Late in 1969,
the traditional Friday night meeting was altered to Thursday.
With an ever-increasing interest in weekend trips further afield,
the Friday night was often required for travelling. The decision
to make this change has resulted in a startling increase in the
numbers attending film and lecture evenings - an average attendance
of fifty to sixty with occasional turn-outs of up to eighty.
the ever-increasing popularity in tramping was shown, by the establishment
of clubs in some of the smaller centres. These include the Maniototo,
Lawrence and Earnslaw Tramping Clubs.
This surge in
popularity for the sport also brought with it the ever-attendant
problem of vandalism. Pyramid Hut, a popular Sunday Mecca for
the older members was burnt down; extensive repairs had to be
made to Jubilee Hut; the Green Hut floor was replaced once again;
and Ben Rudds Hut had to be demolished after excessive vandalism
made repairs impracticable. Approaches to those groups most benefiting
by the use of these huts, several attempts to police them, even
the black-listing of known vandals all had very limited effect.
On the credit side, though, the end of 1971 saw Poplar Hut, Leaning
Lodge and Twenty-five-Mile Hut all in good order, and a start
made on improvements to facilities on the Ben Rudd property. These
improvements included the planting of 5,000 Douglas Fir trees,
and the erection of a " vandal-proof " shelter alongside the old
The 1971 Annual
General Meeting provided one of the most significant milestones
in the 50 year history of the Club. A motion was passed that "
advanced levels of tramping and mountaineering be encouraged"
To fit in with this new concept the Club was renamed "The Otago
Tramping and Mountaineering Club (Inc) ". Not content to rest
on its laurels with this, the meeting went even further in appointing
ten senior members to act as consultants to the committee. Only
time will tell if this move proves successful in bringing together
the experience of the older members and the enthusiasm of the
The Club has
always shown an active interest in Conservation and National Parks,
both through personal efforts of members as well as representation
through the Federated Mountain Clubs and the Dunedin District
Conservation Committee. During the height of the "Save Manapouri"
campaign several letters to the press were written on behalf of
the Club and door-to-door canvassing obtained nearly 1,000 signatures
to the petition. Members, both individually and collectively,
have taken an active interest in the affairs of both Mount Aspiring
and Fiordland National Parks, with a number of Club members being
board members of the former. Annual well-attended work parties
to both parks have been a feature of Club programmes for some
continue to be organised by the Club for the National Mountain
Safety Council, with instructees from these courses providing
the greater proportion of new members in the Club. R. Brasier,
R. McKenzie and H. Stoddart have at different times acted as Course
Directors. In July 1972, a snow-craft course was organised by
Bryan Freeman, but unseasonal heavy snow and flooding isolated
Dunedin and resulted in one weekend's instruction being cancelled.
A later weekend, however, allowed a certain amount of ice and
snow work to be covered in the area around Ball Hut.
Search and Rescue
operations have always had the full backing of the Club, with,
on occasion, up to 60 members on call for ground support parties.
During the early seventies there were frequent local searches
for missing persons as well as a coastal search for a missing
fishing boat. The Club can be proud of the fact that a number
of its members play an active part in the Dunedin Face Rescue
After the steady
increase in membership of the late sixties, the number has levelled
off at somewhere around 280. The committee considered that this
was a sufficiently large enough number to warrant a membership
secretary, and this was endorsed by the 1972 Annual General Meeting.
The Family Tramping
Group, under the expert guidance (plus it is suspected, a certain
amount of connivance) of Lyall Campbell and Marie McDonald, continues
to thrive, with up to fifty children and adults taking part in
some of the trips. Easter and Christmas camps have always been
a feature of this group's activities, with some very pleasant
combined camps being held with the Hokonui Club.
What has been
written so far shows the healthy interest the Club has taken in
affairs around it, but its main aim, that of promoting tramping
and climbing, should not be lost sight of.
A lot of the
former appeal of the Silver Peaks area has been lost in recent
years. Intensive farming practice has resulted in roading, fencing
and burning off, and this together with the forestry development
to the north, has made substantial inroads in to what was once
tramping country". Communications aerials and their associated
installations and roading have proliferated on Swampy Summit and
Mount Cargill. The result of all this has meant that the Club
has had to look further afield for a lot of its weekend trips.
A look at the trip lists for 1970, 1971, and 1972 shows the commendable
efforts of the various committees to introduce both variety of
area and variety of interest into the programme.
Some of the
more unusual weekend trips were to places such as Lake Monowai,
The Chaslands, Green Lake, Port Craig, Lake Luna and the Moonlight,
Mavora Lakes, Moke Creek and Arthurs Pass. Weekend climbing trips
took members to Castle Rock on Banks Peninsula, the Grand Plateau,
Mts Earnslaw, Sir William and Aurum, Homer and the Matukituki
Valley. And if not content with this impressive list, the Club
introduced a "marathon" to test the stamina of those hardier souls
amongst its members. The course ran via the Pineapple Track, Ben
Rudds, the Chalkies, Poplar Hut, Mt John, Christmas Creek, the
Gap, Silver Peak, Green Peak, Swampy Summit and finally back down
the Pineapple. For the statistically-minded reader, the course
involves a distance of 35 miles and 9,400 vertical feet of ascent
and descent. No mean feat! Winners to date have been R. Brasier
and A. Smith with a time of 10 hours 30 minutes and R. Davies
in 9 hours 20 minutes.
YEAR OF CHALLENGE
As the 1972-73
tramping and climbing season got under way, the Club appeared
to be moving along smoothly, with everyone intent on making the
season a successful one. But this serenity was to be short-lived.
A small but vocal group of dissident climbers felt that the Club
should cater for their interests exclusively. Transport to the
areas where they wanted to climb appeared to be the basis of their
discontent, with clubroom activities and the trip list also emerging
as major issues. In an attempt to rectify this situation, a selection
of active Club members were invited to discuss their complaints
with the committee. It was hoped that some worthwhile criticism
would come of this, but unfortunately the vocal dissidents dominated
the meeting and reverted to some harsh personal attacks on some
of the committee members. This hindered some of the quieter members
from presenting their sides of the story and the only result of
the meeting was the resignation of the vice-president and the
general disillusionment of the committee.
At this juncture,
Club members who had attended the special meeting soon realised
that there had to be some outcome, but the failure of the December
bulletin to appear resulted in members not being informed of changes
proposed for the new year.
At the January
committee meeting, various decisions made in December on the social
programme and trip organisation were annuled. This series of events
eventually led to the resignation of the Club President. These
domestic problems were by now impinging on other matters which
should have been receiving precedence; namely tramping, climbing
and the 50th Anniversary celebrations. An Anniversary subcommittee
evolved from the main committee and the rest set about trying
to establish some sense of direction.
The 1973 Bushcraft
Course still went ahead, and although small was very well organised
by Clive Donaldson. Publicity this year was directed at the man
in the street and not at school pupils as in the past. There was
a wide variety of ages present but unfortunately very few of these
people have continued within the Club. The local television camera
team appeared at the river crossing and certain young ladies ---swimming---
in tramping boots and bikinis suddenly became very self-concious
when they saw the lens directed at them.
was one of the few lighter moments of the year. Trip patronage
continued to decline although most trips still managed to get
away. A few newcomers turned up but after a trip or two, disappeared.
Finally, a small but strong nucleus emerged that has given constant
support to most of the recent trips.
And so the year
has passed. There have been challenges such as this before, but
each time the Club has emerged stronger and more closely knit.
The reader may very well ask himself what causes dissension such
as this to erupt periodically. Is it a failure of some to take
but not give in return, to criticise but refuse to accept criticism,
of the older members down-grading the achievements of the young,
or of the young deriding the memories of the old? Or is it perhaps
a little bit of each?
What can we
do about it? The 50th Anniversary went part way to bringing all
age groups together; allowed them to compare philosophies and
ideals. The rest is up to each of us, young or old, to ensure
in some way that the next 50 years will be as good as the first.