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 mixed team of attendees from several UK Climbing Clubs finally got under way on February 19th.
Condition on the ice routes were superb. Plenty of fat ice. The track in the Rjukan Gorge was good and direct to many lines, thankfully without much deep snow, and no sign of the river below it. Almost all of the usual routes were in great condition, sometimes a little brittle ice was encountered but in general, no-one could or did complain.
One of the main venues was the Vemork Bridge routes. The usually snowed-up and icy road down to and getting out of the Vemork Bridge car park was no trouble this season even without 4-wheel drive cars. With the excellent conditions, we all got stuck in to some great ice climbing.
Sir Chris Bonington, Doug Scott CBE and Julia Bradbury are backing a major new British Mountaineering Council (BMC) campaign to raise money for environmental projects on some of Britain’s most iconic peaks: Mend Our Mountains.
Roger (Lord) Chorley, Alpine Club President 1983-1985, AC President’s Portrait, by John Cleare
Some Memories of Roger Chorley
I got to know Roger Chorley well when I became the Club Hon. Secretary in 1972. By then he was already distinguished in mountaineering circles as a member of the Alpine Climbing Group, an experienced Himalayan and Alpine climber, a member of the management committee of the MEF, and a former President of the CUMC and Hon Secretary of the CC. He was also an established Partner – soon to become Senior Partner - of the prestigious London Accountants, Cooper Brothers (as they then were). To me, a callow youth still in his twenties, Roger was the embodiment of urbanity and sophistication though, on reflection and making a quick calculation, he was only a decade or so older than me. His friendship and support, however, were extended unconditionally and unstintingly as was his wise advice and assistance.
Two memories of Roger spring to mind from those days. The first, illustrative of the negotiating skills his obituarists have noted, was the anxiety and the wholly benevolent and careful scheming which preceded his bearding of the Club’s housekeeper, the formidable and cantankerous but fiercely loyal Mrs Lewis, with a view to getting her to accept retirement. To the surprise of all involved – perhaps not least herself – she accepted it like a lamb after an interview with Roger. The second memory is of his disarming wit. For some reason some sections of the Club always wanted their sixpenny-worth at the Annual meeting. At the AGM one year Roger’s Hon Treasurer’s report to the assembled members consisted simply of the words ‘In the last twelve months we have made a profit. Are there any questions?’ That silenced even the ‘Tribal Chieftains’, the likes of the late great Douglas Milner.
Of course, Roger’s career became increasingly distinguished in later life when he succeeded his father as an hereditary and later an elected member of the House of Lords. He was Chairman of the National Trust and President of the RGS and he graced many committees, boards and commissions. By no means least was the leadership he gave as President of our own Club. Over the years his contributions to the Alpine Club have been manifold. He played a major role in the reintegration of the ACG into the main body of the Club; he led the move to merge the Club with the LAC when the issue of admitting women was raised; and, perhaps his greatest legacy, it was he who spearheaded the move to form the library into a charitable trust, a move which has enabled us to preserve and nurture our greatest treasures.
Roger’s love of mountains, and especially of the Lakeland hills could be seen in the pictures throughout the Hawkshead house which he and Ann cherished. Understated as he was, he ended his President’s valedictory address with a quotation which reflects exactly that love, and which has a particular poignancy given his disability following polio when he was in his twenties. He said ‘Perhaps the last word should be indeed on our own hills, from Geoffrey Young, in reflective mood at the end of a unique Alpine career, ‘For me, too, our own hills, within the measure of my walking, are as lovely and as full of surprises as they ever were.’
Mike Baker 8th March 2016
As President, in 1985, Roger went out of his way to help us take up Harish Kapadia's suggestion of a joint Bombay Mountaineers-Alpine Club expedition to the disputed Siachen region in the East Karakoram. We needed money and Roger had the clout to help us get it. First he generously provided us with a long list of likely names in the City who might – and did – contribute towards our organising and travel costs. Second he gave us a tipoff that Grindlays Bank might be favourably disposed. The very day they received my letter – with a covering note from Roger – Harish was summoned to the Grindlays head office in Bombay to be told that our entire expenses in India were covered. What was impressive was the way Roger, even though he was no longer able himself to do serious mountaineering, put himself out to help younger climbers set off on a great adventure. Our expedition to the Rimo massif was a huge and enjoyable success, with many miles of glacier explored and many ascents made, including the first ascent of Rimo III by Jim Fotheringham and Dave Wilkinson. It was also the start of a long and still fruitful association between Harish Kapadia and the Alpine Club. And it was all made possible by Roger.
Bristish brand Montane partners with the Alpine Club to sponsor the Montane Alpine Club Climbing Fund.
The award is offered bi-annually in March and November to support members of the Alpine Club.
Awards will be given to teams attempting first ascents or new routes in remote areas, or exploring little known alpine terrain.
Montane's Terry Stephenson said: "The Alpine Club Climbing Fund has made possible some incredible feats of mountaineering. We're delighted to be involved to help climbers and mountaineers explore the world's mountains regions."
Malcolm Bass, AC Vice President and Chair of the Climbing Fund Sub-Committee, said: 'Montane is a natural partner for the Alpine Club Climbing Fund. They have a long history of involvement in supporting adventurous alpine and big wall climbing through focused clothing design and manufacture and also by supporting individual alpine and big wall climbers. Together we can further the exploration of mountainous regions of the world by AC members. It's an exciting new phase for the Alpin Club'.
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.