The Anabasis in 50 Objects: Objects 1 to 25


Objects 26-50
Object 51 onwards


1. The Objects   2. A Red Fleece-Lined Sleeping Bag   3. The Cement Mixer

4. A Pink Tape Sling    5. A  Square Frying Pan     6. The Meets List      

7. A Cadbury's Creme Egg     8. (A) Sheep    9. The Founding Myth     10. The Beard

11. The Mount Suphan Air Crash     12. The Weather      13. The Stile

14. The Barbecue    
15. A Pair of Ford Wellies

16. A Penmaenmawr Fell Race 25th Anniversary Coaster         17. The Bonfire Guy

18. The Hotpot Pan
      19. A Cow's Tail       20. A Black Dog

21. The Rock Below The Land    22. The Look of The Land

23. The Annual General Meeting     24. The Gas Bottle       25. The Snowdon Horseshoe


The Anabasis in 50 Objects

This has been inspired by the approach used by Neil MacGregor, outgoing Director of the British Museum, in (among other books) his History of the World in 100 Objects. The idea is that the Objects tell the story of the Club and its people - not just historically, but in its present incarnation too. The growing collection allows us to tell some personal stories, give attention to some of those ordinary-taken-for-granted objects that are important in the life of the Club, and to celebrate those things we all share and which give the people of the Anabasis their collective identity.

Let us begin with:

Object Number One: 

                                           The Objects

These statements appear in the Current (2013) Constitution:

2.4  The purposes of the Club are to promote and provide support for the amateur sport of mountaineering and community participation in that sport. KR
2.4.1 The term ‘mountaineering’ is deemed to include climbing and walking and related activities such as caving, fell-running and skiing.

The letters KR indicate that this is a 'Key Rule'. Identifying the Key Rules was necessary in order to get the Club's Governing Document into the format required for registration as a Community Amateur Sport Club, a status that would have enabled us to claim Gift Aid on donations. We were not successful in this in the first instance and it has not been pursued further.

There is a link to the current Constitution on the Running The Club Page.
 
The previous (1992) Constitution stated that:

The objects of the Club shall be to encourage the pursuits of mountaineering, walking, skiing, cave exploration and fell running; to bring together men and women who are interested in these pursuits and to whatever shall be deemed by the Committee, or the Club from time to time, to be conducive to the attainment of the foregoing objectives.

I am sure there is lots more to be said about all that but it's enough for now!

Object Number Two:

A Red Fleece-Lined Sleeping Bag (Simon Letts)


Red sleeping bag   It lives in the cupboard in our  

  bathroom, hidden by all sorts of other
  sleeping bags, duvets, sheets. It was
  probably the second or third time I’d  
  stayed at the hut; I wasn’t a member  
  then, just Dave’s guest. Dave, a
  member of a climbing club; I didn’t
  know people like that.
  On the first occasion, I’d been
  introduced to Stan, with the words
  “He’s a runner”. I didn’t even really
  understand what that meant; all I
  knew was that Stan, the Runner, had
  cycled over from Liverpool, so he was
  more than just a runner. I didn’t know
  people who did that sort of thing.

One of the next times, we went to Craig Yr Ysfa and I met Rob, with the hint that “he’s a properclimber”. We’d set off early, before Rob arrived, so my first sight of him was a figure powering up the access road below us. I didn’t know people who did that sort of thing.

At the crag a route called Mur y Niwl was pointed out and I was told that someone called Billy had climbed it recently. It looked hard to my new eyes. I didn’t know people who could do that sort of thing. (It is hard, Ed.)

 Anyway, the red fleece sleeping bag? I’d got to the hut and realised I had no bag – what to do? A visit to Joe Brown’s shop was the answer and I was sold something they told me would be a two-season bag or a four-season inner – very useful. All I can think is that Garth must have its own seasons – I was frozen! I don’t often use the bag these days, it’s too hot to be an inner and not good enough on its own. I don’t forget my down bag anymore, though.

Nowadays the bag usually stays in the cupboard but whenever I happen to see it poking out from under the other stuff I always get a warm feeling, remembering those cold nights and the fact that I still know those same people, and more, who do that sort of thing.

Object Number Three:

 The Cement Mixer


Cement Mixer   The cement mixer has an illustrious history,    
  initally serving time with the President during
  the construction of his present house, before
  being passed to the Club for duties associated
  with maintenance work at the Hut. 

  The principle keeper of the cement mixer during
  the works was Billy Murphy and the picture
  shows him feeding the beast from its supply
  of  feed in the yellow buckets. On the many  
  occasions he was subject to abuse and
  ill-treatment by his work colleagues, Billy could
  be found seeking solace with the cement 
  mixer.  As is clear from the photo, it was a
  relationship founded on deep levels of mutual
  affection and regard. 

  The cement mixer resembles an infant child in
  that it requres constant feeding and cleaning and generates semi-solid material of varying consistency. In key respects, however, it differs from the child: whereas the infant human has separate openings for imbibement and evacuation, the cement mixer has just the one, everything going in and out through the same orifice. The point may be made that the infant child (and indeed other humans when unwell) will on occasion use the same opening for imbibement and evacuation, but the key characteristic differentiating factor remains. A further feature which separates the cement mixer from the infant child is that in the case of the mixer, what comes out of the opening is far more useful than what goes in.

This little whimsy is weighted with the gravity of truth: dung has been used as a building material for thousands of years.

Object Number Four:

A Pink Tape Sling

pinktape

 
 My last climbing visit to Clogwyn d'ur Arddu was a while back,  maybe 18 years ago. I was with my mate Simon Letts and our  main objective for the day was Llithrig, a climb of Hard Very
 Severe standard on the East Buttress. First climbed by Joe Brown  and Nat Allen in 1952, it moves from the foot of a deep  cleft (Sunset Crack) onto an open wall where the crux moves lead  to a spike whence a swing/lower/downclimb manouevre ins a  ledge  low on the right providing sufficient oomph! is attained to  prevent being dragged back into space by the rope. There was a  pink tape sling on the spike and after Simon joined me on the  ledge we flicked it off and continued upwards without further (or  at least not very much) ado. Of course all this is supposed to be  climbed 'free' these days but as well as making it easier, the
 character of the climb owes much to the rope antics originally  thought to be required. We continued to the top of the East  Buttress by way of the Direct Finish at Hard Severe and then
 decided to embark on a West Buttress adventure to round off the  day. In the event, discretion was easily the better part of what little  valour we had left to call on and we opted for Pedestal  Crack.  Taken by its Direct Start it proved fruitier than  anything we had  encountered on Llithrig.After, that as the athletes say, we had left  nothing on the track.

 So that was my last climbing visit to Clogwyn d'ur Arddu but it was  not my last encounter withthat greatest of Welsh mountain cliffs.  
 In  Summer 2013 I went up in the train with Jackie (yes...the
  train!)  and on reaching the top she decided to eschew her return
 ticket in  favour of a linger on the summit and a leisurely walk 
 down in  the evening sunshine. My reward was a great look at
 Cloggy  which  was more than just a view, it was as if a book
 had opened  before me and there for me to look at were some of
 the best  days of life. The picture gives no sense of scale- it's 250
 feet from  top to bottom. Llithrig takes the wall between the deep
 cleft of  Sunset Crack on the left and the sunlit blocky line of
 Piggot's Climb on the right.

 When I check in at the end I shall report to the Big Fella upstairs:  'days well lived, those, climbing Llithrig withSimon and taking the   train up Snowdon with Jackie. And here's the pink tape sling and  a picture to prove it'.


Object Number Five:

A Square Frying Pan

Thank you Lyn Appleton for an excellent Object!  

Square Pan  I've never seen a square frying pan  since.  Once, it disappeared for ages.  The Square Frying Pan speaks of full  English breakfasts washed down with  endless cups of tea, followed later by  mugs of instant coffee, whilst outside  driving rain kept us off the hill and we  were free to enjoy bacon, sausages,  eggs, fried bread, fried tomatoes,  tomato ketchup or HP, slices of white  bread to mop up the bacon fat, and  toast with lashings of butter and jam.  (A good square meal! ed.) Healthy  eating hadn't come to our shores yet.  And, anyway, we'd work it all off on the  Hill once the rain stopped...

A greasy breakfast was the panacea for a hangover.  True!  And whilst we fried, dim recollections from the previous night would be examined and elaborated on, heroes were made and winnets (whinnets?) mocked.  Good-natured banter, lots of laughter, and cigarette smoke filled the Hut.

That's going back a bit.  

I am advised by Roger Reid that the term 'winnet' was created by Ray Rogers, and instantly adopted by George M.  It was loudly, joyously - and frequently - hurled at someone whose performance, despite majorly good intentions, was pathetic.

George Murphy reports that the Square Frying pan was the work of a Cammell Laird apprentice.
On a Metalwork Project Theme, see also Object Fifty Two.


   Object Number Six:  

The Meets List 

meetslist   Here is an Object that may make some of our older members   misty-eyed with nostslgia - the Meets List. Of course we still   have a Meets List of sorts now but it is a somewhat phantom   thing which makes fleeting appearances on the website and
  in no way comparable to the physical reality of the List on
  the Meets Card. Interestingly, nowhere on the Card does it
  reveal what year it was, but a bit of detective work by yours
  truly indicates that it was 1982.

  The Meets List reads like a roll call of high ambition and
  order of fun, with gatherings at Anglesey, Pembroke,
  the Yorkshire Dales (under and over), the Lakes, and at two
  ends of some kind of spectrum - a Skye Ridge trip and a
  Booze Up at the Hut. Were both these, I wonder, delivered
  as advertised?  My money is on just the one, and that one
  being the Booze Up.  Now someone will tell I am wrong, and
  that the Skye Ridge was indeed done - I hope so!  And there
  was to be a Winter Meet - that was before the sun rock days!
 
    I leave you to wonder, if it is in your lifetime: what did I (meaning you, not me!) do in 1982?   

Meetscard


Object Number Seven:

A Cadbury's Creme Egg


Creme EggThank you to Esther Threlfall for this very tasty object (and as you see, we get not one but two).

A few years ago I stayed at the hut over Easter weekend with a friend. Sadly there was only the two of us there but we had a fabulous day, with glorious weather for doing the Snowdon Horseshoe. In fact the unexpected weather meant that we got a little sunburnt and my winter walking trousers were rather too hot. The weekend took me on a trip down memory lane and I spent the time with ghosts of Easters past where us kids woke up on Easter morning, the hut full of families, friends and laughter and a long line of Easter Eggs were delicately balanced on the beams by parents who probably risked life and limb to get them there whilst we slept (is that chapter 2 of this tale?). The highlight of the morning was Dave Barton's Easter Egg hunt and we loved following him around the outside of the hut and no doubt squeaked with delight each time we found a cream egg deftly hidden and lovingly left by the Easter Bunny. It was a magical time of year with lambs in the fields and everything coming back to life. In my mind, the sun always shone at Easter. Whether that is true or not, I'm happy for it to remain that way in childhood memory.

Object Number Eight:

(A) Sheep


shepLinguistically, the 'sheep' is interesting in that the word has no, and needs no, plural, encompassing as it does both a single animal and a multitude of them. It is, therefore, at one and the same time single in its plurality and plural in its singularity.

It is easy to take our woolly friends for granted, but they are integral to the Anabasis tree of life - without the sheep, no farm at Garth and without the farm, no abandoned barn which became our Hut. Without the sheep, the Snowdonia we know and love would wear a coat of trees up to 2,000 feet. Igneous upheaval and glacial gouging may have given the landscape its figure, but it is the sheep - the one and the many - who tailor its outfit. And when the wind falls still, the music of the mountains is the sound of the sheep.

Sheep farming is in decline in Snowdonia. At the end of the ninetheenth century, there were over 3,000 farms in Snowdonia, by the 1960's this had dropped to 1,600 and there were only 1,000 actively working by 2010.  Only larger scale farms are viable and Thomas Jones at Garth has been able to expand through acquisition of a farm in Llanwrst.

Much of what little I know about sheep farming I learned from Thomas Firbank's book 'I Bought A Mountain'. Of course it was not a mountain that he bought but the farm across the valley from Garth: we came to know it as Esmé's place, for Esmé his then wife who stayed on after they went their separate ways during the Second World War. Some things will have changed since Firbank wrote his book (1940), with National Park rules and EEC regulation and economics having a big say over the farming industry in Snowdonia, but I bet the fundamentals of what Firbank called 'the ultimate joy of tending nature in her labour', remain unchanged. At this time of year (March) the new-born lambs are evidence of nature's labour continuing: in their singularity and plurality, the sheep are always with us. In Christine Garster/McCombe's lovely words:
'The sheep are Wales, the sheep are peace, the sheep are grounding, they are just there.'

 (There's more on the sheep at Object Twenty Two and on sheep, Thomas and Esmé at
Object Forty)

Object Number Nine:

The Founding Myth

Xenophon  
 George Murphy recalls "how I spent many hours in later years attempting
 to explain...the name!" but the written record  (in the 40th Anniversary
 Anthology) reveals only that he was "eventually presented with a copy of the
 Book of Xenophon by Eddie Gray". (Apparently the idea for the name came  from Ian Cass). In the same Anthology, Ray Rogers provided this:

 "ANABASIS (Greek anábasis, meaning literally 'to go up' and more generally used to to describe any journey away from the coast".

"Historically...it is the epic story of Xenephon and the March of the Ten Thousand. This was an expedition comprising some ten thousand Greek mercenaries led by Xenophon, who, in 400 B.C., assisted Cyrus the Younger in attempting to wrest the thone of Persia from his brother, King Artaxerxes II. Ill-fated from the very start (Xenophon failed to heed correctly the advice of Socrates) and beset by difficuties throughout the course of the campaign, the expedition eventually returned home to Greece having marched over 3,000 miles in approximately 15 months. To the very end, through leadership, discipline and comradeship, the expedition remained largely intact as a fighting body. It is perhaps not surprisng that ANABASIS was readily accepted as the name of our Club. It is unique and gives rise to expectations of dependability and accomplishment which, in the main, have never disappointed".

Warwick Waterworth has read a Penguin translation of the original Anabasis. He notes that the book was actually titled “The Persian Expedition” and surmises that 'Penguin thought that this would make the contents clearer, or maybe that the title “Anabasis” had been besmirched by association with a suspect group on Merseyside'.  Warwick notes that the word 'Anabasis' has 'come to suggest an interminable plod through mountainous country, assailed by ferocious locals who view you with extreme disfavour (rather like club trips to Scotland, in fact)'.

Warwick adds: 'Anyone consulting a dictionary may be informed that “anabasis” refers only to the initial march up from the sea to a battlefield near Babylon, whereas the long withdrawal was a “katabasis”.  I have even read an allegation that Xenophon misnamed his book. Surely this is nit-picking and what Ray says above is in essence and spirit correct. The root meaning is simply “a going up” and the battle takes place only near the beginning of Xenophon’s narrative. Much the greater part concerns the Greeks’ fortitude, mutual reliance and thoughtful planning during their arduous trek homewards'.

Object Number Ten:

                                               The Beard


beards  The Object to be celebrated here is not a particular  beard (although there are some fine examples of  male chin and cheek wear to enjoy (left), and indeed  on the face of the figure in Object Nine). Rather, we  seek to celebrate a general beard of which these are  but passing evidence. Necessarily, this Object  requires focus on the male of the Anabasis species  only, and as a past and potential beard wearer I  would get into no end of trouble celebrating, or indeed
 'objectifying', any features which are particular to  female members of the Anabasis species.   
 
 Philosphically, making our Object ''The Beard' but not  any particular beard, presents us with a problem. But  moving seamlessly on from the Founding Greek    Myth, we turn to Plato and  Bertrand Russell's Story  of Western Philosophy. (Of Xenophon, Russell says:  'a military man, not very liberally endowed with  brains'). Paraphrasing, and substituting 'beard' for  Russell's 'cat':
   
In the logical part of Plato's doctrine, there are many individual beards of which we can truly say 'this is a beard'.  But what do we mean by the word 'beard'? Obviously something different for each particular beard. A beard is a beard, it seems, because it participates in a general nature common to all beards. But if the word 'beard' means anything, it means something which is not this or that beard, but some universal kind of beardiness. This does not appear when shaving ceases (or does not start), nor does it disappear when the beard is shaved off. In fact, it has no position in space or time, it is eternal.  According to the metaphysical part of the doctrine, the word 'beard' means a certain ideal beard, 'the beard', created by God, and unique. Particular beards partake in the nature of the beard but more or less imperfectly; it is only owing to this imperfection that there can be so many of them. The beard is real; particular beards are only apparent. 

So there you have it: four particularly flawed examples of the ideal beard (apparently), partaking imperfectly, temporarily, in some universal kind of beardiness!

Object Number Eleven:

The Mount Suphan Air Crash

mountsuphan
 In some repsects this epic tale is a second
 Founding Myth, sharing with the Anabasis one an
 Asia Minor setting and a fair bit of going up and
 journeying from the coast. The facts are sufficiently
 awesome to need little 'rounding' by President
 George Murphy who was awarded the BEM for his
 efforts. Since then it has taken sufficient hold in the
 Club's imagination for it to be suggested that the
 original heroics be honoured by a Club Meet in situ,
 but current political and military factors make this
 untenable. Thank you to Roger Reid for the link that
 enabled me to add this Object to our collection.

Mount Suphan is a 14,547 foot mountain in Eastern Turkey, close to the the Soviet Armenian borders. In winter 1959, an Avro Tudor crashed and there was concern not just for the crew (who sadly all perished) but also for the top secret equipment on board bound for the Woomera Rocket Site in Australia. It was important that this did not fall into the worng hands. Once the crash site had been located, the RAF Mountain Rescue Team based in Cyprus was dispatched. They climbed the mountain and in very poor conditions and working with the grim remnants of the aircraft and its crew, played a key role in the destruction of the secret equipment. This was Murphy's own Anabasis.

On September 3rd 2016, Club Member Pete Simpson, with companion Ismet, climbed Mount Suphan and visited the crash site. No debris from the 1959 crash was found, but given the length of time and the use by local people (who are mainly poor) of anything useful to build their houses, this is unsurprising.  Pete is, I think, the only Club Member to have climbed the mountain. There was no Anabasis when Murphy was there.  

Of course there is a lot more to this and you might want to begin with:
https://heavywhalley.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/turkish-aircraft-crash-mt-suphan-1959
-limited-gear-and-a-map-with-a-scale-of-18-miles-to-the-inch/


And then this video, where a party fnds wreckage, apparently from the Avro Tudor, on the mountain.  The wreckage does not appear straight away, you have to persevere with it (though not as much as the climbers in the film).          https://youtu.be/VmFuRBHbFl8

Ismet, who climbed Mount Suphan with Peter, surmises that they were looking in the wrong place. His commentary is helpful because the voice-over in the film is in Turkish, as is the link in the piece. Fascinating stuff though! Thank you, Ismet. 


Object Number Twelve:

The Weather


weatherstation  Visitors to the Club Hut at Garth will know that not every
 day is dry and that sometimes the stillness of the
 mountain air can be disturbed by a breeze. But what
 stays in the mind are the days of extremes, especially of
 wind and rain. 'Prepare thee thy ark!" I wrote once in the
 Hut Book when the river overflowed and flooded the A5 at
 Capel Curig. And the strength of the wind out of the west
 can make a trial of that walk from the car to the Hut. But
 you do not need to go to Garth to know this because the
 Capel Curig Weather Station is situated just behind the
 Farm where cars park, just up the hill from the Hut. So
 when you get a weather report from Capel Curig it is not
 really from Capel Curig at all - the village is a mile away -
 it is from Garth. So henceforth we shall refer to it as the So-Called Capel Curig Weather Station.  

Weather reports from the So-Called Capel Curig Weather Station often suggest that it is trying to break, if not world and national records, at least its own Personal Best. In the 48 hours beginning 9.00 am on Christmas Day 2015, the So-Called Capel Curig Weather Sation recorded 210.6 mm of rain, that is over 8 inches in old money. Between the 1st and 28th December 2015 the So-Called Capel Curig Weather Sation recorded 1012.2 mm (39 inches) trouncing its previous best by over 400 mm and its average total of 308.9 mm. Those 39 inches exceed the average annual total for most parts of the UK. In December 2013 a wind speed of 85 mph was recorded by the so-called Capel Curig Weather Station and in January 2015 it claimed a gust of 96 mph. Anything in excess of 73 mph is 'Hurricane Force' on the Beaufort windspeed scale. But as we know, sometimes it can be absolutely lovely, and then we will not hear a peep from the
So-Called Capel Curig Weather Station and will just have to get out there to enjoy it.  

Object Number Thirteen:

The Stile


stile  The Stile was once a more significant Object in Club Life than  it is today: in former times,the usual parking spot was below  the Farm builduings, followed by a trek across the fields on  the north side of the stone wall which runs down from the  Farm to the Hut. The wall was then crossed by means of the  stile, a sometimes hazardous adventure if fully laden and with  a slippery rock to catch the unwary on the Hut side.

 Nowadays, the usual parking spot is behind the Farm next to  the So-Called Capel Curig Weather Station.  A track  leads  down on the south sde of the wall so The Stile does not  have to be used to get to the Hut.

 The Stile does remain a feature of the Direct Route to the  shower block from the Hut, so shower-takers can continue to  enjoy the adventure that is crossing The Stle.


barbarac  
 Thank you to Barbara Conway for this lovely story about Style over Stile!  Probably the stile which was such a severe challlenge to Barbara's style was not
 The Stile, the Object that crosses the wall by the Hut, but we like to think of her
 enjoying similar challenges when crossing The Stile..

 "Having been "picked up" by a gang of Anabasees at a dance, I was invited by  (Dave) Bradshaw to the hut for the Christmas get together, I think in 1964. We all  went out in a mini bus. I don't remember the doo, but I do remember the following  morning going out for a walk, I think we walked to a pub!  I must explain that I  was a beatnik at the time and was wearing some very very tight trousers, that  were almost sewn on to me. We got to a stile and I couldn't bend my legs to get  over the dratted thing, I was mortified, and would still be there now if it wasn't for  the ingenuity of some Anabasis members". 

 After reading about Barbara and her very tight trousers, some of you may need
 to go for a little lie down. It is as close as we are going to get to 'objectifying'  features which are particular to female members of the Anabasis species. The  image on the left has been supplied to assist in your recovery.



Object Number Fourteen:

The Barbecue


barbq The annual bar-b-q event in mid-summer has  been an Anabasis institution for as long as I can  remember.  The Barbecue used to have its own  semi-dedicated  space in the formerly derelict  section of the Hut and  this provided shelter for  the glowing charcoals and a few cooks and  diners. Since work started on  restoring the  derelict section back in 2011, a 'pop-up'  approach has been necessary with the Barbecue  set  up in a more exposed position at the front of  the Hut.  A collection of rickety looking  metalware is assembled, and as there is metal  involved I deduce the hand of Dave Barton here.   

Object Number Fifteen

A Pair of Ford Wellies


wellies  In past times, some of our members were employed by the Ford  Motor Company at their plant at Halewood, Liverpool. The plant is  now owned by Jaguar. During the Ford days, many were the  stories about the goings on and goings out at the factory. Among  the goings out was this pair of wellington boots, which the Ford  Motor Company has been kind enough to let me have on
 indefinite loan - some 38 years and counting. In truth they are
 past their best, but nothing that a bit of sticky tape could not fix. I
 was by no means the only Club Member to benefit from the Ford
 Motor Company's generosity and this led to another of those odd
 Club traditions - the welly throwing contest. Typically, this was a
 feature of summer bar-b-q gatherings at the Hut. So far as I know  there are no records of comtestants and results.    
 On the liberated from Fords Theme, see also Object Fifty Two.


Object Number Sixteen

A Penmaenmawr Fell Race 25th Anniversary Coaster



Penmaenmawr Coaster  In 1974, David Jones, a member of the Penmaenmawr  Mountain Club suggested running a fell race. The first  race, in November 1974, was open only to PM Club  members,  but it proved 'so enjoyable' that it was  opened  up to others  and having been introduced to fell  running by  Malcolm  'Stan' Winstanley the Anabasis was  soon  entering a team. Both Team and individual events  were  won by  Club Members in those early years ('Stan'  once,  Pete  Simpson twice). Subsequently teams of  'Harriers'  entered  and these dedicated athletes were soon  dominating the race. Latterly the Club's participation has  reduced but a few people enter every year, notably Simon  Rogers.

The coaster is made of Welsh slate and one was presented to everyone who took part in the 25th Anniversary race. There is a 30th Anniversary one too.

My recollection is of an enjoyable occasion day out, once the awful business of the race - 12 miles over rough, high ground - was over. There was soup and a roll to reward the finishers and a fine atmosphere and great company in the pubs, plus more good fellowship to look forward to back at Garth later on. That last bit can still be relied upon, even for those not taking part in the Race.  And the date of the event continues to be a fixture in the Club calendar because it sets the date for our annual Bonfire gathering at Garth.....cue hotpots and bonfire Guys!

Object Number Seventeen

The Bonfire Guy


Guy  Every year for as many as I can recall, a hightlight of the  Club's annual Bonfire gathering at Garth has been the Guy,  each and every one of them a masterpiece crafted by the  skilful hand and (it has to be said) disordered mind, of Chris  Hatton.  Chris's skills as a craftsman are well known, and he  has used these to good effect in the Hut's fittings. What is  less recognised is that Chris is an artist, and a courageous  and challenging artist at that.  Let us just waddle off on a   philosophical ramblng about the nature of art: does a work of  art, a painting, say, or a piece of music, exist in its own right  or only in the moment that it is being  experienced: seen (in  the case of the painting), or heard (in the case of the music?).  Of course the seeing, the hearing, may persist in our mind's  imagining, but that does not prove the exisitence of the art.  So is the art the picture on the wall, the notes on the score,  the recorded medium, or just the moment of our experiencing  it through our senses?

 So now let us turn to the courageous and challenging artist  that is Chris Hatton.

 Chris confronts the exisitential question of art head-on by  making the peak of his artistic creation the instant of its  destruction. Numerous lovingly crafted 'Guys' have been set
 on top of the bonfire pile and put to the fire. There is then, no  Guy to imagine still sitting on top of the timbers at the Hut  after we go, no Guy to pop in and see again next time we are  in the area. All we are left with are fond memories of popping  ping pong balls and peeling paintwork, fiendish fireworks and  exploding splinters, frying spaceships and flying planes,  sizzling soldiers and charred collapsing timbers, and in  the illustrated case, the limp hand of the skeleton (believed to  be that of Hut Warden, Clive Lane) waving eerily to the  incredulous fire-glowing human faces before being consumed  by the flames. (That was November 2014's Guy).

 Thank you Chris. What a Guy!


Object Number Eighteen


The Hotpot Pan


pan Thank you to Jan Murphy for this one.....and for all the  hotpots!  Jan says:

 'This is extreme catering. Cooking hot pots for the club.  When we had the gaslights I had to use a head  torch  to see the hotpot through all the steam.
 Good times and no complaints.'  
 
 I was hoping Jan might divulge the recipe, but if she  did that she might have to kill me!


Object Number Nineteen

                                              A Cow’s Tail

curlybit

cow  It was the morning of the work-meet, and a cow, having  paid her rent in the form of milk to Farmer Jones,  proceeded out of the barn, and up to the weather  station.  Weather forecasting was her talent, and she  always  enjoyed mocking the over-complicated weather  predicting  devices by simply lying down next to them.  She already  knew it was going to be the one day in the  year that it did  not rain on Garth. Several club members walked by  
 rather sheepishly with their tools. She looked at them   nonchalantly and they looked  rather speculatively back
 at her.

The workers scurried around like ants as she watched from the top of the hill. Counting the men as they hopped back and forth over the stile, she drifted off into a dream where, thanks to Kamadhenu[1], the grass was o’ so much greener on the other side…

Suddenly, she awoke to the sound of the generator getting jolted back to life. “What’s that?” she thought, as she got up as quick as a maverick. She bounded down the hill to take a closer look. Having not been near the ‘barn-for-humans’ before, she admired their ‘brick shit-house’ attempt of keeping up with the Joneses. The members could be seen hard at work, basking in the sun and sipping tea.

The cow’s attention had now been caught by something far more alluring. Engaging ‘cow-espionage’, she pranced up closer to this apparent UFO, and it was clear now what it was. 
A fresh juicy sapling decorated with ripe berries, only heard of in myth from her welsh bovine ancestors, had landed from the heavens, framed in a beautiful wooden shrine!

Slowly edging towards this godly hamper, she thought that her shroud of camouflage had ‘suddenly’ been lost on the PG chimps, and she looked speculatively at them, and they looked rather nonchalan-tetley back at her.

“I haven’t seen cows down by the hut in years…” muttered one of the workers, continuing to drink tea.

By now the cow was only a cow hair’s breadth away from this forbidden fruit, and the only thing that was inconveniently in her way was the sheepish wooden defences. The tree was gently swaying in the breeze, and the wooden fence was holding its ground as good as the British flood defences. With mouth open and tongue poised she prayed to her God. With one mighty breath from Kamadhenu, the wind caught the sapling and swayed it over the edge of the wooden platter! Her tongue stripped the branch of its berries and leaves; the taste was divine, and in this moment of ecstasy, with the workers suddenly shouting and clapping praise, or so she thought, she pranced off back up to the weather station for another nap!

curlybit

                                                           
eddie's treeA mountain ash was planted in 2012, in memory of Eddie Gray, and originally wooden defences were put in place to protect it from the sheep. After this episode, the defences were significantly reinforced.

  The ‘Welzch Hedgehog’ now stands as a  static  
  anti- tankcow obstacle defence,  protecting its cargo    from all creatures  great and small


[1] Kamadhenu is a divine bovine-goddess described in Hinduism as the mother of all cows. She is a miraculous "cow of plenty" who provides her owner with whatever they desire.

Thank you to Alex Gray for this excellent Object! The weather station referred to is the So-Called Capel Curig Weather Station. 

Object Number Twenty

                                             A Black Dog

dog
Thank you to Warwick Waterworth for contributing this canine object: Warwick is wrong to say that a Dog is not an Object - for our purposes it is one of the many things that can be, and is.  The illustrated dog is not the dog which is the hero of Warwick's tale, so it is not that dog, nor indeed any other dog, it is simply an image of some universal kind of doginess The philosphically inclined may wish to refer to Object Ten, The Beard, for more.

Not an Object, but a black dog, unavailable because dead. My sole claim to fame of a sorts in the annals of the Anabasis is that, long ago on a crowded train in Czechoslovakia, said animal in dire need chose my leg as a substitute for a tree or lamp-post. I was standing in the doorway of a compartment speaking to my so-called chums, with my back to the corridor. Never since have I seen so many people so convulsed with helpless laughter. The dog was attached to a young lady who scarpered like greased lightning.  

Object Number Twenty One

The Rock Below The Land



garth geology

My thanks to Mike Hart and Stan Eccles for this erudite contribution:

The date is 455 million years ago, towards the end of the Ordovician geological period. The location (of Garth) is somewhere well south of the equator, thousands of miles away from where it is now. There are many volcanoes. The sea is not far away. The ash from the volcanoes is forming a rock of rhyolite type. Rhyolite is common in Snowdonia, the Lakes, Glencoe and elsewhere, and forms most of the main climbing crags in those areas. The molten ash flows across the landscape......and into the sea, where it cools rapidly and mixes with various sands, muds and so forth. Today it is a relatively resistant rock and hence stands up as a knoll a few metres above the surrounding terrain.

So it is rhyolite-type, volcanic, Ordovician in age and (unusually) cooled as it flowed into the sea - and, because it is unusual, is of considerable world-wide geological importance(!) as it is one of the first locations where it was recognised that rocks could form in that way.  Some volcanic material would probably have been from 'nuee ardente' (glowing cloud) - fine volcanic material blown out of the vent of a volcano. Today at Garth  these rocks are covered by glacial material deposited during the last ice age ending about 11000 years ago. This material includes clay and rocks carried by glaciers. (More on the glaciers in Object Twenty Two).

The geological map above is taken from Volume 17: Caledonian Igneous Rocks of Great Britain Chapter 6: Wales and adjacent areas, by M. Smith. (Link below). Volcanic deposits are either subaerial (from volcanoes above the sea) or subaqueous (from volcanoes below the surface of the sea). Smith states that:

"The exposures west of Capel Curig village are of international importance, as it was here that welded submarine ash-flow tuffs were first identified in ancient rocks...... The Capel Curig GCR (Geological Conservation Review) site provides classic exposures exemplifying the delivery of subaerial pyroclastic flow deposits into a shallow-marine environment".

 

Smith also notes that: "Large detached bodies of tuff, up to 100 m × 250m in plan, and surrounded by the underlying sandstones, are sporadically preserved. These bodies of tuff are lithologically identical to the main tuff". One of these detached bodies of tuff is the more resistant rocky knoll on which Garth stands. Some people may remember the children identifying the next knoll west of the Hut and claiming it as a pirate island! Picture here.

The map shows the Capel Curig Anticline, which runs approximately in line with the present Dyffryn Mymbyr valley.  An anticline is an arch-like up-fold – this is odd because it now forms a valley!  Perhaps the apex of the anticline is higher up on the side of Moel Siabod and the dipping slabs we see from the Hut are evidence of that. Similarly odd is the syncline – the converse of an anticline, a down-fold – which forms the summit of Snowdon!

http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/pdf/gcrdb/GCRsiteaccount270.pdf

Object Number Twenty Two

 


The Look of The Land



Dyfffryn Mymbyr

The photograph shows the valley of Dyffryn Mymbyr from the eastern end of the Glyders. Garth Farm can be seen on its relatively resistant knoll (see Object Twenty One) just beyond the lake. The look of the land at Garth today is the work of glaciation and human beings. Native deciduous trees cover just 5% of the landscape; in the 16th century it would have been some 65%. Since then, clearance for timber and grazing, and the continuing maintenance programme undertaken by the sheep, shape what we see now. A few sheep and the ribbon of the road stand out in the picture. The small stand of trees above the road at the centre of the picture shows the location of the Dyffryn Mymbyr farm, made famous by Thomas Firbank's book, I Bought a Mountain.

The main glaciation of the area took place some 18,000 years ago, when there was an enormous ice sheet centred on the Migneint/Arrenig area (east of Betwys-y-Coed around where Ysbyty Yfan is now). The ice sheet was 1400 metres thick, over-topping the highest peaks in Snowdonia today - though some of them may have been taller then and poked out of the ice sheet as 'nunnataks'. There was a warmer spell when the ice retreated, and then some 12,000 years ago a mini-glaciation when the cwms on Snowdon were carved: the consequent glaciers flowed westwards towards the sea by way of what is now Llanberis and Nant Gwynant. All this left me wondering about which way the ice flowed in Dyffryn Mymbyr, the valley where Garth is. So I asked Mike Hart (who knows about this stufff) for a view: 

I have been looking at this, the question of which way the ice flowed at Garth, without coming to any firm conclusion.

Two factors complicate the issue straight away. 1. Ice can flow uphill over short distances when under pressure. 2. Snowdonia (and other areas as well) was glaciated several times during the Ice Age, and the ice might have flowed in different directions at different times.

I suspect that, whichever way it was flowing, it wasn't flowing very fast. The evidence for that is the more or less circular shape (in plan view, as seen on a map) of the rock knoll on which Garth stands. If the ice had been flowing strongly in a definite direction it would almost certainly have produced an asymmetrical feature like a roche moutonnee, and the direction of the asymmetry would have told us the direction of flow.

Today, the downstream direction of river flow at Garth is east, so, in the absence of any conclusive evidence to the contrary, we have to assume the ice flowed that way too.

So the best I can offer is that, at this low-gradient valley location near the top of the pass, the ice probably flowed east, slowly.

Mike was supported by Stan Eccles (who also knows about this stuff): The Garth glacier would have flowed eastward then north down what is now the Conway valley to meet the Irish Sea ice.

http://www.eryri-npa.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/114782/Impact-of-GLaciation.pdf

In the picture below (from near the Hut), two of the smaller reisistant knolls are clearly seen, left and centre right, with a larger one back right. On the left, the steep east-facing edges of the slabs on the flanks of Moel Siabod and the crags on the larger knoll are evidence of west to east glacier movement - if I remember right from school geography, the glacier has an action like a breaking wave which 'plucks' the rock to form the 'downstream' steepening.

 

Garth hummocks


Object Number Twenty Three

The Annual General Meeting (AGM)


The Club's AGM is normally held in January or February each year, with the usual formalities to be negotiated - election of Committee Members (inlcuding the 'Officers': Chairman, Treasurer, Secretary and Hut Warden), presentation of the Accounts by the Treasurer and reports by the Chair, Secretary and Hut Warden. But aside from the formalities, there is always more to frustrate, infuriate and enjoy:

George Murphy remembers attending the inaugural meeting of the Club in 1961:

'I was completely over-awed by the polished introdution of the founder members - Keith Britton and Ian Cass - but this paled into insignificance at the savage verbal assault on them by the audience led by Ian Sturrock. Well, you know this form of entertainment became an odd tradition in the Club - this ritual 'taking apart' in Annual General Meetings'. 

You might enjoy this account of the 1979 AGM.  (if you missed it when it was last on the website.....)

Object Number Twenty Four

The Gas Bottle

gas bottle  The red gas bottle is one of those taken-for-granted items that  deserves more recognition for the vital role it plays in life at
 the Hut. Without the gas bottle, no gas, then no cooking,  boiling water for cups of tea, hot water for washing and  washing-up, and in former times when we had gas mantles,
 there would be no lighting.  These days the gas bottles, which  used to stand  outside in all weathers, have their own  dedicated accomodation, lining up like  so many red-suited  soldiers in a sentry box, awaiting their turn to be connected to  the line, to be the one supplying gas to the hut.  But unlike
 real soldiers they do not march to order, they have to be
 manhandled into the sentry box.

 The type of gas we get is Butane. Butane is an organic  compound which is an alkane with four carbon atome, with the  formula C4H10.  Apparently Butane is the most commonly  misused volatile substance in the UK, and was the cause of  52% of solvent-related deaths in 2000. Inhalation of butane  can cause euphoria, drowsiness, narcosis, apsphyxia,  cardiac arrhythmia, fluctuations in blood pressure and
 temporary memory loss. So take care. And no, it's not just  like a hangover.  

 Both Butane and Propane are liqueified petroleum gases  (under pressure). Butane freezes at around - 10 degrees  centigrade, Propane gets to 45 below before freezing.


Object Number Twenty Five

The Snowdon Horseshoe


horseshoe

Our twenty-fifth Object is half way to our target of the Anabasis in 50 Objects, making it a landmark for which only a landmark Object will do. So here we have no less a landmark than the Snowdon Horseshoe. It is of course not just our Object,our landmark, but everyone's. But there is a sense in which the Horseshoe does indeed belong to us. It is, after all, the view that lifts the spirit as you step out of your car at Garth Farm and begin walking down the hill to the Hut; it is the wall-paper on our western wall (we just have not built the wall yet); it is the outlook through our great west window (we just don't have the window); it is the view from our upper west patio, and, of only yesterday, that we do have. There is a kind of perfect symmetry in the assymetry of this view, the long arm stretching out towards Lliwedd seeming to balance the cluster of mightier peaks on the right, with Snowdon itself the fulcrum.  

Of course the view is not always visible - taken away by weather, darkness, or our simply being somewhere else. But seen or unseen, it is always there. 

Click for Objects 26-50.                         


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