Monday, May 27, 2013

Clog and Troll will never die!

I was sorry I couldn't get down the the Llanberis MR team gear sale at the Heights this  weekend.  A car boot sale affair  which sees the £10 pitch fee going to the team funds.
I've got so much outdoor gear which has accumulated over the years that unless I open a mountaineering museum, the assortment of old ropes,ironmongery,tatty rucksacks,
crampons. Along with scratched helmets, scuffed slings and general tat  is just going to remain as an assemblage of boxes and rucksacks buried away in an under-stairs alcove.

The collection grew somewhat last weekend when I paid a visit to my old friend Harold Drasdo,the veteran climbing activist and writer who now lives on the North Wales coast. I had twisted Hal's arm to do a book review for Footless Crow and as I was leaving he took me into his garage and said..'you may as well have this'.... tipping a rucksack full of climbing gear out onto the floor. It's not the first time he's given me a load of climbing gear. But this time it was more poignant as the old climber like his friend and contemporary David Craig, has had to come to terms, as an octogenarian, with the end of his hugely respectable climbing career. (See David Craig's At the Corrie of the Black Raven). Another climbing friend had recently given up climbing and passed on all his winter gear and a while ago I came across a box full of climbing gear in a junk shop, including climbing guides which appear to have once belonged to Hamish Brown.

The end result of these usually unsolicited donations is a collection of rucksacks stuffed full of equipment. A lot of this stuff is still serviceable. Wires, slings and hexes which I would still use quite happily. However, a lot of gear has passed into the 'Whillan's Whammer' catagory of the weird and the wonderful.. Quirky, heavy bibs and bobs which have seen their usefulness and practicality superseded by design,engineering and material advances in the recent decades. Apart from the general disappearance of pegging from the climber's repertoire, who would use a heavy steel krab these days. Ditto a knotted sling or extender; a hawser rope and sling, a clog ascenduer or a climbers belt?

A lot of tat still is useful in modern climbing as in situ gear, left on the crag and used for abbing from or carried in winter to be used in the eventuality of  having to retreat from a long mountaineering route. Better to sacrifice some tat than expensive new gear. It's also useful if you do a bit of tree surgery or you need to do some roof work on your house. Many a time I've dangled from a Sycamore on an old steel krab attached to a tatty sling and linked to Troll Harness. Spiraling to earth down the stiff mantle of a Cairngorm or Viking rope.

Perhaps sometime this year I'll persuade someone to join me on a traditional old climb on a cliff like Lliwedd. Only using  old gear. To get into the role I would need to get myself a moth eaten cable knit sweater,some stiff breeches-which I have somewhere-one of those old school Joe Brown/Snowdon Moulding helmets, a Peter Storm Kag, and sport a crushed, stained Woodbine nonchalantly tucked behind my ear.

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