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I hate typing. But I enjoy writing. Writing with a pen lets my thoughts flow unbound by my incapacity to touch type. I think that’s why I’ve let blogging slip at times. I’d rather write my adventures down as I relive them in my head and feel the emotion. But I also enjoy sharing my journeys with others. So typing up my hand written accounts may just have to be a bit of a chore. I could photocopy what I’ve written; only no-one else would be able to read it.

I’ve been off the grid for the last three months or so. There is a simple reason for this. I’ve not been out. I completely lost my desire to go outside and sit on a mountain (and also as a result I’ve not been reading or writing about the outdoors). So what have I been up to? Expanding my mind. It’s resulted in me spending days recovering, but, despite times when I’ve felt I’m wasting the summer, I feel like I now know what I want out of the next few years of my life. I’ve spent a long time thinking and reflecting about life in general, and I now feel I understand myself better as a person. Now after all my soul searching I have an aim. Well, several to be honest.

First and foremost is to get outside enjoying myself as often as I can. Be it backpacking, running, walking, climbing or just sitting there, enjoying the view.

Secondly, I want to climb more, learn rope work skills and become more confident on the rock.

Thirdly I wish to complete the Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc. Myself and a friend have found three races next year that give us the 7 points needed to qualify for the 2014 UTMB. These are, the High Peak Marathon, the Fellsman and the Ultra Tour of the South West. Completion of these will get us to Chamonix in 22 months time.

I’ve realised that the hills are my way of restoring my soul. When I get out I feel much more whole as a human being, and enjoy every aspect of my life more. If I don’t make the effort I find myself taking a more destructive route in my quest for happiness and solace. And that route is a dangerous and fine line. One from which several friends (and perhaps even myself) have come close to leaving over the summer. And as I watch my friends who are close to losing control, these thoughts have become ever more pressing in my mind. I’ve known for a while that hills and drugs do similar things to my brain. Only the feelings I get from hills are so much more natural and rewarding. So I’ll take that route thank you.

Langdale inversion, August 2012

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It turns out exams are slightly more stressful at university. And also much much harder. So I’m locked in my room revising, learning and coding at the moment. Not the most glamourous of lives, but I’m taking a break with a ‘luxury’ trip to Snowdonia at the weekend. Think cream teas and cheese boards on a mountain and you’re almost there. The idea is to have a laugh with some friends for a couple of days and hopefully de-stress.

And I’ve almost finished another post on the Cairngorms trip. Just photos et al to add. Hopefully I’ll get it uploaded tonight if I finish work with enough energy to spare.

Edit: Turns out the answer to that is no.

The snow fell mostly on the first night. A few more showers the following day topped it up. Unfortunately the only time the tops were ever free of clag we were wading down the Lairig Gruh in waist deep snow. So when we did get up high things tended to be one colour. White.

A dreamlike dawn ascent of Cadair Idris to watch the sunrise turned into a surreal experience in a world of mist and ice before a hasty descent from the bitter cold summit revealed a spectacular early morning view.

More on this and other antics from the weekend soon.

I’m someone who likes to push. To always take things one step further. Luckily I’m also a pretty cautious person, otherwise I’d be a pretty good canditate for ending up dead after doing something REALLY stupid.

I’m also some one who likes lists. As a result, whilst doodling around the other day I came up with a list of things I’d like to do this year. To push myself and have some fun. They are as follows:

4 Inns

Ridgeway 40

Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon

Cairngorms

Scotland

Lakes- Backpacking

Lead climb Severe

Climb Hard Very Severe

Enter some fell races

Bivvy on a mountain

But unlike most people who like lists I’m not fussed if I don’t tick them. They’re more guidelines really.

Although I wouldn’t complain if this was a list I did manage to finish.

I should probably write about this day pretty soon. It was interesting.

Initially I wrote a long post detailing my year on the hills of Britain. And then I deleted it. And that’s because what I’d written just couldn’t sum up what I’ve experienced over these past twelve months. I can’t tell someone how I feel about being out in the mountains, and what they mean to me. Either you already know, or you probably never will.

One of the pictures below is of the sun setting over Blencathra. I think it was the first night of our holiday to the Lakes. Me, my brother and my dad went for a walk out the campsite. Just an evening stroll. But what I felt was contentment. Pure joy at being relaxed and somewhere I enjoy being. There are only a few areas where I truly feel that. And I know what it is, it’s the feeling of being home.

But then the one below it, that’s pretty special to me too. A days walking with my family in Snowdonia. Is anything better? And yet it is. Scotland. But only just.

I suppose what I’m trying to say, to condense my rambling a bit, is that the hills are my way of relaxing, and in many ways my spiritual home. And 2011 was the finest year I’ve spent on the hills. I enjoyed (almost) every moment. From sunsets to sunrises. Hills to valleys. And the wildest parts of Scotland to Edale.

Below are some pictures, just a selection from this year. By no means is everything included below. That would take a whole blog to do…

Here’s to 2012. May you all have a good one.

After a 3 week Christmas break, in which I seemingly did very little, I’m now back in London for another 11 weeks of madness. Only this term is going to be a little more relaxed. I honestly don’t think I could survive another term like the last one. I was almost broken by the time I got home. So I’m only planning to go on three trips before Easter. Climbing in two weeks time on Stanage, before walking in the Lakes in mid Feb and mid Wales a month after that.

Now I’ve got to go and do some physics revision. Damn.