The COVID-19 lockdown is steadily easing and though times are still difficult, sighs of relief are abound. Holiday companies are recording a huge upsurge in bookings as international travel bans ease, the leisure industry is beginning to open its doors and tourist spots seem as busy as ever. Last month I noticed social networking filled with the cries of ‘Who’s going where on July 4th?’ and the answers scared me, certainly if incidents like Bournemouth Beach are to be a lesson. Littering and fires are on the rise, vehicles are abandoned casually and fears for National Parks are voiced. I fear a Tsunami of Tourists are on the way during the summer. The RNLI and MRT’s have been rushed off their respective boots and wellies. There has and will continue to be much comment about COVID and its effects upon our lives. Voice and opinion are everything, but shouting is not. Shouting is something I abhor – I always have…Continue reading “Volcanic or Tectonic…”
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be recording daily video logs about the fateful expedition to climb Mt McKinley in Alaska. April 30th 2020 will be the 21st anniversary of the adventures start. Using original images, equipment and reading from my mountain diary, I’d like to share my experiences, feelings and emotions from this life changing time in my life…Continue reading “The McKinley Diaries – 21 Years On…”
It seems surreal that only three weeks after returning from the Highlands, we sit under lockdown for a virus that no-one can see, taste or feel, until it has its hold upon you. At first I didn’t feel much like writing, but as a long time diarist, I feel that records must be kept.Continue reading “Windswept and Wet, with a Virus on the Way – The Tenth Frostbite Report…”
“Sticks and Stones Will Break my Bones, but Words will Never Hurt Me’ is a phrase which many of us grew up with as children, but is it true? I wonder if anyone reading this has never been hurt by words? I believe that words have the ability to convey beauty and love, but also horror and hate. I’d advise you say what you mean and mean what you say…Continue reading “The Power of Words…”
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…”
As I sit here in late December, I find it difficult to remember what I was doing last week, never mind during last year. It’s a good job that I still write my daily diary…Continue reading “2018 – Peace at Last..?”
For over a year, I’ve been struggling with the nerves in my right arm. After many appointments, tests and opinions, I recently underwent surgery on my Ulna Nerve in an attempt to heal the pain. It’s too early to know whether it was worth getting my 26th scar, but time will tell…Continue reading “Heal the Pain…”
Ok, ok, so it’s over a week since the Kendal Mountain Festival finished for another year and the web is already full of blogs..! Time hasn’t been on my side over this last week as I’ve been enthusing school pupils to get into the outdoors and do, rather than surf, however here we go… Continue reading “The Kendal Mountain Festival 2018 – Stories, Ghosts and Peace…”
Thousands of years of schooling, learning and education should have provided society with the most intellectual humans ever seen. The philosophy of ancient Greece, the mathematics of Babylonia and the nuclear science of CERN should make us superbly intelligent. So why do we choose to ignore them..? It’s because we race for the simplest way or the lowest common denominator…
I’m a mountaineer. I climb mountains, love mountains and speak about mountains. People drive me as wild as I do them, because of my adventures, cock ups and rescues, but I travel to other places too. I’ve bashed through dense jungles, crossed open plains and sailed oceans across the globe. During late 2017 I decided that I needed a change. The year had been a tough one and I was tired. Tired physically, tired mentally and tired emotionally. I needed a break, but wasn’t sure what to do.
I’m regularly asked ‘Nigel, Why do you like the cold..?’ I’m no expert or scientist, but I know what feels right to me. Cold may have tried to kill me, but it’s where my heart is happiest. After recent trips to Scotland, Norway and Italy this year, I decided to look into my childhood for some answers…
Ice Climbing is a sport which many thing crazy, wrong or downright dangerous. I disagree. It’s a pure athletic sport, with routes that change year on year, challenging even the most skilled climber. Variations in the weather can make or break a route, or a season. It can be made as safe as you wish, but also as challenging as you like. Physically it’s incredibly demanding, but the mental aspects come harder. Youre climbing up water, which for much of the year is heading downhill. Ive recently returned from a weeks climbing in Rjukan, Norway, where icefalls galore await…
Every winter in Scotland is a lottery when it come to the weather. I’ve experienced everything from snowdrifts to sunburn and blue sky to thick fog. Driving north to the Cairngorms, my friend Ian and I were buffeted and bashed even at lower levels. We drove to the Cairngorm Mountain Ski Centre for a quick look at the conditions before checking into our accommodation. We opened the car doors and almost took off. The next days foray into the hills saw us beat a hasty retreat when the wind speed picked up to hair-raising and visibility dropped to nil. For some, this would be scary to say the least. In my world – welcome to the mountains.
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.
The modern world is stressful, well that’s what everyone will tell you. Report after report states that our mental health is suffering, our ability to make (and take) decisions is disappearing and that risk is something that we can’t accept. I think you find that life has been stressful since the dawn of time. If you didn’t hunt successfully, you and your family starved, harsh winters killed the weak, and tribes fought hand-to-hand combat over land, property and resources. That sounds a heck of a lot more stressful than a late train, flat phone battery or failing central heating…
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…
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.