Up Close and Personal

Up Close and Personal is a new series of short informal interviews with members of the Alpine Club. The articles are designed to profile the breadth and depth of a ‘typical’ AC member and are first published in the Alpine Club Newsletter. 

Back issues of the newsletters can be found HERE.

Up Close with Mike Kosterlitz

Interview by Glyn Hughes

Mike, could you start by telling us about your earliest climbing experiences.

When I turned up in Cambridge in 1962 I had done very little real climbing, but I was very keen to do more, and I had already discovered that I seemed to have some talent for it. I went on a meet to the Derbyshire gritstone as soon as I could, and, wearing my mountain boots (I had not heard of PAs at the time), I got up a few climbs. Shortly after that I fell about 25ft off a VS because the rubber on the toe of my boot was worn away, and I tore my ankle. The more experienced members of the CUMC (Nick Estcourt, Rupert Roschnik, etc) were not amused by this novice showing off. However I managed to show them that I was actually able to climb, and that I could be competitive with them. That winter I joined the Club’s Ben Nevis meet and got my first taste of ice climbing, which I also enjoyed. I think the reason that I was competitive with the best of them was that I was quite strong, and was able to keep my nerve on rock climbs. I reasoned that if other people had done it before me, even if I could not see how to do the next bit, it was obviously possible and there must be holds there, and so I should be able to do it too. I did not frighten easily, and my (flawed) reasoning worked, so I went up the grades quite quickly, and become one of the better climbers in the CUMC.

Up Close with Uisdean Hawthorn

Interview by Adele Long


Hi Uisdean, how long have you been a member of the Alpine Club?

Two months!


Like many UK mountaineers you seem to have cut your teeth on Scottish rock, how does this prepare you for alpine climbing?

I suppose the thing is you get a lots of technical climbing, so for me when I do lots of winter climbing or trad that really helps to gives you a lot of confidence that you will be able to get up pretty much any of the technical cruxes on a route [in the Alps] because you know they are a few grades lower than what you would climb at home.

A lot of the mixed climbing on the Bheinn, the routes are short and if they were anywhere else no-one would climb them, they are just little bits of rock, but because they are technically really hard and you can just go and do them from your house in a day, you get in a lot of climbing.  Its the volume of hard climbing more than any specific climb. You would spend weeks and weeks in the Alps to get that volume of hard climbing.

Up Close with Cathy O’Dowd

Interview by Adele Long

Hi Cathy, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. Starter question, how long have you been a member of the AC?

Since 2012.

What made you join?

The honest answer is because Sandy Allen had invited me on his Nanga Parbat expedition, and he thought we could get some money from the AC. Obviously I was aware of the existence of the AC, but had a weird set of slightly contradictory stereotypes; first that it was full of Victorian gentlemen and only a certain type of chap or chappess would be eligible to join, second that it was full of people who were incredibly hard core and ordinary alpine climbers were not invited. Neither of which is fair or true. And then of course, I don’t actually live in England so how useful is the Club if you don’t live in England or possibly even London? Those are all the things that stopped me from joining and it was Sandy and the Nanga Parbat expedition that made me think, ‘well okay let’s give it a go’.

Up Close with Lindsay Griffin

Interview by Adele Long

How long have you been a member of the AC?

I became a member of the Alpine Climbing Group in 1972, which was then part of the AC. It wasn't until 1977, when someone asked me to propose them for the AC and the membership secretary at the time said ‘you can't do that, mate, you’re not an AC member!’, that I joined the AC.

More Articles ...

  1. Up Close with Becky Coles