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Volume 1, No. 6 - Nov 1996
Letters and Notices
Appeal for Help from Climbers involved in an Accident

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Every once in a while one stands below a climb and feel every nut in the body go into contraction! Such it was last weekend, standing below Coronation Street in Cheddar Gorge. Rain having stopped play on the Avon Gorge cliffs, we decided to drive back home via Cheddar Gorge, to have a peep... And immediately decided this is a line that has to be climbed! Opened by Bonnington (Sir Chris), Cleare and Greenbank in 1965, this one must be an all-time classic.

Why do some climbs have this effect on one?
Because they're there? I don't know. All I know is that they whisper like a Lorelei: "come to me..." True to character, obey you must! And obey we will!

NEW this month

  • We've finally perfected the Postcard Service - so get busy and send a friend a cybercard...

  • Mountain Book Services has been completely revamped, allowing for full catalogues to be emailed to you by an automated process. Give it a try, never know when you are looking for the name of a book or an author. NEW books continues to be sold at 25% OFF List prices. Plus a few other specials!

  • Judging starts in the Photographic contest.
Till next time, enjoy! Keep the comments and contributions coming in...
More bad days...
Of mountains and mishaps (part two)
If you did not read part one, get it here!
Then there are the rest days. Climbers fill them in a variety of ways. For the CragRat, rest days are often spent cranking the keyboard producing, among other things, this column for his readers (yep, that's you two). Now a blank screen is a whole bunch akin to a rock face ripe for that onsight, just a tad harder to begin. Sometimes it's a cinch. Like when racking that chaotic heap of improperly connected neurones that serve as CragRat's brain for subject matter for last month's article. Climbing mishaps. The subject practically writes itself. There are enough stories to plaster the pages in a comprehensive volume of amusingly woeful anecdotes. This month then, we'll continue to marvel at some of the more amusing miseries climbers endure "in the line of duty".

In 1966, the great mountaineer and climber Don Whillans found himself in Yosemite, under the towering granite cliffs that marked America's premier testing ground at the time. Don, almost as fond of the beer bottle as the rock had been enjoying a few pints with the American, Chuck Pratt when the latter suggested a climb. Neither were too sober at the time. Chuck led out a full 150 feet before belaying. Wishing that he had stuck to the beer, Don "began to wonder if he'd ever heard of runners." The climb turned out to be "desperate" for even Don. The following day when Don mentioned the climb, Chuck asked in a puzzled voice, "Did we do a climb?" Don made a mental note to work out Chuck's drinking capacity to ensure that did not happen again.

One would imagine that mountaineering in the Karakoram and in particular on K2, certainly one of the most difficult mountains in the world to climb, would provide technical problems of all sorts. Problems there are, but not always technical. On her first visit to the mountain, Julie Tullis, one of England's finest women climbers, had an unexpected problem while at 6800m that almost doesn't bear thinking about. Diarrhoea. Arguably the most dreaded malaise to endure while wearing a full down suit. At 11.30 at night, -25°C with her bottom hanging over a huuuge drop and at the crucial moment, she fumbled the zip-fly. We would probably all agree that fumbling a quickdraw after a 50-foot runout is preferable to the treatment meted out to Julie's salopettes. With minimal opportunity to clean up, her partner Kurt Diemberger leant her his overtrousers. Now THAT is partnership!

Some people can't stand the sight of their own body fluids, especially blood. The renowned superalpinist Victor Saunders is one. Climbing on Uzum Brakk (Conway's Ogre) in the Karakoram was no time to be reminded. Looking up at the instant his partner called "BELOW!" was not his best move. Puzzled at first by the blood suddenly spattered on the snow in front of him, things became clearer when he saw a tooth amongst it. "My God, I've loft my teef..." was all he could utter before passing out.

We try to avoid them, but mishaps will hap! With that in mind, CragRat's off to crank something a bit more arduous than a keyboard... and no doubt produce some mishaps of his own.

The CragRat Disclaimer: "I said WHAT?!"

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© 1996, Ikhaya Design Studio " This issue released on 13 November 1996

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