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Questions with Answers

Updated: Jun 24, 2021

Award winning smartphone photograph!

Hello and welcome to the blog a lot of you have contributed to. A blog where I answer your burning questions about my experiences throughout time!

Let’s start with start-of-the-day questions such as…

Q: How do you pick your underwear for the day? – Nate Jones

A: Easy, pick the top most pair off the airer. When I get down to the penultimate pair, it’s time to do a wash!

Q: What is the perfect time to wake up to start a day out in the hills in a) winter b) summer? – Anne Petrie

A: A less easy question. It depends on your goal for the day and how far you have to travel to get there. I had a fantastic day up An Caisteal, Beinn a Chroin and Cruach Ardrain (near Crianlarich) back in March 2016, where I left home at 4 am. I had clear roads on the drive up and the mountain to myself. If I had left later then I would have missed this incredible view.

I’ve had equally fantastic days out where I have started late. Nate and I popped out for a wee jaunt up Helvellyn on 19th January 2015, where we set off up the track well after lunch time. We were informed by various people on their descent that it was going to be getting dark soon, maybe we should turn back. Nate and I asked ourselves “Do we not look like we know what we’re doing or something!?”

We had full packs, crampons, axes, two head torches each, etc. We were going to have our fun no matter what. As it turns out it was a perfectly calm afternoon/evening with the low-level cloud clearing to reveal an exquisite sunset. As early as you can for everything: it gives you the most time to enjoy being outside without feeling rushed. But don’t miss out on breakfast!

Q: Ingredients for perfect porridge? – Jon Wigner

A: Speaking of breakfast, let me answer this one next.

There are perhaps a few leading questions amongst all of the questions that have been asked… I believe this to be one of them!

The answer is: oats and milk, for a wonderfully creamy porridge. Sometimes it is ok to substitute some milk for some water, never more than half and certainly not all of it, unless you want to ruin everyones day!

As for extras, have a selection of honey, berries, sugar and so on, but let people add their own extras to meet their own tastes.

Q: What’s the best way to treat cheesy smelling feet when in the outdoors? – Derek Petrie

A: Prevention is better than cure here. Wash them daily and forego shoes whenever you can. Sandals are great for something to walk in but keeping those plates aired. If the problem persists, go see your doctor!

Q: Best hillwalking trip ever? Most knackered I’ve ever been trip? – Derek Petrie

A: I have combined these two questions as they have the same answer. The Fisherfield Five trip in April 2016 with Derek and Fly (a dog).

Why was it the best? Two and a half days out in the properly wild highlands, the furthest north in the UK I’d been at the time, and new mountains of an epic scale with perfect conditions, and superb company.

Day one took thirteen hours to walk thirty-three kilometres over four mountains. Three of those were Munros and the last was only a metre shy of Munro status.

We were so knackered it was a struggle to actually eat anything back at the bothy, despite eating all of our usual food and reserves out on the hills! Day two was slightly shorter at only twenty-five kilometres and only two Munros over the nine hours we were out. The last day we used to walk out and go for a bacon buttie in Ullapool. I was spent, but so happy. A quality trip with superb weather and views. We even saw two golden eagles soaring over us on the second day.

Here are some pictures for you.

Very little rain, in the two weeks prior to our trip, made for easy river crossings.

Ultimate refreshment

Eating the last of the food

A couple of snow storms passed over us

A’ Mhaighdean – Derek making the summit push

Q: Favourite hillwalking companion of all time? – Derek Petrie

A: I love to go on adventures with my friends: the time that it takes to walk up and down a mountain means that you run out of shallow conversation and get to the deeper conversations of life.

There is also a bond that develops between people when they share experiences together, particularly the tough times.

I would pick any number of people for this answer, but I feel it is answered for me by the man who posed the question. Derek Petrie.

Derek is a man who “allowed” me to join him, under the careful watch of Lee Musson, on my first winter walking weekend. Since then he has invited me on weekends and days out that are too numerous to count.

He has become the man I most frequently slog up hillsides with and also the man I look forward to hearing from about the next adventure. We have nearly been blown off of summits, wet through to the skin, bagged many a Munro together.

And, despite my snoring, smelly feet, atrocious porridge (only once), Derek still calls me up to plan our next expedition somewhere. We walk at a similar pace, have similar levels of endurance and the same goal – get out and climb a mountain or four. All of this makes him my favourite hillwalking companion, maybe not of all time, but I hopefully have a lot of time left to find out.

Q: Favourite mountaineering quote? – Derek Petrie

A: I have leant my copy of “I chose to climb” by Chris Bonnington out to someone recently, but in there is the story of how Hamish MacInnes and Chris were climbing on Buachaille Etive Mor, in winter, putting up a new route.

I can’t remember the exact wording but Hamish descends to Chris at the belay to take his boots off as he was “going to get more grip from wearing just his socks!” The bonkers thinking and practice of those pioneering mountaineers.

Q: Most memorable winter hill trip? – Derek Petrie

A: My first trip up Buachaille Etive Mor.

It was my first time in crampons, when I put them on and stood up, I lost my balance and ended up punching 12 holes in the lid of someones backpack. Woops and sorry to whoever that was! We had a first class traverse, with a stunning sunset on the way back AND when we got back to the hut, I found out my sister was engaged to her now husband! An overwhelming day.

So, where does the path go?
“Nathan, if anyone comes sliding down. Catch them.” – Derek Petrie

Q: Favourite family to stay with? – Derek Petrie

A: A tough one. My family! But, that doesn’t necessarily mean my biological family. There are a few families that have pretty much adopted me since my move to Scotland. The Littles (in my first year or so at Whithaugh), Mussons, Edges, Smiths (both sets), Petries.

To all of you, I love you. You are like family to me and I feel so welcome whenever I visit.

But in trying to answer the question, I can’t pick just one, but I can pick a home. That would be the Mussons home. I have invested a lot of my own time there, over the years, helping Lee with all many of DIY projects and have spent the last five (I think) Christmases there. As such, it is now the place I feel is the most like home and a large part of that is the people who live there.

Q: Funniest quote? – Derek Petrie

A: So many to choose from! But I always come back to Monty Python— more specifically the learning how to fly sketch.

“Nah nah nah, it’s got a hole in it. Course its got an ‘ole in it, it wouldn’t be a bleeding hoop otherwise, would it?!” – Google it, it should be on YouTube.

Mountaineering wise – a snippet from “Psycho Vertical” by Andy Kirkpatrick,“I knew I should have a crap, as I’d not gone since leaving Lay Lady Ledge, but the thought was too grim. I always found it hard taking a dump on a portaledge. I remember Andy Perkins telling me that you should practise having a crap in a paper bag at home before going on a big wall;

‘because although you may think you know where your asshole is, you don’t till you’ve crapped into a bag.’ ”

Gets me every time!

There are SO many others though, I could do ten whole blogs on funny quotes.

Q: Most embarrassing mountain moment ever? – Derek Petrie

A: Probably forgetting my spoon and having to ask to borrow one, from my assessor, on the first night of my Mountain Leader assessment expedition!

Q: Best mountain poo? – Matt Fairhead

A: Haystacks, in the Lake District – March 2014. Matt Edge invited me out for a night in a bothy and a lovely long ridge walk in the Lakes one night. Even after stopping at a petrol station to shed some weight, I still needed a poo the next day. Fortunately, so did Matt. We each went and found our own spot and just enjoyed the view and the peace and quiet. As we had stayed in a bothy, we were high up on the mountain whilst everyone else was just starting out in the valley below us, meaning complete privacy!

Inside with a brew on

The bothy hiding in the scree

The morning of the high altitude poo!

Q: Did you ever get me that swim beer? – Iain McDermid / Joe Hill

A: For those of you who don’t know, a swim beer is a beer that you owe to someone for rescuing you and your boat if you end up taking a swim whilst paddling down a river.

A common courtesy to thank them and to encourage them to rescue you next time you fall in! The answer: I hope so, it would’ve been rude not to. Either way, a pint with you gentlemen is long overdue.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years and what will you be doing? – Anne Petrie

A: I left this one until last as it is the toughest one. Wherever I am I’d like to be somewhere close to the great outdoors but closer, than where I am now, to some civilisation. Scotland hopefully… it’s so special up here with so many options for so many adventures. Whatever I am doing I hope it includes a higher percentage of photography, where my pictures and stories can reach a wider audience and inspire them to get out there to experience it for themselves.

Thank you so much for all your questions, this was really fun. Maybe I’ll do another at some point in the future.

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