Saturday, 19 December 2009


Since the MSMD DVD came out I've been asked a lot about my solo of Fast & Furious and in particular why I did it. At the time I was really pushing myself regardless of the fact I had a girlfriend at the time, I thought being with someone would've slowed me down but it acted as a catalyst to drive me harder. I knew there was no future for us but at the same time I knew the inevitable split was going to hurt. The best way I could handle this was to hide my pain under the dark but comfortable and familiar quilt of risk as I knew doing that would distract me from the hurt. I had to find something that would chase these particular demons away so first I got on an E3 solo I had previously backed off, I nearly fell due to crap friction and it was the first time I really felt that blackness take over when every other thing disappears and it was just me and 1 move to survive, I thought that would do the trick,it didn't............

What next?? I had thought about soloing F&F before but not in a properly serious way, this should do it I thought. I was strong at this particular time and with the control I had felt in the close call the previous week and another crumbling relationship I left one afternoon with my mate Al to Newtyle......... About a third up the route

I listened to my mind intently on the way up that day and decided to wear a trail rope to get back from the lower off, it wouldn't stop me in the event of a fall or hold breaking but protected me if my bottle crashed. I knew it would be hard as the route is M10/11 and on unpredictable rock. I arrived and had no real need to do my usual routine to get into the right head space as I had been in it for days. I jumped on the route...............
The picture above captured my expression as I suddenly realised where I was and what I was doing, the look on Al's face wasn't a reassuring one either. The route went without mishap and the only words during and for about 10 minutes after were from Al, "Well done you crazy bastard".

Crazy?? I don't think I am but I've had many comments recently from people thinking I am or that I'm even suicidal. In my opinion there's a world of difference between wanting to die and being lucky enough to have found something that means that much to me that I'm willing to take that chance. I am perhaps ,as Climb magazine described me, "troubled" but I channel those problems into my climbing and leave some of them behind when the route is done. I turned the negative of my relationship breakdown into the positive of success (survival) on a dangerous climb.

A few days after doing this I received a text from another climber saying that it wasn't really a solo as I had a trail rope which confirmed what I was already thinking. I knew I was going to have to back and commit myself 100% to soloing that route. It was a year later and in training for a particular route I found myself standing at the bottom of the route again. This time I had only the experiences and memories of the things that motivate this kind of climbing to get me into that frame of mind........

I once again headed off up the route, no harness, rope or helmet, pure commitment to the climb. At just beyond the halfway point I got a pain in my stomach and had to hang vertically and free to stretch it out but it went away and I got re-focused and finished the route. When I got back to the ground the lads who were filming etc looked more shell-shocked than I was.
The real solo

I'm glad I done it as it answered a few personal questions and lifted one particular weight from my shoulders which means in my head it was worth the risk. However a few days after I done it one of my friends went on it (no-one had been on it since) and a hold blew on him. I felt sick when I heard this as I thought about how easily that could've been me. I'm just glad he had a rope on and it happened after I had climbed it..............

Monday, 14 December 2009

Good Days & Decisions

On Friday I joined a team of Scots, Irish and Welsh for a jaunt over the Carn Mor Dearg. We knew as soon as we arrived at the car park it was going to be a great day, the kind that you live for. The views were clearer than I've ever seen. If I hadn't already made the move North then I think this day would've kicked me into gear to live here.
Heading up to the beginning of the ridge
Summit of the Ben-(Tam, Johann, Lorenzo, Shaun and Hannah)

It felt great to have a day out with no putting pressure on myself to climb hard but the constant 'voice' at the back of my head was nagging at me about having taken no risk for a while now. For a while I've been toying with the idea of attempting The Hurting XI/11 in the Cairngorms but as with most things in my life it was a 50/50 idea. I really got into physically and mentally preparing for it but knew there would be issues from the start. I had belayed Dave on it and saw footage and pics etc so I knew of one section with moves I would not manage. I thought about trying to have an abseil inspection but its not enough for me as I never know how a sequence will leave me (possibly stuck due to not switching etc). I thought about the possibility of headpointing and it seemed to be the only way I could achieve this grade but I was deeply conflicted about this un-ethical approach and the fact that I felt in a way I was using my hand as an excuse to basically cheat my way up a route. It has tormented me for two years but eventually I came up with a plan the other day that allows me to cut away this head f**ck and lets me maintain the purity of Scottish winter climbing.
The torment begins in my head above the Hurting

This is the hardest climbing decision I've Ever had to make but I think its the right one.I think..........

Monday, 30 November 2009

The Start, "Why"??

Since I took up climbing ,and in particular soloing, I've been asked "why"?? I've spoke a bit about why I climb but I've never really thought about the real base reasons why I chose climbing over any other 'sport'. There are quite a few reasons I can think of offhand. I never really gelled with any mainstream sports at school and increasingly played truant to head to the moors and glens surrounding my hometown preferring long walks to long division. I always knew I was different to everyone else around me and am to this day constantly reminded of it so I needed to play a game that was as far from the crowd as possible. I tried a few things but nothing seemed to compete with the freedom I felt in the hills. There was no judgment there, no rules precluding me from participating just me and wide open ground. It seemed that whatever I was going to do had to be in the countryside and preferably with as little human intervention or rules as possible. After a while I started trying to cover more distance in quicker times ,testing myself, which was great fun but it still lacked something, one more vital ingredient.....risk. In 1998 I went up Curved Ridge with a friend, November, 1st scramble, no ropes and pouring rain and a new door opened. It went on like this for a couple of years and scrambling/climbing was an innocent hobby and I had no idea what a driving force and necessity it was to become in my life.

Tam and Wullie above the Quadrocks after I'd done the first ascent of 'The Whispering Eye' , I've never been involved with any other sport that gives you days like this or bonds friendships stronger.

When I started seeing the one girl I've loved I was still climbing on occasional weekends and going on some trips but while the train wreck of our 'relationship' continued I got more into it I guess as an escape from the reality that I was losing her and couldn't stop that happening. After we parted ways my climbing took over my life and took on a whole new darker dimension. It became a way to try justify our split and to fill the void she left, which was big as I was 25 at this point and until then hadn't really felt anything. I decided then that climbing was going to be the only way for me do deal with the bigger issues in my life. Since then I've climbed thousands of feet ,solo, in an effort to break the chains that still hold me to that pointless emotional baggage, sometimes I manage to break free, other times it holds me tight in its grasp. But I can use it to my advantage as it drives me even harder than my disabilities do.Maybe that's why climbing is the only thing that works as 'therapy' for me as it takes me literally away and above all that useless social stuff?
Dave on Ben Nevis last year.Days like this form a large part of why climbing means so much to me.

Some days though just being on my local moors is enough, just to sit up there looking over at Arran makes me feel so at peace, especially if the wind is howling past to add to the atmosphere......

Monday, 23 November 2009

MSMD Reviews

The folks at Stone Country have given 'Monkey See , Monkey Do' a good review here........

Dave Macleod also wrote about it here.................... Dave MacLeod Climbing: Monkey See Monkey Do DVD out now in the shop

Sunday, 22 November 2009


Yesterday Christina , Sam and I headed to Glenmore Lodge for a DT Competition. It was to be Sam's 1st comp so a relaxed approach was taken by us but not so by a nervous Christina who was to be doing a DT Masterclass with fellow Mountain Equipment athlete Andy Turner.
Sam strikes a pose just before our first route.......

I've been doing DT comps since Scott Muir started them in Scotland back in 04 and they have been a help in my finding out whats possible with my axes but at the same time they are a constant source of frustration. It reminds me that I'm disabled when I cant high axe or switch on my axes and it really p****s me off. I thought after last winter I had a better hold on my anger related to my climbing but yesterday was a stark reminder that it can rear its ugly head without warning which resulted in a few axes planted deeply in the ground, perhaps the Jobcentre were right when they reckoned I had issues with my temper :) Yesterday made me see clearly that no matter how hard I train etc that all it takes is one switching move on a route and I'm scuppered and that is truly frustrating........
Christina gives it some welly on the Masterclass
The 'Auld Maister' Jimmy Addison [sorry Jimmy :) ] gets cranking

I'm definitely going to compete at the Ice Factor on the 5th of Dec but after that I'm finished with competing as it brings out the angry side of me too much. Its a really good crowd at these comps but afterwards when I'm at home and reflecting on my own I can get quite down about being disabled.

Friday, 13 November 2009


Last week I was really psyched about my impending trip to Canada so it was with high expectations I got on the long flight trip Calgary. The moment I arrived things started going wrong, immigration held me back for a while then as I got towards Banff my stomach felt a little sore. 3 days later I eventually felt safe enough to venture more than dashing distance away from my bathroom. Then I still had no energy to climb and conditions weren't great. The film went down well with those that saw it at the festival but after attending a panel discussion on soloing I got the impression that my reasons for doing it were very different than most others or perhaps I'm just a bit more honest about it?? I got asked a few times about "why" when I was there so during the illness and recovery I did some serious 'soul-searching' about why I do it and I reckon theres 3 reasons
1) My not allowed being allowed to join the Army and therefore not carrying on somewhat of a family tradition I feel some need to live an adventurous life.

2) Being disabled I still feel that I have something to prove to myself about my abilities.

3) Last but not least trying to clear my head from the 'heart wrenching' split from the love of my life.
These are the best, most honest and most likely reasons I have for taking risks but I'm not a psychologist so who knows...........
Above is a picture of me out of puff at Lake Louise , I had walked to 7000ft with a mate who works for the National Parks of Canada. On the way out he was putting his skis on and said to me to go ahead, he would catch up. After days of illness I was desperate to feel like I had done something so I decided to run.If you want to get your heart going I can recommend running full tilt at 7000ft, in snow wearing climbing kit. I was wearing a t-shirt by the time I got to the car and got some strange looks from the well wrapped tourists. I came home to an email from Scarpa saying they will supply me with mountain boots which is great, especially for winter here and possibly the Eiger in March!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Flip Sides

With the media attention I've had recently it's got me thinking about the flip sides of my climbing. By flip sides I mean how my climbing seems to be perceived by some and the reality of it and they couldn't be further from each other. I always try to be honest with my writing so here goes with an explanation. I did some climbing in Glen Nevis earlier this year for the Adventure Show (to be shown tomorrow night at 7 p.m. on BBC2) and after the climbing was done we did a short interview. It went the way most interviews do asking about my hand etc then Duncan , the presenter , mentioned that he detected a hint of self-hate in what I do! I'd never really thought about my climbing in that light before but it certainly seemed a logical explanation for soloing. This is one of the strange paradoxes in climbing with me pushing myself into situations where I may die or I know that I'm going to be in pain yet at the same time it makes me feel good about myself. In one interview when I was asked about soloing being a loner's sport, I explained that I feel more alone in a club surrounded by hundreds of people than I do when I'm alone in the hills.
People often ask me about how I manage to become bold for climbing and this is going to be different for every bold climber, but I do not see myself as bold. I put myself in risky situations in a small way because I feel I owe it to myself to a certain extent for not sticking up for myself early enough as a kid when I was being bullied. So if you look at all the above issues they are countered by the mirror image of themselves, self hate diminished by love of climbing , loneliness quenched by loneliness and self perceived cowardice confronted by my boldness in soloing close to my absolute physical and mental limits.............
I'm off to Banff, Canada in a couple of hours to promote and introduce Hotaches film 'Monkey See Monkey Do' and I can't wait to get there but as usual it'll be a schizophrenic experience in that I'll enjoy being in the company of some of the greatest climbers and mountaineers in the world but at the same time I'll wish I was out scoping Mark Twight's un-repeated route 'The Reality Bath' on the White Pyramid. A 600m ice climb under a serac in which, according to one guidebook writer," you have a 50/50 chance of getting the chop".......................

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Busy Weekend

I got up on Saturday morning and put on my shorts, wicking top, hill running shoes and stepped outside into a cold morning and scraped the frost from my windscreen and left for Arran. My plan was to do every main summit in one blast. I had walked it the previous year and suffered with a fair amount of pain afterwards so I knew what I was getting myself into. The weather wasn't great but the occasional break in the cloud showed some impressive views, if I were to ever tire of the hills I know that one day on Arran would easily re-ignite my love of the outdoors.

I was doing this as part of my winter training but also to distract me from thinking about what was happening the following night. After 8 hours exactly I arrived back at the ferry point and didn't feel to bad though as I write this I'm suffering a bit.

Sunday at 5a.m I awaken sharply with the realisation that tonight is the premiere of Hotaches new film 'Single Handed' at the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival which is about my climbing and motivations etc and I am more nervous about this than any other thing I have done in my life but the film was well received and I was glad to be there when Diff won both the awards that the film was nominated for, thanks to everyone who voted for the film.I had quite a few people with similar disabilities or who had children with disabilities say that the film inspired them which I always struggle with but I'm glad people can take that from what I do. I also now have the opportunity to go to the Banff Mountain Film Festival with the film which is amazing , I would never have imagined being in such a privileged position when I started climbing a few years back.

You can view the trailer for the films on Hotaches Productions website................

Friday, 2 October 2009

Reality Check

Since doing E7 the other week I've been working and doing a couple of lectures so theres been no time to climb or train. So the other day I got a text from Andy Turner saying he will be keen for climbing in November so I decided I had better get my finger out and start training on the axes and getting a bit of hill fitness built up. I've managed to get in a few good runs and have really enjoyed just being out alone in the hills. Last night though was a serious reality check as to where my winter strength is at , before I moved up to Fort Bill and staying in Ayrshire I was the one that trained the hardest at the wall and pushed myself (well thought I pushed myself) but last night was an eye opener when Dave Macleod came down to the wall , complete with weight belt , and proceeded to easily do twice the amount that I did. It made me realise that I'll need to take myself to a whole new level this season if I intend to climb the routes on my list. It is possible but what is left of my already shattered social life will need to take another hammering.

Post E7 I thought I would genuinely be able to relax and walk away from soloing but already I have my eye on an E8 in The Peak , so between that and getting ready for this winter route my life will once again be completely taken over. If I'm successful on these routes though I HAVE to step back and take stock of what I've done and what I've gotten away with before my life becomes completely empty bar my climbing , which is nearly the case at the moment!!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Ya Dancer

After last weeks disappointment at Strathconnon I was pretty angry at myself for not having broken the E7 barrier , not angry at failing on the route but more angry at myself due to the nagging doubts of losing my bottle etc . A while back Dave and Gaz both soloed an E7 slab in the Gorms called Firestone , Dave called me shortly afterwards telling me it would suit my style of climbing . However the route gets seepage from Hells Lum and takes days to dry , which hadn't happened for near two months . On Wednesday night I checked the forecast for the weekend and saw that Friday looked good and it had been dry for three days , time to go for it . I picked Kieran up early and headed to Aviemore to meet Fran . The closer we got to the Gorms the better it looked . We got ready and headed on in and even though I kind of knew what I was heading for I felt perfectly content with it.

Kieran and Fran heading up the Goat Track

We headed up into the Corrie in a fairly strong wind but stunning views everywhere , one of those days that make you glad to be alive and in the mountains . On arrival at the crag the route looked exactly as it said in the guide "devoid of holds and protection" perfect!! I got on top rope right away and , as happened last week , only fell once first attempt. I tried it afew more times but then realised that what will happen will happen , harness off , rope gone , just myself and time to play the dark mental game.

Tope-roping Firestone , Fran on belay...

I sat away while the lads set up for film and pics. I always have to try find the right motivation triggers before doing things like this and they usually follow the same line and this time was no exception but I usually feel pretty scared and yet this time I felt nothing . Just an emptiness that seemed to come from focus , total committment to doing the line and a kind of resignation to the route. I felt free.

I got on the route and climbed the first few metres , my foot slipped and I hurtled down , no pain though so no excuses to quit. Straight back on and went for it , I went way past any possibility of down-climbing and remember thinking to myself that I was strangely happy to be in a position like this. As I approached the crux , which is in the last few moves , I could feel my feet start to slip again but then something happened and I focused totally on the subtle smears in the rock , no racing heartbeat , no hurling stomach , just a crystal clear picture of what had to be done.

Approaching the midway point on the solo

I got to within one move of the good hold at the end and just as I tickled two fingertips onto a tiny hold my feet once again felt insecure , relax , keep going , no chance to quit now. I reach through by the skin of my teeth to the finishing hold , mantle and literally run the last few metres and it was just the best I've felt in years.

Contemplating what I had just done and pondering whats next

As we were packing up our kit I took some time to myself to think , and realised that although I was stoked at doing the route I was also feeling somewhat lost as I dont really know where to go next in rock climbing , I have always said that soloing E7 was my lifetime ambition and I wouldn't solo any harder but already the niggling thoughts were there. I also had to try explain to myself how far I'm willing to go to climb a route , the risk , purposeful depression , severing contact with important people in the build up and came very quickly to the conclusion that those fleeting seconds of pure undiluted happiness after the climb are worth all the sacrifice.

Time to focus on winter plans................

Monday, 14 September 2009

Ambition vs Friction

A while back I decided that if I could solo or lead a bold E7 then I would make an effort to walk away from doing life threatening things on a fairly regular basis ( though I was reminded that I said this about reaching E3 ) . So with this in mind Diff , Gaz and myself headed to Strathconnon yesterday to check out the Julian Lines route 'The Unknown Soldier' . A very bold and slabby undertaking . I got on a top rope and did all the moves bar one 1st try then the sun came out...

On top rope , pics- Gaz Marshall

I tried again and again to do the crux move but with nigh on zero friction I had to admit defeat and after a bout of swearing , lowered down . I know I'll go back to attempt this line when the temp drops but I also know that its right at my limit and that I'll be taking a huge chance in leading it . But in my opinion its worth taking the risk as the personal reward from success on this route far outweighs the risk of serious injury etc .

Looking scunnered after lowering off for the final time

The closer I get to climbing my lifetime ambition grades the more I have to wrestle with my reasons for climbing the way I do . I've been questioned many times about if I have a deathwish and after having nearly died quite a few times I can honestly say I dont as I've fought hard to survive . Theres also the question of whether I feel I have to prove something with being disabled but I haven't felt that for years . Perhaps its because of being dumped by the only girl I've loved because of my climbing , well I say dumped , she did give me a choice between her and climbing . I dont know if I'll ever truly understand why my ambition never seems to dull in climbing but I'm pretty sure that no matter what I do I'll never be able to easily walk away from the cathartic joy of taking risks....

Monday, 31 August 2009

The Hurt Begins

Tonight I headed straight down the wall after work for my first axe training session since March. Luckily Blair and Johann were psyched too and helped me motivate myself. As they bouldered I sharpened my Fusions in prep for what would be the sketchiest holds I have ever trained on.

Trying hard not to fall off

The training hurt but I managed to stick all the sketchy holds now all I need to do is attempt to link it all , so I need to lose a bit of weight , work on strength and fitness and sort out my diet...........

Blair showing the effort

Johann on the steepest board

Moving up here , bringing up the wall and all the training is pretty much all for one reason. That reason is one particular winter route which , if i manage to climb it , will mean I can hopefully get peace from myself. It will take me to a level , physically and mentally , that I find hard to imagine right now. I really wanted to do it last year and I got physically ready but mentally I wasn't prepared. I was still hanging onto the past in some areas of my life but I've cut away from that now and have a fresh outlook on my approach. The route is the most serious thing I've ever wanted to do and its the first time I've actually been afraid of a climb , even soloing M10+ feels easy in comparison to how this will be.

Last year I thought that if I was depressed then I would approach the climb with a 'who cares' attitude but the depression started having a physical effect and I had to battle a bit to break out of it. I've realised though that I have to hang on to my dark side so I can tap into that to allow me to climb solo near my limits , I've also learned how to effectively control the depression that I get as a side effect of my epilepsy now so I can use it to my advantage. So heres hoping it all comes together this year..................

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Mission Accomplished

It's been raining for what seems like an age now and frustration was setting in. I wasn't sure if I would settle in the Fort when I moved here but theres so much to do so it seems like the logical place for me to be. With that in mind I decided to move my climbing wall from the garage back home up to here. Al Halewood ( offered up his basement as an area to build it so my Brother-in-Law moved it up in his trailer two weeks ago and work began. Dave , Rob and myself trying to figure out a plan

So a few days later Blair , Rob , Dave and myself spent an afternoon figuring out angles and attaching some support beams to the walls.That weekend my Dad , whos a joiner to trade , turned up for the day and progress went into overdrive.
Dad gets stuck in

Plenty done in a day and the promise of more help next weekend so Saturday arrives and so do my parents and my mate Johann and everyone got into the work.

Myself , Johann and my Dad grafting away

Two days later and the wall is up , holds on and ready for training to begin tomorrow night, cant wait..................

Mission Accomplished

Monday, 17 August 2009

River Race

The Glen Nevis River Race is an annual event where a bunch of dafties jump off a bridge, climb onto lilos and make their way down two miles of river with sections of rough and calm water. The Saturday it happened this year the lads and I were working but decided to go out and do it some night after work. So on a sunny Thursday night the 'team' had dwindled to 2 swimmers (Keiran and myself) and two spectators (Julie and Dennis). So off we went and got ready at the bridge, Keiran executed a perfect backwards flip into the water and I did a very unimpressive impression of a depth charge.

Keiran leads the way into the 'rapids'

As we got further down river we decided it would be wise to scope out the section known as "The Legbreaker" . I had already decided that no matter how bad it looked I had to go for it or face being labelled soft.So we stopped and Keiran showed me the best way to go, where i should aim to land etc, no bother I thought, how foolish...........
Looking on as Keiran makes the "Legbreaker" look like a breeze

I go over,the wrong way, wrong side of the river

As I jumped in the current immediately dragged me to the wrong side,wrong direction and I went over sideways without my lilo,a few litres later I surface bleeding and in a bit of pain, proper fun.

Keiran once again making it look easy

As we approached Lower Falls we once again jumped off the lilos and took another big jump with similar performances as before. As we rounded the next corner a Father and young family were having a 'nice' evening by the river and the last thing they were obviously expecting to see were two numpties appearing round the corner on lilos. They were sat next to the last whitewater we expected to see but as I approached Keiran stood up to the side of the river and in a horrible moment of realisation I knew he was stopping to check the drop, i could only look at him in resignation as I floated by once again to a spectacular sideways tumble and re-surface still gargling and trying to swear, as i got back on my lilo and turned to see the families faces, priceless...............

Saturday Night Climbing

A week after the E5's another team from Nevisport (Andy, Keiran and Charles) and Diff from Hotaches Productions (who was there to film for his latest DVD "Monkey See, Monkey Do") headed up the Glen for an attempt at another of Cubbys routes, Jahu E6.This seemed like a fairly big step to up my soloing level 2 grades within about a week but I felt good and in good company again so thought "why not".As Diff was setting cameras I had a top rope on the route and all too quickly it was time to try the hardest technical climb of my life with no room for error.For the first time in my life I actually walked away to take a few minutes to myself and contemplate the risk I was about to take,after about 10 minutes the sky was becoming increasingly menacing so I dropped my mind into the place it needs to be to do these things.Dark skies and dark thoughts, perfect for these things as long as you can maintain the balance and find joy in the place you are, the company you are with and in the actions you are taking.

Suddenly I'm taking the first few steps up then as I approach the crux I realise somethings wrong, I dont feel right.No panic though, no missed heartbeat and its only in my last 2 close calls have I found this level of control which has almost the same level of satisfaction as the climbing.

I down climb and shout to Diff and the lads that I'm just going to chill a bit when the rain starts, no second thought now, time to go as I'm too psyched not to.Into the crux and my heart is thumping now.....

On the crux moves(that is the 'hold' for my left) of Jahu

I feel the holds get wet but I'm well focused (as you can see in my face above) and hit the crossover move, it goes smoothly. Tiny holds for my left, I dread any kind of epileptic tremor at these moments, feet sorted, big reach for my right hand, maintain balance and I'm at the jug and the same finish as the E5.Raining a bit heavier now but it doesn't matter, its over, I didn't fall, it's all good.
Mantelling onto the jug at the end of the hard moves (pics Copyright Hotaches)

After I got home that night and relaxing alone with a brew I realised how much my life had changed in the last few months since I left home for the Fort.Its a Saturday night and I'm out climbing the hardest route of my life whereas a few months before I would've been wrecked in the boozer and as much as I miss partying with my mates I know I feel more at home out on the crags and in the hills these days, amazing how quick not only times but also people can change. All this thought from a 9m solo..................????

Friday, 14 August 2009

First E5's

A few weeks ago after work a team from Nevisport including Gaz (pics) Keith (belayer) and Kaye (supposed moral support) headed up Glen Nevis for me to attempt my first E5 lead and solo. The heat on my proposed lead route made the friction for my left hand crap so instead it seemed wise to solo the E5 in the shade first. Gaz got into position for shots as Keith belayed me on a top rope warm up and Kaye watched from the distance. I dumped the gear and went through the now familiar process of switching off to all outside distractions, emotions, calming my mind, heartbeat and stomach and set off.I got to the point of no return and took a minute (I love this point in soloing) then made the committing move left, as I moved up with my right I could ,expectedly, feel my left hand coming off but caught the hold with my right, one more hard move and its easier ground,its over quickly. Brilliant route.

Soloing 'Where the Mood Takes Me' . All pics: Gary Caswell

Next up was the lead which I was strangely more nervous about. We headed down to Scimitar Buttress.We ran through the same prep as before, but while focusing on the route and doing a mental rehearsal Kaye sneaked up on me and scared the s***e out of me , not good for controlling my heartbeat.Anyway I chalked up, Keith prepared for probably his easiest belay ever, Gaz got ready for shots and Kaye sparked up.

Heading into the crux, Keith 'belays' and Kaye looks for a lighter

I took off up the route feeling fluid and comfortable.I get to the break for bomber gear feeling only a little tired,place it and get a rest on good holds.

Jamming my left forearm in to allow me to miss out a hold i couldn't get with my left!!

I crank my left arm in the jam and move off, very concious of the fact that a slip here would mean a certain compound fracture.I start to feel the pump on the remaining moves but try to remain smooth, I get to the top and it feels amazing to have done 2 E5s in a night. Credit has to go to all those with me though as without the right support these things just aren't possible

Intro Blog

The purpose of my blogging is as much reporting on my climbing as it is to remind myself of what I've done. I dont want to write constantly about 'what' I've done but as much ,if not more, of why I do it.It will also look at the general frustration of being a disabled climber. Maybe I'll unearth the answer myself as to why I solo as much, who knows. It'll be as much a diary as it is a look at my past and whats helped or hindered me in my climbing.........