Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Burn It

Today I spoke with another surgeon hoping for another opinion, hoping for a cure to my constantly increasing pain. Neither were given, I was told again that it was time for me to quit. It was a surreal experience to be almost pleading someone to chop my foot off but to no avail. I left the hospital and even as I saw my future begin to go up in flames I felt nothing. I know from what he said of the state of my foot I don't have long left before the bone collapses and I also have serious arthritic problems so I have to change my thinking. I have to once again apply the knife to any hopeless dreams and then burn any bridges back to them.

I guess it's easy for people outside of the type of climbing I pursue to say "just quit" but I've totally committed myself to this way of life and after over a decade I know I never will or possibly could live a normal life. Occasional weekends and maybe one week in Norway etc per year wouldn't cut it for me. Its not just the climbing though its the whole lifestyle, it allows me to test myself outwith the bullshit rules and regulations of almost anything else and unlike everything else the mountains don't judge me on my my disabilities up there I'm free of everything including myself. No way that can be given up.......Ever

To quit would be against everything I've been taught and against instinct. Quitting would break me easier than keeping on going until I no longer can, the thought of sitting on my arse remembering what once was when I could still do something truly disgusts me. To keep moving forward may well be the harder thing to do given I know what'll eventually happen to me but in choosing the harder way I know the journey will ultimately be more rewarding and more defining of what my true character may be and in knowing that I'll know whether I'm weak or strong without doubt and without having to fade away wondering what I could've done.....

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Fun and not fun......

Since climbing Cu Sith I've spent all my time searching for new routes and new crags but unfortunately nothing has yet motivated me like Cu Sith did. I found a few things but one was way beyond justifiable risk and it would definitely have been beneficial to have two hands. All the running around is thirsty work so a few nights out were called for to rehydrate.

In the pub with parents and good mates

Juvenile but hilarious antics at the crag with Joe-Pic-Inside The Lens

Last Friday I headed out with Joe, Mark and Steve to get some routes in and hopefully a bit of footage for an upcoming project. We headed to Scimitar as Joe was keen to bag his first E4. First up Mark went on lead then had a nerve racking whipper, all of us relieved he was pretty unscathed. 

Mark leading with Steve belaying and Joe looking on.

 Joe was up next, he had worked the line and looked strong when he set off soloing up the unprotected route. He got through the crux then it went wrong very quickly. 

Joe starting up Fingertip Finale as Mark spots him

As i shouted up to Joe to encourage him and try calm him I saw him look at the ground and before I could say anything he was airborne. I waited to hear the snapping of bone but instead  Mark stood his ground and took a massive amount of the force out of Joes 10m fall by being a very effective bouldering mat. The noise they made though still left me expecting injury but both were fine. very very lucky, Joe wisely deciding soloing is not for him.
Joe 2 seconds before 10m freefall.

Its never easy witnessing these things and the noises of any of the accidents I've been present at are what sticks clearest in my mind. Though after speaking to the lads both are keen to be back out. None of us questioned the risks but instead we went for a beer and assessed what had went wrong then took the piss. I guess its the nature of climbing with people who are pushing themselves (regardless of what grade thats on) that sometimes accidents happen but I wouldn't change what I do for anything in the world. This kind of thing simply makes me appreciate my friends and the lifestyle we have even more as we know it can be taken from us so easily.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Cu Sith Video

Wee video/blog here from Dave Macleod about Cu Sith.....

Monday, 9 June 2014

Skye Etc

It's been a busy couple of days here making the most of the weather. On Friday I went out to Lochailort with Steve as he was keen to get back on Frustration E5 6a, he sent it smoothly and was chuffed to climb his second E5 in a fortnight. I was hoping to repeat Skyfall but a few niggling injuries, heat, midges and ticks didn't make for great conditions.

On Saturday I teamed up with Steve Kennedy, Colin Moody and Cynthia. The lads have a somewhat secret crag on Skye and there was a bold unclimbed line they wanted done so I was genuinely lucky enough to be recruited by these ex Dalry inhabitants to go lead it. The line required no cleaning and it was brilliant climbing, not brilliantly protected but I was happy enough on it, grade decided at around E3 5b, not sure on name yet.

Run out on new route- Pic-Colin Moody

Above a skyhook-Pic-Steve Kennedy

Today myself, Steve, Andy and Amanda headed back up the Glen for a bit of new route checking and for Amanda to second her first outdoor route in around a year. 

Friday, 23 May 2014


Today was another chance for Dave to practice his MIA training and for Andy to get on Tower Ridge for the first time. Pretty chilly on the walk in so we didn't waste any time, while gearing up before the Douglas Gap we were hit by the first snow shower. Climbing up onto the ridge proper the snow kept coming as did the memories of a bone chilling, patience testing 14 hour epic here last winter so when the cloud cleared and we saw rime building up higher on the route we had to make a decision. None of us brought crampons so decision made we bailed off into Observatory Gully via the easy path. 

Dave & Andy in the Douglas Chimney

Dave looking for the escape

Axes out, Dave & Andy in Observatory

Dave & I trying to 'fish' for crag swag with a line made of 2 240cm slings and an ice axe, this became strangely obsessive, if we hadn't hooked it we'd still be up there!!!

Being in this place never gets old, very lucky to stay here- Pic Dave Anderson

Thursday, 22 May 2014

The Route

Since climbing Cu Sith E7 6c the other day I've been asked about the name and for a bit more detail on the route. Cu Sith (pronounced Coo Shee) originates in Scottish folklore, a huge wolf like creature that hides out among rocky outcrops in the Highlands to carry folk away to the afterlife. It was known to let out 3 terrifying howls and if you heard it you were not long for this world. I related the 3 howls to thee 3 bits of gear on the route. 

Cu Sith

View down the slab just as I clip the last and only good pro-Pic-Dorota Bankowska

Cu Sith-Wave Buttress- Glen Nevis- 25m- E7 6c- Bold and smeary climbing straight up the middle of the slab between Edgehog and Teenoso. decent cam/skyhook before committing to the tech crux then another shaky skyhook before good cams then runout to ledge above Edgehog. 

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Cu Sith

Today was one of those rare days where everything needed to be successful comes together, mindset, conditions and the right partners. It's been nearly 5 years since I last fought my way into E7 territory and since I had my accident only a few months after I've been fighting since then to get back to my high point. At 5.30am I picked up Steve and Dot and we headed up once more to Wave Buttress, me with a lead attempt at my project in mind, Steve looking to lead 'On the Beach' and Dot there to take pics/film before she shot off to star in a diving film. 

I ran through the route twice on top rope and while lowering off my foot slipped and I jarred my ankle badly but switched off from it and tried to remain positive, 10 minutes with my iPod and I was ready to go. I moved up to the 6c tech crux and bottled it on first attempt, I sorted my head and fully committed to the tenuous moves, getting through I moved higher and smeared to the skyhook placement and chapped it on. Sticking with the "speed is saftey" philosophy I tried to keep up the momentum, more sketchy and now bold moves followed to the good cams, keeping moving I disappeared into that special place you find when you're pushing yourself in a dangerous place, everything is dreamlike. As I approached the last few moves I became aware of Dot standing above me and the total difference in our two worlds at that moment, she was only a few feet away but totally safe where I was on sketchy ground with a slip meaning a likely broken foot at least. Still I reached the thank god hold and it was done, 5 years on and I may get a nights sleep.

First ascent of Cu Sith-E7 6c-Pic-Dorota Bankowska

Next up it was Steves turn on the sharp end. His plan for this season was to climb an E5 and he managed to realise that dream today. He had a slip on top rope but came down and got straight on lead so good on him.

Steve leading 'On The Beach' E5-Pic-Dorota Bankowska

Steve relieved to have bagged his route before we hit the beer!Pic-Dorota Bankowska

Massive thanks to Steve and Dot for today but credit goes to the others who have helped make this route a reality for me, James,Rich,Joe and Dave!