Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Gotta keep on, keeping on...

January and February have been pretty crappy months in the big N.W, unfortunately. We've been plagued by really crappy weather, too warm for the winter-ey whiteness, but too wet for the rock. On top of this I feel increasingly weighed down by uni work, I can feel my energy and psyche being drained and this just makes me feel worse. Being of a positive mindset I have tried to fight this, and I'm still a happy chappy on the whole, but the last couple of months have definitely lived up to their depressing reputation. I keep trying to remember that you gotta have the lows to appreciate the highs...

If you feel like this too, then I recommend you watch this video:

"Happiness" is something I seem to be more obsessed/fascinated/intrigued by than many people, well I'm probably not, but I am very conscious that YOU are responsible for your own happiness and if you aren't happy then YOU have to do something to change your current predicament, no-one else can, should or will do it for you. So if you feel down in the dumps, watch the vid and think about it, I hope it inspires you. Pass it on to others too, if you feel it would help them too. It's not necessarily easy to make the change, could take some real balls and commitment, but if it'll make a difference then why not go for it? Happiness is the key, or else what is the point? Have a good hard think about what makes you happy too rather than just believing society's set path to happiness, as although it may work for some it won't work for all, we are all different and that's the beauty of life; variety!

Anyway, back to climbing. As I said the weather has been real bad, but I have been trying to get out, honest! I have had a couple of okey-ish trips to Porth Ysgo, on the Lleyn Peninsula. The first trip was dry when we arrived and I managed to bosh out a soft unnamed V6 which was fun, and also started working on my first V7; Perrin's Crack Sit-down start. Then it rained and I don't think I did anything else after that.

Chris on the send on the un-named V6

The second trip, we arrived to find the rock wet! So we sat around and played on the 'Ysgo Challenge; Lite', which is an axel with two wheels on each end left over from when the area was a port or 'Porth' in welsh. The actual one is a lot heavier, but I still couldn't do the light version. Bubbles beasted it though, as did Miles, Ballsford (managing to hold it one armed above his head, and press it out 15 times with two arms), Dyllan and Burdy who made t look like it was made of polystyrene! I don't think I did anything of note on this trip though we had a good play on a damp Popcorn Party; V6, which I did last year but is always a joy to climb on, beautiful rock and tricky technical moves.

Bubbles completing the 'Ysgo Challenge; Lite' GRRR
(c) Nikki Sommers
Pulling funny faces on Popcorn Party, V6.
Classic of Porth Ysgo. (c) Miles Hill
In preparation for a trip to Scotland which thanks to a poor forecast never happened, Bubbles took me out for a day of getting used to wearing crampons, for a day up Bristly Ridge on the Glyders. This was actually on a beautiful day, and I felt like a kid in a sweet shop, just so excited to be out having an adventure, learning to climb again (almost), taking me back to my early days in climbing but without my crippling fear of heights.

Bubbles showing just how Alpinists prepare before a winter route... eeerrrm?

Tryfan, and the Carneddau... B-E-A-Utiful.
That was a while ago, but yesterday I got out and tied on for the second time this year! Off to the Orme with Al Mason, we met up with Sam Radcliffe and Tom Livingstone. We nipped off to do a Fr6c above Parisella's Cave, instead doing the 6a+ by accident, though it felt stiff at that! We then headed back to their route, to find Livingstone having a top-rope on a bouldery 7a called Jerusalem is Lost. I was encouraged to have a go, so I pulled the rope down and went for it, but failed on the start of the crux. Lowering down a few inches I was back on the floor, and after a few more attempts like this, made the crux move and clipped the second bolt! Then with misremembered beta being thrown up at me, I got to the top, Huzzah! We then went up to the Firefly area for some trad (gulp!), I was a bit gripped knowing it was all hard, E3+ sort of affairs and therefore the sort of thing I would find tricky at my best last year! Anyway, Mason boshed on up Firefly, with a cheeky rest on the bolt as it was wet. Leaving the gear in, I was originally just going to top-rope it, feeling tired from my previous efforts. However, Mason convinced me to go for the lead, so I did, slipping off on the second move I dropped back to the ground, and went for it again, this time getting it right, with the pump rising I managed to rest it off and carry on all the way to the chains, just by being confident and keeping on! The rain set in, and after Mason had a clean ascent, we finished the day off in the Cave. After Livingstone sent the 7a of earlier in the day, we boshed down to a busy cave. I headed for the Left Wall traverse, refining and remembering my sequence. I then had a burn from the start to see how I was going and surprised myself with my best link yet, getting through the crux and failing due to not quite being able to remember some moves.

Owain sending Jerusalem is Lost Fr7a, last summer.
(c) Owain Atkins
So if everything seems crap and pointless, keep on keeping on, and work out where you are going wrong and change that to squeeze some more happiness out of your life. Oh and take a chance every once in a while, it feels good, I promise...

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Humans are shit...

A bit of a different post here, but it is something I feel strongly about. As some of you may know, during my year out between Sixth Form and Uni, I went away and had some amazing experiences. One of these was volunteering in a Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Thailand, in which monkeys, gibbons, bears and many other animals that had been taken from their natural environment and used by humans as photo-props, and pets as babies but then mistreated as they grew to adolescence and became more aggressive. 

The centre I went to is run by the WFFT or Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, I worked with many of the animals, feeding them, cleaning enclosures, creating stimuli for them to give a more natural life, and more interest than being kept in an average enclosure, with the aim that one day they might be ready to be released into the wild. 

The staff and volunteers at WFFT do a brilliant job, making life for these animals good again, whilst trying to help as many animals as possible, and fight for animals rights through-out Thailand, often standing up and using the media to bring light to any poor conduct from humans towards animals, both wild and domestic. 

Unfortunately it seems that the government in Thailand are shits too and have been found to be killing elephants in the natural reserves to make a bit of money on the black market. I was lucky enough to see these elephants on a trip from the centre and it is amazing to see such a powerful, wild animal that should not be shot and sold for money, least of all by those who already have enough.

WFFT stood up against the government, naming, shaming and campainging them to punish those who are guilty. This has unfortunately caused a massive backlash from the government towards WFFT and also an Elephant sanctuary (I don't know much about this), whereby the government has sent armed officials to raid the sanctuary, and have now taken around 100 animals without anesthesia catching them in an aggressive and stressful way. They have also arrested one staff member and detained many other volunteers and staff members, without real reason. 

Here are some videos of the raid;

Sandee the Binturong being captured, knocked off branches, hit with nets as the gov't officials hamfistedly attempt to catch him:

Having been caught, the officials get him into a crate by holding his tail, pinning him down and trap his tail in the crate door, whilst Thai officials laugh:

I emplore you to help the plight of these animals, it really sickens me to hear of this and to see the videos makes me feel really angry. 

However, there are a number of ways you can help;

Secondly you can send an email to the Thai Embassy in London:
The British Embassy in Bangkok: 

Here is a stock email another ex-volunteer wrote to make it easier for you;

Dear Sir/Madam

It has come to my attention that officials have raided Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, located Phet Buri, Thailand 76130. As I am writing this one co-worker has been arrested, and over 100 animals taken from the sanctuary in an inhumane way, causing stress and harm to these animals.

I have known this foundation to do great work preserving the beautiful wildlife of your country. A wildlife so rich you have every reason to be proud of. A foundation that has dedicated itself to help elephants, primates, bears, tigers and so forth should have every support of the government. Not only for tourists (as eco-tourism is booming business) but very much so for the people of your country it is so important to preserve the wildlife that is still with us. You have so many animals living in your country that are almost extinct, and it would be a powerful message to your own people and the world if you could preserve them now and in the future.

The raid that has been performed now followed after a critical article was written regarding the trade of elephants in your national parks. If this truly is the reason the raid was sanctioned, than I am truly appalled.

I would really appreciate it if you would let your government know that I am really worried about the wellbeing of the workers at the foundation and of the rescued animals currently residing there.

I would also like you to let your government know that I would applaude any future support given to Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand and the wildlife in general.

Thank you very much for the time you have taken to read this email, I am looking forward to a positive reply.


Simply copy and paste it into your email, add your name and hit send, it's simple and you can make a difference! 

Please, please, please do this, it must be stopped! 

Thank you for reading this and helping these animals.