The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

(by Gerry Moss, April 2007)
An IMC meet in the Lake District, England.

We were twenty-five in number. An eclectic mix, surely. We had young and old, lads and lasses, new members and members of long-standing. Walkers, scramblers, climbers and bumblers. The wonderfully fit, the once-I-was-fit and the wish-I-was-fit. Some were movers and shakers, others did more shaking than moving. We had those who were expert with map and compass, and others who had to stop at every cross-roads to ask a policeman for directions. Some came by boat via Liverpool, Birkenhead, or Holyhead, others flew into Manchester. Some drove from Holyhead to the hut in under three hours, others spent three hours driving around The Lakes looking for the hut. Yes, a mixed bag.

And the weather matched us all the way. We had rain, wind, snow and sunshine. Not that it mattered much. We just kept going, regardless. And it did improve as the week-end progressed – which is more than I can say for myself. A covering of snow added greatly to the mountain scenery, highlighting every crag, hump and hollow, outlining clearly every track and path. Cloud cover was patchy, often delightfully so. Now and then the sun would poke a finger through the cloud, sending a bright spotlight sweeping across the fells, reflecting off the turbulent waters of the lakes, sending shadows racing across the ridges, lifting the spirits and adding a sparkle to the scene.

In the best IMC tradition we took ourselves off in a multitude of different directions each day: Pavey Ark, Harrison Sickle and the Langdale Pikes; Great End and Scafell Pike; Helvellyn and the Fairfield round; Cat Bells and the Derwent Fells, all received the blessing of Paddy’s brown boots as our heroes roamed far and near.

Nor was the rock neglected. We climbed at Armathwaite, White Ghyll, Castle Rock and Shepherd’s Crag (we discovered that the latter was The Lakes answer to Barnbawn – sheltered and as dry as snuff). We got caught in the rain on White Ghyll and decided to rename Slip Knot, that grand VS, as Ab Not, having spent over an hour in an energetic struggle, in rough conditions, with a reluctant, recalcitrant abseil rope. But we persevered and won out in the end.

We climbed routes from Diff to E2, with Sile and Dave taking care of the sharp end of the scale. Brown Slabs (Direct and Crack), Eve, Adam, Kransic Crack Direct, Fisher’s Folly, M.G.C. and Little Chamonix, all succumbed to the rub of the rubber and, if the rock was cold at times, wasn’t the friction all the better for it. For me, the pleasure of it all was captured in Martina’s expressions of delight as she topped out on her first lead on Lake District rock. A steady ascent, and done in the best, on-sight, ground-up tradition. Well done.

The hut was commodious, comfortable and conveniently situated. In the evenings the kitchen was a hive of culinary activity as various exotic dishes were prepared and consumed (some doing a lot more consuming than preparing – but they also serve who only sat and ate).

We were away bright and early on the Monday morning, after some hectic housework and, once again, we scattered to the four winds, each party with an objective of its own. But, methinks, we will meet again, in the same spot, at the same time, in 2008. And why not?