Sunday, June 1st, 2008
Started climbing, soloing climbs in the Peak District in **nailed-boots in 1951 walking from Newton Heath, Manchester to Greenfield to climb for the day, then walking the ten miles back in the evening – every Sunday. Once a month I extending that walk from Wemberry to Laddow and on to Shining Clough and back to Manchester via the same route – just to climb. In the years after leaving the Royal Marines (1959-65 I joined-up for cliff-leader – mountain cadre not, heavy weapons) I went on to climb many classic climbs including some first ascents***. Never understood why a climber would want 500 – 1,000 first ascents to his name given the finite amount of virgin rock available to future climbers in the UK. Those were the days: Jim Perrin, Climber Magazine, April, 2001: ’For me, all this pleasure of memory was carrying a troubled alternative discourse from the present day. I’d just been talking to a good friend of mine about what we’d been doing of late. She’d been up to Froggatt with her husband, and had wanted to climb – Valkyrie. There was a party on it, top-roping. She,d asked, and it would have been politely, if they’d be long. “All day, if we effing want”, had come the reply. Proprietorialism…
Why, in a climbing age replete with nylon ropes, harnesses, sticky rubber boots, Friends, Rocks, chalk, all of which make climbing easier, safer and more comfortable, would anyone want to deny themselves the pleasure, the thrill, the journey, the discovery of leading a route like – Valkyrie? Why would anyone want to top-rope a route that, for at least the first decade of my climbing life, was graded no more than Very severe? If these people can’t lead it, why don’t they go elsewhere and come back with a bit more confidence. leading is a finer and more complete experience. So why, on the outcrops and little crags, do we tolerate this prevalent ethos of throwing the rope down and hogging and dangling daylong. Which aspect of proprietorialism should prevail – the one that honours and upholds the best traditions of the sport, or the one that debases it, is merely acquisitive, reduces it to the lowest common denominator’, <Jim Perrin. Why don’t they go and take-up golf and then, when they find the going difficult, go and damage the greens by digging holes where the game will be made much easier – you would get your hands cut-off.
For instance, it is not known if Black Panther (now being over-bolted at the Cheesewring Quary, Cornwall; bolts that will be chopped when the retro-bolting is complete ) had a second ascent before the bolts started to appear.?
My alpine climbing started in Chamonix (French Alps) in 1958, and by 1993 I had climbed many of the classic, alpine routes. Although two attempts on the North Face of the Eiger were thwarted by bad weather, I have made 132 ascents of Mont Blanc. I visited Mount Kenya, East Africa, as early as 1960 and my first visit to the summit of Kilimanjaro in 1963. Since then, I have made seven ascents of Mt Kenya and thirty two ascents of Mount Kilimanjaro. I have visited; climbed on Aconcagua twice and also Mt McKinley where I had to extract a climber and his pulk (fully loaded sledge) from one of the numerous, bottomless crevasses.
Having climbed in many parts of the world, I am appalled by the use of expansion bolts in un quarried rock and agree with Reinhold Messner that climbers who carry bolts; are carrying their courage in the lid of their their rucksacks. I also believe that potential new climbs should be left for a better, future (ground-up) climber rather than practising for an ascent of these potential climbs with the use of a top-rope. I have never under stood why a climber needs 1,000 new routes to their name with no consideration for future climbers. Why, a climber needs so many routes to his name at Lands End, many of them ‘damaged’.?
In 1985 Dennis Gray, the then general secretary of the British Mountaineering Council (BMC), offered to give full publicity to any problems (as a professional climber/guide) that I might have in the future. There have been no problems. My safety record as a guide/instructor has been, and I hope will to be, exemplary. The BMC, never made the same offer – of adverse publicity – to the association of British Mountain Guides (BMG) with that organisations lack, of a perfect safety record.
My alpine, rock climbing courses were very successful (regardless of the machinations of the BMC/BMG). My clients (1966 – ) and I, have brought-in 32 climbers who had over extended themselves in the Alps only one of whom, subsequently died. So successful were the alpine courses, that Dr Ott of the American Collage, Leysin, invited me to live-in and use the college facilities for my summer alpine courses in Switzerland when the college was closed, its students away on summer vacation. Every East African course (Mount Kenya, Point Lenana and Mt Kilimanjaro then a safari to Ngorongoro Crater) was successful (well, as successful as anything involving the circus surrounding Kili can ever be) making 32 ascents of Lenana and Uhuru Peak since 1963.
Made first ascent of Kilimanjaro whilst touring Tanganyica. The Tangayican army revolted in 1963 and 42 Commando,s Royal Marines where sent from Plymouth, UK. to join 45 Commando. After disarming the military; military out-posts, an ascent of Kili (the mountain was empty) was made.
In 1983, climbed the North face of the Tour Ronde (alternate-leads) with the famous disabled climber, Norman Croucher OBE, the first time an alpine North face had been climbed by a double-leg amputee.
**The rudimentory climbing equipment was purchaced from Brigham’s at Harperhay, Manchester, over-time the boots self-nailed with small tricouni plates along with the finest hemp rope and slings – steel karabiners and mild-steel pitons. Unqualified as we were, Arnold and I were often asked to display our climbing equipment to different classes by the Sports teacher. Two twelve year olds pulled the film the ‘Mountain’ staring Spencer Tracy – to pieces and thought the First Ascent of Everest teams (in 1953) to be – over-dressed. ***On sight: The purest form of ascent which is conducted from the ground up, with no prior knowledge of moves or protection (apart from “standard” guidebook info) and in which no falls or rests on gear are taken. Gear; protection placed on lead. Can’t climb? Bolt! Bolting being the brave new world of climbing’s preferred method. Finally, the damming Maestri bolts are being removed from Cerro Torre (Jan, 2012) attention might now be turned to the Casarotto Pillar as an outstanding route on Fitzroy, first ascent solo by a true Meistro - Renato Casarotti in 1979
| Posted in Once Upon A Climb | Comments Off