Wednesday, 14 April 2010

To climb is great; but to dance whilst climbing is beautiful...

There was a split second where I almost bottled it. A moment where I thought my head would betray me and although I knew the moves were well within my grasp, my zone was faltering as I balanced precariously on the arete. I did the only thing I knew to do; I closed my eyes, I breathed deeply and reached for that zone which would suppress the panic threatening to overwhelme me.

The crux was over 50 feet above the ground, and with no rope to act as my safety line, a fall at this point would prove fatal; panic was not an option. I had committed to the sequence, and the sequence had to be completed. I inhaled through my nose and slowly exhaled through my mouth to centre myself, repeating the exercise until the haze cleared and I could once more see the moves, like a well rehearsed dance routine.

A rhythm began to form around the sequence. It was the rhythm to follow if I was to perform the sequence flawlessly and so I did; I embraced it. The moves flowed with fluidity and finesse. I wasn't just climbing now; I was dancing with the rock. The top came easily as each delicate move was executed with absolute precision, and as I stood atop the lofty crag staring down over the ascent I'd just completed, I was met with a sense of achievement as I realised that this was merely the beginning. I could walk away from this evening knowing that I'd achieved that which I had set out to do. I hadn't just climbed; I had danced.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Alot Like Love

Okay okay, I haven't posted for a while and mostly because I haven't really been into the fells since my last entry, having been spending as much time as possible with my girlfriend who's now back. I won't even pretend I'm not excited by the prospect of having her within easy reach again; quite frankly, it's f***ing ace!

I apologise in advance to anyone reading this because it's a rant more than anything, just to get the ball rolling again. It's something I've noticed having seen quite a few Facebook relationship status' change recently from 'single' to 'in a relationship' which then proceeds to fill my homepage with loved up sickeningly nausiating messages about "Oh I love her so much", ane "We're so in love, nothing can possible break this apart"...then within 2 weeks, the status changes again closely followed by self-pitying melodramatic nonsense about broken hearts, ruined lives, and "How on earth will I ever heal?!" This kind of nonsense completely takes away from the meaning of what 'love' actually is! I mean, come off've been stalking him for six months and he still doesn't even know you exist; you've not in love, you're a kid who's watched one too many chick flicks and gets excited by the prospect of your own Prince Charming sweeping you off your feet.

Now, before I get flamed for...well, being cynical, please don't think that I am. I do believe in love, I really do. It's been commercialised to the max by profit driven companies but the feelings are still there. I'm not completely against the idea of it, and I am guilty of going on a romantic streak, but these idiots who cheapen the word and then moan on and on about being heartbroken and never being able to survive after a breakup are ridiculous. I know what it's like to feel the loss of it, I've done it...albeit not for very long. My girlfriend and I went on a 'break' and I was broken, properly screwed up! I lost a stone in weight because I couldn't bring myself to eat, and I was just completely beyond reason. We're back together now, and have been for a while...if anything, we're even closer and I'm certain of one very important thing. I do actually know, without any shadow of a doubt, how much I love her. I am a complete sucker for her, to the point where I would travel through Hell, just for the chance to see her. I don't go broadcasting it all over Facebook because quite frankly, the only 2 people who need to know are her...and me. I've taken the time out to fall endlessly in love, and I will openly admit to anyone who asked just how much. It's all the things which nobody else notices that get me, all the ways she teases, and way that even though she never believes me when I say it, when she's covered head to toe in horsemuck (She has horses) she's still the most beautiful girl in my world. I love everything about this girl, and most importantly; I love her, and I love who I am when I'm with her. She makes me the man I am, and that is something I thank her for my own way.

So, stop throwing the damn word around like a tennis ball because it has no meaning anymore. It's lost all it's meaning because it's been used and abused so much by people who have absolutely no understanding of what it is. Their favourite foods, colours, clothes, etc? The foods they really don't like? Their favourite hobby? Their quirky little features? All the things that make them...them? You know none of these things because you've not had the time to find out, or you haven't taken the time to how the hell can you profess undying love for a person you barely know? You don't love just like them alot, and think that love sounds so much sweeter and more romantic without understanding the full context in which you use it.

Well...that's my rant over. On to more cheery subjects I think now.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Following sheep trails...

I learned a long time ago that by far the best way to traverse lakeland is to follow the little worn sheep trails which crisscross their way over the fells, completely ignoring the 'red-dashed line' which cuts across the map at every available angle. For all their stupidity, sheep certainly have an intelligence which is second to none when it comes to crossing the fells. The trails are also not really used by tourists so you're almost certainly guarenteed a quiet day away from the beaten track, following a rather interesting route up though the rocky outcrops and crags.

You'll find the tourists tend to ignore these trails because they're not highlighted on the maps, and heaven forbid you take matters into your own hands and make you own trail up the fell. Though, I could be giving some tourists far too much credit here by allowing them a map and a compass, which I think any regular on the fells can tell you, is not always the case.

I remember some time ago, whilst walking on Great Gable, I arrived back at the Wasdale Head carpark with approximately 3 hours of daylight left in the day. As I walked into the carpark, a chap walked upto me asking which one was Styfell? Now, to his credit, he was at least in the right valley. It was during the time when Julia Bradbury was doing the Wainwright programs, and although I didn't particularly follow them, I'm sure others did.

This did however, leave me with a little confusion because I know the southern and western areas of the lakes quite well...but I have never heard of Styfell! After some pondering, I naturally assumed he meant Steeple, so suggested this to him and pointed in the general direction of Yewbarrow. He said I was wrong and insisted it was called Styfell and after some more pondering he backed up this claim with "You know, the big one." Suddenly, pieces of the jigsaw began to fall into place; he didn't want Styfell...he wanted Scafell Pike. I was prepared to forgive him this little mispronounciation, and pointed him in the direction of Scafell Pike, highlighting the populars routes up; either Corridor Route, or Mickledore. This seemed to draw alot of confusion and so I unshouldered my pack and took at my map showing him a) where we were, b) the summit and c) the routes I'd suggested. He then asked why my map was more detailed than his before reaching into his car and pulling out a road atlas! A bloody road atlas...and he was hoping to navigate his way to the top using this with less than 3 hours of daylight left and heavy clouds rolling in! To say I was speechless is an understatement. I wanted to shake some sense into the guy or at the very least, tell him to get back in his car and go home...but I didn't. I kindly informed him of the time, and then advised him to go into the Wasdale Head Inn and buy a map and compass for the area, and make sure he knows how to use it before setting off.

Needless to say, as I was changing my boots back at my car, I spotted him setting off from his now parked car, towards Great Gable wearing jeans, trainers and a t-shirt. I'm willing to bet my climbing rack that he hadn't been to buy a map and compass from the inn.

Sure enough, it threw down a heavy rain storm that night.

Monday, 28 September 2009

The journey begins...

After literally years of gaining the relevant experiences, having foolish adventures and gathering inspiration...coupled with the small fact that my girlfriend has moved away to another country to do her A-levels and that the winter is slowly stealing away my summer evenings; I've finally started putting pen to paper to embark on this literary adventure into a world which is entirely my own, where words will always struggle to capture the magic of the fells and pictures cannot begin to do justice to their majestic beauty.

I have gained fantastic inspiration from fellow Barrovian and mountaineer Arthur Harry Griffin, usually known in print as A. Harry Griffin, who was born in the early part of the 20th century and was one of the original members of 'The Coniston Tigers', as well as being a friend of Alfred Wainwright, though somewhat disapproving of the Wainwright guides. We have walked the same tree lined avenues, watched the same sunset over the shipyard and made similar trips into the Lakeland, though over half a century apart. It is from Griffin that I have learned that even a small boy, growing up in an industrial town down a 35 mile cul-de-sac in Cumbria, can make his name in history by doing something that he's passionate about. I can't tell you anything about A. Harry Griffin that you can't read for yourself and I won't waste time trying because this isn't Griffin's story...this is mine, and though we walk similar paths, we do so very differently.

In the immortal words of Geoffrey Winthrop Young; Only a hill but all of life to me, Up there; between the sunset and the sea.