What a tool!

We’ll if you’ve been reading you’ll be aware that I have started running, if you actually know me than this will come as a shock. Mainly due to the fact that I am a lazy bastard, who tried to never break a sweat. So what possessed me to take it up? Well the answer to that is competitiveness, I couldn’t let my mate out do me, so if he was running then so was I, one a similar vein he gave up smoking as well.

Anyway the idea was easy, however the implementation was a little sketchier, I know I have a bad knee so before starting got a knee brace. Mainly so I stop any injury re-occurring, however despite only running for a few weeks my right knee seems to have been in absolute agony, to the extent that it was painful walking across the front room. It then dawned on me that I was my right leg that had the injury not the left that I have been putting the knee brace on!

Now for those that know me this will not come as a surprise, for those who don’t know me, let me just tell you this is typical Mark behaviour! Anyway now I am strapping up the right leg rather than the wrong one I am hoping that the running becomes less painful!

Meeting with the Editor

Well I went and caught up with Franco Ferrero at Pesda Press today, to see where we are up to with my coaching book. After giving them a few images that looked good for the cover I was blown away when I saw the image that they have chosen. Not only is it a strong image, but a classic and inspiration line as well. I’ll let you guess which one of my images they choose.

Anyway I have to admit to losing my way a bit with my coaching book/How to improve/Self help manual. However, as ever I feel re-vitalised having chatted through where we are and what I need to do next! You never know it might be out by next Christmas! Until then I hope you find a few of my mini-articles/post of use.


Pancake Day

The Dark Art of Pancake tossing

Well I guess it was just too predictable to not blog on this cultural happening. Now for most people pancake day is just Pancake Day. A day to pig out on a heady combination of milk, flour and eggs. Not a very rich offering but, considering most of us top it off with sugar, syrup, ice cream, lemon juice and chocolate then the calories soon add up. Then there the secret mix, we all have one, or variations on a theme, even if it is simply whether to cool the mix or not!

It is of course a cultural happen that is inclusive for everyone, even the fat kids feel at home. Everybody has to have a go at the dark art of flipping a pancake which is probably one of the only things that will be handed down through the generations along with wife beating, alcoholism and knife crime. Things like how to repair a 4 stroke engine, knitting, darning socks and what axe you need to split a log will sadly be lost in the tracks of time. However pancake flipping will never ever die out, why? Because everyone loves Pancakes!

Pancake Filth

Most of us probably don’t even associated pancake day with anything anymore. It took me a few attempts to remember that it wasn’t anything to do with Easter or the resurrection, but lent. I can’t really remember what the point of lent was other than you have to give something up for it, probably in recompense for something the Lord Jesus Christ did for us, like die on a cross?

So trying to think of something to give up for lent that I would miss I thought that giving up sex might be an option. As its something that I miss but giving it up for lent probably won’t alter the fact that I wasn’t going to get any anyway. Although as my friend pointed out I was more than welcome to practice tossing …………………………………………………………..the pancake!

Gear Review: Patagonia Hat

Hat Testing

Well a hat is a hat is a hat! Surely there is nothing more to it, simply a Tea Cosy for the swede, or is it sweed? Well that’s what people would like you to think, however there is far more to the discerning hat buyer than an up ended boil design. For instance a hat must cover your ears, and to do so it can either be a straight rimmed or ‘dear stalker’ variety. Now whilst the Dear Stalker has advantage in most conditions, those flappy bits get real annoying when they whip you round the face constantly in a typical steady mountain breeze (aka Gale). As such I have always preferred the standard straight rim.

The next design consideration is the 2, versus 4 versus 6 section crown join. Now I really don’t consider a 2 cut join a hat, its something a three year old might knock up for there mum out of newspaper. Whilst a 4 seam join is aesthetically better, when it comes to hats its like cylinder on cars the more the better. My Patagonia hat has a 6 seam join. Topped off with a tassel that even the most burlesque of dancers would be proud to swing. In a stiff mountain breeze it doubles up as a wind vein.

Now simply as a hat the Patagucci design is thoroughly utilitarian, with the added luxury finish of a fleece liner round the rim to prevent any annoying itches caused by the wool, possible make it one of the best hats available in the western world. However where I fall down is the choice of colour, style and design I choose.

I brought my hat in V12 Outdoor, and very happy with it am I!

X-stream testing!


I have spent this morning at school again, this time going through a dry run of my research proposal, never having given one before meant I was rather like a duck out of water. My workload also meant that I only had yesterday to prepare. Fortunately it appeared from the feedback like I wasn’t so much a pass or fail case but how well I could pass. So despite the seeming endless criticism it wasn’t all bad. I also got to watch a few other presentations so have a better idea of what they expect. Apparently my disarming and relaxing manner isn’t what they want when it comes to research proposals!

Anyway the main point of the blog is Psuedoneglect, now I had no idea what psuedoneglect was until 11am this morning, when one of my fellow MSc students gave his research proposal, and now I wish I didn’t know. Why? Because I keep walking into things with my right shoulder.

So Psuedoneglect is a phenomenon that revolves around a the visual cortex being in the right side of the brain and us compensating to avoid missing details of the lefthandside. In compensating we spend less time or mental processing looking at things in our visor-spacial sketchpad on the right. As such right handed (left handed people have less right side/left side brain conflict) men (most men are right brained) are more likely to walk into things on your right side. Now my limited testing of this psuedoneglect in the real world, comes down to three known (remembered) incidents. One five minutes ago when I bumped into the door frame of the lounge, another about a week ago when I ran into a gatepost, the third was six months ago when I walked into a road sign, taking most of the impact on the side of my head really hurt, both physically and my emotionally as a few people saw me bounce off the sign.

Anyway, its like the matrix, if I hadn’t told you would you be bumping into things with your right shoulder?

Coaching Workshop for Instructors

Well tonight I delivered a evening coaching workshop for instructor from the Beacon Climbing Centre mainly aimed at showing these instructor that they already use ‘coaching behaviours’, and that with a little thought they can hopefully start focusing on its use in a more conscious and deliberate manner. Rather than trial and error method that most climbing instructors have used to get to there current good teaching practices.

We basically looked at the component parts that make up up Effective Coaching, so covered topics like coaching models, VAK learning pathways, How the brain learns, Observation and correcting faults, Effective practice and the use of Self-Efficacy as a coaching tool. Basically in the time frame of a couple of hours it was little more than a whistle stop tour of what coaching is, however they all found it useful. For me it was a great use of the skills I have learnt on my MSc in Sport Science, especially after delivering a How to Teach Navigation course at Plas Y Brenin the previous weekend.

If your climbing or outdoor centre would like a short CPD course in coaching in either climbing, or teaching navigation then contact me via my website.

Free Navigational Training at Plas Y Brenin

As part of a mountain safe partnership (There website doesn’t seem to exists!) between the National Park, Mountain Rescue Council and North Wales Police, a one day free Navigational Training Course is being held at Plas Y brenin (LL24 0ET for the tomtom!) on the 15th March. The course starts at 9.30am with a registration and tea and coffee. After that Tim Bird, an Officer of North Wales Police and keen mountaineer will introduce you to the basics of Mountain Navigation.

This is an ideal course if you are unsure of your navigation, or you want to start venturing from lowland area into the heart of mountainous regions like Snowdonia. What’s more it is totally free. So if your in need of navigational Training then get yourself to Plas Y Brenin on the 15th March for you free Introduction to Mountain Navigation.



Sunday 15th March 2009


Plas y Brenin, National Mountain Centre, Capel Curig, Conwy. LL24 0ET


• 09:30 – 10:00 Registration (Tea & Coffee)
• 10:00 – 10:10 Welcome / Introductions / Days Outline / Housekeeping
• 10:10 – 11:30 Introduction to Mountain Navigation – Tim Bird
• 11:30 – 11:45 Tea / Coffee Break
• 11:45 – 12:00 Split into groups
• 12:00 – 17:00 Instructor Led Navigation practical
• 17:00 – 17:30 Tea and Cakes / Course debrief
• 17:00 Distribution of NNAS Certificates / End


Equipment carried should be usual hill walking gear. Any shortfalls can be drafted from Plas y Brenin stores on the day.
Please bring a compass and OS map OL17.


Information on where to stay is available from either Betws y Coed Tourist Information Centre – 01690 710 426 or Beddgelert – 01766 890 615.

Snowdon ‘The Killer Mountian’

I just read over on UKC a great piece from Jack about the Deaths on Snowdon it seems like we have had a very tragic and busy year already as far as rescue go in Llanberis. On Saturday night there were two more incidents followed by another another one on Sunday. Unfortunately due to a crippling work schedule of late didn’t get to the Saturday’s incidents. However when I attended Sundays, that thankfully turn into just overdue climbers, rather than a full on rescue, one of the team mentioned that Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team has had 23 rescue already this year. 23!

Given I have been working for Plas y brenin, and heard tales from several instructors of members of the public having ‘near misses’ on snow and ice on the upper reaches of the Pyg Track this week. It is amazing that we haven’t had anymore fatalities. One of the Brenin staff, came to the assistance of a young boy out with his dad who slipped 100 metre down snow between the PYg Track and the Trinity face, where little more than trainers! The kid fortunately bounced and the instructor, cut steps to and from the pair and got them back on the path!

Similarly, on an epic traverse of Snowdon on a mountain bike (I will have to blog on this route as it is amazing achievement and proper grand day out) my housemate saw a mum and her two children with little more than a bottle of water and trainers, skating about on snow and ice just below the zig-zags at 3.30pm, still heading up! There is still potential to slip a long way on Snow/Ice on the mountain, despite it looking like summer below. I might go out later in the week and do Parsley Fern and Central Trinity.

Anyway thanks for the article Jack.

Bloody Cables


I spend my working life untangling ropes, and it seems that my home life revolves around untangling cables. I really don’t know how I can plug a phone charger in, and the next day go to remove it only to find I bring the four plug adaptor, two different camera chargers and the BT interweb router with it. How, simply by leaving these cables overnight do they get so tangled?
Do the borrowers come out and plait them together to have a laugh at my expense or is it the dog or is the only purpose in the life of a cable to become tangled? Considering that everything has about twenty cables attach to it, you’d have thought someone would have designed a better non-tangle cable. We can put a satelite in orbit, drill a hole to france (why we did that other than to prove we could, i will never know!) and even make a plane that will take off with the average 900lb american in it. Yet we can’t make a cable that does get tangled the moment you turn your back!
I have to go and untangle the printer from the ipod cable, so I can move the DVD player next to the external hard-drive, so the firewire cable will reach my laptop at the desk, whilst at the same time allowing enough room for my camera to plug into via its USB lead, on top of this I have to plug the power cable in. If I am not back in a week send a search party, as I could be tied to the bed in my room and not in a good way!

Pete Harrison Gets First Ascent of M8+

Dave Evans Attempting the line

It was mentioned on here a week or so ago, but Rocio & Owain Samuels mixed route that they drilled and equipped has finally seen a what I believe to be the first clean ascent by Pete Harrison. Pete has graded it at M8+, and seeing he has a bit of experience of mixed dry tooling is probably as a good a grader as we could get.
Pete tried the route with Dave Evans a while back, but was worried about a shoulder injury, coming back a week later he finally sent the line. At present he doesn’t want to name the route, as the amount of work that Rocio and Owain put into the line it seems only fair to offer them the chance to name it.
What he has said is that the route is of top quality, and despite being entirely drilled, the damage is totally minimal. There was a small ripple of concern on the slate wiki, however concerns over the proximity of exsisting free routes, seem unfounded. Although arguements abound over its right to be there, as it is a totally manufactured route. However compare the amount of cleaning require for the average slate rock climb in the resent past; drilling a few extra holes seems minimal to me at least. A section of wall to the left is also being looked at for some addition development of this type of route, given that the rock is damp, blank and unclimbed it seems like a reasonable idea top me. I just hope they make it easier!
It would be good to hear anyone’s opinion or comments on this limited dry tooling in the quarries, as I know a few people are not as keen as others, to see this type of development. Anyway good effort to Pete for getting up the line, as it looks seriously pumpy!