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YRC Committee. (1930) The Charles Inglis Clark Hut, Ben Nevis. Yorkshire Ramblers' Club Journal Volume 6 Number 19: pp63-65. Leeds: YRC.
The Charles Inglis Clark Hut, Ben Nevis
By The Editor.
Captain Charles Inglis Clark died of wounds in Mesopotamia in 1918. In memory of the sacrifice of his life his mother and father have presented to the Scottish Mountaineering Club a hut of the Swiss pattern, built in the Allt Mhuilinn Glen at the foot of the Tower Ridge of Ben Nevis.
The terms of the lease laid down by the freeholders, the British Aluminium Company, confine the use of the hut strictly to members of the S.M.C. and their guests, and exact the condition that the route of approach shall be by the path from Glen Nevis, and over the moor and not by the ancient route via the Allt Mhuilinn from the highroad.
The Hut was formally opened and presented to the S.M.C. on Easter Monday, 1st April, 1929. The Editor had the honour of being present as official representative of the Yorkshire Ramblers, and of enjoying the hospitality of our kindred club. This he endeavoured to return in part by carrying up the hut book and its zinc case.
Ben Nevis is Dr. Inglis Clark’s favourite mountain, and reference to the Ben Nevis Guide will show that he took part in several first ascents. The Memorial Hut is a magnificent gift, and the donors look forward with confidence to the diagrams of the great North Face being strung with routes as thickly as Scawfell or Lliwedd.
The S.M.C. mustered in strong force at Fort William, soon to be turned into an industrial town by the great aluminium works building at the foot of the pipe lines from the mouth of the tunnel on Meall ant’ Suie, which delivers the water from Loch Treig and elsewhere.
The weather was magnificently warm, the crags bare of snow as they usually are only in summer, for the rainfall and snow of the W. Highlands during the three winter months had only amounted to 2½ inches instead of 25 to 40.
Smythe arrived by the Friday a.m. train, and he and the Editor got no further than the lowest snow patch on Carn Mor Dearg, where they lay all afternoon. On Saturday however with Bell and Parry they bore provisions to the hut, discarded all garments but those suitable to a midsummer day and attacked the N.E. Ridge. With the exception of the " mantrap ” near the top all the difficulties lie on the lower portion. Feeling hopelessly unfit, they attacked the by no means easy slabs, promptly lost the route and after pleasant climbing by the line of least resistance found themselves off the crag at the bottom of Slingsby’s Gully. By two-thirds of this and the traverse to the left they attained the first platform. The rest was a long and glorious climb under perfect conditions of the Swiss type.
Meanwhile Bell and Parry were making an ascent of the rarely climbed Observatory Ridge, and were met at the top descending the N.E. Ridge. Further off three parties were seen doing the Tower Ridge and the top was quite busy. Plus fours were quite popular and there were many opportunities of observing the usual manner of wearing these as climbing kit. The gentleman on the snow by the Observatory in the photo which appeared later in the Times is not wearing a garment of his own design, but merely indicates how the thing is done, in the best circles.
The hut is well equipped and a most comfortable night was spent there while outside the weather went to the bad. The stove burns anthracite, at £28 per ton, but lesser quantities can be purchased!
Sunday morning revealed mist and cold. Three of the party had old defeats and many vain attempts to revenge on the Tower Ridge. The snow slopes were frozen hard, but at first the rocks went well enough. The first great step was passed and the “ false tower ” attacked. Here the rocks were glazed and covered with frost feathers, a snowstorm began and passed away, but as the glazing was obviously increasing and footholds becoming treacherous, the onset of another storm forced a retreat. This snowfall did not cease and there was quite a respectable covering by the time the gap by the Douglas Boulder was reached. Tea at the hut and so some two hours back to Fort William, mostly in the rain, but for British hills rain in very poor wetting form.
It must be stated that there was a pronounced feeling in the hotel that evening that “ the Ben ” had played a good game, that the defeat of the heroes of the Plan and the Brenva was entirely fitting to the occasion.
Easter Monday opened with cloud and sharp showers, but from noon there was nothing but an odd snow squall. All morning the Scottish Mountaineers streamed up, with twenty ladies from the kindred club meet at Ballachulish, and people from Fort William. The Editor found the hut packed and great preparations for tea.
At 3 p.m., the President, Mr. G. T. Glover, cleared and locked the hut. Short speeches were made by him and Dr. Inglis Clark, then Mrs. Inglis Clark unlocked the door and the donors entered. Three tremendous cheers filled the corrie, with great effect on three belated parties struggling in the mist and eddying snow down the gullies. Then the crowd, some eighty strong, went in out of the cold and refreshed themselves with tea and cakes. There remained even sufficient fragments to feed the climbers who came in too late for the buns.
A great dinner the same night at Fort William, Scottish Mountaineering Club, Ladies’ Scottish Climbing Club, Junior S.M.C. and representatives from kindred clubs, completed the ceremonies.
We congratulate the S.M.C. most heartily.
I don't think much of one’s chances with W. Highland weather in August, but this second defeat on the Tower Ridge rankled so badly that I drove up later in the year to meet Bell, in the gloomiest of weather. His first remark on appearing was, that it was idiotic to be there, and his second that climbing the Tower Ridge in the summer did not count. However, the one day of that dreadful week which had any daylight at all was a perfect Sunday.
To the hut we bore food and then went straight up the Douglas Boulder, rather slippery for nailed boots in places. By the ordinary route the Ridge is, of course, quite good going. Bell climbed straight up the Tower, a long lead. I found the start very stiff, and being far more interested in the route we tried under Alpine conditions years ago, came round on the east side with my mind full of that marvellous day, and of the masterly retreat which makes it good to look back on.