I'm a woman

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

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Climbing, caving and diving. By Stevie amphibious Haston.

Do you like many things? Or do you like a few good things, or do you stick to one thing? I Love many things and have managed to love many of them through ups and downs,often literally. Apologies to Doug Scott for misspelling his name 5 or 6 times, I can only put it down to some time at high altitude, and broken brain cells, plus too much time underwater, and soggy brain cells!

 Chalk I am afraid is as different as chalk and cheese, this stuff is the dog's gonads.

If I had a choice today I would be on a sunny high traverse in the Karakorum of Pakistan, but I am just a poor man, though my wishes are often known; my lack of funds allows me time, but not money to squander. Apologies to The Boxer, oh and add training in Thailand under a strict nasty trainer in the jungle to my list of things I wanna do!

Todays dive. Coming out through the little tunnel with little waves in the sand was fairly Nexus 6.

Too much gear? Not enough gear?
Whatever I do, the dog is generally up for it, he sometimes watches the bubbles and swims over, poor thing, shall I get him a mask and a tank?

lovely easy route in the sun!!

Is climbing an easy option, it certainly is when its easy. Today I went diving a route underwater which is a little bit severe for odd little reasons but it was very interesting and worth while. There is a universe of wonderful things and we are so limited by time experience and money. The snow is there early, be careful if you are sliding around in the snow or on boards! If you are under water, remember the first rule of Cave Diving is, "Don't go Cave Diving".

Monday, 11 December 2017

The Ogre by Doug Scot review Stevie Haston.

The Ogre is a great mountain complex and beautiful, in this book by Doug Scot it's history and location is all treated with meticulous detail, and love. The Ogre's proper name is Bainth Brakk, not that the Ogre cares that much, history and men, women and egos, will not effect these mountains that much, that is probably one of the reasons we all love mountains -they are above us. One of the things Doug does so well in the book is show how small we are in the context of this huge mountain chain.

The cover is some how inadequate to convey the bulk of this gigantic mountain, the contents do it proud.

I liked this book immensely, and it is a timely reminder of how much Doug Scot has done. I was not a great fan of his when with Dougald Macsporan Haston he conquered Everest on supplementary oxygen in 1975, but in Dougs other many many expeditions he always showed a sense of adventure and massive respect for the mountain and more importantly the people surrounding the mountain. This small book is some how perfect in construction, it is in two parts, the history of the mountain and its location, and the second part, the story (I might even say epic story) of the injuries to Doug and to Chris Bonnington and their slow tortuous decent of the mountain.

Climbing books should have maps, stacks and stacks of maps!

If you haven't been to the Karakorum you are missing something special, the biggest glaciers outside the Antarctic, and the most high mountains in the world. The Karakorum is different from the himalaya proper and this comes out well in the book-although the political ramifications which has affected the area has not been gone into. With this book you get a good glimpse of the area and a detailed account of the Ogre in all its bulky glory. The Ogre is a complex mountain more toad like in its immensity than spire, but it is huge and foreboding. This difficult climb which was repeated some 30 years later to the amazement of the younger Huber brother stands as a very good achievement to that group UK climbers all those years ago.

 Doug Scot a great product of his age, countless expeditions and many a good deed.

Doug Scots is known for his climbing, but climbing is just climbing, just as in the book the climbing is secondary to the loyalty of Clive and Mo who literally saved two lives, so it might come as a shock to many that Doug's work in these mountains is really of great importance. As a thank you to the local people Doug set up a charity which brought water to a village and over the years this has saved many lives. Doug with this book is also saying thank you to Clive and Mo. It is great that this story has found a proper place in detail, and is not just a pub tale talked over quickly and then not even known about by the younger generation.

 We often forget the people and take mountains out of their own context, the very word Karakorum means black rocks, they were a barrier to trade and war.

 Clive and Mo, two guys who were very handy and tough, and in the context of this book brought Doug and Chris back from the clutches of an uncaring Ogre.

I can't say more, I have read the book twice, and will read it many times again, I will gaze at the many fine photos and dream. To talk more of its contents is to rob you of some of the joy. It is great that the book is in two such interesting but different parts, history and actuality. Mr Scot promises to do a few more books like this, one can only hope that they come up to this fantastic standard. Apparently the book was done very quickly, so much credit no doubt goes to other people-I personally thank everybody concerned. You can read this book and be happy, and there is a very big lesson within its pages which should not be forgotten. What is the lesson? Choose your rope mates with care! 

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Scarpa climbing shoes, by Stevie Haston

If I said Scarpa climbing shoes keep getting better, I wouldn't be accurate because its hard to get better than some of there present and even some of their older shoes. Check them out and see if they fit your feet and your needs. Remember in climbing shoes the shape of the last, and the shape of the foot must go together otherwise it's not gonna happen. And remember reviews and reviews are sometimes paid for and some sponsored climbers can lie in 5 different languages! Try lots of shoes /boots on!

Chimera a startling good to absolutely profoundly magnificent!

The surest way to get better is not one arm pull ups, its feeling and understanding the foot hold and levering your body into the correct position for pushing and pulling up wards. Good shoes and understanding the shoe and the rubber will help you enormously.

 Drago is a very good steep rock shoe with the most toe rubber around for those funky toe hooks! Single velcro makes it a great bouldering shoe.

 Booster can stand on almost anything! Two velcro tabs make it convenient for most things if you size it comfy you should be able to wear it for multi pitch.

 Booster, it has a bit more support than I generally need unless theres a lot of edging and on long pitches it becomes more useful to me.

Spend as much time picking your shoes as you can or the assistant will tolerate, its a very important thing to do. Fit is everything, I can tolerate some pain for quite a while but most people can't, but in all cases try to avoid large empty spaces in your shoes, if there is an empty space your ability to push on that part of the shoe is vastly compromised.

Drago, slightly narrower toe box means I can get in the back of smaller pockets, great heel as with all the newer Scarpa shoe.
 Always take two pairs of shoes in your bag rucsac. Size matters!Style, as in design and performance matters absolutely. Think about your climbing more, understand climbing. Shoes are your primary tool.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Apropos of Nuffing, by Stevie half enlightened Haston.

I just saw that Hazel Finley did Salathea free- not much reaction from the climbing plebs. I saw that a girl did 9b-not much reaction from the climbing plebs. It does seem you have to do an awful lot to get noticed if you have the an appendage missing.

 the chillies are still growing, all my lettuce, chillies, a few tomatoes, and some greens are grown on two balconies.

There is less of me today than before, yet I think and hope that I am growing. I do my yoga everyday, it's like tending the garden, the sun shines (yes I am lucky), I grow but not side ways, something is growing within.

Shiva is a god in a certain part of the world, Shivling is a mountain!

To see, some times you must open your eyes. When I stared at Shivling 28 years ago I probably ceased to be a climber! I fell in love with mountains when I was young, but when I stared at Shivling I realised that in some way I was the mountain. Today people get embarrassed about talking from the heart more and more. We are told not to help poor people, it will only encourage them, we are told to respect other peoples views when they are clearly and fundamentally cruel, and wrong, we are guided by the payed for media, and our credit, our mortgage!

 Rishikesh, go there for a Satsang

I got robbed by monkeys (real monkeys if your wondering if it is a racist remark) on this bridge, they were clever, worked in gangs, used distraction and ambush. I want to go again, not to be robbed, but to listen to wise people. There is a man who speaks here called Mooji, he and I were living in Brixton many years ago, his path led him one way and mine another. I like to think it is a circular path and one day I will catch up with him.

 My path led me here, if I live longer, were will I go, who will I be, will I grow?

Why do we still think in terms of skin tone, and clothes? I still think in terms of success, not money, but climbs, and swimming, I still like to try hard-but the one thing you shouldn't have to try hard is how to love your fellow man. One friend this morning Andy Bailey reminded me by a photo of a steel works now long gone of how progressive governments have abandoned much of the UK to poverty, and depression. Another friend Des, showed me the way the earth is represented to give more significance to the UK, and its old Imperial importance. If you fly you can see all this very clearly, I love flying over the British Peak district and looking at its hugely important tiny gritstone edges, they are sometimes hardly higher than a hawthorn hedge! If you compare Burbage Edge to Shivling, or more especially Nang Parbat you might be a bit shocked. I laugh. Mooji and  Stevie, Brixton boys, same, same, different paths, one is ahead on the circular path -I think.

the world is misshaped on purpose. The UK is indeed small. How many Chines and Indian brothers and sisters do we have?

Africa is way bigger than you think, they lied to you, they always lie to you, its their job!

Peace and joy in your heart Satnam.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Front page in 1979, by Stevie bad boy Haston.

 I aint got time to write this morning but this was the Mail front page in  1979.

This week I wrote a couple of snippets for a book, and an american article, but the kids found some of my dead mum press cuttings, first time I seen them for many a year.

 This strong boy broke two axes 5 out of 12 axes were broken! It was cold.

 Pilot was good, man on the winch cable got my jacket as a gift.

 Some readers thought no wonder I got cold dressed like this, "the rock suddenly gave way" looks like I am soloing grit there, its probably a photo of Chris Griffith's.

 I think Simon made a bit of Dosh out of it, he subsequently wrote a fairly accurate section in his award winning book The Bond.

 Beduin child.
Add caption. This is the Stevie the human swastika from the guardian possibly….

I was on ITV several times, News at 6, once live, I managed not to swear! In one article I was from Brixton, this was a reason we were on telly, because there were riots in Brixton! Distract the people! 

Monday, 27 November 2017

Turning Turner, going Gozo, by Stevie Haston

Master Ken belaying Francesco (?) 7b big island.

The painter Turner would have had a great time on my little island, best skies around this time of the year, it goes from averagely interesting, to way over the top-and of course during the war (second,lets not talk of the others) lots of smoking, limping, sinking ships to have painted!

 There's a lot of Blue here in the names but we often call it Azure when we remember our own language. Blue Lagoon, Blue Hole etc.

The variety of colour on rock is a mute point for many, they just don't see it, do they? Suppose it might depend on how big the pallet of colours your rocks have, but here, its a lot, try Bryce Canyon Utah, or the Verdon, or…..

 Ordinary sky number 1

Did you know that colour disappears according to depth underwater? So a red starfish will turn purple as you go deeper, until at around 60 meters blue disappears! It's a funny event! I always like the way holds start to disappear from sight as your fore arms get pumped, it's a disconcerting, but funny event also! 

Ordinary sky a bit later.

Morals, laws seem to disappear also when money is involved. It is not a funny event.

The way of the Sufi, or here Comes the Dervish.

Training is going well, keep hydrated it is very important!

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Plugging myself into the mains. by Stevie Haston.

The Way of the Sufi was a book I read many years ago, and they have fascinated me ever since, so it was with utter shock and horror that I read of the terrible tragedy with the cruel slaughter of more than 300 praying people in a Mosque. I doubt if anyone is now changing their Face book colours to Egypts, I am tempted, but like all shallow things in the face of senseless killing I,ll forego it, and save my money and go back to Sinai as soon as possible to show some solidarity.

 are you religious?

I do worship, I think every body does. But mine as you know is to do with the natural spirits and emotions that seem to be gloriously vibrant in certain natural places like cliffs, waterfalls, mountain, glacier and the sea!  Who worships cruelty, murder, and death?

 I am headless…not Ostrich like…. I was so happy listening to the songs, the calls to prayer, and watching the observance of prayer, being with lovely fair, good people.

Anyway not to dwell, I'll change the subject, Ogre, the Ogre in the mountain, or in your soul, the mote in Gods Eye, have you one?
The dedication inside Doug Scots very fine looking book is to Chris, Clive, Mo, Nick and Tut.
It is regrettably a small but succulent  book, rather than brashly big, or coffee table tome like. Chris is of course Bonnington, Tut is Braithwaite, Nick is Escourt, Mo is of course Antoine, and Clive is Rowland. I have had the incredible pleasure of at least knowing the great Mo Antoine fairly well, the story of Doug Scots injury and that of Chris is not that well known today, but should be, because it underlines loyalty and good correct action in bad and dangerous times. 

 A review of what looks like a very good book will come shortly.

There is no greater thief than a book, but it is often an invitation to voyage, here this book looks like a lesson in looking after your brothers. Please look after your brothers, and sisters people, look after the sick, and the poor, and the elderly. And if your in the mountains look after your rope mate, remember the Void will look back at you with a question mark if you don't.

Gozo subdued hues.

Training is very much part of my weeks, reforging steel seems harder this year. Hard is not impossible one must tell ones self. Repeat after me, Hard is not impossible!

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The Best Climber, by Stevie Medium Haston.

The "Best Climber" is not the one who is having more fun, but the most angst ridden!
Alex Lowe's throw away remark about enjoying yourself, and not worrying about grades was probably based more on his nice feelings for lesser warriors than himself- he was a nice man after all. I on the other hand am not-get moving, get all knotted up, look in the mirror, and see a failure, and change!

 trying and feeling like a sac of potatoes!

I have been failing, working, and enjoying myself, I have not been putting it on the line, has it mattered, yes it has-I have done no really nasty hard routes lately.

sports where your weight is carried for you encourage an addition in ounces or grams around the waist.

It's been necessary to earn some money this year, and work on my happiness. I am sorry, oh great routes that were lurking on cliffs, you will have to wait. Likewise all you stupendous mountains in the Himilaya, well you know I just can't justify the expenditure in money and finances. I always wonder about the Piolet D'Or, and how they think that ten people who are either insane, or sponsored by governments or corporations, are worthy of accolades in anything but acting. Anyway we all like a great route, probably better if we some how accomplished it ourselves. But how. Well hard work I guess, if you are not a talented genius.

 I once stood on the shoulder of Orion.

Anyway Winter is here, Time to die, Time to be reborn in the furness of the Fingerboard.

 Less of this malarky, weight belts were never invented for diving, but were for pull ups.

So I was looking at one of my old projects a few days ago , "Gee that looks F…ing hard", I whispered to the warrior within, the warrior shrugged like an aquatic Atlas, and looked at the deep azure water underneath ,"Cant we go diving " Atlas sobbed. I went Diving, but came home and did my pull ups!

I mentioned this cover a while ago, it won my Piolet d'Or in the head, the Trotsky axe, or the Trump thumper Axe, 99 dollar veeery cheap my friend.

At the Kendal Film Festival the film about exploratory climbing called Ario won the film awards! Well it's good, I have seen some of it and it is gripping. Kinda funny when the winning film isn't climbing! Well Caving is climbing to me, just as snowboarding always has been, but quintessential climbing should from time to time be Rock, in the words of Farrokh Bulsara "We will rock you". Strangely my mothers families name is a corruption of Farrok, and all this blaa blaa is because I want to underline "I will absolutely do my finger training" and not piss about and flirt off into being a singer, or some other distraction from the pure path of Rock.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Same old, by Stevie old Haston.

 The sun is shining, the good news is that it is generally shining somewhere, the bad news is that your somewhere else! It is (the sun) always above the yard arm, as the drunk says, but hey "Tempus Fugit", or some fink. I was talking to a Beduin man the other day, he was driving a toyota rather than a camel, but his sense came right out of the desert, where you quickly understand "if it is not useful, just forget it"! 

 Tempus Fugit, these climbs fell down, so you can't do them, it was called a window, so now you can't look out that way ever again.

Did you see the report of a girl doing 9b? It took my breath away. Is it 9b, if its done by a woman is it not automatically less? What has happened to male chauvinism? And what has happened to our sport, when the Uk has only one climbing "magazine", which seems to be mainly about learning to do knots, or find bits of rock 2 meters high. The demise of Climb magazine Uk is a terrible event for UK climbing, and the industry. If our sport is simply going to be swayed and influenced by internet plonked content, we are certainly doomed. It is no secret that I often disagree with editors, but Ian Parnell, and his very quiet editor who I won't even mention, did much much good, they both matured into extremely adult voices, and their banishment into the wilderness is bad. 

hello sailor.

On my island it is very noticeable that the people we get are often plunkers, there is nothing wrong with plonkers, I have been one, but when you can't abseil down a sea cliff, and don't know what prussic loops are, you are defiantly a plonker, and will become plonked if you haven't taken the other necessary step of practising using knots to ascend a rope.
 Hubble bubble.

I just did my First Aid course thingy, you know, health and safety thing, I always recommend them to people, and people never seem to do them.
Mine was over due, and it's funny, but there are a few new laws, or practises there, which are following the litigation roundabout. It is probably wise for people to keep up. 

 Health and Safety forbids this amount of Chilli in a meal!

The natural course of Health and Safety is to produce a society which is completely incapable of working, climbing, or eating anything that doesn't come out of a hermetically sealed packet. 

 Buyer beware.

I hear the UIAA is being broken up. Is this true? What is behind this UIAA Brexit. It's long overdue that there was some discussion about this all powerful organisation who are simply a business, but without mags and people with a voice, who will tell us whats going on!

the cliffs continue under the sea.

With the rise of plonked journalism came internet fake news, with the rise of weird European organisations came multitiered qualifications for plunkers who sometimes are not up to scratch. When I was in Egypt I was taken out by a diver whose level of concern and care was greater than the average I have witnessed elsewhere, so qualifications certainly in my eyes mean very little. My First Aid course was very good, the first one I took many many years ago was probably deeper and enabled me to do more of actually helping people, they are the same weight. It is very interesting that you must worry about sexual harassment when giving first aid today, and I am very glad that my job was much easier in the past. Will I, in a moment of cruciality, worry about step "5 bis" before I give CPR? Anyway guys and girls, despite what I say, do your first aid course, or refresher course. If I had money I would do the American much more involved course. I wonder if that has been watered down?  Is the world being watered down my friends, is the whole of human stuff just turning into so much cotton wool? Will all mountains be Mount Everest's done with Oxygen and aluminium ladder and nannies holding your hand?  

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Get over it, by Stevie Haston.

Getting over things, is a hard task if you are not flexible, or strong. Now there is mental flexibility and physical, but there is an old odd thing called being stubborn which often has a purgative ring to, being stubborn can also be useful!

 a bit of flexibility is always handy, hip flexors.

What should it be, flexibility, or stubbornness? In many surveys of leading climbers, stubbornness showed, or shined through. Can you get it, or are you flexible enough to  slink into a position where you can be more persistent?

Soloing little or big routes was always a great love of mine, I am flexible enough to hang on to this habit as it gives me great joy-joy is where it's all at!

It is not the slow progress that is terrible in training, it's the set backs, or the mental blocks people have that are the big barriers. This year I have had a broken thumb, a broken toe, money problems, and I still just got on with it-in a normal year I would, or might have thrown a wobbler. Where did I get this new found equanimity? I found them in better habits. We are creatures of habit. Try very hard not to be a rabbit!

A good habit is waking up!
A good habit is doing good, or correct things.
A few simple things to get you going, look at a photo of something wonderful, maybe a route, a mountain, or special place, a lovely person.
A good habit is a little yoga.
A few pull-ups.
Failing all that, a good cup of coffee, and get to F….ing work.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Unbelievers, by Stevie a believer Haston.

Do you love rock? Do you love fresh powder? Do you love icy mountains? Yes, oh yes! Do you love the sea, sea cliffs, and what are under them? Iam very lucky I love these things, I like caves, and climb in and through them, sometimes I swim through them, I think I commune with all these things, and sometimes pray to them in my sleep. To speak of praying, and gods, or God to many of my friends is a wasted effort, but the great god of hope is always there ruling our lives whether we realise it, or not. Hope for a fair world where we treat each other with respect and kindness, and look after the sea and the mountains!Yes, yes let me into that church.

 An Eagle Ray a bit over 2 meters wide.

The internet and the rabid press of the UK and other strange countries would have you believe that Muslims are out to get you. My experience in the Red Sea was that Egyptians are very much after your money, the same as vendors, taxi drivers and hoteliers the world over. 

 Crossing the Gulf of Suez.

Perhaps you shouldn't travel to certain places, there is a UK advisory against travel in Sinai, but hey I just had the one of the best trips of my life. I went to the Sinai to see the mountains and the sea, there is huge potential for climbing which is under developed and much potential for diving which has reached maturity regards development.

 A long line of Free Divers entering the Legend that is the Blue Hole of Dahab.

I want to go back, indeed I am very sad to be back as I write, I will get over it by climbing my superb sea cliffs here, but the smell of the desert and sea, is there now for ever. I interacted with people and fish, you might not understand this or perhaps you do. There are few fish to interact with in Malta, because we catch and eat every little one we can lay our hands on. Similarly the Maltese natural friendliness and curiosity, has been replaced by that  all pervasive surliness common to all over crowded, modern rat race course, metropolises.

 Pretty Monofins all in a row, not your usual cafe!

Sitting in a cafe eating a Beduin breakfast (but later as first you swim) you gaze towards Mecca, and you cannot escape the thought of how much trouble religion has caused. But it is not here today, these people love your custom, your money. 

 Taxi hurtling across the Sinai.

I went to see a geological feature known as the Blue Hole of Dahab, it's a pond in the reef, it's deep-over 100 meters deep,and it is connected to the sea by a 30 meter tunnel at 55 meters depth. A few years ago, a man named William, dove through this feature without fins! I went to pay homage, they say over a hundred people have lost their lives in the Blue Hole, it is a Nanga Parbat of the Red sea to stretch things a bit. The climbing of the granite in Sinai is long over due, get going kids.

endless granite, mostly not vey good but some very classy buttresses and towers.

As some one once said, "I will be back". Did I say, I swam with turtles, and many Rays, did I say my eyes thought they had taken more drugs than the Rolling stones ever dreamed of as I gazed at fish that looked like they came from Jupiter or Saturn. One of my favourite memories apart from staring at endless granite was going down about 20 meters to see something in the sand, it was an old clam shell. It was the size of a wash basin and you could have bathed a little child in it!