Climbing Gear – Cresta climb on Ben Nevis anyone got a copy of the film from the 1960’s?

How climbing has changed.

How climbing has changed.Photo 1936 bouldering on the Moray Coast any clues where?

I was speaking to Ray Sefton an ex Team – leader in RAF Mountain Rescue. I was trying to trace a good copy of the film Cresta. This is a winter climbing film on Ben Nevis filmed by Hamish McInnes in the 60’s I am sure it was for the MOD. It starred a few of the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team, names like Ian Clough, Terry Sullivan and many others. It is a wonderful film of the second ascent of Cresta a wonderful climb of 275 metres on the Little Brenva Face first climbed by Tom Patey , L.S Lovat and A.G.Nichol on  16 Feb 1957 . In his old winter guide it was a 900 ft grade 2 , I did it very early on my winter climbing and found it a serious long climb, with an Alpine in feel and easily grade 3.


brenva faceI was glad of ice protection even simple kit that I had in the late 70’s. The Brenva Face has an Alpine feel about it and is a wonderful place to climb and I have enjoyed many a great day here. If anyone has a copy of Cresta I would like to see it. I lent out my copy years ago and never got it back?   I used to show it on our Annual Winter Course for the RAF MR is was an incredible piece of winter mountaineering history and I would love to see it again and preserve it for future generations? Any help appreciated.

1959 high on Observatory Ridge - photo Ray Sefton.

1959 high on Observatory Ridge – photo Ray Sefton.

The film is a wonderful picture of winter climbing in this era, the commentary is old BBC very prim and proper. The basic equipment and lack of gear was incredible. No one had a helmet on they were not invented. I was told that Hamish had invent fibre glass flat hats to protect the head from falling ice. I had also heard that others had old pieces of carpet in the hats to protect the head these were wild days, where “the leader must not fall” The kit was very basic, cut down axes and simple gear, they were brave people. The film is great and Hamish did so well with it.

Early gear.

Early gear. So basic!

¨No one who has seen the skyward thrust of a snow peak, girdled by its early morning cloud and flushed with the low sun, will dispute with me.

¨Follow a long ridge of encrusted snow to its sunset tower and tread the summit at moon rise. This is Scottish winter climbing!

¨¨W H Murray




About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Articles, Films, History, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering. Bookmark the permalink.

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