Inspirational Speaker

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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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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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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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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Seven Peaks – Seven Islands part VII – Madagascar

Sunset-off-French-Mountain

Here’s the seventh and final miniblog about my Seven peaks – Seven Islands challenge…

From the islands capital – Antananarivo (known locally as Tana), you fly north to the coastal town of Diego Suarez to begin the trip.  Diego is one of the world’s largest natural harbours and is a quiet town, full of crumbling French colonialism, 2CV’s and graced with wonderful sunsets.  Here you depart by 4 x 4 as far as the road will go (weather and mud permitting), before the trek begins.

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Seven Peaks – Seven Islands part V – Sumatra

Gunung-Kerinci

Here’s the fifth miniblog about my Seven peaks – Seven Islands challenge…

Climbing Gunung Kerinci is one thing, but just getting there is another.  The bus journey from Padang can be anything between six and nine hours, and crosses the spine of Sumatra.  Be prepared for an arduous, but hilarious time!  You usually arrive in the village of Kersik Tua after dark, but the dawn brings extensive views of well manicured tea plantations and the peak itself – cloud permitting.  Rain and hailstorms are not uncommon here as you are already at 1500m.

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Is modern communication destroying adventure..?

TEDx

Technology has entered our modern lives with a vengeance.  Whether we like it or not, the digital age has crossed the globe and there seems little escaping it.  I recently spoke at TEDx Derby, and challenged an audience of creative and technology driven people to think differently about the umbilical cord of the mobile phone, wi-fi and worldwide web…

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