Ok, Ok, I know it's been an awful long time since I got round to posting anything on here. There's no excuse really, except that life does sometimes get in the way! I am also attempting to redesign and update my website at the same time, so hopefully next time you visit, things will have moved on somewhat.
2013 proved to be very busy for me (another excuse for not updating the blog!), with lots of varied work, with lots of people from very different backgrounds - Prince's Trust, military personnel, school groups, corporate groups, young people, older people, beginners and experienced climbers. It is said that "variety is the spice of life" and I would agree with that statement. To be in a position where you do something different every day certainly helps with keeping a fresh attitude and to be motivated.
I did return to Scotland again this winter to prepare for my Winter Mountain Leader assessment, and i'm pleased to announce that I have been successful. It has taken a lot of time and effort to finally get there, but it has been worth all the heartache and expense. I am lucky enough too have some great friends in Scotland and I am truly grateful for their help and support throughout. Particular mention must go to Heavy Whalley for putting up with me in his wee house. Heavy is a living legend and has spent most of his life walking and climbing in the Scottish mountains (he has completed the Munros many times, both summer and winter) and has been involved with Mountain Rescue organisations both north and south of the border. What he doesn't know about the Scottish Mountains isn't worth knowing! Those of you who are lucky enough to catch him at one of his talks about his experiences will be enlightened, educated and entertained! Heavy also runs a personal blog, which he updates nearly every day and is well worth following for all those little tips...."You can't pack experience in a rucksack."
Another thing Heavy has done for me is get me to take on the Fast or 5 & 2 Diet. We are both keen to get rid of excess weight that we have gained from lazy living. After 2 months I have lost over a stone and a half and hope to be close to the weight I was back in 1998 in a month or so. It is an easy diet to do and there seems to be a lot of medical/scientific research to support it. I feel great on it, although I'm having to buy some new clothes!
While I was away in Scotland, England, in particular the southwest, was battered by a succession of violent storms that reeked havoc across the area. The Somerset Levels were under water and sea cliffs were under attack from huge waves. Not long after I returned to Cornwall, rumours were circulating amongst the local climbing community that some cliffs were missing big bits. I took a couple of days out to inspect the cliffs from Vessacks on the south coast, all the way round to Land's End. Most had escaped unscathed, with the occasional missing bit of rock, but the majestic cliffs of Chair Ladder weren't so lucky. A huge 30 foot high block that once made up the large belay ledge of Mermaid's Route and most of the first pitch of Dexter Crack had disappeared. I soloed up the remaining rock to check grades and descriptions. Luckily enough, both routes are 'do-able' at roughly their original grades, although their character has changed quite a bit.
The biggest loss, however, has been to the lower half of the classic Terrier's Tooth. This iconic route, featured in Ken Wilson's Classic Rock and favoured by many visiting climbers has changed significantly. Gone has the bold (VS) original start, along with the easier variation start, the first belay ledge and part of the steep crack on the second pitch What remains is smooth and seemingly solid, but the character of the route has changed significantly and is no longer of classic status. This will be a big blow to many who had climbed the route previous to the storms, and to those who had yet to do so. Its also been a pain in the bum for me, as I had recently submitted my up-to-date guidebook script to The Climber's Club and will have to amend it again. Perhaps the biggest shock for me is that cornish granite has always seemed so strong and had the ability to withstand such an onslaught, especially the rock at Chair Ladder. Why other cliffs, with poorer quality rock and climbs, have remained unscathed is a mystery to me. Just goes to show that things we take for granted aren't necessarily here for ever.