David Goodall

Name ID 2524

See also

Nelson, Christopher Photos of Arusha
Extract Date: 1957

First ascent of Heim Glacier

with John Cooke and Dave Goodall (photo by Anton Nelson).

Coming over the incredibly steep curve of the glacier at 18,000 feet.

Extract ID: 5886

See also

Nelson, Christopher Photos of Arusha
Extract Date: 1957

First ascent of Heim Glacier

My father (Anton Nelson, right) as president of the Kilimanjaro Mountain Club, with John Cooke (left) and Dave Goodall, of Kenya, with porters, on historic traverse of Kilimanjaro and first ascent of the Heim Glacier - note the ice axe.

Extract ID: 5885

See also

Nelson, Christopher Photos of Arusha
Extract Date: 1957

First ascent of the Heim Glacier - nearing the summit

John Cooke and David Goodall. Photo by Anton Nelson

Extract ID: 5870

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa
Page Number: 115 - 116
Extract Date: 1957

Ascent of Kilimanjaro and Heim Glacier

My plans for Kilimanjaro had been maturing for some time. All parts of the whole massif had been reached by mountaineers, geologists and surveyors, and the main summit of Kibo had been reached by thousands of people by the normal trade route of ascent from Marangu, which poses no technical problems. However, I could find no record of a complete, continuous traverse of the whole mountain, taking in all the main peaks of Shira, Kibo and Mawenzi. This I planned to do. A second aim was to attempt a first ascent of one of the unclimbed glaciers on the south face of Kibo. The west and south faces of Kibo are separated by a massive breach in the crater rim and wall, whichis very spectacular. The glaciers to the north-west of the breach, namely the Penck and the Credner, offer no great problems, and had been climbed. Those to the east, the Kersten and the Heim are formidable ice-walls and had not been climbed. I proposed to tackle the Heim as a route to the summit area of Kibo as part of the traverse of the whole mountain. From photographs it looked very challenging, and so it was to prove.

The first problem to be overcome was finding companions for the venture. They would have to be experienced and competent mountaineers, for the Heim would be no place for tyros. By enormous good fortune two excellent men turned up. They were Ax Nelson and David Goodall. In background, character and temperament they were totally different. Ax was an American who was at that time working as an adviser with the Meru Cooperative Union based in Arusha. He was a man of deep religious convictions with a driving urge in life to champion the cause of those he considered to be downtrodden and exploited. He had got involved with the Meru land case when he met Kirilo Japhet, the Meru spokesman in New York at the United Nations. The Wameru were petitioning against the Tanganyika government's alienation of a part of their land to European farmers. Ax espoused the Meru cause and came out to Tanganyika to work with them, ending up as an adviser to their co-operative which organised the coffee growers on Mount Meru. He later wrote a book about his experiences, entitled The Freemen of Meru, published by Oxford in 1967. He had considerable climbing experience, and amongst other things had been actively involved in the early ascents of the immense vertical rock faces in the Yosemite region of the Sierra Nevadas in the western United States. Ax was a great talker and very articulate, so that by the end of our expedition David and I knew just about everything about him and his philosophy of life. David Goodall was British, northcountry like myself. Although we lived in very close contact for two exacting weeks on the mountain, where we were totally interdependent (in fact, he saved my life), he remains an enigma. He was working as an agricultural officer in Kenya, and before that had done his National Service in the Parachute Regiment. He was very tough, totally dependable, and excellent company, but he exemplified the Yorkshireman's motto "Hear all, see all, say nowt."

Extract ID: 5891

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa
Page Number: 117
Extract Date: 1957

We got together and made detailed plans

We got together and made detailed plans. Late September was agreed on as the time and we all obtained leave from our work. We had all the necessary equipment except ice pitons, long narrow steel spikes to drive into hard ice as safe anchor points when climbing. These we ordered from the UK. I had a small Black's mountain tent big enough for two men, but as weight was going to be a critical factor, we decided to make do with it. Since we were going to be on the mountain for two weeks all our food would have to be carried, so that it would have to be carefully chosen and finely calculated. Tins were out of the question. Our basic bulk food were porridge oats with dried milk and sugar, plus hard biscuits. For protein and fat we took bacon and biltong, and instant coffee was our beverage. In the absence of fresh fruit and vegetables we took Vitamin C tablets, and for quick energy dried fruit and glucose tablets. We calculated precise amounts of everything, weighed it all out, and packed it into canvas bags that Sylvia made up for us. My old well-tried Primus stove and a supply of paraffin provided for our cooking. Even with food and equipment pared to a minimum we were still going to have very heavy loads to carry, with tent and sleeping bags, ice axes, crampons, pitons and hammers, slings and clips, rope, minimal spare clothing, food and fuel for two weeks. We decided there was no point in lugging this lot unaided through the forest, and so I asked the Mangi of Machame from where we planned to start, if he could find us a few porters to help us carry our gear up onto the Shira Plateau. This he very kindly did for us.

The route we planned would go from west to east. We would ascend to the Shira plateau first, and climb all the Shira peaks. The 12,000 feet altitude (about 4000 m) would enable us toacclimatise quickly before tackling the major problem of the Heim Glacier. The route onto the Shira from Loldorosi that I had used in 1953 was long and time-consuming. A start from Machame would yield a more direct route, and we trusted to the porters knowing a way through the forest. Once on the Shira the porters would leave us and go back down, leaving us with a weighty transport problem. We would tick off all the peaks there, namely the Shira ridge, Shira dome, and the Platzkegel. The Heim was our great unknown, and we did not know the nature of the problems we would encounter. Ax had persuaded someone with a small plane to fly him past the glaciers and ice-walls, and he managed to get a good photograph of the Heim from fairly close quarters, which was to prove of great assistance to us. Once up the Heim, assuming we succeeded there, we would go over the summit of Kibo, and then down to the saddle between Kibo and Mawenzi. From a last camp below the latter we would make our last ascent of Mawenzi, and then get down to Marangu.

Extract ID: 5893

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa
Page Number: 118
Extract Date: 1957

We eventually left Machame on 20th September

We eventually left Machame on 20th September with five porters who knew the forest trails. We felt light-hearted and unburdened. We were glad of the latter for our route made no concessions and went up very steeply, following a ridge between two deeply entrenched river valleys. The forest was very beautiful, and since we had guides, we could relax and appreciate our surroundings, without having to concentrate on route-finding, and hacking our way forward. In the forest in 1953 I had been too concerned with route finding to bother much about aesthetics, while in the Ruwenzori forests, the overpowering wetness and mud could only offer pleasure to a sheer masochist. There is much wildlife in the Kilimanjaro forests, but one hears more than one sees. On our first night out we slept in the forest, always an intriguing experience with all sorts of strange noises, rustlings, scuffles, thuds, grunts, whistles and the odd trumpeting of a distant elephant. We were charmed by the very beautiful black and white, long haired colobus monkeys, which we often saw swinging in the trees, overcome with curiosity as to who and what we were. Late on our second day out we were surprised and pleased to emerge from the forest, and to see before us the final slopes leading up onto the plateau. This was the point where the porters were to leave us, but very sadly our parting was less than amicable.

When I came to pay the porters, they claimed we had pushed them too hard so that they had done in two days what they would normally consider three days' work. In consequence of this they wanted three days' pay. I pointed out that there were flaws in their argument, because Europeans did not come this way, and therefore they had no precedent on which to base their claim. I had no strong feelings however, and was prepared to come to some compromise or even to pay them what they wanted. A haggle was normal procedure and we settled down to it. However, Ax who spoke but little Swahili, asked what was going on. I told him, whereupon the Protestant Work Ethic raised its formidable head. "Like hell," said Ax, "tell them they get two days' pay for two days' work, period." I had to communicate this dour message to the men, and it immediately put their backs up. Haggling does not involve or welcome bald statements or firm positions. I was caught in a fix. I sympathised with the men, but I did not want to antagonise my friend with whom I was to spend the next two weeks in very close contact. The porters would not give an inch and eventually went down empty-handed. Some weeks later however, I was able to arrange payment for them. I found this little contretemps rather ironic the radical American being less accommodating than the imperialist Briton.

Extract ID: 5894

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa
Page Number: 119
Extract Date: 1957

From this point we took it fairly easily for a day

From this point we took it fairly easily for a day, carrying our loads to a point high on the eastern side of the plateau, where we camped. We were acclimatising nicely, and the next day we made a complete circuit of the Shira, climbing all the peaks. We were not carrying any loads, but it was a long, exhausting day, though very exhilarating. From our camp in the evening we had a fantastic view out over an immense sea of clouds, through which in the distance Mount Meru thrust its sharp summit like an island in a vast ocean. Behind us reared the imposing rock and ice slopes of this side of Kibo, which slowly turned from gold to deep red, and finally a forbidding grey as the sun went down. We shivered and crawled into our cramped tent.

Our next objective was to get to the foot of the Heim Glacier. This involved a long upward traverse over masses of broken rock and scree, followed by a descent into and climb out of the barranco, or deeply glaciated trough, which runs out below the Great Breach Wall. This was another long hard day, but we were now fully acclimatised, in good fettle, and moving well. We reached our goal in the late afternoon, and the crucial challenge of our expedition. About 3,000 feet (1,000 m) of steep ice reared upwards and curved out of sight far above us. It looked forbidding. The whizz and hum of flying ice and rock debris from above quickly drove us against the ice front below a protecting rock-wall, where we bivouacked. I felt butterflies in my stomach as one always does before a challenging venture.

Next morning we were up and off before dawn. We knew where we had to go. From Ax's photograph we had seen that the major defences of the Heim were two lines of ice cliffs about a third of the way up, and come what may, we had to find a way through these. We moved up steadily, and soon noticed without much enthusiasm, that there was no snow on the ice. We were on bare, hard ice, and very soon we had to don our crampons (steel spikes which are strapped to the sole of one's boots), and rope up. We reached the lower ice wall and traversed upwards and to the left across a very steep slope, aiming for the top of a small projecting rock buttress which split the wall. Here catastrophe almost overtook us. David was leading, cutting steps in the ice as he went. I was in the middle, with Ax bringing up the rear. We moved singly, of course. David had reached the rock buttress and was well belayed, or anchored to the rock with the rope. I was moving towards him when I caught a crampon spike in my sock and pitched forward and down. I was brought up sharply by a taut rope, and found myself dangling half upside down, with a fine vertiginous view downwards. A cool, steady, and very reassuring voice came from above, "Don't worry lad, I've got you." David had whipped in my rope and held me before the other rope had tightened up on Ax who was still very precariously perched on the wall. At the same time Ax had sensibly let go his slack as he saw David's prompt action a case of perfect co-ordination that only experience can produce. I sorted myself out and climbed up to David. Very unfortunately I had lost my ice-axe, and felt very rattled, feeling I had let the others down badly. There were no recriminations, however. We climbed to the top of the buttress and held a council of war. A formidable ice climb towered above us, and we now had only two axes between the three of us. But we did have a good supply of ice-pitons, and decided to go on. This was perhaps a foolhardy decision, but since in the event we succeeded, it was the right one.

That night we bivouacked on the top of the buttress which was just big enough to take our tent once we had built up a platform with lumps of ice and rock. It was a cramped and uncomfortable spot, but we seemed to be out of the main trajectory of the flying debris of late afternoon. For the most part it whizzed harmlessly by, and we felt reasonably safe.

Extract ID: 5895

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa
Page Number: 121
Extract Date: 1957

The following day we faced another crisis

The following day we faced another crisis. David was snow-blind through not wearing his dark glasses. He could not go out, so Ax and I reconnoitred the route ahead. We found a good line on steep but sound ice, to the top of another buttress which was slightly more commodious than the first. We then climbed down back to the tent, to find that in our absence a flying piece of ice had ripped a hole in the tent wall. After a second night on our cramped site, we followed the route we had worked out on the previous day. David's eyes were much better but we could only move slowly. With only two axes we had to adopt a special mode of progress. Whoever was leading went ahead. After about thirty feet he drove in a piton and belayed to it. He then tied his axe to the rope and lowered it to the second man, who then ascended to join number one. The third man then came up and led through on the next pitch, and the sequence was then repeated. We handled the axe with the utmost care, for we knew that if we lost it we would really be in trouble. To have attempted to move more quickly would have been sheer lunacy.

The next ice-wall looked impressive as we studied it in clear weather in the late afternoon from our second camp. We worked out what appeared to be a feasible route. Next morning, however, we were enveloped in thick mist. We moved off nevertheless, climbing steeply and hoping we would not meet any impossible obstacle. Halfway up the wall we landed in a very beautiful ice-cave where we could rest. Further progress seemed problematic, as the roof of the cave overhung, and the walls to left and right were vertical. Ax solved this problem in splendid fashion. Leaving his heavy pack in the cave, he hacked out steps to the left and upwards, and climbed out of sight over an ice bulge. His rope inched out and fragments of ice flew past. Tension was relieved when a cry of triumph floated down to us. The slope had eased off and he had been able to drive in a piton and belay to it. He hauled up his pack and we followed. We still could not see anything, but we presumed we had mastered the wall. We just went on climbing upwards, pitch after wearisome pitch. As the day drew to a close we were literally nowhere, or so it seemed, on a vast ice-slope in poor visibility. All we could do was to go on climbing in the hope of reaching some place suitable for a bivouac, before nightfall. It was with some relief that we found a place of sorts. The slope began to ease off slightly, and on its convex bend a lurking crevasse appeared. We hacked at the lower lip to form a narrow platform just big enough to take the tent. We could only guy it fore and aft, and hammered in pitons with safety lines to ourselves, and crept into the tent. The two outer men hung in bulges over space, on one side the free void of the open slope, on the other the dark unknown depths of the crevasse. We fervently hoped that the stitching of canvas wall to groundsheet was sound. A wind got up, and we could not risk lighting the primus as the tent was flapping wildly. We went hungry and drinkless. Sucking ice didn't help much, and with dry mouths we could not eat dry biscuit. We consoled ourselves with the thought that if we had been forced to spend the night out on the ice, that wind in sub-zero temperatures would have been very trying.

Extract ID: 5896

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa
Page Number: 123
Extract Date: 1957

Next morning our troubles lifted miraculously

Next morning our troubles lifted miraculously. It was a brilliantly clear morning, the slope eased off, and there was firm snow on the ice at last. We could move together. We were on a vast slope which curved out of sight below us whence we had come. In the clear air we had a breathtaking view directly out over the immense plains of northern Tanganyika. These huge isolated East African volcanic peaks stand proudly alone, and from their upper slopes there are no rivals to encumber and clutter the free surrounding space. We felt that we were literally on the roof of the world, and as success seemed within our grasp we felt a tremendous sense of elation. More mundane matters were also on our minds, or rather our stomachs, and we halted at the first convenient place, a lonely rock outcrop, and cooked a big feast of bacon, and pints of hot coffee. Life was good! We finally camped that night amongst broken seracs or ice pinnacles at the top of the Heim, and next morning we moved easily up to the highest point of the mountain, Kaiser Wilhelm Spitze or Uhuru Peak as it is now called, at 19,340 feet (just under 6,000 m). We felt the whole of Africa was spread out at our feet, rolling away into infinite distance.

Reluctantly we continued our trek, and shot down the abominable screen of the tourist route of ascent, to reach the Kibo hut. We had arranged with the Marangu hotel to have a box of food sent up with a porter, and left at the hut to await our arrival. This we found and eagerly broached. There were tins of meat and vegetables, fruit and chocolate, which we quickly organised into a minor feast. After eleven days on hard tack and using vast amounts of energy we were ravenous. At the hut were four Young British army officers on leave from Kenya. Being young and enormously enthusiastic they had come up too quickly and were suffering badly from mountain sickness. They turned two shades greener as they watched us wolfing our food. We felt sorry for them, but some time later we were equally sorry for ourselves, as gluttony took its toll. Our innards rebelled against the untoward loads we had suddenly plied them with. Nonetheless we crossed the saddle, and made our last camp below Mawenzi more or less recovered from our excesses.

After our success on the Heim, tension eased off a little, and we felt a sense of anti-climax. Our muscles began to stiffen, but our resolve loosened. Getting up Mawenzi required a stern mental effort, and we had to really drive ourselves up to the summit and back to our camp. A final sense of achievement was our reward.

Extract ID: 5897

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa
Page Number: 124
Extract Date: 1957

All that remained was to get down off the mountain

All that remained was to get down off the mountain. I had told Sylvia the probable day of our descent, but the Heim had delayed us a little. Imagine our great joy, when after jogging down for hour after weary hour, our legs like lead and our minds in neutral, we came round a bend and saw my landrover standing waiting with Sylvia sitting in it. She had driven up the appalling track as far as she dared, and had waited all day, just hoping we would appear. She earned our undying gratitude. That night we got cleaned up, had a wonderful meal, and slept like babies. Next day we went our separate ways. I have never seen David again, but have seen Ax on several occasions, and some years later we climbed together the active volcano Oldoinyo Lengai. He is now retired and living in California.

Extract ID: 5898

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa
Page Number: 190 ff
Extract Date: 1957

On the Uhuru peak of Kibo

On the Uhuru peak of Kibo, after making the first ascent of the Heim Glacier. From left to right: Ax Nelson, author, David Goodall.

Extract ID: 5892
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