Report on Winter Lecture Series 2011-2012

Prelude to Everest - Alexander Kellas - Himalayan Mountaineer — lan Mitchell
This was an extra talk arranged to coincide with the launch of Ian’s latest book. He gave a fascinating account of Alexander Kellas, who paved the way for later successful expeditions to both Everest and Kanchenjunga, but up until now has been largely forgotten. Alexander Kellas was born in Aberdeen and was initially a rather unlikely mountaineer but went on to complete first ascents of several Himalayan peaks over 20,000 feet and started pioneering work on high-altitude physiology. Unfortunately, Kellas’ life ended in tragedy when he became the first man to die on Everest in 1921. He achieved a lot and is considered by some to be Scotland’s greatest mountaineer. Ian Mitchell is well known for his many books and articles on mountaineering and hillwalking. His talk more than lived up to
The added dimension to rock climbing of Island Hopping — Neil Morrison
Neil gave us a fascinating insight into the opportunities for sea cliff climbing on some of the islands around the Scottish coast line taking us to some of the smaller islands which are rarely visited by other mountaineers. His slides of these climbs however will probably encourage some of the people attending to make the effort to visit these islands to see the spectacular scenery for themselves. The attraction of climbing on these cliffs with the opportunity to drop off into the Atlantic was not appreciated by all the audience but the physical challenges of some of the climbs were more than apparent. His climbs on Mallorca and Kalymnos were much more attractive in a cold October.
Wilderness Medicine — Mario Di Maio
Mario is leader of the Aberdeen Mountain Rescue Team and gave a both entertaining and thought provoking account of local mountain rescue over the recent years. He described how the team go about a rescue and presented statistics of the reasons behind the call-outs. He used a number of call-outs to illustrate things in more detail and also outlined the responsibilities and assessments needed before sending people out into what can be a very hostile environment. There were a large number of questions, which, in the end, had to be cut short. As people were leaving, I suspect that many were hoping to never have to need the Mountain Rescue Team but that, if they did, would be glad to see such a well-trained and experienced group of people coming to help.
Wind Turbines: Good, Bad or just plain Ugly — Alan Owen
Alan more than adequately fulfilled the request made of him to try to give an impartial view of the position of wind farms in the energy generation structure of the UK. His talk identified the need for all means of generation to be part of this structure and that wind farms were part of it. He accepted that all potential sites for wind farms could not be utilized and I think most people attending the lecture left feeling that objecting to them should be strictly on merit and not be an automatic reaction. Of some interest was his statement that electricity generated by solar panels did not warrant their use in anywhere other than the south of England.
Travels in the Mountains — Drennan Watson
Drennan presented his experiences of his travels in mountainous regions and discussed the policies adopted in various parts of the world to deal with the pressures introduced by mountaineering and skiing developments. Some of the models used in Europe, particularly those which used local people to develop the area, were clearly much more effective than those which allowed national and international developers to take control of the program. Proper planning at a national level clearly also had an important part to play. His comparison of what has happened in Scotland to what could have been done would have been funny was it not so appallingly bad.
Developments on the NTS Mar Lodge Estate — Peter Holden
Peter gave an interesting overview of the Mar Lodge Estate, its history and the future challenges that it faces in conserving an important part of the Cairngorms. The estate has been in the news over its efforts to regenerate over-grazed Caledonian pine forest and the consequences on the local deer population. He showed photographs of the regeneration achieved so far and also illustrated the complex challenges involved in landscape scale conservation and the dilemmas involved and priorities to be balanced. The estate is on our doorstep and particularly interesting to us all. He left us with the impression that this national asset is in very safe hands.
Mixed Emotions — the Art of Modern Winter Climbing — Guy Robertson
Apart from the quality of his slides which he used for illustration Guy's description of some of his recent climbs was an insight for many of the people attending into the extreme physical nature of modern winter climbs. His description of failures and close calls also served to emphasize that even for climbers at the highest level the line between success and failure can be very slim. What was also of interest was his description of the necessity of summer training to the detriment of his rock climbing in order to be able to achieve the levels he was now achieving in winter but also his assertion that with these new techniques the new of new routes waiting to be climbed was very large.

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