Mountaineering

Raising the Bar…

Since the dawn of time, the older generations have guided and inspired the younger.  Children have always looked up to their parents, guardians, teachers and role models and lived by the examples they set.  Whether these exemplars are in the family, in education, sport, exploration, business or politics, we have never failed to follow them.  This is why we, as elders, need to set the example and our generation holds a huge responsibility for future children.  What we do or say can have far reaching effects.  Let me explain…

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Word Up..!

Something, somewhere has happened.  Over the last few weeks my YouTube Page has been alive with comments about my accident on Mt. McKinley.

This is not new news – This was over 20 years ago.

One of the programs we recorded all those years back has been aired on TV again (in the USA I think) and people have been commenting non stop.  It’s now received over 400,000 views..! This is not all down to TV however, its down to Algorithms…

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Mountaineering Online…

These last few months have been challenging in more ways than I could ever imagine.  My outdoor work has dried up, but speaking goes on – virtually.  COVID-19 may be preventing us from meeting, but not from speaking. I’ve covered subjects from Science to Space, Jungles to Mountains, Resilience to Mental health and even the 1924 Mt. Everest Expedition.

Speaking to a computer screen is nothing like the experience of being onstage, but the principles remain the same – professionalism, message, timing and quality.  Just because you’re not there, doesn’t mean you can get away with not planning and execution an excellent session.  On the contrary, you have to pick up your game.  

Like outdoor kit, people collect reams of gear to work with, show off or just pile up, which in my view is going over the top.  Virtual speaking is here to stay, so here’s a few thoughts about what has worked for me. The whole set up has cost less than £500.

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Forever Autumn…

The Earths continual pitch has placed us into Autumn – to me, one of the most beautiful times of the year.  The moors burst into bright purples and the trees slowly turn to reds, yellows and browns.  Leaves rain down in the freshening winds and the nights draw in.  Morning dew settles upon the grass as the evenings chill becomes more apparent.  Autumn signals the slow end to a year I suspect many people would rather forget.  Many lives lost, families forced apart and plans either cancelled or indefinitely put on hold.  COVID-19 has changed our lives for the future, but I don’t think we should sit in the doldrums.  Every Autumn brings change before the grip of winter takes hold and I love that change…

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Volcanic or Tectonic…

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…

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The McKinley Diaries – 21 Years On…

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…

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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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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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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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Country roads, take me home…

Longwalls3

The British countryside is suffering a major problem – congestion.  This ‘green and pleasant land‘ as William Blake put it, is becoming more Goretex than grass, more litter than landscape and more car park than copse.  The major problem is not only the sheer number of people (UK – 609 per sq mile against Poland at 328 and Spain at 210), but also because of their desire to use the outdoors.  Though we all have a right to go out and enjoy ourselves, we have no right to cause damage. As a Leave No Trace Trainer, I do everything I can to protect the countryside I live in and enjoy.  One of the seven principles of Leave No Trace is ‘travel and camp on durable surfaces‘.

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