With the passing of Beryl Turner the Oread Club has lost a very unassuming but brilliant climber. Gordon Gadsby takes a look at her life.
A dynamic and kind person who was just as much at home on the high crags as she was on the alpine ski slopes, whether teaching adults to ski, taking hordes of children for their first ski lesson, or skiing extreme! Beryl passed peacefully away at the City Hospital Nottingham in the afternoon of Saturday 5 July 2008 with husband Roger at her side; theirs had been a partnership of love and adventure that spanned over 55 years.
I first met the Turners in 1958 whilst I was buying some climbing gear in Redmayne & Todds Nottingham one Saturday lunchtime (most of us worked Saturday mornings then), when the chap next to me at the counter introduced himself as Roger Turner and said "Would you like to come to Wales this afternoon!" My transport at that time was by bike or bus so this was a great offer. Two weeks later my wife and I did go with them and thus started a friendship that's lasted all these years.
Three climbs I remember from those early days were the ascent of Pinnacle Wall on Craig yr Ysfa in the summer of 1959, the four of us wearing mountain boots; Idwal Slabs in winter, again in boots, and also carrying rucksacks, ice axes and torches, so we could traverse the mountains later; and then in the Spring of 1961, in lighter footwear, climbing on the Rosa Pinnacle, Arran, with Beryl and another Oread member, Chris Martin. In my mind's eye I can still see Beryl dancing with ease across those delectable granite slabs (she had been a ballroom dancer of international standard in the 50's). The same year she climbed Cenotaph Corner with their great friend Des Hadlum, the direct on Dinas Mot with Eric Wallis and many of the Welsh classics. Years later when she was an accomplished skier she did the Haute Route with Des Hadlum, Ray College, Roland Anthony and Roger; another year the Valley Blanche and Argentiere glacier. She was a valued member of Derby Ski Club for many years and a ski instructor in Britain and abroad.
Trained in hairdressing by Vidal Sassoon, her 'Twice Look' Salon in Nottingham became a meeting place for climbers and friends. When Beryl finished her last customer on a Friday evening, we would all go off to Wales or the Peak District with our camping gear. Her favourite mountain was Tryfan and she was enthusiastic about all the rock climbs there, especially Grooved Arete, Gashed Crag and the Pinnacle Rib climbs. A good summer climbing day on Tryfan would usually conclude with the Direct route on Glyder Fach. She always had unbounded energy and many times climbed there over the years with many different friends. She also loved walking the Peak moorlands and I recall one autumn walking with her and Roger up Wildboar Clough and crossing Bleaklow by moonlight finishing up at Rowsley for an early breakfast.
In the late sixties they moved into the retail business and opened a mountain sports shop on Derby Road Nottingham. They made many new friends in the Leicester Bowline Club and their shop manager, Steven Bennett, and his wife Julie, plus Graham Richmond became very close friends and outdoor companions. They described some of their happy and humorous recollections at Beryl's Celebration to the 200+ family and friends.
Beryl visited the Alps many times, climbing Mont Blanc fifty four years ago - the year Roger married her. In 1961 they had to retreat on the Zmutt ridge of the Matterhorn due to bad weather whilst climbing with Wally Smith and Eric Wallis. In 1963 they traversed 6 peaks in the Dauphine including Pic Coolidge and Nord Cavales by the West ridge, all with Jack Ashcroft and Brian Cooke. They also visited Norway several times; on one trip climbing the highest peaks Glittertind and Gladopigen at night because of poor snow conditions; also rock climbing holidays in the Romsdal area. In the Dolomites Beryl loved the Via Ferratas but also the harder climbs like the renowned Yellow Edge route on the Tre Cima Lavaredo, which she did with Steve Bennett.
In the 70s and 80s they skied in America, places like Colorado and Wyoming, sometimes extreme runs with the expert Glen Plake; also in Canada staying at Banff and Whistler. In the Alps she skied extreme with Sylvan Saudan.
Beryl climbed on the Edges throughout fifty years, so many climbs, but including favourites on Birchens, Kiss me Hardy, Emma's Dilemma etc.; on Froggatt Sunset Slab and Valkyrie; on Stanage most of the hard climbs including Right Unconquerable plus Valkyrie on the Roaches. In the 1990's they cycled in Scotland visiting Mull, also Ulva Island and Gometra, then on another trip to Northern Ireland cycling in the Mountains of Morne and Giant's Causeway. Over the last 8 years a group of us rekindled our love of cycling and Roger and Beryl joined us on the CtoC, the Reivers, Tour of Arran and Southern Hebrides, then Devon and Dartmoor, organised by Mick and Gill Keeling, Norfolk and Sufffolk by Graham Foster, Tarka Trial by Colin and Uschi Hobday; Skye and Torridon a 400 mile tour was another great adventure; Teesdale and High Force where Beryl organised a Thai Chi class on the patio before we set off each day. After that illness prevented Roger and Beryl from joining us but they were with us in spirit. Beryl also became a member of Stapleford Travel and Photographic Club for the last three years (as are several Oreads) and she was soon helping Derek Dutton and Ray Hull in the kitchen and, with Roger, giving us talks on climbing and skiing adventures.
Beryl's climbing and cycling continued well into her seventies, still leading at a high standard, still as enthusiastic as in the fifties, always determined to be in the front on her bike, always wanting to go the extra mile. My last cycle ride with Beryl was along the banks of the river Trent from Cranfleet Lock to Beeston in May this year. We'd met by chance and although seriously ill she was determined to make the most of the day. She had been swimming at 7.30 a.m., cycling with me still keeping her wheel in front and then out with Roger in the afternoon.
One of the best woman climbers of her generation, she was always an inspiration, whether climbing Dream of White Horses on Gogarth, ascending the Vajolet Towers or the Yellow Edge on Cima Piccola in the Dolomites, climbing on Gimmer or cheering up patients in hospital. Over fifty years ago she was racing with the Nottingham Sphere Cycling Club and she never lost that competitive spirit. All of us who knew her will never forget those happy times we had - what a star!
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