Its Always Sunny Somewhere

“It is one of humanity’s interesting and perverse psychological quirks that from the enduring and overcoming of these difficulties and discomfort, some considerable quota of the appeal of mountaineering derives” Jim Perrin

While many people are leaving facebook and social media I decided this summer to engage with it more. I’ve always taken a lot of photos but haven’t always been the best at sharing them. Part record, part memory and part an attempt so show amazing places, a lot of my photos still end up hidden on harddrives and I thought I would have a go at sharing these more. Its easier than ever to take good photos, tag your friends and show the amazing places that a lot of us get to but I always feel these photos don’t tell the full story. First of all, all photos are filtered. We filter by choosing where to look, what to capture in the frame and the moment in which to press the shutter. We choose whether to make our friends look cool and competent or like they have no idea whats going and are a complete junkshow depending on location, posture and facial expression. I try and make myself take photos of both the best and the worst of whats going on around me and have been trying to share both. The reaction to sharing more photos has been strange. When I see friends they already know what I’ve been up to and a few people have commented on how much climbing I’ve been doing.   In fact its about the same amount as normal, I’ve just put more photos of it online and feel that I’ve actually done a lot of work this year.

I know that some friends with more normal jobs away from the outdoors sometimes struggle to see others day to day photos on social media but in my opinion the uploading of these photos is like forgetting the cold you had last week when someone asks you what you were up to. You only see the good stuff and assume that’s all there is.

So here are a few photos that show some of the day to day stuff over the summer spending almost every day out on the hills, lochs, rivers and sea. Also some photos of Yosemite with Sam where I mainly took pictures of us creeping slowly upwards or eating.

(For some reason I cant edit the size of the images just now -sorry!)

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Whisky on the beach at the end of days paddling with some lovely people and a wee fire.  What could be better?  Well, the next morning to be honest.  When I took this photo I was pretty worried about the exact time the storm forecast for the next day would turn up.  As it was we just managed to get off the water by 1030am with me having to push one of the clients well into her stretch zone – not great for either of us but by 12 it would have been unmanageable and I would have been faced with a long walk and some very miserable clients.

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Your friends have the time off and so do you and theres classic routes to be climbed right near your house.  Adam approaching the halfway mark on a route thats known to involve balancy climbing on small slopey holds as the rain rolls up the glen. (you can see the rain spots on the lens).  Not all days go as planned.

The dreaded midge.  Somehow we seem to forget about these guys (girls actually).

I seem to have missed the memo given to all outdoor professionals that you lay your kit out in a size/alphabetical/colour coded order with whats in the bag clearly labeled.  My approach is much more “all that kit has to go into that boat”.  (note –  the double gas burner stove (bottom right) does need some careful consideration to get it into a hatch)

As long as it looks neat on the outside.

A good friend asked me this summer if I ever got fed up with camping.  Yes – sometimes I really do but only if I forget my book (which I did on this particular expedition.  I was forced to read the whole of the flora and history sections of the scrambling guidebook).  This was some young officers tent after one night of rainfall on skye after we’d abandoned scrambling the day before due to the torrential rain.

Fellow Mountain Professional Lawrie Brand with two young officers in tow on the Lochan traverse the morning after the torrential rain.  No matter what the weather something still needs to be achieved.  (I think Lawrie tried to make me promise not to put this photo online)

First day of climbing in the dolomites.  Every other photo from this day shows beautiful views and amazing climbing.

The endless gear shuffle.  Sam unpacking the hire car below Leaning Tower in Yosemite.  I probably spend as much time packing and unpacking bags as I do actually climbing.

Carrying in to the base of Leaning Tower.  This bag was probably 50kg.

“Please stop taking photos”  Sam on his first proper lead of our trip on the extremely intimidating “West Face” of Leaning Tower.

Bivy ledge on the Leaning Tower as the sun sets.  Idyllic to some but not everyones cup of tea.  

Sam realising that in our sleep deprived state we had failed to read the full name on the tin.  We had read “Sausage and Rigatoni” and failed to see the word “soup” underneath.  Thankfully american soups tend to be pretty hearty!

Endlessly sorting gear.  I admit that for big walling its worth counting and laying everything out!

Sam leading off on pitch two of the nose making all the gear sorting etc worth while.

A lot of the climbing on the nose is not that hard (by Aid climbing standards) but it feels pretty out there.

Half dome from the top of El Cap.  Despite loving taking photos I was largely too tired on this trip to bother with the taking of any landscapes.   Sam doing a slight alternative on the “South Face” of Washington Column after I suggested it might make a better photo.Busy ledge.  The reality of climbing popular routes is that there are often others there with you.  There were 4 teams on this ledge and one of them was fairly scarey in their behaviour.  When I took this photo there was still one guy cleaning the pitch above us with some dubious techniques and advice.  Meeting other teams can be fun, educational, inspirational or downright terrifying.

Next for me is a few months work at Signy Research Station in the South Orkneys off Antarctica.  In the interest of sharing more photos I’m going to aim to keep this blog more up to date with the day to day life on an Antarctic Station.  Dont worry – there should be lots of photos of cute penguins too!

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