Archive for the 'Pictures' Category

Climbing in 1990 – pics from the archive

30th May 2010

We found these pictures from the archive of Chris climbing in another era, 20 years ago. Even then, his gear was Jurassic. Commentary from his son Andrew and friend Nick, with whom Chris was climbing.

1. Preparing for a climb in the French Alps c. 1990. Camping at Les Chosalets campsite in Argentiere. Note the ex-army rucksack, and Dad’s favourite climbing breeches. Dad commented to Fuzz and me how clothing had progressed as we were climbing in tracksters. Note also the “A” frame tents in the background which these days are a thing of the past.
2. Pausing in the Vallée Blanche. You can see a couple of other tents in the background. A magical place. Cooling off in the midday sun. Roped up and approaching the Cosmiques ridge that takes you to the summit of the Aiguille du Midi.
3. The Vallée Blanche again; a superb and enormous bowl high up surrounded by peaks of the Chamonix Aiguilles. The hole in the snow was our access to unfrozen drinking water (of sorts). Dad filling up the water bottles for the following day before it freezes over night.
4. Morning preparations for a crack at the Cosmiques Ridge after a bivouac at the foot of the climb. Note the strap-on crampons (very old technology!) and the Whillans sit harness, guaranteed to ensure no further children should you be unlucky enough to take a fall in it. I am sure he still has it lurking somewhere. Also the classic Joe Brown climbing helmet. This stuff would not look out of place in a Mountaineering Museum. Dad proving however that it’s not what you wear, it’s what you tackle and achieve that counts.
5. On the Cosmiques Ridge itself, a great climb on mixed ground; wonderful Cham granite (or “grornit” as Dad would say) and interspersed with snow and ice pitches. The climb culminates at the viewing platform of the cable car station. One feels quite smug while tourists take you photo as you clamber, as dignified as possible, over the safety rail. Dad had a small bloodied, cut on his finger, which is not uncommon on granite, and a kindly Japanese tourist whipped out a plaster and administered first aid even before he could put down his ice axe!
6. R&R day at the campsite, again note ex-army ’58 mug. What do you think of the dormobile awning with the cute curtains?!


2000 miles for Help for Heroes – Day 29 – 23 May

24th May 2010

Sunday – Pentecost

Odometer – 1704 miles. Northallerton – Ampleforth – Selby (23+35 miles)

Today has been a superb day. I have reached Selby and am settled into a secret bivouac in a wood just off the bypass. No one has seen me go in, I’m sure, but I keep knife and phone (switched on) inside my sleeping bag.

I left the Station Hotel in Northallerton at 7am, spitting tacks. I had wanted to leave earlier but my bike was locked in the garage and no one could be found to open it up. Nevertheless, on a glorious morning, I covered the 23 miles and arrived at Ampleforth just in time to gather my wits, meet my son, Paul, with his wife and children and join them in the Abbey Church for the monastery and school Mass of Pentecost at 10am. I had cycled 103 miles since my last square meal but I couldn’t have been happier. After Mass, under Fr Chad’s organisation, I gave a 30-minute talk to 50 or so students and a few parents about what I was up to. People seemed genuinely interested and asked thoughtful questions. We then move to a barbecue lunch, overseen by Miss Fuller and cooked by the Upper Sixth in my granddaughter’s house, St. Margaret’s, which was not only most congenial but vital, being my only meal since yesterday’s breakfast. Fr Hugh organised some fruit, photographers and (the icing on the cake) three traditionally clad Bagpipers from St. Hugh’s. A dozen children from St. Martin’s Ampleforth (the prep school at Gilling) joined the farewell party. It was absolutely super! Here are some pictures:

I set off again towards York at 2:45pm with renewed heart, strength and spirit. There were some initial steep climbs and, before I left the valley, I stopped to take a farewell photo of the Abbey and campus, looking back through a hedge from high ground. Memories from 57 years ago came flooding back of borrowing a farmer’s horse with a friend when I was in the school and, two-up on the long-suffering beast, clomping along the same road to get up to no good. I arrived in York at 5pm and pulled into a pub for water. I ordered ½ a pint of beer to pacify the publican and chatted for a while with people at the bar. On my way out, people eating at a table stopped me, asked for my story and made a donation. It turns out that one woman’s son-in-law had just returned from Afghanistan. I encounter such connections in almost every town I stop in. I reached Selby bypass at 7pm and have now managed to transfer into cover without being seen. Good night on this day of the Holy Spirit!

Pics with my bike, Molly and two of my grandchildren

12th May 2010