Mel Owen's Website

Section 1: Mountaineering


The group on the distant skyline from left to right: the Col des Hirondelles, the Grandes Jorasses with the Walker Spur leading to Pointe Walker, then Pointe Whymper, followed by the Rocheforte Arête and finally the Dent du Geant

The following five articles are informative and educative, covering safety-related mountaineering issues.

A 2016 UK Mountain Odyssey

I organised and led this Mountain Odyssey undertaken by a party of three in June 2016. We started by climbing all of the 3,000 ft hills in England, then all of the 4,000 ft hills in Scotland, then the National Three Peaks (Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon) in 24 hours, and finally all of the 3,000 ft hills in Wales, taking just 7 days.

The 14 Welsh Three Thousands

I organised and coordinated this Snowdon Ramble over the 14 Welsh Three Thousands, which was completed in one day in 2019 by 39 AAC(UK) members, split into several groups. For decades it had been one of my favourite walks, completed on 19 occasions, 10 of them solo.

I was well on the way to organising a one-day circuit of the Welsh Three Thousands in 2020 as a round trip starting and ending at the Mountain Hut we'd be staying in, to simplify transport, but the Covid Pandemic put a stop to it. The route would have been: Glan Dena > Tryfan > Glyder Fach > Glyder Fawr > Pen-y-Pass > Crib Goch > Crib y-Dysgl > Yr Wyddfa > Nant Peris > Elidir Fawr > Y Garn > West End of Llyn Ogwen > Pen yr Ole Wen > Carnedd Dafydd > Yr Elen > Foel Grach > Foel-fras > Foel Grach > Carnedd Llewelyn > Glan Dena. In case it can be organised in the future, here is the comprehensively documented Meet Sheet for it, which anyone is invited to freely use.


The Cuillin Ridge on the Ise of Skye

This Skye Cuillin Photo Compendium comprises a collection of full-screen-width photos taken by AAC(UK) members during a week on the Isle of Skye in 2018. It is by far my favourite UK mountain range.

The 508 Scottish Three Thousands

Scotland has 508 mountain summits at 3,000 feet or more above mean sea level. There are 282 principal summits, known as Munros after Sir Hugh Munro (1856-1919) who tabulated them in 1891, and there are 226 additional 3,000 foot summits, subsidiary to these Munros, which are known as the Tops. This makes the total 508 Munros and Tops, but when I completed them in June 1999, there were believed to be 511. Three were subsequently downgraded as not being quite being high enough. I completed the 511 (48% of them solo) in 110 hill-days during 30 visits to Scotland spread over 26 years. Attached, is a comprehensive Tally of the much-enjoyed challenge.

Mountaineering Opportunites in the Armed Forces

The opportunities to receive mountaineering training and then to amortise it, all on duty and at no charge and with all expenses paid, are detailed below, aimed at persuading civilians to consider an Armed Forces career:

Montaineering in the Bolivian Andes with RAFMA

Bolivia in 1992 - An account of a mountaineering expedition to the Bolivian Andes with the RAF Mountaineering Association.

Trekking in the Himalayas with RAFMA
October-November 1998

Mel and Mary joined a party of RAFMA Old Timers on this Himalayan trek in 1998. We enjoyed seventeen days trekking, two days river rafting, and five days sightseeing, exploring and relaxing.

The 19 younger more-energetic members of our RAFMA party climbed Ama Dablam at 6,812 metres.

Here is an Itinerary of our expedition.

My Mountaineering Club Record

I have been an active member of three nationally-based mountaineering clubs.

  1. The Chamois Mountaineering Club. I joined the CMC in 1964, the year it was founded, and was elected Secretary at its first AGM. The only other officers at that time were the Chairman and Treasurer, so I was de facto Membership Secretary, Meets Planning Secretary, Meets Booking Secretary, Newsletter Editor and Printer, (using a club-owned hand-cranked press at home, with input via Gestetner skins) and Club Librarian (holding 6 books at home and posting them to members requesting them). I served as Club Chairman for 3 years, during which time we purchased Marconi Hall in 1975 for £10K to become the Club Hut, (the Chamois Mountaineering Centre), and was one of those who were created life-members for making significant loans to the club to fund the hut's purchase. I subsequently served as Club President for 3 years and as Club Treasurer for an incredible 19 years. The only posts I never filled were Hut Warden and Webmaster, but I was obviously well-qualified for both, since I designed and built a large home that we lived in for over 30 years, and I had already managed other websites. I supported two weekend work-meets at the Hut annually for 36 consecutive years, 1978-2013, driving over 62,000 miles at my own expense to do so, and as a Chartered Electrical Engineer with domestic wiring experience, I took charge of a week-long meet to completely rewire the Hut. The foregoing gives the positive upbeat account, but regrettably, there is also a somewhat negative story, as well.
  2. The Royal Air Force Mountaineering Association. I joined RAFMA as soon as I started my commission in the RAF at the end of 1974 and joined in on numerous mountaineering trips in the UK and the European Alps, as well as trips to the Andes and the Himalayas. During my two years at RAF Kinloss I had the secondary duty of being Deputy Commanding Officer of the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team, regularly joining them on training weekends. I served RAFMA as Treasurer for 6 years, taking over handwritten ledgers and computerising the book-keeping. Subsequently, I served as Club Chairman for 3 years. I am still a member, although currently inactive.
  3. The Austrian Alpine Club (UK). For decades I was one of the overwhelming majority of members who only ever joined the AAC(UK) in those years I was planning an overseas mountaineering expedition, solely for the world-wide mountain rescue, medical and repatriation insurance, together with full alpine hut rights, that were both included for no extra charge in the membership package. Eventually, I was persuaded to take a more active interest, and I organised and led Club Meets in the UK and the Alps, introducing an annual week in the Skye Cuillin and an annual one-day traverse of the 14 Welsh Three Thousands. I also served as Club Webmaster for 6 years, an enthusiasm that has never left me, since I still routinely produce an electronic version of our printed Club Newsletters, my latest being Edition 234, Summer 2022. In addition, I maintain a Club Archive of past newsletter articles, even though they never see the light of day. I am no longer a particularly regular meet attendee. So far, I have given you a very positive side, but there is clear evidence that the AAC(UK) is guilty of Tax Evasion, which has built up over many years and could result in club bankruptcy and closure.

Section 2: Blogs

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Sqn Ldr M J Owen RAF (retd)