Journeys in the hills and mountains
With the demise of fotopic I had to return to my archives to look at my old hillwalking photos. The first thing that struck me was just how far digital photography had come in the last seven years. My early club photos, mainly from 2003 – 2005, were taken on a 3.1 megapixel camera, and their quality as online images is not that great. The second thing I noticed was on just how many trips I had been! Take a look at Mark Jackson’s wonderful trip leader-board for an indication… What I did not want to do was to go through and up-load each album once again, let alone write a report of what I did that trip, so instead this page is a collation of some of the best photos from my trips with CUHWC in that period. I may at some point decide to stick all of the images on a server somewhere, but for now these will have to do.
When I joined Cambridge University Hillwalking Club in October 2003 I had not done a huge amount of hillwalking. I’d spent a lot of time on Dartmoor, doing walks with school before doing Ten Tors in 2002, but, apart from a couple of walks in the Peak District, that was the limit of my experience. The club quite quickly introduced me to new parts of the UK and Europe. In my first year I went on almost every trip, missing just a couple in my first term when I didn’t know any better. Many of these were snowy trips, which included playing around with an ice axe somewhere below Esk Hause on the Seathwaite trip in 2004. Later that year was the club’s 15th anniversary dinner trip when I really fell in love with the Lake District. I think I probably started bagging Wainwrights on that trip, having found out what this was on the Seathwaite trip!
I am still grateful to people like Toby Speight who introduced me to scrambling, particularly on the Easter Snowdonia trip that year when I started on Grade 1 scrambles such as Tryfan, Bristly Ridge and Crib Goch. My first year in the club was capped with a wonderful walking trip to the Alps, in the Bernese Oberland, where I quickly found out how difficult things could get when David Pettit and I tried to walk up a Via Ferrata route.
My second year in the club continued in the same spirit. I went on almost every trip that year. My Wainwright bagging exploits really took off this year, and I now actively sought out new parts of the Lake District in which to go walking, aided considerably by becoming President of the club in 2005 which meant that I could now choose which places to go to! It was also in this year that I first went to the Scottish Highlands for a holiday trip prior to the Seathwaite trip. We went to the Cairngorms, staying in Aviemore, and doing a winter skills course in which I tested out my shiny new ice axe and crampons.
Despite the weather being poor we still have a thoroughly good week, and I left that ready for some keen Wainwright-bagging on the Seathwaite trip! We had a particularly snowy Easter Snowdonia trip in 2005 and, as the photo shows, our walk on Snowdon was in whiteout conditions. Having climbed Snowdon by the PyG track, we tried to continue around the horseshoe to y Lliwedd, but we became disorientated on the ridge and, wary of the cliffs, we decided to reascend Snowdon and descend by the Miners’ Track. Fortunately the weather cleared up later in the week, and I enjoyed doing Tryfan and Bristly Ridge with a little snow dusting the rocks.
For the summer trip that year we decided to go to the Pyrenees. A club trip had previously been in the summer of 2003, before my time in the club, and we decided to return to the same location. We had ten glorious days of weather and attempted some quite challenging things, for our ability level at the time, whilst there. This was my first experience of hut-to-hut routes, staying in different refuges and hostels along the way before returning to our base camp. Returning to Cambridge, I entered my third year as an undergraduate, and my third year in the club. We did the usual Michaelmas term trips, to Snowdonia and the Lake District. I spent my first New Year in Scotland on a Duffers Trip, before heading down for (yet another) wet Seathwaite. There were several excellent trips in 2006, including one of my best ever to Eskdale, but after that, and handing over the presidency, I scaled back my time with the club as new challenges emerged. I did, nevertheless, make a number of personal Wainwright bagging trips which saw my count steadily increasing. In the summer of 2006 I went on the first of two alpine training courses run by ISM. This trip was excellent: we learnt a lot in a short space of time, and did two decent 3000m peaks as part of the course. By the summer of 2007 I had completed the Wainwrights, and once again set off for another alpine course with ISM, though this time the weather placed more limitations on what we could do.
From 2008 I was able to commit to more time with the club due to taking a year out between my part-time MEd and PhD. I was able to go on many of the trips in the 2008-2009 academic year, including my first Seathwaite trip since 2006. I also found myself driving for the club more frequently now that I owned a car. Club trips were increasingly supplemented by Duffers trips to the Highlands as my interest in bagging munros grew steadily. In the summer of 2008 I went with the club to Zermatt, and from there we climbed a couple of 4000m peaks, the Breithorn and the Alphubel, the good weather easily outdoing the rain and snow of the previous year. Despite a ‘bad’ year in 2009 – 2010, in which I only attended four trips with CUHWC, 2010 to 2011 has proved to be significantly better, and, with another five years of PhD study remaining, I’m expecting to do many more trips…