On Plastic Patrol..!

The world is filling with litter.  You only have to walk down a street, look in a lay by or attend a sporting event to see it.  The aftermath of any music festival is a disgrace, and people attending seem to think that whatever they dump doesn’t matter.  Dog owners pick up dog poo and the leave the bag on the floor.  A few miles from my house is Junction 28 on the M1, which is legendary for its waste.  I’m sure there is an invisible road sign which reads ‘Please chuck your litter out of the window before joining the Motorway’.   That’s the bad news, but there is some good…

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Uganda 2017 – To the the Mountains of the Moon, and Back… Part 2

We left the Bujuku Hut at 4am in our attempt to summit Mt. Speke 4890m (16.042ft).  Initially the terrain was thick bog and undergrowth, but this gave way to more open ground as the sun tried to break through the dense clouds.  We ascended a large scree field suffering faltering disability, reaching the ridge early morning.  This is where our problems began.  Thick rime ice had plastered the rocks, making what should have been a challenging scramble, impassable.  The only way we could summit was to circumnavigate the peak and approach it from the opposite side.  It’s all sounds so easy to read it here, but what followed was a two-hour slog up and down scree scattered boulders and exposed edges.  At least the clouds broke occasionally and allowed extensive views over the range and the tongue of the Ruwenzori Glacier.  This ice used to allow easy access to Ruwenzori Peak, but its retreat has made any ascent of the mountain a real challenge.  Few ever venture there now because of the loose rock and unstable ridge.

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Coming of Age…

Reaching your 18th birthday is seen as a coming of age.  You can marry, drink, vote, serve on a jury and legally get a tattoo..!  My 18th birthday was marked with a disco.  It was 1987 and Rick Astley was riding high in the charts, as was Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley, The Bee Gees and most of the Stock, Aitken and Waterman stable.  The Compact Disc was launched and I was driving a 1977 Metallic Gold Morris Marina with a huge Ghetto Blaster across the back seat.  I thought I was cool…

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Holding Your Nerve – The Eighth Frostbite Report…

My eyes had been stuck on the weather forecast for weeks, before my annual trip into the Highlands with my friend Ian.  There had been snow, sun, snow, sun, ice, melt, ice, melt, and then Storm Doris had her day.  Reports of driving blizzards and road closures filled my heart with joy.  There would at least be snow..! Continue reading “Holding Your Nerve – The Eighth Frostbite Report…”

Forcing Your Hand…

Frostbitten Hands

The phrase ‘The day we stop learning is the day we die’, may be old, but it’s true. I thought after 17 years I had learned all there was to know about my frostbite injuries, but I was wrong. Though the amputations were very visible, regular treatment kept my skin grafts in good condition, and all was well with the world. The last few months however, have taught me a hard lesson in reality.

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Speaking from Sea Level…

Cunard-Crevasse

“You’re doing what..? Speaking on a cruise ship..? Why..?” These were only some of the barrage of questions I fielded when I announced that I was going to speak on the Cunard Liner Queen Victoria. “You’re a Mountaineer and boats are at sea level..!” I certainly hope they are as I’ve never seen a liner fly, but let’s get past the obvious shock. Besides being a mountaineer, I’m also a speaker.

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Volunteering

Heage-Windmill

Giving some of your time for free is a wonderfully rewarding experience. The world doesn’t have to be all money driven, and I regularly find that people are more committed to a cause when they work for the love of it. Many charities run on volunteers because of their dedication and generosity. If only all things in life could be worked purely for passion… Continue reading “Volunteering”

TEDx Derby 2015 – Remade

TEDx-Remade

After speaking at TEDx Derby in 2014, I was approached by organiser Christine Cawthorne to mentor the speakers for the 2015 event.  I was honoured to take up the challenge… Continue reading “TEDx Derby 2015 – Remade”

Wearing a Smile…

Smiling

When I was a child, I watched the Saturday morning TV programme TISWAS.  It stood for ‘Today is Saturday, Watch and Smile’, but should we restrict smiling to just one day..?  I can’t remember how many countries I’ve traveled to, how many cultures I’ve encountered, or how many people I’ve met, but one thing is for sure – a smile goes a long way…

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Scotland – What Did I Expect..? – The Fifth Frostbite Report…

Meall-a-Bhuachaille

Friends across the Alps had been complaining to me about the lack of snow for the skiing season. Indeed I experienced this myself in Austria during January, where the pistes were turning a delicate shade of brown.  Scotland was to be another matter…

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Over the Horizon…

Padang-Sunset

The quest to see what is ‘Over the Horizon’ has intrigued man for millennia.  The desire to explore the world has led to much of it being extensively mapped, with people like Magellan, Carstensz and Cook being fine examples, but for centuries, the physical horizon was as far as we could see.  For example, if you are 5’7” it would be just under 3 miles, whereas from the summit of Everest you can see over 200.  This is why for centuries man has sought high ground.  Defences always needed long distance views to see an enemy coming, and explorers want the best viewpoint into the unknown that they can get.  This fact remained unchanged until the onset of the Telegraph and the Radio.  Suddenly you didn’t need a semaphore or signal fires to communicate over distance.  Within years, messages could be sent around the world, pushing the horizon far from view.  But there is another horizon – limit of a person’s knowledge, experience or interest.

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The Telemark Lark…

Telemark-Lark

I hadn’t touched a set of Telemark skis since my trip to Greenland in April 2014, so it was with a little trepidation that I once again ventured to Rauris in Austria, for the Army Telemark Championships.  You expect snow when you go skiing (after all it is a tad useful), but when I touched sown in Salzburg it was 17C.  Though the highest peaks were clad In white, the valleys were almost tropical.  Higher in the mountains the view was the same as heavy rain had poured for 24 hours.  It wasn’t the start I’d hoped for…

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2014 – Surgery for the Soul…

My-Rugged-Look

My 2014 New Year’s resolution was to have the best and most productive 12 months of my life.  Plans were bursting out of my brain, and within weeks my diary was filled to overflowing – speaking engagements across the UK, ski racing in Greenland, climbing in Scotland – the list went on.

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Himlung Diary part 2 – The Haunting…

Icefall

One of my favourite ghost films is ‘The Haunting‘.  Based on the wonderfully written book by Shirley Jackson, it tells the story of a house which is haunted by a ghost you never see.  Door handles move and people feel strange presences, but there is no visible spectre.  Why am I writing about this when I’m mountaineering in Nepal..?  Well, an old ghost came to visit me on the hill one night…

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Don’t (always) believe what you read…

Nepal-Press

The modern world seems to rely on instant news media.  Satellite communications and Social Networking relay information around the globe within milliseconds, against the hours, days, weeks and even months that used to be required.  Though this has a good side, it can also cause unnecessary stresses and tensions, as my family found out recently…

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Get Insured – It Could Happen to You..!

Bandaged-Foot

I was recently asked to write an article on the importance of insurance, predominantly personal insurance.   Sickness and accidents can happen at any time, but I wonder how many of us are prepared..?  The field of insurance can seem bewildering and boring, but it’s a subject that we should not ignore.

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On the Edge – July 2014

Langdale-VW

The Kendal Mountain festival has traditionally been held in November, when nights are dark and the weather (usually) wet.  Things are changing, and a new festival ‘Kendal Mountain Festival On the Edge‘ has been launched for the weekend of July 25 – 27th 2014.

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Time…

Pocket-Watch

Language is full of sayings and quotes about time. ‘Time is of the essence, ‘Time is money’, ‘Time marches on’ etc.  This unending continuum drives many people’s lives at a relentless pace and without respite.  For some, it rules their lives, but should it..?

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The Iceman Polar Race – part II

I'm sure something is following me
I’m sure something is following me

The next morning the wind had died and weak rays of sun fought their way through high, wispy clouds.  I dug out my tent, packed my pulk and all of us set off on skidoos to the valley of Kalkdal.

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