There`s a been a bit of talk about people that inspire you recently in the other blogs I read. So I thought I would tell you about one of my first heroes.
His name was Alan Rouse and he was a mountain climber. Indeed he was one of the best mountaineers Britain has ever produced. He made the first British ascent of K2 in 1986 but unfortunately died in a storm on the way down. That was bad summer for fatalities on that mountain: in total 13 people died. His friends wrote a book about him afterwards. I read that book as part of my research before going to Everest basecamp on an expedition with Paul Deegan because I knew very little about mountains and mountaineers at that time and just assumed that because he climbed he must have gone to Everest. Luckily for me he had but he`d also done so much more and it was the recounting of those vagabond adventures around the peaks and crags of the globe that instantly attracted to the sport. I started climbing almost straight after finishing the book (not easy in Kent) then spent the next ten years trying to emulate him.
I haven`t climbed for over 3 years now as I am busy in Japan but it is something I will never give up, I hope. Though my own ambitions are lower than Everest these days I still admire mountaineers. My own passion is bouldering: I like hanging on to small pieces of rock, pieces so small that it is particularly difficult to hang onto them and invariably you fall off. I don`t like falling off however, even on a rope, so I prefer to do this difficult task no more than 5 or 6 metres above the ground. In a nutshell that is bouldering.
Britain has some of the best bouldering in the World. Some of the worst weather however makes it hard to get out. The summer of 1999 just before I moved away from Kent first to Manchester then onto Thailand and eventually to Tokyo was one of the longest, hottest summers I can remember. My friends (both old and newly made that year) and I climbed all over Britain until our fingers bled. We played on the rocks, it was just fun, the woods and moors and mountains welcoming our rambled humour as we raced around the Snowdon Horseshoe or wobbled over Harrison`s nose where Ivan`s flirting heelhook impressed every passing female; the hair-gel in his pack alongside the rack of cams and karabiners. I miss Steve`s relaxed ability to stick to holdless rock and smoke in the steepest of places and Tim, the quiet wit, who spotted me round the North Boulder traverse and once dripped his share of the moterway-stop dessert back into the cup and thus claimed it all from us – clever and hungry boy that he was. And I cannot forget dyno Dave – fourteen years old and bouncy with energy, never giving up and never quite holding the finishing hold after jumping from 6b holds. I hope he has made it by now. Or Andy M dropping by occasionally for a midnight solo and some great photos. Best of all however was curling your damaged fingers around a painfully cold pint of cider at the end of it all. Good days all and good friends.
The pic above is Ivan Waldren stretching it out to finish a 6b arete on the boulder at Harrison`s Rocks south of London.
Good days indeed…