Paul’s Blog

My running is now firmly back on track which a great thing to be able to say, the latest outing saw me join in with a very good turnout for ‘Rory’s run’ yesterday morning in memory of Rory O’Donnell who tragically died last year at an all too early age. It was a new & unique experience to be a part of a very special run.

My lead in to Cho Oyu in now firmly underway, the running mileage has increased, the Core Exercises have begun but the most important step so far was last weeks visit to Scotland with my old’er mate Kean where we met up with Cath of Leading Edge to practice rope & snow skills. In truth we didn’t find much snow but Cath managed to simulate ropework without this minor detail. Day 1 saw a first summit, for me at least, in Glen Coe (why has it taken me so long) bookended by two jumar climbs before & an abseil down a vertiginous Grassy cliff which my crampons duly ploughed up. This may not sound technical but the crux is trying to manage ropes, carabiner’s, figures of 8’s etc. whilst wearing high altitude Mitts, dexterity was something lost in the mists. Cath was very patient as I struggled to see the light.

The second day saw Kean (still suffering from Man Flu, we’d forgotten to take the Man up Spray purchased years ago from Tim on Monte Rosa) swan off for an enjoyable 2 hour climb at Kinglochleven’s Ice Wall whilst Cath changed our plans based on inside knowledge to Aonach Mor’s Northern rib, Aonach an Nid, where at approximately 1,000 metres we found the Holy Grail, a large bank of snow at approximately 50 degree angle. Cath soon had the rope system in place & simulation of the crux of Cho Oyu could begin. There followed a number of abseils with me each time then switching to the jumar & coming back up the rope for another go. Slowly the dexterity conundrums of the day before were solved, sometimes with Cath’s help & sometimes I’m pleased to say with me thinking them through & out by myself. It was a very rewarding day & I have Cath to thank very much for her thoughtful input over both days, she was very good company to boot & I could not praise Leading Edge enough to anyone who wants to improve their hill & ropes skills, I mean I even wore crampons on a frozen tufty grass bank, what a revelation that alone was!

Next day with Cath heading South Kean & I replicated the system on easy ground so that I could talk him through the issues, I can see us practicing frequently in the weeks ahead, we like many are praying for snow in Snowdonia soon.

At the end of this week Dorina & I head for the Alps to ski but my core exercises & running will be maintained so it will only be a minor blip in my Cho Oyu prep. I have a hunch that upon our return Snowdonia will be white & Kean will get the summons ‘sod The Bond (an excellent book), you should have read that by now, get your ass over here, mate!’

Finally a quick yet deep note to Nick who despite pre-event nerves gave an excellent & enthralling presentation at the café the Saturday before last, it was a sell out raising £500 for our Reach Out for Nepal fund. I think I can speak for everyone who was in the room when I say very well done Nick & thank you!

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