Tuesday, 3 January 2012

This week:Tony Moulam on the loneliness of the long distance guidebook writer

A youthful Ian McNaught Davies on Castle Rock in the Lake District: Tony Moulam

" I said my farewells to Robin and set off on my bike into the night and on to Tyn y Weirglodd, where I was to have an interlude, again instructing scouts. We had a good week, attaining quite a high standard, with the best routes achieved being Angel Pavement and Adam Rib, besides Deep Chimney on the Far West Buttress of Cloggy.
I returned to Pen y Gwryd, intending to continue with the field work for my guide. However at dinner that night Chris Briggs introduced me to a Mrs Fearon, whose 17 year old daughter had been bitten by the climbing bug. Chris had recommended me as a careful and conscientious climber to whom she could safely be entrusted. Jane was tall, slim and very eager to start. Even the boring walk over to Craig yr Ysfa didn't deter her and on our first day, whilst ensuring she got the easier pitches, we led through on Amphitheatre Buttress. Amphitheatre Rib and Beaumont's Chimney followed, whilst the sun shone benignly down. For the rest of her holiday we were joined by Peter Snell and Keith Ingold, and thus reinforced, we did a new route on Black Ladders. Jane's red setter pup had accompanied us to the top of the cliff, and obediently stayed there as vie scrambled off down the gully. When we returned from the depths he greeted his mistress ecstatically and we named the climb after him, in tribute to his patience. Jane had to go home with her mother after this but the weather continued fine so that the guidebook work did too. Various gap filling new routes were made with Peter Snell, Brian Blake and Adrian Horridge and then, for a sort of holiday, I teamed up with Arthur Dolphin for the Milestone Superdirect, including the Final Block. This fine top pitch had had very few ascents since Menlove Edwards first led it in 1941. The intimidating crack actually proved to be quite easy, it was the approach diagonally up the slightly leaning wall on very small and flaky holds that proved to be the crux.'

Later this week; veteran climber Tony Moulam recalls his experiences after the war when many areas of North Wales remained virgin territory and great routes...such as his own classic, Mur y Niwl..remained as unclimbed lines traced on a photograph. An extensive and fascinating feature illustrated with contemporary photographs taken by the author and previously unpublished.