Cardinal was one of the longest days I’d ever had….


looking down Qinguadalen from Alpentop

….but it wasn’t as long as our day on Alpentop. This wasn’t such a big mountain, but our route was much harder and more hazardous.  There was a vile, greasy, Hard-Severe pitch on it – just as well John was with us – all the scrambling was loose and dangerous (one simply got used to scrambling up rotten pitches of Diff rock unroped) and we were late at the summit.  I recall our bivouac ledge:  sitting on a sheet of ice on ropes which ever so slowly slid away under our cold backsides.

My beautiful picture

However, I discovered in the morning that I couldn’t make any progress without removing my Clan Duvet Jacket: it was like wearing a good quality eiderdown.  (I still have it somewhere).  Nobody got killed on any of Gribbon’s expeditions, but you’d wonder why. We were incredibly lucky that Bob Mutch fell only a certain number of feet after his abseil anchor failed and landed on his powerful legs.

By the time we got back to camp after a 23 hour day the rain had set in. Endless hot, sugary, milky tea was the prologue to prolonged eating and more prolonged sleep.  The walk back down the scrub filled valley to our canoes at the head of the lake was one of the most draining days I can remember.

I shudder to think of Qinguadalen tamed by paths and frequented by tourists:  I shall never go back to that valley.  I even wrote a poem about it.