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Monday, 28 December 2009

back to the Cathedral, Boxing day 2009

Dear all I hope this post finds you all well after the Christmas onslaught. I have finally decieded to get my act together and get the Website and the Blog up and running after many moons of doing anything but! The Website which is at will be up and live mid-January, now there are no copyright issues blocking the way. I'll keep everybody informed as to what is happening through the blog, providing links to where work is published, as well when I post new galleries. In the meantime, you'll have to put up with my rants here, where I plan to keep everybody up to date with what I'm working on, and my travels as they happen. So far I have an ambitious plan for the new year, I'll be mainly working in the highlands of Scotland till the end of January, then Kosovo, then need to start the research for my thesis with a stint in Afghanistan early Febuary, back to the Highlands, March all to plan the Alps, then once again to Cambridge. This is the plan, but as ever, it may change...

Anyway the plan at this stage is to try and get as many people following me on here, with links to my sponsors and clients websites, using facebook (steven gordon glasgow) and twitter (stevengordon72) to publisise the posts, please add me if possible, and all comments on the posts are greatly appreciated! Here is wishing you all a fantastic and productive New Year once it finally arrives. As for me I'm starting it in the hills once again! I'm staring my posts with a description and pictures from yesterday, of Kevin Shields attempting a line on the Cobbler. I really wished to start the blog with striking pictures and a success story, but the reality of photographing Scottish Winter Climbing struck home on the first day of this new season for me...

It never gets any easier. that is in particular the amount of kit you have carry to photograph in the hills. Laid out on my bed is the usual deal, about 70lbs to to drag uphill. Plus the camera that took the picture as well. We headed off for the Cobbler, at the beginning of the Southern Highlands, the car slipping on the road as the sleet turned to snow, lying on an already iced A82. Now, like most climbers, I have several walk ins to the crags that I hate. Top of the list must be the hawl up the climbers path to the actual climbs on the Cobbler, 2hrs uphill in deep snow carrying the above load, made worse by the month's hedonism of no exercise and Guiness for lunch and dinner at Cambridge and in Kosovo. Usually the Cobbler comes first in the season, hence the memory of hating the climb so much. As ever it didn't dissapoint as a frighteningly fit Kevin Shields dissapeared into the distance. Kev was joined by his work mate Christina, and Sam, having the pleasure of holding the rope while Kev hopefully hung upside down above. I slaved up behind, regretting my lack of self-control everytime somebody asked if I wanted another pint...

The route Kev was attempting is called Cathedral(graded X11), first climbed by Dave MacLeod in 2004. I've been on the line a few times now, with Kev on previous attempts, as well as with Dave on his first attempt. It is maybe the third hardest line in Scotland, possibly one of the hardest of its kind in the world. Now for any climber this is a challenge, but for Kev slightly more as he only has one fully functioning hand. He uses a prosthetic ice axe, enabling him to climb on ice and rock. When a route is good for his technique, there is no problem, however when the moves require simple tecniques such as swapping axes, he is in trouble. Unfortunately after 3hrs on the line, he had to back off due to one of the moves forcing his body weight away from the rock, making the move too risky to execute

So after the massive amount of effort to get to the route, I was reminded of the joys of photographing in Scotland. Until you actually see the route you do not know the conditions; add in the factor that the weather can change at any time, plus the unknown quantity of weather the climber will actually be able to do it, and you understand the labour of love it is. Am I dissapointed? Yes, slightly, but when I think back some of my best pictures were over a year in the making. As for me and Kev, we are back out on Wednesday so watch this space...


  1. Hey good to see bloggage finally coming on line - another cyber colleage to inspire. I've been getting a few things up on mine too, so will need to share. you know my site? tis wolfeintransition.blogspot so we can share abuse.
    Hope yous all had an excellent present assembly and celebrations of all kinds


  2. Hey Magnus and Steven,
    I see you guys being busy blogging and climbing the mountains. Very proud of your efforts.
    Big Hug and warm wishes for 2010