The Alpine Club, the world’s first mountaineering club, was founded in 1857. For over 150 years, members have been at the leading edge of worldwide mountaineering development and exploration.
With membership, experienced and aspiring alpinists benefit from a varied meets programme, regional lectures with notable guest speakers, reduced rates at many alpine huts, opportunity to apply for grants to support expeditions, significant discounts at many UK retailers, extensive networking contacts, access to the AC Library and maps - and more!
A “vertical university” and an appeal to mountaineers
By Stephen Goodwin -
Road construction in the hitherto remote hill country between Makalu and Kangchenjunga in eastern Nepal is adding urgency to an innovative conservation project that last October received the backing of the UIAA.
The government’s aim is to extend Nepal’s road network north from Num, on the eastern edge of the Makalu Barun National Park, and create another overland link to China. But the route cuts through the forest and mountain habits of rare species such as red panda, wild yak and snow leopard.
Nepal lost a quarter of its forest coverage between 1990 and 2005 and the devastation continues. Loss of biodiversity has been compounded by an impoverishment of farming communities as young people have left the hill villages, often for low-wage and hazardous jobs abroad.
In an attempt to counter this decline, a project is underway to harness indigenous knowledge as the basis of environmental education, promote alternative income generation and conserve the kind of natural abundance that, albeit incidentally, has delighted trekkers and climbers on the trails south of Kangchenjunga.
The architects of this ambitious plan call it a “Vertical University”, though it is one without a settled campus or superannuated professors, and its “teachers” are without diplomas or qualifications of a kind any conventional university would recognise. Some cannot read or write.
Yet inspirational teachers there are; farmers for the most part, men and women whose open air classrooms might one day extend in a corridor from the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve on Nepal’s southern border with India to the permanent snows of Kangchenjunga.
The project, which secured the UIAA’s Mountain Protection Award in 2015, begins its title - KTK BELT - with the initials from those two contrasting natural wonders. In full: the Koshi Tappu Kangchenjunga Biodiversity Education Livelihood Terra-Studio. KTK-BELT was chosen from 22 projects from mountainous regions worldwide nominated to receive the US$5,000 award sponsored by Western University and Golden Rock. The money has been invested in mapping existing vegetation, wildlife habitats, hazards in the Sikti conservation area.
Currently, KTK-BELT is working in a Village Development Council (VDC) called Yangshila, where “learning grounds” have been established at altitudes ranging from 180m to 1950m. Each plot responds to a different conservation need. For example, one in the village of Rangcha is devoted to the conservation of tropical fruit diversity; in Dahar the focus is on its rich bird life, including the great Indian hornbill and Himalayan vulture; and at a plot in Chiuri Bhanjhyang ornamental plants are the priority.
Encouraged by the positive response of local villagers and international conservation bodies, the team behind KTK-BELT now plans to extend its classrooms higher into the mountains. The objective is that one day, a Nepali student could walk from Koshi Tappu to Kangchenjunga, across many different forest types, and learn from local farmers about the deep physical and biological diversity of the landscape through place-based education.
“Farmers are a society’s greatest teachers,” said Rajeev Goyal, co-director of KTK-BELT. “Nepal is a paradoxical country. Everywhere there are shortages of energy, water, fuel, and supplies. Yet few places in the world are endowed with more natural resources, physical diversity, and diversity of culture and languages.”
Eastern Nepal comprises one of the world’s recognised 34 global “biodiversity hotspots” with more than 6,500 plant species,180 mammals and 800 bird species, many found nowhere else on earth. Yet it is also a region changing rapidly under economic pressures, haphazard urbanisation and the increasingly severe impacts of climate change. In the middle hills, natural springs have dried up and even the celebrated wetlands of Koshi Tappu, a birders’ paradise, are under threat because of impacts on the Arun and Tamur river basins upstream.
“With much of the attention focused on the April 2015 earthquake, it is easy to overlook that there is a silent crisis occurring with the Nepal’s habitats and biological diversity,” said Goyal, a lawyer who co-founded KTK-BELT with Canadian architect and planner Priyanka Bistaand Kumar Bishwakarma, a medicinal plant expert and teacher in Yangshila.
To meet challenge of funding their Vertical University, Goyal and his colleagues launched a Kickstarter crowd funding campaign with the aim of raising US$100,000 in 30 days. By 21 February, with just a few days to spare, they had succeeded; raising a total of $102,594 from 246 backers in more than 20 countries. An additional US$22,000 was generated in two big offline donations, plus a grant from the Living Earth Institute.
Last March saw the Llanberis Mountain Film Festival (LLAMFF) being relaunched and it was a huge success, selling nearly 1000 tickets.
With over 40 different films shown at 3 local venues over 3 fantastic festival evenings, and all run by an energetic team of local volunteers.
This year the festival is back and kicking it all off on Friday 4th March is key guest speaker Kenton Cool, British Mountain Guide and 11 times Everest summiteer, will tell of his experiences in the majestic country of Nepal and further a field.
This is followed by the UK Adventure Festival Premiere of the Discovery UK film ‘Sherpa’ - a tale of the the Himalayan guides that have supported numerous foreign mountaineering teams for years, all filmed during the year of the tragic earthquake.
There are a number of other excellent speakers, from a range of backgrounds, to complment our films for 2016 with John Cleare, Neil Gresham, Ian Parnell, Sophie Radcliffe, Heather Geluk, Simon Harmer and Shirin Shabestari and many more. With films including Operation Moffat, All Roads Lead to Scotland, Damavand, Transition to name but a few.
This is all wrapped up with the festivals ‘gritty charm’ and a great party atmosphere every evening at our after party base in Llanberis.
Tickets start from £5 and range to £40 for the vIP opening event including buffet, speaker, film & VIP treatment.
Members may be aware of the first excellent and award-winningWired guide, Lake District Rock, which was published in 2015, with Pembroke Rock following in January 2016.
Wired Guides are published by a co-operative of UK definitive guidebook publishers including: the British Mountaineering Council, The Climbers’ Club, the Fell & Rock Climbing Club of the English Lake District, the Scottish Mountaineering Club, and the Yorkshire Mountaineering Club. The Alpine Club was delighted to join the group in January 2016.
Wired is a new concept that brings UK national clubs together. Under this banner, the voluntary guidebook producers share their collective knowledge, skill and enthusiasm to take the information they have spent so long creating and to use it in new and creative ways.
If you need an up-to-date selected guide to the Lake District or Pembroke, please consider supporting the Clubs' group by purchasing a Wired guide.
Expedition: Nov 2015 Khumbu Valley - supported by Climbing Fund
Jon Gupta and Will Harris have recently returned from a five week trip to Nepal’s Khumbu Valley. After acclimatising on Lobuche East they unsuccessfully attempted new routes on Kangshung (6061m) and Kyajo Ri (6186m).
The Maverick Mountaineer: The Remarkable Life of George Ingle Finch: Climber, Scientist, Inventor.
Book Launch at the AC Clubhouse in London. AC members are invited to the launch of the new biography of George Ingle Finch by Robert Wainwright.
At: The Alpine Club, 55 Charlotte Road, London EC2A 3QF.
On Tuesday 19th January 2016, 6.30pm to 8.30pm.
Francis Russell, George’s grandson, will open the evening and the author, Robert Wainwright, will give a short talk at 7pm about George Finch. There will also be on display a few of George’s artefacts, including his Everest chair, and some photographs.
In the spring of 1901 a teenager stood on top of a hill, gazed out in wonderment at the Australian landscape and decided he wanted to be a mountaineer. Two decades later, the same man stood in a blizzard beneath the summit of Mount Everest, within sight of his goal to be the first to stand on the roof of the world. George Finch, a boy from the bush, was at the highest point ever reached by a human being and only his decision to save the life of his stricken companion stopped him from trying for the summit.
George Finch was a rebel of the first order, a man who dared to challenge the British establishment who disliked his independence, background, long hair and lack of an Oxbridge education. Despite this, he not only became one of the world’s greatest alpinists, earning the respect of George Mallory, but pioneered the use of the artificial oxygen that enabled Everest to finally be conquered thrity years after his own attempt. A renowned scientst, a World War I hero and a Fellow of the Royal Society, involved in the development of some of the twentieth century’s most important inventions.
In a fond and fascinating tribute to George Finch (1888-1970), acclaimed biographer Robert Wainwright restores George Finch to his rightful place in history with his remarkable tribute to one of the twentieth century’s most eccentric anti-heroes.
Join the author and members of George’s family on the 19th January to celebrate the life and times of George Ingle Finch.
Mountains have gained a tenuous foothold on the multifarious agenda of the European Union, with just a little help from the Alpine Club. The mighty Aletsch glacier - one of the last places where permanent ice will linger as global warming strips the Alps. (Photo: Stephen Goodwin.)
Congratulations to Ken Wilson for winning Lifetime Award for Contribution to Mountain Literature
The Boardman Tasker Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Ken Wilson, a long time influencer of outdoor media and global climbing and mountaineering politics, at the Kendal Mountain Festival, photo by Doug Scott.
Ken Wilson is a leading figure in the global climbing media, editor of Mountain magazine (1969-1978), and publisher and author of many acclaimed outdoor books, including the Hard Rock series and The Games Climbers Play. In 1978, Ken established the Diadem publishing house with Ken Vickers and later went on to found Bâton Wicks.
October 2015 saw the first Alpine Club meet in the Moroccan Anti-Atlas. The group was based at the Kasbah Tizourgane. Climbing took place in the region north of Jebel el Kest near Ida Ougnidif and in the Afantinzar and Samazar Valleys. This is a stupendous area, with huge potential for adventurous climbing and numerous well documented climbs on a variety of crags.
The aim of our expedition was to complete first ascents of peaks at around 5,900m in the Greater Himalaya, in the Zanskar / Ladakh region of northern India. We also sought to plan and carry out everything independently; to pursue Alpine style / mixed snow and rock routes; and to summit some of the remaining unclimbed Zanskar peaks.