On the hill with…Keith Towell

Welcome to “On the hill with…” a series of short interviews with members of the Rucksack Club.

This week is the turn of Keith Towell, our immediate Past President.

President Keith at the High Moss 50th celebrations

How did you get into walking and climbing?

At the age of 14 I went to the YMCA Centre Lakeside on Lake Windermere on a school residential week . During that week we climbed Helvellyn and went rock climbing and gorge walking. At roughly the same time I met Keith Treacher who was running the Waterside Youth Centre, Newbury, who furthered my interest in climbing, walking and canoeing. Trips to Skye, North Wales, the Lakes and the Alps followed with Keith, who became a great friend and mentor and Keith introduced me to the Rucksack Club.

Who has had the most influence on your mountain experiences?

Keith Treacher introduced me to a whole new world of experiences and friendships which may have passed me by.

What was your last great day out in the hills?

Doing a remote Marilyn with Mike Gregg and John Farrow above the Sound of Sleat on the Isle of Skye in October.

What does the perfect hill day consist of?

Getting off the beaten track in remote areas away from footpaths and the crowds. Preferably a circular route, challenging and finishing late and in good company.

What has been your worst ever mishap in the hill?

Getting avalanched on the Vent on Stob Coire an Lochan in the Cairngorms with Rab Carrington in the early 1970’s. I thought my time was up I could see my life flashing before my eyes.

What has been your best ever hill day?

Climbing the South Shiel Ridge and Saddle by the Forcan ridge with Paul Riley in one day in perfect spring conditions in the early 1980’s on a Rucksack Meet. Hard neve and brilliant sun.

What is your dream hill objective?

To traverse Liathach preferably in winter.

What makes a great hill partner?

Someone who is reliable, not competitive, someone you can trust , have a good laugh with and does not complain! Andrew Becket, Paul Riley, Gareth Llewellyn, Dick Pasley, Gary Bunting, Wade Cooper, Mark and Jackie Hatton, John Farrow, Pete Adams, Becky Adams Netty Llewellyn, Alan Winn, Lee Burrows, Paul Taylor, the choice is yours.

How do you keep active in the hills?

Due to dodgy knees I ration my hill days today, still can do big days but struggle on back to back days with big descents. Like a lot of climbers and fell walkers of my age I use road biking to strengthen the leg muscles and to combat  the effect of arthritis.

What future hill plans do you have?

To ascend as many of the Marilyns and Relative Hills of Britain as possible.

How did you come to join the RC?

 I joined the club to meet like minded adventure types who you could share days with on the crag or hill. The club was also active with a great program you could get involved with .

Keith cycling in Patagonia

 What have been the benefits of membership?

 As regards the benefits of membership the main one for me is the companionships and friends you make through shared experiences on the hill. Friendships which last all your life with people you can rely upon.

Keith kayaking with other members,whilst others climbed; Gogarth Meet 2018

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