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.
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!
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.