Well I have just return from a lovely (Well edible) lunch in Pete’s Eats, where I was flicking through the Mirror and saw a story of sensationalist proportion on a couple taking a baby for a walk up Snowdon. I read between the lines and saw no story whatsoever. Then in walked a previous chairman of Llanberis Mountain Rescue team who chatted about the idiot that took the picture. Mid slagging would you believe it the idiot, who would only give his first name Rob (I will get his full name when I have tracked it down), walked in on the conversation looking for quotes.
There was a potential nomination for an honorary mention in the Darwin Awards in Ogwen on Monday, when a man reportedly decided to Slide down 150ft ice slide rather than walk, because ‘it is easier than walking’.
Well, I am set to become an agrophobic, as whilst before I could sit and watch tele like the best of couch potatoes. Today my landlord turned up with a massive HD tele and has ordered a SKY HD+. The tele pretty much fills the room, and we can hook the computer to it so we can watch BBC iPlayer and YouTube, as well as any porn I (i mean we) download!
I have written a lot about mountain rescue over the years, from my article on UKC that the Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team had a disclaimer added to emphasising that it was my opinion, through to many post on this blog about my involvement in actual rescues. As 2009 draws to a close i thought it a worthy to have a round up of both recent rescues and the year in general, adding my thoughts.
Well over the few days before christmas, there were two call outs, one to rescue some totally ill equipped walkers who thought tracksuit and trainers was ideal for winter mountaineering (See BBc report). Suffice to say neither the RAF, rescue team or A&E were impressed by them. Another incident early on wednesday required the team to mobilise.
Several months back now I sat on the BMC national council and voted on the decision to give the Mountain Heritage Trust some £45000 over the coming three years to prop up this flagging charity. It had already been involved with the failure of the ragead musuem in the Lake district, and need £15000 a year to prop itself up and carry on the much needed cataloguing of the artifacts it had been left or donation to the trust.
The UK has spoken through action rather than words, and for once a facebook group managed to achieve its aim, of knocking Simon Cowell’s ‘music factory’ off the Christmas number 1 slot. It had become rather predictable, as since 2004 some for of Cowell/X Factor homogonised pop has ruled the waves at christmas.
Now we have Rage Against the Machine’s, Killing in the Name of, a track originally released in 1992, a year that saw me visiting The Steam House in Southbourne, a indy rock pub with attitude. Every Sunday a similar set of loud rock would eminate from the over crowded bar, and the crowd would scream along with such great hits.
The Rage track is a very antiestablishment track, that whilst not the best song ever made certainly sends the sentiments to a generation that are sick of X-Factor format fame and music. Given arguments that society reflects live and live society. I see this as a metaphor for climbing and the media at the moment.
If you haven’t read Stevie Haston’s blog then I suggest you do, as he suggest that real talent in climbing (like himself) struggle to make a living because lesser climbers are taking all the limelight and the limited cash that goes with it. I can’t say I entirely agree with Stevie, but he certainly has a point, in that on paper, he is arguably a legendary rock star.
Unfortunately for Stevie sponsors don’t want legends they want people willing to sell out to help promote their products. Climbers who will climb the hardest and most dangerous routes for free, and be filmed whilst doing it. Stevie’s argument that the film-maker or photographers are making more money from the sport than the performers is well founded. Just look at Adam Long’s article on the Grand Capucin where Jame McHaffie and Ben Bransby climbed the route, and Adam documented and sold the ascent in both words and images, and what is wrong with that? Its not just Adam many photographers and film makers myself included have arguably exploited climbers.
Unfortunately there seems to be little that can be done, as manufacturers have a limited marketing budgets, and often turn to those with a ‘relationship’ with photographer and film-makers in order to get the most media coverage in return for there investment. As a photographer and ex-film-maker there seems little that we can do as we are really only capturing routes that the climbers would probably climb anyway, and the money isn’t that great compared to other media outlets. For instance I made more money selling an image to two national newspapers than I got for an entire article in a national climbing magazine.
So maybe Stevie’s excellent rants are simply an extension of the push to get rid of homogonised media in climbing, as photographers and film-makers make a killing in the name of.
Postscript – The example i cited of Adam was incorrect, Ben made more than Adam, and whilst Adam is unsure about how much Caff made, the fact he got the cover shot, probably means he got a reasonable amount from photo incentive deals. So perhaps change “well founded’, to “assumed by the author”. I stand corrected by Adam, and this probably gives more food for the argument that climbers need photographers and writers to get them into the climbing press. Thanks to Adam for putting me right, I’d also like to point out that I only choose the example because i liked the images and the story, and as such it popped straight into my head when trying to find an example. I could have used any major or minor photographer/writer and any number of climbers as an example.
The BMC is rather cash rich despite the efforts of Bear Grylls to stop any profit in the BMC Travel Insurance scheme, although according to the BMC it is also people over 70 taking out the insurance and Snowboarder injuring themselves in the very expensive US (Expect premium increases in these catorgories in 2010). So despite this the BMC does have somewhere in the region of £800000 in the bank, and a 6% increase in membership from 2009 to 2010.
At the BMC’s last National Council meeting, and sadly my last one, as I stepped down from representing Wales on the Council, as weekend meetings means if I attended them all I would lose £1000 a year from my income. Anyway there was a proposal put forward by London and South East England Area Committee to create a concrete crag in a disused chalk quarry.
Now my initial reaction was, what a stupid idea, then I heard the proposed cost (nearly £1million), and I nearly shit a brick. There are all sorts of cost and legal implications around converting a disused quarry, that would be enough to put most investors off. However the basic proposal seemed to be a bit vague, and was sent back to see what it would cost to put a feasibility study together. With ideas that just a study to see if it is sensible would cost £10000 of BMC money, which seems to me to be throwing good money after bad, I’ll write a report for free that says it is too expensive and too many pit holes to justify spending so much money. If it wasn’t I am sure that an investor in London could be found.
Despite my negativity, which I did channel positively in the meeting to explain that we only have one International standard climbing wall in the UK, and that’s in Edinburgh. So maybe spending that money on another wall in England or even Wales might be more beneficial. However I live in an area that is surrounded by rock.
The argument that L&SE area put forward is that the majority of the membership of the BMC is based where there is no rock (i.e. the South East). As such the outdoor artificial crag would be a great asset. However an asset that I am sure they would soon realise is open to the fickleness of British Weather. Putting all the BMC’s cash eggs in the one basket means that we could end up with a white elephant like the millenium dome or even the wobbly bridge.
Whilst I have every sympathy for the London living climbers, if a project needs the sort of funding that they are looking at they need to be in private hands or the hands of local councils and grants. Imagine how many crags the BMC could buy for £1 million pounds.
This is certainly something that is worth keeping you ear to the ground and your eyes open as the L&SE area have been told to find out how feasible the feasibility study is, and possibly come back for funding.
Well for the last few days it has been Christmas parties, pubs and socialising, i am full to the brim quite literally with Christmas Spirit. I think I only have a few more ‘official’ parties to go to then I can relax in the christmas/new year gap. I felt the pounds I gained at the climbing wall the other night, although it might have been the hangover I was harbouring.
Well I spent today trying to get rid of the leftovers from my chicken dinner on Saturday night. I went for the chicken soup option, as it is an easy dish and a nice winter warmer. Here’s today’s recipe.