Reports from 2010

Beer Meet, East Devon, October
Buffet Party Meet, Lake District, September
Camping Alpine Meet, Bregaglia, Switzerland, July/August
Hotel Alpine meet, Austria, July
Atlas Mountains Trek, May
Strontian Meet, Scotland, March
Scottish Winter Meet, Fort William
Annual Dinner Meet, Lake District, February

October 8 – 10, Beer Meet, East Devon - Called away for a funeral I arrived at Beer Hill on Friday evening just as Sheila, Marge, John and James were setting off for dinner at the Anchor Hotel. John and Rosemary were at the bar with John and Dinah. Heather met up with us there later. The Meet had begun.

On Saturday we set off having been joined by Mike for a loopy walk from Branscombe taking in steep paths to embrace the Donkey Sanctuary, not necessarily for the love of the beasts but for a hearty lunch. The point of the walk was to take in parts of the Jurassic Coast. Some wished to linger on the beach but the miles had to be done in order to be back in time for another Anchor dinner.

We were one down on Sunday as John P had parted to spend the remains of his trip with Rosemary. Cars were shuffled so that we could do a linear walk from Beer Hill to Lyme Regis along the Undercliff, immortalized in John Fowles “The French Lieutenants Woman”. We fought our way up an unofficial track lush with vegetation. The day was hot and we had the feeling we were in a far off jungle rather than the South Coast. We eventually joined the Coast path, which meandered with less steep ups and downs and we did not cool off until we walked the Cobb at Lyme Regis. The main meet came to and end on Sunday teatime but John and Marge stayed on but that was the finish of hearty exercise.

This part of the South West Coast stretched us physically just as much as if we were in the mountains with the second day managing to provide an extra bit of a challenge on our ‘jungle’ ascent. Apart from a few scratches no-one was hurt. I hope we are all up to a similar event in 2011.

Present: Dinah Nicholls, Sheila Coates, Heather Eddowes, Rosemary Percival (dinners only), Marge Foster, Belinda Baldwin, John Dempster, John Foster, John Percival, Mike Pinney and James Baldwin. Report by Belinda Baldwin

Sept 24-26, George Starkey Hut, Buffet Party - Although there had been rain earlier in the week, by Friday it had cleared to give a generally clear sky, but a slightly northerly wind such that the early birds had a good day on the fells. Similar conditions were experienced on the Saturday and parties had a variety of excursions, Dow Crag & Coniston Old Man, a 14 mile circuit taking in High Street and a circuit starting with Striding Edge. One team headed for Eagle crag Grisedale climbing Sobreada and Kestrel Wall.

Twenty attended the buffet on the Saturday evening, of whom 16 were staying in the hut. My thanks to Marian Parsons & Pamela Harris-Andrews for the main course, Pam importing the raclette cheese, and to Lin Warriss, John Dempster & Marian for sweets. Thanks also to Mike Parsons for providing and setting up the wide screen television, for easy viewing of pictures from the Summer meets and Heather Eddowes for the canton flags to decorate the inside of the hut.

Sunday was overcast but most had a good day on the fells, one party starting with the ferry to Howtown & another finishing their walk at Howtown and getting the ferry back to Glenridding.

A good weekend. For those unable to attend this year put the 22-24th September 2011 in your diary. Report by Mike Pinney

August, George Starkey Hut Maintenance meet - This year, we could not have had better weather with it remaining dry and warm throughout the two days of the maintenance meet and it was a good opportunity to do as much of the outside work as possible. This contrasted with last year’s weather for the maintenance meet and the late summer Bank Holiday weekend, which was very wet and the track to Side Farm had to be closed twice during the meet.

Fourteen people attended the meet which was held on the Thursday and Friday, eleven were TCC members including two guests, and three were ABM members including the hut warden and her husband.

Being dry, it was perfect for doing outside painting so as much of the white and green paint that could be reached was given a coating of paint. This included the very high green woodwork alongside the track to the farm and the white paint on most of the windows. As usual, the grass around the hut was cut, the overhanging trees chopped back and weed-killer applied as necessary. Many of the holes in the track, car park and by the front door were filled using the pile of rubble near the front of the hut. In addition the gas bottle storage cupboard was extensively repaired.

In the entrance area, the flaking paint on the ceiling and walls was treated and wood hardener and paint was applied to the rotten wood near the bottom of the front door. Upstairs in the dormitories, curtains were fitted to the south facing windows and some of the woodwork and walls were repainted to repair flaking paint and blemishes and likewise the paintwork on the stairwells on both sides of the hut was redone. The kitchen, including all the cookers, was given a good cleaning and tidy up. The inevitable mildew on the walls in the Ladies washroom was again removed and any damaged paintwork was repainted. In addition, the living room, the men’s washroom and the area by the safe were all given a good cleaning and the paintwork touched up.

Once the maintenance was over, we were then able to enjoy the hills over the long Bank Holiday weekend, but unfortunately the weather was not as good as earlier in the week.

I think that it was a very successful maintenance meet and the hut looked splendid after all the jobs which had been done. Although we now pay to have some of the cleaning tasks done by an outside contractor, there are still lots of jobs to do at a maintenance meet and I should like to thank all those who turned up to help.

We will be having another maintenance meet in 2011 at the same time of year, which is just prior to the late summer Bank Holiday weekend, so its a good time to put it in your next year’s diary now. Report by Don Hodge

July 24th to August 7th – Bregaglia, Switzerland - The meet was held jointly with the AC, CC & FRCC and as in 1995 was based at Camping Mulina, just outside Vicosoprano.

Over the period of the meet there were over 60 in attendance (members & guests) although at no point was everybody on the camp site. 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 both the Bernina & the Bregaglia. Although most arrived on the Saturday evening, a number had arrived early either to get fit in advance of the meet or those were the only dates they could manage. Of particular note one team had spent a few days at the Gianetti Hut to the south of the Badile, climbing on Cengalo before returning to the camp site via Porcellizzo & Trubinasca passes. They reported very poor conditions, loose rock on top of black ice, information taken into account by those planning to climb the North ridge of the Badile.

There is a free guide to the bolted climbs in Valchiavenna, just over border in Italy, with a slightly greater selection than plaisir sud. These proved popular, either to unwind following the drive from the UK or as short day together with a visit to the Italian supermarket.

For those after mixed routes a visit to the Forno hut with its excellent meals was a first outing for some attendees. The guardian was confident of the weather so agreeing to arrange an early breakfast. However when we got up there was a light snow fall & low cloud. We were somewhat hesitant about setting off. However, perhaps because he had made the effort to get up, the guardian assured us that it would clear & that we should set off. There is now a new path down onto the glacier but it still takes quite a while & all the height lost must be regained. Half the team managed a crossing of the Passo dal Cantun and although they missed out on the Cima di Castello, they did manage to get down to the Albigna dam and a late cable car. So much for the “well beaten track”. The others returned to the hut, the following day traversing Monte del Forno on their way back to the valley. This was a cloud less day and they had a good panoramic view not least of Disgrazia and its Corda Molla. Although the south ridge was well trodden & has now acquired a short section of chains, the East Ridge was more problematic with less & less signs of previous traffic. The team was quite relieved when an abseil from near the end of the ridge led to an easy descent on to a way marked path. A number of other teams stayed at the Forno hut during the meet, concurring with the observation that very few hut users were attempting the peaks above the Forno glacier.

In the Albigna valley a number of multi pitch rock routes were climbed on Spazzacaldeira, Piz Frachiccio and Punta Albigna, together with the Vergine- Al Gal & Piz Balzet traverses. Most teams used an early cable car to get to the dam.

In Val Bondasca the Flat Iron route on Gemelli & the N ridge of Badile were popular choices. Traversing Badile was considered a more satisfying experience than a long abseil down the ridge. Acting on the advice of the party who had come back over the 2 passes, all teams descended to the Gianetti hut some spending the night there but all ending up in the Masino valley.

In the Bernina a number of teams traversed Bernina via the Biancograt from the Tschierva hut with one team climbing Piz Roseg from the same hut. Piz Palu was traversed in both directions again by several parties.

In week 2 there was a good weather window forecast for the Tuesday and Wednesday and hence a max exodus from the campsite with several teams on the Biancograt, Piz Palu and the Badile. One team was away early Tuesday morning, leaving one vehicle at the Preda Rossa before continuing round to Chiareggio and a 6.5 hr approach to the Oggioni biv. Hut on Colletto del Disgrazia. At first light, they were on the icy slope which led onto the Corda Molla and its spectacular position overlooking the north face. From the summit a descent was made via the NW ridge & past the Ponti hut to Preda Rossa. After collecting the other vehicle it was after midnight before they got back to Vico.

Wednesday night the weather arrived, so most of those at the Marco Rosa hut headed out in the falling snow on the Thursday morning across the Bellavista terraces for civilization & to avoid being stranded at the hut for several days. Thus that evening 30 sat down to dinner at the Pizzeria at Crot. The weather in the valley on the Friday was still unsettled so whilst some were nursing hangovers, others headed round to the limestone at Barzio above Lecco. Report by Mike Pinney

JULY 17 - 31 2010 PITZTAL and STUBAITAL, AUSTRIA - It was decided that this year’s hotel meet would be shared between the same two centres as in 2008, using the same hotels, the Rifflsee in Mandarfen and the Bellevue in Neustift. We were looked after as well as we were two years ago, with welcoming hosts and delicious and plentiful food in both - though most of us still found room for the more than occasional apfel strüdel.

This time we started in the Pitztal, and after an initial day of torrential rain which caused a landslide lower down the valley, preventing five members from joining the meet until the following day, the weather was hot and sunny until the last afternoon. We were out every day on a variety of walks, the most popular destination being the Rifflsee and the various Höhenweg or high-level paths which started from there. Our objectives were mostly huts, some of which like the Russelsheimer, the Kaunergrat and the Braunschweiger necessitated a steep and stony ascent, others like the Taschachhaus with a gentler walk-in. Walks lower down the valley were also taken, around Jerzens, Wald and the Benni-Rauch suspension bridge, as well as in the neighbouring Kaunertal.

Most of us used the underground funicular from Mittelberg for various exploits, and an early start on this enabled Dick Murton and our new member Dave Aitkenhead to ascend the highest peak of the meet, the Wildspitze, 3772 metres. They reported frequently sinking up to their waists in the soft snow, though they did manage to avoid the crevasses. Dave felt so guilty at taking the Gletscher express for this that a few days later he walked up from the hotel, emulating the Baldwin’s’ feat of 2008 and giving him the record for distance walked and height gained during the week.

We were not so lucky with the weather in the Stubaital, with cloud on most days, but much less rain than in 2008. Despite this we were out in the hills every day, though the weather prevented the ascent of any peaks higher than the Elferspitze and the Grosse Trögler, and our main objectives again were huts, with several of the group walking up –or down - to the Starkenburger and up to the Franz Senn, with the Baldwins repeating their 2008 walk up to the Innsbrucker.

On the sunniest day of the week most of us went to Mutterberg at the southern end of the valley to get the views. John and Sylvia walked up to the Dresdner hut, others walked to the lovely Muttersee, while Wendell made the most of his free ticket on the lifts (given to 80 year olds on the assumption that none would be fit enough to avail themselves of the offer) to get as high as possible on the glacier then walk further up to the Eisjoch. Four of us took an adventurous route from the Dresdner hut to the Sulzenau hut, either via the steep, rocky Peiljoch or via the higher Grosser Trögler, both with glorious views of the Zuckerhütl and the surrounding peaks and glaciers.

Other scenic objectives on different occasions during the week were the Pinnistal, the Maria Waldrast convent from Mieders, the Neue Regensburger hut, the Alpine Garden above Fulpmes, and the tiny church at Santa Magdalena on a cliff high above the adjoining Gschnitztal. A good time was had by all, and both valleys provided plenty of variety for walks and climbs.

Participants on both weeks: Alasdair & Pamela Andrews, John Brooks, Ron Hextall, Wendell Jones, John & Sylvia Mercer, Mike Scarr
Pitztal only: Dave Aitkenhead, Antonia Barlen, Peter & Dominic Goodwin, Caroline Higgitt, Ann Liddell, Dick & Lin Murton, Bill Parish, Roger Robertson, Ursula Woodhouse
Stubaital only: James & Belinda Baldwin, Sheila Coates, John Dempster, Morag Macdonald, Roger Newson, Bill Peebles, Terry Shaw, Elizabeth Wells. Report by Pamela Harris-Andrews

May 12 – 26, Trekking with the Berbers in the Atlas Mountains - A trek of a lifetime, which over the fortnight took eleven of us through the wonderful scenery of the High Atlas. Our start was at Arba Tighedouine, the home of Hassan, our guide. Even from the start, the friendliness of our host and the berbers stood out, as Hassan invited us into his house for mint tea and pancakes, lovely dipped in either honey or olive oil. A short walk round his village confirmed this was not Europe, whether it was the butchers meat hanging up in the open, the tarmac road that quickly gave way to hard earth, or the people labouring in the fields.

The first evening, there was a severe thunderstorm right overhead in the valley, which set a number of rock falls off, thankfully sufficiently far away from where we had stopped. This necessitated a nervous and cold crossing the next morning. With the rain soaking the tents, we needed to change our plans to get them dry, so we arranged to spend the next evening in a couple of rooms in the next village. In the afternoon we walked further up the Zat valley, to see a number of hillside villages with terraces, growing a whole range of trees including walnuts, figs and olives as well as a vast array of root vegetables. We were even more amazed by the fact that one of the villages had its own hospital with a nurse, and also regular visits from a mobile doctor.

Next day, we pulled out of the valley, up onto the Yagour Plateau. This extended for miles, and was a profusion of flowers. Lunchtime we found shade and a halt out of the midday sun. As we journeyed across the plateau in the afternoon, with distant view of the snow capped hills, we could pick out the occasional summer village, with its typical red earth and flat roof construction.

The pattern over the next few days was to cross a number of mountain passes, with descents into river gorges, and either following the gorges along, or with steep pulls up the other side. As little of the Atlas was ever glaciated, the steep interlocking valley spurs are a feature of the region, and make it meaningless to think in terms of miles covered in a day. We traversed a number of valley slopes, with breathtaking views into the valleys, and towards the plains beyond. Several times, we were surprised as we turned a corner on a seemingly desolate hillside, to find a large village with lush green terraces and the ubiquitous goat herd.

In the evenings, we would set up camp on one of the flatter areas near water, avoiding the many stony patches that existed. Each night Hussein, the chef, would produce a great evening meal to round off the day. The menu was varied, but generally started with soup, followed by a tagine of one of many varieties, including goat, with fruit for dessert and hot drinks to finish. Temperatures dropped quickly in the evenings, particularly with some of the breezes that sprang up, which meant that a couple of mornings we had to shake the ice from the tents.

Eventually we dropped down into another valley system and its villages and greenery, this time at Amsouzart. We stayed at Amsouzart for a couple of nights, making an excursion up to Lake Infi. The whole area around Amsouzart is a profusion of terraces, trees and cultivation. On the descent from Lake Ifni we are even fortunate enough to spot a pair of lammergeier circling in the sky. They are very graceful as they soar on the thermal currents.

Our comparative rest in Amsouzart concludes all too quickly as we head off up further valley systems higher into the mountains, to cross more and higher passes over the next few days. The passes are now well over 3,000m, but we are well impressed by how well the mules handle even the steepest descents, including those we have to work at! One of the longest descents is to Sidi Chamaharouch. Many Moroccans make a pilgrimage to the village, which is also on the main route up to the refuge under Mount Toubkal, so we experience a significant number of other trekkers for the first time.

We pull up the valley to just short of the Neltner refuge, ready for ascending Mount Toubkal the next day. When we awake, the weather is kind to us, and we set off to ascend slowly, but surely, to the top of North Africa. On the top, the weather is perfect, and we slowly rotate in all directions, looking at where we’ve been over the last fortnight, and way out into the distance, to far away plains.

All too soon, the trek is drawing to a close as we descend into the valley, civilization and people. Before our last night gite, there is another treat in store. We are invited to chef’s house in Imlil, and not only enjoy tea and pancakes with him, but also get to meet his father. The fact that we don’t speak the same language does not seem to be a barrier to us.

We all enjoy and have a respect for the land we have just travelled through and the people we have met and made our friends. Definitely somewhere we want to return to.

Participants: Ed Bramley, Andy Burton, Steve Caulton, Steve Creasey, Bill Jeffries, Myles O’Reilly, Jon and Rowena Mellor, Peggy Stiller, Rob Thornton, Richard Winter. Report by Ed Bramley

March 26-28 - Strontian Meet - This meet was centred on the Ariundle Bunkhouse and Outdoor Centre about a mile out of the village of Strontian. The area has no Munros but boasts several good Corbets and plenty good walking routes and points of interest.

Peters Farrigton and Goodwin met up in Glenfinnan on Thursday and spent the night in the Railway Carriage bunkhouse at Glenfinnan Station. On the Friday they received a good soaking whilst ascending Beinn Odhar Mhor (870m) Although the summit was reached I understand there was little in the way of views, and they arrived at the Ariundle bunkhouse rather damp and looking to dry out their gear. Mike, Margaret and I paid a short visit to the Woodland Trust site overlooking Loch Sunart. However on a damp dreich day there was little in the way of wildlife to be seen. That evening the five of us dined on good pub food at the Strontian Inn and were regaled by a fairly good ceilidh band.

Saturday dawned with slightly improved weather, so Peter Goodwin, Margaret and I set out to do Garbh Bheinn (885m) by the long southwest ridge starting from the road just north of Ardgour. Good conditions held as we gained height and extensive views opened to the islands in the west and south over Ballahullish up Loch Leven. On reaching the ridge, we had a good view of the massive rock buttress and cliffs forming the summit massif, before the weather closed in and we had to complete the route to the top in driving snow and sleet. On the descent we had some sunny breaks and a couple of very heavy showers before returning to the cars.

Peter Farrinton and Mike Scarr decided on Bheinn Resipol (845m) for the day, attacking it from different directions, Mike from the east walking from the bunkhouse and Peter going round by car and approaching from the west. They met on the summit and returned by their respective up routes faring no better than us with respect to the weather.

Having read good reviews regarding the standard of the food available at the centre restaurant we booked for seven and were joined by John Dempster and Phillip Draper for a relaxing pleasant evening.

Sunday was no better weather wise and another damp sojourn was not enticing so most headed home. Mike Scarr set off to walk through the hills to Ardgour with the intention of staying the next night at the Corran Bunkhouse on the South side of the Ferry crossing. Peter Farrington always keen to bag a Munro, drove back round to Glenfinnan and walked three miles up Gleann Fionnlighe to view Gulvain ( 987m) which was clear and sported some snow on its summit ridge, but lacking the motivation he turned and headed for the Islay ferry and home.

Those present included Peter Farrington, Peter Goodwin, Mike Scarr, Margaret and Jim Strachan, with John Dempster and Phillip Draper joining for dinner on Saturday evening. John and Marj Foster giving apologies for absence due to illness. Report by Jim Strachan.

Feb 26– March 1 - Fort William Meet -photos of the meet are to follow

The meet was based at the Caledonian Hotel in Fort William. The drive up on Friday was uneventful in spite of repeated reports in the media that the snow gates were closed at Tyndrum. Had this been the case a diversion out to the west using the coast road via Connel Ferry and Appin would have been required.

On Saturday, due to the amount of snow and high avalanche risk present in the mountains, we decided against attempting any tops, just getting on to the hills was going to be a problem enough.

The whole party set off on Saturday morning with the intention of doing a nine mile walk up the Arkaig Glens starting just beyond the Dark Mile. Fortunately someone had started before us making tracks in the correct direction. The going was still tough, with knee-high snow up through the forest. It soon became obvious with the heavy going that the full round was not on. After a couple of miles we cleared the tree line and decided to contour round and back on the opposite hillside. Ian and Morag, probably wiser, returned by the up route.

On the Sunday Morag & Ian headed of in the direction of Glen Nevis with the intention of doing a low level walk while John and Marj made for the old military road above Fort William. The rest of the group determined to get on to the hills headed for Bheinn a’ Beithir on the south side of the Ballachulish bridge. We thought that the east ridge, which is easily accessed from the village, might be wind swept and relatively snow free. This was the case, so the four of us headed off up the lower slopes, which had a fairly good snow cover. It was obviously a popular route as there were several large parties ahead of us on the ridge. After a couple of hours as the ridge steepened and narrowed, Margaret and I turned leaving John and Peter to push on up over the two rocky buttresses to try and reach the first lower top. As Margaret and I reached the foot of the ridge we met John & Marj who due to deep snow had failed to get the car far enough up to make the Military road a possibility. We then set of to walk up the track towards Glen Creran. Meanwhile John and Peter using crampons reached the foot of the final steeper buttress, on which a leader with a party of five using ropes were struggling. Feeling very cold and mindful of time, they decided to call it a day and head down. The whole group met up in the local pub before returning to the hotel.

Monday was the best day weather wise, with blue skies and sunshine. Peter headed off north up Glengarry with the intention of bagging Gairich (919m). Ian and Morag also headed north to do some visiting in Dornoch. John and Marj disappeared in the direction of Aviemore hoping to visit the wildlife park leaving John D, Margaret and myself to ascend the Pap of Glencoe(Sgorr na Ciche 742m) which appeared relatively low in snow cover. The first section was up fairly steep snow which had already been tracked and the final section up a steep rocky and at places ice covered track. The views from the summit were magnificent in every direction, snow clad hills to every horizon with brilliant sunshine giving absolute clarity. On the descent Margaret and John did some sitting glissades on steeper sections of snow saving the tiring plodding and occasional break through of the crust.

Driving home, south, over the Rannoch Moor a panorama of snow covered landscape opened up as far as one could see, with no break in the white except for the road ahead.

Present: John & Marj Foster, John Dempster, Peter Farrington, Morag MacDonald, Ian Brebner, Jim & Margaret Strachan

Footnote: Peter did succeed on Gairich reducing his Munro count by one. His family count was increased by one with the arrival of a new Grandson in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Our congratulations go to Peter and family. Report by Jim Strachan

February 5-7 - Annual Dinner Meet, Patterdale

This year the meet was graced by the Ambassador of Switzerland his wife, Alexis and Gabrielle Lautenberg. They entered into the spirit of the weekend and enthusiastically joined in. Fortunately Saturday’s weather was perfect which gave them (possibly) a false impression of Lakeland and a grand day out. Even Sunday was dry, but Monday turned “mixed”.

Members were out on the hills in force on Saturday as the snow above 2000ft was good. Possibly too good for some and Patterdale MR team seemed to be busy all weekend. In Nethermost Cove Natasha Geere and Steve Hunt had their start delayed when a climber fell into the gully they intended to climb. They did the preliminary work prior to the rescue team arriving and then climbed the route. They arrived only two courses down for Dinner and got a round of applause. Others had a more gentle day with a trip on the lake. Alexis and Gabrielle started with that group and then abandoned ship at Howtown and walked back. Our other guest, Dr Charles Clarke arrived Saturday afternoon, but he had had a day on the hills with Chris Bonington and on Sunday ascended Place Fell with Mike Pinney and other members. Charles made good use of his newly acquired Yaktrax on the subsequent descent of High Dodd.

A pre-dinner glass of wine was provided by the Ambassador, which unsurprisingly was well received, but made “shifting” the members from the bar into the dining room more difficult. The dining room looked splendid-Swiss flags in abundance and it appeared quite full even though only 68 members and guests were present. The hotel staff gave us a good meal even catering for special dietary requirements.

Our “Newish President” instituted a couple of new features. The circular top table was good for conversation and for those who wished to see the back of the meet leader-Midgley! The other was a toast to “Absent Friends” which included two Past Presidents, Ross Cameron and Paddy Boulter, also John Edwards who died only two weeks prior to the dinner and had booked in for the meet. The speeches were thoughtful, humorous and short, so well received. The after Dinner party looked set for well into the early hours.

So if you weren’t there you missed a good event. It’s too late to rectify that,so book early for the next one- February 5th 2011. Report by Brooke Midgley