Traditionally, the CAWA AGM has been THE climbing event to ignore. The main feature was the unappealing prospect of being roped into a Committee role, where one would fester in anonymous unrewarding slavery for the following twelve months. The 2011 AGM was so dismal that, for sheer lack of interest, it had to be held twice. The first time not enough people turned up. The next time those who did turn up were shocked to discover that the old committee was resigning en masse. Me included. If the rats were leaving the sinking ship, then why get on? We only just managed to cobble a committee together after much embarassed navel gazing.
At the 2012 AGM, held yesterday, that lesson was clearly remembered. EVERYTHING was different. The main event was not the election. In fact the embarrasment of volunteer-based democracy had been neatly shouldered aside by pre-filling all the positions and then simply asking the relieved audience - how about it?....to a quiet but resounding "YES! YES!". This is presumably why benevolent dictatorships are so popular in China, Russia and Queensland.
This then allowed all to move onto things more fun. The main event was the 100kg giant of man - PATRICK HOLLINGWORTH. Clearly gifted with physical talent (has done the Rotto swim twice, solo), with strong will in the face of early failure (when there were many summits he did NOT climb) and with an inspired vision of Everest success, he did it on his first try, without guides.
Pat's version of climbing involves deeds very different from ours here in WA. Messner once said that "Mountaineering is the art of putting one foot above another, for a very long time". Modern attempts on the Ultimate Hump have been debased by egotistical non-climbers, guiding, rubbish, massive fees, megadeath seasons. In fact there is a modern joke about Everest: One climber says to another one "My friend (another climber) has gone to climb Everest!" To which the answer was: "Really? Do climbers still do that?"
The story goes like that: 500 people at base camp, 24 on the summit in one day, cheap fixed ropes choked with jumaring climbers, fifty fixed aluminium ladders, old bones regularly disgorged out of the Khumbu ice fall, mad Russian, mad dead Russian, hallucinations, 22 hour summit day, 20 kg weight loss.....but one happy Patrick! Somehow, although caught up in the farce of it all, Patrick managed to raise above it all and came across in the talk as a genuine guy, with a big dream, and he did it his way, unguided, with a couple of Sherpa buddies. THAT is what makes it an amazing achievement! We all know that getting to the top of Bluff Knoll is dead easy but HOW (and also WHY) you do it is ALL that matters. I have been willingly caught up in some alpine circuses of my own and strongly sympathised with his predicament. I also really hate heroic stories, and thank goodness this was't one, but a damn good yarn instead.
Then there was a photo comp, where despite of stacking the field with many photographs of my own, I won nothing. Must try harder next year.....but I did notice that the public ignored big frozen mountain pics, preferring scantily clad male boulderers draped over chalk-covered holds. I blame the considerable number of females in the audience for that one. With my looks and natural aptitude for bouldering, I may have to go and join William Buckley on that one.
Kate produced a smashing 2012 WA CLIMBING CALENDAR, showing that our rock looks as good as anywhere else in the world. They were being flogged off for $10 each, an absolue bargain. Then I won a door prize, a Rockface T shirt, and many others scored something similar. In the end everyone was a winner...aaah, phrases.....somehow, along all this action I forgot that I was at an AGM and started really enjoying myself. Even Grizzly Adams enjoyed himself for a change (from last year), giving a speech that repeated the words "vision" and "marvellous" in an amazing number of combinations. What else....Moyses came dressed in vest made from a quilt.....then there was a man, known to all as RiffRaff, who could not shut up for the first thirty minutes, so enthusiastic he was about being on the 2012 committee. I have high hopes there. Tony presided over events with charm of and ease born of wisdom and experience. The catering staff swarmed over the 57 climbers, the projector actually worked, and everybody thought that the two grand it cost to put on the show was money well spent. OK, I had some intial reservations but I do know I have to sell 200 guidebooks to pay for it......but I think I am in a tight arsed minority of one...........the general opinion being what is money for ?
One thing that became very clear real quick was that this year will be exciting, that there are some motivated people in charge (including a professional events manager!) and that after organising unmpteen events over my ten years on the committee I cant bloody well wait to just rock up and be entertained. Keep them coming! :)