ULMC 50th Anniversary

The celebration of the 50th anniversary of the University of London Mountaineering Club was held at the Alpine Club on the 16th March 1996. The event was attended by approximately 50 people, with about 30 from ULGMC and 20 from ULMC. The evening began with a substantial buffet organised by Jill Bennett. After the buffet ULGMC President, Michael Parkinson, proposed a toast to ULMC, and Geraint Dermody, President of ULMC replied. The anniversary cake was then cut by Jean Jones, an early member of ULMC and certainly the person who had travelled furthest for the event all the way from Aberdeen!

Michael Parkinson then introduced a number of speakers. First to speak was Stella Berkeley who talked about the early years of the club. The first meet had been at Maes Caradoc. Catering had been a particular problem then because of rationing, and the then familiar dried egg. On one occasion, dried egg and custard powder had been confused with dire results. Getting to North Wales was not possible in term time in those days, with hitch hiking as the main mode of transport. A time consuming business, Stella recalled one journey to North Wales that took three days! Equipment was sparse and mainly ex army. Hemp ropes were used for climbing and belaying. Nailed boots or plimsols were used, Vibrams first appeared in 1948.

Laura Hampton then took up the story. She said the club had wanted a hut right from the beginning, and several possibilities had been considered. Bryn Coch on Snowdon had been a possibility, but by the time the club looked at it, it had been vandalised. Eventually with a lot of hard work particularly by John Burrows, and Professor Huggett, Caseg Fraith became a reality. Laura went on to speak about the Hut Wardens, their hard work, and how each has contributed to the uniqueness of the huts. Finally Laura reminded the meeting of the many members of ULMC and ULGMC who have made important contributions to mountaineering. Alison Chadwick was on the first ascent of Gasherbrum IV, a women's high altitude record at the time. Pete Thexton who was secretary of ULMC in 1974 was the doctor on a major Everest expedition, and died on Broad Peak. Janusz Onyszkiewicz, Alison's husband, and an experienced Himalayan climber, who was also a Solidarity activist who recently held the post of Polish Minister of Defence. Edward Williams who was on the Kongur expedition, and has made a substantial contribution to high altitude medicine. Derek Fordham, the Greenland specialist, who made a major crossing of the Ice Cap. Mike Tuson, who made several voyages to the Arctic in his boats Ice King and Copious. Andy Brasher, a mountain photographer. Mark Delafield who has many achievements in competition climbing, and his father, Ivor, who has taken a leading role in the international competition climbing field. Tim Marshall who as a member of the Sports Council was instrumental in getting wheelchair entrants into the London marathon, and. Liz Parsons who is a mountain painter.

The last speaker was Edward Williams, who told several stories of the years after the War. He also paid tribute to Professor Huggett's political skill and acumen in obtaining the money from the Senate to build Caseg Fraith and arranged for its status as a Trust.

The formal part of the evening, was followed by several convivial hours round the bar. Giving more senior members, in particular, a chance to catch up with old friends and climbing companions.
Thanks are due to Bill Bristow for providing the material for this report.

[A note of those who attended is available if required from the ULGMC Archivist]