Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Coming up: Steve Dean on Robin Smith: Man...myth and magic.

Carn Dearg

" By the summer of 1956, Robin was already climbing Very Severe routes (the then full weight Scottish version of the grade) and was a regular visitor to the crags of The Cobbler and Glencoe. Academically he had done very well at school, and that autumn he went to Edinburgh University to study philosophy. Just before starting at university, Robin had an adventure on Ben Nevis that was to demonstrate his increasing ambition and drive, and was to form the basis for one of his best known essays. That September he set off with two mates to climb Route 1 on Carn Dearg Buttress. With that quickly disposed of, they turned their attention to The Crack, Arnold Carsten’s hard route on Raeburn’s Buttress.  The climb proved to be a rather fierce one and it had a mean reputation. The remainder of the party were able to retreat when things got too difficult, but Robin was benighted halfway up the route. He spent the night on a small ledge and made his escape the following morning, determined to avoid the ignominy of being rescued. Those at the C.I.C. hut had clearly been worried, but this character-forming episode ended with no ill effects for Robin. He subsequently wrote about his experiences in an essay for the EUMC Journal called “Twenty Four Hours.” As a piece, it is wonderfully carefree and humorous and points the way forward for his later writing:'

“You rush off upwards, but as you rush you feel the wall swing smoothly through 30 degrees, and then you aren’t rushing any more but are strung up on nasty little overhangs topped by the little sloping ledges……..”

This Friday...Steve Dean's Adventures of Wheech. The life and times of one of Scotland's greatest ever all round climbers,Robin Smith,who died all too prematurely almost half a century ago.