BB10xtra : A Christmas Tale

25th December 2010

Graham, an erstwhile BOOTboy, has not been out with us for many months due to trouble with his knee.  He had a new one installed earlier in the year and is now on the comeback trail.  Here is his account of achieving his objective for the year:

While most BOOTboys were no doubt hovering over the dining table on Christmas Day waiting for the appearance of a cooked turkey so they could display their uniquely masculine skills in carving meat, a small but significant adventure, nay epic, was being acted out in the wilds of Yorkshire, on the South West Face of Ingleborough, no less.

A small, intrepid expedition, comprising an ageing mountaineer from Heversham, supported by Sherpa Scott, a disbelieving, but trusting female companion, and Sherpa Dog Flora, her 12-year old black Labrador dog, set off amid dire weather forecasts to tackle the South West Face of Ingleborough.  

Sherpa Dog Flora

This was despite the threat of snow and freezing white-out conditions on top – regarded by the leader as only a minor inconvenience to one so experienced, even if it was a very long time ago since he had ventured out on the hills at all, let alone in winter.

Slow but steady progress in relatively pleasant conditions saw Crina Bottom passed in good time. Soon, however, progress developed into somewhat more gruelling work in challenging conditions, but, undeterred, the party kept on. Apart from drifted snow covering hard-packed sheet ice which would have made progress up the Three Steps tricky for less experienced mountaineers, the summit was reached, without mishap and without the party managing to lose contact with one another.

Here they rewarded themselves with two mince pies each, which the leader of the party thought was scant reward for such valour and fortitude as had been displayed on the ascent.

Fortunately, all four mince pies had just been consumed when a ghostly hooded figure emerged out of the mist/snow/frozen ice/wind, said “Hello” and promptly turned round and vanished. Was he/she/it frustrated at not having the summit to himself/herself/itself or was it that he/she/it was angry that there were no mince pies left for him/her/it to share? That was a close call, for sharing one’s meagre food rations with a complete stranger in such extreme conditions, even at a time of goodwill to other mad fools, did not appeal to the leader’s sense of self-preservation, even if mountaineering literature is peppered with lucrative accounts recording such sacrifices on the mountains and which have enhanced reputations and bank account balances enormously.

The Old Man of Ingleborough

It had only taken an hour and a half to ascend to the summit and it was a mystery why it took the same amount of time to descend the Face by the same route. Perhaps, in the absence of fixed ropes, it had something to do with the snow-covered sheet ice on the Three Steps which, rather unfairly, made descending much more tricky and lethal than going up. Ice axe and walking sticks saved the day, but it was a relief to the leader that none of the other BOOTboys were there to see him with his short-handled, old-fashioned, wooden, rusty ice-axe bending almost double to get the ferrule into the snow. A thought occurred to him then that old men shouldn’t be crawling around like spiders on snow and ice and doing things like this.  

A confident remark, no doubt prompted by relief at safely overcoming the technical difficulties of the Three Steps, that the party should soon be out of the cloud proved to be the wrong thing to say, as the cloud had in the meantime, again rather unfairly, descended almost to sea level. It took a calm assessment of the deteriorating situation and keen navigational skills to follow the walled track back to the car and safety.

The background to this epic expedition is that, immediately before the leader’s knee-replacement operation in February, he vowed that his objective for 2010, in physical terms – at least the one which can be recounted publicly - was an ascent (and, of course, a safe descent – for one without the other could be catastrophic) of Ingleborough, and this was proudly achieved with a number of days to spare. Although it proved to be only a small step for mankind, it proved more significant for the leader. There is a sobering thought, however, that never had so little been achieved by so few for so much effort.  Still, although the leader felt good to be back on the top of a hill, rather than just looking up wistfully at them, this is unlikely to be the start of a new hill-walking career as his old knees and thigh muscles were objecting quite noticeably at the end of the epic and have already demanded a rest.

Attached is a photo of the Old Man just to prove that the epic did take place, together with a shot of loyal Sherpa Dog Flora showing how much she was enjoying her outing. Sherpa Scott preferred to remain anonymous on the very sensible basis that appearing as a participant in the exhibition would undermine the perception in her local community that she is a normal and sensible member of it.

Graham, 25th December 2010




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2010 Outings

BB1001 :
The Most Perfect
 Winter Day
Thursday 7th January

BB1002 :
 Potter Fell
Thursday 14th January

BB1003 :
A Snowy Equipment Test

Thursday 21st January

BB1004 :
Leave It To The Professionals

Thursday 28th January

BB1005 :
That's A Lyth Record
Sunday 31st January 

BB1006 :
Reasons To Be Cheerful
One, Two, Three
Thursday 11th February

BB1007 :
Can You See Clearly Now?
Thursday 18th February

BB1008 :
In Memory Of
Thomas Williamson
Thursday 25th February

BB1009 :
Almost a Mountaineer!
Wednessday 3rd March

BB1010 :
The Beginning Of The End
Thursday 11th March

BB1011 :
The Free Men on Tuesday
Tuesday 16th March

BB1012 :
We'll Get Them In Singles,
Thursday 25th March

BB1013 :
The Fools on the Hill
Thursday 1st April

BB1014 :
The Windmills on the Moor
Wednesday 7th April

BB1015 :
By Lake, Ridge and Wainwright
Sunday 11th April

BB1016 :
The Ten Lake Tour (+5Ws)
Thursday 15th April

BB1017 :
The BessyBOOT
Thursday 22nd April

BB1018 :
The Kentmere Challenge
Saturday 24th April

BB1019 :
Winter in Springtime
Thursday 14th May

BB1020 :
Red Screes and Sausages
Thursday 20th May

BB1021 :
The Mile High Club
Thursday 27th May

BB1022 :
What A Difference A Day Makes
Thursday 3rd June

BB1023 :
Something Brutal
Thursday 10th June

BB1024 :
Rendezvous on Haycock
Thursday 17th June

BB1025 :
The Men of Gragareth
Thursday 24th June

BB1026 :
The Smardale Round
Thursday 1st July

BB1027 :
Don't Shun The Shunner!
Thursday 8th July

BB1028 :
All Around the Edge
Thursday 29th July

BB1029 :
The Return of Uncle Jamie
Thursday 5th August

BB1030 :
The Examination Results
Thursday 12h August

BB1031 :
Nick by Haggis
Thursday 19th August

BB1032 :
And Then There Were Two
Thursday 26th August

BB1033 :
A Surplus of Sheepfolds
Thursday 2nd September

BB1034 :
A Good One For Tony
Thursday 23rd September

BB1035 :
The Wainwright Triathlon
Tuesday 21st - Thursday 23rd

BB1036 :
The Nine Standards
or The Battle Of Birkett Hills
Thursday 30th September

BB1037 :
This Is The Way
The Wainwrights End
Thursday 7th October

BB1038 :
A Return To Sanity?
Thursday 14th October

BB1039 :
A Succession of Scars
Thursday 21st October

BB1040 :
Three Old Men Of Lochnagar
Monday 25th - Friday 29th October

BB1041 :
A Whinash Winterscleugh Wander
Wednesday 10th November

BB1042 :
The Rusland Round
Thursday 18th November

BB1043 :
The Lion, The Lamb and
The Howitzer
Thursday 25th November

BB1044 :
Down Memory Lane
Thursday 2nd December

BB1045 :
A Cold Comes Out
Thursday 9th December

BB1046 :
Uncle Monty's, Please!!
Wednesday 29th December


BB10xtra :
A Christmas Tale
Saturday 25th December

BSB2010 :
boys in Zillertal
Saturday 30th January
to Saturday 6th February

 Click on the photos
for an enlargement
or related large picture.


To see which Wainwright top was visited on which
BB outing see
Which Wainwright When?.

To download a log of heights and miles and which Wainwrights have been done by which BOOTboy in the "modern" era, i.e. since the advent of BOOTboys
click on BB Log.