Frostbitten keynote

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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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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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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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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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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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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