Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Winter Base

The past week has been outstanding in the Highlands, one of those weeks that you just can't seem to cram in all the fun you want to have, life is good. On Saturday we had our first proper winter day out, Aonach Eagach ridge in Glencoe. Dave, Davie, Craig and myself head out and have the ridge to ourselves almost all day.

Dave, Davie and Craig

Myself climbing up a short gully on the ridge-Pic- Davie Scott

Myself and Davie admiring the view- Pic- Dave Anderson

On Monday Dave, Davie and myself headed for the North Ridge of Stob Ban, on the drive up Glen Nevis it was raining and we started the walk in in waterproofs but soon it cleared and we were treated to another fine day on a great route.

Dave and Davie on Stob Ban

Myself on Stob Ban- Pic- Davie Scott

Myself and Dave on North Ridge-Pic-Dave Anderson

Davie,Myself and Dave on Stob Ban Summit

On Wednesday Dave, Davie and Craig had an early start on Ben Nevis to get on Tower Ridge. The conditions on the ridge were bad and it was a bit of a battle, I'm still suffering from frostnip nearly a week later. Even though it became dangerous and worrying at some points it was still enjoyable. Some very impressive climbing from Dave in the conditions.

Irony, I can climb E7 but I need help to pull my sleeve over my glove!!! Pic-Craig McDonald

Myself and Dave on the Eastern Traverse

Tower Gap in the dark-Pic-Craig McDonald

Fake smiles all Round-Pic-Davie Scott

My face here portrays the reality (lets get to f**k) Pic-Craig McDonald

On Saturday it was a full team day out up Sron Na Lairig in Glencoe. My first time up here and I hope not my last, what a great wee day out for Craigs birthday, good laugh then to the Clachaig for pints and scoff!

Dessie, Dave and me on Sron-Pic-Davie Scott

Sron Team-standing L-R-Davie,Dave,Craig,Craig,Anna,John and kneeling is me, Dessie and Suzie-Pic-Davie Scott

On Sunday we headed up the Ben again, the walk up from Torlundy helping to clear the head from the previous nights whisky. We headed up Ledge route this time and again in stunning conditions. The scenery was utterly stunning, no words I can write or pictures I post will do it justice.

Out of the gully and onto the route-Pic-Davie Scott

I was disappointed to discover at the top that I had forgotten my hip flask to share a nip of whisky to celebrate such a good week. As luck would have it a fellow topped out of No4 Gully at that point and overheard me and he produced one and shared it around, what a legend..................

Great way to end a great week, combining my 2 true loves, bevy and climbing-Pic Dave Anderson

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Transition coaching & Lecture

Doing more mental coaching on Saturday 1st December at Transition Extreme in Aberdeen this time, also lecturing in the evening. Hopefully catch up with some mates for a beer afterwards! Details here 

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


Been a hectic few weeks. I got a quick blast back up to the E7 project with Dan, Will and Connor. I found a slight smear for my left palm on the upper crux which if pushed hard enough kinda sticks to the rock, pity it's been wet since or it would've been in the bag.

Connor, Will and Dan up at the slab

after that I was travelling about a bit then back up last week to start setting for the STS comp at the Ice Factor which was a busy 3 days for us. The comp was on Saturday which was also my birthday, all went well during the day and had a proper good night in the bar afterwards with some good mates, I knew it was a good one when I woke up in the back seat of my car at 10am the next morning!!

Still suffering from my hangover on Monday I headed down to the Ice Factor to start my SPA Training with Al Halewood. We spent most of the day in the wall then up to a surprisingly warm Glen Nevis. Next day we left the Fort William monsoon and headed to a slightly drier Kingussie with Scott

Joe posing for a change

Stevi enjoying the wonderful Scottish conditions

Joe, Stevi, Mark and Scott

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Kendal Coaching

On Saturday 17th of November I'm working for my sponsors Lyon Outdoor at the Kendal Mountain Festival with Andy Cave. We're coaching at the Lakeland Wall and we will be looking more at the mental aspect of things. I'm looking forward to it, details here http://www.lyon.co.uk/outdoor/latest-news-and-events/107-unlocking-your-true-potential

Monday, 22 October 2012


On Friday night I got a text from  fellow Dalry Ex-Pat Steve Kennedy asking if I fancied a trip to Ardnamurchan with him and my old Nevisport boss ,the legendary Andy to see about doing a new route. I was catching up with some mates on the Saturday but resisted the temptation to hit Ossians, Fort Williams premier night club, and went home early and got ready for the following day.
We drove out in increasingly fine weather and sauntered into the crag. There's a real atmosphere out there it's a truly beautiful and remote spot. Steve showed me the line and I was immediately psyched, it was a direct line up an arĂȘte and a true finish to an existing line that steps right at the start of the difficulties. There was a bit of a protection issue in that I could only get some at half height but I top roped the route first to check the scary looking crux.

Entering the crux sequence, Pic -Steve Kennedy

As I've noticed on bold routes all this season I found myself totally relaxed on lead, the feeling of total focus, relaxation and peace really is priceless.

 Just about topping out on the route, Pic-Steve Kennedy

We graded the route E4 5c but haven't decided on a name yet. It was a great new line and well worth staying sober for.

Andy and Steve 

It was a great day all in yesterday, new bold route, beautiful weather, stunning location and good banter with mates, pretty perfect really..........

Monday, 10 September 2012

Past week in Pics

About to go canyoning with these two wise looking chaps

I'm the splash after a 40ft jump

Myself, Johann and Martyn

On Ben Rinnis doing ML Training

Summer ML training gear in Scotland, gale force winds

First training sesh on the axes with Connor and Dave

Feeling the early season burn

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Torch Bearer on the Ben

Yesterday was a very special day indeed. Last week I received an email telling me I'd been nominated to be part of the Paralympic Torch team on Ben Nevis, at first I thought it was just a joke however at 5.15am I found myself at the foot of Ben Nevis waiting on all the other members of the team , Scouts,guides,Police security, members of the organising committee and the media. We took our time on the walk up which gave me a good chance to hear some great stories from the security guys about the last torch relay, some really inspirational people out there.

Just having lit the flame 

The Scouts did well to light the fire by natural means using a flint and tinder in damp and windy conditions which I then got to light the torch on. 

 Standing on the very summit with the Scouts 

It was a real genuine honour to represent Scottish Mountaineering for the Paralympics, not something I'll ever forget. I dont know who nominated me but if they read this then big thanks to you.........
One final bit of posing on the summit

Monday, 20 August 2012

Steall Path

Having spent so much time in the Steall area recently and simply just because I love the place I felt I should stick a link to the JMT appeal on here as well as FB, fundraising is going well and they are nearing their target http://www.jmt.org/appeal.asp

Thursday, 16 August 2012

E7 Attempt Teaser

Heres a link from James to a short trailer for a film project we're working on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4YndzU5dh0

Thursday, 2 August 2012

E7 Fail & Running Success

With pressure growing from within my own head I've been suffering sleepless nights thinking about going for the lead on the E7 project and with James , Dave and Johann we headed up the other night to check it out! When we arrived the crag was starting to seep, I went to check it out a bit more and as I did so tripped over my pack, by the time I noticed it it was merrily starting to roll its way back down the epic 400m approach and we could do nothing but laugh and hope it stopped which it did after 100m thankfully. The next night we slogged back up and got on the route, it was still warm though and a part of me began to have doubts but my keenness to experience another bold lead took over and I decided to go for it. It went well up to the crux and I guess I over thought as when I started into the crux the tiny voice of doubt suddenly turned into a screaming voice so I down climbed to the relative safety of the crescent , got a rope to me and lowered off!

                            On my lead attempt of Pallor E7 6b

As I lowered off  I contemplated getting straight back on and had a bit of a time deciding but my more sensible side prevailed and with it being such a serious route I thought it best to come back another time after a bit more climbing. I was disappointed with myself for wimping out but at the same time I was surprised at the fact I could walk away much easier than I would have done before having my accident!

Trying to put a smile on while dealing with disappointment in myself

I like that climbing forces you to deal with all these negative emotions, I feel like it cleanses all that darkness from me which is another reason to love this game.

Today Dave and I decided to get in a hill day and settled on doing the Ring of Steall as quick as we could, I found it quite hard keeping up at a couple of points but kept going any way and really enjoyed pushing myself again and it's really got me psyched for more big hill days as my ankle and knees weren't too bad.

                          Me on the Devils Ridge

            Dave on the last top with Ben Nevis in the background

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Psyche meets Fear

I got a text from Dave the other night saying about a new slab he had found on one of his training runs.The text mentioned E7 and E8 solos and I after my recent decision to make a real effort to stop soloing I had to think about it for a whole 2 or 3 minutes before the psyche kicked in and I was keen to at least have a look.
So we headed out on Friday and set off up the brutal approach and as I arrived at the crag I saw what Dave meant about it being very reminiscent of Firestone in the Gorms. We set up a top rope and I got on the potential E7 line first,stunning climbing and I got to the last move first try then made the slab climbing error of over reaching and slipped. Dave got on next and unsurprisingly made it look easy.

Dave cleaning a hold as we discussed how to try avoid a horrendous fall into the gully below the line.

After the E7 Dave got straight on the E8 line and despatched it clean on the top rope too, for a brief moment I thought he was going to go for the lead on the E7 but with the heat and occasional spit of rain it probably wasn't prime conditions.
After he lowered down I decided to have a blast on the E8 line just to see the moves,I genuinely expected to fall off on the first moves but to my surprise I did it clean on first try.

              A foreshortened view of the E8,still a long way from the top and safety.

Showing a bit more of the route,the only gear would be in the lip at the bottom, it would stop you rolling 400m down the hill but wouldn't stop you hitting the deck.

I was really surprised at managing this but the prospect of leading/soloing such a terrifying route will definitely give me some food for thought over the next while, more visits on cooler days should help decide and hopefully the psyche will far outweigh the fear by then, though the psyche is already winning the battle............

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Project E8

With my ankle pain increasing a bit more I feel I really have to try push harder at my climbing dreams, time to wake up and make them a reality. With the grant I was fortunate enough to receive from the Mountaineering Council of Scotland I'm aiming to make E8 happen before my operation and to climb as hard as I can in winter. 

The last time I tried E8! Pic-Suzy Devey

The last time I tried E8 I think subconsciously I knew I wasn't doing it with my best interests at heart but this time it feels better. I feel if I can manage this I could ,in good conscience, move onto concentrating on the Himalayas without distraction. Also I'll be pretty sure I'll have pushed my trad as far as I can. I wont be quitting rock climbing but simply putting all my effort into another facet which will allow me to push myself in other ways, in another arena and explore the possibilities both physical and mental that climbing in such a harsh environment presents.
I have somewhat of a plan for building up to 'Project E8' , as I've only got around a year before my next operation I not only want to tick off E8 but also do a lot of routes that I've always been keen on but never quite got round to and that ranges from scrambles on the Ben to E7's in the Mourne Mountains and if I'm lucky enough to get the weather to do these things I'll be in pretty good shape to take on whatever route I choose to go at as long as I also put in the training hours.
I'm really psyched at the moment and there is lots happening between the E8, other routes, film projects coming up, keen climbing partners, new job, trying to get ready for SPA and ML, it's going to be a busy year....................

Monday, 11 June 2012

Soloing, No Easy Way Out

I realise after a week of thought that I was an idiot to think I'd just walk away from a decade long compulsion so easily. As soon as I thought I had made the decision to quit I felt the old demon ask who I thought I was that I could just leave it behind. It does feel somewhat different these days though, like the demon and me have mellowed a bit in the time since I soloed E7. I know there isn't an easy get out clause from something that was so compelling, powerful and dominating but I know I have more control these days.

                        This is pretty much how I feel at the moment

I doubt I'll ever totally quit soloing but I wont be doing it for the sake of it anymore, it'll be only on ground where there is no choice or that I feel is truly worth the risk. In the past I soloed as a pretty hardcore escape from the things going on in my mind and it did that brilliantly but success on those routes caused a need to do it more, I was lucky to get away with it. I definitely feel more at peace with it these days and I hope that continues, it feels good to walk away when I'm not feeling it and be happy with that choice............For the time being anyway!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


I went out the other day with Jenny , Dave and Alison with the intention of getting some footage for Jennys portfolio. Things didn't go quite to plan and ,for me anyway, it ended up being an interesting day! The plan had been to do an E2 headpoint, E3 solo and E3 onsight, the first one happened easily but the next 2 didn't. As we headed up to Blacks Buttress for the E3 solo the heat was rising and my psyche began to lower. I got on the route on a top rope and managed the moves without much of a problem but as I lowered off to contemplate the solo I just didn't feel right at all. I have always loved soloing but at that distinct moment I questioned whether it was what I wanted and to even ask the question means doubts and soloing is unforgiving of these feelings so I bottled out and left. I think this could be the end of my soloing career unless a route comes along that really motivates me to do it again I think I'm finished with it. I count myself lucky to have done 11 years of it without physical harm. I'm still coming to terms with having to possibly quit that part of my life, I'm sure I'll write more in the next few days but in the meantime here's Jennys wee film from our outing................

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Rebellion

Since I climbed 'Frustration'  E5 6a out past Glenfinnan back in Nov 2010 I've been wondering about doing a direct finish to the route ,straight up the slab! Today that eventually became a reality. We left the Fort at 7 this morn to get in before the rock got to warm and it worked out well. I've been on the route a few times since moving back up the other week and I knew it was time to get back on the serious sharp end if I want to climb E8 before my next operation.

Quick drink before an apprehensive first top rope attempt

The first time I top roped it today felt a bit iffy so I was having slight reservations but got on a second time and it felt as good as these things do. I knew on the route there were a few moves that I couldn't afford to make any mistakes, I suppose that's why it appealed to me. I decided the best course of action was to just go for it. I listened to 3 tunes on my ipod, got into my headspace, tied in and set off.

Just about to place the only gear on the route

I climbed up to where the E5 goes left, took a few seconds and committed to getting to the only gear placement as I knew I could bottle it there in relative safety. I placed the wire and the semi good cam, no need to think too much, this is all I want in life. Climbing up past the first crux felt great, better than on top rope, I've really missed that feeling of utter focus and commitment. The tiny holds are just enough for me to balance my way up, into fingertip hand holds and toe smears but it feels easy in comparison with what's ahead.

Just on the scary (for me) high crux, well above the gear.

I reach the real 'on/off' crux and move quickly so as not to let the fear build, right toe on a tiny smear, part of  left hand pushing down on a sloper I become totally enveloped by the climb. I reach slowly and carefully high with my right hand and get the small but positive hold.Not far to go, relax, for god sake hope my left hand doesn't sweat in the growing heat.

On the final 2 fingernail move

Reaching the last section I chillout and chalk up, pull up, switch feet on another smear using small hand holds, get the 2 finger nails on and go for the final hold, get it and feel totally alive.

Myself, Glenda and Dave after the ascent

Having a swift dram to celebrate. It was called 'Mt Everest Whisky' described as "A blend of Scottish Whisky and Nepalese alcohol" it was simply moonshine!! Great day, thanks to Glenda for the pics and Dave for the belaying.

The Rebellion-E6 6b, Glenfinnan. Climb as for Frustration, at first horizontal break head direct up the slab, gear in right crack, no further use of crack or anything to its right.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Moving Fast

Back out to the project today with Glenda and Dave to see if I could make any progress. I spent a while warming up while the guys top-roped the E5. I went on the route with a top rope and no expectations and managed to link it first try and also found a better way of doing the last (crux) move which is exciting and fast progress.

Glenda took this shot while I was on top rope

Trying to get purchase, the difficulty increased the minute the sun hit the rock

Glenda and Dave chilling out between attempts on our projects

It's strange that only a few hours ago it seemed like a bit of fun trying to link the moves etc but now it takes on a new meaning as I know it's do-able but it's absolutely terrifying. It's such a stunning line though, I didn't expect to be considering this level of commitment or risk so soon after returning to climbing but it's making me very happy and psyched.

Standing below the crag chilling out. I was there on my own for a bit contemplating the route and the only sound was the wind whistling over the top of the crag and at that moment there was nowhere else I'd rather have been, I really felt totally at home there.