The Etchachan Club

It hardly seems like ten years ago since some people attended the Silver Jubilee Dinner at the Fife Arms Hotel, Braemar. It is even considered remarkable that the Etchachan Club still existed after fifty years, yet this year we have passed our sixtieth birthday.

The club, a breakaway offshoot from the mighty Cairngorm Club, was formed in March 1938 by William Lawson, George-Beck-Slinn and Garth Lorimer. The first is a member of the SMC and all members of the Cairngorm Club. A meeting was held in Scout Headquarters on 17th March 1938 to consider the formation of a club of climbers and other interested parties, with the object of providing cheap and convenient transport to climbing

The club was loosely based on the Lomond Mountaineering Club, being run on an ad hoc basis without too many rules (no changes there). The first club meet took place at Achallater on 6th March 1938; 23 people paid 5s (25p) for the privilege of attending and thereafter had tea at the Invercauld Arms at Braemar. The decision was taken at this stage to formally set up the club at the inaugural meeting on the 17th March with a membership of eighteen. the first year ended with membership at forty-one, and funds of £5:0s:7d.

At the first AGM, William Lawson was elected as the President. Sadly he and three other members were to lose their lives in the carnage of the Second World War. Due to restrictions it was not until 1946 that it became possible to hire transport, and the first post-war meet to Lochnagar was supported by thirty-one members and guests. Meets were held on a regular basis throughout the rest of the '40s and '50s but started to drop off from the mid '60s until today when they are a rare occurrence.

The club has played an active role in the development and exploration of of the Scottish Highlands over the time of its existence, with members being responsible for the first ascents of routes in summer and winter, many at the highest grades. A number of members have also been involved with the production of climbing guides to the Cairngorms, Ben Nevis, and of course the North East sea cliffs. There was even a club library set up in 1954. The club produced its first journal in 1949, and these were a regular annual event when the club came close to folding.

In the '70s the club had a revival of fortune with many active climbers, both local and from elsewhere making a major impact on the Scottish climbing scene. The club journal even made a re-appearance with such famous titles as Kohouteks Klimbing Klub Komic, Penthowff and Crabs. The '90s have seen the club survive with regular indoor meets during the winter months, where members show off their slides of previous adventures. Two club journals have appeared, in 1995 and 1996 under the title On the Veg (no pun intended).

Who knows what the future holds? With the millennium rapidly approaching will the club make it through until its centenary in 2038?
Brain Findlay, October 1998

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