Scouting has a great deal to answer for. It has to be the start of it all. Nights under canvas that smelt of must and damp, waking to dawn and opening the brailing letting the air in, fresh with the scents of the British countryside, fried breakfast, long hikes with a pack made of the same material as the tent, and a weight to match, with the metal frame, adorned with badges. Then days at the local quarry, dodging the glass, abseiling and top roping in trainers and jeans on thick rope and slings. Weekends and summer holidays scrambling and climbing in North Wales and the Lakes. Before I knew it the passion for these activities had become life in a different uniform, heavier packs, longer distances, climbing less but abseiling more, from buildings, helicopters and even the roof of Earls Court arena. Winter training taking me to the Bavarian Alps, other work taking me to various ranges in Bosnia, Oman and Afghanistan. Outdoor passion actually now my life, so home life needing to be less intense with a young family. Like all things this time passed and more sedentary work leaving a gap for the rat to be fed led back to the crags, hills and mountains, and by circuitous route to The Club. Mountaineering then flourished with alpine trips, climbing obscure or wild routes, expeditions to Norway, Kyrgyzstan, America interspersed with bonfires on stony beaches after climbing sea cliffs and whiskey downed in Scottish Bothies and all the while feeding an addictive love/hate relationship with grit. Deep friendships formed, great experiences had, listening and learning to those with knowledge, and plenty without, but with talent or enthusiasm, and all linked by a love of the outdoors and all it brings. My pack now space-age technical material, but feeling no lighter, my rope thinner but stronger. This time will pass as well, the mountains and crags, old in a sense we can barely comprehend, will still be there and so will our passion for them. It is now the planning, reading and reflection on good times had and to be had that sustains. Stay home, stay safe and stay well. Slangevar.

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