Trans-Dolomite Venture, 1966

Representatives from several Groups in the District took part in the 1966 expedition to the Dolomites organised on a County basis. Ham's contingent was H. Savill, M. Hymas, R. Hymas, B. Bright and G. Dale.

Our party left Victoria at 1505 on 8th August, crossing the Channel from Folkestone to Calais. A lengthy train journey then followed, including a four-hour delay due to a derailment near Basle.

Two base camps were established, one at Dobbiaco and one at Canazei, and the object of the expedition was for small, independent, self-supporting units to make their way on foot from one base to the other. The party from Ham started from the camp at Dobbiaco, which they reached at 2000 on 9th August. The site was situated among pine trees, and was complete with showers, hot and cold water and toilets.

After a fairly relaxing day in camp on 10th August, the party began their journey south towards Canezi on the following day. Each party was responsible for planning its own route, and were required to handed in their proposals before leaving base camp, so that the expedition staff knew where each party could be found at any particular time.

The journey proved to be a very real test of initiative, resourcefulness and determination in conditions far more severe than anything experienced in this country. Each day brought a fresh challenge of new slopes to climb, new paths to follow and always the heat to endure. The reward was ample compensation for the effort - spectacular mountain scenery, pure mountain air and the sense of achievement when the day's objective was reached. Some nights were spent in Mountain Refuge Huts, where beds and hot meals are available for climbers, but at other times the only shelter was the lightweight tents which we carried.

Final Base Camp at Canazei was a welcome sight to each of the parties as they completed their Trans-Dolomite journey. Our party arrived there on 16th August. After a brief period of rest, we made short trips of exploration in the vicinity. Some of the party managed to fit in a visit to Venice, staying there overnight.

Plans for the ascent of the Marmolada had to be abandoned due to adverse weather conditions. Memories of the last days of the expedition are of floods and landslides as the worst storms for a hundred years swept the region, blocking passes, carrying away bridges and disrupting road and rail communications.

Plans for the return journey to England had to be drastically revised, and due to the efforts of the expedition leaders and the co-operation of railway authorities in Austria, Switzerland and France, the expedition arrived back at Victoria on 21st August, only nine hours behind schedule.

An Expedition Award in the form of a silk pennant was presented to a limited number of Senior Scouts who were judged to have achieved the highest standard. Members of 2nd Ham (St Andrews) Senior Troop were among those who received this award.