Caucasus & Rocky Mountains report
An enthusiasm for extreme mountain walking combined with an interest in Botany and photography took WNS society member, Alan Schofield, to two very different but equally challenging, mountain ranges, one in the Caucasus in present day Belarus the other in the Rockies National Park, Colorado. Invited by some Russian visiting researchers at Leeds University in the 1990s and made possible by Gorbachev’s Glasnost, Alan and friends flew to Minsk and then set off walk in an untamed range of peaks in the northern Caucasus, a dramatically beautiful area Alan described as Switzerland without the amenities. He accompanied the tale of his adventures in this wild place with stunning photos of dramatic mountain scenery, white-water rivers, Alpine plants, many of them endemic sub-species, glaciers and ragged peaks. Adventures included, spending a night dissuading a curious Dagestan Ibex from trying to share his bivvy bag.
His second trip was to the Rockies where he and his companions obtained a permit to walk the wilderness areas. Sometimes alone, sometimes with his companions, Alan walked the ‘pedestrian’ routes, i.e. routes where no specialist mountaineering equipment is required, to the peaks and ridges they had identified as their goals. If any of the audience thought that the definition ‘pedestrian route might mean nothing more than a strenuous hike, we were soon disabused. Falling rocks, violent afternoon thunderstorms, precipitous drops and narrow ledges were only some of the challenges. Luckily he survived to share his photographs and experiences.
On February 28th, David Alred will talk about reptiles and amphibians in the Pennines.