The Liebster award. Ring any bells? Me neither.
David Lintern posted about it here, and nominated me in the process. As far as I can see it’s the bloggers equivalent of a chain letter. Anyone who knows me will know I’m a curmudgeon who doesn’t usually truck with that sort of thing, but in this case I’m inclined to go with it.
Why? Well, David is a good chap for a start, it would be churlish to ignore his request. Secondly, it’ll maybe give some exposure to blogs that not everyone is familiar with. Thirdly, it makes a nice change from gear reviews and me moaning about my knee.
Here are my answers to David’s 11 questions:
1 Favourite island, why and when did you last visit?
It’s got to be Skye for me. The Cuillin are an endless source of joy in terms of both walking and climbing. Not only that, the Quirang is awesome in wild weather, Portree is magic on a weekend and there’s tons of places worth seeing, both wild and cultured. It’s like the best bits of Scotland have been squashed into a wee space. It’s been three years since I’ve been there, mainly because I’ve been working on a grand plan for an epic there and I want the conditions to be right, so I’m waiting and watching.
2 Best book about the outdoors and why?
Tough one this, there are so many. I’m going to cheat and pick two. Bill Murray’s Mountaineering in Scotland, purely for it’s inspirational value. He evoked a world that was so attractive for me. For the second, it’ll be Psychovertical by Andy Kirkpatrick. No-one else captures the conflict between being a parent, a husband and a climber better than he does, not to mention the intensity and focus of solo climbing.
3. Why blog?
It’s partly a log book of the interesting trips to help me jog my memory. The gear stuff is purely to help people make some choices and maybe save them some money and lessen the slope on the learning curve. Over the years, many others have inspired me with route suggestions, photos, ideas and trips, so I want to pass that on. If I’ve inspired one person to head out to the mountains or at least given them some route inspiration, then I’m happy with that.
4. Solo or with others?
Most of my trips are solo, but the vibe is totally different with a group and I like that too. When I’m alone, I can do my own thing at my own pace and randomise things as I go along. Not to mention fannying about with cameras to a point that would make most companions grumpy. When I’m with a group it’s all about the people. There’s chat, banter, laughs. A shared experience is a different thing. Don’t limit yourself, do it all.
5. Have you ever had an encounter (not necessarily ‘close’) with a big predator outdoors and if so tell us about it.
No big predators for me, but I did have a serious conflict with a capercaillie once in Glen Derry. It won.
6. How many knots do you know and which ones?
Probably more than anyone needs, I’m a knot nerd. In terms of knots that are actively useful, the rethreaded figure 8 is the one I tie the most, purely to tie in for climbing, I never use a bowline. I’ll use figure 8s and clove hitches for belays. The munter hitch is handy if you’ve dropped your plate. For abbing, a double overhand on the rope ends, the odd Prusik on occasion. Oh, and the double fishermans is good for joining cord on gear and everyone should know how to tie an Alpine Butterfly, cos it’s a lovely knot. For camping, the truckers hitch is handy. I could go on, but I imagine most readers have already moved on.
7. When were you last scared outdoors and why?
I won’t count cragging, because there’s a frisson of fear in there almost all the time. Less so when I’m soloing, oddly. I did have the fear this year, traversing across the middle of a heavily snow laden gully in less than good snow conditions. I have a healthy fear of avalanches.
8. On trail or off trail?
A bit of both. If the trail is an aesthetically pleasing one, I’ll use it. If not, I’ll make my own. You could climb tons of hills in Scotland via the tourist route and miss a whole bunch of wonderous mountain architecture. If you’re in it for the ticks then crack on, but if you’re in it for the mountain experience, you need to get off the track.
9. What is elegant route planning to you?
A rare and random happy accident. Many plans are made, but the route I walk often changes when I’m on it. I like to improvise, and I’m often distracted by things of interest which can lead to serious detours. I rarely stick to the original plan, but my favourite routes invariably involve some technical challenge like scrambling or easy climbing, with a camp in a high and wild summit, then a gentle descent through the glens to help my aching knees. If the route avoids views of windfarms then so much the better!
10. How many tents do you own and how many should you own?
I decline to answer that on the grounds that it’s embarrassing. You can never have too many tents.
11. What was your earliest/youngest significant outdoor experience?
Growing up in Aberdeen, like many my first walks were up Bennachie, but the one that really sticks in my mind was my first solo trip, up Clachnaben. I was a teenager and the sense of freedom it gave me was enormous. My love of scrambly summits was born that day.
So there you have it. An interesting exercise. I’m going to pass the baton on now, to these lovely people:
My elevenish questions:
- What was it that first got you into outdoor activities?
- You’re on a multi-day backpacking trip. Which luxury item do you take?
- What’s the most physically challenging trip you’ve ever undertaken?
- Lager or real ale?
- What’s the best thing about camping?
- What’s the worst thing about camping?
- What’s the one piece of advice you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?
- What’s the oldest piece of gear you have? Do you still use it?
- Headphones on the hill, yes or no? If yes, what’s playing?
- If you could only climb one mountain, which one would it be?
- When will be your next big outing?
If you’re reading this and fancy a bash, feel free to respond in the comments!