Friday, 30 March 2012

Getting out more

Last Saturday I headed up Ben Vorlich at Lochearn with Alison. Felt relatively fit on the walk up considering the long lay off. It was claggy most of the way up but the cloud began to break near the summit and we had some amazing views above the cloud. We then started to run back down, after a while though Alison disappeared into the distance as I struggled and ultimately failed to keep up!

On the summit of Ben Vorlich

On the Sunday I travelled North to meet up with Dave. I've been lucky enough to be awarded a grant from the MC of S for my E8 attempt and towards training and travel for the Para World Cup and some of it is going towards coaching. on the Monday we headed up to Glen Torridon and straight onto E8 routes, it was brutal as I have very little climbing strength at the moment. Dave wasted no time pointing out weaknesses and ways to improve my game. I spent most of the day on the lower part of the route, I am going to have to give everything I have to even dream of climbing at this level. After that I seconded an E1 then an E3 which utterly knackered me!

Trying the E8 in Glen Torridon

I spent a while early in my career trying to clip with my left hand but never figured it out so I've never bothered, Dave figured it out in about 10 minutes. It started quite awkward but in no time we had simplified it. It will save huge amounts of time and strength on routes once I figure it out properly.

Francis and Blair at the crag, they ticked off plenty routes while I tried the E8

The following day we headed up Glen Nevis to Whale Rock and onto another E8, making progress on a route I never have before but also seeing just how truly weak I am at the minute physically and mentally. It was however a bonus that Dave and I managed a day in the Glen without me hitting the deck, result. It was great to get into the hills as much again, really psyched about the move back North again soon!

Sunset in the Highlands, need I say more.............

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

On The Hill Again

Speaking with my mate Tam last night I wasn't sure I was ready for the mountains but he insisted and decided just to go for it. So it was up this morning and head for Arrochar and up Ben Ime with Tam and Alec. It was typically Scottish and atmospheric up there with the clouds swirling around the crags, I find the hills just as amazing shrouded in mist as I do covered in snow or bathed in sunshine. I felt surprisingly good on the walk up, only really feeling it on the last 200ft.

                                           On the summit of Ben Ime with Alec

                                          Tam and Alec on the claggy walk out

Almost instantly after leaving the summit I started to feel the pain in my ankle but particularly in my knees. It was brutal but then we bumped into an old lad who was telling us about this being his 3rd attempt on the hill after recovering from a heart attack then the subsequent surgery and after that from kidney dyalasis, I didn't complain after that. As Chopper Reid would've said "How about this Kev, harden the f**k up"...................

                                            Tam and Alec below the Cobbler on the way down
We dropped out the cloud just below the Cobbler and put down a fair pace, it felt great to be moving fast on the hill again. I didn't realise just how massively I missed the mountains, every deep lungful of mountain air I dragged in I felt better, more alive, everything becoming clearer. It was like escaping from some dark dungeon................

Monday, 19 March 2012

Day at the Ice Factor

Got to the Ice Factor the other day with my mate Dave from . I wanted to try get as many routes in as possible to A) See how my ankle was and B) To see where my fitness is. We climbed plenty but I had to stop for short breaks to rest the injury fairly regularly, still it's progress.
After that it was into the Ice Chamber to faff around with my new Petzl Ergos to see if I could figure out the best angles etc for my prosthetics. All in all a productive day.

                                                       Pics at the Ice Factor

Tuesday, 6 March 2012


The frustration of not climbing has gotten to me recently, I felt I was getting mentally weak which for me is worse than physically weak. So today with a slim promise of decent weather James Dunn and myself decided to go to Quadrocks to try grab some climbing and photography.

On the shunt checking E3 Arete, Pic-

It was overcast and a strong cold wind was battering in but damn did it feel good to climb again. I decided on my trusty old benchmark climb, the unprotected E3 Arete and gave it a go on the shunt to check the moisture on the rock and my ankle.

Soloing the Arete Pic by James Dunn Visuals

Strangely but happily I felt way more comfortable soloing the route than I did when rehearsing it on a safe rope.It rained a wee bit while I was climbing but not enough to cause concern, it was great to be making decisions that actually matter again and feel the freedom that only climbing gives me. I feel extremely psyched even though I know I'm on a countdown for my op, hopefully up the ante soon........

Packing up before it pissed down pic-James Dunn Visuals

Friday, 2 March 2012

Down the Line

So it's been 2 months since my operation and I've spent most of it in excruciating pain. I had a review with the main surgeon yesterday and the op has failed and I now need a full fusion op. This entails around 3 months waiting list but in NHS time that's at least 6 and around 1 year after op till I'm even walking again let alone getting out on the hill. My only other option is to go back to climbing and work and try learn a way to ignore the pain and get the op 2 years down the line to give me time to finish some projects, or try to finish them.

My focus has been off recently,I need to get back to the focus I had here a few years ago. Pic Steve Gordon

It feels like a huge decision to make but as I sat on the train home from Glasgow at 5pm last night I somewhat knew what I'd do. I looked around the carriage at the sad faces, the rain pouring down outside,the faces on the street and in the cars all looking the same I felt a surge of horror at the prospect of being like them after the operation renders me unable of work for a long time at any job other than being chairbound. I looked out the window on the other side as the Campsies and the road North came into view I felt a serious urge to escape. Next thing I noticed was the constant noise, I tried to think of climbing as the anxiety and claustrophobia began to rise, I imagine I'm ice climbing on the Ben, all I can hear is my breathing and the picks and crampons biting ice, the shards of ice tumbling below me and a bit of peace returns. Home and time to do a bit of training and a lot of thinking.........