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In memorandum - Chuck Evans

Chuck Evans kindly contributed a short story to my book The Pen y Gwryd Hotel: Tales from the Smoke Room (Gomer Press, pending).

I have reproduced this below; it is a reflection of the happy times Chuck and his extended family had at the Gwryd. I trust it makes a small but fitting contribution to his memorial.

Kind regards,

Dr Rob Goodfellow   (New South Wales)

‘Whatever Mr Briggs says is true’ - Chuck Evans

Living in Bangor and then Capel Curig, my brothers Robin and Peter and I were often taken to the Pen y Gwryd when we were boys and, later on with my father (Sir Robert Charles Evans, deputy leader on the 1953 British Everest Expedition and leader of the expedition which first climbed Kangchenjunga in 1955) and mother, Lady Denise Evans (the first female President of the Alpine Club) for the regular Everest and Kangchenjunga reunions. Later still, many times, it was after completing the Snowdon Horseshoe for a well merited pint.

The PyG was, and still is, a magical place. As children, we were often installed in the snug behind the bar and Blodwen, the ‘maid of maids’ (dressed in traditional Welsh black), would look after us by serving hot buttered toast, forever after known in our family as ‘Pen y Gwryd toast’. And I recall that there were funny napkins with a few choice phrases written in both Welsh and English. (Probably this is still the limit of my Welsh.)

As a boy, I was fascinated by the oxygen cylinder and other holy relics of the 1953 British Everest Expedition in the glass case in the Smoke Room. And every member of the expedition had a silver pint beer tankard; and, when my father was not there, I got to drink from it too.

One story I like to recall is about the Police visiting the Hotel, questioning Blodwen about after-hours or Sunday opening. Blodwen gave the policeman a stern look and despite persistent interrogation all she would say was, ‘Whatever Mr Briggs says is true.’

I also remember Jane Pullee organising Hallowe’en parties where the staff were dressed up as ghosts. Such happy times!

In the year that my father died (1995), we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the ascent of Kangchenjunga and my two year old daughter, Natasha, made the first cut in the cake, whilst my then six month old boy, Charlie, lay asleep on a blanket on the floor in the PyG dining room as we drank champagne opposite the ‘captain’s table’, where for many years Chris Briggs would host, amongst others, the likes of David Cox and Kevin Fitzgerald, two real gentlemen!

Wonderful memories!

Chuck Evans (1959-2016) was the eldest son of Sir Charles and Lady Denise Evans. He also did some Himalayan exploration in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including Jaonli in India, Churen Himal in mid-west Nepal and Saipal in far west Nepal, as well as a visit to Khumbu. When not enjoying the mountains or sailing, Evans advised French companies in difficulties with their respective banks.

Tributes  

#3 Graham Michael David Elson 2016-04-15 12:18
Chuck came from a family of mountaineers.
He joined me on a ski mountaineering trip in the mid 80s
A good skier and a great companion.
I believe that he met his future wife in this party
In photo (on left) with Derek Fordham, above Zermatt

#2 Andrew John Pollard 2016-04-15 12:13
When I was a medical student at St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical College and Chairman of Bart’s Alpine Club, I received a call out of the blue from Chuck Evans inviting me to join him on an expedition to climb Jaonli in Garhwal (6632m) and to help him assemble a team. Although initially suspicious of this unknown caller who claimed to know something about climbing, I was excited by his careful and detailed strategy, and infectious enthusiasm for the project. It was only some days later, after some detective work, that I discovered this man came from some climbing pedigree! To introduce me to the plans and to get to know each other, Chuck drove me (faster than I have ever experienced except in an aircraft) from London to his father’s house in Capel Curig, from where we set off to climb Avalanche route on the slimy rocks of Lliwedd. That evening, sitting with Chuck and Sir Charles (rather frail by then, but who seemed to remember every detail of the slippery route up Lliwedd, even though it had been so many years since he had been able to venture on the rock), I listened to the Evans banter and absorbed the warmth and the kindness of the men in my company, and I knew that I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to Jaonli with Chuck. Chuck led the first British ascent of Jaonli (6632m) in 1988 with his characteristic calmness and good nature and we stood atop our first Himalayan peak together. Apart from a dramatic avalanche during the descent which washed me into a crevasse, the ascent was uneventful, but journey was an important one for all of us and has framed much of what we have done and how we have been since. Thank you, Chuck.
#1 William Jeffrey Powell 2016-04-15 12:00
I unfortunately lost touch with Chuck and his wife Caroline when they spent time off-grid in France. I did share a fantastic ski touring trip with Chuck, Caroline and Rob Sneyd when we skied the Haute Route together many years ago. Chuck and particularly Caroline were lovely skiers, unlike Rob and me. It was a memorable trip with cracking ice slopes, abseils over bergshrunds, stormy bivoac huts and long lonely, glittering days with only the hiss of ice crystals for company. Skiing down into Zermat from the back of the Matterhorn was magnificent. Good days and fine memories. God bless to Chuck and my love to Caroline.

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