Sometimes, living in Chamonix, spending most of my time pursuing my passions, feels a little like being in a vortex. A constant cycle of checking weather, looking after equipment, managing rest and having, what often feels like, some of the best days of my life hanging out with some of my favorite people in the world. The more you do it the faster it seems to go. Friends come in with you for a while before returning to there own vortex. Life seems pretty good until something snaps you out of it…
Its been a tough month with the loss of two friends (Brendan and Dave) and also the passing of my Grandpa Den. Almost two different types of deaths. My friends on one hand were doing what they loved. Striving to live life to the fullest. It feels like an injustice for them to leave so early in comparison to most. There loss sends shock waves around the world, shaking the lives of those who they have met. I for one passed a few pensive moments of wondering what I was doing and why. I’m sure I wasn’t alone.
On the other hand my dear old grandpa had lead a long and full life. As I sat at the wake watching a slideshow of his life I was reminded of just how amazing he was. He’d been in the navy and then the mounted police in Africa, defending villagers from many perils and also going horse riding with our current Queen. After this he devoted his life to building schools in Malawi and other country’s around the world for which he later received an MBE. He was a fantastic football player, he once played against Bobby Moore and captained the Rhodesian football team many times. He then moved onto teaching and later mountain leading. This is just a brief list of his exploits. He was a huge inspiration to me and my family and I have very fond memories of time spent walking on Dartmoor with him as a kid and listening to his endless stories of adventures. I don’t feel like he was taken from us to early. I feel he’s still here in someway. I feel like he made the most of his life and also touched the lives of many along the way enhancing them with his teaching. He will be sorely missed of course, but the last few years he wasn’t his normal self, happy and full of life. It almost feels like death was justice and the ceremony a fitting send off to a great man.
Before this news I passed one of the best weeks of my life. I’ve spent a lot of time skiing in Chamonix and little time else where. I traditionally don’t have holidays either…But why should I, my life is one big holiday, right? I’m not sure.. Holidays are supposed to be (correct me if I’m wrong!) stress free, relaxing (not having to worry about work etc) and fun! Yes I’ve been on a few expeditions but they are aren’t very relaxing and yes I get out most days into the mountains but its almost like work sometimes…almost. I was invited on a trip by my friend Chippie (Stephen Windross) to ski in the Ecrins (Serre Chevalier, Montgenvre and La Grave) shooting for a Fall Line Magazine article. It felt like a proper holiday and despite the poor quality of the snow earlier in the week we had a lot of fun and got some good shots too. Later in the week, whilst we were skiing in La Grave, we were treated to a 80cm+ dump of snow that turned the bulletproof Sastrugi into skiing perfection. I’ve wanted to go to La Grave for years and it was great to finally get the chance to ski there. Somewhere I need to spend more time for sure.
Low Snow but good views.
Chippe in Serre chevalier.
Joe Vallone, Baddass skier, Mountain guide and general legend. Standing next to his car which he inherited off Doug Combes,
The Mighty Meije.
Never really gets that busy at the lift in la grave.
A few weeks ago I flew back through the turbulence to Scotland to finish of my tick list for the British Guides Scheme. After years of deliberation I’ve finally decided to put my application in. Great conditions and company made for a really good, but tiring week, climbing some awesome routes. My application is coming along and I really hope it gets accepted in May so I can move onto the next phase of my life. Here’s some shots from the week.
Typical Walk in conditions
The Shroud looking good.
On Kellets NF Route
Jack Geldard on the Curtain
Becky Coles on the Curtain
Gemini is so fat right now.
Some guy with a Haul bag??
Miles of walking…
Jack climbing in Glen Coe
Ally Swinton in the Caringorms
I’m back in Chamonix and starting a new job with Epictv.com and hopefully i’ll be back to the vortex soon. With the conditions in the mountains this winter being pretty bad I’ll be bringing a lot of caution into the mountains, but I’m still looking forward to some big days out when things are stable. Hopefully I’ll have some good stories to tell as the winter progresses. Keep it real. Keep it safe and keep on having your own adventures.