Fear of Flying…

March 28th, 2010

Fear of Flying
By Heather Owen

Cheap flights galore mean flying is easy and convenient for many of us. I used to fly numerous times a year to visit friends and family and to play in the big beautiful world. However, recently I have made a pact with myself to try not to fly. Even though my heart used to race in fear when the plane lifted off, I haven’t stopped flying for fear for my life, rather for fear for planet Earth!

The intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) report in 2007 estimated that there will be an average temperature rise of 0.2 degrees every decade. The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change written for the UK governement in 2006 indicated that immediate action is required to minimise not only the disasterous ecological but also the economical consequences of global temperature changes.

It is now widely accepted that the cause of this global temperature rise is due to the increase in emissions of gases (such as carbondioxide) since the industrial revolution and our reliance on the burning of fossil fuels for energy and transportation. A quick look at my own carbon emissions (http://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx) indicates to me that the major way I can limit my personal emissions immediately is to stop flying.

To travel within the UK without flying is fairly easy. www.traveline.org.uk is a door to door journey planner by any means of transport within the UK. To travel between the UK and the rest of Europe without flying is trickier. The two options are by train via the Eurostar (www.raileurope.co.uk) or a bus/ferry combo. European trains are relatively reliable and fast (London to Geneva takes 7 hours) but it is cheaper to travel by coach. There are many different coach companies but a good start is www.eurolines.com

I’m not saying that I will never fly again, but the main thing that has changed for me is that I now think more carefully about any trips I take and as a result I stay in Scotland for alot of my holidays. The coastline is something Scotland definitely has over the Alps so I have learnt to surf. And there’s all sorts of outdoor adventures to be had here in Scotland without the need to travel to distant places. The high mountains still call me occasionally, so I hop on the train, read a book, sleep, eat, sleep some more and eventually arrive in the Alps for a big treat of a trip.

The downside is that trips to the rest europe cost more and trips further afield are not possible without flying. When I go to Europe I take the train, and since travel by train takes longer there are no long weekend breaks abroad anymore. However, I feel that I have learnt to appreciate what there is to do close to home. I’m getting to know and appreciate really special places, and still feel that my drive for adventure is satisfied!

Latest News: 20th March 2010

March 21st, 2010

Drove up to The Climbers Club hut at Roybridge on Friday and went climbing for the first time, with Phil Wickens, the leader of The Alpine Club 2010 Antarctica Expedition.

We got spanked on a big route on Ben Nevis; hiked down to the car park; and then partied hard all night with his friends (one of whom was having her wedding reception at The Ben Nevis Hotel!). A magic day.

For the past six weeks I’ve been organising sponsorship for the final stages of this. We’re targeting 80 pre-selected companies. I would like to thank everyone that has helped with this, including Sir Chris Bonington, Terence Osborne from Chromefire, Carol Anderson and Robynne Eller. I would also like to thank Richard Cross from richardx.co.uk for his amazing work on the website and every other person who continues to support this adventure. If you have any leads for us on for this for sponsors who would like to hear about what we have to offer then it would be greatly appreciated if you could send them through.

I feel that although there is a lot of hard work still to be done with this project, we are through the really tough times. Everything is getting into place for Antarctica. We have a great team, an experienced expedition leader and a great skipper / boat. I will follow the Antarctica trip with an Africa attempt soon after, and I will be getting things into place over the summer for that.

Robynne Eller Reviews Polly Murray’s show

February 18th, 2010

On 11th February at Boyd Orr theatre in Glasgow, Polly Murray presented the story of her extraordinary life. In 2000, Polly became the first Scottish woman and youngest British woman to summit Mt. Everest.

Along with her best buddy Tash Wright, they have chatted up fellow male mountaineers on Mt. McKinley in Alaska, braved the icy seas of Baffin Bay in a 33ft fibre glass boat and sought and conquered a new ski traverse on Bylot Island in Greenland; an island which has not been crossed since 1963.

There are plenty of similarities between Polly and the Super7 team. She has always been drawn to more the remote locations in the world; the more bizarre the better. Since becoming the first person ever to telemark ski down Mt. Mckinley, Polly has found it her path in life to be the first to experience real adventure.

In 2003 she embarked on an Antarctic enterprise, sailing her way through rough Antarctic waters, discovering the overwhelming wildlife and interestingly-shaped icebergs. The photography that accompanies her talk are jaw dropping.

Although she made it to Everest’s summit in 2000, which in recent years has become buzzing with adventure tourists, who would turn down the chance of such a great offer? It was the first ascent of the Millennium. She was the first Scottish woman to dig her crampons into its icy cwms. And she was blonde.

What draws most people in to listening to Polly’s tales is that she speaks with such strength and gusto; she simply doesn’t possess an off button. In a short time she has squeezed in so much and doesn’t intend to stop any time soon.

In the winter months she works as a ski instructor dotting about the runs of the French Alps or the Pyrenees; where ever the white stuff takes her. During the summer months she works as a rope access builder, restoring and maintaining some of Scotland’s oldest buildings. Polly has also landed herself a sweet little number working with the BBC, as a presenter for CBBC’s ‘Serious’ series which has earned a well deserved BAFTA award. And finally, to top the cake with a cherry; she is one of the faces of outdoor brands Mountain Equipment and outdoor specialist store Tiso Ltd, which have both sponsored her on many trips.

I have come across plenty of accounts through time of women breaking records, making it big and writing a book or talking about it in front of a crowd just because they were a woman. Really, you can’t sniff at anyone who makes an honest buck from doing something that is out of the ordinary which they are passionate about, but Polly forever maintains her modesty without one sliver of arrogance in her tales. With her Mum perched so proudly in the audience, it was such an endearing, beautiful string of stories; the hour had flown by far too quickly.

So next time you see a silhouette of a figure dangling down from an old church in her home town of Blairgowrie, be sure to wave. It’ll make her day.

Antarctica Expedition

February 17th, 2010

I’ve been accepted for a place on the 2010 Alpine Club Antarctica Expedition. The trip is being led by Phil Wickens and we are sailing on ‘Spirit of Sydney’ in November.

‘Spirit of Sydney’ is a 9 berth 60 ft aluminium hulled yacht with a forward looking sonar that was built for the 1986 BOC Challenge Race. She has been used for Antarctic sailing for 16 years and is skippered by Darrel Day and Cath Hew. It usually takeds 3-4 days to cross the Drake Passage.

Further information about the yacht: www.spiritofsydney.net

Phil Wickens has a couple of trips planned to the area in 2011:

Ski Mountaineering in South Georgia (October 2011). Using the yacht ‘Spirit of Sydney’ this expedition will sail to the remarkable sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia. Famous for its association with Sir Ernest Shackleton, and being the location of Britain’s highest mountain (Mt Paget), South Georgia offers an amazing range of ski mountaineering possibilities of all levels. Objectives will depend on the group’s experience, but will consist of multi-day tours and ski ascents of a very exploratory and expedition nature. Exact dates and prices to be announced, but further information can be requested from Phil Wickens (mail@philwickens.co.uk).

Ski Mountaineering in Antarctica (January/February 2012). We shall again be sailing aboard ‘Spirit of Sydney’ to access the mountains of Marguerite Bay. Located south of the Antarctic Circle, this spectacular area is rarely visited by yachts but, unlike much of Antarctica, has easy access to many of the glaciers. Marguerite Bay offers endless ski mountaineering objectives of all grades and lengths, from easy day tours from the yacht, to multi-day ascents of the higher peaks. Exact dates and prices to be announced, but further information can be requested from Phil Wickens (mail@philwickens.co.uk).

Sir Chris Bonington: Super7’s New Patron

February 17th, 2010

Sir Chris Bonnington (Photo: PA)

We are very fortunate to have such a distinguished and effective patron helping us out. He is making a generous contribution to our cause and is also helping us in the hunt for a lead sponsor… Massive thanks to Sir Chris Bonington.

Here is what our new patron has to say about the project:

“This is a brilliant project – so much more exciting, innovative and adventurous than the ‘Seven Summits’. It’s true exploratory adventure by a group of young and talented climbers who are real exemplars for the younger generation or for anyone who says ‘There is nothing new left to do.”

– Sir Chris Bonington, February 2010

Robynne Eller reviews Doug Scott’s shiny new show.

November 4th, 2009

On 15th October, Oliver Metherell of Super 7 introduced Doug Scott to the audience at The Boyd Orr lecture theatre in Glasgow.

Surviving at altitude on Himalayan Summits most certainly requires an ample dose of humor, even if surviving the worlds highest biviouac means having an in-depth conversation with your feet. Doug Scott is one of the few people who can say he has been there, and more than just a few times. With a stellar alpine career that spans over forty years, he is one of the national treasures of the British climbing scene.

His latest lecture, ‘The Big Three” takes us back to the of Autumn of 1972. Doug and his team make their first attempt at climbing the un-forgiving and un-climbed South
West face of Mt. Everest. After two attempts, various route changes and extreme weather conditions, it all proves too much for the team. They turn back after reaching 8230m and with the loss of one member; Tony Tighe’s body was never recovered.

It is obvious that in the 27 years since the first attempt was made, Doug has told his story of ‘The Big Three’ hundreds of times. Yet, his tale does not sound over rehearsed and tired. It sounds like he is talking fondly of old friends that he knows he will never meet again. Although Doug has lost many close friends and team members during these historic adventures, he has cherished their memories by keeping his stories alive.

Then Doug moves the show to Chris Bonington’s ‘Everest: The Hard Way’ expedition and Doug Scott and Dougal Haston are standing on the summit. It is Doug’s third attempt at the south-west face and after losing fellow team mates and facing gruelling conditions, they finally make it to the top. On the epic descent, the team run out of oxygen and with their sleeping bags in camp far below, they are forced to make the world’s highest bivouac, resting precariously on their rucksacks only a hundred meters below the summit. Minimalism proves to become a bit of a theme in expeditions to come…

When Doug flicks through the series of spell bounding photographs that bring his adventures to life, it feels like he is looking back through a collection of treasured holiday snaps; from the best vacation in the world. I don’t think there was one person in the auditorium that didn’t sense that Doug wished he could step through the photos on the screen and feel the crunch of virgin snow beneath his ice boots once more. When talking about these precious moments in his life, he would shortly pause and give himself a moment and he was there at the top of Everest, having his picture taken for his Mum’s family album.

Doug then transports us to 1979. He and two other team mates, Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker are about to embark on the worlds third highest peak, Kanchenjunga. After the siege tactics of the 1975 trip, the team chose to climb ‘Alpine Style’. A technical route, no oxygen, and without an army of porters and supporting climbers to to haul their supplies up the mountain. After two and a half months of mind-bending challenges, the team finally summit.

When Doug visited Nepal, he was horrified by the exploitation of Sherpas who worked in the mountains. Most Sherpas were paid badly and were lifting un-godly amounts of weight. . As a result, Doug set up Community Action Nepal (Canepal), a charitable organisation which helps to ensure that Sherpas are paid fairly and can keep their families and communities thriving.

Lastly, we are taken to 1983. This is Doug and his team’s second shot at conquering K2. After losing a team mate to an avalanche five years previously, Doug is ready to try again for the world’s second highest peak. Mother nature strikes again and after ferocious snow storms and a rescue mission to save one of their team mates from cerebral edema, they are robbed once more of the summit.

It is hard to walk away from a Doug Scott lecture without feeling inspired by his tales of the three peaks. Even though his hair is now white and he seems less able to scale Everest again, I would certainly not describe Doug as a frail old man. He is still adventure hungry as ever who attracts and intrigues all types of climbers . I wish I had one of those summit pictures in my living room until I can get a little closer.

Follow Doug’s lectures at: http://www.dougscottmountaineering.co.uk
Community Action Nepal: http://www.canepal.org.uk

Robynne Eller reviews Kev Shields’s show

November 4th, 2009

Journalist Robynne Eller reviews Kev’s show:

For a man from the small town of Dalry, Ayrshire, Kev Shields has achieved so much in his short climbing career so far – and all with just one hand.

Yet Kev is probably one of the most modest climbers you are ever likely to meet. He is constantly seeking better and more lairy climbs but cannot fathom why greats such as Dave Macleod want him on their side; It’s because you’re amazing Kev, that’s why!

Since childhood, Kev has cleared and smashed any hurdles that have been thrown on his tracks, even if one of them was soloing an E7. You can clearly see that Kev has embraced every aspect of his life and lives to climb. To him nothing else is more important.

Kev has quickly learnt to not let his disability and epilepsy get in his way. Where most people would think he would be ground to a halt for even thinking about climbing, he has not let anything hold him back. With help from the prosthetics department at University of Strathclyde and many, many prosthetic ice axes later, Kev is unstoppable.

I, as I’m sure many others do, have a soft spot for Kev. Having a brother who also suffers from epilepsy, I can understand how much and how hard Kev has had to push himself. It has given me even more faith in my brother that he can do anything he pours his heart into; nothing is unattainable.

Having only less than ten years of climbing experience under his belt, you forget that he is fairly fresh to the world of giving lectures. His sense of humour is very much raw, quick and witty. It feels like you’re listening to him talk about his climbs over a pint at his local pub, rather than a freshly painted lecture hall. In five years time, Kev will be one of the great adventure speakers; God only knows what he will have been up to in that time.

Super7: Glasgow line up

September 18th, 2009

poster-09-10Super7 Adventure Lectures line up for events in Glasgow this winter – tickets available online.

Thursday 18th March 2010

If there is a speaker that you particularly want to see then please let us know.

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Super7 update: Sept ’09

September 4th, 2009

18th September 2009

Here’s a quick update of what has been happening with Super7 Climbing since we completed the (5th continent) South America stage of the journey – we have first ascents left to complete in Antarctica and Africa.

We had a successful series of events over the winter and paid off all of the costs of spending 11 weeks in Peru. I then decided drop running events in London and Edinburgh and to focus all fundraising efforts on Glasgow where our events enjoy a good following.

I started thinking about how I was going to raise the estimated $27k USD for an expedition to Antarctica. It is going to be the adventure of a lifetime. You charter a yacht from Ushuaia, and then, hopefully, you cross one of the worlds most hazardous oceans to get to the Antarctic peninsular (and one of the worlds great wildernesses!). Then, hopefully, you climb something!

One of the of the frustrations of Super7 is that very few people outside the climbing world really understand what we are doing. When you approach marketing managers with a project like this you get questions like: ‘How high do you climb?’ And ‘Do you free climb?’. However, this works both ways, because real climbers immedately ‘Get It’, and then they usually try to help us much as they can!

Last year we were helped in our fundraising by Simon Yates, Dave McLeod, and many others, including some very talented film makers who supplied films for the adventure film festival. I took a deep breath and asked Sir Chris Bonington and Doug Scott for their support and they both agreed that if I promoted their shows in Glasgow this winter, then they would donate half of the takings on the door to the Antarctica trip.

I also asked Keith Partridge (who helped to film ‘Touching the Void’), Polly Murray (first Scottish woman to climb Everest), and Kev Shields (who is currently attempting to climb E7 – and he only has one hand!). They all said‘Yes’.

We also have continuing support from our sponsors at Montane, and Big Agnes, and I’m also delighted to be able to welcome Trekking Encounters on board, who organise sustainable Eco Tourism in Nepal.

Then I had to assemble a team. I wanted someone to be at the helm of this expedition who was a master logistician, and who had been to Antarctica before. Tony Barton has agreed (tbc). He was on the successful South America stage of Super7 and he’s spent time in Antarctica with the British Antarctic Survey. He’s also worked as a mountain guide and is the veteran of 8 Andean seasons.

I’ll keep a running total on the website of how we are doing with the fundraising as soon as we start to stack paper.

Birnam – Fast and Furious

November 3rd, 2008

Me and Greg Boswell were at Birnam yesterday. We’ve both got our eyes on a route called Fast and Furious. It’s a Scott Muir dry tooling route that takes a route up a 45 degree roof and would be about M10 if it had ice on it. That equates to about Scottish XII, though obviously comparisons are somewhat tricky to make, as Fast and Furious is a sport-mixed route. There is no traditional gear on the route – it is climbed entirely on bolts.

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