Down here in the tropics of the Wye Valley, we have been positively gasping in the heat of summer. For the past three months Monmouth has been a shimmering mirage, the heat haze bouncing of the river cliffs and pulsing in the valleys. "The buggers lying" I can hear you say and you would be absolutely right. Sadly May, June and most of July has been a tale of sustained sogginess. However, with any luck, by the time this newsletter "hits the doormat" so to speak, we might be compensated for the wet stuff by a glorious late summer. We will see!
Fortunately the weather has not proved a total deterrent to LMC members. If only to prove that it's only lunatics who go out in the rain, this newsletter contains reports of all sorts of mountaineering from different parts of the UK, an outstanding Wednesday Wander in Wicklow plus two superb articles on ski mountaineering. Additionally there is an account of the Diamond Jubilee meet in the Western Isles plus a welcome and sage contribution from Bothy Will. Also there are updates on our various huts.
One of the problems with the LMC is that members are often slow to express opinions. "Is there a lack of confidence lurking within the collective psyche?" I have often asked myself? Therefore I have been shocked to be deluged with letters (well three actually) from members and we now have a letters column. If you want to comment on anything or perhaps wish to receive advice on matters from the Club's many experts, don't hesitate to drop me a line. Confidentiality is assured.
The next newsletter is likely to be in late October and articles, meet reports, letters, news etc. are very welcome. Once again, a very big thank you to all the people who have kindly contributed to this newsletter.
Please send info to the Newsletter Editor, Roger Finn email@example.com (tel: 01600 773203)
Tuesday Evenings -The First Climbs of Summer
The first outdoor meet of the year was held at the traditional starter of Brownstones. An evening of warm sunshine and clear skies hinted at a warm dry season ahead and coaxed a goodly number from the indoor walls or homes, which was good to see.
Unfortunately �the hint of promise' almost immediately gave way to doubts of ever seeing dry conditions again with the next 3 weeks affected by rain and squally weather - which forced some of us back indoors. However, a good number of the hardy climbing folk in the club welcomed 3 or was it 4 potential new members when a dry evening finally allowed us out at Troy.
Since that point, a strong turnout at Egerton and mixed (both attendance & weather wise) evenings at Denham and Witches (below) have followed. There has also been the return of the post climb pint - a very welcome feature I'm sure!
As I write this initial piece I am thinking of the 4 of us who enjoyed warm rock and sunshine at Summit, which once again gives hope that we will again be blessed with fine weather and company as we start to roam further afield as the longer light evenings of June & July and the warmth of August arrive. Just a quick update - unfortunately June brought the highest rainfall since records began in 1910! - Tuesdays have been negatively affected and indoor alternatives have come back into play. July can only get better!!
Happy climbing - Jon Banks.
There are regular Tuesday, local climbing meets. If you want to come along then please contact John Banks - 07790 484358
As the dust settles following the Jubilee Celebrations and the wonderful albeit slightly damp annual Wasdale Meet, it is time to start thinking about the next big celebration of the year, no not the Euro's nor the Olympics but the LMC Annual Dinner.
As you may have seen on the old electronic mail after much researching of locations and venues we have decided that none can match last year's venue either due to availability, cost, location or all three! We are therefore pleased to confirm that we are returning to The Castle Green Hotel in Kendal.
Any day now, your invitation and booking form should land on your mat via the traditional method of Royal Mail. However, we would like to highlight two crucial pieces of information; the first for you to note is the date has been moved from 16-18th November, as per the Meet Card, to the weekend of 23-25th November with the Dinner itself on Saturday 24th November 2012.
The second is that in order for us obtain the fantastic rate we have negotiated we must confirm details by end of August therefore it is essential that all booking forms are returned as soon as possible but no later than the advised date.
We do hope you are all able to join us and if you have never been to the Club's Annual Dinner before, why not make this year your first - good food, wine and company pretty much guaranteed - unlike the British Summer!
Your Dinner Ladies - Joanne Whiteley & Cat Toon
Bean on her final fell - does anyone recognise it?
Congratulations to Bean Newlyn who, in June, finished climbing the 244 fells listed in the F&RCC publication "The Lakeland Fells". This is a tremendous achievement to go with her completion of the Wainwrights, Munros and Corbetts. Anybody got another list she can tick off?
Like Bothy Bill (see article in the LMC Newsletter, June 2012) I too had a bad experience on opening a cupboard with gas cylinders stored in it. The stench was overpowering. However it turned out to be a dead (very!!) hedgehog who had decided to take up residence for the winter. A shovel, hoover on full suck and plenty of Jeyes fluid cured it - though I am waiting to see if the warmer weather produces a plague of blow flies. And yes I did throw away the hoover bag! Moral - don't always blame Chinese for bad smells!!
C. Walker, Aspull, Lancashire
The 100 year old debate rears its head once again regarding the upper and lower houses of our rulers. It seems very similar to a recent LMC meet I attended, where the moneyed old farts lived at the top of the hill, and the proletariat survived a rule ridden existence in a field at the lower end of the village. Unlike the Queen's speech, where the two come together, we were treated to a presidential visit. We were summoned to drink wine under a makeshift tarpaulin. We were eventually driven to the pub by the midges where we were allowed to mix with our betters. However some of the upper house could not even be arsed to make a nominal appearance and at least pay for some beer for the poor. Whatever happened to the "Big Society"? Is this indicative of a modern approach to the hills? Will the future see a double meets list, one for the aged and one for the active? Can the LMC rise to the challenge of organising a meet where members actually meet one another? I feel this is the challenge facing our president, can he buy sufficient wine to unite the members under one tarpaulin? My glass awaits!
Yours in anticipation - Red Jake. (Name & address supplied)
Ed's comment: Red Jake's comments are perhaps just a little unfair on our president. At the said event, the president generously provided all the drink. His kind donation of two bottles of Rumanian Riesling (one of which was drunk by Red Jake) and a bottle of his homemade sennapod wine guaranteed the evening went with a bang.
I have always been proud to be a member of the LMC. One can listen to the elder statesmen of the club recounting tails of adventures and daring deeds, of how they were �up at the crack of noon'; in fact there are many who believe that LMC stands for �Last Men on Crag'. Almost inevitably the tale would include the phrase �and then it went dark'! The club fully embraces the ethos of its motto "Relinquere in Multi eorum fraudatores". This was admirably demonstrated on a recent Wednesday Walkers Wander when 19 started, 17 made it to lunch and only 15 were left at the end, a truly magnificent attrition rate!
However, I feel my proudest moment has to be the way in which, armed only with a Swiss army knife, the club swiftly dealt with the potential health and safety hazard present by the �wobbly' handrail on the TynBhan steps. Priceless!
T Hawkes - Urmston
Nina Simone sang "Ninety nine red balloons go floating in the summer sky, this is what we have been waiting for" and it certainly is! The club is to hoping to launch hundreds of virtual balloons of all shapes and sizes in our own fund raising balloon race.
Why do we need money? What has John Toon done with the club's cash? The club has a real opportunity to own a super building, complete with camp site, and set within some of the most spectacular scenery in the Snowdonia National Park. Our "builders" have made a most impressive start and the shell is almost complete. However cash, approximately £40k, is urgently required to transform the shell into well-appointed climbing hut. You can help by flogging virtual balloons at £5 a go. If you have not got them already, you will soon receive your unique pack of ten balloons to sell. This is a real opportunity to complete this fantastic building and provide a base in Wales for us and future members to enjoy.
Please give it a go and help the balloons and hut take off!
The build party comprised of Chris Walker, Nigel Lyle, Roger Gott, Bernard & Josie Smith, Kevin Massey, Graham Welch, John Ellis, Jason Whitley, Richard Toon, Dave & Julie Sudell, Sarah & Christian. The activities to be tackled were to complete the blocking to the ground floor wall plate, this is row 11. Hoist into position the end gable steel wall beam, block up the internal support wall and the gable at the container end. Additional to this the camp site area was to be made ready for seeding, the drain line dug out and a start made on the water line.
I arrived on site at 9-30am and was relieved to find that Mr Porter's fence had been taken down. This was critical to the installation of the steel beam as it would allow the truck access to the site. Much discussion had taken place as to the method of installing the beams there are 4 of them, 2 are assembled together to make a compound beam. This was to be delivered on Fri 25th the other 2 are the ground and first floor ridge beams. These can only be installed after the construction of the gables so would be delivered at a later date. Once it had been established that the fence could be dismantled then the truck option was the only logical solution. As a bonus we are going to have the container moved across the road by the truck crane. This is necessary as it would be in the way of the digester.
On setting the generator up it would not start. Finally we gave up. Two people went to try and get it fixed, while a start was made on hand mixing. The blocking commenced, a party started to dig the drain line out another went to start the water pipe line preparation. The generator party returned with another hired one so the blocking set off in earnest, good progress was made. A real benefit was having Josie who acted as catering manageress keeping us supplied with food and drink.
In the evening we retired to Dave & Kath place in Borth-y-Gest. They have been very generous throughout the building with their hospitality allowing people to stay at their house.
On Friday 25th we were on site early 8-30 am but not as early as the steel truck. Barry the driver was having breakfast at Chris's caravan having arrived at 7am. By 9 am we had the beam installed. It took 3 of us, one either end of the beam and Barry on the crane. In half an hour it was in position.
Good progress was made on the blocking, Nigel and Graham on the gable at the container end and Bernard and me on the support wall.
On Saturday the gable was completed and the support wall almost finished. In the evening Josie produced another good meal for all of us at Dave and Kathy's.
Sunday morning back on site the generator jinks struck again. The hired one seized up and so it was back to hand mixing. Chris, as resourceful as ever, asked Mr Porter if we could plug into one of his power points on the camp site, so we could power the mixer again. This allowed us to complete the support wall and start additional blocking at the first floor end.
So all the objective we had set ourselves were achieved.
Nigel blocking and the support wall complete
Richard on the mixer
Blockwork completed to 1st floor level
Just in time for the Olympics, on Friday, 20th July, the final pad stone was added to the gable of the hut, making it ready for the steel ridge beams to be put in position. Building from the foundation started in late March 2012 and after 6 visits and about 18 day's work, blocking is largely finished. Up to 12 members were on site at a time and because of this progress has been rapid. Thanks to the many members who have contributed .
The completed walls
It is hoped that the ridge beams and roof construction can start in August and hopefully be complete in September or October.
Dave Suddell - 07812 390263
At the Committee meeting on the 21st June I asked committee members to consider committee positions for 2013. One of the main reasons was because I intend to stand down as chairman at the AGM this year, having completed 4 years in the position and one year as vice chair, and with other things competing for my time. So I wanted the committee to start to consider the chair and other committee positions for next year. I think it's time for me to make way for the next generation so to speak
If any member is interested in serving on the committee next year, in whatever capacity, then please tell me or another committee member preferably the secretary, Mark Braithwaite. The AGM, when elections to Committee positions take place, is in October and as you can appreciate it's normally standing room only, the atmosphere is electric.
My rambling is normally the opportunity for me to say how work has been progressing on the property renovation front (OK as it happens) rather than detail all the hard extremes I've been cavorting on, due largely to my absence from the rock face of late and old age taking its grip. However, I have recently returned from the very successful Lewis/Harris meet and so a short meet report follows.
Other news almost always seems to focus on club huts rather than mountaineering. The Welsh hut project appears to be progressing very well on site with the main structure expected to be completed this year, with plumbing, electrics etc to follow next year. The caravan is enjoying (!?) its last few weeks at Tyndrum, Richard Toon is exploring alternative locations for the 'van with one possibility being Arkaig on the west coast of Scotland. More on this later. And we edge closer and closer to renewing the lease on the Loft, hoping to retain the option to extend the accommodation into the Byre once the Welsh hut has been completed.
Winter, Saturday night and dark as the inside of a cludgie outside: after a long day tramping the Coniston Hills then a big feed-up it was time to party; to walk down to the village and sink a few pints of good local ale, but I needed a bit of quiet time first. As they left one of the guys asked, do you need a torch? Perhaps too sure of myself I replied, no; how many times have I tramped that path winter and summer, by day and by night - surely no?
After long soothing, silent minutes staring into the flames of the pot stove I gathered myself, shrugged on the cagoule and strode out into the night; only the sound of the beck running over the loose stones of the ford disturbed the darkness. It was dark too: no moon, no loom from the sky - no worries; I know the way!
I paddled through the ford and edged onto the track and uphill following the wheeled ruts or so I thought: it really was dark. Suddenly I was airborne, dropping through the air to land with a thump, breathless and very surprised! What? I sat, dazed feeling around for my specs and wondering why my fingers felt numb - luckily I had fallen on grass. I'd forgotten there was a long drop on the right, where the retaining wall held it up.
It was a very humbled body that slowly fumbled his way down to the village and the Sun Inn to join the mob. In the bright light of the bar it was easy to see why the old fingers felt numb and what a sight: much merriment all round - two fingers on the right hand were pointing the wrong way, bent backwards! Now that was going to make lifting a pint very difficult.
Enquiries were made at the bar; where does the village doctor live? He's away on holiday for two weeks and the nearest Casualty Department is at Kendal Hospital, a good forty minutes drive away, if you had a car outside!
This needed some thinking about. One pint followed another, awkwardly, but satisfying. And as the evening craic entertained, the numbness faded and another pint was needed to ease the growing pain - it helped, but then it was time to leave, plod slowly back up the hill. By now I'd made a plan.
Back at the Hut I slipped upstairs to the quiet of the dorm and taking a long, deep breathe took hold of one finger and pulled! There was a loud crack and success. The other received the same treatment; they looked like the others now and bent inwards, the right way! Smiling now, I rejoined the crowd around the fire, chastened and a little wiser!
Ski Mountaineering is fast becoming as popular as the Wednesday Wanders. This year no less than 16 members were out there doing it over the Easter period. The first week was spent at a luxury apartment on the shores of Lac Leman, an unlikely venue you might say. However, within an hours drive in any direction great skiing is to be had. Seven of us shared this week; Josie & Bernard Smith, Dave & Cathy, Jo & Jason Whiteley & Sarah Medcalf. We loosened up on the pistes of Leysin where there is a wonderful facility provided free, an area of buried transceivers for practicing avalanche drill. We then enjoyed four day tours under cloudless skies, the first being an ascent of Pic Chaussy (2350m) from the Col des Mosses giving great spring snow on the northern slopes. This was followed by days on Tour de Famelon above Leysin, where the scenery was superb, the Dent de Valerettes (2058m) above Monthey and the Croix de Javerne above Bex. All of which were terrific days out. We ended the week skiing the magnificent Combe D'Audon from the Glacier 3000 cable car, some of the best lift assisted off piste around.
Into the mists
For the second week we moved over to the Bernese Oberland. Eleven members assembled in Interlaken: Mark & Janette Braithwaite, Claire & Iain McClellan, Duncan Scattergood, Clare Stafford, Dave & Julie Sudell, Nigel Lyle & ourselves. Mark had reserved a compartment on the Jungfraujoch Railway so we enjoyed the trip through the Eiger onto the Aletschgletscher. We skinned over the Monchjoch then skied down the wonderfully named Ewigschneefeld to Koncordia from where we gasped our way up the ever growing stairway to the hut. On the second day we moved over to the Finsteraarhorn hut taking in the summit of the Wyssnollen (3590m) on the way. We had enjoyed 2 glorious days but unfortunately the weather now deteriorated. We had light snow and poor visibility for the next three days which limited what we could do. We set off for the Fiescherhorn on day 3 but turned back at the icefall in near whiteout. A practice crevasse rescue was set up so as not to waste the day entirely.
Frustration again on day 4 as we set off in thick cloud for Koncordia, however, it cleared as we descended so an attempt on the Grunegghorn was made which didn't quite succeed but gave a great ski down before the plod up the stairs to the hut. Plans were made for the morrow, which again were frustrated by the weather and all we achieved was a transfer to the Hollandia hut in the mist. However the forecast promised an improvement for our final day and this proved to be a fitting finale. An ascent of the Albeni Flue (3982m) provided some consolation for the previous frustrations and a fantastic ski down, all the way to Blatten down in the Loschental.
The Albeni Flue - the final desent
As we had come to expect the Swiss transport system whisked us back by bus and train to our cars in Interlaken where we went our separate ways.
Ze Dreaded Steps - Concordia Hut
Once in a while its nice to take in a little luxury and this year the LMC ski tour excelled by visiting the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland���� say no more! The tour started with a sizable team rendezvousing at Interlaken to enjoy a comfortable overnight in the Backpackers Hostel. An early train the following day took us below the Eiger and the Monch and up to Jungfraujoch. My last visit here was a �few' years back and what was then just a tunnel has now been expanded to a full blown museum for the 2012 centenary of the Jungfraujoch railway ���wow. Escaping the tunnel of the Spinxstollen (3300m) and thus all the day trippers, we emerged into bright sunshine and world class views of the Jungfrau Glacier and its surrounding peaks ��... magnificent. A gentle skin across to the Monchjoch Hut (3627m) soon had the lungs working well and we were then able to ski down the Emigschneefald keeping well over to its the east side to avoid the crevassed areas on our way to Konkordia Hut (2850m). Surprises here for some of us as the hut is perched high on a rock buttress above the snows and is accessed via a steel staircase some 150m high. Leaving the skis at the base we ascended the stairs very slowly with lots of rest stops and celebrated our eventual �ascent' with a very welcome beer. The Konkordia hut is very comfortable and ���.. �has wonderful views comparable with Greenland or the Karakoram' ��..the views certainly impressed us.
The next day we set forth up the Gruneggfirn in fine weather, making good progress in tracks kindly put in by someone in front of me as yours truly was at the back. I eventually caught up with the others at the Grunhornlucke (3280m) and we all then enjoyed a super ski/traverse to the Fiescher Glacier to be in position for an ascent of Wyssnollen (3590m). I rested out at 3300m on this ascent, the others continuing to the summit from where they assure me, there are magnificent views of the surrounding 4000ers. A challenging ski down in softening snow and then a skin across the Fiescher Glacier to the Finsteraahorn Hut (3048m). Where ��oh no ��� we've a gully to climb up to the hut, not quite as challenging as yesterdays steps but still in need of a beer at the top! The hut is in a lovely spot with magnificent views of the Gross Grunhorn (4043m) the Gross Wannerhorn (3905m) and a multitude of surrounding peaks. Unfortunately the cloud came during the evening and in it started to snow which continued on and off all night so that by next morning the planned attempt of Finsteraahorn (4273m) had to be called off and an attempt on the Gross Fiescherhorn (4048m) was hatched instead.
Glacier Comb d'Aubon
The approach up the head of the Walliser Fiescherfirn needed the navigation skills of Nigel ably assisted by his Trek Sat Nav as we were constantly in and out of cloud until we arrived at 3440m by a buttress below the southern spur of Ochs od Klien Fischerhorn. This point gave us a clear view of the serac/bergshrund/crevasse field which lay ahead on the ascent route and just to add some excitement the initial approach was via frozen avalanche debris. Most of the front runners managed the frozen debris with some turning back at half way point with yours truly at the back deciding it was a no go area. Eventually everyone agreed that with a worsening weather forecast advancing and then having the prospect of skiing back down such complex terrain in cloud would not be a good idea. We turned and decided to spend an hour or two on improving our crevasse rescue technique before retreating safely (thanks to Nigel again) back to the Finsteraahorn Hut and another well deserved beer.
Nigel on the Wyssnoller
Today's the day we head back to the Konkordia Hut via the Grunhornlucke (3280m and we are in cloud all the way to the col. Just below which �..hey presto�the cloud disappears and we are faced with magnificent views of Konkordiaplatz and the Grosser Aletsch Firn ahead. There follows some good skiing down to a point where some decide to try for the summit of the Grunegghorn (3860m) whist the rest of us head for the hut. The weather is still changeable and the Grunegghorn party turn back just short of a steep gully which gives access to the upper snow fields. They report some excellent snow conditions on their decent (and some hairy traversing above crevasses) after which we all enjoyed another beer and a very pleasant evening at the Konkordia Hut.
Another day and away we go up the Grosser Aletschfirn this time heading for the Hollandia hut plus any summit that can be conveniently bagged along our way. The Kranzberg (3666m) and even the Gletscherhorn (3983m) being likely candidates. Frustration grows as the cloud comes and goes and we never get clear views of the summits to our North. A couple of other teams are heading the same way as us and we notice that they don't turn off for any summits. Eventually we reluctantly accept defeat and put our heads down for the Hollandia. As we arrive at the hut some teams are just setting out to go down to Fafleralp and others are heading up onto the Flue Glacier for what turns out to be some crevasse rescue practice. The afternoon is spent in the hut playing cards, drinking tea and sprinkling pine needles down the pleasantly smelling loo!
Our final day on tour and at last the morning is a clear one with beautiful blue skies, the Abeniflue (3962m) beckons! This mountain may just be short of the magic 4000m but it's a mighty fine mountain and well worthy of the effort on our final day. The eager beavers set off at a good pace but the cloud has come in during breakfast. I take my time and as I ascend the cloud clears to reveal fantastic views from the glacier and the surrounding mountains the Mittaghorn; Albeniflue; across to the Dreieckhorn and Aletschhorn, as far a field as the Gross Wannerhorn, and even Mont Blanc in the distance. Reckon I could even see Everest in the far distance (ok perhaps I exaggerate but it was an exceptionally good view).
Heli skiing drop offs are allowed on the Flue Glacier and sure enough one appeared and disgorged a team of skiers. As they passed me I honestly thought that, on such a beautiful day as today, I'd rather be going up hill! The eager beavers were ahead of me and making good progress towards the summit of Albeniflue having joined up with a team of Germans. I followed in their tracks as far as the 3600m contour and then turned back for the hut as they approached the summit. They report that the summit was easily gained and that views were fantastic with 4000ers all around. The Germans' advice, to follow them in decent, was taken and some great powder skiing was enjoyed by all; a truly magnificent morning.
Back to the hut for lunch and then a great afternoon skiing down the very long �� Langgletcher! The valley has a reputation for avalanche and as we were post lunch and the temperature was up so care was needed. Good snow in the upper part turning heavy in the middle and porridge lower down but thankfully ski-able all the way to the bus stop in Fafleralp. What a way to spend a day! This being Switzerland the bus arrived within ten minutes and eleven of us complete with skis, poles, boots, rucksacks, ice axes etc and various odours some being not too pleasant, were welcomed on board and booked through to Interlaken without so much as the bat of an eyelid.
The rest of the tale is just a pleasant bus and train journey.
All those in the team for another super tour, shame about the inclement weather; Bernard for booking the huts in advance which is not an easy task; the Swiss sausage manufacturing company; and finally the Jungfraujoch railway company for building the railway all the way to Spinxstollen, it was much appreciated by all the team.
A great weekend and the weather held up nicely. Various people arrived throughout the weekend and it was lovely to see so many! Friday night saw me, Dave Sudell, Josie and Bernard Smith and Rob and Katie. Upon arrival, we were all greeted with a ready prepared 3 course meal, thanks to Mum. A delightful evening and we managed to put the world to rights and consume all the wine brought for the weekend....we sent messages for reinforcements.
Despite the previous evening, we surfaced before lunch and after a leisurely breakfast and the arrival of Lucy and Linda, we set off for a stroll up West Side Edge onto Great Carrs and Swirl How. After slight diversion onto Coniston Old Man (dodging the runners) for a quick wave at Mark and Janette's house, we descended down Prison Band and on to Wetherlam. In order to add a little spice, we set off down from Wetherlam into a juniper forest...what a lark! However, despite a few scratches and sore knees, we made the Three Shires for a pint before heading back to the Loft for tea. We had a few more now...David Toon and Kate Hawkins, Jo and Jason Whiteley, Julie Sudell and Richard Toon. Another great evening, with plenty of discussion...oh, and the wine dutifully arrived!
Saturday on Coniston Old Man
On the Sunday, people set off to do their own thing. Some climbs, a run/ride and another walk with myself, Jo and Jason, Bernard, Josie, Lucy and Linda. Leaving Cockley Beck, heading up Mosedale to Ore Gap (in surprisingly humid conditions) we made the summit of Bowfell. A saunter over Crinkle Crags and then off down over Little Stand and Red How, back to Cockley Beck. Another great day, concluding a great weekend. Thanks to all for coming and hope to see you on the Wasdale Meet.
The Wednesday Walk scheduled for the last week in May of this year was actually a four day event: more of a mid-week meet in the Wicklow hills, from Tuesday 29th to Friday 1st June. Some members even made it into a full week's stay and included trips to the Burren in Co. Clare and to the Neolithic monuments of the Boyne Valley in Co. Louth.
The meet proper got off to a bit of a shaky start when it was discovered that the pub designated as the rendezvous point (Kavanagh's of Roundwood) was not open so the assembled party had to make its way to the bar of the Royal Hotel in Glendalough where some sustenance was taken. A visit to the monastic settlement and its interpretive centre was followed by a short walk over the nose of Camaderry mountain to take in the views over the two lochs which give this valley its name. And then it was on, by car, to the Glenmalure Lodge, which was to be our base for the three days. At Glenmalure, the group was joined by a number of Irish friends - with whom several LMC members have shared Scottish winter trips over the past decade or more - and a pleasant evening was spent in the bar.
The plan for Wednesday was to make an ascent of Lugnaquilla, one of the only two Munros in Ireland that lie outside of Co. Kerry. From Glenmalure, Lug hides itself behind its many outlying ridges and tops and there are several route options. We had decided to make our initial approach via an old zig-zag track that was built in the 19th century to bring anglers to Kelly's Lough in an area known as Carawaystick and from there up to the Clohernagh ridge and then onto the large plateau that forms the summit of Lug. Mary Ledwick, Pat and Ian Aitchison, Dave Fisher, Roger Finn, Graham Welsh and Jim Cunningham all opted for this route and they were joined by Niall Rice, Tom Fenlon, Paddy O'Leary, Jimmy Leonard and Liam � Cl�irigh from the home team. Meanwhile, Derek Miller and Brian Guilfoyle accompanied by Michael Slevin decided to do a section of the Wicklow Way, a long trekking route which passes through Glenmalure.
Lugnaquilla: the summit party
The zig-zag brought us up the steep side of the glen without too much effort but as we moved out onto the open mountain we were hemmed in by thick mist. Tom Fenlon, a pipe-smoking asthmatic who only has one gear - and that's overdrive - vanished into the fog and was not seen again until he appeared in the bar later that evening. In true LMC style, the rest of the visitors ignored their leader (Liam) and followed other members of the home side who offered themselves as false prophets with the result that everyone bypassed Kelly's Lough entirely in the poor visibility and were only rejoined with the leader because he waited for them on the ridge where he was heard to grumble that it would have been easier to be minding mice at a busy crossroads.
As we reached the summit, however, the mist lifted, and we had a magnificent three-hundred-and-sixty degree view, southwards to the Blackstairs mountains in Wexford, westward out over the plains of Kildare with the expanse of the Wicklow hills rolling northwards and the Irish Sea to the east. We made our descent route through Fraughan Rock Glen and under the Barravore cliffs to ford the Avonbeg river where we had positioned a car earlier in the day. All in all, the walk took about six hours.
Jane Fenlon, Bernie Slevin, R�is�n Miller and Pat U� Chl�irigh rejoined the party at the Glenmalure Lodge and the entire group sat down to an excellent dinner in the dining room. Michael Slevin welcomed the visitors on behalf of the home side by playing a selection on the uileann pipes. However, it cannot go unrecorded that the response from the visitors was anything but gracious. Instead of embracing the spirit of friendship shown by their monarch during her visit to Ireland last year, they chose to sing jingoistic lyrics from A Song of "Patriotic Prejudice".< /p>
The English, the English, the English are best: I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest! The rottenest bits of these islands of ours, We've left in the hands of three unfriendly powers, Examine the Irishman, Welshman or Scot, you'll find he's a stinker or not.
The Irishman, now, our contempt is beneath, He sleeps in his boots and he lies in his teeth, He blows up policemen (or so I have heard), And blames it on Cromwell and William the Third. The English are noble, the English are nice, And worth any other at double the price!
Despite this crude provocation, the home side remained good-humoured and even offered prayers for their misguided guests before all retired to the bar where an impromptu traditional session by local musicians kept everyone in good spirits for the remainder of the night.
Thursday was what the Irish call a �soft' day: cloud down around the ankles and a spray of fine rain that might be good for grass growth but which soaks you to the skin. A relatively short ridge walk to the top of Crohanmoira saw us back in the hotel for a late lunch and the two sides took their farewells of each other as the Irish headed for their homes to vote in a referendum on the EU Fiscal Treaty while the English ensconced themselves in the bar. It has been alleged- and it must be stressed that this may simply be a libellous rumour - that, on the Friday morning, some serious maths was required to sort out the drinks bill for room 11 where Roger Finn, Brian Guilfoyle and Jim Cunningham were staying.
Liam � Cl�irigh
Editor's note: Kelly's Loch is easily missed. About the size Loch Lomond it is an area beset with mists and the loch itself rarely sighted. Apparently our visit coincided with a period of abnormally low tides and, in-spite of pin point navigation, a sighting proved elusive.
This meet to the Outer Hebrides was attended by LMC stalwarts Richard Toon, Dave and Julie Sudell, Dave and Pat Buchanan, the honourable Jason and Joanne Whiteley and yours truly. We decided to camp on the west coast of Lewis at Valtos close to the sea cliff climbing which is largely around Uig and also further north. And what a windy campsite it was, catching the sun in the morning but decidedly cool in the evening with the continual wind forcing us to seek refuge in Dave and Pat's tent which seemed to be amply supplied with ale.
Uig - sea cliff climbing
Despite the wind we enjoyed consistently good weather which allowed us three days sea cliff climbing around the Uig area and further north. The rock is the eponymous lewisian gneiss and nice it is being generally steep but solid rock with good protection. Richard and I also had two days mountain cragging, firstly a 300m HVS on the Teleesadale slabs ending on the summit of the mountain and secondly a shorter HVS route of about 120m in the delightful and remote Glen Uladaile. This is home to the spectacular hard rock route Scoop and near other very hard routes being close to 20 pitches, but of course we are in the land of the midnight sun, where early starts aren't really necessary.
The troops set forth
Lewis - Harris is a truly delightful place, unspoilt with unlimited scope for mountain walking, biking, fishing, cragging and general mountaineering providing you're not obsessed by Munros, because these hills are not massive but they are shapely. Some culture as well with Harris Tweed jackets popping up from nowhere and Neolithic stone circles almost at every turn of the road. The famed Callanish stones being well preserved and the visitor experience complete with an excellent coffee shop. And to top it all Dave and Pat managed a day trip to St Kilda which definitely sounds like the end of the earth. Watch out for the photo comp...!
The LMC welcomes contributions to its newsletters. Please send text and photos to Roger Finn firstname.lastname@example.org. �Copy for the next newsletter should reach him by 12 th October 2012.
Also grateful thanks are extended to all those who have contributed to this newsletter and especially David Toon who spends vast amounts of time interpreting my notes, laying out the newsletter and linking it all to the LMC website.
Roger Finn, Newsletter Editor
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