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!

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

Take My Journey to the big screen!

In the fanfare of new camera equipment I forgot to mention that, ones of my clips I’m proudest of, got a display at one of the University Hiking Club open events:

Take My Journey on the big screen
Take My Journey on the big screen

They already use it on their website and apparently like it so much they wanted to enter it for a competition haha.

Whilst, in fairness, showing videos on a big screen is rapidly being superseded and showing to 100 people in a room is still a drop in the ocean compared to the (relatively few) 1600 views it has online, I’m still chuffed to have my stuff shown in such a retro form factor!

If you’ve not seen the clip, do have a glance. :)

Catbells, Maiden Moor and High Spy from Grange

Several weeks ago I went on a walk with UMHC, up Catbells, Maiden Moor and High Spy from Grange:

Hike up Catbells
Hike up Catbells (Open Street Map CC-BY-SA)Skiddaw, Derwent Water and Keswick

I’ve been up Catbells before – in fact my first ever walk with the club was up Catbells from Keswick, but this time, we were dropped off at Grange and walked along the valley before ascending the hillside.

The weather was lovely – warm, clear and a surprising amount was on display for those who knew what to look for. Skiddaw, Blencathra, Derwent Water, Keswick were all laid out below us. The peaks of the mountains were lightly dusted in snow, yet at our height, it was ice free and actually reasonable warm.

It was at this point that my camera’s zoom lens really came into it’s own with me being able to get wonderful shots of scenery that one rarely sees from the other side of the valley and almost never sees in sunlight. There’s something quite magical about being able to look around, recognise and name so many peaks from such a low vantage point.


Outlined against the sky
Outlined against the sky

Grange from above
Grange from above

The walk was relaxed yet with people who also wanted plenty of time to stop and admire the views. I think this is the first time that I’ve really just thought “wow” when looking at Lake District landscape.

Ultimately, we descended before Dalehead and followed the stream back into Borrodale, where we followed the river up to Seatoller where the coach was waiting for us.

Conquerored: Beda Knott, Loughrigg Fell

Last weekend, I went to Patterdale, in the Lake District on a weekend trip. It’s nice to get out of Manchester, and even though the weather wasn’t fantastic, there was still plenty to do.

A more energetic group wanted to do St. Sunday’s Crag, Fairfield, Helvellyn, Striding Edge, which sounded good and strenuous and exciting, but wasn’t my idea of fun given the icy conditions about about 500m.

Saturday walk in Patterdale
Saturday walk in Patterdale (c) Open Street Map 2012 - CC-BY-SA

Fortunately, I really wanted to explore the landscape to the east and so, with low lying cloud looking like it was going to obscure most felltop views, we left the bunkhouse in Glenridding, and walked north along the side of the valley, next to Ullswater.

Once we reached Martindale, we started up Winter Crag, Beda Fell, Beda Knott. The original plan (in green) was to go on to Angle tarn, but time was running tight and we weren’t sure on the light, so in the end we cut shot and dropped back down into Patterdale and headed home!

Place Fell, Patterdale from Beda Knott.
Place Fell, Patterdale from Beda Knott.

The next day, we headed up Loughrigg Fell near Grasmere from the car park at Rydal. Although the walk was quite easy, the weather was much better and the views were stunning.

Sun on Snow on Loughrigg Fell
Sun on Snow on Loughrigg Fell

Someone had brought along a horse’s head, so we had a lot of fun, wearing a horseshead whilst walking up the hill. One thing we learnt very quickly was that “why the long face” became unfunny very quickly, but the expression of surprise and confusion on people’s (strangely, mainly adults!) was hilarious.

Horse navigates on Loughrigg Fell
Horse navigates on Loughrigg Fell

As you can see, it was good weekend! :D

Langdale is lovely

Last March I went hiking with UMHC to Langdale for the first time. This was the first time I did, Jack’s Rake, Harrison Stickle, Pike o’Stickle, Pavey Ark etc.

I made a bit of a video that day and it came out rather well. It did help that it was a beautiful day of course:

Pavey Ark, Great Langdale

Snowdon is snowy but dry stone walls are an oxymoron

Yesterday I climbed Snowdon; the highest mountain in Wales for the first time with UMHC. I’m not quite sure what’s taken me so long to have a go at it, but I think it’s status as a major tourist attraction was probably part of the story (Snowdon has a railway up the side and a visitor centre on top). That means in the last 12 months, I’ve done all of Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon.

UMHC Snowdon2012

We ascended from the Rhyd Ddu side up a relatively unnamed path (according to the map) and returned, largely, via the “Rhyd Ddu” path..

My guess at our route... (Original Map (c) OpenStreetMap CC-BY-SA)
My guess at our route... (Original Map (c) OpenStreetMap CC-BY-SA)

There was no snow at the bottom in the carpark, but above about 800 metres there is a significant amount of snow, packed and frozen. This made the somewhat exposed ridge section just before the summit (which we navigated twice!) particularly “interesting”. Shortly before the summit we encountered our second group of other walkers of the mountain – a breakaway section of another UMHC hike that had decided things were going to slowly. We had lunch at the summit (the visitors centre was closed and looked like a Bond-baddie’s frozen hideout).

On the way down, I thought we were making good time, but it became clear we were going to be late for the 5:30 bus. Unfortunately there was no signal so apart from sending some SMS and hoping my phone would find some signal to send them with [it didn’t], there was nothing we could do.

Towards the end, I think we lost the path, possibly in our esteemed hike leader’s rush to return. In hindsight, I’d suggest that the “the straightest route to the lights” is probably not always the best route. It was getting dark by this point and even though I had a head torch, not everyone else did. We ended up walking through significant numbers of bogs, climbing over several stone walls and gates; it was entertaining – bordering on farcical towards the end.

We were over an hour late back to the bus, having not been able to make contact with them. It turns out they were not happy bunnies, being a bit worried that something bad had happened, compounded with the coach driver threatening to leave if we didn’t turn up within “the next 10 minutes” someone had just been dispatched to call the Mountain Rescue; thankfully we were able to stop them in time.

The UMHC committee has an award called “embarrassment of the week” for committee members. I think our esteemed hike leader has probably won it for the next few weeks in a row!

Ah well, all’s well that ends well. :D

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