Sunday, 24 April 2016

Square One

I've been inactive in climbing for a few months now due to issues with my epilepsy. I haven't really given it much thought over the past 15 years and have found that was the best approach but now its very much making its presence felt and I have to take a serious look at my life. Having epilepsy is very different from the other disabilities I have which are physically obvious, this one is hidden, even to me and I have no idea what its up to. The others disabilities are restrictive but I've usually found ways round them but this carries such a social stigma it makes things more difficult to work round. Between my ankle getting worse and now the epilepsy and their repercussions I feel like I was doing well at Snakes & Ladders only to land on 99 and end up back at square one. 

Soloing easy routes at Largs-Pic- FinalCrux Films

I somewhat feel like I'm back where I was 15 years ago with my climbing and I have to prove myself again to myself and to others. I considered completely quitting climbing but it simply isn't an option so I thought long and hard about my options and decided to start my climbing process all over again, back through the grades, the pressure to see if I can find where my limits are now. I've already been told I shouldn't be doing certain things but it's all to easy for someone on the outside to say. Climbing is inherently a selfish and dangerous game and I know theres a line between pushing what we do and simply being a selfish prick, this is why I'm starting again and if/when the moment comes I find myself near that line I'll back off whether that be on Severe or E7.

With this in mind I headed to Largs with Euan and Derry on Wednesday to start work on a wee film project and to get on some easy routes, I soloed a bit and felt good so I'll see where this new start takes me...........

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Time Is Now

After breaking my prosthetic back in November I eventually had it back and I was keen to check out a couple of potential new routes so today Joe and I headed off early but within minutes I felt the searing pain begin to build in my ankle and after an hour I had to descend. I had a feeling last night that things were changing for my climbing and not in a good way. Recently a surgeon told me theres no more help for my ankle and I'm not helping by going out in the mountains. I thought when the day came that the pain got to this stage I could accept and at least slow down it but it seems I cant really face that 'reality'. 

It was stunning on descent, someone definitely taking the piss

I've decided that in winter I'm only going after the routes I've had on my list for years and as for rock I've decided that with opportunity to climb slipping away I'm going to focus on the routes that have always scared me and use the mindset of having no hope of recovery to help me lose some of that fear so hopefully I'll get some great routes done this next wee while..............

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

So Close

So it turns out I'm having epileptic seizures in my sleep now which is real kick in the nads as I was due to begin my skydiving adventure next month. I'm still dealing with the after effects of a hellish fit on Sunday night, headache, pain all over, depression etc at least I haven't lost bladder control during any of these episodes.....yet, would not be good with my electric blanket :) I tried to describe how it feels to someone yesterday and the closest I got was , imagine being electrocuted, beaten and trapped inside a nightmare that you cant run from or scream for help even though you're trying with every part of your being and multiply by 10, I think thats quite close.

Moving forward from this I have to look at other things I want to achieve in life so I'm not distracted by the blow of losing out on wingsuiting/Base jumping. Theres a massive amount of stuff in my climbing still to get focused on, infact two lifetimes wouldn't be enough to do it all. Also I'm getting more and more into my biking which is great fun and having spent so much time at Nevis Range this year I may even consider trying snowboarding this season, maybe.  So theres still plenty to try even though I'm gutted that my wingsuit dream is over!! 

Look forward, not back

Thursday, 22 October 2015

The Works- Part Deux

Last week Joe and myself had an early start to head South of the border to pick up Conor and Kerr to head to The Works. The sluggish crawl through Glasgow traffic giving me the fear, I dont know how folk can deal with that on a daily basis without going mental. Conor and Kerr were there to film and Joe and myself to climb so we all got stuck in with our various jobs and aims, no faffing, everyone clear on what they want to achieve which was good. I got back on First Blood after dropping my axe at the last move on my last attempt last year and Joe got on Blood Donor. After climbing with Jeff Mercier last season we've did our best to follow his no fig four style so for me personally it totally changed the route as fig fouring allowed me to somewhat make up for not being able to switch or high axe. 

On the second day Joe sent Blood Donor first try and I knew the pressure was on, he'd sent First Blood last year and I hadn't heard the end of it so I couldn't have him two routes ahead of me. I got on my line after a warm up try and felt good, only dreading one move that had potential to hurt my hand/arm. Making it to the move I knew I had to cut loose and risk swinging the wrong way ,which would've been sub optimal, thankfully I went the right way and managed to sort myself out with encouraging shouts from below and finish the route. The lesson here for me being that holding onto shit that hurts is pointless, better to cut away and risk short term pain and move on through to other/better things, amazing the crap ye learn hanging upside down in a dank cave!!!!

Attempting First Blood last year

Joe,Kerr,me and Conor 

Joe feeling the psyche

On the last day Joe and I were trying other routes but never had time or much energy to complete them so another trip in November is looking likely!!

Will hopefully manage this route next visit-All pics- Type Two Films

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Clarity & Direction

For over 16 years since I became epileptic I've been fighting serious depression, its something I've always felt but more so since my first seizures. No help has been available to me as I cant take anti-depressants and the therapy I was sent to years ago never worked. Anyway up until last month I've dealt with it with alcohol, I was going out drinking heavily a lot recently and it got to ridiculous levels and mixing it with lots of tramadol never helped, well not in the long run anyway. I suddenly saw what I wasn't just becoming but had secretly been for a long time and very clearly knew I had to change direction. I went cold turkey which hasn't been easy but that was 6 weeks ago and I'm happy with the progress I'm making. 

Just after quitting I was at Newtyle with a strong team and a clear head, the longest I'd been sober for a very long time and I was climbing better and stronger than I was in my twenties.

Euan,Greg,Simon,Robbie,Joe and Willis at Newtyle

Next up was a yomp up to a crag in Arrochar to start cleaning a big new route which I'm well psyched to get on.

View from above the new route over to Ben Lomond

The following week we had an awesome day up at Nevis Range on the bikes and I dropped into my first section a of black run.

Rhona near the top of the North Face path.

I've spent a few days up the Glen with Chaela doing some of the classics which has been great as ever since I moved here I've usually always been trying new routes, trying to repeat hard stuff or belaying hard stuff, nice not to be stressing. Though I have my eye on a great line up there I've never done before and will be quite a scary lead :)

Chaela walking out from Scimitar in Glen Nevis

Then it was back on the Buachaille with Rhona to go for a quick afternoon jaunt up Curved ridge. 

In the clag on the summit of the Buachaille!!

Sunday, 13 September 2015

New route at last!!!

Eventually after a pretty crap Summer in the Highlands and a few unsuccessful days looking for new routes I eventually bagged one on Friday. Another early start found Foxy, Joe and myself yomping up to the Caldera slab once again.

Joe and Foxy approaching the crag

Love the view from here, Joe wastes it though!!

While Foxy checked out a place to shoot from Joe checked my route 'Arrakis' while I checked a new line to the left. Joe decided to go for it and sent the route and I went for mine shortly thereafter. Its pretty bold and quite technical slab climbing (defo my favourite), it was all going fine till I realised I had been so focused on the delicate climbing that I'd forgotten to place a vital bit of gear and suddenly realised I was looking at the upper crux well above my tiniest micro cam, I was also getting Elvis leg which wasn't helping. The last few moves are pretty committing and I had to have a word with myself before launching up. Route done, relief for me and abuse from the lads for being such a nugget. The route got called 'Senior Moment' I reckon about E5 6a but with a left hand you may be able to get gear out to the left, who knows the grade aint important I just enjoyed the experience.....

First ascent of Senior Moment-Pic-Alan Fox

Monday, 13 July 2015

Scrambling etc

Typically while feeling on good form I've injured myself by rupturing a tendon on my right hand, thankfully its not too bad and wont require any surgery etc as I'd be right up the creek with my right hand out of operation :) Regardless though I've managed to get a few scrambling routes, North Buttress with Rhona then Lagangarbh Buttress. It's frustrating being injured and not being able to climb at my best but I love just being in the mountains, Glencoe is a very special and beautiful place and I feel lucky to have it on my doorstep and in being able to still go out and enjoy it. Also going to be trying to clean and recce routes during recovery period so I can get straight into climbing when my finger gets better.

Rhona on North Buttress, Glencoe

Conor at Type Two Films has edited up this footage from Lochailort the other week about my new E4 and repeat of Skyfall.