Thursday, 4 September 2014

Full Circle

I left the Fort early on Sunday to meet Rhona in Arrochar in the hope the weather would be good to get on the Cobblers South Ridge. It turned out to be a fine day and we had a chilled ascent and good banter.

Rhona on the ridge with the South Peak behind

The main reason for heading South was to head to Arran to explore options to start the 'Full Circle' project which is supported by my sponsors Rab . As my climbing career may end at any time with this injury I want to climb a hard new route on the island as it's where I started to go after becoming epileptic and probably where climbing really started becoming my way of life. It'll be good to climb something at my limit here as I was a total punter just chancing my luck on my own over there in the early days doing scrambling or easy solos hence the 'Full Circle' name of the project.

Steve came down on Tuesday night and we discussed plans over a few ales and then headed over for first ferry on Wednesday. The clag really dropped as we made our way up Glen Sannox and as we stopped to scope out one or two crags we got absolutely mauled by the worst midges I've experienced in years. 
Steve getting midgied in Glen Sannox, Cir Mhor ahead

Respite was only found on the Saddle between Sannox and Rosa and that allowed us to get the binoculars out to check various lines. We then headed round under the other side of Cir Mhor to check it out. So all in all we've found plenty to go at, just need the weather, midgies and injury to play the game.

On The Saddle escaping the midgies

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Ignorance is pain

The last few weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster in my mind. After being told my ankle was pretty much totally wasted I wasn't sure whether I'd stay in the Highlands or even to continue trying to climb but after a stint in the Shire I knew I couldn't move back there either even if there are a couple of good things there. I dont really feel at home anywhere these days but I feel slightly less lost the closer I am to the hills. On returning to the Fort I spent a week going over things in my head and whether I should leave but then the surgeon called and told me 100% I wasn't receiving anymore help/surgery and it just flipped a switch.

Being told this was liberating in that I no longer hold onto false hope that I'll get better so I decided to ignore the quitting advice, ignore thoughts of moving away from climbing and the Highlands. First thing is to get some hill fitness back and I started last week with a wee jaunt up Stob Ban, necking Nurofen all the way, I nearly turned round at one point but persevered. Today I went up Sgurr a Mhaim  and along Devils Ridge. It was great being up there alone too, I'd forgotten the simple pleasure of having a mountain to yourself.

This counted as work, looking over to Stob Ban

Summit of Sgurr a Mhaim, Ben Nevis behind me

The pain has been quite intense but I took a third of the painkillers today that I did last week. I've worked out a new stride pattern which helps too. The most fascinating bit for me (as always) is the mental side though. After years of soloing I've learned to use my brain to control or even totally cut away certain emotions so I've been experimenting with trying to switch off pain receptors at certain levels and the results are pretty amazing, the mind is an outstanding thing if we can tune into it.

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

Bailing......

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