to 5th August 2006.

The meet was based at the Atermenzen camp site and was held jointly with the AC, CC & FRCC with 34 in attendance for some or all of the meet. Most arrived on the Saturday with a good forecast until the Tuesday afternoon, although it had not been freezing at night which made glacier crossing taxing even first thing in the morning. There was thus a general exodus from the campsite on the Sunday to take advantage of this window. A number went to the Bordier hut where routes included the Durrenhorn-Nadelhorn traverse (previous approaches across the Reid glacier above the hut are no longer recommended and the hut guardian has way marked a route to the north ridge from the hut approach path), Gr. Bigerhorn and Ulrichshorn-Balfrin traverses. From the Turtmann Hut the Brunegghorn was climbed and from the Rothorn hut attempts were made on the WellenKuppe & Rothorn.

The weather was then unsettled, but in the first week routes included the Pointe de Zinal traverse, the Kanzelgrat on the Rothorn, East ridge of the Weisshorn, North ridge of Rimpfischhorn and ascents of Weissmies, Lagginhorn & Monte Rosa. Some explored parts of the Europa way, with its tunnels protecting the user in areas of known stone fall. Others explored the sports climbs by Brig and in the Fieschertal.

At the start of week 2, a good weather forecast for several days was obtained. Several teams went up to the Monte Rosa Hut as a starting point for a Monte Rosa - Breithorn traverse. Another team headed round to Coumayeur and the Monzino Hut in search of their remaining 4000m peak.

Sunday, the Monte Rosa teams left at 3am to do Nordend, Dufourspitze, Zumsteinspitze, then got caught in heavy mist arriving at Margherita hut at 7pm – cheese & chips for dinner! The Monzino team left at first light making good time to the Eccles Bivouac. After occupying the top hut, they then went in search of the traverse line to Col Eccles, which they failed to find but did obtain Pic. Eccles and views across to Col Peutrey.

Monday, one Margherita team made a 4am start descended the Grenz glacier back to the Monte Rosa hut. The rest had a lie-in and left at 8.15am to do Parrotspitze, Ludwigshohe, Corno Negro, Balmenhorn for lunch, then Pyramide Vincent, where they couldn’t persuade one member that Punta Giordano was an insignificant pimple, rather than a separate 4k top, and spent the rest of the afternoon descending through hail and lightning on GPS to finally get to the Gnifetti at 6.30pm – just in time for dinner. The Eccles Biv team again left at first light, descending from the hut to the upper Brouliard glacier ascending the couloir to Col Eccles which was found to be in bad condition. They finally arrived at Col Eccles meeting a Korean team who had traversed the Pic. A combination of the change of weather and not been able to see the descent to the Upper Freney Plateau dictated a retreat to the Eccles Biv.

Tuesday, the Monte Rosa team returned to the campsite whilst the Gnifetti team sat it out for the day, debating return via Gressonney. It had snowed over night at the Eccles, but in spite of fears to the contrary the route across the rocks was found with 2 abseils down on to the glacier. By the time the Monzino Hut was reached the sun had managed to break through, though on crossing the G St Bernard back into Switzerland there was a notable depreciation in the weather again. So much for that good weather forecast.

Wednesday, those on the campsite enjoyed a rest day. Inspite of a very cold wind the Gnifetti team left at 2.30am, summitted on E top of Lyskamm at 6.30am, W top by 8am, Felikjoch by 9.30am, over Castor and at Zwillingsjoch by 11.30; slowed down by bad crevassing traversing to Kleine Matterhorn, arr.3.30pm – celebrated with beer and apfelsrudel in Zernatt!

Thursday, new snow down to 2500m so all back on the campsite with an end of meet dinner held at the campsite restaurant. We were well looked after by both the restaurant & campsite staff. On the Friday attendees either returned to the UK or headed south in search of better weather.

Report by Mike Pinney


See Photos of the meet

Though a smaller group than usual (22) were at the July Meet, all agreed that Santa Caterina was an ideal centre for both walking and peak-bagging, while the Hotel Genzianella provided excellent accommodation with large breakfasts to start each day and 4 course dinners, accompanied by a liberal supply of cheap vino della casa served by delightful waitresses, to come back to. But the Meet will mostly be remembered for its two weeks of continuous sunshine, with temperatures reaching over 30c even at altitude, and only the occasional late afternoon or evening thunderstorm to clear the air.

As a result, members were out every day on the hills surrounding the village. The walkers found plenty to do on different trails, often with CAI huts or passes as objectives, and the crossing of waterfalls, raging torrents or glacial sludge to liven up the route. The most adventurous walk was made by James Baldwin’s team, the crossing of the Zebru Pass from the Pizzini (aka the Pizza) Hut into the Val Zebru, then another ascent before dropping down into Santa Caterina, in total a 10 hour day.

There were also various 3000 metre peaks to ascend with the help of the road to the Gavia Pass, the jeep track to the Forni Hut and the rather erratic chairlift towards Monte Sobretta - which left Elizabeth Wells hanging in mid-air for some time. On the second day a group climbed Monte Confinale, the peak which towered above the village, and ascents were made on more than one day of Montes Gavia and Gaviola from the Gavia Pass, the view from both summits enhanced by the bright blue flowers of the rare ‘king of the alps’. Several parties made the ascent of the 3778 metre Monte Cevedale after an overnight at the Casati Hut, two members on one rope disappearing down a crevasse en route across the glacier. Mark Davison spent one very long day making a solo ascent of Monte Tresero, and John Edwards and Ron Hextall disappeared to Sulden for 3 days hoping to make an ascent of the Ortler North face, described by the guidebooks as ‘the most difficult route in the Eastern Alps’. However, on seeing the state of the rock and ice as they started up, they opted instead for a successful ascent of the voie normale.

Everyone came back safely, and perhaps the most dangerous part of the Meet was the drive over the Stelvio Pass to get there, with 48 hairpin bends to negotiate on the way up and over 40 on the way down, with motorbikes roaring past on each.

Report by Alasdair Andrews

Rhyd Ddu Meet – 10/11 June 2006

As usual, the Wales meet was very well attended, with the hut nearly at capacity.

On the Saturday the weather was scorching. We all set out on a number of projects, varying from walking, to scrambling, and even routes on Cloggy.

My particular band set out to walk over a number of Snowdon's cols, including a walk over LLiwedd, before descending to the miners track for a late dinner. We were contemplating ascending Crib Goch into the bargain, but we had run the clock down enough that we went straight up to the top of Snowdon via the miners track. It was still nearly 5pm when we reached the summit, and we happened to met up with David Watts, who had been involved in calling in a helicopter rescue for a walker they had found, along with Sheila Coates. Talk about a hot day; I'd got through 3 litres of water, and was by no means out of the ordinary with my fluid intake.

We had a relatively simple descent to Rhyd Ddu, arriving back by quarter to seven. It was then all hands to the cooking, to finalise spaghetti bolognese, with puddings and copious wine. As usual, the tales flowed freely round the evening meal, and we all drifted off into the evening.

The next day, again sunny and warm; this time, we decided to ascend Mynydd Mawr; the hills to the north of the Nantle ridge. None of us had been up this set of peaks before, and it proved to be a welcome surprise, with not only view of the Snowdon range, but also as far as Tryfan, with wonderful vies of the coast as well. It left us all wondering how we had missed out such a gem previously. A steep descent back to Llyn Cwellyn, involving some dexterous navigation round a number of crags, before we came across the path back to Rhyd Ddu.

Another great and varied weekend out in Wales - the next one is already booked.

Report by Ed Bramley

Knoydart w/c 28 April

This was the first time I had visited Knoydart for 30 years and I spent a couple of days in the area before the rest of the group arrived. I climbed the two Corbetts immediately to the west of Loch Lochy and the following day, a fast boat trip from Kinlochhourn to Barrisdale enabled me to climb Luinne Bheinn (939m) and make it back to the hotel in time for supper.

A glorious Saturday and a good stalker's path facilitated a traverse of Gleouraich (1035m) and Spidian Mialach (996m). There was enough snow underfoot to provide interest but no particular difficulty and the views on this remarkably clear day were magnificent. On the Sunday we toiled towards Sgurr a'Mhaoraich (1027m) with its final ridge providing a little sport before we gained the summit. Some returned direct to the vehicles but some descended to the north and traversed the remarkable little ridge of Am Bathaich before descending towards the northern limb of Glen Quoich. The views down Loch Hourn towards Skye and into the deep glen to the south of the Glen Shiel ridge were dramatic. Tomdoun Hotel provides a comfortable and welcoming base with excellent food and an equally excellent range of whiskies many of which the Meet Leader felt obliged to sample.

Party: David Seddon, John Dempster, Dinah Nichols, Phillip Draper, David Thistlethwaite

Report by David Seddon

Onich Meet 7 -9 April 2006

A frequent complaint of those attending winter Scottish meets in recent years has been a lack of snow. For the weekend meet in Onich at the start of April there was more than enough. But the quality was such that getting anywhere near a top was a slow and exhausting business. There was a good turn out for the meet – 11 of us in all - and the Inchree Centre provides comfortable if slightly cramped accommodation in its six-bed chalets and a good on-site bar serving real ale and acceptable food.

The company was as affable as ever. But in terms of summits achieved, the weekend could hardly be classified as a success. Some confused and chaotic route finding in the Mamores on the Saturday led to a failure by a large party to get up Binnein Beag. However one member soloed a subsidiary peak of Na Gruagaichean before descending on his tea tray. Others later sunned themselves watching Hooper swans on a nearby lochan.

On Sunday assaults by parties on Bidean nam Bian and the Buachaille fizzled out through a combination of thigh-deep wet snow and vicious showers. But one member followed his solo Saturday success on Beinn Achalader with an ascent of Meall Chuaich near Dalwhinnie.

Those attending: John and Marjorie Foster, Jim Strachan, Bill Peebles, John Dempster, Peter Goodwin, Ursula Woodhouse, Peter Farrington, Dick Yorke, Tim Frances and Terry Shaw.

Report by Terry Shaw


Beer Meet, East Devon 4-6 November 2005

There were 11 on the meet, which had a long walk to Uplyme via the famous Undercliff between Seaton and Lyme Regis, on Saturday. After lunch in a pub we returned inland to arrive back at the cars as the night drew in.

A raging storm postponed our start on Sunday. The wind died down in time for us to walk to Branscombe in the rain and find refuge in the local gastropub for an excellent lunch. We emerged to fine weather and took the scenic coastal route back to Beer. The lack of mountains was made up for by the ups and downs of the clifftops. The horizontal rain gave us a familiar feel to things.

There was a suggestion to repeat the exercise next year even though East Devon bears little resemblance to the Alps.

Report by Belinda Baldwin

Aviemore 28-30 October 2005

Five members attended the meet. On the Saturday the weather conned us. It looked promising and we all set off for Cairn Gorm hoping for a pleasant walk on the plateau. However up high the weather was not nice and the summit was wet and very windy. Shortly there after we all returned to the car park and on to Aviemore. Lunch was enjoyed at the house and later a visit was made to the Alpine nursery. Stuart and Bill finished the day by walking round Loch an Eilein.

Dinner in the pub completed the evening and was thoroughly enjoyed.

Weather conditions were again very poor on the Sunday and quickly became worse on the high tops. John, Marge and Buff walked round Loch an Eilein before lunch and then set off South. Bill and Stuart had big ideas for a climb on Drumochter but these ideas rapidly disappeared because of the weather. A look at the Speyside Railway was much more enjoyable. There after we rapidly disappeared south as well. Surprisingly or perhaps not we all met up in House of Bruar for lunch.

Report by Bill Peebles

Braich Goch Bunkhouse, Corris 14-16 October 2005

The bunkhouse situated four miles north of Machynlleth is well placed for exploring the wide range of mountains in Mid-Wales and Southern Snowdonia. There has been an hostelry on the site for about five hundred years and the then hotel pub was refurbished as a bunkhouse around two years ago. This was done effectively to provide a comfortable, convenient and welcoming environment. Accommodation is in four or six person rooms, many en-suite, there are good self-catering facilities, dining room with inglenook, sitting room and bar. The staff are knowledgeable and helpful. A good bar meal was had in Machynlleth on the Saturday evening and there is a pub of some character which serves real ales within a hundred yards of the bunkhouse.

Given the range of mountains available, the attendance of three: Terry Shaw, Richard Winter and I was disappointing. The choice of possible walking areas led to considerable discussion. Cader Idris, the obvious and very local attraction, and the major Rhinog peaks were rejected as we had all been there previously. Two of us had also recently experienced the wild delights and isolation of the Northern Rhinogs including the fine views, the Bronze Age monument Bryn Cader Faner and the cliff girt peaks of Ysgyfarnogog and Penolau. An ascent of Aran Fawddwy, at 2969ft the highest mountain in Wales south of a line between Llanwrst and Tremadoc, was selected for the Saturday with a shortlist of one from Arenig Fawr, the Dyfi Hills or the Tarrens for Sunday. Other possibilities could have been Rhobell Fawr or further away the Moelwyns or Pumlumon, or a range of local woodland or estuary walks.

Saturday was a dry day, but with cloud moving around the summits, this cleared in the afternoon with some sunshine providing excellent views of the southern cliffs of the Arans and including the cliff encircled lake of Creiglyn Dyfi, the source of the Dyfi a noted sea trout river. On both days the entrapped low level haze provided general views which were ethereal and impressionistic rather than clear. More suited for painting than photography.

Aran Fawddwy was ascended from the cliff girt Cwm Cywarch leading to a fine if in places boggy ridge walk to the summit with a return via Drws Bach, with its memorial to a member of an RAF mountain rescue team member killed by lightning in 1960, and Drysgol leading to a traversing descent down Cwm Hengwm.

Richard returned on the Sunday having aggravated an existing back injury and Terry and I set off to the Tarrens hoping for good views of Cader and the Dyfi estuary. Setting off from Abergynolwyn the walk encompassed the oak woods, waterfalls and upper station of the Tal-y-llyn railway in Nant Gwernol, some forestry tracks, a steep ascent to the ridge and then onto Tarrenhendre. After following the ridge to the east descent was made via Pont Llaeron and through the Bryn-Eglwys quarry site. Although peaks were clear of cloud, views of Cader and some Rhinog peaks were ethereal rather than clear and those of the Dyfi and Dysynni valleys somewhat fleeting.

Overall, an enjoyable meet providing the opportunity to walk in some of our less crowded hills. I intend to offer a similar meet sometime in the future.

Report by Dick Yorke


This trek forms the central and most spectacular section of the classic Alpine Pass route. There are high passes to cross, magnificent mountain views, and gentle alpine meadows. The trek links the many of the major resorts in the Bernese Alps and is one the finest long walks in the Alps.

We fly into Basel, and then take the train to Interlaken. Due to the August floods, there is a bus service laid on from Interlaken to Meiringen. With typical Swiss efficiency, this is there waiting for the train, and you wouldn’t even know there was a problem!

Route Summary

Day 1 (4 September) Meiringen - Grosse Scheidegg - Grindelwald. Ascent 1367m, descent 928m, time 7 to 8 hours.

Our accommodation looks straight out at the Reichenbach falls, and there are Sherlock Holmes connections scattered throughout Meiringen. To avoid the initial slog through trees, we take the post bus to Schwarzwaldalp. From there, it’s uphill to Grosse Scheidegg, before diverting to First for the views. After a lunch with a view, we make a further detour to Bachalpsee, with its stunning reflections of the mountains, before descending to Grindelwald.

Day 2 (5 September) Grindelwald - Kleine Scheidegg - Lauterbrunnen. Ascent 1118m, descent 1264m, time 6 to 7 hours.
A lovely slow climb, often accompanied by the train, as we head up slowly to Kleine Scheidegg, with terrific views of the Eiger. The crowds at Kleine Scheidegg are a rude awakening, but we manage to find a quiet spot for dinner. We descend firstly to Wengen, and then down a set of zig-zag tracks to Lauterbrunnen. The local Wengen teenagers take this in their stride, zooming down on their mountain bikes.

Day 3 (6 September) Lauterbrunnen - Sefinenfurke - Griesalp. Ascent 1815m, descent 1204m, time 9 to 10 hours.
We leave Lauterbrunnen via the funicular to Gruetschalp, and so avoid a 700m flog through the trees. From there, we walk along to Murren, before following the edge of the limestone cliffs, with some spectacular views, round to Rotstockhutte. A lovely meal of alpine cheeses there, before we start the pull up to the Sefinenfurgge. Steep loose shale up to the pass makes this an interesting ascent, but soon after the col are rudimentary steps, so the descent on similar material is much easier. Griesalp is unspoilt, and there are even llama where we are staying.

Day 4 (7 September) Griesalp - Hohturli - Kandersteg. Ascent 1370m, descent 1602m, time 7 to 8 hours.
We start early, to pull up slowly to the Bluemlisalphutte. Again, the final part of the ascent is steep, so there are more peg and board steps up to the Hohturli col, which is just a few minutes from the hut. After a well earned lunch at the hut, we make a little excursion to the edge of the glacier, which has receded considerably since some of us were last here. On the way down, we meet a group of portugese scouts on the way up to the hut. It is great to see a bunch of young people enjoying the mountains so much. The decent then takes up down to the Oeschinensee, along some great limestone ledges, before we take a beer break at the restaurant by the lake. The descent down to Kandersteg passses easily for some reason!

Day 5 (8 September) Kandersteg - Bunderchrinde - Adelboden. Ascent 1209m, descent 1029m, time 6 to 7 hours.
We leave Kandersteg near the International Scout Centre, and head off up into the upper valleys at Uschene. From here it is slow but sure ascent to the Tschilligellochtighorn, where the wind blows strongly across the col. Some interesting traverses across steep screes see us on a ridge descending to the Engstligenalp, where we refuel with a beer, and a superb rosti. From there, it is a short descent by the side of the waterfall, to where we are staying.

Day 6 (9 September) Adelboden - Hahnenmoospass - Lenk. Ascent 696m, descent 888m, time 4 to 5 hours.
We head in to the outskirts of Adelboden, before ascending a series of passes to reach the Hahnenmoos Pass. The going is generally much easier today, with rolling hillsides, and only one area of scree to make the going tougher. As we approach the Hahnenmoos pass, the cloud descends and the rain comes in, so we let the worst pass by in the restaurant at the top of the col. The descent into Lenk has the usual steepness about it, but is mercifully short, so we are able to finish in good time.

Meet Report by Ed Bramley. See Photos of the meet

Vicosoprano, Switzerland - 23 July / 6 August 2005

The meet was held jointly with the AC & CC based at the Mulina campsite. Over the period of the meet there were 70 in attendance (members & guests) although at no point was everybody on the camp site. With the FRCC & WMC also holding meets on the site, I was concerned that the site would be overcrowded. That was not the case to the extent that with out the British invasion they would have been struggling for business. We were made very welcome with aperitifs laid on for Swiss National day.

Vicosoprano is a good location for the full spectrum of aspirations in Bernie & Bregaglia. Most arrived on the Saturday evening unwinding on the Sunday with visits to Italian supermarkets and road side sports climbs or exploring the hills to the north of the valley. For those after mixed routes a visit to the Forno hut was a popular first outing. The weather in the first week was generally better than forecast so the team that went up to the Forno hut on the Monday were able to achieve their Rosso Sissone traverse with a fleeting view of Disgrazia (climbed by a number of teams from the south).

In the Albina valley a number of multi pitch rock routes were climbed on Spazzacaldeira & Punta Albina using an early cable car to get to the dam. In Val Bondasca the Flat Iron route on Gemelli & the North ridge of Badile were popular choices. Traversing Badile was considered a more satisfying experience than a long abseil down the ridge.

The AC guide includes a section on the Albula and much to the Escha guardian’s surprise a team visited to climb Piz Kesch by the east face or the varied Keschgrat.

The early part of the 2nd week was stormy with new snow above about 3400m and there was a cold north wind. On the Biancograt one party turned back whilst the other ended up abseiling down the Spallagrat late in the day on frozen ropes to the welcome sight of the Marco Rosa hut. The same day the Eselgrat on Roseg was climbed to the Schneekuppe. Fresh snow on the final ridge, the cold, poor visibility and the risk of the track being covered by drifting snow demanded discretion. The team were however rewarded with fine views the following day on Morteratsch.

On the Friday evening nearly 30 sat down to dinner at the Pizzeria attached to the sports centre, the staff raising to the challenge of serving such a large number.

Meet Report by Mike Pinney

Cauterets Meet – 2/16 July 2005

There were 21, who stayed for the two weeks, with 5 more for week 1 and 7 more for week 2. Travel was by car or air and cars proved to be useful as local buses were limited. Nonetheless reading the meet diary shows that everyone managed to get himself or herself about and find plenty to do. Some ‘did’ more energetically than others.

One member records more meals than any other activity. His days read like a restaurant critic so if you wish to go to Cauterets for gastronomy consult John C before you go.

Two of the ladies were tempted by the spa and underwent water and mud therapy. There was painting, sketching, botanising and bird watching but mostly we did go up, down and along mountains that were richly enhanced with lakes and waterfalls. It is a grand area and we must thank Alasdair for thinking it up and finding us a comfortable billet as well.

Meet Report by Belinda Baldwin

Rhyd Ddu Meet – 10/11 June 2005

With 20 people attending, the Rhyd-Ddu meet at the Oread club hut, remains as popular as ever.

Saturday was a brilliant day, with good dry sunny weather. People left the hut in small groups for a number of projects, varying from the Nantle ridge, to climbing on Clogwyn Yr Arddu.

A number of us headed round to Ogwyn valley, for an excursion up the north ridge of Tryfan, with the continuation along Bristly Ridge. After the initial pull up to the North ridge from the road, there is the obligatory squeeze cum wriggle that is the proverbial door opening onto the ridge. At least I had good technique this time.

Then it was wander at leisure all the way up the ridge, picking out challenging moves all the way up. We joined the throng on the summit, with some people even doing the Adam and Eve step across.

After Tryfan, Bristly Ridge was strangely quiet, but with probably even better scrambling moves on it. Up to the cantilever stone and the tower of the winds – absolute fairy tale scenery. We then descend via Y Gribin which, after an initial steep descent, then gives us a lovely track back down to the valley.

Its back round to the hut to prepare the evening meal, which was chicken curry with accompaniments, followed by various filling puddings. Recounting of the days events by all completes a great day.

The next day, the weather had closed in markedly, so a crowd of us head onto the Nantlle Ridge, and enjoy the moves on it. The visibility wasn’t great, so we all had lunch at the monument, before we turned about, and cut back to the low track and the hut.

All considered though, a very successful weekend.

Meet Report by Ed Bramley


Galloway November 2004

The Meets Secretary had been asking me why I never attend Scottish Meets. Well it is a long way from Milton Keynes but I ought to make the effort. A day’s holiday was taken for travelling and I made my way North to join the others for the Galloway Meet.

An excellent dinner in the pub on Friday night and a good night’s sleep and we went our various ways on the Saturday morning. David Edwards and I went to the Merrick and met Roger James and David Ellis on the top. We came down via the lakes – we had been warned – and back to the car through some of the roughest, wettest ground I can remember. Everyone else visited Corserine and the Rhinns of Kells. John Foster, who is not mountain fit at present enjoyed a motoring tour of just about the whole area.

Saturday had been a brilliant, clear but cold day. Sunday morning dawned cloudy, damp and cold. Following a degree of procrastination over breakfast everyone apart from Mike and Marion headed in the general direction of home. As soon as we left it started raining!

I hadn’t been to Galloway before, as everyone says it is that bit between The Lakes and Glencoe. What a fabulous area and hardly a soul in sight all day. Put me down for next year please and thanks to John for making the arrangements.

Attendees: Alasdair Andrews, Mike Scarr, Bill Peebles, Mike and Marion Parsons, John and ‘Pinotage Marj’ Foster, Roger James, David Ellis (guest), David Edwards (guest), Richard Winter.

Report by Richard Winter

Aviemore October 2004

Ten members attended the meet. On the Saturday the weather was not too promising. Five members (Jim, Margaret, John Dempster, Roger, and Peter) set off to climb Braeriach using the Chalamain Gap route and three members (Marj, Buff and Bill) set off for Bynack More. The promised weather improvement prevailed for once and both parties successfully climbed their mountains. Geoff who felt that he was not fit enough for a long day on the high mountains had a pleasant walk to the Chalamain Gap. John was not fit to climb so he had a railway day on Cairn Gorm and the Speyside Railway.

Dinner in the pub completed the evening and was thoroughly enjoyed.

Weather conditions were very poor on the Sunday. Geoff set off early on his return Journey. Three members (Marj, Peter and Bill) decided to climb the Corbett, Meall a Buachaille, above Glenmore but gave up and had Dempster and Roger set off South intending to climb Corbetts on Drumochter and by the time they got there it would certainly be raining. Jim, Margaret and Buff decided that the Saturday had been a good day and set off to look at the Falkirk Wheel. John Foster very kindly waited for his Good Lady and by lunchtime all had departed on their journeys home.

Attending: John Foster, Marj Foster, Jim Strachan, Margaret Strachan, Buff Dolling, Geoff Urmston, John Dempster, Roger James, Peter Farrington, Bill Peebles

Report by Bill Peebles


Introduction - This meet ranged through the eastern end of the Mercantour National Park. The terrain is rough but there are no glaciers. The landscape is strewn with boulders and there are many beautiful mountain lakes. It is one of the driest districts in the Alps with a near Mediterranean climate. The mountains are around 3000 metres in height and the huts are reputed to be comfortable. Within the area lies the valley of the Marvels where thousands of bronze age rock carvings have been found.

We reach the start of our tour from Nice airport via the train to St Dalmas de Tende. From there, we travel by car to Lac des Mesches then walk to the Gite Neige et Merveilles approximately 800m.

Day 1- In the morning, we walk from Gite Neige et Merveilles to the Refuge des Merveilles, 2111m. This is easy rolling scenery, generally by the side of bubbling rivers. Lovely wild raspberries in a wood we walk through. In the afternoon, we go with a local guide to see a selection of the merveilles carvings. We visit some of the more inaccessible sites out on rock platform, with wonderful phehistoric carvings of them, including the Sorcerer.

Day 2- A day of exploring from the refuge. We head up the nearby peak of Cime du Diable, and are surprised by a group of Yorkshire climbers at the top. Other groups head up Mont Bego and Cime des Lacs. The refuge itself is basic, but the food is brilliant. We all have very strong dreams, which we don’t think are due to the red wine alone!

Day 3- A long day, walking through the Merveilles valley, to the Refuge de Nice, 2232m via the Valmasque pass, 2549m, and the Basto pass, 2693m. The going up to the Basto pass in particular is hard going, with large boulder fields that takes a long time to cross.

Day 4- A day exploring from the Nice refuge. Several of us ascent Mont Clapier, via a variety of routes. The views from the summit are superb, and we can see well into Switzerland. There are also a group of tame chamois near the summit. Back at the refuge, several of us risk the rudimentary ablutions, which include showers that are so cold, the water must be straight off the hillside, and the old style ‘footprint’ toilets!

Day 5- We walk to the Refuge de Valmasque, 2221m, via the Pas de la Fous, 2828m. Further steep pulls up passes, and boulder fields to negotiate our way through. On our way down, we pick up the ‘direct’ route to the hut, which involves some hairy scrambling through rock outcrops, before we finally reach the hut for a well deserved beer.

Day 6- (10 September) The weather is still glorious as we climb out of the Valmasque valley, and over the Fontanalba pass, 2568m, before picking up a number of old military paths that take us over more passes, back to Gite Neige et Merveilles. On the way, we make a detour to the Fontanalba hut, where we have a typically extended French lunch, including omlette, Myrtle tart, and washed down with home made limoncello.

Meet Report by Ed Bramley. See Photos of the meet

ABMSAC Alpine Meet, Zermatt, Switzerland 11-25 July 2004

There were 22 attendees in the first week and 25 in the second week. Zermatt provided something for everyone. There were high peaks, long high walks with or without the aid of lifts plus little ambles to pretty places to pause and enjoy the views with the odd piece of appflekuchen and maybe a beer. The flowers were at their best. Marmots, chamois and ibex entertained us on the alps as well as the domesticated sheep and goats. The weather was allsorts but without too much rain. The Matterhorn was out for anyone with such ambition on account of snow. High peaks achieved were the Breithorn, the Stockhorn, The Rimpfishorn Saddle and Castor.

The hotel was brilliant thanks to the recce done by Alasdair and Pam. It was in the middle of Zermatt but off the noisy main street. The ever smiling and beautiful Amelia attended us. Food was plentiful and served quickly and bedrooms were kept spic and span. We have to thank Alasdair for organising it all so that all went smoothly. It was a fantastic fortnight with everyone out everyday and no medical emergencies.

Belinda Baldwin

Innertkirchen Switzerland, 10-24 July 2004

The meet was held jointly with the AC & CC based at the Grund campsite. The first meet for at least 25 years to this side of the Oberland so as to be better sited for the rock climbs in the Grimsel & Susten Passes.

The first few days were cold and wet with snow down to 2000 meters. Acclimatisation walks and the indoor wall at Meiringen proved the order of the day. A number of parties were seen leaving the campsite for Southern Italy. Was it too early for a meet in this area?

By the middle of the first week the temperature rose dramatically and the rock dried very quickly. It continued to be showery and we rapidly learnt to carry waterproofs on multi pitch climbs. Most attendees abseiled off at least 1 route but ropes (and climbers) soon dried. In the Susten Pass, Platten at Steingletscher proved popular and 2 teams tackling the recently developed Via Ferrata above the Talli hut. One team picked the right day for the Salbitschijen south ridge. A couple of parties climbed the Wetterhorn from the Dossen Hut, their start delayed by avalanche risk on the hut approach. In the Grimsel Pass, teams climbed the 350 m high Mittagflue (gneiss) before moving onto the granite at Handegg. 2 teams climbed the classic Fair Hands Line with its unique descent down steps at the side of the funicular (there is a handrail at the steeper parts). The multi-pitch slab climbs at Ratenichsboden provided some interesting padding. At Elderado the Septumania team were more successful than the Motorhead enthusiasts. The Lauteraarhorn is typically climbed from the Aar bivouac, a good 6 hours walk from the Hospice. The successful team sat it out for 2 days before making a new trail up the mountain.

By coincidence the meet leaders birthday occurred during the 2nd week and 18 dined at a local hostelry to celebrate. Thank you all for making it such a good evening besides an enjoyable meet.

Mike Pinney

North Wales - June 2004

Once again, a very popular meet of over 20 people, at the Oread Hut in Rhyd-Ddu.

Saturday was cloudy but otherwise clear, and people took the opportunity to enjoy a variety of routes up popular mountains. To avoid Snowdon and the hoardes, we (Andy, Ed and Steve) made the short journey round to Ogwen Valley, and firstly took in the north ridge of Tryfan, which was a new experience for some of the party. Whilst having been on it before, we managed to find even more wander at leisure pieces of scrambling than ever before. On to the top of Tryfan for dinner, before dropping down to pick up Bristly Ridge. This just made the easier scrambling even better, with lots of neat moves, before pulling out onto the top in mist. What an experience with the giant slabs looming out of the mist, with an obligatory pose on the cantilever stone. Round onto the Glyders, with the visibility now improving, before dropping down to cwm Idwal and the start of our trip.

As now seems to be the custom, it was the communal meal at the cottage in the evening. This year, it was poppadum and chutnies to start, followed by chicken tikka marsala, rounded off with a selection of fruit tarts and sponges and all washed down with several glasses of wine. How we manage to get everybody round the tables is still a mystery.

Sunday was a great piece of sunshine, so we decided an early start up Snowdon was in order. Nothing overly adventurous, just a meander up the Rhyd-Ddu path and back, with some variations around the slate quarries on the ascent. As ever, with the train in steam, the world seemed to have come to the top of Snowdon that day, and the gulls were growing fat on the remnants of sandwiches. Off we went again, before even more people arrived on the top. Easily down, with great views out to sea, and along the coast. The gentle breeze deceptively cools us, and it’s only when I’m down again, do I realise how much I’ve caught the sun.

Another great weekend in the hills.

Pictures of the meet and report by Ed Bramley

Aultguish - April 2004

Hopes of a repeat of the warm spring sunshine that graced the Cannich meet in April 2003 were not to be realised on this year’s equivalent extended weekend gathering based at the Aultguish Inn. But despite the cold winds and a mixture of sunshine, snow and hail showers, a fair number of peaks were climbed and the party appeared to return home contented. All but two of the 10 members attending stayed at the inn and those that did soon adapted to or overcame its curiosities, such as the mid-brown water, the lack of hooks and hangers and a bath plug that did not fit the drain hole. The young couple, who recently took over the pub and are slowly making improvements, were welcoming and did their best to please. As it was, their breakfast bacon was highly commendable, the Crofters Ale most drinkable and there was a sufficient range of malts to amuse us all until late in the evening.

Two early arrivals on the Friday warmed up on a cloud-covered Cul More and on Saturday there was a communal assault on Beinn Dearg via its north-west ridge, with one member experimenting en route with a new form of bog snorkelling. One keen Munro-bagging pair added Cona Mheal to their list while another two members sauntered up Meall nan Ceapraichean. After the long walk back to the cars via Beinn Dearg’s northern col, all 10 dined that night at the Aultguish Inn.

On Sunday the group split into three with Jim Strachen and Phil Hands returning to the Inverlael Forest to traverse Meall nan Ceapraichean, Ceann Garbh and Eididh nan Clach Geala, while six others visited the Fannichs to climb Meall a’ Chrasgaidh from the Dundonnell road. The remaining pair, anticipating better weather north of Ullapool, settled for Ben More Coigach. But that evening all three parties reported good views from their respective tops and the day was rounded off by eight of us enjoying an excellent dinner at The Ceilidh Place in Ullapool.

Monday was a disappointment. Seven of the remaining eight set out for the newly snow-covered Fannichs with hopes of a traverse of Sgurr Mor. An early drenching and prospects of battling against blizzards on the tops soon weakened resolve and the hills were abandoned in favour of Ullapool’s café society and visits to the Corrieshalloch Gorge.

Attendees: Jim and Margaret Strachan, John and Marj Foster, Peter Goodwin, Ursula Woodhouse, Phil Hands, Geoff Urmston, Dick Yorke, Terry Shaw.

Report by Terry Shaw

Bridge of Orchy - March 2004

Eleven members met at the intimate venue of the West Highland Way Sleeper at Bridge of Orchy station for a weekend of unpromising weather.

On the Saturday ascents were made in various parts of the Blackmount with icy conditions resulting in a certain amount of ‘falling about’ and the President in fear that his car would be incinerated in a heather burn.

Sunday dawned with really foul weather so the consensus was to head for home. A short weekend but enlivened with good company and an excellent dinner on Saturday night.

Attendees: Alasdair Andrews, John and Marj Foster, Peter Goodwin and Ursula, Philip Hands, John Percival, Mike Scarr, Terry Shaw, Jim and Margaret Strachan.

Report by Philip Hands

Kingussie – February 2004

Saturday proved to be one of those days where the weather is better everywhere except where you want to go, with cloud sitting on the Cairngorm massif and new snow above about 700 metres. Three parties set out to climb Mullach Clach a’Bhlair, Monadh Mor, and Sgor Gaoith, all from Glen Feshie. The attempt on Monadh Mor was abandoned in short order, and an expanded team located Mullach clach a’ Bhlair after serious and not-so-serious questions being raised about a certain party’s navigational skills.

The third grouping of Geoff and Alasdair, meanwhile, successfully climbed Sgor Gaoith, but Alasdair somehow managed at one point to practise the total immersion technique for river crossing, which must have terrified the fish!

We met up again for a meal in the Tipsy Laird after Alasdair had warmed up, but he and Geoff then had to spend three and a half hours sitting in their car waiting for their landlord to get home, having lost their key. Because of this they did not join the rest of the group in climbing a hard-frozen Geal Charn (Drumochter) before departing for home on Sunday.

Attendees: Alasdair Andrews, Geoff Bone, Graham Daniels, Peter Farrington, John Foster, Marj Foster, Jennie Holland, John Holland, Jim Strachan, Margaret Strachan

Report by John Foster

Annual Dinner Meet 2004 - Lake District

Glenridding January 31 was wet, as was the meet weekend, in a week of very wet weather. It was even too wet for the Ullswater Steamers – Howtown Jetty was underwater and, worse, the Ratchers Bar was flooded on Saturday. Maybe it could have been worse but I for one have no wish to see it!

Parties went out on the hills, none to my knowledge returned dry. I understand that much shopping was done and the local economy benefited – “its and ill wind” etc.!

We had some cancellations and some late bookings so finished with 90 at the Dinner. One cancellation was Alan Blackshaw the Alpine Club President (snowed in at Inverness) who sent in his stead Steve Goodwin with his wife Lucy. Steve is the Alpine Club Journal Editor. Our other guest was Franz Staempfli, President of the Swiss Alpine Club Central Committee. Franz also attended the AGMs prior to the dinner and his excellent command of English enabled him to make an apposite reference to the hut in his speech.

Socially the meet went well but weatherwise it was dreadful. Book early for next year’s meet – January 28 to 30 (to be confirmed).

Report by Brooke Midgeley

Fearnan/Lawers - January 2004

The Thursday prior to the meet brought the unwelcome news that the usual cottage at Fearnan was unavailable. Amazingly after a few telephone calls John Foster obtained alternative, better accommodation at Lawers a few miles to the west of Fearnan.

Friday brought glorious blue skies and knee deep snow. John D and AIA attempted one of the easiest Corbetts and due to the deep snow failed to reach the summit. The following day John D, Roger and Jim scrambled through deep snow and sitka spruce to ascend Beinn a' Chleibh via most of Ben Lui. AIA returned to Glen Lochay and climbed the previous day's pimple walking in the steps kindly provided by three climbers ahead of him. The others, having failed to drive up the Ben Lawers car park due to the icy conditions eventually arrived in Glen Lochay and ascended one of the peaks there.

Having experienced the expensive delights of the Kenmore hotel on the Friday we self catered on the Saturday at a fraction of the price of the hotel and enjoyed far superior cuisine. Sunday brought torrential rain so we were home early.

Present: Alasdair Andrews, John Dempster, John & Marj Foster, Roger James, Jim & Margaret Strachan and Geoff Urmston.

Report by Alasdair Andrews


Galloway – November 2003

In spite of a low turnout, the November meet in Galloway was very successful. After terrible weather on the Friday, the promised window of good weather lasted until Sunday night, and the bunkhouse accommodation was high quality, though clanking pipes disturbed the two ladies on Friday night (which could indicate a lower initial alcohol level in the sufferers).

Having met up at the Galloway Sailing Centre by Loch Ken on Friday evening, on the recommendation of the proprietor we travelled to Dalry to eat. This proved a wise move, with excellent food and drink available at the Clachan. We all travelled to Forrest Lodge on Saturday morning to tackle Corserine and the Rhinns of Kells. The views were excellent for much of the day, and somehow the heavy showers peppering the area periodically completely missed us. The descent was not without incident, with one member falling flat on his face, one attempting a swim in the bog, and two climbing carefully through a seven-strand barbed wire fence about 100 yards from a stile.

Saturday evening was a repeat of Friday, and on Sunday four of the party climbed Cairnsmore of Carsphairn and “Piz” Beninner (who could resist climbing this one?), in crystal clear visibility and almost unbroken sun. Arran, Kintyre, and the Northern Lake District summits were all clearly visible as well as the Rhinns of Kells, Curlywee, and the range of the Awful Hand, closer to us.

Since the weather clamped down again on the following day, we all feel extremely fortunate to have seen the area in good weather.

Attendees: Geoff Urmston, Marj Foster, John Foster, Ursula Woodhouse and Peter Goodwin.

Report by John Foster

Aviemore - October 2003

Nine members attended the meet. On the Saturday three separate groups attempted different mountains. The first group comprising John and Marge Foster, Terry Shaw and Bill Peebles set out to climb Braeriach from Glen Feshie. High winds, rain and poor visibility curtailed the day to Carn Ban Mor and Sgur Gaoith which, considering the weather, was quite sufficient. The second party of Jim and Margaret Strachan along with John Dempster climbed Bynack More from the ski road, and reported on their return that conditions on the summit were a bit wild and unpleasant. The third party made up of Alasdair Andrews and Geoff Bone climbed The Corbett Meall a’ Bhuachaille above Ryvoan. All in all a reasonable achievement considering the prevailing weather.

Dinner in the pub completed the evening and was thoroughly enjoyed.

Weather conditions had improved on the Sunday and the whole party set off for Pitlochry and climbed Ben Vrackie. Nice weather and lovely views gave an excellent short day, which was enjoyed by all. A quick pint in Moulin Hotel and then the party set off on their homeward journeys.

Report by Bill Peebles

Tour du Vallee du Trient Meet, September 2003

A great six days of walking on a classic high route.

Day 1 started misty, with a walk from La forclaz, up Mont de l Arpille, and a long descent into the Trient, with a steep pull up the far side of the valley to Salvan.

Day 2 started easy in the sun, with a walk along the Vallon de Van, but with a steep pull up to the auberge at Lac Salanfe. Spectacular views to Tour Salliere and the Dents du Midi range.

Day 3 saw excursions to the Haute Cime of the Dents du Midi, with a number of people reaching the summit, whilst others were content to take in the views and atmosphere from a lower level.

Day 4 was the longest of the days, with two cols to cross, before reaching Lac Emosson. En route, Le Luisin beckoned as a summit.

Day 5 was a remarkable day. An impressive feat of enginering in the Emosson dam (yes, there is a bolted on route up the 600 ft of the dam !), followed by the myriad of dinosaur footprints higher up the valley. A memorable afternoon lunch stop at Loria offered a superlative view of the complete Mont Blanc range, before descending to Vallorcine.

Day 6 saw a change to the more rounded scenery of Col de Balme and Croix de Fer, before the entertaining descent of Passage des Grands down to valley level again. A short traverse of the Bisse du Trient saw us back at the hotel, just as the rain started again.

Report by Ed Bramley Pictures of the meet

Rhyd Ddu Meet, 6-8 June 2003

A very well attended meet based at the Oread club hut at Rhyd Ddu.

The weather started mixed on the Saturday morning as we set off for the Nantlle ridge, but by the time we had reached the main part of the ridge, the weather had cleared nicely. When we had passed the obelisk on Mynydd Tal-y-Mignedd, we dropped down to the tarn in Cwm Silyn. The more dynamic amongst us made straight for the crag and its sun kissed slabs, whilst the more leisurely caught the midday sun, before returning to the top of Craig Cwm Silyn. There then followed the long yomp back to the hut, either over the tops, or along old watercuts and mine tracks.

Saturday evening saw a communal meal for everybody. Garlic bread, followed by pasta Neapolitan, rounded off with either treacle or apple tart. Good rib sticking stuff.

Despite Sunday looking bleak, it soon cleared, and a big party then set off for Moel Hebog, All the way along the ridge from Moel Hefyn. Despite a sketchy track at the start of the ridge, the going soon became more definite. We paused for lunch on a subsidiary peak just before Moel Hebog, with great views over Bedgellert. The wind by this stage was breezy, but was keeping the low cloud at bay. Then down to the outskirts of Bedgellert, before following the course of the old railway and a number of the forest tracks back to the hut. All the time the weather just kept getting better.

After a lovely late Sunday tea, it was then a final pack of the bags, before a leisurely drive home

Report by Ed Bramley

Braemar, 21-23 February 2003

Arrived Friday evening and settled into the Rucsac's Bunkhouse. Visited the Fyfe Arms Hotel for a meal and to meet up with the rest of the party.

Saturday dawned fair with some sunshine but with cloud on most mountain tops. Various hills were climbed and on the whole everyone appeared to have had a good day.

On Sunday,as is quite often the case on these winter meets,it started raining shortly after breakfast. Our new President Alasdair arrived and announced his intention to go for a walk. He was joined by three other brave souls and set off into the rain - others set off for home.

Report by Bert Bowes.

Annual Dinner Meet - Lake District, February 2003

Over eighty members and guests enjoyed winter conditions on the Fells in early Feburary. The conditions meant that everyone was able to get out in fine weather on the Saturday and enjoy extensive views across the Lakes, the weather was slightly more moist on the Sunday.

At the Annual Dinner, on the Saturday evening, were delighted to have Herr Hunn and his wife from the Swiss Embassy and George Watkins, the President of the FRCC as our guests. We all enjoyed a fine meal at the Glennridding Hotel and afterwards were entertained by an illustrated lecture from George on the Keswick Brothers.

The weekend was a great oppurtunity to catch up with friends news and meet new members. At the AGM a new President was elected, Alasdair Andrews, as Mike Goodyer stepped down after his three years in office.

I have been sent the one members account of an extended visit to the Dinner Meet,it is presented below.

Outgoing President - Mike Goodyer

Report from Ed Bramley

Thursday - A clear day, but with northerly winds straight off the Arctic, it was keening on the face and any other exposed skin. Started at Braithwaite along the gently rising ridge of Grisedale Pike. Along the ridge to the top of Hopegill Head, with great views along to Whiteside. Then across Coledale Hause, where we stopped out of the wind for lunch, before heading through the col to Wandhope, and great views on to Buttermere and the Lakeland giants of Scafell beyond.

Up onto Sail, with great afternoon views eastwards to the Helvellyn range, and the Pennines beyond. Then down into Coledale and the walk back along the old mine track, before a welcoming warm and beer in the Coledale Inn to finish the day.

Friday - Today lower down the wind is much calmer, as the stillness of Bassenthwaite shows. Parked at the old saw mill at Mire House, and took the forest track north to the base of Ullock Pike. Along and up to Broad End, where Ullock Pike meets Skiddaw, before the final pull up onto the top. The wind opens up in the final few hundred feet, but nowhere near as constant as the day before. Then back down to Wood Dodd before returnung to the car, and a late afternoon excursion to the tea shops of Keswick.

Pictures of the meet by Ed Bramley

Onich Meet. 10th - 12th January 2003

Twelve members attended the meet based in two chalets at Inchree. The preceding week's weather had been glorious but despite a cold dry start to Saturday there were obvious signs of it breaking.

Ascents were made of Stob Coire a Chearcaill in Ardgour; Mullach nan Coirean and Sgurr Eilde Mor at opposing ends of the Mamores and Meall na Teanga, west of Loch Lochy. Thin snow cover above 2,000 ft. presented less of a problem than extensive sheet ice on the approach paths. A cold wind strengthened during the day and those on the latter two peaks also had to contend with thick mist.

The Inchree Centre restaurant provided both an excellent dinner and good selection of whisky to put the party in the mood for some extended socialising in their conveniently placed chalets.

Overnight the weather well and truly broke presenting a dismal scene of low cloud and torrential rain on Sunday morning. With no sign of respite most members made an early start for home.
Report by Peter Farrington


Whitby Meet – November 2002

Because of illness, this meet had a low turnout of 5 attendees. Nonetheless the weekend proved extremely enjoyable. Having met on Friday evening at the Backpackers Hostel in Whitby a decision was made to walk the coast on Saturday, and inland on the moors on Sunday.

The Saturday walk was from Ravenscar through Robin Hood’s Bay to Whitby. We started in sunshine, enjoyed fine weather and hazy views for most of the walk, and the rain only arrived as we approached Whitby. For Saturday dinner we universally voted for the Magpie Café – a highly recommended establishment famous for its fish and chips. We were not disappointed!

Sunday dawned fair, but most participants decided to make for home immediately. This was a pity because the good weather lasted all day and allowed us a superb walk over the moors.

John Foster

Aviemore Meet, - October 2002

Six members attended the meet. All attempted to climb Braeriach on the Saturday in excellent weather with strong winds at the higher levels. Unfortunately distance, time and soft snow forced the party to traverse from the Lairig Ghru across to Glen Einich instead of continuing on to the summit of the mountain.

Wonderful views of the corries of Braeriach were part of the traverse with continually changing light effects adding to the beauty of the scene. Seven hours completed the day and all were satisfied. Dinner in the local pub completed the evening and was thoroughly enjoyed. Sadly very poor weather on the Sunday forced the party to leave for home.

Bill Peebles

Alpine Reunion Meet, Lakes - October 2002

Forecast was for wet and windy weather, with wintry showers. A full hut awoke to a clear frosty morning and everybody set off in all directions to make the most of the weather. A couple of brave souls risked numb fingers scrambling up St Sunday Crag. The views across the Lakes were crystal clear.

On the Saturday evening 24 of us took part in the communal meal, laid on by Pam Caswell and helpers. A great meal with good wine and company. The evening slide show was up to the usual standard - thank you Mike for the screen and projector.

Sunday started out cold and dry and again everybody was off out. Most people went hill walking, but a hardy pair went rock climbing. We returned from our walk on High Street 15 minutes before the rain started! An excellent weekend, thanks to Pam for organising the meet.

Pictures of the meet

Mike Goodyer

Dartmoor Meet - October 2002

Early October, warm sunshine, good views, comfy bunkhouse, good beer and food at the pub next door were the main features of this meet on Dartmoor. A total of five members and guests attended the meet. Where were the rest of the southern based members?

Two good days of rock climbing were had; the Saturday at the Dewerstone and the Sunday at Sheeps Tor and Leather Tor. Many thanks to Alison Henry for organising this meet. We hope to run the meet again next year.

Pictures of the meet

Mike Goodyer

George Starkey Hut – September 2002

For once the Indian summer was reliable, and there was great weather for this well attended meet.

On both days people did a variety of activities. For Andy Burton and myself it was a day of climbing on the Saturday, with an excursion round to Troutdale Pinnacle in Borrowdale. The early start paid off, and we were virtually first on the route. Pitch after pitch the route unwound, with a pause on top of the pinnacle, before the exposed moves that make up the crux finish. Never hard, but often thought provoking, a true Lakes classic rounded off with a farmhouse lunch. It’s a wonder we can move at all.

Sunday started late, but with the weather again good, we set off with Mike Pinney for an ascent of Pinnacle ridge on St Sunday Crag. The rock was again lovely and dry, with delightful moves all the way along the ridge. Even the crux chimney didn’t delay us, but as we came out on top, we were aware how much the mountain had been sheltering us from the freshening wind.

Another great weekend out on the mountains.

Ed Bramley

TOUR DES MUVERANS - September 2002

The walking tour attracted a party of thirteen, who set out from Pont de Nant on the Monday in good weather and high hopes. We enjoyed reasonable weather throughout the trip with prolonged rain only on the Tuesday.

Excellent food was enjoyed throughout the trip (curried chough at Cabane Rambert?) and I suspect that some members actually put on weight. Several of the party climbed Grand Muveran.

Our final day was frustrated by the Swiss Army holding a live artillery firing exercise into the area we were to cross, so we descended into the Rhone valley and made our way back to Pont de Nant from there.

The Muverans is an attractive area of very mixed geology and was very quiet at the beginning of September.

Pictures of the meet.

Richard Winter

Servos, French Alps Summer Meet 2002

Despite changeable weather - tee shirts, thunderstorms, and enough snow to make the Grandes Jorasses look like winter, we did achieve things.

The meet has gone from strength to strength with some 30 individuals attending over the three-week period.

Most people arrived by the first Saturday when an informal get together was organised. This resulted in a mass (10 of us) Traverse of the Tour Noir the next day. I don't like to mention names as someone always gets missed out, but the credit must go to Mike Pinney and Steve Town.

On that note another credit must go to Malcolm and Judy Eldridge for providing an awning / gazebo to be a focal place for socialising.

Francois Call hosted a lovely barbecue at a chalet above Les Houches and being French was invaluable in providing information and translations.

A variety of routes were achieved including traverse of the Tour Noir, Aig d'Argentiere, Aig de Crochures, Dome de Miage traverse, Petit Aig Vert, Aig Vert-Moine Ridge, Aig du Pouce-Voie des Dalles, Aig d'la M, and Mt Buet. A lot of walks were also achieved in the Aig Rouge, Gorges de la Diosaz and Plan Joux area.

Next years meet will be based at the Grandes Jorasses campsite in Val Ferret from 26th July. I hope to see a lot of you there.

Pam Caswell.


This two-centre holiday attracted 40 members and friends. Members were active every day including those days when the rain was torrential or when the tops were obscured by mist. The weather gradually improved and a variety of peaks were climbed. The hotels were comfortable and the attendees praised the catering particularly during the first week.

During the meet at least six members suffered from viral and other medical problems or incurred minor accidents resulting in visits to local hospitals and clinics. None of those affected appear to have suffered any long lasting effects and our thanks are due to Doctors Nigel Cooper, Sheila Coates and Nigel Legg and to the local Doctors in the Vanoise for their unstinting assistance.

The Vanoise is a lovely area but neglected by British climbers and I hope that we will be able to return one day.

Alasdair Andrews


Friday 28 - Arrive early evening, pitch tents, then down to the Fish and Chip shop in Ashbourne for tea and then a bit of a chinwag to catch up on the news before retiring.

Saturday 29 - Bacon butties.Walk to Wetton, and then up to Thor’s Cave and over to Ecton. Stopped at a nice little pub for a wet, and returned to the cars after another stroll in the sun. Drive back via Hartington and pick up some fine cheeses from the little shoppe.

Return to campsite and set to barbecuing for all. The youngsters all went swimming and returned in time to eat. Then the wine and conversation flowed and eventually we all retired to the President's tent to avoid the breeze blowing in from Spitzbergen.

Sunday 30 - The youngsters migrated to the TV room in order to watch the World Cup Final.

The rest of us having all made that massive intuitive leap that evades many, i.e. that football is only a game, and a very overrated one at that (unless your own children are playing), walked from the campsite through the fields of hay grass, ideal for hay fever sufferers testing out their various homeopathic medicines, to Dovedale.

A leisurely lunch was had at the Izaak Walton Hotel followed by walking back through Thorpe and then along the Tissington trail.

Then it was strike camp and attempt to get everything back in the cars. Brief Goodbyes all round and a steady drive home.

Andy Burton

Kintail, 15-17 March 2002.

17 members and friends ventured into the far north to attend a Scottish winter weekend in Kintail and celebrated John Foster’s half-century birthday! Those who ventured north earlier in the week enjoyed picture postcard weather and a successful trip to Skye.

Saturday and Sunday had gloomy weather but members enjoyed some successful outings and a number of Corbetts were climbed. Altogether the meet was worth the journey involved in getting there.

John Dempster

Rhyd Ddu, 18/19 May 2002

Despite the mixed weather, there was a good turn out of people for the meet, at the Oread MC hut on the western side of the Snowdon range.

As well as a variety of ascents of Snowdon, there were also forays onto the surrounding ranges, including Y Garn and the Nantlle ridge, and also further afield to the Ogwen valley and the north ridge of Tryfan.

To complete the exercise, there was a communal meal for all on the Saturday night at the hut, with spaghetti and red wine in abundance.

Ed Bramley

Pictures of the meet.


Brenta Dolomites Camping Meet, Summer 2001 - an overview by Mike Goodyer

The summer meet was based at Madonna di Campiglio in the Brenta Dolomites. The venue was a remarkable spot, with the limestone of the Brenta Dolomites on one side of the valley and granite and high snowy peaks of the Adamello and Presanella ranges on the other side.

The first week of the camping meet overlapped with the last week of the Hotel based meet and so there was an opportunity for the early arrivals on the camping meet to see friends on the Hotel meet.

The camp site was a couple of miles down the valley from Madonna and had great views of the snowy side of the valley. The camp site was in the process of being updated and the promised restaurant was not ready, which meant evening forays into the surrounding villages to eat in local inns.

In typical Italian style the camp site shut between one and three in the afternoon, with the barrier coming down. You had to remember to move your car off the site if you wanted to go anywhere in the afternoon. The family running the site were very friendly and helped us as much as possible. The site was excellent with hot water whatever time we arrived back at the site! At the end of my stay I got a discount for the days spent in the mountain huts.

The three weeks of the camping meet went past all too quickly. It was good to see members coming in from other areas to the meet. The first week the weather was characterised by mid afternoon rain showers or thunder storms, but these generally died out for the last two weeks.

The mountain huts were all of a high standard with excellent food and most importantly not as busy as in some other Alpine areas. You were able to plan and book a hut place with certainty. One thing became that quickly apparent was that a day trip into the hills was a long one as the approaches were long and mainly on foot, there being only a couple of lifts. Many people stayed in the huts for several days to make the most of the mountains and cut down on the walk-ins. On rest days there were many good paths for low level walks and some good mountain bike trails.

Several rock climbs were done, notably the Amperer/Berger and Fehrmann routes on the Campanile Basso, Cima Margherita , the Castelletto Inferiore and the Brenta Alta and sessions on the rocks above the 12 Apostles Hut by several parties. These climbs generally took longer than the guidebook suggested and late to some late descents. See Mike Pinney's report later.

The via ferrata were very popular with most of the area well worked on by everybody. The late snow this year meant that the gullies were still full of soft snow; ice axes were a help! See Nikki Wallis’s account below.

There were a couple of forays into the granite and snowy side of the valley. Mike Pinney and Mike Goodyer have written accounts of these ascents. The team climbed the Cima Bianco, Adamello and the Care Alto from the Lobbia Alta hut over a two day period. On their return they enjoyed an abseil over cliffs, a river crossing and a night time descent through the forest to return to the camp site at 12.30am. A few days later the team went up to the Segantini hut from where they climbed the Cima Presanella in thick mist.

Bochette Way by Nikki Wallis See Photos section.

We were nearly at the end of our fortnight adventuring in the Alps, now based in St. Antonio in the Brenta Dolomites. We had planned to go from the Groste cable way to the Pedrotti Hut via the Sentiero Orsi (group b).

Geoff, doing a fine job acting as campsite chauffeur, enabled us to catch the very first cable car up to the Groste Pass and we walked in very warm, early morning weather to the Tuckett Hut. From there we continued up the harmless Tuckett Glacier up to the Tuckett Col.

Our planned route was supposed to descend the either side of the Col down a "steep descent into the uppermost part of the Val Perse". After our experience of the Jaegigrats ‘unappealing Puiseauz couloir’ in Switzerland, we figured we were now somehat experts in steep couloirs! We hadn’t however, anticipated an incredibly steep snow couloir. This somewhat changed things.

We had ice axes and short length of emergency walking rope, harnesses etc, but my climbing partner was experiencing her first season in the Alps, and was not very keen on descending this long couloir without crampons or at least a back up climbing rope.

We were at our first decision time of the day.
Glancing through the guidebook, I read that the Via delle Bochette from the Tuckett to the Brentei option, (group d) should take about 3 hours, thus leaving us plenty of time to make it, although we knew then that we would not make it to the Pedrotti Hut.

The description said "Technically relatively free of difficulty and without problems, but airy in places". We hoped that one of the other huts would be sufficiently empty for us to stay overnight, and more importantly feed us! We had heard excellent accounts of three and four and even five course dinners in these huts, which made our efforts seem worthwhile.

Mention was made in the guidebook of airy ladders, and exposed climbing, which were quite prepared for. The only other route was a grade (e) "A high alpine traverse, very exposed in places, couloirs with danger of stone fall and icing, ice axe and 25m rope recommended. Weaker partners only accompanied by experienced Alpinists. 5-6 hours"

We carried on.
The iron ladders took some getting used to, whilst although not technically difficult, because the iron rungs were so close in to the rock, it made climbing up and down them very delicate, with only a few millimetres of our boots actually on the rungs. Similar to mixed climbing with crampons on.

The mist started to drift in around the immense Dolomitic spires, and although we were not initially alone on the route, we soon felt a sense of isolation.

Some of the positions we found ourselves in were very exhilarating, and I soon found myself descending a very old iron ladder which led onto what appeared to be quite an awkward looking snow couloir. We suddenly felt quite daunted, as a party of two coming the other direction started on this snow couloir, and then after much difficulty, turned round and returned the way they had come.

This did not bode well.
The difficulty was a very exposed section of snow, which had an initial difficult couple of steps to gain balanced access on the the traverse. I went first, after having dropped the lens cover from my camera down the couloir which only succeeded in accentuating its steepness and vast drop off, and gave Esther directions form the other side. The cable that was in place, actually made things more awkward, and apart from preventing a terminal slide, was held way out to one side, out of the way.

It was easier than we had expected, but by now we had been 4 hours on the route. Guidebooks translators started becoming our scapegoats, as we were not moving that slowly, and 2.5 hours was now well past. I was heard starting to repeat, very sarcastically "2.5 hours?!? There is no way... We can’t go any faster!?! Wait till I catch up with the guidebook writer 2.5hrs?!?!?"

We seemed to be slowly progressing on when we reached a very narrow section of ridges which had to be traversed, which was followed by a very long section of ladders ascending into the mist above. I then started questioning the guidebook, as we should have started dropping off to the Brentei Hut by now. We were now however on a summit crest of snow, which led to very steep zig zagging climbing down to a gloomy, bottomless col. This Col, was the very worst of our nightmares of the day, and according to the guidebook, our route was supposed to continue as follows "At the end of the ledge one goes down though a short chimney on a ladder. Now either down to the Brentei Hut which is already in sight, or keeping to the right, up again on a good path to a flat limestone pavement on which the Alimonti Hut stands."

We couldn’t see a hut,...but it was misty..., we had also down climbed lot of short chimneys. Had we missed one of the obvious waymarking paint blobs?

This couloir was even steeper than the first couloir that we had decided not to do.
It had a massive wide crevasse on its right hand bank. It was littered with stone fall. And we were getting tired. We did not have sufficient rope, and we were now faced with a seemingly deathly descent down this ice couloir. Where was the short chimney and descent? We could see a party of 5 Italians who were obviously doing the continuation route, complete with ropes and crampons and loud voices, and we were then left alone.

Options were spinning in our heads.
Back track the route? and down the glacier to the Tuckett Hut? Follow the Italians who seemed to be finding the terrain very easy? How much daylight have we got left? Its not that cold, perhaps if necessary we could bivvy out and retreat tomorrow? ? There was no way we were going to safely get down this couloir. We didn’t even want to try.

We suddenly heard voices echoing from the depths of the couloir below, and yet could not see where exactly they were coming from. Perhaps they were the echoes of the Italians voices above? Descending a bit further, feeling a little more optimistic, we were elated at finding another traverse line, leading away from the couloir, which seemed to have innumerable overhanging ladders descending into the abyss above the lower glacier.

I was still murmuring criticism at the apparent error of the guidebook writer to have written that this route should take about 2.5 hours, but all talk and whispers soon subsided as we were concentrating on the repetitive motion down climbing the out in space ladder descent. Clip - clip... Climb down.. stop.. unclip.. clip - clip... 300 steps later, we were onto the glacier.

Looking at the time, we had worked out that the party in front of us, were the pair who had retreated on the snow couloir earlier on. It was unlikely that they had booked in to the hut, so we rapidly decided to overtake them, basing our hopefully good nights sleep on a first come first served basis.

The sight of the hut was more than welcoming. Booking in, and giving a quick briefing on hut etiquette, we spent our spare money on a couple of well earned beers, which were consumed on the hut balcony, whilst the sun slowly sank into the distance.

We glanced over the guidebook trying to fit our route into what we had actually experienced. Our previous criticism of the guidebook writer, soon paled as we realised that we had not followed the route we had thought we were on, but had actually followed the route which the previous night had decided against due to the described difficulties, which weren’t as bad as expected.

The rewarding "boldy improbable ladder system" we had descended was "the very daring, Scala degli Dei - The Ladder of the Gods". Its name fitted perfectly.

We chuckled, at our elementary miscalculation, that never happens to us (!) and retreated inside for dinner and bed.

Tomorrow we would return to the campsite, and prepare for our transit trip home.

Rock Climbing in the Brenta Dolomites - Mike Pinney.

I had every intention of supplementing the route information I had from the AC and Kohler/Memmel with the local guide, until I discovered it was the reprint of a 20 year old guide and new needed a magnifying glass.

The Kohler/Memmel guide has only 9 routes in the Brenta ranging in grade from V to VI+ and they tend to be very popular.
The Campanile Basso was climbed by the Ampferer/Berger and the Fehrmann routes. The first takes a spiralling line to the top the second follows the sustained SW corner. Unfortunately our team got held up by other parties, which gave them a rather long day!
The Castelletto Inferiore was climbed by the South Face. In order to get ahead of other parties, our team started the route in the afternoon before abseiling off and leaving their ropes in place. The route is only 15 minutes from the Tuckett Hut so they were back on the route by 0720 the following morning.

Brenta Alta was climbed by its south face and Cima Margherita by its SSW face. This has become somewhat harder since a large section in the middle of the route has fallen down. The lack of a tie up with the route description caused others to retreat.

In order to encourage climbing the guardian of the 12 Apostoli Hut has developed a number of sport climbs (topos available from the hut). A route on the Cima XII Apostoli was done from the valley. The descent to the valley after the cable car has finished running cannot be recommended. Some sports climbs were also found in Val Brenti details obtained from a local mountain bike hire shop.

The Adamello - Mike Pinney

One can drive up the spectacular Val Genova with its many spectacular waterfalls to Rifugio Bedole. From there it is a 4 hr walk up bare rock, exposed by glacial recession, to the Lobbia Hut. Alternatively, one can approach via the remote Val Folgorida.

Mike Goodyer, barely recovered from his epic crossing of the Gavio pass (land slips meant the road was marked as closed to vehicles!), Susanne Muhlen and myself left the car in late morning. Initially the path zigzags steeply upwards for 400 metres out of Val Genova through dense forest along the side of a waterfall. The angle eased as we entered Val Folgorida, the vegetation becoming less dense until we got above the tree line. Route finding was not easy, but just in time we found a way mark. The path led out of the valley to the ridge, then a rising traverse across snow and large boulders to a the col. Progress had not been aided by a heavy thunderstorm and it was 3 drowned rats that surveyed the Lobbia Glacier and what looked like a hut. Would we be too late for dinner? We finally made it to the hut and a welcome gluwein.

The next morning was bright and we headed for the Paso d Italiano, traversing Corno Bianco to the Paso d Inglesi, then along the snow and rock ridge to the Adamello summit. We were rewarded by good views of Presanella to the north and Caro Alto. We returned across the glacier spending the afternoon lounging in the sun at the hut.

Another early start, across to the Biv. Monticelli,where there was much evidence of the First World War with bullets, clothing, webbing straps and heaps of rusty barbed wire.

We then continued up the glacier towards Caro Alto, taking the SE ridge to the summit. There was a cloud inversion with just a few of the Brenta tops showing, so we were reluctant to start our descent.

We passed the way marks for the path down Val Seniciaga, our plan was to descend Val Lares which would bring as out nearer the car. The guardian had confirmed our choice of route so in spite of a lack of way markings we descended the couloir into the valley. I can confirm the merits of crampon anti-balling pads!

The angle started to ease as the snow gave way to a block filled stream. The chamois on the hill side watched our progress as we reached the top of a waterfall. The map suggested a line down the left bank and we fought our way through the bushes past buttresses until we came to an impasse. Fortunately 2 abseils though the trees and over the odd buttress brought us to level with the bottom of the waterfall.

We thought our difficulties were over as we removed harnesses, but we soon had a rude awakening as we reached a raging torrent descending the boulder strewn mountain side. Crossing the main river looked more attractive which tied up with the map. However a couple of 100 metres further on, the grassy bank was replaced by a blocks and we had to cross the swollen stream. Harnesses back on and Susanne, the lightest set off wading through the cold water with the 2 Mikes paying out the climbing rope. The rucksacks were then floated across hoping that the contents would stay dry followed by the remainder of the team.

After emptying of boots of water and coiling the wet rope, we headed down the bank, finally coming on to a path and the start of way marks. It is not a short valley and it was after nearly midnight when we completed the descent into Val Genova. Who needs to go to Nepal for lush mountain approaches?

Pictures of these climbs, by Mike Goodyer are in the Photos section.

Cima Presanella - Mike Goodyer

A couple of days of resting my knee after twisting it on the long descent to the valley off Care Alto I felt I should try another hut approach and climb. Cima Presanella (3558m), the highest peak in the area, was our objective.

Mike Pinney and Susanne Muhlen were rested and had enjoyed some rock climbing in the 12 Apostles area and were keen to go. We managed to convince Chris Raves that he would enjoy the walk up to the hut and he would then see how good he felt for the ascent of the peak. Hut reservations were made and we four had a lazy lunch in the sun at the campsite. Rucksacks were thrown into the boot and I drove up the pretty Valle di Nambrone until the main path to the hut started.

The approach was immediately uphill and we all set our own pace, arriving at the Rifugio G. Segantini in plenty of time for dinner. We were housed in the annexe across the way from the main hut as a large party (20+) was arriving later.

Those of you who visited the area in the summer will understand the pleasure of the evening meal - the food at all the Italian Rifugios visited was delightful. From our dining table we looked across the valley at the Brenta Dolomites and watched the rock turn orange in the setting sun - a truly memorable view. The large party had arrived and the hut was full and noisy, so we were pleased to retire to the silence of the annexe.

The next day came and the cloud was swirling around the hut. After a hut breakfast supplemented with cheese ( I still can’t get myself sorted with a satisfactory breakfast) we contrived to set out after the large party, who were also ascending Cima Presanella. The route behind the hut was well marked and climbed up over smooth rocks and grassy flat areas to reach the moraine. We managed to overhaul the party and plod up the ridge of the moraine.

By the time we had reached the upper glacier the four of us were out in front. The day was still cloudy and dull, but we could see the next objective - the niche on the ridge: the Bocch. di Monte Nero.

We were now following old tracks up the ever steepening glacier until we reached the ridge. The route descended to the glacier on the other side of the ridge via a 30 metre ladder. The ladder was old, but sturdy looking and, unlike the ladders on the via ferratta, had no safety wire to clip onto. At the bottom of the ladder there was a slight drop where the snow had melted away. We dropped down to an area of flat ground and boulders for a second breakfast.

I had loosened up by now and my knee was holding up; Chris was also enjoying himself despite his reservations the day before.

We set off to the head of the glacier and donned crampons to get us quickly and safely back onto the ridge. The large party had caught us up(no second breakfast stop) and we travelled along the ridge with them. The cloud had come in now and we could not see down the valley or to the summit. The bivvy hut on the ridge loomed out of the cloud, only 200 metres to go.

Suddenly we arrived at the large cross on the summit. We felt cheated that the great view from the summit was denied. We quickly dropped back down to the bivvy hut to recharge ourselves for the descent to the hut.

The way back to the ladders was slowed by the thick cloud making route finding awkward. After ascending the ladders we were met with a wall of dense cloud.

We were confident that the track down the glacier would be straightforward to follow; and so it was on the steep upper slopes. As we descended the glacier we ran out of tracks and it started to rain, slowly at first and then heavier and heavier. The tracks seemed to vanish at a rocky area and much searching failed to reveal any tracks going off the rocky area! After many false starts we eventually found the moraine and tired and wet we all plodded back to the hut.

Stripping off wet clothes and stepping into the hut was a delight especially after bowls of soup, large slabs of cake and large coffees were consumed. The rain started to lessen and we set off down the valley, the rain soon stopped, the cloud lifted and the sun came out.

I arrived back at the car dry and in the full afternoon sun. We had missed the views from the summit this time - still my knee had held up. Thats the snowy side of the valley done, so off to the limestone next week.

Dolomite High Tour 7 - 14 July 2001 - Ed Bramley

A superb week! An adjective that applied to the scenery, the food and the Company. If we could have written our own script, it wouldn’t have been better.

After an overnight stay at Seiseralm on the Friday night, the walking began bright and early on the Saturday. Over the next week, we were to walk through some of the most splendid scenery in the Dolomites. Evening and lunchtime stops were at mountain Rifugio, where simple but tasty pasta meals fuelled the body, washed down with a variety of tasty beverages.

Early starts meant that a good part of the days walking could be accomplished before the heat of the day. It also meant that the possibility of afternoon rain could also be avoided.

As we progressed into the Rosengarten, the scenery became even more rugged and wall to wall, with towering spires everywhere.

As part of the week, we even managed to reach nearby peaks with the aid of via ferrata, easy ground, but great views.

As we journeyed through the week, the scenery changed from the scree and spires of the high mountains to the lush green of the valleys. All around were flowers in abundance, whether they were edelweiss, orchids or gentians.

To old acquaintances renewed, and new friendships started.

Some pictures received from Ed Bramley are in the Photos section.