What a year 2019 was, or wasn’t. The first time I missed a Scottish winter for 20 years, a trip to Africa cancelled at the last minute, a climb in India scrapped because of lack of interest and a cycling trip to SE Asia cancelled because of injury. For some just that would be disastrous enough, but all those setbacks paled into insignificance on March 20th as, out of the blue, I lost my Dad. The literary world is strewn with poetry, prose and paragraph about death, but no words can describe the feelings of loss I had and still have. I’m happy that he left us peacefully, with his loving family around him. He felt no pain or suffering and I thank God for that. Only the night before, he’d been on top form, laughing and joking with me at a Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme Presentation. It was a striking lesson in living every day of your life to the fullest of your abilities.Continue reading “2019 – Exemplo Ducemus”
The run up to Kendal is always busy, so this year I decided to spend as much time as possible in Hospital to shield me from the chaos. Actually, I’d been knocked off my bike by a car and was nursing some rather stiff joints. Serious care, rest and drinking would be required over the festival weekend if I was to make it through…Continue reading “The Kendal Mountain Festival 2019 – Friends will be Friends”
It’s been a while since I posted a blog. The loss of my Father has put many of life’s (so called) priorities into stark perspective. Caring for my Mother takes up much of my time, but with family support I still get out into the hills. I reflect more, stare more, say less and await the grieving to come. I’m a rather stoic old Englishman, with far too much stiff upper lip and not enough heart to easily let go – for now anyway. Real life has put the virtual world in its place, but it sometimes still intrudes…Continue reading “Shout…”
The end of 2017 is upon us, and it’s easy to look back and think that not much exciting happened. It was just another year, like the one before and like the one to come. Thankfully I write diaries and looking back, 2017 has certainly been packed with life experiences.
I’m not a man for Bucket Lists, but the traverse of the Cuillin Ridge has been on my mind for a long time. The legends it has created are long seated in the history of British Mountaineering and an opportunity appeared for me to give the ‘Royal Route’ a go. I had recently been climbing at altitude in Uganda and felt strong for the challenge. Guided by Martin Moran, I crossed the 12 Monroe’s faster than I could have imagined, but wore my skin grafts almost to the bone.
The end of 2015 brought miserable weather to much of the UK. A time of supposed frosts, snow and ice had produced nothing but rain, and I was concerned about conditions on the mountains of the NW Highlands. As it turned out, they were as challenging as ever…
The last time I had visited Tromso was over 20 years ago. I was young, had thick brown hair, all my digits and in my infancy of international mountaineering and adventure. How times have changed. Since then I’ve become middle-aged, turned grey, and bits have dropped off. I’ve travelled over a quarter of a million expedition miles and seen more than I can hope to explain. Landing in Norway I noticed one thing there hadn’t changed however – the weather. It was pouring down..! Thankfully it cleared later on and the clouds were high, with beams of sun dappling the snowy white mountains. I met up with guide John Lyall and fellow climber Richard Hampshire, before driving on the bumpy roads and crossing the short ferry to the beautiful village of Svenby. Here we would base ourselves for the next few days…
For almost 20 years I have climbed in the Scottish Mountains during winter. They hold a magical place in the history of Mountaineering and many pioneering climbs were done here before people moved to tackle peaks across the world. I have just returned from the Cairngorms where conditions were typically Scottish. When I say that I mean, nature bringing everything from beautiful sunshine to blasting blizzards in a day! I spent a week with two climbing friends in the Northern Corries climbing exposed ridges and snow gullies in very different conditions… Continue reading “Scotland the (not so) brave…”