Thursday, 22 December 2011

Rainbow's End

I first met Mallory under the twisted crown of Mynydd Mawr. For hours I had inelegantly toiled in the October gloom with Big Dave Williams on Craig Cwm Du…The crag of the black hollow, on the mountain’s saturnine north face, attempting to subdue Archer Thomson’s 1911 classic; Adam Rib.

As the clag swirled around the cliffs’ serrated buttresses, I pondered the final moves up what the guidebook described as…’the exposed and narrow rib’.  With further advice on ‘wobbly holds’, the author assured me that at least I would ‘enjoy’ the exposed finale in a ‘splendid position’.

To emphasise the description, the Climbers Club guidebook editors had included a tempting Kevin Borman photograph taken on a rare clear summer’s day of blue skies showing Terry Gifford and Norman Elliot - T shirted and sun kissed- in exactly that splendid position.However, today the cliff was painted in a spare palette and days of basking on the rock in light apparel were long gone. On this occasion it was more a day for fleeces, gloves and blind faith.

The guidebook which dangled from my waist that day was the 1989 CC guide to Tremadog and Cwm Silyn. A guidebook of some controversy at the time because of it’s cardboard covered, bumper fun book format. Now known to many as The Pink Trem Guide or more appropriately as 'The Pretty Trem Guide' after joint editor Mark Pretty. The Pretty Guide is the one guidebook I can find instantly on my bookshelves on account of its black duck tape spine. Yes...cardboard covers and the north Wales climate…. I sense a design flaw here somewhere!

But I digress; back to that October day…..
Adam Rib was created by that great Edwardian explorer of wild places- James Merriman Archer Thomson, in a year- 1911- which became a golden year of exploration by the leviathans of north Wales climbing. Nonetheless, even a man of Thomson’s immense standing baulked at what lay before him that day in 1911 - the aforementioned ‘exposed and narrow rib’- and sidled off into the grim confines of the disintegrating Eden Gully with his party, leaving George Leigh Mallory to finally lead the forbidding feature in September 1912 with Ralph Todhunter  following on.

Now the pitch is only 4b (US 5.6) technically and I imagine would be a breeze on a pleasant summer’s day but on that cold day in October the atmosphere was decidedly gloomy.
I looked down at my partner ensconced on a tiny saddle of rock twixt the plunging fissures of Eden and East Gullies. In the gloom an occasional Golden Virginia roll up flared between Dave's pursed lips as the clag rolled in leaving the whole cliff with a very Tolkein-esque feel to it. We could have been scaling the very heights of Mordor itself such was the ethereal atmosphere which enveloped us that day.

Needless to say; the murder of crows which wheeled high above the cwm that sombre afternoon did not witness a flashing arc of red screaming into the void. Rather they would have seen a lonely figure who had been fixed to the rock for what seemed an age, finally slithering up the dank rib and hear the faint echo of an oft  repeated refrain of mine…'You know Dave…I thought I was off there!'.

At the top we supped coffee and gathered our thoughts amongst the heathery hollows. It was conceded that old Mallory was a bold bastard  to be sure considering the era he was climbing. The experience though, had ignited a curiosity to look beyond the Everest myth and seek out Mallory, the Welsh activist. A meandering journey which brings me here.

Now, the life and times of George Leigh Mallory have been pored over and analysed in meticulous detail by far more scholarly climbing writers than I. The greater ranges of Europe and the Himalayas lie over the hill and far away as far as I’m concerned.  Instead, the Mallory I seek is to be found in the disintegrating gullies of Cwm Eigeau and the tottering towers of Nantlle. An climbing arena where in the words of Geoffrey Winthrop Young writing in the introduction to Menlove Edwards’ 1939 Climbers Club guide to Lliwedd ;  Mallory had displayed… an audacious agility, a love of hardy camping and asceticism less usual in that period, a personal beauty and mountain enthusiasm which have all combined to invest his climbs with a romantic halo.

North Wales 1907-1910…The Romantic Halo

In 1907, Mallory then aged 21, made his first climbing trip to North Wales, in the company of Geoffrey Keynes -brother of the economist Maynard-and Hugh Wilson. The poet Rupert Brooke was originally pencilled in as one of the team but dropped out for reasons unknown at the eleventh hour. Their destination was the increasing popular Ogwen Valley where they stayed at Gwern Gof  Isaf . Still a well frequented destination for modern climbers who avail themselves of the adjoining camp site.

Armed with nothing but their enthusiasm and with the Abraham Brothers’ Rock Climbing in North Wales as their guide, they tackled most of the contemporary trade routes on nearby Tryfan with further excursions on Lliwedd and over in remote Cwm Eigeau where they climbed The Great Gully and Amphitheatre Buttress .

During this stay, the first of the Mallory myths was born. As the great explorer, Archer Thomson was working on a new line on Lliwedd’s Heather Shelf area, he and his partner came under fire from a salvo of rocks falling from upon high. According to which account you read, this incident was either a trifling irritant to the great man or it had threatened to wipe out the party. Whichever version is true it appears that it was Mallory and friends who had set off the rock fall from their position high on Terminal Arete. Archer’s route that day as most people will have guessed was the classic Avalanche!

The following year Mallory returned with 16 year old brother Trafford with whom he cycled from the family home in Birkenhead to camp by the Afon Llugwy in Capel Curig. During this stay they once again repeated many of the hardest routes of the day and created the second great Mallory/Lliwedd myth.

Whilst climbing on the east face, Mallory supposedly left his pipe on the mountain’s Bowling Green ledge. Legend has it that he returned the next day and ascended a 230’ line of slabby ribs to recover it. The line has become Mallory’s Slab a hardish V Diff which- relatively speaking given the unfashionable haunts he frequented- became one of his most popular routes.

During this fruitful period in the early years of Welsh exploration, George made his first visit to the English Lake District where he was accompanied once again by Hugh Wilson and Geoffrey Keynes. In addition another outstanding Birkenhead based climber, Hugh Porter joined the party. Porter it was who joined Mallory on one of his great Welsh adventures but more of that later…
Staying at the Wastwater Hotel and this time using Rock Climbing  in the English Lake District as their guide, the party led by George tackled The technical test pieces of the day including Kern Knotts Crack, VS  and a classic climb created by yet another talented  Merseysider-Geoffrey Solly’s remarkable 1892 VS route, Eagle’s Nest Ridge.
It was within this period that Mallory established the first of his spare number of Lakeland creations. Mallory’s Right Hand Route and Mallory’s left Hand Route on Gable Crag. The former still graded Very Severe.

The following Easter, Mallory’s emerging talent was recognised by the great Edwardian ringmaster himself, Geoffrey Winthrop Young who invited the newcomer to one of his celebrated Pen y Pass gatherings at the Gorphwysfa Hotel. It was during this stay that he met Wales’s most celebrated, feted explorer and creative force, Archer Thomson. Since the last Victorian decade Thomson had carved out his own inimitable niche in the climbing world through his assiduous exploration of the great cliffs of North Wales. During this stay, Mallory established three first ascents on the remote cliffs of Craig yr Ysfa with GW Young. Birch Tree Chimney, The Slab Climb and The Low Climb and re-climbed his Slab route on Lliwedd which Young thought was one of the hardest things he had yet done on Welsh rock. The die was cast. Mallory’s reputation as a young tiger began to take shape.

Lliwedd saw a second Mallory creation- albeit it by default. Attempting  Thomson’s Great Chimney, Mallory led his partner E Evans up another cleft in the cliff face which became a 750’ HVD,  Wrong Chimney. Another first ascent was made on the Gribin face above Nameless Cwm, The East Face of Gribin .with Irving, Murray and Tynedale. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your perspective, the route has essentially returned to nature.

During this period Mallory and his regular partners were making regular sorties across the channel and seeing some success in repeating the Alpine trade routes. However, it was on a humble Wirral sandstone outcrop that Mallory met his match. Taking flight from a short problem and breaking an ankle in the process. The accident put him out of action for a number of months and saw him miss Winthrop Young’s 1910 Pen y Pass bash. A not unfortunate absence in the circumstances for during this eventful gathering, occasional climbing partner, Donald Robertson was killed in a lead fall on Thomson’s East Gully, on Glyder Fach. It was the first fatality suffered on home soil by Young’s Welsh legion and it struck particularly hard.

1911-15 : Hang out your brightest colours

When George Mallory returned to the fray he entered a period which became his golden age on Welsh and English rock. 1911 was the year in which he established some of his hardest routes. Routes which still have the capacity to intimidate and challenge modern climbers.
Staying with Harold Porter at the Snowdon Ranger in the relatively unfrequented Cwellyn area of Snowdonia. Mallory set his sites on exploring the cliffs of Llechog and the Nantlle Valley. In a glorious September campaign he and Porter looked at the Central Buttress of Y Garn which had defeated the great Thomson himself and saw the outstanding Swiss climber, Anton Stoop die in a subsequent attempt when a flake he was pulling over broke away from the cliff. By this stage, the Central Buttress had developed a fearsome reputation which had  repelled even those leading lights of the day. The completed route was subsequently left out of Carr’s 1926 Climber Club guidebook as too dangerous to justify inclusion.

After a very futuristic pre inspection of the crux pitch from above by Mallory, it was in fact Harold Porter who led the crux of the climb which ironically is now known as Mallory’s Ridge rather than perhaps more deservedly Porter’s Ridge ? During their stay at the Snowdon Ranger, the same pair established the equally bold Eastern Gutter and  the less demanding Trinity Buttress B  on Llechog  and opened up Cwm Silyn by establishing the areas’ first ever route. Four Pitch Gully on Clogwyn Cysgod. Finally, in 1911, Mallory climbed a direct 4c finish to Lliwedd’s Far East Cracks.  It had been a fine return to form after the accident .

As an example of Mallory’s rather lackadaisical approach to new route recording, Eastern Gutter only received a second ascent in 1980 when it was re discovered by Hugh Banner and Mike Yates. On the same cliff, Trinity Buttress B had been lost until 1938 when Barber, Piggott and Scolari made their own second ascent. In fact, the Banner/Yates team believed that their 1980 ascent of Mallory’s Ridge was a second ascent. However, the true second ascent took place in September 1949 by E Dance, W Gordon and G Eglington.

Interestingly, this period in Mallory’s climbing career came under scrutiny by two modern climbing writers, Martin Crook and Duncan Lee and recorded in two very similar articles published in High in 1999 and 2003 respectively. The discovery of Mallory’s body on Everest in 1999 inspired Martin Crook to re-climb many of his hardest routes including Mallory’s Ridge and Eastern Gutter. An experience recountered in an article simply entitled George Mallory. (High Dec 1999)
In 2003 Duncan Lee had been inspired to take on the same task when he was contacted by American climber Andy Politz. Andy had been one of the Eric Simonsen’s   Mallory and Irvine Research Team  which had made the momentous discovery of Mallory’s mortal remains on Everest that same year. Politz was keen to test himself upon the Everest hero’s hardest routes of the day in an effort to ascertain just how good a climber Mallory was and if he could indeed have climbed Everest’s infamous Second Step ?  High published the Lee/Politz article as George Mallory, Master Cragsman ? (High March 2003)

Not surprisingly, both teams’ investigations produced identical responses. Mallory- it was conceded- was truly an outstanding climber who was climbing at the cutting edge of technical expertise in his day. Perhaps more surprising was the fact that both teams found Llechog’s Eastern Gutter, now VS-4c, to be his hardest climb. A climb that Martin Crook believes is worth two stars in a contemporary guidebook

Another late summer stay at The Snowdon Ranger with Ralph Todhunter in 1912 delivered a couple of routes on the aforementioned dark cliffs of Craig Cwm Du. Two mountaineering severes -  Pis Aller Rib and Yellow Rib fell on the same day with the direct finish to Adam Rib. Sadly, Mallory’s increasingly infrequent visits to his old Welsh haunts were to be overshadowed by the tragic death of North Wales’s leading creative force, Archer Thomson. Since Mallory was exiled down south since gaining a teaching post at Charterhouse, he had followed Thomson’s lead. Exploring the cliffs that the locally based headmaster had opened up and developed. Certainly areas which had in effect become Thomson’s personal fiefdom offered great potential for further development by activists such as Mallory .

The author on the first pitch of Mallory's Ridge: Al Leary

Before Thomson’s death both he and GW Young had been planning what would have been the third Climbers Club guidebook to include the outlying cliffs in the hinterlands to the west designated The Beddgelert District. Essentially this would have recorded the developments in the new areas such as Llechog and Nantlle and with the addition of those established areas covered in Thomson’s previous guidebooks, given contemporary climbers a much greater perspective of the richness and diversity which Welsh climbing now offered .
After Thomson’s death the baton passed on to Mallory who with Ralph Todhunter planned to complete the work. Sadly, the war years took their toll on both activists and the guidebook they planned was never completed. It would be left to Herbert Carr to take it on and see it through to completion in 1926.

On the eve of the First World War, Mallory’s creative fire on Welsh rock was diminishing although it would periodically flare in the proceeding years. Trinity Buttress C, a  severe on Llechog was climbed in 1913  with Todhunter, Percy and Keynes. It would be the last climb for a number of years in this quiet land in the west which unfolds to the sea.  This in fact became another of Mallory’s lost routes. Re-discovered by Barber, Piggott and Jenkins in 1938.
However; one remarkable Mallory achievement stands out in this period. A hundred and fifty miles to the north, an excursion to the Lake District produced a route of magnificent mystery which as with so many GLM routes had totally disappeared off the guidebook writers’ radar. An ascent of Pillar Rock in 1913 with Charterhouse schoolboy Alan Goodfellow, had produced a line which Mallory had recorded in the Wasdale Head’s visitors book as North-West by West climb. A later description appeared in The Climber’s Club Bulletin No 9 of October 1913 and the CC’s 1914 Journal (Volume 3).

Ninety years would pass before it would re surface after Mike Cocker of the Fell and Rock Club had re-discovered it in the Wasdale log which,-as it was probably recorded on the day of the ascent- was much more detailed than the later cryptic Climbers’ Club record.  Certainly the great Lakeland pioneer Harry Kelly had been aware of the route but had failed to identify it from either description whilst exploring the cliff for the first Pillar guidebook in 1919.

It would be a remarkable 92 years before the second ascent was recorded by Lakeland activist and Fell and Rock guidebook writer Stephen Reid who- while working on the Pillar Rock guidebook- finally re-climbed the route in May  2005 with Chris King. Stephen was armed with both the Wasdale Head and the Climber’s Club descriptions and pin pointed a route now known as North-west by West (Mallory’s Route) and carrying an HVS-5a grading. Certainly one of the hardest routes in the district at the time and with Central Buttress (Mallory’s Ridge) and Eastern Gutter in Wales, one of the hardest routes in the UK at the time.A fine ending to this chapter in Mallory’s career.

Two years would pass before he would make his mark on the cliffs of Wales again. A couple of new  routes, Three Pinnacle Face on Lliwedd and the minor classic, Black Gates high above Llanberis Pass on Clogwyn y Ddysgl, were climbed with Conor o Brian and Herbert Reade. It would be another four years before Mallory would carve out another first ascent on the Welsh cliffs.

Farewell to Arms: 1916-1919

During the war years, George had take up a commission as a second lieutenant in the Artillery and had left behind the halcyon years of family life and mountain adventures. On the Western Front his old climbing injury flared up again. The fractured ankle had never been properly diagnosed and he found himself in increasing pain. Eventually he was discharged to the Officer’s Hospital in London for the ankle to be re set and a period of convalescence followed.
With growing confidence in the healing limb, Mallory took a trip to the Isle of Arran and took great pleasure in just wandering amongst the mountains of that fair island. However, the ankle injury meant that his return to the front was continually delayed and he was deployed on home soil until finally he was declared fit for duty in 1917.

The army however decided to keep him in blighty for the time being where he attended a battery commander course at Lydd. As the war wound down inexorably to it’s denouement, he used a period of leave to discover the delights of Skye with wife Ruth and accompanied by David Pye and Leslie Shadbolt. The latter a former Pen y Pass habitué who had climbed on Skye with Archer Thomson. After repeating several classics, George and Shadbolt climbed a 1000’ line on  Sron na Ciche now known as Cioch West. The following day they established a new route on the cliff, now known as Mallory’s Slab and Groove and graded severe. Sadly, George and Ruth had come to the end of their sojourn in the north and departed south leaving Pye and Shadbolt to establish the classic Crack of Doom a few days later.
After nearly a year and a half on home soil, Mallory was sent back to the front as the war exploded in its ferocious end game.

Dancing with Ghosts..1919

When Geoffrey Winthrop Young revived the Pen y Pass meet tradition in the Easter of 1919 it was a sombre affair. Of  the sixty climbers who had gathered in 1914, twenty three had died on the battlefields of Europe and 11 including Young himself had been injured. Those like Mallory, who had survived the war physically intact but emotionally scarred  wandered out of Gorphwysfa to reacquaint themselves with familiar old friends. The raven haunted cliffs of Lliwedd, Llanberis and Ogwen. Once again the hills echoed with the sounds of climbers. However, unlike those carefree pre war years during the birth of the new century, those who now set their face to the cliff looked into its darkest recesses.

The old routes were climbed and the old tales were told but it was to be Mallory’s true swansong on the north Wales cliffs. Two VS routes, Bowling Green Buttress  and The Garter Traverse were created on Lliwedd but in effect it was the end of the affair on home soil.
From here on in, Mallory would find himself occupied with loftier affairs. The Alps and Everest beckoned. Apart from the occasional visit to his old haunts, innocent days spent exploring the quiet cliffs of North Wales and Cumbria had come to a natural conclusion.

Under a blood red sky

When this article was first mooted, I immediately fell upon the idea of filling in one of the gaps in my Welsh climbing career. Back to The Pretty Guide.
On days when rain swept Tremadog’s verdant cliffs free of climbers, sodden teams retreated to Eric Jones’s café and jostled for table space.  Patched elbows wiping an arc of vision from windows dripping with condensation. No chance of a route today…not even Boo-Boo! Amongst the sugar grains and tobacco ash, The Pretty Guide was idly thumbed. Routes assessed and appraised, suggestions garnered and finally, eyes fell upon -The graded list of climbs in order of difficulty- which the editor advised had been -brought back to entertain and infuriate! Actually; I  believe the1989 Climbers Club Guide to Tremadog and Cwm Silyn was the last CC guidebook to include a graded list of difficulty but don’t quote me on that? 

* (Since revived in the current crop of CC guidebooks)

As humble punters, our interests mainly lay in those climbs in the sub-extreme category, more especially the VS section. Tracing a rising line up the grimy page….there’s Yogi…. Nice little climb- at the bottom….passing through such classics as Laverado, Shadrach, Merlin…moving on from the lower reaches into the mid table. Oxine…Olympic Slab…Grim Wall…the magnificent Kirkus Route in Cwm Silyn. Ever upwards passing Bonington and Brasher’s brutal Double Criss in the Moelwyns and Joe Brown’s  Striptease to arrive at Mallory’s Ridge.
And there you have it ; Top of the pile and officially the hardest VS climb in the district!  A route which we were told- had acquired a notorious reputation for difficulty and looseness. The fourth pitch, the author reminded us, had- seen off some notable climbers in less than perfect conditions !

And so it was. For twenty years the route had been simmering on my back burner. Waiting for an unlikely ascent.

As emails bounced across cyberspace between Mike Bailey and myself, I kindly informed  Mike who was working on his own piece for this journal, that he was being recruited for a long awaited ascent of Mallory’s Ridge. One problem. The summer of 2008 in North Wales had been…in a word…dire !. Since Mid July, the rain had swept in giving relatively few dry days. As it was now September and with no let up in the monsoon conditions an ascent was looking highly unlikely until-lo and behold- a warm sunny snap arrived right on Q.

Grabbing the opportunity with both hands I arranged to meet Mike at the Rhyd Ddu car park next to the new Welsh Highland Railway track. As the sun beat down and temperatures soared towards the 80’s I liberated the sun tan cream from the glove compartment and pondered the wisdom of carrying a waterproof up to the cliff ?
Finally Mike arrived accompanied by photographer Al Leary who apart from his contributions to previous Welsh guidebooks had actually climbed the route. In fact he was the only person I had ever met who had set foot on Mallory’s Ridge and now a second ascent beckoned. Surely some sort of record !

As we zig-zagged into the long shadows which fell from the mountains gaunt buttresses we passed by Thomson’s Eastern Arete which I had climbed 15 years before.  Finally to arrive sweating and panting into the cooling confines of the little amphitheatre which separated Eastern Arete from the intimidating stark edifice of Central Buttress.From the base of the cliff I felt somewhat intimidated by those beetling overhangs and sharply defined ribs and grooves which hung over us like the ramparts of a medieval castle. It looked huge from below and without any obvious easier lines through the steeper sections ?

After a well earned brew and some quiet contemplation, the little cwm finally echoed to the sound of jangling ironmongery, murmured instructions and I was off, leading the first pitch. I moved up the steep but straightforward ribs at the base of the route to meet the arête line proper. A few more moves up the clean arête and I had reached the first stance. Something was wrong though ? Where were the signs of a climbers passage…the trodden turf and heather. A stub of cigarette or a peel of  insulation tape. A sprinkling of chalk maybe. Nothing…not even the rusting shaft of an old peg ???

To all intents and purposes, the climb was in a totally virginal state. A classic VS climb which had held so many in awe of its status. Surely it would draw the occasional curious mountaineer or the odd ticker of classic VS routes ? Notwithstanding its lack of traffic, at least we could reprise the conditions that Mallory and Porter would have encountered on that first ascent, exactly 97 years ago to the month .

Mike led off around the corner and was pretty soon causing severe neck strain as I peered up to follow his progress up what turned out to be a superb groove which ran up the left edge of a steep slab before darting under an overhang and delivering him to a decent stance.
From here Al took over and after climbing a scruffy slab moved out onto a clean rib which in keeping with the serpentine line we had followed so far, wound into a steep groove which required some old fashioned bridging and back and footing to subdue. Now came the crux. The pitch- which has seen off some notable climbers. Enough said..Mike…your lead !

Welsh climber and guidebook author Mike Bailey on the crux of Mallory's Ridge

The actual crux line looked nothing like what I imagined. For some reason I had pictured the bold leader traversing across steep ground then fighting up some awful off width crack. In the event it did indeed traverse across a steep slab face. However, the slab was broken up with hanging grooves and ribs and the pitch was more a technically delicate dance upon high than a thug fest. As always, Mike climbed the pitch beautifully followed by Al who after breaching the steep groove at the crux moved left into a subsidiary groove continuing to the top. For myself, I just  went straight up after the delicate traverse. Following a suspiciously clean line of edges which looked as if they had been peeled clean of vegetation?

The final two pitches- run together- were led by myself.  Pulling around into a steep groove, I had to at one stage pull up and stand on a loose flake which, if I had been so inclined, I could have removed and stuffed it into my rucksack as a souvenir! Above the flake everything I hammered or pulled on either rocked or felt hollow. No point in fixing gear. At least the standard had dropped to no more than V Diff. Remarkably, Mallory’s Ridge finishes slap bang on the 2500’ summit of Y Garn. I could have cleared my throat of heather dust and lichen spores and placed a direct hit on the summit cairn!

It was now after six on this late summer’s day. To the north the Angelsey coast rose to meet the faint smear of Holyhead mountain in the distance. As Al took shots on his Nikon, I drank in the Nantlle Ridge winding and swooping down to the western fringes. Meeting, en-route, the newly designated mountain peak of Mynydd Graig Goch which only that week had graced the national newspapers on account of its promotion from mere hill to mountain. New mountain discovered in Wales!
The vast cwm beneath Trum y Ddysgl melted into shadows and to the north Yr Wyddfa sported it’s latest carbuncle on the face of a much loved friend. The new as yet unfinished multi million pound café which from here looked more like an Aldi supermarket !

Never mind….it was a beautiful late summers day and I had finally followed in Mallory and Porter’s wake. Ninety seven years down the line, I imagined the first ascentionists stepping out of the shadows and onto Y Garn’s bald summit and wondered if like us, it was late in the day and would the weather have been so kind ?

I imagined their satisfaction and brimming conversation as they wound their way down the pathless flank of the mountain, heading for The Snowdon Ranger and the welcoming whisper of smoke curling from its chimney. Warm baths, warm beer and the sleep of the righteous would be their reward.

In the mid seventies, just after publication of his 1971 Lliwedd  guidebook, Harold Drasdo was asked by Chris Briggs, mine host at the Pen y Gwyrd , if he would take a young American who was staying at the inn climbing with him. One of the routes they did that day was Mallory’s Slab. The young American was George Millikan who later offered his thanks and declared that it had been one of the best mountaineering days of his life.
George Millikan, unknown to Harold at the time was Mallory’s grandson. Son of Clare Mallory and Glenn Millikan who sadly like his great father in law also died in a climbing accident Albeit in a Tennessee gorge rather than on a Himalayan peak.

I imagined young George like his grandfather after a day on the hill. Looking into the quiet fire that smoldered in the blackened grate of the Welsh mountain inn and reflecting on his experiences that day. Perhaps finally divining the essential essence of that mythical figure with whom he shared a bloodline and feeling within, an affinity cast in stone which stretched across time and was rooted in those brooding heights across the valley.

So he had been salvaged and washed.
His muscles very white -marble white.
He had been heavily killed. 

But we had revived him. 

Ted Hughes: Dust as we are

 References and further reading

The Wildest Dream….Peter & Leni Gillman
The mystery of Mallory and Irvine…Tom Holzel & Audrey Salkeld
Ghosts on Everest…Jochen Hemmleb, Larry Johnson, Eric Simonson
High 205…High 243
Tremadog & Cwm Silyn…Pretty, Farrant & Milburn (CC)
Lliwedd…H Drasdo (CC)
Climbing in Snowdonia & the Beddgelert District…Herbert Carr (CC)
New Selected poems 1957-1994…Ted Hughes

John Appleby: First published in The Climber's Club Guidebook Centenary Journal.