This article was written by Peter Biggar for the IMC’s 50th Anniversary journal. The photo above is sadly not taken on an IMC meet, but was found by Arthur when he was clearing out his study. It shows a very impressive cornice on Braeriach in 1956, possibly in the Garbh Corrie or Corrie Bhrochain. You have to wonder how the climbers escaped; I hope not by tunnelling the cornice.
The Club’s first meet took place on Sunday 30th April 1950. Nobody seems to know what was done – Cairngorm, Bynack More, Meall a’Buachaille all seem possibilities, as does a demure walk around Loch Morlich for the “less experienced”, but half a century is a long time without written records and the Log Book tradition was not yet established, and even when it was, strange and unaccountable things happened to these invaluable sources of information.
The first meet was preceded by the first Indoor Meet at which the Vice-President – one Dr. Barclay – gave a “short talk” for those in need of experience. Little is known about Dr. Barclay, but if he is the same man who climbed Observatory Ridge in Winter with Gwen Moffat (see Space Below My Feet) – she ended by passing their one piton up to him on the pick of her ice-axe – his credentials as an instructor hardly seem unimpeachable. The other attractions at the first indoor meet were to include a “lantern lecture” or “an epidiascope display of members’ photographs”. Cattanach was by all accounts a spirited hillman but, as the arranging of all these attractions was left to him, there may be a little doubt as to whether any of them actually took place. He stood down as President after the inaugural year and, despite at least one attempt to be elected to it, never again appears on the committee.
The Club’s next meet was to Kinlochewe on Sunday 28th May. Thus began the great East- West pendulum swing which, to this day sees members heading for Aviemore and the ‘Gorms one week-end and the Garve or Loch Ness roads the next. In the early days most meets were day meets and took place on Sundays because many members would be working on Saturdays. It is interesting that the tight corsets of Presbyterianism were unlaced enough to allow organised hill-walking on Sundays. It may have been felt that the weather in any case usually made this an appropriately penitential activity, and members no doubt heeded St.Paul’s instruction and were “not drunk with wine” but were rather “filled with the Spirit”. The bus left the La Scala Cinema at seven -thirty in the morning to return quite late in the evening. On the first Western meet the bus was to drop members at different “desired points” along the Torridon road and dinner was to be in the Kinlochewe Hotel at eight-thirty. It cost three and sixpence (21 pence); by the time the bus got back to Inverness there would be very little Sabbath left.