Climbing

The Power of Words…

“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…

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Racing for the Bottom…

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…

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Time After Time…

The phrase ‘Work Life Balance’ has been banded around since the 1980’s.  Then the Yuppie generation armed with brick sized mobile telephones and Filofaxes worked until they dropped, stood up and worked some more.  It was a time of overbearing pressure all in the name of money.  ‘Work hard and you can buy your time back’ was a phrase I once heard at a speaking conference from a sharp suited, tanned and trained presenter.  I’ve heard some ridiculous things in my time, but this must take the prize.  The inference was to make a fortune by 40 and then retire, no doubt with an ulcer or two and a heart problem.  The moment we become able to buy time as a commodity, is the time we should stop the world and get off…

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Hold Me Now…

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…

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Love of the Common People…

Social networking is both a useful tool and an invasive curse.  It has allowed us to advertise what we do and where we are, but also invite the world into our homes and create a world of voyeurism and mental stress.  Last year I noticed an invitation on the web to a reunion party from my comprehensive school.  It was over 30 years since the class of 1985 had walked away from Belper High School and made their way in the world.  I didn’t think long before pressing accept.  I thought it would be good to catch up with old friends and talk over old times.  It was to be held in January, in a local pub, so I could wander down on foot, enjoy a few drinks and wander back home.  It seemed perfect…

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High Winds and Helping Hands – The Ninth Frostbite Report…

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.

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The Long Sobs of the Violins of Autumn…

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…

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Becoming X…

Photograph courtesy of Mike Lawn and Becoming X

‘Its not what you know, but who you know’ is a phrase that has long appeared in the English language. Recently I was invited to be involved in a new and exciting charity called ‘Becoming X‘, which hopes to motivate, inspire and help people across the world, all because of someone I know…
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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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