17 January 2013

CMC Picnic

In my early youth my mountaineering beginnings were closely intertwined with the Canterbury Mountaineering Club (CMC).  I went to two of their Easter instruction courses up the Waimakariri River and joined the Club at the tender age of 15 - after some debate within the committee, I gather. I went on many of the club trips and made many lifelong friends through the CMC.

CMC Logo (Brian Chrystall, sculptor)


Occasionally, usually just before Xmas the club had its annual picnic.  I remember one very well. It was held on the stoney riverbed of one of the rivers to the south of Christchurch, probably the Rakaia.  There was a prize for the best dressed person and it was won by someone dressed only in a top hat, a jock strap and mountain boots (without socks).  A barrel of beer was supplied and after sufficient beer had been drunk a game of rugby was played on the stoney riverbed. The "best-dressed-man" was in the winning side as no one was game to tangle too closely with him.  However there was considerable bruising suffered by both teams.  After the rugby game concluded, the next event - to numb the bruising - was to have one on one battles on a log over a side flow of the Rakaia.  Contestants were armed with water soaked kapok pillows with which to batter their opponents off the log and into the chilling but refreshing water.  The winner stayed on the log to accept the challenge of the next contestant and as the log became wetter staying on the log became more and more difficult - in addition to the battering.  Vivid memories remain to this day - almost 60 years later.

CMC Rugby Field and Aquatic Sports Centre
The CMC was also sometimes jokingly referred to as the Canterbury Misogynists Club as its membership was limited to men, one of the last such clubs in NZ. As the years passed young members peppered the AGMs with motions to allow women (usually their new girlfriends) to join the club.  These AGMs were packed with members and the arguments and debates highly entertaining. Some of the reasoning should now be forgotten.  Eventually change occurred but without the anticipated worries about the lack of freedom to pass wind in mountain huts on windy nights. Some stories of members girlfriends being offered accommodation in the wood or coal bins of mountain huts on stormy nights are surely exaggerated.

Early CMC Member's Partner Enjoys Club Hospitality In Coal Bin - early 1950s