Friday, 30 July 2010

SUCCESS on ML Re-Assessment - 29th July

I was on Kinder Scout in the Peak District last evening and into the night (Thursday 29th July). It was my Mountain Leader re-assessment, principally on navigation. The conditions were ideal for me. Examiner Nick and I were on the hill from about 6:00pm untill 11:00pm. I passed and I am now a qualified Mountain Group Leader. I am chuffed to bits. It has been a long road from nowhere to success. A journey of almost four years.
(Double click on the documents to enlarge for reading)

Thursday, 29 July 2010

My photo of the MATTERHORN

The majestic Matterhorn. I took this photo on my July 1999 trip to the mountain. More Matterhorn photos to follow at another date.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

ATTEMPT on the MATTERHORN in 1999 - write up

ATTEMPT ON THE MATTERHORN – July 1999 by Andrew Wright

At long last I found a cheap way to Zermatt, home of the glorious Matterhorn. A long distance bus from London to Geneva and, from there, a train to Visp; then the rattling, toy like, red, Glacier Express through impossibly green alpine meadows and pine woods up to Zermatt. Views of gushing waterfalls and fierce churning glacial rivers coloured the journey. In Zermatt I dutifully visited the picturesque graveyard containing the remains of men who had perished on the amphitheatre of high summits towering above the town. I went to the Alpine Museum and learned of Edward Whymper’s first ascent of the Matterhorn during the 19th century’s Golden Age of Mountaineering. Then, a long look at the shreds of the hemp rope, in its glass display case. It was the very rope that had failed to save the ill-fated members of Whymper’s group. All fear inducing and intimidating to an already uncertain mind.
I shouldered my enormous pack once again; it must have weighed over 50 pounds. I spent the night at the Schonbuhlhutte and still carried the flea in my ear after being berated by some Frenchmen for disturbing their late slumber, as I rummaged to pack my gear in the bunkroom. “It is normal to pack outside”, one said. "Bloody frogs", some might have muttered. The pack rendered me to a slow methodical space walk of movement. Each step a deliberate and individual motion. One foot forward and elevate the weight. The track was steep and narrow, winding a zig zag path up the shale scree. By late afternoon I would reach the Hornli Hut. Famous, as it was, the start point of the ‘easy’ route up the Matterhorn. As I climbed, straining under the hefty load of the pack, sweating and heaving, a young man with his girl, on a day walk, came by. The man said, with a hint of irony, “That looks brutal”. I could only smile weakly in agreement.

It was a relief to have dumped the pack in the bunkroom of the Hornli hut. As I munched on some dried fruit, I looked up at the forbidding rock and snow banks above the hut. I was frightened. Here beyond the hut was the fearful void. What was it like? Was it too difficult and dangerous, only to tackled by ‘serious’ climbers? There were few other climbers at the hut. Two Belgians arrived, with intent. They looked well equipped and experienced. I decided to ask if I could make a beginning on the climb with them in the morning. So much for any supposed spirit de corps in the mountains. One of the Belgians replied haughtily “there will be no beginning with us, if you go, you go entirely alone”. It truly would be a point of surmounting the fear that as I always supposed.

I was up at 3am to make an Alpine start. The Belgians were underway. I would let them go. He deposited much of the gear from the pack and set out into the biting cold of the blackness following the beam of his head torch. He inched across a short snow ridge leading from the hut and scrambled up onto a rock ledge from where the route began. There were no markers to help. It was misty with low swirling cloud. He could hear the occasional voice emerging ghost like from the silence. It was the Belgians. They were returning, why was this? Had they taken a false route. They were retreating because they feared bad weather was coming. As the Belgians reached me the same climber who had been so haughty at the hut sneered “you will never reach the Solvay hut”. The Solvay hut is an isolated bivi shelter high on the ridge and a point of sanctuary from danger. Now the Belgians had retreated I knew that I was the solitary person on the mountain. I was truly alone and unnerved by the foreboding and discouraging words of the arrogant Belgian.

I decided to continue, with considerable trepidation, to see something of what the route ahead was like. To cross a steep snow pocket I fastened ill-fitting crampons to my boots. As I moved slowly across the bank of snow a crampon fell off and slid ten metres down, nestling itself on rocks just before a gaping drop. I had to rescue it. I was un-nerved. As I regained the height a rock the size of a fist came bouncing past, not five feet from his head. This was the final straw. I had no helmet for protection. The rock would have made a nasty dent in my skull. It was time to retreat. I was relieved, it was over. It was good to look at the route; to have never looked would have been the true failure. I could always return another day.
I still hadn’t climbed the Matterhorn, but was it necessary? It was just one mountain, one challenge; there were many others, planted into my mind on countless adventures. Would I return to the Matterhorn? Maybe, if an opportunity arose. If the right transport to Zermatt was cheap enough. Yes, I think I would, one day. Maybe I could walk there, from Chamonix, on the high level trekking route.


Transport was with Eurlines bus from London to Geneva, then public train to Visp before boarding the Glacier Express to Zermatt.
Accomodation Swiss Youth Hostels at Geneva and Zermatt. Mountain refuges, namely the Hornli and Schonbuhlhutte huts. Wild camping.

MIDDLE EAST Article TEL Soc. Spring 2010 Newsletter

My article entitled: 'A Middle East journey in the footsteps of T.E.Lawrence' was published in the TEL Society Spring 2010 Newsletter. I am chuffed. Thankyou to CD for putting it in uncut. (Double click on the pages to enlarge for reading.)

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

JOG-LE Northwich Guardian report of 21st July

This story about the JOG-LE half-way stage appeared in the Northwich Guardian of 21st July. (Double click on the article to enlarge for reading.)

JOG-LE The Lands End photos - 25th July

The Helford ferry passage. A tiny motor launch which takes you across the Passage on demand for the sum of £4.00 + £2.50 for a bike. While waiting for the ferry to begin I had the world's best ice cream, a chocalate brownie and marshmellow.
The Helford Passage ferry. The ticket and ice cream kiosk is on the right.

On the Lizard Peninsular.
I stopped at a cafe at Lizard Point to have chips + tea + scone.
Lizard Point.

The road to Lands End.
The road to Lands End.
St Micheal's Mount, near Penzance. The tide was in and I could not be bothered to wait three hours to cross the causeway to the island Mount.
Nearing Lands End.
Lands End tourist centre/attraction.
The famous finger post at Lands End. It says 874 miles to John O'Groats, my route was over 1,400 miles.

I paid £9.95 to get access close to the famous Lands End fingerpost and to have my photo taken professionally. I was told that because of my trip charitable aim I would receive two print copies of the photo they took.

After Lands End I headed back the 10 miles to Penzance where I booked my train ticket for the 26th July. I found a marvellous wild camp spot on the edge of town. I pitched my tent on a grassy embankment on a spot hidden by the shade of overhanging trees.
If you would like to donate to JOG-LE in aid of the 'African Support & Assistance Project' please visit the fund raising webpage: Thankyou
This is not the end of JOG-LE in aid of ASAP. As a charity fundraising exercise it still has some more miles still to go.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

JOG-LE VICTORY in the UK - 25th July

I crossed the line at 11:15am this morning, 25th July, after over 1,400 miles of cycling. I am chuffed, to say the least. This trip has dwelled in my mind for decades. Now it is reality. I hold the UK in the palm of my hand, just briefly.
I was on the road at 4:15 am, on the Lizard Peninsular, to reach Helston and then on the A394 to St Micheal's Mount. The causeway to the Mount was submerged by the sea and a desire to wait for the low tide, at noon, did not exist. Had a light breakfast at a hotel. I pushed on beyond Penzance to the hilly roads to Lands End. At the Lands End I passed all the attractions to reach the finger post. Took digital photos with my camera and I also paid £9.95 for a professional photo inside the fingerpost barrier. A bargain, now, I feel.
I am blogging at the YMCA in Penzance. Will go into town to research trains home for tomorrow, and then will find a wild camp for tonight.
Photos to follow when the opportunity arises.

If you would like to donate to JOG-LE in aid of ASAP p[lease visit: Thankyou.

Friday, 23 July 2010

JOG-LE Reaches Falmouth, victory is near to hand - 23rd July

Sunrise in Cornwall.
Mevagissey, Cornwall.

Sunrise in Cornwall.

Cornwall beach.

The road to St Mawes and its ferry to Falmouth.

St Mawes harbour.

The cute ferry to Falmouth.

The ferry boat to Falmouth.

Seals in Falmouth bay. See if you can spot them, there are three in the photo.

Approaching Falmouth.

The hour of victory is approaching. I will finish cycling and reach Lands End on Sunday 25th July 2010. I dont know the count of days, I believe they have been past well. Last night was probably the roughest wild camp of the trip. It was wet and damp. But now the weather is favourable once more. I have now cycled over 1,300 miles. I want to thank most sincerely all those who have supported me. Without them it would not have been possible.
If you would like to donate to JOG-LE in aid of the African Support & Assistance Project please visit the web page: Thankyou very much.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

JOG-LE In Cornwall, a second century of posts - 22nd July

The Scott of the Antarctic memorial, Plymouth.

My wild camp. Beautiful, but I was almost moved on by the farmer because I did not have permission. He said "I havnt seen you" and he went away and left me. Cornwall is my final County and possibly along with Devon the toughest. I am in Liskeard and I will head along the A390 towards St Austell. There was a bit of rain this morning but it has now cleared up.
If you would like to donate to JOG-LE in aid of African Support & Assistance Project please visit: Thankyou

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

JOG-LE In the Footsteps of Lawrence again - 21st July

Plymouth harbour.

The ferry from Plymouth to Mountbatten.
Lawrence's road.
Aircraftsman Shaw's road.

Lawrence's lodging in Mountbatten, there is a plaque on the wall to the right, nearly obscured in shadow and darkness.
The old flyingboat sheds, Mountbatten, Plymouth.
I am pushing on the final tug to Lands End. I am well and I am dry, thank goodness.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

JOG-LE Reaches Plymouth - 20th July

Crossing Dartmoor.
Famous 'Post bridge', Dartmoor.

Entrance arch to Dartmoor Prison.
Dartmoor Prison museum.
Dartmoor pony.
Cycle track on the route to Plymouth.
The pilgrim steps, Plymouth.

I lose track of the number of days I have been away but the dates never leave me. I have reached Plymouth after a day of appauling weather. It has rained almost continuously. I decided to abandon my plan to wild camp on the outskirts of this city and instead I am staying at the Globe Backpackers for £15.00. This is a city brimming with history and sights to see. I saw the steps at which the Pilgrims Fathers stopped on route to American, the same place where the Tolpuddle Martyers arrived on their return. Tomorrow I will follow up the Plymouth Lawrence links at Mountbatten. It will involve a ferry ride and some mooching about.
Earlier in the day I visited Dartmoor Prison. Here I learned a lot about the nature of prisons. Dartmoor Prison is over 200 years old. Built in 1809 to house prisoners of the Napoleonic Wars and also the American War of I think 1812. Eammon De Valera of Southern Ireland was also a prisoner at Dartmoor for a while.
If you would like to donate to JOG-LE in aid of the African Support & Assistance Project please visit the fund raising webpage: Thankyou.