A Film and a Mountain

by Peter Noble

What's the difference between an aging gunfighter and an age...(oops) tractor mechanic? Answer - not a lot! I was first introduced to "Cat Ballou" at Halley - the special midwinter film of 1968 - and still think it a great film. The scene of the drunken gunslinger "Kid Shelleen" on his horse that's leaning cross legged against a wall is a classic. Also the couplet "Kid your eyes are red!" "You should see 'em from my side!" However, Shelleen gained further brief fame on latitude 80S - the Shackleton mountains. In November '68 we established the first field depot in the Eastern Shacks close beside a splendid rocky mountain. Now "Dad" Etchells, in preparing, driving, maintaining and advising on tractors had done more than most in getting us to that place so we wanted to honour him, but with typical Dad modesty, he declined. Subterfuge was sought. Anyone who saw Kid Shellen in his "long handles" (long armed vest and long johns for the uninitiated) realised the similarity between him (Lee Marvin in real money) and Dad when rising from his pit on the Shacks reconnaisance. So the mountain was named in Dad's honour and called Mt Shelleen - he couldn't complain at that! Sadly the unimaginative, stuffed shirts in London (at that time) somewhat arrogantly took away the traditional naming rights of first ascentionists and restyled the peak with some other name that was totally irrelevant and instantly forgettable.
[9 October 2006]

Comment by Phil Anderson:

I thought it a bit rough that Dad didn't get his mountain named after him. So, I was delighted when Alison Martin pointed out the following:
Much as the old Fid lore would like to be recognised [local names being precedent PSA], in this instance It's a case of a done deed. He does actually have a Mountain named after him.... a fairly impressive one

Mount, Etchells 8018'S, 2821'W one of the La Grange Nunataks, Shackleton Range, rising to c. 900m, was photographed from the air by USN in 1967 and surveyed from the ground by BAS from Halley, 1968-71; named after William Allen Etchells (b. 1928), Diesel mechanic and Projects Officer (engineering) with BAS, 1962-88, who worked in Shackleton Range, 1968-69; Halley, 1963-65 and 1967-79; Grytviken, 1970-71

Yes, it was (allegedly) actually surveyed in 1968... possibly by Peter himself.
[12 December 2006]

3 March 2007
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