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Otago Tramping and Mountaineering Club - History

The Sixties

 

It is part of convention to break the history of clubs into decades, and though most of us shun convention, it is perhaps difficult to find a more convenient way of comparing eras in the Club.

Naturally, when the 1960's arrived you would have expected that the then committee would have said, 'Let us make this the best 10 years of the Club's history' -, but as the writer was the President at the time he could vouch that no such thought crossed their minds. They were only concerned with running the Club, and enjoying themselves tramping and climbing. It is true that they had the interest of the Club at heart, and whilst they were there they hoped the Club would prosper. Membership at the start of this period was 125 and they were determined to build this number up.

The early '60's saw a great deal of activity in property develop merit and maintenance - Ben Rudd's hut received new bunks, Jubilee Hut had top bunks added, and the Club took over the maintenance of Dart Hut. The Club property on Flagstaff was finally surveyed by Ron Keen and a detailed topographic map drawn of the area. Many thousands of trees were planted with a great deal of encouragement from Bruce Campbell and Eddie Cutler. It is noted with interest that in this early period of the '60's vandalism to our huts was a continuing source of worry to members, but it was known that this had also been a problem in the early days of Green Peak Hut, and in fact, when the contractors built the hut in two parts - one for males and one for females - so much "hanky-panky" went on that the partition was eventually removed.

In November, 1961, the Club moved out of its rooms in Upper Dowling Street and shifted to Broadway, where Dr Cotton had generously given us the use of a room next to his surgery. Almost overnight attendance doubled, and about this time the Club started its Advanced Instruction Course to provide plenty of capable leaders for the future. The emphasis was on climbing as this was thought to be the best way of strengthening the Club. This arrangement continued to the mid 1960's when a change in attitude became noticeable in the committee. However, individual climbers still brought climbing to an important stage during this period.

The Easter trip in 1962 saw 35 members tramping and climbing in the Hopkins Valley area, the largest number since 1958.

In late 1962 the South Otago Branch of the Otago Tramping Club was formed with people like Russell Gregory, Clarry McNie and Jim. Kinnamond providing the driving force. On July 3rd, 1963, another Branch was formed, this time at Mosgiel. The organisers were John Armstrong, Graeme Hasler, Trevor Pullar and Eric Donaldson, names that proved how valuable the formation of this Branch was. It is also interesting to note that at about this time Jim Cowie was given the task of leading a group to climb Mt Cargill, Mihiwaka and Moponui, so future "guns" - take note and don't scoff when you are asked to lead a trip to Mt Cargill. About this time the Club took over the repair and maintenance of Twenty-five Mile Hut; and no-one will ever forget the sterling efforts that Gerry Kampjes put in to getting the Club's own transport established.

It is interesting to note just how advanced the Club had become by the end of '63, with parties as far afield as Cook, Homer, Harrison, Tutoko, Matukituki, Dart and Rees. A considerable number of peaks were climbed in these areas, and while this may be commonplace today, it was then regarded as another milestone in the Club's history. In November 1963, the Club moved into its (then) present premises in Lower Dowling Street. By 1964 the Club was under the capable control of President Gerry Kampjes who initiated skiing within the Club, and expressed a desire for the Club to build a hut at Coronet Peak. Models, plans and specifications were prepared, but even up until 1968 " red tape foiled all plans to go ahead with this.

Trip records showed 62 members up Mistake Creek at Easter, and the Club roll had risen to 226.

In September 1965, the Club purchased a '49 Morris Commercial truck. This replaced the one owned by Gerry Kampjes and which had been so generously loaned on many occasions for official trips. It had certainly had a chequered career, having run into a ditch near Lawrence, gone head over heels down Stuart Street, run out of road on Swampy, got stuck in the Matukituki, cracked its block in the Eglinton and nearly lost its deck crossing Muddy Creek. It was sadly missed, and no doubt its " misadventures" would have provided enough material for a first-rate book.

1965 saw the Club enter politics with its famous freedom walk on the Milford Track. This, of course, is now history and was adequately covered in the 1955 "Outdoors"; but it should not be forgotten that the action the Club took then has had far reaching consequences for all trampers and climbers in New Zealand.

On January 8th and 9th, 1966, six Club members climbed Mt Cook - M. Jones, G. Kampjes, J. Armstrong, G. Hasler, I. Meyer and H. Laing. Although Club members had climbed Cook before, and have since climbed far more formidable peaks, this does serve to give some idea of the standards reached during this period.

A change in attitudes was noticed in 1966, and is evidenced in the following report which is worth a place in history:

At a lively extraordinary general meeting held on October 26, 1966, the grandiose plans of the committee, led by radical President John Armstrong, were amended. Chief Guide James consented to remain in the cabinet, as tramping is still an 'approved' sport.

The following motion was passed after hours of discussion and much amendment. "This Club should continue to encourage tramping, climbing, ski mountaineering and ski-ing without detriment to the Club's prime aim of tramping."

Bob Cunninghame: " There has been a considerable change in the last five years. There was next to no climbing up until that time."
Gerry Kampjes: " Five or six years ago there was little ambition in the Club and less than half the number of people."
Graeme Hasler: "Safety is of paramount importance. We must have a balanced club"
Laurie Kennedy: "Something must suffer if we run a climbing course"
Jim Freeman: " People now have more money and are able to spread out into areas and sports not previously possible. Now less scope for tramping. Climbing is the natural outcome of tramping"
Alan Thomson: "Need to support tramping"
Arthur James: " Far better to have a small specialist club where you know most of the people rather than a large social ski-ing and climbing organisation."
Jim Cowie: " If the O.T.C. does not run an instruction course in climbing there is little incentive for the likes of me to remain in the Club."
Roger Conroy: " Let's change the name to the Otago Tramping and Mountaineering Club"
Ross Adamson: "Too much advertising on ski-ing by word of mouth and publications"

Here the President made some extremely sensible and pertinent remarks. He also pointed out that the visit of President Johnson was in no way connected with the Otago Tramping Club's Extraordinary General Meeting!

Easter '67 still saw climbing being carried out with Bruce and Ken Mason, Heather and Stu. Thorne, Logan McGhie and Dick Brasier climbing Mt McKenzie. Mt Strauchon was climbed by Stu. Thorne, Logan McGhie and Dick Brasier, and Mt Huxley by Bob McKerrow, Graeme Lockett, Jim Cowie and Keith McIvor. Bruce and Dick became Club Presidents in the 1970's.

August 1967 saw John Armstrong finish his two years of Presidency. His enthusiasm and concerted drive did much to popularise tramping, climbing and ski-ing, the latter becoming firmly established during his term of office. This was helped along by Graeme Hasler's booklet on "Ski Touring Notes ".

During this year Lyall Campbell and Marie McDonald started the Family Tramping Group. This group continues to thrive and provides a valuable adjunct to the Club. Also, Dave Still helped to set up an older members' group. Mr and Mrs P. L. Moore played an important part, but the group did not get the support it deserved.

Note should also be made that at this time Bruce Campbell retired as Secretary, a position he had held for many years. In one way or another Bruce has influenced the Club since the early 1950's.

Christmas 1967-68 saw Club trips led by John Armstrong and Bruce Mason to the North Routeburn, North Col and Rockburn, other's going on to Fohn Saddle and the Beansburn. Parties led by John Fitzgerald went to Martins Bay, Big Bay, Pyke, Alabaster Pass, Olivines, Cox Saddle, Hidden Falls, Park Pass and Rockkburn. Trevor Pullar looked after a party from the Arawata River to Mlilford Heads, Laurie Kennedy's party went into the Olivines whilst Jim Cowie spent 10 days in the Cook region and 10 days at Aspiring. Graeme Hasler also ,was back in the Cook area. All in all, a fantastic amount of tramping and climbing was achieved during this season - on a scale which was to continue until the end of the '60's.

Club member Boh McKerrow was a member of the 196S Andean Expedition, and in return for some assistance from the Club, provided interesting accounts of his exploits.

Club membership began to climb again from the 235 in 1967 to 271 in 1969. Judy Knewstubb (now Knox) was the second woman President in the 1960's, the first being Jean Armfield (now Payne). There had been only one woman President prior to the '60's, Miss Agnes Edmond, who filled this position in 1934 and again in 1941. Both women had similar capacities for hard work, and knew how to get the most out of members of both sexes. Judy is particularly remembered for her sterling efforts during the campaign to "Save our Lakes". Mention also should be made of Henry Stoddart who helped to get the Dunedin Mountain Safety Committee off the ground.

Nineteen sixty-nine saw the Taieri Branch fading out, the South Otago Branch having already disbanded. The era of the Club's own transport also closed and this is probably a fitting place to record members' thanks to the small band of "mechanics" who helped to keep it running. The 1969 Annual General Meeting saw a move to change the Club's name, but this was not to be achieved for a few more years. Although unsuccessful, this move did serve to show where the Club's future interests lay.

It is impossible to mention all trips, people and events that have helped make history for the Club. If anyone wishes to delve further, it is suggested they make the effort to read old bulletins and back numbers of "Outdoors". There is a wealth of information there.

Mention could be made here of "Outdoors". In 1963 it changed its format and continued to improve year by year until 1970, when members received the first printed copy for some 20 years. It has always been a worthwhile publication, despite the fact that the Editor has often had to bludgeon articles from unwilling writers.

The number of Club members who went south to the Antarctic during the '60s included Ken Gousmett, Keith McIvor, Bob McKerrow and Frank Graveson. A large number of members have tramped and toured overseas, with some distinguishing themselves on the climbing scene. Two names that spring to mind readily are Bob McKerrow and Murray Jones.

In the writer's search for information for this chapter, he has never ceased to wonder at the number of engagements and marriages that have taken place within the Club. He started to write all the names down, but there were just too many for the available space. What is evident is that the partnerships formed within the Club are very stable indeed-divorce is non-existent. It is suspected that this is the result of both parties having got to know what their future spouses look like first thing in the morning, as they emerge from their sleeping bags, unwashed and unkempt!

 

  The Early Years (1923 - 30) - The Thirties - The War Years and the Post War Renaissance - The Fifties - The Fortieth Anniversary Celebrations - The Sixties - The Early Seventies - 1973/83 - 1983/93 - 1993/2003

This site copyright 1999/2010 Antony Pettinger. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the OTMC Committee or other OTMC Members.