Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Don't forget your head-torch

February 22nd 2004, and I was bagging the trig points on OS sheet 98 starting from the remote Bull Pot Farm, a cottage used by the Craven Pothole Club. I climbed Cragg Hill, Whernside, Blea Moor, Park Fell and Ingleborough. On that last summit I vaguely admitted it was unlikely I would have  time to get back to my car in daylight, but I was in denial and resolved to try.

I jogged down to Crina Bottom and dropped into the valley from White Scar Caves to cross the river Doe by what I thought were the Beezley stepping stones. Having reached the minor road north west of the river it was too dark to see the map. I had no head torch - that is unforgivable (not that it would have made a difference this time).The route back by  tortuous tracks, minor roads, and paths across the most pothole populated terrain in the country was still another ten miles and I had already walked twenty.

I phoned for my daughter and walked into Ingleton and the  comforts of the Wheatsheaf to await rescue.

Having that option, was fortunate, otherwise I reckon I would have had to hunker down, cold, wet and miserable to await first light. 

In retrospect that was a planning disaster - it never was going to be feasible, except perhaps by Joss Naylor.

How proud would you be about asking for help on a walk? BLONDE TWO  posted about her similar experience  recently which sparked off this memory.


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9 comments:

afootinthehills said...

Sir Hugh. That could happen to anyone and anyway, finishing in the dark is a great Scottish winter climbing tradition ( eg Smith and Marshall). My head torch sits in my sack all year round. Remembering to check the condition of the batteries every so often is the challenge.

Sir Hugh said...

afoot - It is also my policy to have EVERYTHING to go in my rucksack so I can depart from home on a whim but for some reason the system had failed that time. I have got four head-torches. I know all about coming off Scottish hills in the dark!

The Smith and Marshall reference was their epic( six I think) winter climbs, non-stop on The Ben? I saw a modern version film of it at Kendal Mountain Festival and Jimmy was there himself.

gimmer said...

that return section is a fair full day's walk by today's reckoning - just shows what confidence in one's powers one had but only a few years ago! or maybe over confidence - or, as one of your masthead quotes says: 'bad planning' ! or knowing one had emergency back-up at the end of a mobile call :
a bit of all these perhaps - may it was an early sign in your then self of the same sort of blind reliance on mobile summonsed rescues that make the headlines every year.
Nowadays, one could use one's plethora of devices to guide one's every step - sub-metre gps/sat nav mapping, led phone light , ir drone guidance systems - how dull compared with sitting in a warm pub waiting for dutiful familial rescue !

afootinthehills said...

Hello Conrad. I'm not quite as organised as you regarding rucksack readiness although I can be ready for a day out quite quickly. I have the DVD 'The Pinnacle' with Dave McLeod and Andy Turner repeating Smith and Marshall's incredible week on Ben Nevis in 1960. Climbed by all and sundry now with the new gear, but still serious undertakings for all that. I wish I was still heading up there. I still have my ice tools although the latest ones are probably lighter.

Way back in the mists of time (about 35 years ago) Lynne decided she would like to learn to speak French and discovered a French lady who lived six miles away who look classes. Of course talk turned to interests and it transpired that the teacher was the late Robin Smith's sister-in-law. A good friendship was formed and she let us take Robin's notes of climbs and so on home to read in detail. A great privilege. Every time we meet she has some snippet of information to pass on.

Sir Hugh said...

Gimmer - Quite right. One's abilities decline exponentially with age. At least with modern tech, if you really needed assistance, for example because of a broken leg, at least you could give them a grid reference of your position, although you should be able to do that without the tech.

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Afoot - Yes, that is the same film that I saw at the festival.

When I moved to Arnside fifteen years ago I joined a French conversation class, and also had a weekly private lesson (in the off season) with the lady teacher. I can now say anything I want in French, and hold my own during a refuge meal in the French alps, but I do still find it difficult to understand all that is said to me. The teacher had taught secondary school French, and her husband was senior lecturer in French at Lancaster University and he ran a group called Writers and Thinkers. Half a dozen of us read a wide range of serious literature over the fifteen years then had the benefit of an unofficial university lecture followed by mutual discussion - everything from Proust to Heller, and Sartre to Voltaire and tons of stuff in between. That was a very rewarding experience. Sadly Sheila and Terry moved to Derbyshire a few months ago to be closer to their academic son and daughter - son is chair of music at a university and has written musicology books on Mozart, and daughter is a professional philosopher!

afootinthehills said...

Very impressive Conrad. I knew from your posts you were an accomplished French speaker but sadly Lynne had to stop her classes which was a pity because she was making good progress.

Sir Hugh said...

Afoot - just to clarify: we were not reading all that literature in French, albeit that was Terry's subject. We did cover a lot of French literature in English translations.

Roderick Robinson said...

"Hunkering down, cold, wet and miserable". Sounds like you're gilding the lily, pleading for sympathy. Weren't you in possession of specie; didn't the Wheatsheaf have beds?

Sir Hugh said...

RR - I still needed to get back to my car left in a very remote spot, and I guess I did not want to do the ten mile cross-country trek next morning to get there. Anyway, it was good to get a bit of pay-back from my still semi-dependant offspring. As it happened they both turned up and the drive back to my car with W. at the wheel was stressful to say the least.