I have a good life, but at times I want to be in several places at the same time. Echoes is a powerful and compelling exploration of freedom — and what it means to live life on your own terms. Rubbish picture taken on my phone but you get the idea. If you were to ask me what I took away from this book then my answer would have to be the fact the author writes with a refreshing honesty, and digs really deep to answer his own questions and perhaps even some he thinks the readers might want to ask him. The actual story is: how come this excellent route succeeded while the North Ridge has seen so many failures? Initially the short chapters worked for me, each with a different story, but with some general continuity, but towards the end I struggled to piece together the references to previous climbs in previous chapters. I would just go home at night and lock myself away really. Philip K Dick and friend.
He has made numerous first ascents in Scottish winter, in the Greater Ranges, when trad climbing, and in the Alps. Replacing one on Souls for instance would feel wrong, whereas replacing them on Roc Ness Monster would seem ok. And if you get on it un-chalked, and without any gear knowledge, a true on-sight, you need therapy! I can only comment about climbing reports on the internet, but in general, the internet is in a deeply worrying state of narrative chaos. Since returning from an expedition in China three weeks ago, I have been giving a few lectures, and because of this and because I want to train to regain my personal high, low level of fitness my writing has been on hold. He is still in hospital and badly injured. Winter was again with us.
I believe that Echoes came too late for the latest Boardman Tasker award but I'm sure the author and publisher can rest assured that Echoes will be a shoe in for the 2013 Boardman Tasker short list. Paul has numerous admirable qualities as a person, and his imagination is up there alongside Mark Hollis. And if its discovered that what was made to be believed is not actually true — then too late, the damage is done, we find the mind already locked to the fake. When not on expedition, Nick lives in Chamonix through the winter and in his van in North Wales through the summer. Heavy house music shook the walls, echoing off the cavernous roof of the sports hall.
And when the time comes to place these crappy bits of gear on lead, it feels similar to reading a favourite passage from a loved book. It definitely felt like it was a bit of a sentence and it did make you feel along those lines at times. I kept an eye on Mike, slightly chubby when first sentenced, lean and fit now. I looked at the rock, the rough grey rock, sharp edges, pockets, the deep, dark crack, the same rock I had looked at so many times, and I could not see where to place my toes. You can feel him falling in love with his new way of living chapter by chapter, crux by crux.
Then he discovered the mountains. Large windows look out to the hills dusted in snow. The physical and emotional strains have formed me and given unsurpassed highs. On the downhill side of the road, two ambulances and two mountain rescue vehicles with blue flashing lights were double-parked. Everything up to his own incarceration as a prison warden is almost a list, devoid of substance or detail. He most definitely does, but he also relishes the freedom he experiences whilst climbing. It is possibly in the big hills where Nick has truly demonstrated his imagination and abilities, making significant ascents and failing on some audacious attempts around the world with partners such as Jules Cartwright, Al Powell, Kenton Cool, Andy Houseman, Matt Helliker and Paul Ramsden.
Whilst working in various high security prisons around the country he accidentally finds himself becoming drawn into the world of exercise — he trains and qualifies as a physical education officer within the prison service — and ultimately into the outdoors whilst on a training course at Plas Y Brenin. I was in Colorado to present a talk at the Ouray Ice Festival. He most definitely does, but he also relishes the freedom he experiences whilst climbing. Prison was both the force he climbed to escape and the hell that compelled him to push himself further in the mountains than others might have gone. The second book addresses that and I hope it gives hope to everybody, however their lives are lived. I was probably about 24 then and we were fighting most days.
We all laughed over the noise as the helicopter made another turn and the traffic sped by. He came across as raw, loud, brash, and unstoppable, with a style that drummed up a frantic sense of fervency amongst not just the audience, but also in himself. If we wanted logic we would take the stairs. After a few-clean-it-up and chalk-it-up-laps not as easy as it sounds on rock so steep and loose, and quite a terrifying experience in another kind of way , Mick climbed Bam Bam, and a few days later, on Wednesday 27th, I climbed Requiem for a Vampire. Cars, buses, taxis, motorbikes, the occasional swishing speeding cyclist — a stream, almost as continuous as the one of water, flowed down the road. Instead of feeling a sense of relief after each success he is already thinking about the next climb.
All in that exact same second, the bear had seen Greg fall and it flew past me close enough to run a hand along its fur. I did not on-sight it, the thought of going completely on-sight on this climb gives me cold sweats. Well no, far from being a slab, some sections of Stigmata overhang so far as to rival a Catalonian cliff. The first quarter of the book revolves around his experiences in the prison service. I ask if, had Nick got a less stressful job to begin with, he believes he would have still ended up living the van life, and travelling the world as a climber. It pounced again and crunched into his shin, while placing a paw around his other leg before lifting him clean off the ground. Watching the Arena programme it is full of comments relevant to today.