Blame a Scotsman. Not any Scotsman of course and certainly not one wandering aimlessly down the high street in Alloa on a Saturday afternoon. Nope, blame that Michael Thompson, him of scottishmountaineer.com fame. Sic.
I’ve not been motivated to write for a while, running across England had been the motivation before and that was done and dusted a long time ago. Climbing has taken over my life, owning me like my forehead owns my hair-line of late. There’s a million blogs which focus on rock, plastic, sport and trad… what realistically can I add?
Then Mike tagged me on faceache. Some sort of chain mail thingy. Respond or die. Actually, that may be ptc’s new record.
His ‘elevenish’ questions fought for attention and the answers give a clue as to their origin. I’ve had a Bulmers, life feels comfortable yet fast as it travels towards my future. So I knuckled down and hammered the keys but who wants to hear? Mr Thompson does, maybe a few mates too and I need to write more. I need to write period. Keats did and I should…
1 – Action Man. The Polar Explorer and the Mountaineer. Maybe the Astronaut too, after all, is that not the greatest adventure? It certainly seemed it in the sixties and all of my dreams and aspirations emanate from those plastic dummies…
2 – I’ve taken a PHD down jacket with me in the summer. Down jackets make the evening bliss instead of bearable, when all is going to hell. I like them a lot, especially some ridiculous -26c Haglofs thing I bought as a sample. I love that jacket. I even sent it on holiday with a mate to Denali.
3 – I wanted to write popping to the shop after a fat line of ket but that’s not very inspiring. Mainly because the toughest thing I’ve managed, was getting to the top of Ben Nevis two weeks after brain surgery and a year after a major accident. I couldn’t walk well, everything was hurting and by the time I hit the pub, I needed those two pints and the morphine. Tough, incredibly.
5 – Waking up and already being there. Unzip the fly and it’s there. Every wild camper knows that feeling.
6 – Going home. There’s always a point on the drive home when I become morose and ponder the point of my life. It happens to others too I’ve noted. Should we go home? That’s the key question and I’ve decided no. So in October 2015, I’m heading to northern Spain to climb full-time and live in a van. I’m psyched. I’ll have little money, be mentally and physically challenged every day and I won’t have to go home at the end of the week. I cannae wait!
7 – The outdoors means so many different things to every person who takes a step from the beaten path. Forge your own way. Ignore advice and do what feels right on that day and in that place. My advice is talk to strangers and be open to suggestion. Smile because you can and eat peanuts. Oat cakes too.
8 – Age is irrelevant. I’ve had my feet a while and they keep on going. What more do I need?
9 – Music on the mountain is not for me… nah, not for me at all. I tried and it was awful as I couldn’t hear nature’s whispering ways. The wind has it’s own beauty if you allow it to speak to you, I’d sooner not miss it’s song. Turn off all the tech gear in the mountains, be there. Get lost even and enjoy that freedom.
10 – If I had to climb one mountain once and then never climb again… it would have to be a solo of the North Face of the Eiger. I’ve scrambled up the start to have a nose and it’s just overwhelming. If I could keep on climbing but only in one area, then the Snowdon massive would be it. Yeah there’s far better but Crib Goch, Cloggy, the Trinity Face in winter? Brilliant. Home is the UK and North Wales just rocks.
11 – I’ve three days in North Wales next week but on the 23rd – I’m heading to Switzerland for six weeks. Salbit South Ridge, some bouldering in Engelberg, the Eiger. No fixed agenda, just good weather to find and myself to push. Top company at times but plenty of soloing to cleanse the soul. I’m a fortunate man.
Words don’t convey how I feel, nor tell the tale that leaps from my lips when conversing over a brew, alcoholic or not. I’m so psyched for the outdoors at the moment and work has been full on, encompassing. Too much and every day almost. The trip is almost here and yet now the decision has been made to jack it all in and head to Spain… this six week alpine adventure has almost become a dress rehearsal for the BIG adventure.
Thank you Action Man. Without you, I’d have not had dreams big enough.