Marhofn 316.18 - May 2016

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Marhofn reflections

Alan Dawson

About a year ago, I thought it would be time to end Marhofn after its twentieth edition in 2018. I did not feel inclined to carry on producing it indefinitely, and twenty years seemed a suitable landmark to end on. For various reasons I decided to end it now, after its eighteenth edition. I will try to explain why.

Circumstances have changed a lot since 1999 when the first issue of Marhofn appeared, all six pages of it. The main purpose then was to keep people informed about changes to the list - promotions, demotions, replacements and relocations. Tips for the tops were important as well. Many Marilyns were rarely climbed and little was known about them. As more people started to contribute to Marhofn, personal experiences and anecdotes became increasingly important. The Hall of Fame began in 1996 and already had 37 members when the first Marhofn appeared. Updating and publishing the Hall has always been important, and will continue beyond the end of Marhofn. There is plenty of room for more members.

We do not yet have a definitive list of Marilyns but we are getting close, as most of the changes have been made. There may be no more new Marilyns, but I suspect there will be one or two more demotions. There is now a wealth of useful information available via Facebook and the Hill Bagging website as well as through the long-established RHB mailing list. Most active baggers know about changes well before they read about them in Marhofn, and tips for the tops have tailed off in recent years.

Information and speculation about St Kilda has been a long-running and popular theme in Marhofn. Now the stacks have at last been climbed and five people have climbed all the Marilyns. This is a tremendous and significant development. By the end of the year there could be ten Marilynists. I offer my sincere congratulations to all of them, or perhaps that should read 'all of you', in case those on the other side of the wall continue to read Marhofn, though they no longer need it. For the rest of us the quest either continues or ends without the full set in our bag. Most people in the Hall of Fame will fall short. Nothing wrong with that. It is only sad or frustrating if we let it be.

For me personally, bringing Marhofn to a close feels like a positive move. It has taken up a significant chunk of my time each year for eighteen years and it feels liberating to think that I will not be doing it any more. I have ideas and plans for other things that I want to be getting on with. That does not mean I have lost interest in hills and hill lists. I hope that bagging, surveying and writing will continue to form an important part of my life for years to come, but my focus will shift. Like all of us, I am getting older and have to think carefully about how to spend my unknown reserves of time, energy and attention.

For the past few years I have had a lot of help with various aspects of Marhofn, so I would like to record my thanks to those who have helped with its editing and administration, notably Bert Barnett, Alan Holmes, Jon Metcalf, Martin Richardson, Chris Watson and (briefly) Tony Watson. I am pleased that Martin has enjoyed his editorial role so much that he has been inspired to start a new magazine with a different focus, free to take full control of the steering wheel. It feels like the right move for both of us to make the change now rather than hang on for another two years. In the end, Martin's enthusiasm for his new venture was the most compelling reason for ending Marhofn sooner rather than later, but he did not have to do much persuading.

You may have noticed that this is a full-colour edition. It seemed a good way of spending all the remaining funds so that we can terminate the Marhofn bank account along with the magazine. In fact, we did not have enough in the bank to pay for it, but we did have a generous offer from Gordon Adshead to pay for the extra cost of a full-colour edition. Many thanks Gordon. And thank you to everyone else who has donated to Marhofn funds over the years, some very generously. It did not seem much of a business plan to give the magazine away and ask for voluntary contributions, but somehow it seemed to work well enough to keep going. The main drawback was that some people paid a lot and some paid nothing. Not fair, but I suppose that some people gained a lot from reading it and others gained only material for their recycling bin.

And finally, I should like to thank everyone who has ever written anything for Marhofn, from 1999 to 2016. According to my infallibly infallible database, there have been 320 different contributors, which is remarkably close to the number of people in the Marilyn Hall of Fame. A fitting end to an era. I'll get my coat, the show is over. Tickets are now available for the next one.

Five Sisters of Kintail (photo: Tony Deall)

Five Sisters of Kintail (photo: Tony Deall)

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