David (Jim) Lythgoe
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David (Jim) Lythgoe - Ullswater, The Lake District, 1957

In 1957, my employers, the Central Electricity Generating Board ran an essay writing competition for a place on an Outward Bound course at Ullswater. I already had a love of mountains having spent three separate holidays youth hostelling in both the Lake District and Snowdonia, so here, if I won, was a heaven sent opportunity to indulge my passion. Fortunately I had studied Tennyson and ended my winning essay by quoting the last line from his poem "Ulysses"� on which the Outward Bound motto is based - "to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield."� To say that I enjoyed myself immensely would be an understatement, but I admit to being an arrogant sod because, although I thought I "knew it all"�, I know now that I learned a lot, not only about first-aid, rock-climbing, canoeing and forestry, but also about life - especially humility.
So, on 26th August 1957, ninety six teenage boys arrived at the OBMS mountain school at Hallsteads, Ullswater. My longest abiding memory is of the third and final expedition which we did in groups of four. Our orders were to visit Scafell Pike and return to the school in three days after visiting a number of pre-arranged checkpoints on the way. Some went by way of Borrowdale and others through Grasmere. We went over Helvellyn's summit. We set off in high spirits knowing that we would soon be returning home and that our standard of fitness was high enough to carry us through. Rain began at Glenridding, a thin all pervading drizzle that eventually turned into a heavy downpour that continued unabated for the next 36 hours. By way of Red Tarn and Swirral Edge we reached Helvellyn with hardly a halt to find an Elastoplast tin in which to record our passing. We were the first group through. A check by our masters at Dunmail Raise and we pressed on to Greenup Edge via Wythburn. In gathering gloom, cloud and the incessant rain we plodded on, contouring around Raise to gain the top of the Stake Pass with Borrowdale and Eagle Crag observed mistily below us. Somewhere thereabouts I stumbled on a tussock and fell heavily, sustaining a very painful sprain to my left ankle. The rest of the expedition was one long hell! However, I struggled on until we pitched our tents for the night by Angle Tarn where we could summon up only enough energy to provide ourselves with hot cocoa while the rain continued to fall. At least we changed into dry clothing for a reasonable night's sleep.
We woke to the rain still falling and the wind literally roaring up from Borrowdale. We ate and dressed hurriedly and thought it best to be on our way as soon as possible and away from that hellish spot. At Esk Hause we found George Fisher's (he of the Keswick mountain clothing and equipment shop fame) tent abandoned and a note explaining that he had "...rescued a half drowned woman from Grains Gill and had perforce taken her to shelter."� We continued then as far as Broad Crag, and here I quote from a note made at the time. . . "At this point the path dipped sharply into impenetrable mist and in our condition we decided not to continue since by now the wind was mighty and the rain and mist were soaking us through - as if not already. With my ankle giving me pain at every step, I doubt that further progress was possible."�
And now for a sober analysis (written in retrospect in 1963). Was our decision to turn back correct? I have the meagre satisfaction of knowing that no other group reached Scafell Pike that day for they were all deliberately turned back at Esk Hause by our instructors. The facts are these:
1. We were tired and weary, having walked 18 miles and climbed 5,000 ft carrying 40lb loads the previous day.
2. We had spent the previous night cold, wet and miserable under canvas in incessant rain and wind at 2,500 ft and had eaten little (although probably enough).
3. Two years had passed since I was last on Scafell Pike and had then approached the summit from the Corridor Route (before Wainwright). My memory was not good enough to recognise the summit under the prevailing conditions so there was some doubt as to where we were.
4. I had a badly twisted, if not sprained ankle.
5. The weather was even then deteriorating and was already worse than anything I had previously come across- and I was the most experienced member of our group.
6. We took two hours to cover the two miles from Esk Hause to Broad Crag and back.
7. It had been instilled into us that we should never give up!

The fact that subsequent groups were not allowed to attempt the final leg to Scafell Pike suggests to me that our decision was correct. My feelings at the time were that if we had continued, then the OBMS would have been reporting one group missing (presumed dead?) Of course that would not have happened for we had our tents, but I will never forget the path that seemed to jump over the rocky declivities of Broad Crag to drop apparently vertically into the swirling mists far below us. In fact it was barely possible to stand, let alone climb down with our packs into that witches' cauldron. The last line of this episode is the one line from my end of course report which states -"Mountain Craft - Honours"�.