The Angry Corrie 30: Jan-Feb97

TAC 30 Index

hill informed

Dear TAC,

There is only one word for windfarms on the tops of mountains - AWFUL - an appropriate acronym for a campaign "Against Wind Farms in Upland Landscapes". As TAC29, p12 says, it's not so much the monsters themselves, which can look quite attractive silhouetted against a stormy sky, but the access roads (for the owners) and the access restrictions (for everyone else) which will inevitably follow. "Safety" (like "charity") excuses behaviour which would otherwise be unacceptable. Even the most walker-friendly landowner will baulk at the thought of ice-struck bodies littering his hill and even more at the prospect of litigation by grieving (or greedy) relatives. TAC should come down off the metaphorical fence on this issue and fight to keep real fences off the hills.


Ann and Rowland Bowker
Pond District

Dear TAC,

Well seeing as you ask, I think the windfarm at Windy Standard is very elegant. I'm aware that there will be some people who do not share this view and that's fine. It's a subjective point and neither of us are right.

TAC's Nimby-Pimby stance (not in my back yard, but in maritime boat yards) is all very well but overlooks the fact that there will be folk who don't want their ocean views modified and probably folk who wouldn't want wind farms to compete with the cranes for the dockyard skylines.

For me, the crunch is that if you want the benefits of energy, you have to take responsibility for its production. I'm not very keen on being responsible for oil, coal, gas and nuclear energy, and so I fully support renewable energy sources. It is very easy to tilt at windmills but if you had to take your fair share of either nitrates, sulphates, carbon dioxide, radioactive waste or a view of a windfarm, which would you take?


Gordon Smith (but not the p11 one)

Ed. - More windfarmery on p7.

Dear TAC,

In typical strange-but-true fashion, I claim a prior ascent of the Estonian high point. (See TAC29, p5) This was on the Oxford University Orienteering Club tour in summer 1989. If memory serves me correctly (uh ... Laphroaig has certain effects), fellow TAC subscriber John Emeleus was there too. We anticipated few technical difficulties on the ascent and our ruckacks contained little but great wodges of incredibly dense Estonian rye-bread and some aspirins for the interesting hangovers incurred by the previous night's fraternisation with the Finnish policemen and their 90%-alcohol-by-volume moonshine (it's a long story). The summit was attacked from the parking area located a convenient 300m away horizontally. Going was good initially but three-point contact was required to reach the summit itself (ie we ran up the forest road but needed to cling to the handrail on the spiral staircase in the tower due to instability and vertigo brought on by hangover, qv). The view from the top was typically Estonian, ie pine forest and collective farms in all directions to the horizon. Obligatory postcards were bought in the shop at the base of the tower.

All of which leads me to the burden of my accusation: Your man Needell obviously never made the claimed ascent. "Tussocky"??? Nae permafrost or Arctic night here either. And no mention of the tower ... obviously got nowhere near the place! Please advise Hill Bagging HQ to retain the tick for this "ascent".

Curiously, this was my first national top, although it might be disqualified by pedants on the basis that at that time Estonia was part of the Soviet Union. It remained my only such conquest until I ran up Scafell Pike a few years later. I wasn't disappointed to discover no postcard shop.


James A Cunnane

PS - New TAC list suggestion, for fearties like Murdo: national highest points reachable by walking. Would include aforementioned tower but exclude, uh, Hvannadalshnúkur on account of crevasses ...

PPS - As to the Kinloch Moscow letter: Roger Thetford, my former landlord from Deepest Oxfordshire came back from a trip to Finland a few years ago with a story about seeing a "Lake Ozerijaervi" which is "Lake" in English, Russian and Finnish. Something to do with fluctuating borders. Roger tells me that when he published his account in SCOOP (the newsletter of the South Central Orienteering Association) he got a letter from Angela Whitworth pointing out Torpenhow (OS90; NY203397). Tor = pen = how = hill. Unfortunately, Torpenhow (pronounced "Trepenna", apparently) is a village and not a hill. There are also a number of imperfect doubles such as "Lake Windermere".

And on the basis that dun = hill, I was about to submit that Dunhill cigarettes are double, but Chambers claimed that "dun" is specifically a fort. Yeaman says "some hills called 'dun' have never had forts". And what about that well-known landmark just off the M6: Fort Dunlop?

A quick trawl through Yeaman yielded a depressingly large number of doubles, even excluding variants on Dun Hill: Knock Fell, three separate occurrences of Knock Hill, plus Tulach Hill, Tullich Hill, and Tullo Hill.

My only (so far) pure English double is Mount Hill. All others found have at least one word not English by the Chambers test.

Ed. - Re Estonia, watch this space for news of Tick Needell's unprecedented "proxy bagging", trip, with Suur Munamägi due to be finally bagged via a February ascent of the pathetic nameless 140m Monaco high point. This will open up a whole new theme: claiming the In Pinn say by climbing something else entirely!

Dear TAC,

In response to the punctilious Robert Moffat (TAC28, p18), the true summit of the In Pinn is the integral point of rock east of the large, apparently precariously perched blade obvious from Sgurr Dearg. Having stood between the two points to compare heights, the easterly of the two is slightly higher, but is also the easier to physically to stand atop of. However, it seems that the tendency for the majority of In Pinn visitors is not to climb either point but to cling to the ledge north of the abseil block.

To claim a summit rather than just a mountain ascent it must surely be necessary to have stood on or made contact with the level of the highest natural point of the mountain, which is usually buried below the man-made cairn. However, there is a certain attraction in treating the highest point, natural or otherwise, as the true summit, thus enabling The Cairnwell to become as elusive a summit for Munroists as the In Pinn, rather than a sad expedition on an industrialised mountain. The Cairnwell's highest point is the top of the radio aerial adjacent to the summit hut, and it is hard to see how any number of "friends" or other devices could aid the ascent of the smooth metal in question. Perhaps climbing grades would be open-ended no longer, becoming E2, E3 ... E , aerial! In my case the prospect of watching aspiring Munroists attempt to briefly set foot atop this most minute of summit points would greatly increase the attractiveness of a day on this hill.

The ascent of a mountain rather than reaching its actual summit is also common on Carn nan Gabhar, where the SMC acknowledge, in The Munros, that the highest point is 200m NE of the trig. Recently I was sat by the highest point and watched at least eight others arrive at the highest point of their day's walk. Only one ventured the extra distance to the highest point of the mountain, the remainder choosing to indulge in their celebratory paste butties by the trig before descending again. Whilst they can properly claim to have climbed Carn nan Gabhar, they could not claim to have reached its Munro summit.


Andrew Larkins

Dear TAC,

Ann Bowker (TAC29, p17) raises an interesting issue in her letter on person-made constructions on hilltops. I think that most folk would consider permissible certain additions to summits on the basis of antiquity. Thus, tumuli, hill forts etc, having been there since dot (and certainly since the advent of bagging) may be counted as part of the fabric of the hill. To discount these kinds of additions would change the face (and height) of many hills, most notably perhaps the highest point in Englandandwales itself, Yr Wyddfa, where the OS trig point is built on top of the burial cairn. (Tourist officials and the operators of the Snowdon Mountain Railway might like to take note, however, because altering the summit height by discounting the cairn may create a great new merchandising opportunity.)

In contrast, modern obscenities such as radio masts and the like would be dismissed by most walkers without a second thought. And surely "the most famous example of human tampering" was on the summit of Ben Lawers, not some obscure stockbrockian hill as Ann suggests.

However, of more immediate concern are trig points themselves. I have never climbed a hill with a tape measure in my rucksack (although am now sorely tempted to do so), but the standard trig point must be over a metre in height. The OS, I hear, only provide spot heights to the nearest metre, so any trig point must add a metre to the summit of any be-trigged hill. Does this mean that we all should have been sitting on top of the trig points and not merely touching them to truly bag these summits? Boy, have I got some old ground to cover.

It may be, of course, that OS cartographers dutifully adjusted spot heights to take into account the presence of trig points. However, now the trig points themselves are all surplus to requirement and are no longer to be maintained by the OS, what happens? Will the new OS spy satellites know (or care) if a trig point is (or was) present on a particular hill? If so, will this be taken into account when publishing spot heights? Or are trig points now to be considered part of the summits?

Yours worriedly,

Andy Archer

Dear TAC,

I empathised with Murdo Munro's diligent preparations for an assault on the In Pinn, as depicted in TAC29: substitute the Pond's Shepherd's Crag for the climbing wall, and the Aggy Ridge for the fibre-glass model atop the Gorbals' tower, and the strip accurately describes my own - largely psychological - build-up to the bagging of this troublesome Munro. However, where Murdo failed, I succeeded - despite being a fellow feartie of the first order.

For the benefit of Murdo and all other vertigo-afflicted aspirant Compleators, here is the final step guaranteed to ensure a successful ascent of this outlandish stick of rock: wait for a misty day!


Paul Kennedy

PS - Robert Moffat is wrong (TAC28), Alan Blanco is right (TAC28), and Robin Campbell is wrong (TAC29): a frame-by-frame study of The Munro Show's aerial footage of the In Pinn, taken side on and with a level horizon, clearly shows the tip of the East Ridge towering above the top of the Bolster Stone - and by a good 2cm to boot.

PPS - Sgurr a'Mhaoraich and Gulvain in the same day? (TAC29, p4) Shurely shome mishtake?

Ed. - Okay, okay, it's a fair cop: but these G- Munros are all the same, you know how it is. Re the In Pinn, Paul wasn't the only reader to frame-by-frame Muriel's ascent: three-time visitor Ken Stewart likewise confirms the eastern (cairned?) tip as higher.

Dear TAC,

During a September ascent of An Teallach, I was appalled at the lack of dress standards on the hills. In fact, I was appalled at the lack of dress full stop. I was embarassed to observe topless walkers of both gender. I struggled and completed the hill, but this behaviour must stop.


Outraged of Kent

PS - How about an "I saw you ... " column in TAC?

Dear TAC,

Reading an article in The Scotsman (23/10/96) about the small but significant earth tremors currently hitting Midlothian (the latest registered 1.9 Richter), I came across another interesting fact. Seemingly many of the tremors are linked to mining activities, with a recent epi-centre having been calculated to have been at the relatively shallow depth of 600ft, between Newcraighall and Monktonhall. Active mining at Monktonhall, the article continued, currently takes place much deeper, at around 3000ft. At that magic figure, my Munro-challenged antennae twitched. If miners daily descend 3000ft below the surface, can they then claim a negative Munro? Would a negative subtract from any positive totals? Should there there be another list? They could be called the Miners. We should know. They could also be called the Petzls, but that would be advertising. TAC should investigate. And obviously there could be a book in it for some coke-sniffing journalist.

Only one problem. The use of elevators to descend and ascend could be looked on as artificial aid. There are also the greater ranges to list. The South African gold mines would be the Himalayan equivalent for example. But I digress. What do other readers think?


Ken Crocket

Dear TAC,

I caught a few seconds of the Two Fat Ladies cookery programme on 30/10/96, where they were threatening the safety of beaters on Glen Turret estate. The odd thing was the sign they passed as they rode in on motorcycle and sidecar. It seemed to be a bike on a white circular sign with a red border and a red line through it. Without the red line it would have meant No cycling, so presumably with it the sign should be read as No no cycling. Looks like I'll have to take my folding bike when I'm next in the area ...


Pete Stanton

PS - Spent a recent weekend in Britain's deepest cave (Ogof Ffynnon ddu in South Wales) trying not to get washed away. Given that it's over 800ft vertically from the top entrance to the bottom of the cave, is there some scope for inverse Marilyn (Nyliram, perhaps?) bagging?

Ed. - More on Turret's Syndrome in TAC31.

Dear TAC,

I am totally outraged at Grant Hutchison's denigration of the walking pole, TAC29, p15. (I prefer to call it a high-tech, telescopic trekking pole.) Does he not realise that at the height of summer, when I can no longer justify the strapping of an ice-axe to my rucksack, I can at least replace it with a walking pole? In this way I can continue to look like a technical walker. Does it not occur to him that by slagging the walking pole he is undermining one of my few opportunities to look cool? (I have to admit it does not look cool to be seen actually using it.)

So let us counter this anti-walking pole trend now before I begin to feel like a wally with one in my possession as I haul my tired body to the high places.

Incidentally, I once saw a photograph of Chris Bonington with a walking pole in each hand!


Bryan Cromwell

Dear TAC,

Grant Hutchison's "petty rant" puts me in mind of the day last summer when I came across a Walking Pole on the way to Ben Macdui. I don't know if he was telescopic; he certainly showed no signs of collapsing, and when we stopped for lunch I could see he had nothing much to sustain his current form if it was variable.

On the other hand, it appeared it would extend him to return, as I intended, via Beinn Mheadhoin and the Shelter Stone, and that the car park in time for the last bus was further than he would reach. As a result, I had to leave him behind.

This was the first time in many years I had walked with a Pole, and as you see I could make better progress without him.


Robert Moffat

Ed. - More polemic on p12.

Dear TAC,

Re TAC29, p2, your leader on dental floss is entirely correct. Goretex and their associates do manufacture excellent dental floss, and I enclose a professional sample with which you can caress the spaces which exist between your teeth. As most dentists do, I strongly advocate interproximal cleaning, and dental floss is the best method for the general public to use. I hope TAC will reinforce this message.

Anecdotally, there is a preponderance of high carbohydrate hill food eaten on the lee side of most summit cairns in Scotland, and I feel it is a public health responsibility of the leading hillwalking fanzine to point out this potentially serious threat to the dental health of its readers. Perhaps a series of articles on other public health hazards faced by hillwalkers could be commissioned? For instance, my gorgeous pouting partner and I are planning to climb Mount Kenya at Christmas, where malaria prophylaxis and vaccination are required as public health measures.

Your obedient servant,

Colwyn Jones
Ashtalbion under Lyne

Dear Sir,

From time immemorial, Boy Scouts have carried a tool for attending to the chiropody needs of distressed horses. Perhaps hillgoers should establish a similar tradition to cater for the dental needs of our equine friends.

Following the success of their Tibia/Fibula and Fractured Patella Kits and the more recent Appendicectomy Kit, who better to fill this niche market than the Bolt-On(tm) Corporation? Munrobaggers et al should have little difficulty using such equipment, as they are by now well used to deploying the current range of Bolt-On(tm) products. Having a kit in their rucksack would, I am sure, bring great peace of mind and could even be adapted to allow for self-extraction.

Yours faithfully,

Barbara Jones

Hermione Ranfurley, customer services manager of the Bolt-On(tm) Corporation, replies:

The Bolt-On(tm) Corporation does not recommend use of dental extraction kits (see p20) in horses, and stresses that these kits should be used only as part of a regular personal dental hygiene programme.

Dear TAC,

In your review of this year's SMC Journal (TAC29, p6), I detect a sinister omission. You "swerve" Ken Crocket's review of the first two TACit Tables out of a supposed concern for a "conflict of interest". Hastening to my local branch of Tiso's to browse the relevant review, I discover that Crocket in fact blows the gaff on the whole TAC conspiracy, when he describes TAC as "devoted to the Munro subculture"!

For years now, TAC has misrepresented the SMC (blameless publishers of Munro's Tables and The Munros guidebook, and compilers of an annual list of Munro completionists) as the ringleaders in the whole Munro-bagging "phenomenon". Crocket, a long-time SMC insider, clearly knows differently and is prepared to say so.

It is apparent to me now that the TAC oligarchy's constant mockery of the Munro-bagging mentality, and their unceasing advocacy of other routes on gentler hills, is no more than a cynical cover-up. Some monstrous reverse psychology is in operation against the TAC readership, and no doubt we will all soon find ourselves subliminally programmed to spend fifteen pounds on a new coffee-table Munro book, strategically marketed for Christmas. Frankly, I am appalled. Please cancel my subscription forthwith.

Yours in outrage,

Dr Ben MacDoohey
The Angry University
(formerly The Angry College)

Dear Editor,

In reference to the Nov-Dec 96 issue of TAC, "The Scottish Highlands versus the Canadian Rockies", by Graeme Semple:

As a Canadian, a wilderness guide, and rescue coordinator, I found the above article interesting and amusing. Although as Canadians we have a tendency to knock our own, we are also fiercely proud of the diversity of Canada. This is such a large country, it's no wonder it can be difficult for all of us to relate to each other.

As to the wilderness, dedicated hikers and climbers are bewildered and disappointed at the current tourist state of Banff and Jasper in the Rockies. Most of us prefer to enjoy the areas less populated. I live in the northeastern British Columbia Rockies. As a rescue coordinator working with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, we service an area of over two million hectares, with a base population of just over 7000 residents. I met only one person during my twelve-week hiking trip this summer. When assistance and development is far away it's no wonder that the wildlife is treated with respect, and that bear safety is in the back of your mind. I thoroughly enjoy the Canadian Rockies, yet I am anxious to do some hiking in Scotland in May.


Rob Davidson
British Columbia

Dear Editor,

I couldn't find Richard Webb's Galty Gap (TAC29, p19) - both the recent and thirty-year-old maps 18 and 22 matched exactly to the metre; all I could find was a 1m overlap at one corner of maps 15 and 18, with an exact match at the other.

And I'm afraid I must disappoint Charles Everett (p20) over his claim to have discovered the greatest heighting error. Mynydd Dinas, a Marilyn added since original publication, was 258m on the A (1976) edition of OS170, but rose to 528m on the B (1992) edition. So his spire of rock here would have to be 90% of the height of the Eiffel Tower! It's the hill on Port Talbot's doorstep - I remember climbing it one evening fifty years ago whilst on a job down there when I was working for the then GWR, soon to become British Railways, and being rewarded with a glittering display of lights all around Swansea Bay.

Incidentally, I recently discovered that Sgian Dubh at NS063752 on OS63 (1995 edition) is 100m too high.

Charles has also highlighted another unfortunate tendency of the OS, that they don't always give the height of the highest top of a double- or multi-topped summit, eg Ben Lui. For the lower hills, many have small contour rings higher than nearby spot heights on the Landrangers. It will be interesting to see what the Pathfinders make of these. Some while ago the OS told me that Landrangers and Pathfinders were done by different departments; some effort has obviously been made in recent years to bring Landrangers into line with Pathfinders, but presumably only where the latter have themselves been revised.

Best wishes,

ED Clements
Guildalbionford again

Ed. - The recently launched NASA rocket to Mars appears to be part of the "Pathfinder" mission. Maybe we'll soon get a decent map of Mount Marilyn (see 1995 quiz).

Dear TAC,

Like John Huston (TAC29, pp16,17), I read your publication with a mixture of amusement (understatement) and incomprehension - and that includes his letter. My brief reaction:


Paul Hesp

TAC 30 Index