Sunday, February 8, 2009


It's been an interesting past few weeks, something of an emotional bungee jump. As I described a couple of posts ago my trips up to Scotland yielded only one successful ascent. That's not to say that the trip wasn't a success; visiting new places, gradually unlocking the secrets of some really special new lines and spending time with friends in the hills. But there were times when I could feel my mental energies dropping into the red zone. One of those moments was battling with the crux of a potential new winter route, when after some pretty nervous thrashing above poor gear I discovered a bolt next to my head. Not something you often come across in the Scottish mountains. Despite being an ancient relic it gave me a little more confidence to try again. I managed a few seconds further thrashing with my axes before the 1cm bubble of ice that formed my crucial footholds crumbled. It was then I found out how ancient the bolt was as it put up zero resistance to my fall. It was time to go home.
Sport climbing protection Scottish 1970s style. 3mm diameter bolts drilled 7mm deep!
Just under a week later I was due to make the most of the amazing conditions North Wales has been having, but had to cancel as my baby daughter was feeling a little under the weather. She's doing fine really, and for me every change in circumstances is another potential opportunity. Holding your little one in your arms as she drops off to peaceful sleep, now that's a special moment.
The other little pleasure this weekend was reading the first draft of a piece Andy Popp has written for Climb Mag. Its for the Stomping Ground series and covers Andy's local patch for the last decade of Cheshire; Helsby, Pex and Frodsham. These are all quiet crags that I've often driven past on the way to the bigger names of North Wales. Andy's piece perfectly summed up how important, essential even these local places can become. I won't say anymore - its a very personal piece - well worth checking out when it comes out in a couple of months. Reading Andy's piece reminded me that adventure needn't be about the grandest far flung places but can be right on your doorstep.
The view from the top of the Notch at Helsby
"All the world, seemingly, lies beneath your feet. Industry and landscape and habitation.... And there to the west is Wales; the promised land. The sense of place is tangible." Andy Popp


Anonymous said...

Completley agree- Andy Popp one of the unsung heroes of UK climbing, and one of the nicest blokes you could ever meet. And yes Cheshire sandstone is God's real own rock. Can't wait for the article.

Steve said...

Hi - did this piece ever make it in print/onto the web? I'd love to read it

...just off to boulder around the top of Helsby hill as it goes :)