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YRC Committee. (1930) In Memoriam. Yorkshire Ramblers' Club Journal Volume 6 Number 19: pp66-69. Leeds: YRC.

In Memoriam

Douglas Gordon Culross

Douglas Gordon Culross.  © Yorkshire Ramblers' Club
Douglas Gordon Culross

Douglas Gordon Culross died in his 28th year on WhitSaturday 1929, in a Nursing Home in Manchester, as the result of a poison germ contracted through drinking water on the football field at Easter. Of fine physical development and the picture of health, he was the last person we would have expected to succumb to such an enemy. Educated at Ripon Grammar School, where he learnt his “ Rugger,” he later played with the Harrogate Old Boys and on business taking him to Manchester, with Heaton Moor, and was a very good forward of the fast winging type.

Before joining the Y.R.C. in 1928 he had done a large amount of walking in the Highlands and Yorkshire, and also a little, but first-class rock-climbing, with his cousin, R. B. Goodfellow, on Lliwedd and Doe Crags. He joined his uncle, Mr. F. De Gisbert, in an expedition to the Arctic shortly after leaving school, as ornithologist ; and only last year made a flying trip to the Pyrenees. His first pot-holing expedition was at Alum Pot, on my invitation, and he later did good work at Blayshaw Gill Holes in Nidderdale, finishing with a descent of Gaping Ghyll in 1928. Essentially a sportsman—Culross cared more for sport than games—he was fond of anything connected with open-air life, and drawing near the end of his football career was inclined to take rnountaineering in all its branches more seriously.

But he, one of our youngest, now lies near one of our oldest Ramblers, Jack Green, on Harlow Hill, where the setting sun over Simon’s Seat lights up both their graves.--F.H.B.

William Cecil Slingsby.

William Cecil Slingsby.  © Yorkshire Ramblers' Club
William Cecil Slingsby

Cecil Slingsby has been so happy in his biographers that I can do little but add the tribute of a friend and companion of many years. His work in Norway and the Alps is well known, but it was not confined to them. He was a pioneer also of strenuous mountaineering to his fellow Yorkshiremen. For a young cotton-spinner in a rather remote Yorkshire dale to explore his native fells was perhaps not remarkable—I believe in his early days Slingsby with his brothers and cousins was accustomed to make a yearly excursion up Ingleborough where everyone had to speak broad Yorkshire all day—but it was rather remarkable that he should “ break-out ” of the common rut and go in for real mountaineering and exploration. The rather Philistine society of Airedale in the “ seventies ” looked on this form of self-expression as an amusing eccentricity—his bold riding to hounds was better understood—but all the same his friends enjoyed the distinction his exploits conferred upon the district.

William Cecil Slingsby.  © Yorkshire Ramblers' Club
William Cecil Slingsby (1893)
President of the Yorkshire Ramblers’ Club, 1893-1903.

It was in 1891 that I first knew Slingsby as a climber, when at Wastdale with my brother, Alfred Holmes and Eric Greenwood I first began to climb and for several years I often saw him. His business brought him once or twice a week to Bradford and I can still see him walking in his quick impetuous way and bringing a breath of the hills into those grim streets. Many a time have I ridden home with him in the train and joined with him and Greenwood in discussing “ the newest Alpine routes ” or in listening to his stories of Alpine adventure. I spent many Saturdays with him on the gritstone rocks of Crookrise and Simon’s Seat or in walks on the Craven fells and I still treasure his words of commendation on Crookrise, “ keen as mustard.” Among those who were with us at various times were G. Hastings, Solly, Greenwood, Priestman, I. Firth, Cuttriss, Alfred Holmes, Tupper-Carey, Woolley and Ellis. I remember in 1903 crossing Ingleborough with Slingsby and one of his daughters and a school friend, a daughter of the late Admiral von Tirpitz.

He was always the same, never out of temper, a delightful companion, full of reminiscences, the anxious mentor and guide of untried youth, and deferential almost to a fault to what he conceived to be superior information or experience in others.

He loved the hills and not least the hills of Craven, his own country. In the Lake Hills his skill and passion as a rock climber made him perhaps a little oblivious of humbler scenes, and I remember him confessing that he had never visited Loweswater. The difficult and the unusual attracted him, once on the Barden Moor road as we were sedately crossing the bridge over the beck he skipped on to the parapet and ran along it with the remark “ Always choose the most sporting route."

Once only in 1902 I was with him in the Alps when with Hastings, Greenwood, Carson-Roberts and my brother we had a shot at Mont Blanc, crossed by the Lognan Hut and the Col de Chardonnet to Bourg St. Pierre, climbed the Vélan and the Grand Combin, went on to Binn (where I have pleasant recollections of a tea-party at Heiligkreuz), crossed to the Falls of Tosa and returned by Macugnaga and the New Weissthor to Zermatt.

I never went with him on any of his great ascents but I shall always remember the great year 1893 at Montanvert when we used to see him with Mummery, Collie, and Hastings bringing back in their rucksacks the heads of conquered peaks.

“ Last scene of all,” at his home at Cartmel close to the grey Priory. He had forgotten much, but I remember how he was carrying a well-worn copy of Murray’s Guide. His thoughts were still with the hills and valleys he loved so well. --J.J.B.

To the Yorkshire Ramblers elected since the War, Slingsby is a figure of glorious legend, a hero of a Golden Age and of two books, Norway,theNorthernPlayground, and Mummery’s MyClimbsintheAlpsandCaucasus. How great a figure he was in Norway only those discovered who crossed the North Sea to the Horungtinder.

To the many who came in before the War, Slingsby was a hero too, but a living personality, full of life and vigour and joy, an active Yorkshire Rambler and the greatest.

The name, Slingsby’s Chimney, here and there on our crags, notably on Ben Nevis and Scawfell, will keep his memory green as a pioneer of British rock-climbing, and it is bound up for ever with Store Skagastölstind, the Requin, and the Plan. It is only fitting that the Journal should attempt briefly to summarize the order of his deeds.

Slingsby first visited Norway in 1872. In 1874 he made by the Riingsskar the first traverse of the awe-inspiring Horung group, and continued till 1877 his campaigns in Jotunheim, the famous ascent of Skagastölstind being in 1876. Then he visited the Alps, was elected to the Alpine Club in 1880, and made another great campaign in Norway in 1881, including the descent of the terrible icefall of the Kjendalsbrae.

His attacks on the British crags began in 1885, his new climbs at Arolla were in 1887. He joined the Yorkshire Ramblers’ Club as Honorary Member, and was President for ten years from 1893 to 1903. The great climbs on the Charmoz and the Plan were in 1892, and the conquests of the Requin and the Plan the year after. New climbs on the Fusshorn and Nesthorn followed in 1895.

By 1904, when Norway,theNorthernPlayground was published, Slingsby had done some fifty good new expeditions and had spent fifteen seasons in Norway.

He was Vice-President of the Alpine Club 1906-8 ; President, Climbers’ Club, 1904-6 ; President, Fell and Rock Climbing Club, 1910-12.

So great was the veneration his name inspired in Norway that it was to him fell the honour of unveiling at Bergen, in 1921, a memorial to commemorate the thousands of Norse seamen done to death by the Germans during the Great War.

Tributes to Slingsby’s memory appear in the AlpineJournal (Nov., 1929) by Messrs. Gönsberg and Sundt, Alfred Holmes, and G. W. Young, and in the FellandRockClimbingClubJournal (1929) by Mr. L. Pilkington.—ED .