Wednesday, May 16, 2012

This morning felt like what I can only describe as emerging from a chrysalis, the feeling of changing becoming something new, moving on, achieving and becoming the master of my own destiny once again was exhilarating!

At 4:00 am I could have easily turned over and gone back to sleep but there was an enormous burning ambition and motivation within which I had to answer, for the last 6-7 months I'd been listening to people tell me what I could and couldn't do... and I was sick of it! Luckily I had a companion equally as motivated as myself and willing to get up before sunrise to answer a call to challenge of climbing 2 routes before work.
A quick check of the watch to confirm we were on target - damn it!! 5 minutes late never mind we can make that up on the approach I start to run, not sure if my team mate is up for the run I stumble to give him the opportunity to respond almost inviting him to join me in haste....

As you can see we both start to jog and then run the excitement, angst is building; I sense the same urgency in my climbing partner's movements the way he responds to the situation gives me my sue to blurt out "I love it.... we're doing!"

"Yeah we are!" comes the reply...

A little out of breath and giggling like naughty school boys we reach the top of the crag - communication breaks into almost radio comms style bursts.

Kit up at the bottom is it - no kit up at the bottom, saves carrying everything back up - OK, bit windy - we'll be out of it down there - you going first - yep you can do the second pitch.

All the while rucksacks are being removed ropes slung over shoulders and gear sorted onto harnesses in order for ease of retrieval once in the thick of it. With that we're heading towards the end of the ridge and descending to the first climb....

As we come to the base of the first route the rock looks in fine condition and so inviting it feels like its been so long too long since I was so enthralled by activity the concise comms starts up again as I pay out one rope and Tom pays out the other at the foot of the route:

Where does it go - follow the crack-line straight up, then step right to the shallow niche - yeah where then - head straight up and onto that ledge 3/4 height - yeah - then traverse right to the corner and up again to top out.

I take in some more of the climb and a couple of breaths then the words come...
"You're ready to go mate,"
"OK." I reply "I'm off."

My body doesn't have time to catch up until I'm half way then it starts to remember where I am and what I'm here for I manage to shut out the chatter and just enjoy the route - it is a fantastic route quite underrated if truth be told; my movements are a bit short and nervous I stop myself from second guessing breath and make the committing move onto the ledge, I breath deeply blowing out the doubt. I look down to my loyal compadre an encouraging thumbs up comes my way and I smile.

 Wow that felt good... now over to this corner...
Tom makes short work of the route and I was pleased with getting to the top of the route by 5:55, then Tom made short work of the route reaching the top and passing me to the safety of the ridge once more and all within 10 minutes! As he pulls the ropes through we congratulate each other "Good effort mate!"
"Yeah, it turned out nice hey?" I reply, "This is what it's all about - what a great morning!"

As the sun struggled up a little further over the horizon I struggled up over the little rock step onto the ridge proper. Tom was quick to check "We'll get straight back down there for the next one is it?" I return with "Yeah lets just sort the gear quickly here and get on it."
By 6:20 we're already established on our second route of the day, I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment, satisfaction and the view - life is good!!

I move on to planning my movement up the first 2/3 of the route and start to enjoy the anticipation of getting onto the rock once more....

By 6:50 I've emulated Tom in clambering past him to our start point and look back towards Mewslade bay just as the sun begins to bathe it glorious golden beams of light; at this point in time I am so satisfied with our efforts the whole world becomes vivid and for a moment or two I am at peace with myself and drink in the surroundings life feel so good it's almost overwhelming! All before 7:00 in the morning as well!

From that point on the day was always going to be mine; we had literally lived 'carpe diem' and now felt unstoppable. Little time was spent sorting out kit and we began our run back to the van we were well within time now and the inevitable "We need to go on an Alpine trip mate." came "YES!" was Tom's reply and we began to babble on imagining what our next adventure was going to be....

With that out of the corner of my eye I spot this little beauty...
A Spotted Orchid, somehow I felt rewarded, my mind wandered to the next adventure, we began to run again and in high spirits couldn't help ourselves in saying "We're doing it tomorrow!"
"No worries I can't wait, that was awesome!"
"I love early mornings...."

We may not go out tomorrow morning but I can't explain how motivating the whole experience was, I'm not sure if there is a moral to the story but if I was forced to choose one I suppose it may go something like this.

Sometimes you just have to grab the world by the scruff of the neck and go out and do it, don't let people point a finger in your face and tell you what you can and can't do. This was only a small step in the grand scheme of things but it was a powerful one for me - I think Tom got just as much out of as well.

Now who wants to go climbing.....

Friday, April 6, 2012


Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.
William Shakespeare

O’ it was that simple…
Often I have witnessed the investigation of the social construct we know as trust; I’d go further to say I’ve witnessed the attempt of inculcation of the process. During outdoor experiences it seems a natural facet to the holistic learning often championed by outdoor learning practitioners; the following quotes demonstrate the spirit of this intent:

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.
Ernest Hemingway

He who does not trust enough, Will not be trusted.
Lao Tzu

Though my question I suppose is where does it all go wrong? Is Hemingway’s notion of trust naïve, many other philosophical quotes involving trust incorporating a necessity for trepidation in each social contract…

Trust, but verify.
Ronald Reagan

I have known a vast quantity of nonsense talked about bad men not looking you in the face. Don't trust that conventional idea. Dishonesty will stare honesty out of countenance any day in the week, if there is anything to be got by it.
Charles Dickens

Perhaps the crux of what I ponder lies within Dickens’ quote above; I have heard all too often ‘money is the root to all evil.’ Though this seems a tragically cold world – I know more than most life is tough – the inclusion of this necessity to constantly watch your back and never completely let your guard down implies there can never be any trust. Let us consider Dickens’  ‘bad men’ I can’t help but think of those game-shows where winning a sum of money depends on two people voting in secret to steal or share. Nobody ever wants to think of themselves as being the one that steals the money much less admit out loud they would be capable of taking advantage of someone and abusing trust. However those people are ‘out there’ they must exist otherwise trust as a concept would be redundant.

When we are let down by someone it inevitably hurts when that person is someone you admire and may consider a mentor as well as a friend it may make you question your very belief in the human race. This may be heading down a dark cynical route but when Emerson said

Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Did he consider what happens when those mean turn out not be great…

There is hope though:
To state the facts frankly is not to despair the future nor indict the past. The prudent heir takes careful inventory of his legacies and gives a faithful accounting to those whom he owes an obligation of trust.
John F. Kennedy

Yes there will be those who try and justify there own ends with weak excuses as to why they may forsake others – con-artists or confidence tricksters – but ultimately a person can only be measured on their scruples and the ‘accounting’ Kennedy so eloquently describes above, the only evidence of this when all is said and done and the money has run out, the people who stand around you trusting in you.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Who affects who?

It's always interesting watching the interpersonal relationships within and without a group of people from any walk of life; a jury for example is a good representation of what I'm trying to establish and describe, imagine how many people are influencing each other in that situation not to mention the myriad of different possibilities in which the information presented to each individual member is interpreted; how it is presented to them, by who etc, etc... then there's how they interpret the whole experience individually and as a collective.

Today this phenomena struck me as focused even further within an outdoor education experience; there are so many different levels going on, to make it a little easier to comprehend lets try and split the overall group of people involved, into some component parts:

1 - the group
2 - the facilitators/instructors
3 - the staff accompanying the group (teachers/youth leaders)
4 - facilitators managers

Model of hierarchy in shared experiences;
One way of looking at the way in which this complex set of participants to 'an experience' interact is the model shown above however this model does not show which direction the flow of influence travels; consider the expectations of each level of the pyramid it becomes quickly apparent that this experience becomes a complex interaction simply by the four expectations highlighted in this way, not to mention the further breakdown into individual expectation!

Another way to interpret this interaction may be to view it as a continuum with each component of the shared experience listed from left to right, this would suggest a flow of influence however in which direction? Does the Facilitators Manager ultimately influence the overall experience; it may be argued that the facilitator/instructor has the difficult task of meeting the expectations of all the other three component parts...

Given that experiences are in their nature, reciprocal phenomena then all the component parts must in some way meet the expectations of all the others; this leads to the question who's expectations are the most important? Again it may seem we have come full circle and the pyramid hierarchy model of expectations may be argued, by the purest of outdoor educators/facilitators, is the prioritisation of choice. The pragmatic among us however may have experienced a compromise in this situation, it is an unfortunate circumstance but more often than not it is the 'accompanying staff's' expectations that take precedence; more often than not the expectation of the facilitators manager is simply that the expectations of the teacher/youth leader are met! I claim that this may be the view of the pragmatist as in the current economic climate the people who pay the bills are the people we, out of necessity have to keep happy.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Learning to Blog!

A curious thing seems to be happening, the 21st century has brought people's thoughts, opinions and everyday lives screaming into the public domain; now I understand blogging isn't a new thing it's just new to me so those of you out there who may be judging me as a bit of a backwards Welsh idiot please forgive my late arrival to the cyber-info/self-publicising process.

As you may have worked out if you've had a browse around my blog page I work and spend most of my life in and around the outdoor adventure industry; I can't help but question the validity of face book, tweeting blogging etc... and I struggling to keep up with it, logging into face book then twitter and blogger to keep things up to date and interesting; while continuing to go about my normal life, also why am I doing it?

I came to the conclusion it's a good thing to do just keeping a blog as a diary, an element of self-conciousness creeps in regards the public nature of a blog; so I'm currently sat next to two colleagues trying to glean as much information as I can on how to build and navigate around my blogger page as evrytime I log into here I end up playing and messing about with all the gadgets and not writting any posts! Well finaly here's the first so I hope you've enjoyed my semi rant about how I am making my already busy and hectic life even more busy and hectic and frustrating!?