Mountains & Mental Health


A weeks gone and I have just returned from another recce in Snowdonia and despite the amazing weather no one else seemed to be out on a recce except the usual fluffy sheep clinging to the rock faces! I was with my mentor and friend of 20 years Huw Kirkham, more poet than prose this man and a walking map of Snowdonia. No matter how steep the ground he keeps me entertained with a long list of anecdotes, local stories but above all keeps my spirits ever high with his humane touch and big heart – a true companion for life. By chance I found an amazing crystal on the trail and took it back for his daughter Imogen.

I was setting about planning a winter trip to Snowdonia for my friend Dave Lanagan (London based) and his friends – it’s about bush craft and planning to succeed rather than planning for failure! These are weekend fun events so please come and join if you want to (a bargain in fact) Dave and his team are real enthusiasts and not scared of a bit of hardship and running around the hills trying out different skills.

I was lucky to meet up with my old friend Libby Peter, a mountain guide by trade and a prolific book writer and all round superwoman! Our usual meeting point is V12 in LLanberis full of climbing paraphernalia and an excellent coffee machine. I was interested in her climbing exploits and catch up on the exciting world of mountain guiding. It’s a huge achievement and honour to get the mountain guides carnet and I feel sometimes they are some of our forgotten heroes and ambassadors for the great outdoors. It takes years of dedication courage and commitment to be even considered.

I was interested on Libby’s take on my two expeditions next year. One is a classic crossing of the Kalahari on foot next summer, hopefully with Steve Backshall and the other in Namibia next May trying to raise the awareness of mental health issues (MHIs) in young people – the latter has been a difficult subject area to take on simply because it is by nature somewhat subjective and prone to complexity. The main thrust is to myth bust some of the misconceptions about MHIs, the unique pressures that are younger generation are under and demonstrate by the outdoor expedition experiential model that there is far more we can do as a society to help. We will also get a deeper understanding on the MHis face by our ex-servicemen who suffer in silence as our government looks on. There is clear evidence that connection or re-connection with elemental environments-------can do a lot to alleviate anxiety and feelings of abandonment. We have a trade name for the mission and it is ‘Forces for Good.org .uk’. – keep looking at the web site or contact me for more information.

I need everybody to get behind me on this one as we need to raise this awareness of MHIs and get some helping hands around the place – standby for action.

In the next couple of weeks, I am off to Edinburgh, Toulouse, Dartmoor, North Wales & Vienna - it's a Rock n Roll lifestyle!


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