I'm a woman

I'm a woman
Photos copyright Laurence Gouault
No reproduction on other media without the photographer's permission.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Distant Snows a book by John Harding reviewed by Stevie Haston.

Being lucky with books, is almost as difficult as being lucky with women. I have been lucky in the last month, but to find the book Distant Snows, I feel grateful indeed. It is a book that spans 60 years of climbing, skiing, and traveling, it is a book that would normally span a few peoples lives, but John Harding has quietly, simply plodded, or slid along on his skies, accumulating a fascinating life. 

 In the writing of this book John in some ways has he has eclipsed himself, and I am in danger of tying my tongue in knots trying to give him fancy compliments!

Distant Snows is a slow well considered book, it's a dipping book, and a book that will easily lead you on to other books, and perhaps other peoples journeys. John is a former president of the Alpine Club, and a president of the Alpine Club, and Eagle Ski Clubs. His other books include Pyrenean High Route, which was short listed for the Boardman Prize, and his probably better book Roads to Nowhere, which records his political service in South Arabia. You may remember me recommending A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, well this book touches that one, when Harding meets Newby's mountaineering partner Hugh Carless at an Embassy function somewhere in the East! In truth I'ave always loved A Short Walk in the H.K. but I some how feel that Distant Snows is better. It is certainly better in that there is more adventure, Distant snows describes many exhibitions to wonderfully diverse regions of the world, not just one short walk. 

Maps, there are a few here we have the areas visited and described.

There is also a depth to the descriptions of the countries visited as you might expect, but would seldom receive from a member of Hardings profession. It is refreshing to see some politics wrapping around mountain travel, these often times, war torn, or troubled areas deserve a bit of background. I love this book and would unreservedly recommend it except for its slightly behind the cutting edge aspect of its ascents. But that is also a reason to recommend it, is it not? The book is a fantastic reminder that you can can have great adventures with out being a  top flight, up to the moment Tiger. Harding love of ski touring is another seldom seen side to mountains, but as many real mountaineers know a pair of sliding boards is the way to go in some areas, and leads to much pleasure. Some of these expeditions are now impossible to duplicate, so our only way of visiting these areas is through this book. If this review doesn't seem full of superlatives, it is no reason not to like this book the less, superlatives don't trump Harding's very interesting passion, which he some how sandwiched in a professional and family life, he did all these journeys in his holidays! The style of the book is at once subdued, but exciting, and the authors humour comes through very well, even under duress-a handy trick for an expedition man, as well as a political administrator. Harding went to Trinity College, and ended up as a solicitor in the City, none of these things should put you off, indeed I found the man charming, and am envious of his intelligence and adventures. Long live books like this.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

As good as it gets, by Stevie be good Haston.

Life goes by, and then sometimes you think it's all over, and your best days are behind you, then along come a few good days. Good days are cracking, long live those crackerjack days.

 The classic view of the Azure window, its a cliche, its over done, and you know what? Its still a brill few mins gazing.

It has been a bit stormy here, not done a full days climbing for a bit, missed them, ho hum life sucks. But it doesn't suck big time. Thats coming I guess.

 holds come in all shapes, I do love this island for its holds.

 clouds, rain, silver linings, a pot of gold etc.

Went out today, it rained, pressed on, threw the big long rope down the big high cliff, the rope flirted off horizontally and wrapped it self aroud hundreds of horns, flakes, gargoyles, and sticketyout things. Its a 100 meter rope, a hundred possibilities of trouble!
By the time I sorted that out, I had wished I'd stayed in, bored out of my brains, or not.

check this vid out here.
this is the top of a huge pitch with a lot of exposure, magic,  might only be 6b with luck.

Anyway it all came good, I sorted out a hugely elegant pitch up a soaring arete of stoned magnificence. It is a big pitch, character building as we used to say. It's always worth trying…. well so far it has been.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Pure as the Driven Slush, by Stevie Sacred Haston.

So who said this and about whom?
"...there has never been a man of such slender intellectual equipment, absolutely without experience in office, impudently flashing his wealth before the eyes of the people saying make me President….this man has a record which would make it impossible for him to live through a Presidential campaign-such gutters and sewers would be dragged. It is not a question of politics, but of character. An agitator we can endure; an honest radical we can respect, a fanatic we can tolerate; but a low (orange?) voluptuary, trying to sting his jaded senses to fresh thrill, by turning from private to public corruption, is a new horror to American Politics."

Your wrong unless you'r a bloody genius.

It was said about a certain Mr Hearst, who once apon time in America tried to become President. And it was in said in a major paper, one that was obviously not owned by him. But since all papers are now owned by the few, it is hard to get anything honest, and good, said anymore. The big plus for me, is that it's propa joined up writing, like wat you don't get any more in a rag.

A world that marches towards war with upside down morals as a uniform.

Not since between the World wars have so many Fascists  been in power in Europe. Their victory, or their take over is that more impressive due to the highish employment, and the relative luxury that the plebs live in  todays Spoilt Slack New World. What has happened? One woman/girl/ android  with some kind of university degree, once famously asked me how long it took me to drive over from France. I quickly crossed her off my  miscegenation  list. Funny how beauty is actually skin deep, and can disguise a perfect vacuum. Funny how the laurels that western Europe, and America decked themselves with, are now looking like the confetti at the obviously doomed modern marriage. I did my pull ups today, thats it folks.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

The right tools for the job, by Stevie the tool Haston.

Do you know the difference between Static rope and Dynamic rope? Do yu know what impact force is? Do you know what the right tool for the job is?

 Static is so much better at jugging up, or rigging.

The other day I went down a long rope, then another long rope, and couldn't get back up with my jumping system. I was trapped. Fairly embarrassingly trapped. After a while I swum around pondering the very long swim back in cold water without a suit, and decided on a humiliating rescue rather than turning into a frozen bit of cod. Anyway it didn't happen for I accidentally happened on a small mechanical jumar which did work! It's funny how some things work and are correct. This little thing was in the zip compartment of my chalk bag! 

 Dog food stops dogs from destroying Scarpa Furias.

 The line of Alah il hobuik, adventurous terrain. Garden trowel a good option on the middle pitch.

Blaming tools, or equipment seems to be a common subject, slightly overtaken at the moment in blaming Presidents, and Prime Ministers rather than blaming humans. Or learn your trade, and do the job, don't pretend you know what your doing.

 King of the crag, he never blames his gear.

 These baubles make my inner life shine, and my inner ear hear the sea.

 this dog is the right tool to model this bit of Italian fashion wear, its cold here!

The sky above the sea, it reverberates with colour at this time of year, the correct tapestry for a dreamy traipse on the way home.

I wore a helmet the other day, when I work with people I make them wear one. I check every bodies  knot, whether they want me to, or not. The right tool for the job, is sometimes just a question. 

Monday, 9 January 2017

Andy Pollitt 2, by Stevie Zero Haston.

 Bernd Arnold schooling me on the finer points of climbing history.

Climbers can be huge people, obviously not in stature, just look at Johnny Dawes. Some of them weren't that flamboyant, or noticeable due to crazy last century foibles, like a modicum of honesty, and a reasonable amount of modesty. It was a pleasure to give Andy Pollitt his glowing review, as I did for Ron Fawcet a few years ago. We will doubtless meet up in an Ozzy pub one day and get smashed on nostalgia.

 Going down 140 meters, getting stuck, becoming the human icicle, returning, etc, short epic which will never get written about.

Will my little tales of daring do come light on gilded paper? I think the chances are receding. Life is just way too desperate now, just feeding my self seems to cause me problems and the future for an old geriatric climber with out health insurance looks bleak! When Andy Pollitt  saw his mate "Jerry the greatestest climber" in the worlds book come out to a glad reception, it must've galled, but it was a spur to his memory, and a book was impregnated, gestated, and was finally born. There's a bit in the book about a route called Zero in the book, an old route in Ogwen and Andy's tale is of a grip up, a desperate grip up! Cris Gore did the route a bit after, the last route of this type that Chris "the horse" did. So many of these great climbers like Chris stopped climbing knecky routes-Chris was always a very sensible pragmatic bloke-and his early decision not to push the boat out was indeed sensible. Jerry gave up after Masters Wall and truly became the Master of hype all though he still managed in a couple of cases to pull his gnarly fingers out and do something-Liquid Amber springs to mind.

A better out come, a man must eat, a man must work, donate so I can eat cake…actually I need some glue!

The modern equivalent of Zero still exists, you get the odd ascent of Indian Face every half decade, just to remind us cynics, that these types of hombre still get past the PC neutering stage. But do they develop into rabid Tom Cats of climbing, no they don't seem too. The old phrase there are old climbers and bold climbers but no old bold climbers springs to mind! Anyway Mr Andy Punk in the Gym, thanks for a good trip down memory lane.  And as a final two fingers up, Andy did give Phil Davidson a good mention, talk about unsung 'heroes', obviously I wouldn't use hero carelessly, it's merely a substitution for climber here, to exaggerate climbings value to a non climbing public. Now that I mention Phil I have to mention Andy's not lack of technique, but his ordinaryness of foot work. In some of the photos you will see him splayed out, both shoes on inside edge! Andy used to drag himself up some things by force of will on those fingers of steel, with a body long lost much torsion, his mind slowly wilting, but he would win through. Thank god he did. Did I mention his crazy eyes…..  

Andy Pollitt biography, by Stevie Haston.

It's called Punk in the Gym, it's published by Vertebrate Publishing, it's author is Andy Pollitt, and I very much recommend you buy it. In fact if you bought just one book, and your just a rock climber, it would have to be this one, just for the tons of joy de vivre. I absolutely adore this book. 

 the stupendous cover of an anorexic mega rock star who used to floss his teeth with 10mm.

There have been a shed full of biographies lately and in some ways that's where most of them should have stayed, it's only in the stupidly overblown world of climbing that you can have a book about the ascent of not very much, and the life of the fairly boring. This book is full of daring do, because although it's not about alpine climbing, it is about knecky balls to the wall kindda climbing, not sport climbing, and in some cases it's about balls to the loose, shaky holds kinda wall of doom stuff of legends climbing. There is also so much left unsaid in this book, I am sure Vertebrate Press had to use the red pen lots. The true story will never ever be written, and it is with much thanks that we owe Andy Pollitt for being so honest, and remembering so much. Hey, and lets face it, it is a wonder he remembered much of this, he left climbing two decades ago, cold turkey, and lots of beer a go.

 there is much superb photography in this great book,  some of it by Glen Robbins the cover being one of his. But there is much else like this one with the steely Criss Gore in the background. How many faces from the corners of sweet memory come floating back by grace of this wonderful book.

Andy tells the story of how he received Jerry Moffats bio, but what he doesn't say is it gave him a competitive kick up the ass, and hit him like lightning bolt, and shook his memory. Anyway I should have written some pages for this book, sorry Andy I was busy as you know, but I never believed it would be so good. Well done young man, and thank you for all those great routes. 
this is how I remember Andy he was such a noob or nob like we used to say in "dem lost days".

If you had anything to do with the rock climbing scene in the 8Os this is essential reading, if you had anything to do with the North Wales scene it's probably required reading in some schools along the coast there. I remember Andy, and Jerry for that matter as two terribly keen, but fairly inept kids, who some how made good despite being green as spring. The rest is history except for the friendships, the climbing partnerships, and the happenings, much of which went on in North Wales. People like Paul Whilliams a friend of mine, who was like a dad to Andy, pop through the pages, alive, born again, out of death for the space of some lively pages. Andy's sprog moustache, and penchant for looking dumb, very slowly changed into one of the more adventurous of the UKs top performers, leaving a legacy of star spangles routes, and repeats of gnarly head gaming rock that is hard to match. I can see him now sitting in the Padarn Lake hotel drinking beer, and smoking, the smiling, and that's when you knew he had done something really good, or really f...ecking good. There is a terrible page in the book which has a certain macabre interest for some, but one I don't really like where there is a list of dead mates. The seriousness of the rock climbing or climbing scene in the UK is not to be dismissed. I expect many of my friends will have looked at this page, and said, there but for the grace of god go I. I'am very glad that the young noob out grew his tach, and some how had the balls to write this wonderful book. I well remember him and I, bouldering once on the Crochan, and him doing one of my little problems with a small sac on his back and him giving me a nice wicked side long smile.  Thanks Andy, and you lot out there in Na Na land, understand that climbing is sometimes fixed in time, and this time, this span of a book was a very special time.  

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Calling a Pot, a Black Kitchen Utensil, by Stevie the immigrant Haston.

 The view from my Washington Post Office.

It's the year of climbing, I expect to see less British due to Brexit, I expect to see more Americans, and lots of Germans, Italians and other Europeans. Hopefully they will be lovely people. I picked up some litter that the last lot dropped accidentally, or threw away on purpose, they can have their rubbish back if they want.

 The view changes like the weather and who pays me to change my sunglasses.

I noticed a few mistakes in our guide book, not terribly big ones, but please believe me I didn't put them there on purpose, they weren't Fake news or factoids. One of the mistakes concerns the length of a few routes, please believe me I wouldn't get these wrong on purpose!  Just add a few feet or meters on to things for flavour and safety, so you don't get into trouble. Please take everything with a bit of salt except the growing, incredibly worrying politics that are smothering the planet. Perhaps I am wrong, but I thought we were heading in the right direction, loving our brothers and sisters of different mothers.

 What would I do with a good camera and the eyes to see.

An Arch bishop, or Cardinal some where in a huge American city, has said that divorced people should abstain from sex, and so should Homosexuals (or Gay people I forget the latest name) is this man in a dress, who wears a funny hat worth listening too, or can we call him a TWASSOCK. Does the Pope call him names when he looks at his Face Book, or de Friend him?

My favourite route of the moment Bernardino Fernandez.

I have been to the House of Parliament in the UK when I was a young student, and saw first hand what a bunch of lazy idiots they were, nothing much seems to have changed, except now we don't know who the good guys and girls are, because we are not allowed to use harsh words to identify them. I want to know who my enemies are, I want them to know who I am. 

I get all sorts of visitors, some don't agree with me on everything. This little fellow was chased away by some thugs in different plumage.

It's windy here, but it's not the wind of change, it's more like gas from over eating.  The Red Cross are having to help out with the NHS in the UK, because certain rich people want it underfunded, and then sold to themselves and their own interests. If you have anything to do with this, please do not come and be seen by me. Please do not support the distruction of the NHS. 2017 will be a crucial year for many things, I intend to waste less words, and time-thats not a new years resolution, thats a promise.