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Mountain Writing Competition 2003

by Kevin Howett

The Judges this year were current MCofS Vice President and teacher Beryl Leatherland, Ex-MCofS President, John Donohoe, Ex-MCofS Vice President and English teacher, Ingrid Parker, writer Irvine Butterfield and myself, National Officer.

The entries in the prose category were diverse in content, although there seemed to be a paranormal theme this year for some reason. There were descriptions of walking in the Pyrenees and in Tasmania, climbing big hills in New Zealand and climbing in Scotland.

There were several entries which the judges felt were close contenders: last years winner, Hughie Wilson, writing of an ascent of “Sou’wester Slabs” on Arran is an excellent story in which the use of Scots slang helps adds to the humour, whilst “Lochnagar” by Caroline Harper is a well constructed observation of three generations of hillgoers' views and activities and came close to winning. Ian McCabe’s tale of climbing the route ‘Hammer’ on the Etive Slabs centred on his reminiscing from “A Nice Hot Bath” which the judges felt created a good sense of apprehension. However, the winner of the first prize this year is Cathy Witfield with “The Big Grey Man”, telling the story of a walk up and quickly back down Ben MacDui. The second prize is shared between “Cutting Goretex”, Graham E Little’s story of a harrowing fall whilst soloing in winter, and Tim Mason’s “Hourquette de Heas”, the story of a group of walkers being saved from a Pyrenean mountain storm.

Entries to the poetry category were very diverse. Joe McLaughlin’s succinct entry “The Hill” would put McGonigal to shame, whilst Ian McCabe’s use of climbing grades as simile for important periods of one’s life brought a chuckle or two and Robert Barker’s “Ascent of the Dome do Chasseforet” was a highly regarded tale of an Alpine ascent; all of which were in the running. In the end two very different entries shared first position; Laura Alexander’s “Bob” strikes a cord as a perceptive study of a mountaineer’s personality, whilst S Miller’s “Glory” encapsulates the beauty of a mountain day.


1st = Bob, by Laura Alexander

1st = Glory, by S Miller


1st - The Big Grey Man, by Cathy Whitefield

2nd = Cutting Goretex, by Graham E Little

2nd = Hourquette de Heas, by Tim Mason