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Thursday 22nd June 2017 | Text

CHAmois Club History

by Bill Ruthven

The following extract is taken from "Mountaineering" Vol IV No. 10 Autumn 1966.

The C.H.A. Mountaineering Club is just over two years old. It was founded towards the end of June 1964 at a meeting which took place at the offices of Country-wide Holidays Association in Manchester as the result of an article (from which the following extract is taken) which appeared in the summer number of the C.H.A. Magazine.

"During recent years quite a number of C.H.A. members have expressed interest in the possibility of re-forming a C.H.A. Mountaineering Club. (A club with this title was formed by a number of pioneering spirits in the 1930s, but few C.H.A. members showed interest in those early days; the club dissolved its links with the Association after a few years and re-named itself the Tricouni Club, under which name it is still active) The C.H.A. General Committee unanimously agrees that, having regard to the adventurous spirit of T.A. Leonard, the Associations founder, his centenery year is an appropriate time to revive and focus the C.H.A.'s interest in mountaineering by the formation of a new C.H.A. Mountaineering Club (1964) which will not of course be in any way a rival of the Tricouni Club."

The growing interest of C.H.A. members in mountaineering had shown itself for a number of years in the increasing support which had been given to the special Rock Climbing and Advanced Scrambling weeks held each summer in the C.H.A. centres in Snowdonia, the Lake District, and the Western Highlands. It was not surprising, therefore, that the membership of the new club exceeded a hundred in its first season. The figure now stands at about 130. The flourishing state of the new club has naturally given considerable satisfaction to our first President, Mr Russell Storey, J.P., a member of the Fell and Rock for many years, who was the one and only president of the first C.H.A. Mountaineering Club while it had that title.

We were interested to read (in the last number of Mountaineering) of the problems of the South Essex Climbing Club resulting from the large area which it covers. Because of the "Country-wide" spread of C.H.A. members the area which we cover is wider still, and we certainly can't have fortnightly evening meets in one single hostelry. But we do manage to include lectures, slide shows, and practical evenings in our weekend meets. (Many of us remember with especial delight how several members experimented with Prusik knots in the entrance hall of the Onich centre last Easter.) Since the centre of gravity of our membership is, understandably enough, round about the middle of England, we have a good many weekend meets in the Peak District at the C.H.A. Hope Centre, with day meets at Widdop, Crookrise, Almscliff, as well as Stanage. For the long weekends at New Year, Easter and Whit we have of course gone further afield to Llanfairfechan, Borrowdale and Onich, and during the summer our more experienced members have continued to act as climbing leaders at the C.H.A. special feature weeks (mentioned above) from which we draw new members each year. In 1965 a small number parly climbed Snowdon, ScafellPike and Ben Nevis on 19 June; this summer, 52 weeks later, a larger party did the Welsh Three Thousands. Now that we have been admitted into B.M.C. membership, we are planning an increased number of weekend meets, using the huts of other B.M.C. member clubs. (We hadn't got a hut of our own when this article was being written; but we have been looking round for one for quite some time, and we may well have got one by the time this appears in print.)

In our first two years we have not had any official meets overseas (though some of us went in a small party to Jotunheimen last year and, besides climbing Galdhoppiggen and Clittertind, scrambled up a gully on Spiterho which is technically no more than difficult; but was regarded by local guides as a notable achievement, since the rock is decidedly rotten). We aim, however to go to the Alps this coming July, with the Welsh Three Thousands as a limberer-upper in the previous month, on Midsummer Day in fact. One advantage which we Chamois Club members have in doing the Three Thousands is that we can come off Foel Fras across to Plas Heulog, the C.H.A. centre eight hundred feet from Llanfairfechan, and have a bath, a change and a meal on the spot. Another advantage of being associated with the C.H.A. is that the Association's Cornish Centre (Droskyn Castle, at Perranporth) has a cliff of its own which we propose to investigate in the fairly near future. While nothing of 'Zawn' quality is expected, Droskyn Cliff may well have features of interest.

Our 1966-67 programme envisages weekend meets in different parts of the country every month, with day meets sandwiched in between for the summer months, so that there will be something every fortnight from April to September. If in due course, as we hope, our membership gets over the 200 mark, we shall plan specifically regional meets. But for the present the 'Country-wide' convergence of cars, minibuses, scooters, etc., seems to work very well; and a periodic Newsletter keeps us in touch with each other, and announces the births of new mountaineers from time to time.