The Leibster Award   16 comments

Oh wow! An award! My first! I should have prepared a speech. I’d just like to thank my family, my agent, my rucksack, my socks………

Actually thanks to Chrissie for nominating me – even though it was a couple of months ago I’ve been wanting to answer the questions as something a little more than the usual collection of photos and “I walked along that path and up that hill” sort of writing.

So here we go…

1. Favourite outdoor place ?

I left this one till last as it’s the hardest one to answer. I’ve been lucky to have been to some fantastic outdoor places from Scotland, to Arizona, to a recent trip to Australia. More recent memories come to the fore so it’s tough not to exclude the early days. Electing one place as a favourite almost seems unfair. Factoring in that time effect I would have to say that nothing beats an alpine sunset or sunrise from a bivvy site high in the mountains before a big day on the high summits. An alpine bivvy is an amazing experience. It’s cold, uncomfortable and depending on the weather and what you planned, exciting and a little scary. You rarely sleep well but lying there looking at the stars is worth the lost sleep. You can’t see the constellations, there are just too many stars. It’s absolutely still and silent and very hard to describe. I urge you to head out there and try it. You don’t need to be “on a route”, just walk as high as the paths will take you, choose a spot with a view across a glacier to snow capped peaks, roll out a sleeping mat and just watch the whole scene from dusk till dawn. Watching the mountains transform not once but twice will transform you.

Of all the bivvy sites I’ve been to one stands out. Below Diavolezza in the Bernina Alps in Eastern Switzerland. Perfect flat site with a view across a range of dramatic soaring snow and ice ridges, one of which we climbed the day after in one of my best days of alpine climbing on Piz Palu. Perfection (note that this also has a very embarrassing moment for me which I’ll recount another time – it’s not for the faint-hearted!)

2. Favourite piece of technology to use whilst outdoors ?

I’m not a big user of technology on the hill. I don’t own a GPS and my phone rarely makes an appearance. I prefer paper maps so I can spread them out and check routes and what I’m looking at. If you’re talking “gear” then without doubt its my Jetboil Sol Titanium Stove. It goes everywhere with me so I can have a fresh cuppa whenever I’m out walking (much to the distraction of my friends in winter as I brew up while they are shivering and drinking from a lukewarm flask). It’s revolutionised my day walks in particular. If its is true technology then that would be my camera and all its accompanying bits. Canon EOS 60D with either a Sigma 18-250 or 150-500 lens, remote shutter and Manfrotto carbon fibre tripod. I love my photos and always have a camera with me. Since I went DSLR I’m really loving learning then craft and being more creative (and getting fitter – its heavy!) For wetter conditions my Panasonic Lumix FT3 all-weather compact does a grand job. For action it would be my Go Pro HD Hero Head Cam for when I’m kayaking and skiing. For me, watching and reviewing the key moments from a great day is part of the fun and I find reliving those memories priceless. I can’t imagine have no images to look back on

3. Favourite outdoor food ?

On a day walk it would have to be a homemade sandwich with a least 4 types of filling in it – my sandwiches are a work of art I’m pleased to say, although more Andy Warhol than Renoir after I’ve sat on them which is often. Backpacking? Well I’ve been through some tough times over the years. A beanfeast phase – nasty. A packet cheese sauce and noodles attempt – very underwhelming. Savoury rice and peanuts – malnutrition. These days I prefer to bear the weight of food I can enjoy and avoid the disappointment of facing a bag of dried nastiness after a tough day. With that in mind it has to be Anchovy Carbonara with fresh onion and pepper. Anchovies give you bags more bang for your buck when it comes to the taste/weight ratio. It looks a bit grey but trust me it’s tasty

4. Outdoors ambition ?

To be hiking the hills or enjoying the outdoors to my very last day. Doesn’t matter where or what activity. I just hope I enjoy it as much at 81 as I did at 18

5. Favourite place to stay.. wild camp, YHA or hotel/B&B ?

Unquestionably a wild camp. Watching the sunset or taking a meal in the outdoors with what feels like the whole world to yourself is the best feeling bar none. Total immersion in the outdoor world that gives a true appreciation of its many a varied wonders. From the light cast on a mountain, to the motion of the grass at your feet or the blanket of stars on clear night. Even down to a wild night with rain lashing the tent while you doze snug and dry inside.

6. Piece of music, book or film that you associate with getting out ?

Nothing that I associate with getting out but the book (and film) that sprang to mind is “Touching the Void” by Joe Simpson. A truly inspiring tale of determination, endurance and sheer, raw courage in the face of extreme adversity

7. Best comedy moment in the outdoors ?

As you can imagine 30+ years has delivered the usual mix of falling in rivers, bogs and of drunken antics in campsites that should be left there. I’m sure all of my friends will now remind of much funnier moments that I’ve forgotten but here’s one that still brings me a smile. We were ski-touring in the Cairngorms, me, Mad Malcs and Uncle Fester. at lunch me and MM decided it would be fun to sneak a couple of rocks into UF’s rucksack. We were so successful that we continued placing more and larger, some unfeasibly large rocks in there. He proceeded to carry this rucksack all day on a pretty tough route without saying a word while me and MM exchanged smiles. Childish but funny. The next morning as he collected his sack from the car, he looked puzzled and with a sigh exclaimed with complete innocence of the facts “this rucksack feels heavy, it’s almost like someone has put rocks in it”. As the last of those words left his mouth he looked at us as if to say “Oh for f***s sake”. The look on his face was priceless. I’m afraid to say I had a previous conviction. I once spent a long and very tedious mini-bus journey, where me and the Eternal Weather Optimist put all manner of rubbish (sweet wrappers mainly) from the floor of bus into UFs coat pocket while he was still wearing it. He only noticed when I put a potato in there. You can get an idea of my childish sense of humour from these stories

8. Who has inspired you to get out and enjoy the outdoors ?

Have to say myself really. I went on a school trip to Edale, we walked over Kinder, Everyone hated it, I loved it, I was hooked, I’ve been going ever since (this was 36 years ago)

9. Favourite beverage after a hard day spent outside ?

If its hot, a cold bottle of Becks. If its cold, a hot sweet cup of tea them a cold bottle of Becks

10. Being outdoors.. how does it make you feel ?

Alive, de-stressed, inspired, humble, excited, invigorated, challenged, frustrated, hopeful, peaceful

11. Where will your next adventure take you ?

The Welsh Mountains this weekend. Maybe Plynlimon with the family, possibly something bigger with TJS and GM. Whatever I will be on a summit somewhere over the weekend


So there you have it. In the spirit of the Leibster Award I believe I’m supposed to nominate others who have yet to take up this challenge (apologies if you have and I haven’t noticed!) and who would make a much better work of it than me so please take note:


Beating the Bounds

Writes of Way

Marks Walking Blog

Are you blog enough to take on the challenge


Posted September 16, 2014 by surfnslide in Other

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16 responses to “The Leibster Award

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  1. I don’t believe anyone can possibly really like anchovies Andy, i couldn’t even put one near my mouth….far worse than bananas!


  2. Not heard of that one, dropped off the radar obviously. Well done anyway.


  3. Very entertaining! Interesting to read these after seeing what Chrissie had to say. I think that there actually quite difficult questions to answer. Might have to go for a walk, to have time to mull it over. Solvitur Ambulando as the Romans used to say. Probably.


    • The first one was the hardest as I’ve been very lucky to have been to some pretty special places over the years. The runner up was Carn Fadryn which has a very special place in my heart. Those Romans had a phrase for every occasion

      I expect to see you taking up the challenge and answering these questions now you’ve been nominated twice….


      • Yes – the first one is particularly tricky. Do you go for familiar favourites, like Carn Fadryn, or particular places once visited, never forgotten? Tough. Obviously, I also have a very tough choice on the technology front, what with my preference for always being upto date with all of the latest gizmos! Talking of which – I thought you did have a GPS? How do you draw your routes on your maps. Actually, probably best not to answer that, you might confuse me.


  4. Hmm, I’ll look it up and suss the M.O. Not sure if it makes sense now, my new re-engineered blog seems to be invisible to news aggregators despite having the same feed address as before, at any rate it sees hardly any visitors.


  5. It was rebuilt from scratch, all working fine now including comments.


  6. You earn this award. Congratulations!


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