Reports from 2015

Braemar Meet, Scotland, October
Beer Meet, East Devon, October
Mattertal Trek, Switzerland, September
Alpine Camping Meet, Argentiere, July/August
Alpine Hotel Meet, Madonna di Campiglio, July
Rhyd Ddu Meet, Wales, June
May Day meet, Hurdlow, Derbyshire, May
New Members Meet, Patterdale, April
Fassfern Meet, Scotland, March
Annual Dinner Meet, Lake District, February

Braemar Meet, Scotland, 30 October - 2 November
Six participants gathered on the Friday evening at the Invercauld Arms Hotel in Braemar. Saturday morning dawned wet and grey but by the time breakfast was over the weather had begun to brighten up so we were optimistic we could get out on the hills.

On the Saturday John and Marj went bird-watching at the Loch of Strathbeg, thinking the weather was going to be wet, which of course it wasn’t!
Jim and Margaret, Roger and I drove to Glen Rinnes by which time the weather had cleared up and we were in clear blue sky and bright sunshine. From there, we climbed a Corbett, Corryhabbie Hill. The view south from the summit was particularly fine, Lochnagar being prominent in the middle distance. Corryhabbie Hill is in the middle of malt whisky country and is enclosed by the glens Livet and Fiddich.

Roger James, Jim and Margaret Strachan and Philip on the summit of Corryhabbie Hill, photo by Jim Strachan

On Sunday, John and Marj climbed Carn Ealasaid and Beinn a’ Chruinnich close to the Lecht ski area, when they saw six mountain hares!
Roger climbed Carn Mor in the Ladder Hills again, close to the Lecht ski area. Jim, Margaret and I climbed Sgor Mor from the Linn of Dee. We took the track to White Bridge and past the Chest of Dee. Another fine day with a spectacular close up views of the Cairngorm 4000’ers and the Lairig Ghru.

Monday was an especially superb day, John and Marj walked from the Linn of Dee quite a way down Glen Lui towards Derry Lodge and back before driving home.
Roger and I drove to Corgarff Castle and from there climbed Brown Cow Hill initially on a track beside the Cock Burn. Mountain hares everywhere and easily spotted in their winter coats against the brown heather!

This weekend was one of “Corbetteering” for which, the weather could not have been better. We all had a very enjoyable meet.

Present: John and Marj Foster, Philip Hands, Roger James, Jim and Margaret Strachan.
Report by Philip Hands

Meet photos

Beer Meet, East Devon, 11 - 13 October

The weather forecast was not good with rain promised for Saturday and Sunday. It did rain, but in the hours of darkness. We had two glorious sunny days.

The climb up from Branscombe, photo by James Baldwin

On Saturday we set off from the house walking down the winding chalky landslip the hope of a coffee stop at Branscombe and discussion of who wished to go further. We had coffee and all of us walked on along the coast path and back inland with Ian picking some sloes as we went. It was an up and down walk ending up at Beer Quarry Caves. All but James and I took the tour of the chilly interior. It’s fascinating but it was good to be the first in the shower and we know them well.

On Sunday we drove to Stonebarrow, east of Charmouth. We did a mixture of coast and inland to reach Golden Cap the highest point on the South Coast.

the group
Golden Cap, photo by James Baldwin

Ian added to his sloe harvest and as I write this maybe his sloe gin is underway. It wasn’t a long walk and we went on to Lyme Regis, leaving Margaret and Nicholas at a convenient point to get back to Yeovil. A neap tide made visiting the Ammonite Graveyard a non- starter. We divided into the desperately thirsty with many places for thirst quenching and those wishing to walk on the Cob and partake of ice cream. Back at Beer Hill Antonia set off to her sister who lives not far away leaving six of us to enjoy a delicious dinner at the Dolphin. By this time the rain was coming down fast and we had to go by car the quarter mile distance.

Present: Antonia Barlen, Ian Brebner, Dick Murton, Morag Macdonald, Margaret and Nicholas Moore, Lin Warriss, James and Belinda Baldwin.
Report by Belinda Baldwin

Mattertal Hoehenweg Trek, 4 - 13 September

In recognition that this year is the 150th Anniversary of the first ascent of the Matterhorn by Edward Whymper, and spurred on by the finding of a letter of acceptance of Honorary Membership of the ABMSAC from Whymper himself in among papers handed over to Mike Goodyer by Margaret Moore, Mike Pinney's sister, it was decided that the ABMSAC would visit Zermatt in September 2015 for a week long trek from hut to hut along the Hoehenweg.

Twelve people attended the Meet, eight of us flew to Geneva Airport on the Friday night, taking advantage of Dave Christmas's last minute intel that free train tickets into Geneva could be obtained from a machine situated near one of the luggage carousels, and stayed at the Geneva Youth Hostel. We enjoyed a late evening meal at the nearby Chez Remo Italian restaurant recommended and booked for us by the staff at the Hostel at a discounted set price.

The Saturday morning started after breakfast with a walk to the Jet d'Eau along lakeside and then to the train station.
We boarded the train bound for Visp, using the Swiss Transfer Ticket found by Ed online, which offers substantially discounted rail travel for travellers from their point of entry into Switzerland to their destination and return within a month. A relatively quick change at Visp saw us on the train travelling up the Mattertal to Zermatt. A short walk through the town, in drizzle, to the Youth Hostel to divest ourselves of our luggage. Here we met up with others of our party who had made their own way from other parts of Europe and then off to the Station Restaurant for Kaffee und Kuchen, whilst waiting for Myles to arrive. Evening meal was taken in the Youth Hostel which also has a liquor licence, so a couple of bottles of craft beer and a chat about the next days walking rounded off the travel day quite nicely.

Group outside YH in Zermatt, photo by Rick Snell

Sunday morning brought us a clear view of the Matterhorn from the bunkroom windows, so the whole group were up, breakfasted and ready before I could come to terms with the leak in my new hydration bladder. With all our excess luggage safely stored at the hostel, we set off walking through the town and up to our first port of call, the Edelweisshuette, which sits perched above Zermatt at the entrance to the upper Trift gorge. Here everyone was able to take refreshment, whilst enjoying the views across the valley, before continuing on up the to the Berggasthaus Trift, at 2337m, our first overnight stop. At lunch outside the hut we were treated to an Alpenhorn solo by mein host, Hugo, accompanied by the house Roesti and a large iced tea.

Lunch time at the Trift Hotel with Hugo on alpenhorn, photo by David Christmas

In the afternoon people took short excursions either to one of the slightly higher viewpoints, or as Ed and Dave Seddon did, up towards the Mettelhorn reaching the col at about 3000 metres before turning back. On his return Dave commented that he felt the effects of being at altitude kick in at about the 2800 metre mark, so I took heart from this as the next days destination was at 2694 metres.
We then all sat in the lee of the hut in the last of the days sun whilst Fabienne and her staff sat preparing the potatoes for dinner. Dinner in the hut followed. Then people made their individual preparations for the delights of sleeping in a matratzenlager, some choosing to go to bed first, others using strong alcohol or ear defenders and in some cases probably both.

Monday morning saw the Trift hut shrouded in an inversion, so we took our leave of the Biner-Aufdenblatten's, with Hugo's assurance that we should have good weather for our week, and that the alpine flowers would be better higher up.
Walking out of the mist above the Trift Hotel.
gang of 3
Gang of 3 at the Matterhornblick. Photos by Rick Snell
A steady trog up the path in the mist saw people quickly divesting themselves of layers of outer clothing, and as we turned the corner onto Hoehbalmen we were greeted with the sun, and our first view of the Matterhorn, that day.
We continued along the path all the way to the Schoenbiel hut, at 2694m, walking underneath the three Gabelhorn's, Unter, Mittel and Ober, but our eyes were forever being drawn back to the changing face of the Matterhorn on the opposite side of the valley. This area with its various viewpoints are aptly named Matterhornblicks, and the alpine plants were still to be seen up here, despite the lateness of the season.

A last steep pull up to the hut, and a quick introduction to Yolanda and her staff, followed by some apfelstrudel and a hot chocolate, was enough to encourage some of us back out and up along a lateral moraine top path towards the Schoenbielgletscher. From Alison and Rick walking down in the dip below me came the shout that they had seen some Edelweiss, and as they were sheltered from the breeze coming off the various surrounding snowfields, and in the sun, they elected to remain, whilst I carried on to within sight of some tall ice towers on the Schoenbiel glacier, where I sat on a rock and looked back at the Matterhorn. Ed was right, the mountain looks much bigger and quite different from this viewpoint. I attempted unsuccessfully to take some selfie's of the mountain and I, then suddenly the sun went behind the ridge, and it was time to head back to the hut. My thanks to Hugo for recommending this little excursion.

Looking down on Schonbiel Hut - notice the small building on the right, photo by Rick Snell

The Schoenbiel is an SAC Hut, whereas the Trift is privately run, but the half-board prices are within 5 Swiss Francs of each other. We were provided with a substantial 3 course dinner in the company ofpeople from many different parts of the world, and as often happens in such places, plans and ideas are exchanged either from what you have already done, or from what you are planning to do. After the two young men who had served us with dinner had eaten theirs, we settled our bill, completed the SAC Logbook, took a quick trip outside to look at the Matterhorn at night, ostensibly to see the LED light display erected all along the Hoernli ridge, but many took advantage of one last trip to the outside toilet block, in the forlorn hope of avoiding that dreaded trip in the middle of the night. Taking care to avoid the low beam on the edge of the loft hatch we retired for our second night in a matratzenlager.

Tuesday morning was a fairly relaxed affair. Knowing that you are going to walk downhill most of the day can do that. The first part of the day was spent retracing our steps down to where the Arbenbach bisects the path, where there is now a dirt road that leads you down to a cluster of HEP buildings that form part of a giant project that provides up to a fifth of Switzerland's electricity supply.
Margaret and Alison on the way down from the Schonbiel Hut.
Photo by David Christmas
Sluices as part of the HEP.
Photo by Mike Goodyer
At this point there is also a bus stop! Then the path continues up onto Stafelalp directly under the Hoernli ridge all the way to Schwarzsee, where after a visit to the little chapel, and a sighting of an eagle gliding above the lift stanchions, Myles and I finally caught up with some of our party who were resting a while enjoying live music, food and drinks at the relatively new Hotel Schwarzsee, 2582m, before making their way down to Furi through the stone pine forest, to the Hotel Silvana, at 1900m.
Chapel at Schwarzsee.
Photo by Mike Goodyer
rosti again
Lunch break at Hotel Schwarzsee, tomorrows walk in the background.
Photo by Mike Goodyer
Hotel Silvana was planned as a treat. A place to rest and recover before the much harder second half of the week, and in my opinion it did exactly that. I know that several members of the party took advantage of the Wellness facilities, and the evening meal was as good as I had hoped it would be.

the team
Setting off early from the Hotel for the big walk up to Riffelsee.
On the way up to Riffelalp. Photos by Mike Goodyer

Before dinner we took the advice of the brother of Evi, the proprietor, a local mountain guide, and decided to split the party, with the faster stronger walkers negotiating the suspension bridge across the Furggbach, and traversing over the rock wall onto the side of the Riffelberg and past the Riffelsee, onto the downward traversing path to the Gornergletscher.

classic view
The Matterhorn from Riffelsee, photo by Mike Goodyer

The other half of the group elected to walk down to Findelnbach Station, at 1770 metres, and catch the Gornergratbahn up to Rotenboden at 2815 metres, where they were able to join the same traversing path just above the Riffelsee.

At a convenient plateau area we all put on our harnesses and had some snacks and drinks. Dave Christmas elected to go ahead from the slower party and suss out the series of metal ladders that we knew we had to climb down in order to get onto the glacier. By the time we arrived at the top of the ladders Dave had set up a belay, and one by one we started to climb down the ladders. At this point the faster team arrived, and once the slower team were safely down Ed took over the belay from Dave.

We moved down to the side of the glacier and put on our crampons and roped up into groups of three, before crossing a horizontal aluminium ladder onto the ice proper.

David and Mike just starting to cross the glacier.
Photo by Ed Bramley.
Crossing the main part of the glacier, photo by Mike Goodyer

We then all made our way down and across the glacier to a point where we took off our crampons and continued to walk through this terrain of rotten rock debris and hidden patches of hard ice following and learning to trust to the blue marks and triangular pole markers that seemed to wander aimlessly around this confusing landscape, but did actually mark the best and safest path.
Eventually we all had crossed the glacier to the other side and began climbing the rising path up to the Gornersee, where the path through the rock band became evident as the walkers ahead showed those of us behind the way.

View of Monte Rosa Hut on the way up the rock band, photo by Mike Goodyer

I saw a couple of tantalising glimpses of the Monte Rosa hut as I made my way through the rock band and after dumping of some of my kit for later collection I just saw Myles reaching the hut. For those last 500 metres Rick and Alison coming down to offer help and encouragement.

nearly there
Andy makes the final climb up to the hut, with the Riffelhorn in the middle distance, photo by Rick Snell

I knew then we had all made it to the highest hut on the trek, at 2883 metres, and what a hut it is too.

Opened in September 2009 the new SAC Monte Rosa Hut sits on a rock spine above the Monte Rosa glacier like a shimmering silver aluminium crystal.

The new Monte Rosa Hut looking out across the glacier, photo by Mike Goodyer

A clear testament to Swiss engineering if I ever saw one. Combining ultra modern materials with innovative ideas, and a beautifully prefabricated timber frame, comprising of 420 elements that were transported to the site by helicopter, and then fastened onto a star shaped steel deck, that is fixed into the rock in ten separate outer foundations, and tied into a central core. This construction is designed to give both vertical strength to the structure to handle the interior usage, and horizontal strength to combat the up to 250 kmh winds, as well as separating this warm building from the permafrost ground it sits on.
And to top it all off great grub and the best nights sleep I have ever had at such altitude.

Thursday was planned as a rest day at the Monte Rosa Hut, with everyone doing their own thing gently exploring the impressive area at this altitude.
Some elected to carry on a short distance uphill to the Obere Plattje so that they could say they had climbed to above 3000 metres, others explored the nearby glacier with all its rotting complexities, and another group walked back down to spend some time basking in the sun on the edge of the turqouise green Gornersee, watching the occasional Baeckfinch flitting from rock to rock near the water's edge.
On our way down to this little lake Mike O'Dwyer and I met a gentleman who introduced himself as one of the team of constructeurs of the new Hut, and his first question was how did we find the new Hut.He went onto explain that despite only being completed in 2009 that the Hut was still a work in progress with constant maintenance, and small tweaks and improvements being made each and every year. One of the examples he gave was the solar panels installed. Originally they had planned for 6500 bed nights per year, but in the first two years they averaged over 10000 bed nights per annum, and the system was regularly tripping out with the high demand for electricity. The solution can be seen now at the side of the Hut, a separate external array, which has upped the power supply to an average of 8500/9000 bed nights per annum, and the gentleman declared with some pride that the system now works at 110% efficiency!
It was an interesting insight into the project that had clearly absorbed him and his fellow constructeurs for well over ten years, and he also told me their name for the little bird we kept seeing up at this altitude, see above.

Myles at breakfast time in the hut.
Our bunk room. Photos by Mike Goodyer

This Hut is run by the Rubin family, Brigitte, Peter and Jonas, ably assisted by a young Spanish lass who served us our evening meal. Whilst plying us with seconds she unashamedly promoted the chef who cooked the food for us, well he was her boyfriend.
After dinner Peter Rubin spoke to us about the weather closing in overnight and recommended an earlier start in the morning to allow everyone to get back across the glacier safely.

On the Friday morning a slight smattering of snow greeted us as we exited from the Hut, but thankfully the path down through the rock band was not unduly affected, and everyone made good time going back across the glacier, and up the vertical ladders.

From this point everyone was able to make their own way at their own pace, continuing past the Riffelsee and down to Riffelberg, where the weather brightened up again.
After a light lunch we walked along the Leiseeweg up the Findelnbach valley all the way to Flue. This upper valley was again mainly the domain of that unlikely pairing of the stone pine tree and the Nutcracker, and with three separate little lakes to visit, and tarry awhile, it was not to be missed.

A tantalising aroma wafted from the foliage above Baerghus, or was it just our imagination playing tricks on us in anticipation of our evening meal?
Here at 2618 metres was our last Hut, the Bergrestaurant Fluhalp, and although I was last to arrive there, I knew what we were having for dinner, courtesy of a phone call earlier in the day from a member of the staff, who just wanted to make sure that everyone liked fish, and I began to realise that last would not mean least.
Some of our group had been there some considerable time, sampling both the excellent food and drink, as Fluhalp combines the charm of a traditional timber clad hut, with most modern conveniences, and a well documented gastronomic reputation, and of course another stunning longer range view of the Matterhorn.

The main course was fresh trout, which the staff keep alive up here in a large aerated fish tank in one of the outbuildings, and it was delicious. As a post dinner drink we were treated to a homemade almond flavoured fruit schnapps. We elected to try the "ladies version" because it was sweeter, but the waiter promised us we could all have "mens portions".
This proved to be a popular and equitable choice, and rounded off our last evening up high in a very convivial manner.

Not surprisingly I enjoyed another great nights sleep at altitude, so much so that I woke up before dawn, and made my way outside where I was greeted by Venus, the morning star, rising over the Adlerhorn in the east, and as I watched half a dozen shooting stars in fairly quick succession sped across that same patch of sky.
I sat listening to the gentle sussuration of the aerator in the outside fish tank that displayed some of the live Bachforellen for all to see, the sun very slowly started to light up the tip of the Matterhorn, and I had time to reflect on how lucky we had been to share this spectacular area in perfect weather for a whole week, with the people who live and work here, and that their hospitality and hard work enabled us each day to see the Matterhorn, and enjoy the Mattertal with them.

On a personal note I was also lucky to enjoy this week in the company of my two best friends from school, my two best friends from college, together with a group of people whose company I have enjoyed over many years as a member of the ABMSAC.
Then the full light of the sun took hold and it was time to move and test the camera again, before thoughts of breakfast took hold as mein host came and told me the coffee was on, and it would take at least seven minutes to boil an egg!

A leisurely gathering for a group photo outside the Hut with the Matterhorn in the background, saw the group divide up again as some who had arrived later in the previous day wanted to go up a little higher, whilst others set off back down the valley to Zermatt, having already done that.

Last morning outside the Fluhalp Hut, photo by Mike Goodyer

A short walk into an inner meadow above the Hut revealed the abandoned former Fluhalp hut. This explained the fact that on the map the new hut is clearly shown as being at Flue, and no longer nestles in a little alp.
After another excursion along a very impressive lateral moraine to look down on the end of the Findelgletscher, we made our way back down the valley alongside the Stellisee to the lift complex at Blauherd, where Sylvia took advantage of the mechanical assistance and went down in some style to the town. Mike O'Dwyer and I made our way down to Sunegga where we enjoyed a drink on the sun terrace, and a last view of the mountain from this elevation and perspective before going down on the next funicular into town.

Some retail therapy, a hot shower, and the donning of clean clothes, back at the Youth Hostel, led to a good evening meal in a traditional trattoria in the old town on the Steinmatten side of the river, and a walk round Zermatt at night, finishing with a final drink at the old favourite, the Walliserkanne, with its aspect situated at the foot of the Trift gorge, albeit in the town itself.

One hundred and fifty years on the Mattertal, the Matterhorn, and Zermatt itself did not disappoint as a destination for mountain lovers everywhere.

Should you be interested in doing this walk then have a look at which we used to plan for this trek, and I have the 1:25000 Zermatt Gornergrat map No. 2515 should anyone from the Club want to use it.

Present: Andy Burton, Mike Goodyer, Ed Bramley, Dave Seddon, Anne Jago, Mike and Margaret O’Dwyer, David Christmas, Rick Snell and Alison Henry, Myles O’Reilly, and Sylvia Mercer.
Report by Andy Burton.

Meet photos

Alpine Camping Meet, Argentiere, 18 July - 8 August

Once again this was a joint meet with ABMSAC, Climbers’ Club, FRCC, SMC, LSCC, Wayfarers and Yeovil MC.

As it has been many years since the Joint Alpine Meet was based in the Chamonix valley, Argentiere proved to be very popular with 80 people from seven clubs attending over the three week period, the numbers peaking at 65 in the middle week. Due to the small size of the campsite and not being able to book, the numbers unfortunately had to be restricted, the first time I have known this happen. My apologies to those who were not able to get a place.

The meet coincided with end of a 5 week heat wave with regular temperatures of 35°C and above. This had a detrimental effect on the glaciers and the snow cover with a many open crevasses, impassable bergshrunds and rock fall. The Office de Haute Montagne conditions reports made sad reading as the list of mountains and routes which were out of condition increased with every report. The new Refuge du Gouter was closed for much of the season due to rock fall in the approach couloir. AC member and “local”, Gus Morton, did a good job of translating the reports into English. These were available on the Office de Haute Montagne and Alpine Club websites.

The most popular Alpine routes were the Domes de Miage, Aiguille du Tour by the normal route and the Arete de la Table, Aiguille Purtcheller, Tete Blanche, Cosmiques Arete, Mont Blanc du Tacul and Mont Maudit. Members also travelled into Switzerland and Italy to climb the Weissmies, Dom, Grand Combin and Punta Giordani.

Many rock routes were climbed in the Aiguille Rouge where members took advantage of the discounted lift tickets to gain easy access via the Flegere and Brevent lift systems. More routes were climbed from the Refuge d'Argentiere, the Refuge de l'Envers des Aiguilles and the Cabane d’Orny in Switzerland. The valley crags also saw plenty of action with the Gaillands, Rocher du Saix near Vallorcine, Aiguillette d’Argentiere and Les Cheserys being the most popular.

The mountain walkers were also well catered for with an almost endless network of paths, possibly the greatest achievement being Jeremy Whitehead’s ascent of Mont Buet at the age of 84.

The big events in Chamonix and Argentiere during the meet were the celebrations of the 150th Anniversary of Golden Age of Mountaineering in which the Alpine Club played a key role with the loan of about 200 items from the archives. Many attendees visited the exhibitions on rest days or bad weather days (remarkably few) this being a very rare opportunity to see “The Treasures of the Alpine Club” on display in Chamonix’s Alpine Museum. The exhibition is on until 17 April 2016 and is well worth a visit if you are in the area.
Alpine Club member Peter Blair organised an fascinating exhibition in Argentiere entitled “In Jemima’s footsteps 1865 Tourism in 3D”. This was an exhibition of stereo images of Chamonix and the Alps, stereo photography was very popular 150 years ago. The stereo images were available to view on a variety of devices from simple hand held viewers through to the latest 3D television.

The end of the meet was marked with a barbeque on the campsite laid on by expats Flo and Ryan, which was enjoyed by the remaining 32 participants.

Our thanks must go to Audrey and Julian from Camping du Glacier D’Argentiere who managed to accommodate everybody despite a full and maybe at times over full campsite. Also to Claire Burnet from the Chamonix Tourist Office who organised the discounted lift passes as well as the “Golden Age of Mountaineering” exhibitions.

I hope to see you all again next year in Ailefroide.

Report by Keith Lambley (FRCC) - report published with permission from the author.
Meet photos

Alpine Hotel Meet, Madonna di Campiglio, 11– 18 July

This year’s hotel meet in Madonna di Campiglio was a great success, with 31 members and guests attending. A week seems to be a good length for a meet of this kind as participants can then visit other places before and after, and this year was no exception. The Italian Lakes proved a popular choice, with several of us relaxing on the shores of Lago di Garda, Lago Iseo or Lago Maggiore, enjoying boat trips, gentle walks on Monte Baldo, or just sipping an aperitif and watching the sunsets. Bergamo was chosen as a stop-over by six of us, and the old town on the hill was a delightful place to wander round. Others stayed in Verona or in a nearby mountain resort, while some stopped off in Switzerland, France or Germany on their drive from the UK.

the group
Group at Pradalago, photo by Elizabeth Wells

We quickly saw what an attractive small town Madonna is, and why the Empress Sissi of Austria spent so many holidays here. Situated in the Val Rendena, between the soaring pinnacles of the Brenta Dolomites and the snow-covered peaks of the Adamello-Presanella range, it is in a beautiful location, with an abundance of lakes and waterfalls nearby. Our hotel, the St Raphael, was in a quiet part of town, where the only sound was that of the stream running alongside. The hotel itself was excellent, and we were made to feel very welcome by Emanuela and Walther Vidi, and by the delightful English-speaking Monica. The bedrooms were comfortable, the breakfasts and dinners copious and delicious, and the swimming pool and jacuzzi were much appreciated at the end of a hot day’s walk. Whilst there, we also discovered an amazing new aperitif, Aperol Spritz, enjoyed by most of the group.

But what really made the meet so successful was the perfect weather, and we set out day after day in glorious sunshine, in complete contrast to the cloud and rain we experienced in Pontresina last summer. Indeed, on some days we found it even too hot on steep uphill sections, although the uphills were considerably helped by the use of the Dolomeet card, part of our hotel deal, which gave free transport on all lifts and buses in the area. We made the most of this, and explored a variety of walks both east and west of Madonna.

The last hotel meet in Madonna had been in July 2001, and five of us present this summer remembered it clearly. That year the snow had lingered at a low altitude until well into the month, and the weather had been rather mixed. Nevertheless, one team succeeded in climbing the 3558m Cima Presanella from the Segantini Hut in the Val Genova, and almost every day teams heavily laden with via ferrata gear headed off on the cable car to the Grostè Pass east of Madonna, on occasions spending an overnight in one of the many huts. Via ferrata routes were explored north of the pass, linking Cima Rocca, Cima Sassaro and Sasso Alta, and south, linking Cima del Grostè, Cima Falkner and Cima Sella, with the Bocca del Tuckett and Bocca di Brenta providing descent routes to the eponymous huts.

But this year, with advancing age, only Mark wandered off to do some of these routes again, accompanied by Dick on the Sentiero Vidi. Bill and Rosie were the only others to head off north of the Grostè Pass, on the Sentiero delle Palette to the Bocchetta dei Tre Sassi, where they were rewarded by seeing a herd of 60 chamois. They descended to the Rifugio Graffner along the exposed Orti della Regina, the Queen’s Gardens, named after the Empress Sissi. As its name suggests, this is a veritable flower garden, with edelweiss, mountain asters, gentians and alpine rhododendron growing in abundance.

bright trousers
Mark D competing with the flowers for the bees.
looking to the ridge
Bocchetta dei Tre Sassi.
Photos by Dick Murton
On our second day a group of us took the cable car up to the Grostè Pass and set out along the stony path to the Tuckett Hut, named after Francis Fox Tuckett, the first Alpinist to make the traverse of the Brenta group, in the 1860’s. From the hut we could watch climbers descending the snow slopes of the Bocca del Tuckett, and see the jagged spires more closely. From there it was a pleasant descent over the Sella di Fredolin to the Casinei Hut, and then down through the woods, where several species of orchids grew, to the spectacular waterfalls of Vallesinella, and the bus back to Madonna.

Tuckett Hut and the Bocca del Tuckett, photo by Rick Saynor

The flower enthusiasts in the group returned to the Grostè Pass several times, for an amazing number of rock plants grew in this seemingly barren environment. Here we found many small plants, including Anemone Monte Baldo and Daphne striata, which Italian botanists encountered en route helped to identify.

alpine flowers
Daphne striata and Dryus octopetala, photo by Elizabeth Wells

On other occasions we used the Spinale lift to ascend to Lago Spinale and the Rifugio Graffner, another flower-studded area. From here a variety of different routes could be taken back down to Madonna, one of them linking up with Vallesinella and the waterfalls. But although the alpine flowers seemed in more profusion than in previous years, animals were less in evidence, possibly because of the heat – and certainly none of us encountered one of the recently introduced brown bears.

West of Madonna were the Five Lakes and Pradalago cable cars, both of which started near the hotel. The first day of the meet saw a large group of us catching the Five Lakes lift, from where there were stunning views across to the majestic spires and needles opposite. From there we walked up to the three lakes of Ritorto, Lambin and Serodoli, accompanied by hordes of Italians with dogs and children. None of us walked up to the fourth lake, Lago Gelato, though I have memories of going there in 2001 to find it covered by ice-bergs and surrounded by primulas, and of Wendell suddenly appearing and then heading off up the Passo di Nambrone.

 the lake
Arriving at Lago Ritorto, photo by Rick Saynor

From Lago Serodoli, some of the group descended to the restaurant at Lago Nambino, and thus back to Madonna, whereas most of us continued past Lago Nero and up the path to the Pradalago lift, taking the easy way down. Mark headed off on a more difficult, higher route along the Sentiero Bozzetto and Monte Zeledria, to meet us at the Pradalago lift. Put off by the crowds, Bill and Rosie had left us at Lago Ritorto to pioneer the less frequently travelled route down over the Passo della Falculotta to the south-west, climbing Monte Ritorto en route, and returning via Malga Valchestria and Malga Ritorto. Later in the week others followed them, descending to the WWI fort at Claemp to take the bus back to Madonna, or walk through woods.

the lake
Looking down on Lago Nambino, photo by Rick Saynor

The Pradalago lift gave access to the lovely Lago Malghette, from where there was an easy walk down to Campo Carlo Magno. However, most of us decided to make the circular walk round the lakes of Lago Alto, Tre Laghi and Lago Scuro, and then to return on the lift. We thought there was little height gain involved, for there were few contour lines on the map, but we were much deceived! The map indicated that our route started by going round Lago Malghette on a flat path, so we were somewhat surprised to find ourselves steeply and rapidly ascending another 200 metres. This was the story of the day, and not for the first time we decided that the Italian maps left much to be desired. But even though the walk took longer than anticipated, it was a glorious day with spectacular views and hardly any people.

Walking to Tre Laghi, photo by Pamela Harris-Andrews

Most of us agreed that the highlight of the week was our day in the beautiful Val Genova, organised by the Vidi family of the hotel at their bothy at Malga Bedole, at the end of the valley. The English alpinist Douglas Freshfield visited the area in the 1860’s, and in his delightful book, The Italian Alps, he described it as “the most beautiful valley in the Alps”. It was a long bus ride up the valley, past spectacular waterfalls, and we finally alighted at Ponte Maria to climb up to one of these waterfalls and then make our way to Malga Bedole, where we were to join the family for lunch.

Lunch at Val Genova, photo by Pamela Harris-Andrews

Long tables had been set up under awnings, already provided with bottles of red wine, and we sat down to a sumptuous repast of cold meats, followed by polenta cooked in a huge cauldron on an open fire, with barbecued sausages and chops. A large and varied cheese board then appeared, and plates of apfel strudel, accompanied by schnapps. The wine bottles kept appearing too, and after all this we struggled to walk the 15 minutes up to the Bedole Hut, where some were found asleep under a tree, and others collapsed on the hut terrace for more drinks, just managing the short walk back to the bus stop afterwards. It was indeed a memorable day.

And so, a good time was had by all, with good weather, good walks, good accommodation, good food, and most important of all, good company.

Participants: Pamela Harris-Andrews & Alan Norton, Geoff & Janet Bone, Ian Brebner & Morag Macdonald, Derek Buckley & Ann Alari, Geoff & Pauline Causey, Sheila Coates, Mark Davison, John Dempster & Dinah Nichols, Niels & Guni Doble, John & Marj Foster, Pauline Hammond, Dick Murton & Lin Warriss, Roger Newson, Rick & Carol Saynor, Caroline Thonger, Jay Turner, Elizabeth Wells, Bill & Rosie Westermeyer, Brian & Ursula Woodhouse.
Report by Pamela Harris-Andrews.

Rhyd Ddu Meet, 13 - 14 June

With the summer putting in an appearance earlier in the week, a number of us made the move to also make good use of the Friday. Parties went in several directions, and the selected route for some of us was an amuse bouche around and over several of Snowdon’s flanks, to ultimately arrive at Crib Goch for the main course, and a desert of the descent back to the hut. Luckily, the weather had become a little cloudier, but still warm enough for several of us to have our shorts on for the day. Our route takes us up the lower part of the Rhyd Ddu path, before crossing over Bwlch Cwm Llan and descending down to the old slate workings on the Watkin path.

Did anyone see this location on Countryfile recently? The National Trust have re-introduced shepherding to these hillsides, which means that the sheep are moved onto new areas regularly, and already the slopes are showing a much greater diversity. We then head up Lliwedd and at the top spot a pair who are scrambling up one of its ridges. A late lunch beckons at Llyn Llydaw, and with a quick scramble to briefly join the Pyg track, we are then established at the foot of Crib Goch.

on the ridge
Duncan, Mike and Paul on the Crib Goch, photo by Ed Bramley

The ascent up to the crest of the ridge is generally straightforward, but a couple of us take a line slightly to the left, which brings us onto the ridge by the shoulder, to be greeted by the rest who have not strayed off the main route. The crest itself never fails to excite, and we are all scampering along, lapping up each individual move. We stick to the top of the ridge as much as we can, not wanting the fun to end. Eventually the ridge comes to its natural end, joining on to Crib y Ddysgl and eventually up to the top of Snowdon itself, where a quick brew beckons. All that remains then is a straightforward, but by this time long descent of the Rhyd Ddu path, to conclude a very successful day out.

We start Saturday in Beddgelert, and head out to Llyn Dinas and the Sygun copper mine. On the way, we pass the new Lancashire Mountaineering Club hut at Cae Ysgubor, and we are invited inside for a look round. Whilst some parts are just in the process of being finished off, it’s still possible to get a good idea of what it will all be like. We are all impressed with how the place has been designed, including disabled access, and the standard of finishing, and several of us are making mental notes for our own hut.

the gang
The team on the way to the copper mine, photo by Ed Bramley

Our journey then takes us past Sygun copper mine, originally established in the Bronze Age, and producing copper for several centuries before it was finally abandoned in 1903. Renovated in 1986, the mine is now a visitor attraction, with both above and below ground excursions possible. On reaching Llyn Dinas, we pull up onto the hillside, and our track threads its way steadily upwards, eventually reaching a hidden valley at the back of Grib Ddu. Here we pick up evidence of mining again, with an old rake clearly visible on the hillside. Our descent is down Cwm Brychan, which contains more old mine workings and spoil heaps, and eventually the remnants of an aerial ropeway for carrying the ore back down to the valley.

the gorge
Aberglaslyn gorge on the way back to Beddgelert, photo by Ed Bramley

We have lunch by the Welsh Highland railway, before we head upstream to the Aberglaslyn gorge, which makes a marvellous backdrop to the afternoon’s walk. Massive boulders, rock steps and water dancing its way down the gorge. Arriving back in Beddgelert, we find the perfect conclusion to the afternoon. Welsh cream tea, complete with scone, barra brith, cream and jam – yummy. Back at the hut, we only just have enough space for our Saturday communal meal, which is a Mexican theme this year. Cheesy nachos for starters and vegetable chilli for main course, with a variety of puddings to complete the proceedings, and a suitable amount of wine to be quaffed.

The Sunday sees the cloud thickening up a bit more, but it’s still good for walking, and a group of us head up onto Mynydd Mawr. We take the forest path at the back of the village, and after picking up the left turn, arrive out on the lower flanks of the mountain. Much less of an excursion than last time we went up here. The angle of the path diminishes before long, and we make the summit in good time, with the tops dodging in and out of the low cloud. We take the path off the summit north westwards, and eventually the path heading northeastwards through the woods to the main road at Salem. As always, it’s a long trek back along the road to the hut, but we take the track off at the campsite to pick up the trail through the forest again. Back in time for a mid-afternoon cuppa, before the road home.

the summit
Mike, Duncan, Paul and Ed enjoying the view on Mynydd Mawr, photo by Tony Howard

Participants: Belinda Baldwin, James Baldwin, Antonia Barlen, Ed Bramley, Andy Burton, , Steve Caulton, David Christmas, Mike Goodyer, Don Hodge, Duncan Hogg, Sylvia Mercer, Mike O’Dwyer, Myles O’Reilly, Judy Renshaw, Paul Stock, and Tony Howard (Oread)
Report by Ed Bramley

Derbyshire Meet, Hurdlow, 1- 3 May

With this year being at least our fifth consecutive Meet at The Royal, I was pleased to have sixteen attendees. We still managed to have one AC attendee, as in accordance with Mike Pinney's wishes this Meet was run again as a joint ABMSAC/AC Meet, and four ladies attended who had not been before. We also managed to sign up another new member this year as well, which is a trend I hope we can continue.
Twelve slept in the Bunk Barn and four camped.

A beautiful drive up on the Friday for most, with two having stopped Thursday night, and enjoyed the day walking from the pub via Aldery Cliff and Parkhouse and Chrome Hills, a swift pint at the Royal, after pitching my tent, as most people gathered in time to migrate to the Fish and Chip Shop at Longnor, followed by real ales and a warm fire on offer at the Packhorse Arms at Crowdecote, and a return to the Royal Oak for a final glass rounded off the Friday evening.

There followed on Saturday a gentle 30 mile cycle ride from Hurdlow, through Hartington, down to Hulme End, and along the Manifold Trail, ending up at the unique hostelry that is the Yew Tree Inn at Cauldon, for real pies all round, a game of bar skittles, and music provided by the 1d/2p music machine, and returning via the same route, dodging the afternoon showers, well almost.

free wheeling
Mary and Kerren enjoying the moment, photo by Mike Goodyer

Two diehards did a 70 mile cycle ride around the Peak and were still back before us?!
Two new attendees did a walk from the pub via the Old Smithy Cafe at Monyash and back up onto the trail, and also were back long before us.
Saturday evening saw 17 of us sit down for Dinner in the Oak Room, as we were joined by our friend Tony Howard from the Oread Club, and judging by the empty plates, and convivial conversation, the staff at the pub did us proud once again.

Sunday saw both the weather and the lack of hot water in the showers conspire to put a dampener on proceedings, but most of us ventured out on foot along the High Peak trail towards Parsley Hay where we struck off across the fields, and through a hidden side valley popping out in the upper Dove valley, at the ancient Motte and Bailey site at Pilsbury, here the weather started to clear and we were treated to long views up the valley towards the river's source in the moors behind Chrome Hill.

the castle
Ed at Pilsbury Castle, photo by Mike Goodyer

Once again unerringly we found ourselves in the lovely back room at the Packhorse at Crowdecote, where Linda made us some bowls of chips, despite being fully booked for Sunday lunch, and Mick advised us on which beer to have.
On leaving the pub in warm sunshine we made our way up via the BMC owned Aldery Cliff onto the viewpoint that is High Wheeldon, at 422 metres, where a complete 360 degree view of this part of the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border can be seen. Then back down and along the lane past Hurdlow Grange to the pub.

High Wheeldon
After lunch on a windy High Wheeldon, photo by Andy Burton

By teatime we were six, just as well, as the weather was not conducive to having a BBQ, and the little kitchen area and its cooker, could only really cater for six, but rest assured the six made a valiant effort on the burgers and sausages. It was apparent however that it was an all male group eating, as the only vegetables consumed were those that could be fried or grilled. There was a distinct lack of salad!
Some retired to a welcome bunk bed, having struck the tent and packed it away, whilst others continued late into the night, as we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

Monday morning saw us all breakfasting in the barn, packing up and driving to the National Trust/RSPB managed car park at Birchens Edge, next door to the Robin Hood pub actually, and walking along Chatsworth Edge and through the estate, via the Hunting Lodge and the various lakes hidden in the woods above the house, that provide the flow for the fountain, and the other water features in the gardens. We walked out and down across the fields to Beeley where as a result of an earlier power cut the Smithy Cafe was closed, but the pub was open and devoid of customers.
Hence another first for me, we as walkers with muddy boots were made to feel welcome in this pub, sat in the prime window seats, and were served by the staff with food and drink, as if we were their most valued customers.

The church at Beeley, photo by Mike Goodyer

The return walk took us alongside the river, past the front of the house, and back out via the Northern Deer gate, past Heathy Lea, the Oread's other hut, and back to the cars, for a not too late departure for us all to the four winds.

Many thanks to everyone for attending and supporting my meet, and I hope to see you all again next year in the Peak District.

Attendees: Myles O'Reilly, Paul Stock, Ed Bramley, Mike Goodyer, Mike and Margaret O'Dwyer, Heather, Lucy and Mary Eddowes, Kerren Kossow, Sylvia and Beach Mercer, Howard Telford, Margaret Moore, Duncan Hogg, and Andy Burton.
Report by Andy Burton

Meet photos

New Members Meet George Starkey Hut, Patterdale, 10-12 April

It was an exhausted yet excited crew who arrived on Friday night in Patterdale. There were travellers from Kent, London, Bristol, Stoke on Trent, Nottingham, Derby and the North West. We descended upon the White Lion for last orders and a very tasty meal. Bad traffic on the M6 delayed half the group, but luckily there was a cosy fire (built by renowned fire maker Heather and her new apprentice Thom) to greet the late arrivals at the hut. Then for introductions all round, a night cap and an early bed to prepare for the full day on Saturday.

the gang
The group outside the George Starkey Hut
Photo from Mary Eddowes

We awoke to a grey morning with snow on the fells, which scuppered our original plans for a Fairfield and St Sunday Crag loop. So instead Andy, Ed and Mary led the group to ascend the old favourite Place Fell. As soon as we set off the sun shone and it was a jolly group who zigzagged up to the gusty col. Everyone enjoyed chatting with new faces in the group and playing the age old game of taking layers off and putting them back on again and again and again. We reached the summit mid morning and ate a third breakfast just beneath the trig point, with fantastic views over to High Street and the valleys below and beyond.

Then it was down past the few remaining patches of snow and to the lake for a quick pint at the pub at Howtown before the party split into two. A boat trip back to Glenridding for some and the 5 mile lakeside path for the rest in the late afternoon sunshine and chilly wind.

Place Fell
Simon, Kirsty and John on summit of Place Fell
Photo from Mary Eddowes

On our return to the hut, we learned that there had been a visit from the local fire brigade who found some very well cooked eggs and the hut full of smoke. Luckily that was the extent of the damage and we recovered from our walk (and the smoke) thankfully with hot tea, showers and all the windows open.

The evening saw a team of capable chefs, prepare a traditional pasta bolognese dinner for the lively group of eighteen. It was followed by a delicious Eddowes apple crumble. And just when bellies were full and people were relaxing... a wild ceilidh dance began and the hut became hot, energetic and full of scottish woops and laughter. It may have been reminiscent of years gone by in the hut at the autumn buffet perhaps..? Swing dancing ensued and then whisky and cards to follow, before we took a well earned sleep.

Dinner in the Hut
Photo from Mary Eddowes

Sunday began wet and wild. Many of the group decided to pack up and start the long journey south, so they said their goodbyes. But a merry group of seven headed to Aira Force in full waterproofs for an adventure in the rain. Parking at the top by The Royal, we made our way to the cover of the trees in the valley. Within the lush greenery and mossy banks we enjoyed shelter from the weather and a peaceful, relaxed meander down past the various gushing falls. Then it was back up to the pub for a final pint before we set off to various cities around the country and home.

on the bridge
Andy, Ed, Bianca, Karen and Thom at Aira Force
Photo from Mary Eddowes

All in all a very memorable weekend, with good friends, new and old. Many positive comments! Now to see how many new members will join the club...
Thanks again to Andy, Ed, Heather, Marian and Mike for their guidance and support over the weekend!

Participants: John Aouad, Kirsty Arnold, Pete Bennet, Bianca Bertalot, Ed Bramley, Andy Burton, Karen Dickinson, Jonny Dixon, Heather Eddowes, Mary Eddowes, Tom Farr, Kelly Jago, Simon Palmer, Hannah Parathian, Marian Parsons, Mike Parsons, Thom Scullion, Sabrina Shirazi, Aidan Sullivan, Hannah Sullivan.

Report by Mary Eddowes

Locheil Meet, Scotland, 20-23 March

This was our third visit to Fassfern House, which did not disappoint with its warm and comfortable facilities.

The Saturday morning dawned fine, with a good covering of snow on the tops. Mike, Andy and Steve took the new path up to Coire Leis and from there gained the summit of Carn Mor Dearg. They were tempted to continue along the CMD arête and over the Ben but wisely concluded that they risked being late for dinner had they done so.

the summit
Carn Mor Dearg in "spring conditions"
Photo by Mike Goodyer

Roger and Phil, the determined Corbett collectors, picked off a couple above Loch Arkaig.
The rest of the party swallowed their pride and took the cable car which goes up towards Aonach Mor. We climbed up to the plateau and enjoyed spectacular views from the summit, with a panorama of peaks stretching from the Cuillin in the North to Schiehallion in the South, with the North face of Nevis in the foreground.

the top
On top of Aonach Mor looking across to the Carn Mor Dearg Arete and the Ben
Photo by Jim Strachan

All returned safely in time for an enjoyable dinner in Fassfern’s stately dining room, allegedly used by Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745.

the dinner
Mike, Roger and Steve enjoying the evening. Spot who has been out all day in the sun!
Photo by Jim Strachan

Sunday dawned cloudy with the Met Office forecasting (with spurious accuracy) a 48% chance of rain. In the event none fell. The forecast did not deter the Corbett collectors who climbed Carn a’Chuilinn, above Fort Augustus. The rest of us chose various low level walks which demonstrated that boggy West Highland paths can be at least as arduous as Munro climbing.

Monday was a day of sunshine and showers, more of the latter than the former in the North. Mike and party headed for the Lost Valley in Glencoe but were deterred by a torrential downpour. The weather did not deter Roger who completed the Glen Roy Corbetts. Jim, Margaret and I found better weather on Ben Ledi. As has happened in the past the weekend ended with some spirited driving by Jim which allowed me to catch the last train back to London with 10 minutes to spare. All told a pretty good weekend, and Fassfern House makes an excellent centre. Will we be making a fourth visit?

Participants - Andy Burton, Steve Caulton, John Dempster, John and Marj Foster, Mike Goodyer, Phil Hands, Roger James, Jim and Margaret Strachan, Jay Turner.

Report by John Dempster
Meet photos

Annual Dinner Meet, Lake District, 6 to 8 February

The weather this year was remarkable for an unusual reason – it was rather nice. We were lucky and dropped into a period of clear skies and sunshine. There was snow on the tops, ice in the gullies and temperatures generally below freezing at high level, plus hard frosts in the valley at night. In fact, pretty much what the meet leader had ordered! It is rumoured that some members even went up a hill to check it was real. For some of the extended weekend team, Friday saw an excursion across to the Newlands valley, and a reverse of the Robinson round, starting at the church in Newlands, and going in an anti-clockwise direction. Parts of the outcrops on the upper slopes of Robinson had a coating of ice on them, which made for added value on the route, and stronger winds higher up meant that collars were turned and heads down against the icy blasts. Over and on to Dale Head where the views were non-existent. A long descent took us back down to the valley, where shafts of the late afternoon sun were spotlighting the hillside.

With the weather so good on Saturday, a group of us headed away from the crowds on Helvellyn by making the walk along to Deepdale, and eventually up onto the col between St.Sunday Crag and Fairfield. A few snow banked slopes added a soupçon of excitement as we exited the valley for the ridge up to the summit. The clear weather brought great views all the way across to the Pennines, with the radar station on Great Dun Fell standing out clearly in the winter mantle. Another group went across to the Robinson round and also enjoyed the extensive views.

Sunday way a time for taking it steady, with a short walk up to Lanty’s tarn, and some great views down to Ullswater and to the hut. After an excursion along one of the old water cuts up to the Greenside mine, we rounded a short day off with a refreshing pint in the Travellers Rest. Then back to the hut for afternoon tea before departing for home.

The dinner was attended by 42 members and guests, exactly the same number as last year. There were some new attendees (very welcome), but this was “balanced” by some who were unable to come. Menu cards were circulated during dinner for signatures, greetings and get well wishes to Mary Boulter, Terry Shaw, Buff Dolling and Walt Unsworth, who’d sent his (and Dorothy’s) good wishes. Walt had been involved with the early dinners (40 plus years ago) and had been a guest speaker on a few occasions – some when the invited speaker hadn’t turned up!

the dinner
Annual Dinner at the Glenridding Hotel
Photo by Don Hodge

Our guests this year were Martin and Jenny Cooper; locals, from Ullswater Outward Bound Centre, where Martin is the current Head. His speech was very interesting and outlined the activities and aims of the organisation. The outgoing President Ed Bramley responded and thanked all those who had assisted him in his three year term and especially during the period following Mike Pinney’s sad death. The “hole” left in the organisation by Mike has taken some filling. So the dinner went well, hotel and staff were duly thanked. The weather was near perfect and the company enjoyable.

Come and join us on the next Annual Dinner meet on 6th February 2016.

Report by Brooke Midgley & Ed Bramley
Meet photos