My maps that I lost in the mountains in Kyrgyzstan

Be Passionate and Determined

This is a post from my My 20-day Zappos + Buffer Values Challenge

Be Passionate and Determined?

My maps that I lost in the mountains in Kyrgyzstan
My maps that I lost in the mountains in Kyrgyzstan

I can think of three things that embody this:

  • Scouting access for an unclimbed Mountain in Kyrgzystan:
    • Undocumented location, undocumented transport logistics, undocumented passport logistics, undocumented human logistics (who? language? make friends with them?)
    • With only 10 days to work out the details, there were some minor hiccups
    • But once it figured out the details, turning around would have been silly
    • I actually lost all my [soviet] maps on the second day in the mountains, rather than just retreating, I just planned to return the way I’d come and drew my own topo-map in my notebook.
  • Not bothering to get a degree in Tech, and wading straight in
    • At GCSE and 6th form, most people thought I should go to university
    • However, due to getting involved in local tech scene in Manchester, I learnt about what opportunities were available.
    • Luck was on my side, I walked into a graduate job fair and got a part time job as a Sysadmin
  • I guess there are other stories…
    • Taking a group of young people (at the time, my friends) to a big sporting race for them ~100mles away
      • Persuading a local caravan company to sponsor us a caravan for the weekend
      • Team ranked near bottom – ah well, it’s all about trying.
    • Attempting to repeat the above story, but because of poor communication on my part resulting in $drama, only half the team and none of the kit arrived
      • We found another half-formed team, beg borrowed kit
      • Placed respectably (and higher than we’d ever previously ranked!)
      • (Lesson about communication!)
    • Finding there was no peer group for young people who liked technology and creating one
    • Many mountaineering trips that haven’t gone to plan.

I guess it all boils down to:

  1. Caring about things
  2. Not taking “no” or small setbacks as a reason to give up!

Both are things I’m pretty comfortable with.

Unclimbed mountains by night, Jiptik Valley, Batken Province, Kyrgyzstan

Hiking Epic Rap : The Background

So you’ve seen the Epic Hiking Rap, and now you want the background?

Are you serious or is this a joke?

I’ll leave you to apply Poe’s Law.

Where did this start?

For years, the University of Manchester Hiking Club had a tradition where a specific longstanding club member would write and present a poem at their AGM. In 2012, for the first time in a long time, that club member was absent, and so people were each egging each other on to write something. Originally, I parodied Dan Bull’s Epic Skyrim Rap, and included various bits of club folk-lore.

This looks like a skyrim screenshot, only even prettier.

Sometime afterwards, I cleaned up the lyrics, rapidly recorded it, took various videos of me rapping in Sweden & in Kyrgyzstan.

A friend saw one of timelapse stills from Kyrgyzstan, and mentioned Skyrim, and it started to come together. I finally finished the video editing, put it on youtube, and there you go!

How long did it take you?

Days, sporadically, over several years.

How did you record the track?

Poorly. With much difficulty. Ardour and some condenser mics were my friend, but gosh, it’s hard work. New respect was developed for people who can perform stuff well enough to record it easily. I’d say I’m good enough with audio editing to produce something that’s a thing out of what I can perform. That’s not a very high bar.

Where was the video shot?

Sweden, Kyrgyzstan & the UK. All mountainous timelapses are in Kyrgyzstan (with one of the mountains shown currently being unclimbed), there’s two shots of the peak district, and two from the lake district.

What was the video shot with?

I shot all but four of the shots on a Canon 5D mkII with the Magic Lantern Firmware. The remaining four shots were a Sanyo CA100 (I bet you can easily spot 2). I think they’re all with my f24-105 f4 lens except the timelapses, which were a 50mm f1.8, and all the shots in Sweden were taken with a Glidecam XR-2000.

It was edited on a Debian system with Kdenlive.

Who do you have to thank?

Dan Bull, for being a massively awesome and generous dude, for giving me the track to record onto, and always being so supportive – it really makes a difference! Anyone who’ve ever had me point a camera at them, or held a camera for me. (There’s a shot in there that my girlfriend Clara held the camera for on our first date!). Anyone who ever encouraged me to try something, or give it a go.

What are the Lyrics?

Who’s rapping?
Hiker Tim!
I’m in nature’s gym.

I’m sprinting like a shadow,
who knows I’m running right behind him.

My hike-shout-flow is sweeter than a post-hike swim
You won’t believe you eyes
I’m like an overload of adrenaline!

An ice-axe in one hand
and a scared hiker in the other

I’m the last of the Hiking Kings!
There’s no other my brother
don’t run for cover!

If you’re going up-dale
then I’m on your tale
and I will NOT fail

like a half-crazed freesoloer
I’m off the rails
I walk the trails
through awful gales
and storms of hail
til all your ramblers
are racing for the bottom

I’m not stopping, til you’ve all gone home
and I am alone
in amongst the peaks
there’s silence for weeks
until I’m disturbed
by the sound of your shrieks

And I walk with this bloodthirsty hound!
She follows with a growl and a bound!

I’m draining my force, so chemistry comes into play with retorts and recipes.
Ceildih dancing like a DJ

My legacy,
written in heavenly bodies
and buried
with every hiker
that ever did bother
to mess with me
Deading them

I’m a celebrity!
You’re a wannabe!
I’m a prodigy!

The suggestion you’re better than me at being a hiker?

It’s a gift to me, I don’t just bag peaks lyrically, but literally
and the OS maps are scripts in which I’ve written your obituary

I am the Hiking King
I’m risking life and limb!

I’m Hiker Tim,
known globally
you’re nobody at all!

Winter hiking: Now and then.

When I first started winter hiking, I always took something to speed up my descent:

At first when I went winter hiking, I took something to speed up the descent.
At first when I went winter hiking, I took something to speed up the descent.

For me, a high speed sledge descent was the only thing that made it worth it:

Rapidly descending was usually great fun
Rapidly descending was usually great fun

These days, rather than taking devices to speed up my descent. I take devices to slow down my descent, or at least, make it as controlled as I can:

These days however, I take things with me to stop me descending so fast
These days however, I take things with me to stop me descending so fast

A photostory: Bowfell and Crinkle Crags from Langdale

A walk up The Band to Bowfell via Climbers Traverse, then Crinkle Crags via Bad Step, descending back to Dungeon Ghyll.

The way up - The Band
The way up – The Band
Starting out on the walk
Starting out on the walk
Pike o Stickle from the valley floor
Pike o Stickle from the valley floor
Crinkle Crags
Crinkle Crags
On the way up The Band - Pike o Stickle
On the way up The Band – Pike o Stickle
Bowfell Climber's traverse
Bowfell Climber’s traverse
Bowfell from three tarns...
Bowfell from three tarns…
Descending the bad step on Crinkle Crags
Descending the bad step on Crinkle Crags
Langdale from Crinkle Crags
Langdale from Crinkle Crags
The bad step on Crinkle Crags
The bad step on Crinkle Crags
Langdale from the descentf rom Crinkle Crags
Langdale from the descentf rom Crinkle Crags

We parked at the National Trust car park at the Old Dungeon Ghyll.
More about The Lake District on Wikivoyage.

I shot with a Canon 5D mkII with a 50mm f1.8.

All photos are “Copyright Tim Dobson 2013″, and are licenced under Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0. Please attribute “Tim Dobson /” wherever you use them.

British Muzkol Expedition Departs for Tajikistan: Unclimbed Peaks Await

Two local mountaineers from Greater Manchester, left this afternoon to attempt to summit an unclimbed 6000m peak in a remote area of Tajikistan.

Jonathan “Jonny” Davey and John “JP” Proctor flew out from Manchester this afternoon bound for Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan – one of the former USSR republics of central Asian, starting a month long expedition in which they’ll attempt to climb several unclimbed peaks..

Assisted by a Goretex Shipton-Tilman grant, they each have 23 Kilos (50kb) of equipment each, which will support them through the heat of the central asian summer (35C in the shade) to high in the mountains (glaciers).

John Proctor climbs a rocky outcrop in Snowdonia is the pouring rain. © Tim Dobson 2012. CC-BY-SA 3.0
John Proctor climbs a rocky outcrop in Snowdonia in the pouring rain. © Tim Dobson 2012. CC-BY-SA 3.0

John, living proof that the physics lecturer stereotype is outdated, is a veteran of such expeditions, having attempted this expedition last year, only to have to turn back because of political tensions. Known to be an ambitious climber, he recently surprised his friends by completing a 50km (30mile) fell run to get fit for this trip.

Greatest fear: changing snow conditions throughout the day
Favourite alcohol: “not sure”

Jonathan Davey hiking in Torridon 2013. © Tim Dobson. CC-BY-SA 3.0
Jonathan Davey hiking in Torridon 2013. © Tim Dobson. CC-BY-SA 3.0

Jonathan, from Todmorden  has completed numerous long distance hiking routes in the UK, is an active climber. and is a known by his friends for his almost encyclopedic grasp of British mountains.

Greatest fear: “3 weeks in a tent with John”
Favourite alcohol: “pure undiluted ethanol”

Whilst many high mountains get lots of attention, in the Alps, in the Himalayas, there are scores of high, barely mapped, mountains in remote areas of the world, that present an immensely inviting challenge to mountaineers wanting to step off the beaten track, off the documented paths and summit their own route into the history books.

Whilst the exact target of John and Jonathan’s efforts is somewhat under wraps in case of competing teams, the area is as well documented, as far a largely unexplained corner of the world can be, with satellite pictures and old soviet military maps assisting their navigation.

Having said that they’ve explained much of their itinerary which in itself, illustrates the massive challenge they have in simply getting to the start line!

I’ve known Jonny and JP for several years. Jonny first taught me my first winter mountaineering skills, and later introduced me to climbing is a safe and engaging way. JP has been a familiar face at social events, always filled with exciting stories involving mountains and a great enthusiasm for loud hard rock music!

Last night as they finished packing and kicked by and put some drinks inside them, they seemed eager to get on and give it a go.

You can follow their progress on twitter, facebook and their blog.

After a few drinks last night and they were, in fact, ready to leave. © Tim Dobson 2013. CC-BY-SA 3.0
After a few drinks last night and they were, in fact, ready to leave. © Tim Dobson 2013. CC-BY-SA 3.0

#ChallengeTim: Climb Something High

At the summit of Mount Toubkal
At the summit of Mount Toubkal

A few weeks ago as part of my ongoing campaign to challenge myself, I walked to the Mount Toubkal. At 4,167 m, it’s the highest Mountain in Morocco, and, in fact, North Africa. At 4000 metres, it’s a good deal higher than the next highest thing I’ve climbed – Ben Nevis (1344 metres) – the highest mountain in the British Isles.

To be fair, whilst this all sounds very impressive, I have to now put this all in perspective and explain why I don’t think it’s such a big deal.

Ben Nevis isn’t a very difficult mountain to walk up (by its easiest route!). It’s physically tiring if you’re not used to walking up things and that can be tough, but the main path is well made, well marked, relatively gentle and so long as you go slowly, the weather is good and you’re well dressed and determined you’ll eventually summit. It’s really that simple.

Toubkal isn’t quite that simple, but it’s close. There is a walk in from Imlil (or Aremd [2000 metres] where we’d spent the previous night), to Nehtmer where there are mountain huts and where most groups camp via a well marked, well trafficed (I mean, people, mules, goats etc!) path. From Nehtmer (3207 metres), it’s only about 2km/960 metres) away.

Think about that, Ben Nevis is 1344 metres and you climb it in one day, almost from sea level. With Toubkal you only have to do 960 metres on summit day, and perhaps 1207 metres the day before. Maybe think of it as two Ben Nevis’s on consecutive days.

Toubkal does have some challenges that Ben Nevis doesn’t: Altitude and Sun. On a lucky day, you might have an issue with sun on Ben Nevis, but on Toubkal, once the temperature gets up, it gets unpleasant. The altitude also starts to become noticeable. At “lowish” high altitudes like this, if you can expect a few things: you find it more difficult to breathe or you notice yourself being out of breath faster than you’d expect, and you’ll start to notice gentle signs that you’re high up. You can also expect to experience “gentle” mountain sickness symptoms if you’ve not acclimatised enough – in my case, mild headaches.

The cure to being out of breath is to walk R-E-A-L-L-Y slowly. The cure to mountain sickness symptoms is, well, in the short term, drinking lots of water. It’s a complex subject, but drinking lots of water makes a big difference. That was I think the only time I managed to completely drain my 3 Litre Platypus – everytime I noticed I had a headache, I drank. One of the other guys and I had quite a lot of fun singing acapella kareoke of popular songs on the way up this hill and noticed that, for me at least, the singing was keeping the headache at bay. I dread to think how much everyone else must have wanted to strangle us given they must have had rubbishy headaches and then had to suffer our rubbish singing.

To be honest, I don’t think “climb something high” was a very good challenge to set myself. Height in itself, is not necessarily very challenging, or very enjoyable.

I had a great time in Morocco, I greatly enjoyed walking through the mountains, I’m glad I reached that summit, but I don’t think the fact it was 4,000 metres high was what made it.

I’m going to consider this challenge done, but with a note to make sure that challenging things I do in the future are actually difficult, and don’t just sound difficult. :)

UMHC Helvellyn via Striding Edge 2011

This weekend with UMHC I walked up Helvellyn via Striding Edge. I’ve done it before several times, once with my parents when I was 8 or something, and once, this summer, with a Hiking club friend, when we backpacked over Helvellyn in beautiful sunshine.

Striding Edge
Striding Edge, from Helvellyn. © 2011 Tim Dobson CC-BY-SA

It was a bit different this time.. the rain didn’t get as bad as it threatened to, but the wind made walking along the top of the ridge perhaps a bit precarious.

I took a few photos and a bit of video:

UMHC Helvellyn via Striding Edge 2011