What a great weekend!

I had such a great weekend I feel compelled to share it with you…

It started, as most weekends do, with Saturday morning.  The postie brought the mail and among the pile of tedious junk mail and bank statements was a letter from the British Mountaineering Council (BMC).  I had applied for a grant from the Julie Tullis Memorial fund a month earlier, and I was awaiting a reply knowing that the BMC International Committee was meeting at the end of March.  The letter was a little thin, so as I opened it with no little trepidation I feared that it would be the ‘thanks for your interest but on this occasion…’ reponse.  When I opened it, and read that they wanted to make a provisional grant for my return to Elbrus (subject to terms and conditions) I made the obligatory cheer and run round the kitchen for 30 seconds…  A great start.

That was followed by a couple of hours doing fairly tedious but productive domestic chores that we had put off for ages.  I made 3 trips to the tip taking piles of cardboard that had been sitting in the garage since we moved into the house 2 years ago…  I know, what a way to celebrate…!! 

After that and a fantastic fry-up for saturday lunch cooked by my better half, I had a nice long walk with Pike our dog.  He had a good run around and didn’t chase any other dogs or roll in any fox poo.  Which was nice.  Later, after a simple but traditional dinner of chicken pie, new potatoes and veg, washed down with a small libation of our latest home-brew, we settled down to an evening of telly.  Unfortunately, the viewing was rubbish so we watched a cheesey film instead.

Sunday morning broke and I went for a fantastic day in the Peak District with Pike.  I’d planned to head for Kinder Scout but decided to do a different walk this time, one I do now and again.  Starting at the Grindleford Cafe, follow Padley Gorge up through Yarcliffe Wood past Lawrence Field to Burbage Bridge.  Up onto the top of Burbage Rocks and follow the line of crags along Upper Burbage Bridge, saying hello to rock climbers topping out on the various routes along the way.

From there turn south along Fiddler’s Elbow and over Higger Tor, across Hathersage Moor to the old hill fort, and back to Burbage Bridge before re-tracing the way back to Grindleford Cafe.  It’s not exactly a long walk (around 10km at most) but it’s a really nice way to spend a few hours expecially when the weather is as glorious as it was.  Pike loves it too!

By the time I got home, Gaynor had finished doing the finishing touches to re-decorating our bathroom so I had a nice long hot shower and dried off with very nice new towels, (there can be few nicer things than new towels…) before doing one of my personal favourite Sunday roasts, Lamb, with roast tatties and parsnips, steamed veg, washed down with a nice Cianti.  No liver.  Another cheesey but very entertaining film after dinner, and then to bed.

A perfect weekend.  And just to cap it all, Spurs won and Arsenal lost.  Fan-tas-tic!!!  Can life get any better?


Julie Tullis Memorial Award

Very excited today.  I have received a letter from the BMC’s International Committee with a provisional grant offer from the Julie Tullis Memorial fund towards my re-match with Mount Elbrus!!

Julie Tullis was the first British woman to climb an 8,000m peak, but tragically died after summiting her second 8,000er, K2, in 1986. She was a longtime member of the Sandstone Climbing Club (SCC) and after her death the Club initiated the Julie Tullis Memorial Fund (JTMF) as a permanent memorial to her life and achievements.

I am of course delighted and grateful to the BMC for this significant contribution.  I hope that it will help galvanise and encourage others to help me to reach my target for the expedition, and I hope I can do Julie Tullis proud.

Ted Atkins – Oxygen cylinder advice

I’ve had an email from my friend Ted Atkins from Top-Out Oxygeneering regarding an accident he had with a cylinder and a Poisk regulator. Ted is one of the most experienced and respected people in the world in the field of mountaineering and supplementary oxygen systems. Here is his typically robust and honest account of the accident, and very good advice too.

“News travels fast of an accident and I would like to explain the facts as we know them today. I was injured testing a Poisk regulator in conjunction with a new Summit cylinder yesterday. I chose to use the new cylinder because it was a new introduction to climbers and it is delivered as being higher pressure than the Poisk cylinders.

The regulator that failed was not an old style nor was it the newest style. As I fastened it onto the cylinder there was an explosion. I had pieces from the gauge embedded in my neck (I am grateful to Kaju from Asian Trekking for taking this out with a pair of pliers).

Neil Greenwood of Summit Oxygen has been on the phone to me and we are trying to determine exactly what went wrong. Meantime I have sold a number of these cylinders and feel obliged to inform all of a potential problem. I recommend 3 specific precautions at this stage:

· Wear ski goggles when changing the regs
· Wear gloves
· Put the cylinder onto the regulator keeping the regulator in the same plane with the gauge pointing at the ground

It could be that this was simply a ‘one off’ defective regulator, but I have fitted so many in my time and this is a first for me and the first I have heard of. I was VERY lucky to get away with the level of injury I received so until this situation is resolved PLEASE observe the precautions I have listed. These precautions would actually be good practice in all cases involving regulator changes and I urge you to disseminate this information.”

The power of sport

After the events at White Hart Lane last weekend around Fabrice Muamba’s collapse I have wanted to wriite something but have been reaching a little for the words to convey just what I want to say. But here goes.

I believe sport has a unique power to unify people from different walks of life and different communities and Saturday was the clearest demonstration of that for a while.  How many of us have been moved not only to think of this young man and hope for his swift recovery, but also been moved by the mass outpouring of support from all sections of the football and sporting community?  I know I have, and every tiime I read a little update on his progress, I feel a little more joyful.

I would reflect on and praise a couple of specific events and people.  Firstly, the medics from  both Bolton and Spurs who came to the players aid, and the Spurs fan and Cardiologist in the crowd (Dr Andrew Deaner) who also ran on to help.  Well done to him, and to the stewards who let him through.  The Spurs fans who joined their Bolton compadre’s in singing Muamba’s name.  Howard Webb for deciding to abandon the game, and being applauded by the fans for doing so.  Gary Lineker’s simple words at the end of Match of the day.  I think it also noteworthy that Aston Villa agreed to postpone their match with Bolton too.  And of course we all love Gary Cahill’s t-shirt and the referree in that match for showing good sense not to book him for it after he scored for Chelsea.

There can be few other theatre’s that provide the vehicle to unite so many different people with so many different allegiancies behind a single cause.  That’s what sport does.

As an ardent Spurs fan myself, I can only hope Spurs fans would react in the same way had the same thing befallen Robin Van Persie after 41mins of a north London derby, and vice verca.`

Welcome to the world of Stumbling!

“The pleasure of risk is in the control needed to ride it with assurance so that what appears dangerous to the outsider is, to the participant, simply a matter of intelligence, skill, intuition, co-ordination – in a word, experience.

Climbing in particular, is a paradoxically intellectual pastime, but with this difference:

You have to think with your body. Every move has to be worked out in terms of playing chess with your body. If I make a mistake the consequences are immediate, obvious, embarrassing, and possibly painful. For a brief period I am directly responsible for my actions. In that beautiful, silent, world of mountains, it seems to me worth a little risk.”