Wednesday, 28 October 2015

So Close

So it turns out I'm having epileptic seizures in my sleep now which is real kick in the nads as I was due to begin my skydiving adventure next month. I'm still dealing with the after effects of a hellish fit on Sunday night, headache, pain all over, depression etc at least I haven't lost bladder control during any of these episodes.....yet, would not be good with my electric blanket :) I tried to describe how it feels to someone yesterday and the closest I got was , imagine being electrocuted, beaten and trapped inside a nightmare that you cant run from or scream for help even though you're trying with every part of your being and multiply by 10, I think thats quite close.

Moving forward from this I have to look at other things I want to achieve in life so I'm not distracted by the blow of losing out on wingsuiting/Base jumping. Theres a massive amount of stuff in my climbing still to get focused on, infact two lifetimes wouldn't be enough to do it all. Also I'm getting more and more into my biking which is great fun and having spent so much time at Nevis Range this year I may even consider trying snowboarding this season, maybe.  So theres still plenty to try even though I'm gutted that my wingsuit dream is over!! 

Look forward, not back

Thursday, 22 October 2015

The Works- Part Deux

Last week Joe and myself had an early start to head South of the border to pick up Conor and Kerr to head to The Works. The sluggish crawl through Glasgow traffic giving me the fear, I dont know how folk can deal with that on a daily basis without going mental. Conor and Kerr were there to film and Joe and myself to climb so we all got stuck in with our various jobs and aims, no faffing, everyone clear on what they want to achieve which was good. I got back on First Blood after dropping my axe at the last move on my last attempt last year and Joe got on Blood Donor. After climbing with Jeff Mercier last season we've did our best to follow his no fig four style so for me personally it totally changed the route as fig fouring allowed me to somewhat make up for not being able to switch or high axe. 

On the second day Joe sent Blood Donor first try and I knew the pressure was on, he'd sent First Blood last year and I hadn't heard the end of it so I couldn't have him two routes ahead of me. I got on my line after a warm up try and felt good, only dreading one move that had potential to hurt my hand/arm. Making it to the move I knew I had to cut loose and risk swinging the wrong way ,which would've been sub optimal, thankfully I went the right way and managed to sort myself out with encouraging shouts from below and finish the route. The lesson here for me being that holding onto shit that hurts is pointless, better to cut away and risk short term pain and move on through to other/better things, amazing the crap ye learn hanging upside down in a dank cave!!!!

Attempting First Blood last year

Joe,Kerr,me and Conor 

Joe feeling the psyche

On the last day Joe and I were trying other routes but never had time or much energy to complete them so another trip in November is looking likely!!

Will hopefully manage this route next visit-All pics- Type Two Films

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Clarity & Direction

For over 16 years since I became epileptic I've been fighting serious depression, its something I've always felt but more so since my first seizures. No help has been available to me as I cant take anti-depressants and the therapy I was sent to years ago never worked. Anyway up until last month I've dealt with it with alcohol, I was going out drinking heavily a lot recently and it got to ridiculous levels and mixing it with lots of tramadol never helped, well not in the long run anyway. I suddenly saw what I wasn't just becoming but had secretly been for a long time and very clearly knew I had to change direction. I went cold turkey which hasn't been easy but that was 6 weeks ago and I'm happy with the progress I'm making. 

Just after quitting I was at Newtyle with a strong team and a clear head, the longest I'd been sober for a very long time and I was climbing better and stronger than I was in my twenties.

Euan,Greg,Simon,Robbie,Joe and Willis at Newtyle

Next up was a yomp up to a crag in Arrochar to start cleaning a big new route which I'm well psyched to get on.

View from above the new route over to Ben Lomond

The following week we had an awesome day up at Nevis Range on the bikes and I dropped into my first section a of black run.

Rhona near the top of the North Face path.

I've spent a few days up the Glen with Chaela doing some of the classics which has been great as ever since I moved here I've usually always been trying new routes, trying to repeat hard stuff or belaying hard stuff, nice not to be stressing. Though I have my eye on a great line up there I've never done before and will be quite a scary lead :)

Chaela walking out from Scimitar in Glen Nevis

Then it was back on the Buachaille with Rhona to go for a quick afternoon jaunt up Curved ridge. 

In the clag on the summit of the Buachaille!!

Sunday, 13 September 2015

New route at last!!!

Eventually after a pretty crap Summer in the Highlands and a few unsuccessful days looking for new routes I eventually bagged one on Friday. Another early start found Foxy, Joe and myself yomping up to the Caldera slab once again.

Joe and Foxy approaching the crag

Love the view from here, Joe wastes it though!!

While Foxy checked out a place to shoot from Joe checked my route 'Arrakis' while I checked a new line to the left. Joe decided to go for it and sent the route and I went for mine shortly thereafter. Its pretty bold and quite technical slab climbing (defo my favourite), it was all going fine till I realised I had been so focused on the delicate climbing that I'd forgotten to place a vital bit of gear and suddenly realised I was looking at the upper crux well above my tiniest micro cam, I was also getting Elvis leg which wasn't helping. The last few moves are pretty committing and I had to have a word with myself before launching up. Route done, relief for me and abuse from the lads for being such a nugget. The route got called 'Senior Moment' I reckon about E5 6a but with a left hand you may be able to get gear out to the left, who knows the grade aint important I just enjoyed the experience.....

First ascent of Senior Moment-Pic-Alan Fox

Monday, 13 July 2015

Scrambling etc

Typically while feeling on good form I've injured myself by rupturing a tendon on my right hand, thankfully its not too bad and wont require any surgery etc as I'd be right up the creek with my right hand out of operation :) Regardless though I've managed to get a few scrambling routes, North Buttress with Rhona then Lagangarbh Buttress. It's frustrating being injured and not being able to climb at my best but I love just being in the mountains, Glencoe is a very special and beautiful place and I feel lucky to have it on my doorstep and in being able to still go out and enjoy it. Also going to be trying to clean and recce routes during recovery period so I can get straight into climbing when my finger gets better.

Rhona on North Buttress, Glencoe

Conor at Type Two Films has edited up this footage from Lochailort the other week about my new E4 and repeat of Skyfall. 

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Back to it

On Tuesday I headed back to Lochailort with an aggressive focus on putting some stuff to bed out there. I picked up Steve , Nathan and Dave in the Fort and set off. We arrived and decided to first check out some new route potential two tiers down from the main crag, although shorter (10m) we found a few nice lines. Nathan got his first new route and I found a lovely wee slab which offered involving slab climbing.

Nathan on first ascent of Spanglers Bunnet S4b

Myself on first ascent of Bonnie Fechter E4 6b

After the two new routes we headed up to the main crag as the lads were keen to knock off some routes and I had unfinished business with Skyfall E6 6b. If it was going to happen any day then this was going to be it. I dropped a top rope down it first, two quick goes and I decided to just go for it, I repeated my earlier pre-lead routine of cleaning my shoes while listening to a bit of Slipknot then set off. This route has been a long term mental battle for me with a couple of on/off moves and only one gear placement, the crux move would be bad to fall from, the last hard move would probably mean going straight to the ground. I fought my way through to the top but its definitely the most "out there" I've felt for a while.

Getting into the lead headspace

Last of the hard moves miles above my gear

It was possibly one of the best days climbing I've ever had but marred slightly as Steve couldn't climb due to a full on sciatic nerve problem which sucked as it'd have been good if we could all have bagged something so big thanks to him for belaying. 

Saturday, 25 April 2015

The Gut

With plans to get on the lead on Pallor on Thursday I had a sleepless night though on opening the curtains to heavy cloud in the morning plans changed and we headed to Lochailort. Conor was there to film and take pics, Steve was trying a new line as was Mark. I decided to salvage something from the day and had a look at an existing scary E6. I top roped it, Steve did his new line then I decided I should think about getting on lead. 

Contemplation-Pic-Type Two Films

As I stood below the line I began to struggle to justify the level of risk, there is a very on/off move for me and a fall would've likely meant broken bones. I went through all my usual motivators but gut instinct told me to walk away, for a few minutes I tried to fight the feeling but the route didn't give me enough psyche to take a proper big risk. Maybe I'm losing my mojo or maybe just getting slightly wiser, maybe.....

On the walk out-Pic-Type Two Films

Monday, 13 April 2015

Solo again!!!

It's been a busy wee while since the premature end of my winter. With the limitations of my ankle becoming more noticeable I've been firing a lot of energy (and my wages) into my biking and I am getting really into it. It's been a bit of a saviour being introduced to this as it's helping take the edge off the loss of some of my climbing ability.  

Looking down Loch Leven

Last week the rock season began for us with a trip to Ardnamurchan with Steve ,Joe and Rich. Plenty routes climbed in stunning but windy conditions.

The lads walking into Ardnamurchan crags

All smiles at end of the day.Pic-Steve Holmes

While climbing at Ardnamurchan I felt a need begin to grow that I hadn't felt in years, soloing was calling out to me once more. I guess I always knew that one day that dog would hunt again and two days later I found myself at the Quadrocks with Tam and looking up at the unprotected line of The Arete E3 I knew it was time to stop running from what I guess is part of me. I loved being back in the situation of no margin for error, the focus distracting me from all the worries about where my life is now going.


Tam on the walk out

Sunday, 8 March 2015


It looks like an early finish to the winter season for me as my ankle injury is getting rapidly worse, there are a few reasons for stopping now. Foremost of these is it makes me sick letting folk down when pain stops me, then theres the volume of painkillers getting unhealthy even though I do love a tramadol and last but not least I want to be capable of climbing all the new routes I have in my book for this season on the rock. It's in looking forward to these projects that I can turn the negative of missing out on winter and the accompanying frustration and bottle that feeling till I'm stood below the upcoming scary leads and use that as part of what I need my head to do to get me through. 

 It's been a decent season though considering I thought I'd have missed it totally, couple of pics below of the final week.

On Waterfall Gully-Pic Joe Saunders

Getting buried by spindrift during filming-Pic Kieron Ross

Bantering while Nadir gets shots-Pic-Joe Saunders

On the way to the cafe after bailing-Pic-Kieron Ross

Thursday, 12 February 2015

The Right Choice?

Today Joe, Dave and myself headed up to climb in the Trident area, with some of the lads already on my chosen objective Dave headed up his. He got a belay before the crux and I started up beautiful ice toward him, shortly after though we began to hear blood curdling screams coming from the mist somewhere near us. We had a very short discussion and decided the decent thing to do was go have a look in the general direction to see if we could help.

Dave gearing up while I sort ropes

Me seconding shortly before the screaming began

We descended nearly to the hut then back up into Observatory Gully but never found anything, hopefully it was not as bad as it sounded. I felt somewhat guilty at making the decision to go searching after Dave had put in a good lead in fine conditions but thankfully the boys agreed and I didn't get lynched. Sometimes making rapid decisions under stress can lead to feeling like an arse but had someone needed help I'd have been glad we bailed to try help.Glad is the wrong word, hopefully you know what I meant..........

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Climbing Methadone

Yesterday Steve , Joe and myself headed up to the CIC cascades for a bit of filming with Euan who is working on a project for the MC of S. After last weeks news on my ankle I wondered if this would be my last day out, the pain 50 metres from the car seemed to confirm this. After 45 minutes the painkillers lost any effect but by then I could see the North face clearly and knew I 'needed' more than wanted to be there. The main objective was utterly pouring so we settled for a shorter steep line instead.  Being up there did get me thinking though..........

Euan, Steve and Joe

Me on the route-Pic-Final Crux Films

With the walk in and route being short and still ending up in a lot of pain I have to face the prospect that that is what I'll be doing for the forseeable future, it's not enough though. It's like a small methadone hit after full on smack addiction, the craving for the full experience is still there gnawing at me, pretty naive to think it would take the edge off as it only seems to make certain demons hungrier and more terrifying. One problem is that I dont want to recover from my addiction but I'm being forced to by pain and not wanting to let down anymore climbing partners. The other problem is that the main dealer of the drug I crave (The Ben) is right there when I look out my window in the morning, most of my mates are addicts too so my chances of recovery are slim at best and that suits me just fine..........Cant wait for my next hit............. :)

Climbing past Euan-Pic-Vertical Fever

Saturday, 31 January 2015


Yesterday Gaz and I headed for the Ben, I managed to walk 15 minutes but the pain in my ankle was making me sweat, feel sick and light headed. I managed to see the GP and got sent straight to A&E for X-Rays, thankfully I got someone who knows the history of my injury and after comparing older images it seems the screw going through from my heel has burrowed through to the point of nearly breaking out the other side and it seems during fusion surgery they have made a mistake and drilled twice to place the other screw and now it seems to be breaking my bone apart, oh and my arthritis is worse. Who knows whats going to happen next, all I know is I dont see a happy ending to this latest development!! I'll write more soon but for the time being I need to figure out pain management that doesn't include a bottle of Talisker..........

Sun dropping on more climbing

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Curtain & Cobbler & An Ember

On Monday Dave and I headed up The Ben again to get on the Curtain, one party in front of us on the last pitch meant we didn't need to queue or avoid debris which was good. One day like this on the Ben is worth the weeks of miserable weather we get.

Hotaches, ouch

Dave on Pitch 1 of The Curtain

Me setting off on pitch 2

Dave steals the final and best pitch

Top out

Yesterday Dave MacLeod and I headed for the Cobbler. Dave had his eye on a line but for a few reasons it wasn't a day to push it. 

Dave walking into the murk

We rescued this sheep on the way out.

Over the last few days I've been run out on gear or soloing on relatively easy ground and have felt that the fire I thought I had extinguished for soloing is still perhaps a smouldering ember that may soon relight itself........

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Anti Social Climbing

Yesterday Dave and myself headed up the Ben with no definite plans. After a few thoughts were ruled out to avoid crowds,queues and avalanche risk  we decided to link 2 pitches of ice/snow between the Curtain (which was getting climbed) and Ledge Route which gave some nice climbing. Ice was great for axe placements but not great for gear. 

The plod in

Great weather, Daves grin says it all.

Gearing up below Moonlight Gully Buttress so we were belayed across No5

Starting up the first pitch

Best bit of my belay!!!

Wading up to meet Dave. 

All in all it was a cracking wee day out, teams on the Curtain, Vanishing Gully, Point 5, Tower Ridge and the Douglas Boulder was crawling with teams. Good to meet Cliff up there too!

Friday, 16 January 2015

Past Month

To start with I needed to change up my training to keep it interesting so I did this!! After that it was up to Ben Nevis with Steve and Joe, I tried what I thought may have been a new route but found old gear and lost the psyche and headed home to leave the boys to head elsewhere.

Joe and Steve on the walk in.

Joe sheltering from the brutal spindrift

After that it was home to Ayrshire for the festives to see family and friends, usual great laugh and I also got to take my 4 year old niece for her first experience of climbing which was great.

Family and friends at Hogmanay

Wee Gwen at GCC

It was straight back to work and training after that which was a shock to the system. Today Steve and I headed to Glencoe in search of some ice but after some fairly hardwork walking in it wasn't to be with crap conditions. 

Steve on descent earlier today


On the walk in

Hopefully get out more over the next few days, feeling the need to do something good after news this week that my foot has gotten worse........