Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Tolerance , Round 3 pics

Here are some pics from the 3rd attempt at Tolerance . All pics by Suzy Devey...............................

Dot and I chatting and getting a brew between snow showers

Trying to melt ice with my palm while trying to regain a smidgen of feeling in my left hand, a battle I rapidly lost!!

Trying again to get a bit of sensitivity in my hand before launching into trying the hard moves!!

That's solid ice on the sole of my rock shoes, not ideal....................

Slush Climbing

In the past few days I've been out a couple of times to get into the swing of ice climbing again, just in time for the thaw!!! My foot is causing increasing pain but I cant stop getting out and climbing ,time to admit to myself I'm hopelessly addicted to climbing perhaps?
I went up to the CIC cascades with Rich on Thursday and even though it was thawing rapidly we had a good day on the ice. Only one other party on the hill which was the quietest I've ever seen the Ben on a good winters day.

Rich on the walk in to the ice on Thursday

On Xmas I was surprised when my mate Andy turned up in the Fort to run me back to Ayrshire, my plans for Xmas day had been to go soloing then eat a pizza but between everyone I know laughing at me for being on my own on Xmas Day and Suzy and Rich devouring my pizza I decided to visit the Shire. The local waterfall had frozen for the first time in 15 years but unfortunately by the time we sobered up enough to go near it it was like climbing a slush puppy. I climbed up a few feet but the whole thing was pouring with water, big chunks collapsing and my axes were ripping through so it was home, changed and out for a good old Dalry pint which inevitably turned into a 10 hour drinking session.............

On the Lynn Falls in the Shire

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Slab Video

Heres a link to UKC with a short video of Dave and me at the slab routes the other week..............

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Rock & Ice

On Saturday evening Dot, Suzy and myself headed for Belfast once again. A forecast for chilly but clear conditions was enough to get me psyched for yet another attempt at Tolerance. after a chilled evening at Rickys place we got up early in the morning, gearing up at the car we could see the Tors basking in the morning sun but we were also very aware of a front building to the North East. Ricky and Danny went to check out some boulders while we walked into the crag and set up, Ricky made a cool video of their day here http://www.vimeo.com/17337493

With a distinct feeling of Deja Vu Binnian began to disappear into the cloud the closer we got to it. I had a look at the route, it wasn't ideal but set up the rope anyway, as soon as I did that the blizzard hit. I decided to give it a try anyway but kept skidding on the ice or losing feeling trying to grip on snow/ice covered ledges. I abbed off and brushed away the snow and tried again but by this time it was winter conditions and I was climbing in rolled up trousers and sleeves. I completely lost feeling in fingers and toes and had to give in, gutted. on the walk out it became apparent that it wasn't ideal rock climbing conditions as there were fully formed icefalls almost 1000ft below where I was trying to climb. It turned to full on conditions on the way out and I began to accept that rock climbing in the mountains was finished for the season................Maybe

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


Recently I've been trying a lot of new routes and attempting repeats but without much success. Most of the time it's been down to my hand and regardless of how much I try to accept I'm disabled I can't seem to quite get there with it and it makes me angry with myself. In turn though I hate myself for being weak in not accepting that I'm different. If I could beat these pathetic weaknesses then maybe the demons that push me so hard wouldn't have such a hold over me and my life, whether this would be good or bad I do not know, I doubt I ever will.

Struggling to accept that I'm beaten on a route in the Glen, these are always shit times -Pic- Suzy Devey

Today though was one of those days that make all the misery, self hate and insomnia that comes with constantly trying other routes worth it. Dave, Donald, Suzy and myself headed out Glenfinnan way. I had an E5 to go at and Dave had a new route project to go at.

This shot captures a bit of what climbing is really about for me, good company and good laughs
Pic- Suzy Devey

As Dave and I worked our respective routes I knew pretty quickly that I was ready physically for the route, I just had to (in the words of Mr T) "Get some nuts" and go for it. So I tied in and sorted my rack which didn't take long as it was just a skyhook. I started up the climb, the first few moves I was struggling to relax with my head still a bit messed up from my fall but I knew if I pushed on I'd be fine, I knew this as if I wasn't and started to tremble I'd be off the precarious slab. I moved up and placed the skyhook, Donald tied it off at the base, time to go for it. Moving up on nail edges and small quartz holds I began to remember the feeling of bold routes I crave. As I climbed on and became more committed then the more I relaxed, this bodes well for another impending trip to the Mournes.

Nearing mid way on Frustration E5 6a - Pic Suzy Devey

Next up Dave despatched a new hard route, I don't know grade or name so I'll leave out details for Dave to blog about, needless to say it was an impressive bit of climbing. He then proceeded to easily onsight the E5 I had just done, a close call near the top though as just as he caught the large hold at the end of the route a fighter jet blasted overhead by only a few hundred feet (if that) and gave everyone a bit of a jump. All in all though today was an awesome day..................

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Pain & Pennies

With the ankle pain getting markedly worse I'm not working much at all the moment which means its back to not eating as much as I'd like or going out etc. thankfully I've got a few talks coming up, one for the Mountain Rescue Conference in Aberfeldy this weekend and one for the Ochil's Mountaineering Club in Stirling on Dec 2nd. I'm always scared of these things but if I could do more of them I could climb more and certainly eat better, if any of the few readers of my blog have any contacts for clubs etc looking for speakers please drop me a line...............

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Looking Back

Suzy, Connor and myself headed over to Newtyle Quarry the other day to get some pics on Fast & Furious for a piece in next months Climber Magazine about my soloing exploits, it's pretty brutal writing by Dave but I'm looking forward to seeing the finished article. It was strange to be back on the route with a rope on and be looking at it knowing I'm safe and under no pressure.

Connor going through the moves thinking about his attempt

Connor was well psyched to give the route a try as it was totally different to his trad background, it reminded me of myself the very first time I went there with Scott and saw the route. Trying the moves for the first time it just seemed impossible and crazy..........

Back on the route, I cant believe I soloed this 3 times. someone told me the other day there it was gutsy but it wasn't, I simply timed a moment or three of mental instability with some physical capability.................

Pics by Suzy Devey

Monday, 8 November 2010

Tolerating Tolerance

On Saturday morning Suzy and I headed to Belfast to meet up with Ricky and Ali. This was to be my second trip to the Mournes with the sole intention of climbing Tolerance. The forecast was good and with clear skies as we landed it looked promising. Unfortunately within ten minutes of arriving on Binnian it started to rain and I only managed 15 minutes on top rope before the friction vanished rapidly and the rain turned to snow, cue hasty retreat.

Keeping the moves fresh in my head while Dale got ready for top rope on day two...........

Next day saw Ricky, Michelle , Suzy and myself make another attempt. Same nice sunny walk in, then as we approached the Tor the weather crapped out again. We set up a rope any way and myself, Dale and John had goes on top rope but with crap friction, dampness, little visibility, and no feeling in my fingers I decided it probably wasn't optimum to attempt my first E8 so it's back to training and watching the weather and continuing insomnia........................

This shot says more about the trip than I could put into words....Both pics Copyright Suzy Devey

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Glenmore STS

I spent the weekend at Glenmore Lodge for that leg of the STS. It was good crack speaking to some of the familiar faces and new people on the circuit. I teamed up with my old mentor Scott Muir for the day, we haven't climbed together in years so that was cool.

Scott and me after the comp

After the comp I had a talk to do in front of Lodge staff and competitors. they showed 'Single Handed' first which gave me an extra 20 minutes in which to get nervous, people keep telling me it gets easier doing this but it never seems to. However the film and talk were well received which is good and I got some good feedback.
Event organisers Pete and Neil "Re-Hydrating" after a hard days work..........

Monday, 18 October 2010

Busy Days

It's been a busy few days here. The prospect of getting an operation on my ankle next year that could lay me out for 6 months has really got me motivated to train and climb as much and as hard as possible, well I think it's the thought of that and probably the good circle of people I have around me at the moment.
So Last Wednesday it was up the Glen with Dot and Suzy for a look at a few routes and a bit of top roping on Cubbys routes at Upper Scimitar where Dot surprised herself by cleanly climbing Jahu (E6 6b) first attempt on top rope.

Suzy leading at Wave Buttress

On Thursday it was up to Wave Buttress to check out a line Dave had recommended (Jodicus Direct E7) I got quite high but couldn't hold one move with my left hand high up and I would've hit the deck from around 12m at that point so time to be sensible and forget it. Suzy then got on her first trad lead for a bit and cruised through. Then it was over to Steall Crag for Dave to try his uber hard project in the failing light.

Saturday Dave and I headed to a crag discovered by Donald King to check out some new lines. It was a stunning day. Both of us worked our routes but by the time we sussed them out we were tired, my feet were sore from so much time in rock shoes and we decided to saunter home.

Dave on his line, potential E9 7a, the "easier" one of his projects here

Today it was down to Glencoe and Curved Ridge with Johann who is logging days on the hill for his tickets. I'm glad Outdoor Research had got my new shells to me as it was minging up there. It was a good laugh though which helped when we were both frozen and suffering with borderline Hot Aches. Between all these things I've been trying to work, write lectures and train for Ireland and winter. Too much fun to have and not enough time...............

On Curved Ridge in the rain/sleat/hail.........Good times

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Axe Time

It's that time of year again, too dark to go up the Glen after work and the pressing need to to get strong for winter projects sends us to Al's basement once again. Dreading the first serious training session tonight I met up with Sam, Rich and Gillian and proceeded to remind ourselves of how much axe training hurts.

Rich points out the next moves for Gillian

I wasn't going to start training till after the Ireland trip but with upcoming involvement in the Scottish Tooling Series I thought I had better do a bit of training. I'm doing a short talk after the Glenmore comp on the 23rd Oct which will be about my time in volved with Sport Mixed, how I got involved and the culmination of that chapter of my climbing with soloing Fast & Furious.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010


Went up the Glen again to get some shots on Fingertip Finale from a different angle this time the other day for Mountain Boot Company who are the UK distributors of my new clothing sponsor Outdoor Research. They also supply my Scarpa and Grivel kit which is handy.

I had to visit the Shire for 2 days there and hated it. Around the point that these pictures were taken I happily relaxed and had a conversation with Suzy, I dont know what it says about me that I felt more relaxed here than in many a social situation and I felt safer than I did walking around my stinking home town. I'm not one for regret but I do wish I had moved to Fort William years ago as I feel like I wasted a lot of time in Ayrshire with people I no longer even bother with.

Both pics by Suzy Devey

The pre hard climb mentality kicked into high gear yesterday, sleepless nights and even when I do drop off I'm dreaming of Ireland. I constantly go through the moves. The commitment I will give to this route means I have to commit to being selfish and blocking out other stuff/people in my life as it will do me no good on the route. For the first time on a hard route though I'm not just thinking of the cathartic feeling afterwards but of actually being on the climb and soaking up the joy of the moves. Feeling as psyched as I was for Firestone last year but in a more positive way.....................

Monday, 27 September 2010

Good Weekend

With the next trip to Ireland just around the corner I feel the impending risk beginning to seriously dawn on me. With this in mind I needed to see how my ankle was and more importantly where my head is at on dangerous ground. So on Saturday when my parents visited town we headed up to the CIC hut and it was stunning. Just being up there has healing properties of it's own. My parents had never seen the North Face of the Ben up close before so it was cool to be there to see there reaction when they saw the impressive cliffs in their full glory.

Maw and Paw at the Hut, Maw looking very happy

On Sunday it was time to see if I could relax and focus on an intimidating route so with Suzy keen to get her photography back on track we headed up Glen Nevis on another stunning day. I decided on Fingertip Finale again as a suitable solo that lies between comfort and fear. I got that relaxed feeling that you only get when all the right ingredients come together. I've heard Dave talk of this often but only now am I starting to be able to realise when it happens and how to potentially recreate it. I'd say at least 70% of it though comes down to who we climb with and how chilled you can be in their company when you are doing something that scares you.
Suzy suffering for her art and fighting with the Holly bush trying to get to the belay

I instantly felt relaxed but focussed on the route, even taking time on the moves to force myself to take everything in and just chill. This is all so when I hit the Mourne's soon to try E8 I can fool myself into relaxing a bit on the crux moves of Tolerance. I'm at my most psyched in a year and feel good about it. There's a small part of me feels I'm over the worst of the darkness that has driven me for so long now but I know it's more likely just lying dormant for the time being. I do though think that I'm now attempting hard routes for better reason than I have in the past, I think, only time will tell, for now however I'll soak up as much of this good feeling as possible......
Suzy got some good shots on her first day on the rope, I soloed the route twice and felt great, all in all it was the best days climbing I've had for a while............

Fingertip Finale E4, Glen Nevis. Amazing route. Pics Copyright- Suzy Devey

Wednesday, 1 September 2010


Since my last blog I've been in a bit of a weird place mentally. I have been getting problems with my ankle again which has limited my climbing and work. So I made another appointment to see the surgeon and eventually got there last week and he basically told me that my climbing is over as is full time work. I couldn't believe what he had said and just walked out in a state of shock and drove to Ayrshire and spent a few days partying while mulling over my future. I had only very limited career options before the accident and they are totally crap now. Thankfully Nevisport have been great and have sorted out hours to suit my injury while still allowing time to train. Psyching up for a hard winter lead-Pic- Steve Gordon

I've always had hope that one day I'd settle down into a 'normal' life but as this dream drifts ever further from my grasp I realise how that hope has held me down. Hope is such a pointless thing, either we do or don't, that's it, hope is just a nice word for wait and that's wasting time and I've done enough of that now. For the Doctor to basically give me no hope was a blessing in disguise as I'm no longer thinking too much about what my future could hold but more about cramming in as much as possible to the here and now. I think this should allow me to push harder in my climbing and commit to more challenging routes without way too much thought about potential consequences. Life is great in this way that we can take what should be bad news etc and turn it into somewhat of an advantage.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010


After my recent attempts to climb E8 I realised, A)how much I want to attain this level, not only of climbing but of commitment and B) of how much work I'm going to have to put into the possibility to make it a reality. I tried a lot of hard routes in my time off and got beaten a lot, I put this down to not only physical weakness but emotional and mental weakness too. I made a mistake in getting close to someone and I should've known better from a recent split that I'm not in a place to give much to anything but climbing at the moment as much as I pointlessly try. On the route below I was trying hard but couldn't concentrate as my mind was elsewhere, trying to figure out other problems. It wasn't till I received a text the other day from Mike (who was climbing there that day) and he said I was seeming down that I really saw it clearly for the first time and I knew then things had to change.

Trying a new line in Arrochar, committing, friable and bold, 1 bit of gear at 30m Pic-Alan Fox

On my running circuit, looking towards Aonach Mor

So the other day I somewhat spring cleaned my life, as I mentioned in a previous post. I've given up trying to get into any of the careers I was interested in as there are too many (unproven) restrictions going against my disabilities. I've stopped trying to settle into what most see as a normal life. I went through my phone contacts and deleted a pile of numbers, got rid of all unnecessary possessions and I feel the better for it, almost like a new start.It feels good to be committed and focused on only one thing, no more hopeless distractions.
After 4 days at work dealing with obnoxious tourists I was more than ready to start training in earnest , early start yesterday and a PB on my running circuit. Then shopping for healthier food, bloody expensive this healthy eating.
After effects of trying a problem of Daves (I'm blaming him)

Then it was down to Alan Kimbers bouldering wall to meet up with Dave for training. After climbing slabs for so long my skin was too soft and I managed to take a good old chunk off my left hand after only an hours climbing. After that it was home to open a package from Diff. It turned out to be a best film award for Single Handed from the Slovenian Alpine Association. I was well chuffed that a hardy bunch like the Slovenians enjoyed the film...........

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

New Toys

I recently received support for my winter kit from Grivel so this meant a visit to the prosthetics guys at Raigmore Hospital the other week. we had a bit of a discussion on angles etc for the axes and the guys got to work chopping my Quantum Race tools up and I picked up the finished products yesterday. Trying out the mixed version of my prosthetic

Today I headed down to the Ice Factor to try out the results. Its really handy having this place local to test these out instead of realising faults while in Norway or Italy etc. The guys there (Jamie B , Andy , Kieran) were good enough to help out with belaying and taking the pics.
The shorter ice version in action

They both seemed to work fine in here but I'll need to wait till winter to really find out.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Trying, Failing and Accepting

I've had almost two months off work now to try climb E8 and sort out some other parts of my life. It's given me time to accept that for the time being settling into a relationship isn't going to work for me while I'm pushing myself trying to find out just how far I can go with my disabilities. it's selfish of me to keep trying as my attitude is one of not letting anything distract me and even the pettiest squabble can put me off so it's not worth it. I also feel closer to accepting the fact that I'm getting a bit older now and any chance of a career in the fields I'm interested in are slipping away, all this has the positive side effect that I'm more capable of focussing my energy on climbing and committing myself more to it.

Trying Marks line in Glen Nevis -Pic-Alan Fox

I've been trying a lot of new routes in my time off, trying to find different ways of using my left hand to allow me to climb better and it's working.Mark McGowan pointed out a route to us in the Glen that he reckoned was worth a look so Johann and myself tried it the other week and it was utter nails (sure E7) I couldn't do one bloody move but it's well worth another look and I'm sure Johann will send it soon. I was beginning to worry that if I was to climb harder than E7 that I'd be doomed to climbing slabs for the rest of my life. But after another visit to Ireland with Di Gilbert to meet up with Ricky again that fear has been quashed. I tried a few lines without success due to my hand ,though no matter how hard I try to just accept this it still pisses me off and I get extremely angry with myself.
Top roping Tolerance E8 6c, Binnien, The Mournes . -Pic- Ricky Bell

Tolerance is a mega bold route with a terrible landing if you blow it on any of the hard moves but it's an absolutely stunning line. I have a struggle with two of the moves but I'm sure I can manage them in cooler conditions. It's great to have focus back on one or two particular routes again as it allows me to concentrate and not have that 'whats next?' feeling.
It was another great trip to Ireland, every time I go I enjoy it more and I'm more keen to go back. The place is awesome, the climbing is perfect for me but it's the people on these trips that really make it memorable. The scene there is like nothing I've seen before, utterly unique.........
The Team at Fairhead shortly before heading for the Athletes dinner of Fish, chips and lager.....

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Revenge of the Fallen

Today I managed a new route at my old haunt, The Quadrocks. I had noticed it last night while belaying friends on one of my routes on the main face. Early today Hector and myself headed up before the heat of the day really kicked in, even with factor 50+ I'm still burnt.I took a few shots on top rope then decided to go for it as it was getting ultra warm.The line goes up the right side of the existing E3 route The Arete and I graded it E3 5c.
Last of the hard moves on first ascent of 'Revenge of the Fallen'

Cheers to Hector for belaying and taking the pics.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Recce to the Mournes

On Friday afternoon I Arrived in Belfast on a long awaited return trip to the Mournes. I had been speaking to Ricky Bell for a while about getting over but never got round to it but after recently re-watching Underdeveloped I became very psyched to try Crystal Methods (an E8 solo) with the mindset that I will quit soloing after it. However I couldn't do the crux move on the route and decided not to bother on the day. Ricky pointed me at a fantastic E7 which will definitely go in better conditions, I then tried a brutal E8 6c which I think could be the route where I find both my mental and physical limits. I did all the separate moves on top rope but not strong enough to link it all yet.
The scene in Northern Ireland is amazing, that in itself has me very keen to get back, the guys there have a real passion for their mountains.
Looking over to Binnian, The Mournes

I have 2 months off from working at Nevisport and I hope to really push myself in that time to a whole new level.Just ordered 100m of static to go check some big new projects which should be interesting, not looking forward to carrying all that kit on a still fragile ankle though................

Monday, 10 May 2010

The Real Fear

Just a quick last minute update. I'm doing a talk at Dumbarton Library tomorrow night at 7.30 and it's terrifying me................................

Monday, 26 April 2010

Snakes & Ladders

I've realised in the last few days that I'm back to the place I was in a few years ago. I really thought I was near the place where I could stop soloing and settle down a bit but after the fall I need to rebuild my confidence and I've had to start almost from scratch, I can only describe it as feeling like landing on 99 in a game of Snakes and Ladders and shooting all the way down to the start.
I had the chance to settle into a nice relationship and possibly be happy but I knew what I'm going to have to put myself through to get back to a place in my climbing that I'm satisfied and it leaves me no room for anything else, I could've accepted the happiness and comfort offered, I wanted to but my drive wouldn't let me. Another terrible choice to make, I make the selfish choice and battle the rising regret.The choice leaves me feeling lonely and hurt but I know that's what I need to commit properly to playing the game again.

I headed up the Glen tonight to get back on an E4 that I'd done last year. I decided it would be a good solo and my friend Miriam came along to take some shots. I did it once on my shunt and decided to pull the rope and ready for the solo. As I tried to get my head in gear I almost began to question whether this was what I wanted anymore but as I looked up the route and knew how soloing it would make me feel the doubt began to dwindle. I needed to get my act together, stop being weak and just do it. The feelings of anger and self hate always help in this situation. Time to do it................
Soloing Fingertip Finale E4, Glen Nevis, just after the crux

The higher I climbed and more committed to the route I was the happier I became. I hate what I have to do to be capable of this but how it makes me feel is very much worth it. I know I'm now looking at a lot of suffering to get to a place I can finally feel peace but I also know it must be what I'm actually meant to do because of what I'm willing to let go to do it.

Near the top out

Monday, 12 April 2010

The Auld Triangle

I eventually got back to proper climbing on Saturday and back to the old familiar feelings of fear, commitment and relief.
FEAR:- Going back to soloing I had to deal with my fear after the fall. I knew I had to do this as soon as possible as I was beginning to wonder if I'd lost my bottle and without that I know I couldn't climb well. As I was psyching up for the solo I had a flashback to the fall and it was a real mental battle to erase that image from my mind but good mental exercise...........
Dealing with the fear and flashback

COMMITMENT:- I know I couldn't have walked away from trying this route again, I knew I had to totally commit myself to doing it, no matter the outcome I had to at least try. I had to go back to almost the darkest days of my life to find the level of motivation I need to take risks. I have to remember that I cant care more about dying than living, if I had just went home and decided to never climb solo etc again I wouldn't really be living. I consider myself very lucky get this from climbing, that I've discovered something I consider to be worth taking such risks for. So I got on the route and climbed nervously to just before the crux, I could change my mind at this point, I'm shaking, I'm beginning to doubt myself, I feel sick, my stomach churns and my hands have cold sweat. I really begin to do battle with myself and I realise if I bottle it now I may never manage to fully get back into the game. I commit and it goes smoothly...........
Just after the crux move on the Arete E3, Quadrocks, Largs

RELIEF:-As you can visibly see in the pic below I'm relieved to have made it. I cant even really remember pausing here my mind was racing with so many emotions. I feel so glad to be back in the game now, to know I still have the mental reserve to solo and to once again have the feeling of contentment that only climbing now gives me.
I doubt I could explain correctly just how I feel in this pic

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Trying to Quieten The Animal

I hardly slept a wink last night with excitement due to the prospect of getting on a long term project in Glen Nevis. When I opened the curtains though the place was soaking, regardless I headed up but the Glen was still in the grip of winter and with the sun coming out the route was showing no signs of drying. After getting so psyched up I had to vent the accumulated feelings in some way so I proceeded to try some of the training in Stevie Hastons latest article in Climb Magazine, it did the job and I made myself suffer accordingly for my failure to climb today.

Training on the wall, suppressing feelings of inadequacy for not climbing

I've always enjoyed training for it's ability to hurt me. I don't like training simply to feel fit or strong, I only like it when I'm pushing myself to breaking point. For example when training on the wall for winter I've held onto my axes till my hands bled and I was very close to passing out. Only in this way do I feel I have purged the weakness from my body and mind. I guess there's a fine line between self-fulfilment and self-harm.

I'm drawn to climbing because of it's inherent risk , it's ability to give me peace from myself and the general feeling of freedom involved (especially in Scotland). So when I can't feed myself a diet of these ingredients I need something to fill that growling space and hard training seems to be the only way I'm capable of quietening that appetite until I get the full meal that climbing provides.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Making The Cut

When I began climbing I was a pretty weak character. I was working in a boring job, drinking a lot and moving in murky circles. Climbing at the time was simply something a bit different for me to do every now and then almost something to make me realise I was actually alive. Then I did my first proper winter route and I woke up from the losers sleep I had been in. The next wake up call came when an old lad at my work retired, he had been there since school, saved his cash, hardly any holidays or sick days and he was proud of this I heard people speak of this as if it was a life well lived and it horrified me. He got 2 months retirement before he dropped dead in the garden..........I quit the following week and haven't had a serious job since.

On my first winter route, Ben Nevis. Pic-Rob Jarvis , Highland Guides.

After this I pretty much committed myself to a life less ordinary and pursuing full time climbing was the perfect excuse to avoid the soul crushing 9-5 living for the weekend crap I had been doing. I was naive to think at that time that I understood commitment. I spent a couple of years trying to climb hard and learn what I could then I read 'Kiss or Kill' by Mark Twight. This book has changed my life without a shadow of a doubt. I learned to accept what I was becoming by reading this and also began to understand ,even embrace it. It forced me to face up to my being selfish and ruthless but not to be ashamed of it but to use it to good effect. The main point I took from it was what he called 'The attitude of the knife' , cutting away all that holds us back. I took to this new attitude like I couldn't believe. Getting rid of everything that was holding me back at the time and I revelled in it's brutal coldness.

In the winter of 2005 I took the cutting attitude to a new level and one that finally marked a point where I was crossing a line and giving into climbing. I went on a trip to Austria and while climbing with my prosthetic I realised that a digit on my disabled hand was catching inside my cast. As soon as I returned home I had an operation to have it removed. This confirmed to me that if I can go so far as to have digits removed then climbing was what I really wanted in life. There is very little left in my life from my pre-climbing days....................

Nearly There

In the past few weeks I've been trying to get back into the game. I got back up the Glen and simply top-roped some routes to start building up my confidence again before a hopeful season of hard and bold climbing. I've also been doing short walks and runs but ended up getting Plantar Faciitis which is a tendon injury, great times. Hopefully I'll have more to write about after the weekend.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Walking Away

I received a call from a friend of many years the other day and they were going on about me being the only one of our old team of mates who isn't yet settled down into relationship, steady career etc and that I'm 31 and simply renting a room to allow me to go climbing. They also stated that I'm "a ruthless, self-centered and heartless b*****d". I guess sometimes I am but wouldn't have been able to sacrifice what I have without being these things. There are things I miss a lot like nights out with the lads.

The Lads before a wedding reception

Theres also the sacrificing of love to allow me to pursue my selfish ambitions. The night I walked away from her is the best example of my realising how far I was willing to go and how much I'm willing to cut away to have an uncluttered life.

I was due to leave town on an extended climing trip and I met her the night before I left while in the pub with the boys, she asks me to walk her home and I cant say no to her as at the time I was foolishly blinded by my love for her. We have said our goodbyes a few times in the past but this night felt different, more of an air of finality. We stand in the pouring rain and tell each other that we both love each other but she is with someone and she gets something from him that I cannot promise her, he will always be around and I will not, she knows this.She has bore witness to my ruthless committment to climbing before and she knows that no matter what I will still walk away from her before I would quit climbing, which she deserves.

We continue talking about our intense feelings for each other then a voice in my head tells me to do her a favour and walk right at that moment. I feel an all to familiar coldness fill me and darken my thoughts. I lie to her to make it easier for her, I see tears begin to well in her eyes, shes been here before and knows it isn't good. I hate myself for what I'm about to do, I tell her a hurtful lie and say that I'm cutting her out my life, climbing means more and by the time I get home I'll have begun to forget her and my feelings. I convince myself that in the long run I'm doing her a favour in making her hate me and if she does I can use it to push myself in a cathartic sense. I didn't know that this decision would screw my head up to a very dangerous point and end me in a very very dark place that I was lucky to get back from.

Back on the street she asks how I can do this, I tell her that I simply have to and its not a problem, this statement cuts into both of us deeply. At this point we decide to go our separate ways and just as I go to walk away she gives me a look that will never leave or cease to hurt me, then she softly kisses me, I turn and walk away and dont look back. I almost break down, I almost throw up.............But I dont

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Past Week

The past week has been a real rollercoaster of 'emotions'. It started last Saturday at the Fort William Film Festival and Diffs entertaining lecture "Climbers I've Shot and Some I'd Like To Shoot" which was followed by a showing of Single Handed. I had to do a short Q&A with Diff afterwards and as usual I was pretty nervous, made even more so by the presense of the legendary Jimmy Marshall and his family. Speaking to Jimmy on the Sunday he told me to stop the dry tool soloing as it was 'dangerous', this after having watched him on the terryfying looking second ascent of Yo-Yo. A review of the festival here http://www.planetfear.com/articles/Fort_William_Mountain_Festival_2010_1090.html

Then it was an appointment at the Sports Injuries clinic on Wednesday to see if they had another opinion. The doctor hardly had to look to be able to tell me my foot is actually broken. CT scan on Thursday and phonecall on Friday confirmed my worst fears, my foot is badly fractured and I'm going to get an operation to put screws in my foot, gutted and angry that I've wasted almost two months pointlessly trying to recover.

Gaz arrived late on Friday for a weeks climbing and I decided that as my foot is knackered anyway I would try at least get to the CIC icefalls. Early start on Saturday morn saw Gaz, a hungover Kaye and myself stumbling up from the North Face carpark.

Kaye walking towards the cascades on the right as the sun crests the Carn Mor Dearg

As I walked in I realised just how much I have been missing the mountains.As we arrived at the crag we decided that Gaz would lead the first route and I would climb up alongside Kaye on her first ice climb. As kaye and I geared up to follow Gaz I went to put on my prosthetic and it broke, I couldn't believe it and what I felt transcended anger. However Kaye took off and dispatched the route no problem.

Kaye and Gaz return from the route

Kaye and I on the way out
On the way back out I ended up in pretty severe pain, to the point I was sweating due to it, Gaz got lumbered with my pack for the last steeper section. As usual though dinner and a pint at Nevisport was all the 1st aid I needed. It was a stunning day to be out on the hill and its always good to be there when people do things for the first time. Now its just a waiting game to see when I get the operation....................