Wednesday 27 January 2021

Remembering Slingsby

William Cecil Slingsby’s book, Norway the Northern Playground, was first published in 1904. It is a tale of exploration, adventure and the exuberant joy of high endeavour. It was one of my earliest inspirations and I still have my 7/6d (37pence) 1941 edition. Born in 1849, he visited the country over twenty times between 1872 and 1921 and is considered the ‘Father of Norwegian mountaineering’. It was said of him: “There are two patron saints of Norway – St Olaf and Cecil Slingsby.”

Climbing in the early 1950s, when I began, was far more esoteric than it is today. It was rare to meet anyone who knew anything about it. In the northern Peak District where I grew up, scrambling in my pre-teens on what were then famous gritstone cliffs such as Laddow and Dovestones, I only glimpsed ‘real’ climbers a couple of times though never actually met them. For me, books like this were an introduction, temptation and escape to the climbing world. I read them avidly and dreamed of exploring wild mountains.

Slingsby and other early pioneers opened my eyes to the climbing world. Winthrop Young, another world class mountaineer of that period, comments in his Biographical Notice to Slingsby’s book about “the all consuming zest for adventure in high places which was at the core of Slingsby’s life”, saying, “his business instincts were not a little jeopardised by his picaresque sympathy for schemes and enterprises with names suggestive of forest and cañon and mountain fastness and far, sun-tinted lands and places”. Exactly!

Walt Unsworth observed, “[Slingsby] spent a dozen short "seasons" in the Alps, and [was] the first to climb several formidable peaks… He climbed with friends, but without guides - an almost unheard of thing in those early days”. On Slingsby’s passion for Norway, Walt wrote, “Time and again he made the journey across the North Sea, pushing his way over remote glaciers and wild valleys to forgotten hamlets and farms; exploring, climbing, making friends wherever he went. On these journeys his guide would be a local farmer.” In fact, although he also made some first ascents in England, Norway’s mountains were Slingsby’s consuming passion. On his first visit, he saw the Hurrungane Massif in the Jotunheim, later writing, “I shall never, as long as I live, forget my first view of Skagastølstind, the grandest European mountain north of the Alps. Our guide told us that it was the highest mountain in Norway, that it had not yet been ascended, and that no doubt this was impracticable. Can it be wondered that I determined, if possible to make the first ascent?”.

His routes were made by preference with local mountain people. They will be found from Lyngen in the far north on peaks with “wild beauty and eerie forms” but plagued by “the musical mosquito and the bloodthirsty klegg”, all the way down to the Jotunheim, “the finest mountains in Scandinavia”, to which much of his book is dedicated, and south again to the ice cap and mountains above Hardangerfjord. He writes about this golden age of pioneering and often bold mountain exploration with the same attention to detail and happy, unassuming style in which he made his climbs, both benefiting from the same joie de vivre.

It is hardly surprising therefore, that Norway was to be my own first experience of real mountain exploration. We set out in the summer of 1962, armed with the Northern Playground and some thin but inspirational paperback guides to Rock Climbs in Norway written in 1953 by Per Prag. They were sprinkled with Slingsby’s first ascents and tantalising references to unclimbed walls. The Arctic islands of Lofoten were our destination. Slingsby had climbed there in 1903 and 1904 making first ascents, often with Norman Collie, of peaks that variously “rise precipitously out of the ocean”, “resemble the Drus” or have “climbing of the very best Chamonix aiguille type”.

Like Slingsby, we had a great time, climbing two or three known routes and adding numerous climbs of our own. It was wild and remote. The weather was at times either glorious or foul. Almost penniless from the start, we eventually ran completely out of money despite the hospitality of fishermen and farmers who displayed, as they did to Slingsby, “the kindness and gentle attentions … of a race that we are nearer akin than to any other in Europe”. The die was cast. With the aid of Slingsby, mountains became a lifelong obsession.

Hitching south, we passed through the magnificent Romsdal valley, tempted there by Slingsby’s tales of “good sport” on its many peaks, and also by curiosity about Trollveggen, the Troll Wall, which was then Europe’s greatest unclimbed rock wall. Though partially rain shrouded, this awesome vision gnawed at us for three more years until, in 1965, we climbed it. Slingsby’s eye, however, was drawn to the classic alpine peaks above and beyond the other side of the valley where the partially concealed ridge of Vengetind was an irresistible attraction. He made the first ascent of both its summits with Patchell in 1881, saying “the scenery is too grand to describe”.


Standing guard at the head of Vengedalen and looming high above Romsdal, the great truncated tower of the Romsdalshorn dominates the view. Slingsby climbed it in 1884 with his wife Alizon, the first woman to reach the top, commenting “The mountain is more difficult than the Matterhorn when in good condition”. They returned in the following year with Bowen for the first ascent of the neighbouring fang of Kvandalstind which he described rather enthusiastically as “the steepest mountain in Europe”.  It was also a peak I was keen to climb, rising between two glaciers with the dramatic pinnacle of Torshammer standing between it and its grander neighbour, Vengetind. Slingsby who discovered it in 1875 had named it Thors Hammer, quoting from Olav Trigvasson’s Saga:    

“I am the God Thor,
 I am the War God,
 I am the thunderer!
 Here in my Northland,
 My fastness and fortress,
 Reign I forever!” 

Together they present as alpine a scene as it gets in Romsdal. It was good to ascend the glacier in their footsteps to reach the foot of Slingsby’s North Ridge, but I have to admit we were tempted away to explore its unclimbed six hundred metre North East Face which turned out to be both easy and enjoyable. Part way up we climbed a small pinnacle sticking out above the Miolnir Glacier, naming it Hrungnir after the giant killed by Thor with his fearsome hammer Miolnir. The final steep wall to Kvandalstind’s summit was the crux, which is as it should be, keeping the conclusion in doubt to the end, but at 3+ the route was only around V Diff which left us with plenty of time to climb Torshammer.

Still in alpine mode and tempted by our close view of the jagged Vengetind ridge, another top we hadn’t climbed and the highest in Romsdal at 1852m, it wasn’t long before four us decided on a three day trip from Åndalsnes, making a circuit of the hanging valley of Vengedal by following the ridge straight from town to the Romsdalshorn, over that and the smaller Lille Romsdalshorn, round the head of the valley to Kvandalstind and Torshammer, then along the impressive Vengetind ridge and back down to the fjord. It sounded like fun, and was. We left late one morning and bivouacked near the col under Romsdalshorn. It was a beautiful evening with great views of our cirque, the Troll Wall and the Kongen massif, whilst a long grey finger of cloud drifted up Vengedal and settled beneath us giving us some cause for concern. 

Waking early, the morning was fine and we romped up Romsdalshorn’s classic North Ridge to its flat topped summit then down by abseil to the gap between it and the smaller Lille Romsdalshorn which we then climbed before descending again to the col at the head of Vengedal. Then easily over to Kvandalstind and Torshammer where we bivied again. On our third day the weather was looking doubtful but Vengetind’s jagged South Ridge looked far too good to miss, traversing above a glacier over two smaller tops beyond which, with the weather worsening, we chose the easy but exposed Gallery Route to the cloud-capped summit. By now it was snowing and we were greeted by thunder and lightning, our axes and metal gear buzzing alarmingly. It was no place to linger in an electric storm so we quickly negotiated our way down through the white-out and falling snow until we felt confident enough to glissade blindly down in the general direction of Vengedal. Once beneath the clouds we walked down to the fjord and hitched back to town after a wonderful mountain trip. 

But back to Slingsby! When in Romsdal, he stayed at Aak, an idyllic small farm and hotel used by climbers since the1860s and still a popular hotel today. His route descriptions can be found in the guest book. We stayed there twice in the1990s, enjoying the company of old friends and familiar mountains before returning south, past another haunt of Slingsby’s, the delightful Hotel Union at Øye in Sunnmøre. There, he and others including Raeburn and Patchell, climbed peaks like Slogen, which he called “Norway's prettiest peak" with, according to his entry in the hotel guest book, “the proudest view in Europe”. He was also active in Nordmøre, where he attempted “the fearsome-looking” 3,500 feet Furuveita Ghyll in 1906, only to be halted by a waterfall near the top of “the grandest ghyll it has ever been my good fortune to enter”. He found the neighbouring alpine peaks rather more attractive, writing, “there is an air of mystery and romance about Vinnufjell and its great snowfields”. Unsurprisingly, Slingsby made the first ascent, climbing it by two different routes, just four days apart in July 1906.

I have not yet had time to explore these peaks, nor those of Europe’s great ice cap, Jostedalsbraen, whose “snow solitudes, glaciers and ice-fields were a joy” to Slingsby. To their east is the great Jotunheim Massif “Home of the Giants” and beneath is Turtagrø Hotel, still one of Norway’s pre-eminent centres for mountaineering. Slingsby spent many happy days there and mementoes remain though tragically, the old hotel burnt down in 2001. “What a jolly time we spent at Turtagrø!” he wrote. “Is it heresy to say that the ‘off days’ picnicking were as enjoyable as the days spent on the mountains?”  Here are the most alpine peaks in Norway. In the distance is Galdhøppigen at 2469m, Norway’s highest though Glittertind is a close second. I have climbed both, which, in fair weather, are nothing more than enjoyable snow and glacier routes compared with Slingsby’s favourites, the Hurrungane Group, “with great glaciers and dramatic peaks, none more so than Skagastølstind”.

For me, this alpine spire has remained elusive but Slingsby considered it “Norway’s crowning glory”, epitomising, like the Matterhorn, all that is most appealing about mountain architecture. He made its first ascent in July 1876, four years after first seeing it and two years after making the first traverse of the range, to get better acquainted with his ultimate objective. This traverse was itself considered of great significance to Norwegian mountaineering, crossing the only region of the Jotunheim still unexplored. When he finally succeeded on the mountain itself, he climbed the last five hundred feet alone, leaving his companions over-awed at the head of the glacier, asking him “Should we declare it inaccessible?”. Its north summit is still named Slingsby’s Fortopp in his honour. The 1953 guidebook says “The ascent made climbing history in Norway … it is still a first rate climb with a splendid variety of ice and rock”.

 I continue to be tempted back to Slingsby’s ‘Northern Playground’ whenever opportunity permits, and trust his book will still give others equal inspiration.


Books: Norway the Northern Playground, William Cecil Slingsby, 1904 and 1941.The 2003 edition was published by Ripping Yarns, with an introduction by Tony on which this article is based.
Tony is also author of Troll Wall

Quest into the Unknown also climbing and/or trekking guides to the Peak District, Norway, Palestine and Jordan.

Norway the Northern Playground, William Cecil Slingsby, 1904 and 1941.The 2003 edition was published by Ripping Yarns, with a useful Appendix to Mountaineering in Norway Today by Dave Durkan and an introduction by Tony on which this article is based.
Norway Images all supplied by the author.
Top..L to R: Vengetind and its south ridge, Kalskratind and Romsdalshorn> Photo Øyvind Heen.

Middle..Kvandalstind with its north ridge below.Photo Kyrre Østbø 

Bottom..Kvandalstind and Torshammer. Photo TH.

© Tony Howard 21 Jan 2021.


Tuesday 19 January 2021

A Dark Shadow Falls : The Tragic Hopkinson Family.


DURING the second half of the last century British mountaineering boasted several remarkable families whose exploits have gone down in history. The Walkers, the Matthews, the Pilkingtons—these, and others less well known, helped to found the sport in Britain and the Alps. Of all these families, none has a more remarkable story than the five Hopkinson brothers from Manchester. Their father was a mill mechanic who by hard work and flair rose to become Mayor of his city and an Alderman. Their mother was one of the Yorkshire Dewhursts, related to the Slingsbys and Tribes, and mountain walking was a long tradition on both sides. The young Hopkinsons grew up with an intimate knowledge of the Yorkshire dales and the Lakeland fells. Often they were accompanied by their cousins, W. C. Slingsby and W. N. Tribe, so it is little wonder that they soon became involved in the new sport of rock-climbing.

The eldest of the five was John (1849-98) then came Alfred (1851-1939), Charles (1854-1920), Edward (1859-1921), and Albert (1863-1949). Perhaps because he was the eldest, perhaps because he was a genius, John was always looked up to by the others; but in fact each and every one of this remarkable family was talented in the extreme. Quite apart from their climbing, it is worth while to glance at their careers so as to appreciate more fully the intellectual stature of these men. John was a consulting engineer with a brilliant academic career—Senior Wrangler at Cambridge, Doctor of Science of London, Fellow of the Royal Society, twice President of the Institute of Electrical Engineers. He was one of the founders of modern electrical engineering, perhaps best known to the public as the man who built Liverpool's famous tram system. Charles and Edward were also engineers and often worked with their brother. Edward it was who first introduced London to underground electric trains in 1890; the start of the modern tube system.

The other two brothers broke with the family tradition of engineering but both reached the top in their chosen professions. Sir Charles Hopkinson was lawyer, M.P., and Vice Chancellor of Manchester University. When he was elected Treasurer of Lincoln's Inn he had to adopt a crest and motto, so he consulted his other brothers as to what the motto should be. It is significant that they chose "Who shall separate us?" Youngest of all was Albert, who took medicine as his profession. He became a leading Manchester surgeon and eventually lecturer in Anatomy at Cambridge, because, he said, "Cambridge found it could not do without a Hopkinson"—a reference to the close ties the family had with the university. Details about the early climbs of the Hopkinsons are not easy to find, but they certainly descended the East Face of Tryfan in 1882, which is four years before Haskett Smith climbed the Napes Needle. However, their interest turned to the Alps, where, among other climbs, they made new routes on the Unterbachhorn and in the Fiisshorner. Their first major contribution to British rock-climbing came in 1887 when, in the September of that year, Charles, Edward and Albert Hopkinson, with W. N. Tribe, attempted to descend the steep face of Scafell Pinnacle. 

They were stopped at a point about 250ft. from the screes, at a narrow ledge. At this point Edward Hopkinson erected a pile of stones. Hopkinsons' Cairn acted as a magnet to all the best climbers of the day. Attempt after attempt was made to reach the tantalising pile of stones from below. Charles himself led the first attempt in December of the same year but failed about 150ft. up, due to ice. In 1903 an attempt to reach the cairn caused the death of three climbers—the first major climbing accident in Britain. * The problem was not solved until 1912, when the incomparable Herford, climbing in stockinged feet, ran out 130ft. of rope on the crucial pitch. The Hopkinsons found an easier way to the top. By climbing Deep Ghyll they gained a wide rift which they called Professor's Chimney in honour of John. In 1888 a famous party attacked Scafell by way of Steep Ghyll. The leader was W. C. Slingsby and with him were Edward Hopkinson, W. P. Haskett Smith, and Geoffrey Hastings. At the foot of the great pitch of the gully they turned out onto the face and Slingsby, running out 110ft. of rope, climbed the chimney which now bears his name and which was to become one of the most popular climbs in the Lake District.

That same year Hastings led Great Gully on Dow Crag and Edward Hopkinson was with him once again. The gaunt buttresses of Dow must have appealed to him, for a few months later he returned with his brothers when they climbed the gully again, this time leading the first and most severe pitch direct. There is little doubt that the Hopkinsons must have put up many new climbs which went unrecorded and it is a fair criticism of them that they failed to appreciate the part they were playing in the formation of a new sport. In fact, their greatest 'discovery' was not recorded for three years; the northern face of Ben Nevis. In 1895, however, they reluctantly published a small paragraph in The Alpine Journal mentioning the fact that in 1892 they had enjoyed some interesting scrambles on the mountain. In fact, they had made the first ascent of the North East Buttress (though it is not known by what route) and the first descent of Tower Ridge. They had tried to climb Tower Ridge but were stopped by the Great Tower. There can be little doubt that it was the enthusiastic reports of the Hopkinsons to their climbing friends that led Norman Collie to make his visit in 1894, the start of real rock-climbing on the Scottish mainland. In 1895 the brothers revisited Dow Crag where they made the two climbs by which they are best known today. Edward and John, with a climber named Campbell made the first ascent of Intermediate Gully; a very strenuous and severe climb and on the same day Charles was leading Hopkinson's Crack, a tour de force which still ranks as one of the hardest severes in the district. 

The Haunted Mountain: The Petite Dent de Veisivi where tragedy struck the family.

But in 1898 an overwhelming tragedy struck this brilliant family. The summer of that year saw John Hopkinson, with his wife, four sons and two daughters staying at Arolla in Switzerland. They did a number of the popular climbs, guideless, including the difficult Arolla face of the Za. On August 27th, the father, together with his son Jack, aged 18, and his two daughters aged 23 aid 19 set out to traverse the Petit Dent de Veisivi. When they did not return that evening a search party was organised and the next morning their bodies were discovered below the south face of the mountain. They had obviously fallen from a point near the top, but whether from a slip or through falling stones, it was impossible to tell. It remains to this day one of the most poignant of Alpine tragedies. The remaining four brothers rushed out at once to the scene of the disaster, but nothing they could do could lessen their grief. John, their favourite, was gone. They never climbed again. So ends the story of the brilliant Hopkinsons, and yet there is a pathetic little footnote—both of John's remaining two sons were killed in the Great War. 

* The Scafell Tragedy


Walt Unsworth: First published in Climber-February 1966 


Monday 4 January 2021

Saved by the Burn

It wasn't until the wind blew the two of us off-balance that we realised its strength. Until we actually cannoned into each other near the summit cairn of Gars Bheinn I had persuaded myself that it wasn't too bad. It was tearing shrilly across the exposed ridge, as bitter and as numbing as a dental anaesthetic. It seemed certain our long-awaited traverse of the Skye Ridge would end in an untimely retreat. But, as so often happens with climbers from south of the border arriving in Scotland bent only on the routes of their dreams, we were then lulled by an improvement in the weather. The wind dropped, and though the weather remained oppressive with low cloud hiding the highest peaks, the rock was dry and the weather report had not been altogether bad. "Let's give it a go," I said to James and he agreed. Scots climbers, knowing they could return more easily some other time might well have been more inclined to call it a day and drop back down the screen up which we'd so recently toiled. The Cuillin Ridge had been our objective for 12 months. That compelling skyline traverse of peak after lofty peak — ten of them over 3000 feet and encompassing in its crude six-mile horseshoe a total height of 10,000ft to climb — had chivvied our subconscious brain cells until we just had to complete its course. For me it would be the second time, having traversed the ridge in 1958 with Todmorden's Silver Fox, the evergreen John Wilkinson. Then it had taken us an incredible ten hours, incredible because of the day — lambent skies, two eagles soaring above and rain-starved gabbro. But we had somewhat marred our otherwise perfect day by ending up on Sgurr nan Gillean. With our camp site back in Glen Brittle, the resulting yomp by way of the Am Mhain Pass in darkness is as memorable as the ridge, but in just the opposite way. 

Though discounting any contact with Am Mhain on my second attempt, I had learned the hard way of what was in store in terms of the energy and persistence required for the ridge itself. James, who lived in deepest Essex, had prepared by running endless laps around a large sports ground close to his home. He had also followed a lightweight training regime. For myself, I read up my notes of a Boy's Own Paper interview with Eric Beard I wrote on his cracking the Skye Ridge record (4hrs 9mins), and the inside information he had given me. Just down the road, lived the man who broke Beardie's record, Andy Hyslop (4hrs 4mins). He, too, gave invaluable assistance in times and route preferences. Andy it was who recommended an energy-giving sandwich filling of honey and peanut butter spread on granary bread — a mixture we later found revolting as the taste lingers when the going gets tough. The summer of 1983 had been one of the driest in the Western Isles in living memory. We expected blistering heat stored in the vaults of stone and reflected back off the tar-black rock. And at first it looked as if we might be lucky. Through the Borders every truck and artic lorry had the squeaky clean colours of Dinky toys fresh from the box. Water was not available from garages for windscreen washing. Everywhere the grass was burnt an ochre tint. Yet as we motored north from Fort William, we experienced that feeling of intense disappointment that only climbers know, that choked feeling of someone who has travelled four hundred miles to arrive — and who has suddenly to switch on the wipers. 

Sixty miles on at the Kyle of Lochalsh ferry it was pouring down. Another thirty miles further, at our climbing but in Glen Brittle, nothing had changed. Dining out, according to James, in the hospitable glow of the Sligachan Hotel might seem a better idea than wallowing in self-pity. As he said the meal was on him, I quickly agreed. By the time the pears cooked in port arrived — followed by coffee and a good malt — the rain had stopped. Thick cloud still obscured the mountain tops, and when I rang the Glasgow weather centre I received a non-commital forecast for the day to come. Things MIGHT clear. We returned to the but convinced that they would. By 3am the rain had not returned, and I began making a breakfast of stodgy porridge mixed with sultanas and endless rounds of toast and marmalade — washed down by litres of thick-brewed tea. Then at 4am it was out into the blackness, our eyes straining for any glimmer of light along the moor that leads to the first peak. We progressed marvellously at first, reaching the summit of Gars Bheinn two and a half hours later and well in par time — although the highest tops remained hidden by cloud and the scenario looked oppressive, a muted dawn light picking out a grey forlorn landscape. The moor had proved snuff dry, evidence of the weeks of drought. Any burns we had to cross were dried-out creeks, our Walsh trainers padding the peaty ground in comfort. 

Only the mist remained drifting above in the gloom to threaten bad things and, had we known it, a preponderance of large black slugs on the grass and scree boded the worst too. They know when it's going to rain. Then, on the summit, everything changed. The mist thickened and it wasn't until the wind banged us together like snooker balls that we realised its strength. We were standing on an eminence nearly 3000 feet above the Atlantic, being pelted with rain, strafed by a gale and it showed. Great rifts fell away down into the boiling vapour, each a source of spiralling gusts. As we fumbled into extra clothing and wind-proofs, it was impossible not to feel afraid. The scale of everything suddenly looked so big and of an infinitely more serious nature than the last time when I had stood here those twenty-six years previously. We were on the point of going back down when the wind dropped as quickly as it had come. Things picked up. We decided to start out. "If things become grim we can always descend," I said. "But if the weather clears what a great route it'll be to steal . . ." At first we couldn't go wrong even if we had wanted to. 

The ridge began as a knifeblade and, other than stepping off its edge into thin air on either side, there was no other way to negotiate it. But then the problems began. Great gaps would suddenly appear underneath our feet as if some giant madman with an axe had lopped into its crest from all angles and quite at random. In each case we had to scramble down steep scree and traverse slippery ledges to one side or the other before resuming our ascent on the far side of the gap where the skyline continued into the cloud once more. The further we went, the more difficult it became to piece together these obstacles with map and route card. It was as if we were on some fiendish assault course. And with the rain now starting to pour down in ever-increasing bucketfuls, the mist appeared to turn as black as the densest smoke from burning rubber. Nor do compasses always work on the ridge owing to an abundance of iron ore in the rock. The red needles whirled round uselessly, but then we had thought this might happen and brought them along anyway as each contained a large magnifying glass that made map reading all the easier. We realised we were helplessly lost when James saw me begin to go back the other way he had been coming — towards him and without realising I had made a complete turnabout. 

Arguing the toss was pointless, standing still in that weather was an endurance test in itself. We were in a do-or-die situation on the finest mountaineering trip in Britain and if we didn't resolve things quickly the question of who was right and who was wrong would cease to matter. We had patently failed. Now we had to get out of it alive. Though neither of us said so, we both recognised the circumstances as those of the Killer Peak syndrome which make newspaper headlines about mountain tragedies. Movement was the only way to keep the circulation going. Furthermore, I knew that our chilled fingers, despite being inside gloves, would make a meal of unbuckling a rucksack or opening a vacuum flask without some semblance of cover. To heighten our fear of premature death we did actually seem to be ageing. Worry and strain both did their part. The cosmetic powder of hoary droplets beading our persons did the rest, whitening eyelashes, sideburns and hair. The overall effect was a numbing of the mental powers, an inability to think straight. It was clear that we would have to go down. On which side of the ridge we actually made our descent no longer mattered so long as we lost height safely.

Early image of the Sligachan Inn 

And that was the rub. On either side of our high-wire in the heavens, boulder fields tilted down to the very brink of crags apparently so huge — as glimpsed through windows in the mist — as to defy imagination. Boulders the size of indoor climbing walls threatened to tip and roll at the slightest disturbance — and flatten you.Three times we arrived at the edge of outer space — the summit rim of one or another of those great cliffs below — and had to flounder back to the ridge's crest. Here, once again, it was a case of probing exhaustedly on still further for yet another line of merciful release. Mercifully indeed, within an hour we were besides the raging waters of Alta a' Chaoich (The Mad Burn) which plunges seawards from the skyline down to the Atlantic in a series of wild, leaping cataracts as white as milk. Although we had indeed descended on the "wrong" side of the ridge we could at last see through the mist and wind and our bodies were beginning to feel some semblance of warmth once more. But the resulting hike back the long way round and via the coastline path — and now having to ford burns which although dry when we had crossed them previously in the day were now fast-racing torrents — was the stuff of another ordeal. By the time we reached the Glen Brittle hut we had been on the go for almost sixteen hours, and lucky with it. People have died for less. It must be a hellish way to go.

Tony Greenbank: First published in Climber 1988