/ NEWS: FRI NIGHT VID: Nick Bullock - Echoes

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UKC News - on 07 Sep 2012
Nick Bullock, 4 kbThis week's Friday Nighter is a Nick Bullock double bill.

We just can't get enough of that aging grumpy alpinist, so here he is in full technicolour...

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=67415

michaelja - on 07 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News: Absolutely briljant.
Michael Gordon - on 07 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News: Excellent (both videos!)
Stanners - on 07 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News:
Nick has just made me want to quit college, comfy life, daily stresses, future prospects and live in a tent in the mountains.
Toccata on 07 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News:

Self indulgent trite. Well done for making a bold career change after 17 years but stop trying to convince the rest of us we live vacuous lives because we are not full time climbers.
alooker - on 07 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News: very inspiring, great vid
mux - on 07 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News: Tip top ! nice one
Alex Parker - on 07 Sep 2012
In reply to Toccata:

Thank god, somebody else feels the same way as me. Don't get me wrong, Nick's decision to make that massive change can only be admired, but he just seems to think he is now better than the rest of us.

Being a relatively new to climbing, having been a fell runner and general outdoor lover before, I find him elitist and struggle with any article he writes.

Nick, you are a very brave boy to do what you did and you are clearly very good at what you do. Well done. Could you stop looking down your nose at me now?
vegemite - on 07 Sep 2012
In reply to Toccata:
> (In reply to UKC News)
>
> Self indulgent trite. Well done for making a bold career change after 17 years but stop trying to convince the rest of us we live vacuous lives because we are not full time climbers.

Totally agree. Nice vid and incredibly inspiring but why the need to be so judgmental? Some of those "grey" people may have made far more courageous life decisions than to sleep in a van.
benknapp on 08 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News:

Lovely film!
Toccata is speaking some truth there though. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan, and I'm even speeding my way through Echoes as we speak, but something just doesn't taste right here....?

Maybe it's the Massive generalisations? People who live in cities have 'grey lives'? I've never seen anything as grey as llanberis!... Obviously it's also amazingly beautiful and inspiring, but I've seen some bloody miserable looking people walking around there.

Nick seems to miss the fact that some people have managed to strike a balance in their lives which means they feast on the best bits life has to offer in as many departments as possible and don't feel the need to be isolated in a van and preach the virtues of a nomadic life spent immersed within a single passion.

People have many kinds of hard jobs, but yes, Nick's does sound horrific, but let's not imply that 'jobs' and ''routine' are the enemy of freedom, spontaneity and fulfilment because in many cases the aren't.
Nick talks of being lucky to escape the life of chasing new cars, but let's not ignore the fact he did this in a nice shiny van which I'm sure will need replacing one day.

Nick also remarks that you 'might as well take a helicopter to the top' if you're not using the 'best style available'? What is the 'best style' exactly?
The best style right now?
In that location?
10 years ago?
Should we give Nick a call from the crag and ask before we do something ridiculous like pull on a pair of sticky boots? I mean barefoot would be a much 'better style' for left wall wouldn't it?

Is squeezing a mass produced, ridiculously expensive cam into and crack really so much more noble than clipping a rusty bolt, or soloing above a pad, or hanging on a sky hook?
And didn't you say something about climbing not being about numbers and comparisons anyway??

I say enjoy your life and your own style, but don't for a second think it's clever and inspiring to look down on other's achievements or their personal boundaries.
If you look around the mountains without the blinkered view of an elite athlete you'll see people challenging themselves and pushing their own boundaries in many different ways.
The smiles on their faces will be as wide as Nick's, or any other climber.

We all go home with a throb in our hearts after a day on the rock Nick, it's just not all those homes are a van.

I'm just going to listen to his messages of hope and positive energy, they're far more interesting.
Despite my ranting I find Nick an inspiration.

Maybe like Nick expresses in his book, I don't like to see unfairness on display, and as is so often the case, the leaders of 'regular lives' seem to be getting shat on from a great height.

So here's to them/us/you and Nick.





Adam Booth - on 08 Sep 2012
In reply to benknapp:

Totally agree. Was really hoping to see a video of a full time climber doing some cool climbing, not hearing him being incredibly judgemental towards others. I've met Nick out climbing and he seemed like a really nice bloke, so it was a total shock hearing him saying the things he does in the video.

Can anyone reading the book tell me if it's the same as the film in this respect, because if so I won't bother reading it.
alan_davies - on 08 Sep 2012
In reply to benknapp: Agree whole-heartedly and also there's a great deal of similarity in sentiment with Charlie Boscoe's recent piece on the travelling lifestyle - comes across as judgemental and superior (I know Charlie is a brilliant stand up bloke as it happens). I think it's potentially quite easy to think because you are (finally) doing what you want to do, everyone else must be just making do in life. This makes you no better than folks who think the three bed semi is the paragon of life, calling you a smelly hippy who should get a real job Nick. A little more each to their own might go a long way. I have massive respect for you in many ways, so i would definitely buy you a pint before i called you an elitist wanker ;)
Jamie B - on 08 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News:

I must have been watching a different film, I failed to spot any elitism, condescension or superiority. Just a climber who is happy with his life decisions and thinks that at least some of the rest of us could do the same. Is he wrong?
Michael Gordon - on 08 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News:

I think some of the above are being overly judgemental themselves!

I admit that when full time climbers talk of everyone else looking grey and unhappy it irritates me a little (if they're sitting on a train, walking in the street etc they're understandably not at their most animated!) but Nick's story of escape from something fairly horrific-sounding to the mountains is a powerful one. I like his thoughts on fairness and good style in the mountains.
Sambo - on 08 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News: There is a certain truth in what nick is talking about, the focus of society on acquiring material things is something that most people can understand, not doubt anyone posting here, any sponsored climber or dirt bag has desired for some new item which in reality they do not need.

A point that seemed missing from Nick's video is reference to family or friends or those that he loves, and I wonder if when he gave it all up to live in a van if he had any of those extremely important relationships that can keep us connected to the status quo of our lives?

I know that without people who I love and want to look after etc. I could easily see myself drifting off into a dirtbag world of travelling about, climbing, working seasonally and so on but the value these relationships give me binds me to the life I lead.

Climbing, mountaineering, and being in the beauty of nature is powerful draw to most but surely this is always balanced against the warmth and joy of loving relationships.

Finally I do not see Nick's video as condescending or looking down his nose at non-'lifers' simply a story of someone turning the corner on his life and discovering a different way to live, and rejecting powerful consumerist ideals.

Nick, I would be interested to hear how your personal relationships with friends, family and loved ones were affected by this change in lifestyle?
Ben Abbott - on 08 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News:

Having just watched the trailer from Echoes, and read the various comments from UKC members, I feel that several are missing the point that Nick is trying to get over!.
He is not particularly having a pop or indeed looking down his nose at the population in general, whom have decided that their lifestyle has become complacent and somewhat static in its existence and yet choose not to do anything about it, nor his he being an " Elitist" in his comments. He is merely pointing out that if you are unhappy with your life, then you can change it!.

He has broken away from all that made him unhappy, and has admitted that it was hard to give up financial and material security. He in my humble opinion has expressed verbally and physically what he has needed to stop him from dying from within, and that everyone can do it! he also stated that it may not work out, BUT things usually work out in the end regardless.

I wish him and anyone else whom chooses the path to happiness in their life all the best.




puppythedog on 08 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News: For almost all of the film I felt that Nick was sharing his own experiences and his feeling about them. For the brief part of the film that he spoke about walking in cities I felt that he was judging other people as inferior for not having made such an adventurous decision as he had made. At that moment I bristled because I felt that he could not the value in the life that I chose to live (this is slightly irrational because he doesn't know me) and it felt to me that some of things I judge to be important were invalidated.
That said people who have the skill and ability to judge people without getting to know them rarely have the pleasure of finding out they are wrong so it is probably Nick's loss.
I do find the things he does inspiring and briefly met him in a Hut once, he seemed warm and generous of disposition at that time, I have to acknowledge also that my reaction to this video is my own and not something he 'made me feel'.
alan_davies - on 08 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News: Don't get me wrong, i wasn't trying to have a pop at Nick (perhaps Balvenie doesn't make me the most eloquent). I was trying to point out that it can be a thin line between saying "this is the right life for me and ticks all my boxes" which it seems clear is true in Nick's case, and then looking at other people's lives, which you probably know the sum of diddly squat about, and judging them against the same criteria (your own). I think weather through the edit of the clip or genuine unscripted and unintentional banter, Nick was quite close to this line here. As i said i have massive respect for Nick, for his climbing ability and vision, and also for the life he has chosen to craft for himself on his own terms. I'll be buying the book for sure (or lending it off a mate - sure Nick'd approve!).
Robert Durran - on 08 Sep 2012
In reply to Jamie Bankhead:
>
> I must have been watching a different film, I failed to spot any elitism, condescension or superiority.

My thoughts exactly. In fact, having read some of extraordinary comments above accusing Nick of being judgemental, I watched this brilliant little film again, just to make sure I hadn't missed something. I hadn't. Nick simply comes across as someone who was unsatisfied with a conventional lifestyle, but, unlike most in this situation, had the balls to bin it. I am left wondering what deep insecurities might lurk in the minds of those who feel the need to attack him.

Yes, elitist in his approach to climbing (I'm not sure how climbing could ever be anything other than elitist), but certainly not a wanker.

Krama Woodgin - on 08 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News: Nick Bullock is a problem. The problem with Nick Bullock is the masks he wears are by now very thread-bear. This means we get to see the conflicted and self-contradicting complexities of a human being, not quite in the raw, but a bit too clearly for some people’s comfort. We all wear masks and have to to survive, but some of us do hide too much behind our masks. Honesty is often feared, particularly when those who honestly let their masks slip show no fear in exposing themselves, in letting their faults and talents gleam equally in the hot gaze of those who cannot stop themselves looking, yet don’t like the truth they see.

Bullock wrote a book called Echoes. It could’ve been called Reflections, because its readers actually get to see reflections of themselves, reflections of raw human qualities. Some of those qualities are strong, even noble and even beautiful, but a lot of them are horrible and even offensive. We humans are made up of brilliance and shit, and in equal measure. Bullock makes no convincing judgements about anyone except perhaps himself. In the film about himself and HIS view of the world, he does not really declare that others have grey lives, he says: ‘I look at other people ...’ and then goes on to say what HE sees, and as he speaks the word ‘I’ gets stuttered in and out of what he is saying. And there is a faint shudder in him as he speaks about others’ lives that seem grey to him. This is Bullock reflecting on the grey in himself, the grey of a life he had to reject. If you are over sensitive about being judged as grey, and think that Bullock is judging you, then, and I intend no insult to anyone, perhaps you should consider if you are frightened of having a grey life, and why.

I know Nick Bullock very well – when I first met him he was utterly driven with a kind of blindness for anything else but escaping through extreme emotion and physical sensation. This had to be, because the horror he was extracting himself from required such momentum, such deep arrogance. (The word ‘arrogance’ comes out of the word ‘arrogate’ which at its roots means to claim for one’s self, whether justified or not.) Over the years Nick has mellowed, he has become healthily socialised by the kindness of other climbers that he has met along the way (the likes of laid back and gentle Graham Desroy particularly spring to mind). Nick has also worked extremely hard to become a writer and reader, and to sharpen his sensitivity towards the world he finds himself in. I know from personal experience that Nick understands well that some people can experience more intensity of emotion in the flatlands of Suffolk, perhaps just watching a dragonfly, than many climbers feel whilst leading in the grandeur of the Alps. I’ve heard Nick talk about the ‘greyness’ of some climbers. And if you really want to get what Nick Bullock feels about other people’s lives in cities, then read (more than once and with care) his chapter in Echoes called Stars. Nick is afraid of waste - of wasted lives. I think that Nick is most afraid (correct me if I'm wrong, Nick) of other people’s pain and suffering, more than his own actually - he has seen too much of others needlessly suffering, and with no way out. And I’m sure that he is most frightened of, rather than judgemental about, the grey wastes of boredom that many humans do have to endure, and endure bravely, that is imposed upon them, and that they cannot escape. Echoes is a reflection by Nick Bullock on Nick Bullock and his pain, but perhaps turns out to be more of a reflection on other people’s pain. Perhaps your pain ...?

The ultimate challenge from Echoes is: Take a look in the mirror and stare yourself in the face. For all his human faults, Nick Bullock does have the courage to try, not even to succeed, but just to try to hold the gaze of that terrible reflection. And, for me, and perhaps you, the most important words in Nick’s book (from his favourite chapter, Stars) are: ‘Climbing is calling me, a new clean and safe way to challenge existence. Yet perhaps I’m just the same as the other poor trapped addicts.’
monkeyboyraw - on 08 Sep 2012
In reply to Krama Woodgin:

Nicely put indeed. I think many of the above comments are made merely from human nature and that is to make quick judgements on limited information. We all do it, everyday.
I have found myself stepping off the merry-go-round and also landed in Llanberis by chance. But I am very happy with my slightly less intense life style, by comparison to Mr Bullock. I have found and befriended many very happy and fulfilled people who have also been drawn here for shared interests, such as climbing and a deep love of the outdoors.

I think it is fair to say it is probably one of Nick's bravest decisions to be so open about himself. Good on you Nick, I am sure you will inspire many and be the topic of many a beer fueled rant as well, when not swearing at scout masters!

Oh and I hope he goes easy on young Mr Greenwood too!!
john yates - on 08 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News:
Thanks to everyone for a fascinating thread. Many of those who have posted express far better than I, the bundle of contradictions that is Nick Bullock. He lambasts the the modern, consumer culture, and yet has no qualms flying across the world in the pursuit of his own very private pleasures. In doing so, he is as much a part of the 'system' he decries as the grey faced people he passes in the street. The millions of people who form the aerospace industry - from designers and engineers through to pilots, air traffic controllers and the air stewards – all make it possible for Nick to pursue his dreams, get paid for writing about them, and be the sole subject of a narcissistic film about his life and his new book. Nick also is happy to take money from taxpayer funded organisations, thus directly benefiting from the hard work of others - the hard work that might be making them feel grey when they are walked passed by a smugly smiling Nick Bullock. I am no alpinist or mountaineer, and can only take Nick's word for it that he is at the cutting edge of this aspect of our sport, but there are very many other mountaineers and climbers who somehow combine a full time job, often stressful in itself, a family, and other responsibilities and activities (I am thinking of John Hart here, climbing hard, running a GPs practice, father of family, a sponsor of the arts, owner of an art gallery - just how does he make the time?).....So let's not forget all the unsung heroes out there who are doing the business, less noisily, with less fuss and declamation than Mr Bullock. The wonderful thing about capitalism and the free society is that it not only enables Nick to follow his self-centred (selfish?) pursuits, but also gives him the freedom to rail against the society and system that gives him that option. The book, by the way, is brilliant, and shows that when Nick is not on his high horse, he does communicate in a powerful and compelling way.
C coldwell-storry - on 08 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News:

Mega little vid! I hope you don't waste your time reading this thread Nick, but if you do, cheers and keep doing what you do pal.

callum
Enty - on 08 Sep 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Jamie Bankhead)
> [...]
>
> My thoughts exactly. In fact, having read some of extraordinary comments above accusing Nick of being judgemental, I watched this brilliant little film again, just to make sure I hadn't missed something. I hadn't. Nick simply comes across as someone who was unsatisfied with a conventional lifestyle, but, unlike most in this situation, had the balls to bin it. I am left wondering what deep insecurities might lurk in the minds of those who feel the need to attack him.
>


Well put Robert.

Great little video.

E

Lukem6 - on 08 Sep 2012
In reply to Robert Durran: My thoughts exactly. Thumbs up to him for pursuing his passion the fullest. Thumbs up to him also for being able to speak his opinion.

I've bartended for many years, and at a glance would say most people i meet have pretty "grey" lives. In the sense that their lives haven't grown in the past eight years and most of my customers suffer from a lack of success and a lack of failure. I've served the same "socialites" in different bars/restaurants and seen many different aspects of their lives, I feel everyone could experience more by taking a risk and getting out of the city, and truly socialising.

But thats just an opinion based on the majority. I have also met people who have very colourful lives and usually they are the ones you would least expect. So as bad as generalising can be its a pretty human thing to do, and to be confident enough to speak your opinion doesn't make you "elitist/arrogant/judgemental" etc, etc.

Keep on enjoying life Nick.

P.S Great Vid
Wee Davie - on 08 Sep 2012
In reply to Jamie Bankhead:

I hear you.
I don't agree with half the derision he's had heaped on him by some commentators here.

I'm happy for people like him who are talented enough to be able to do it full time. It doesn't diminish my own life- people like him actually inspire me to try a bit harder.

I don't get the impression he is actually railing against the lifestyles of the majority- he's just expressing the relief of being able to break free from a working life that would have killed him in the end.
Krama Woodgin - on 08 Sep 2012
In reply to john yates:Nick Bullock is indeed a bundle of contradictions, there are no humans on this planet who are not.

Please read Nick's book. Climbing is really incidental to the savagery of the very hard work that he did for years before he found the rewards of climbing. He has done his time, and he has honestly and very carefully reported on how he did that time - and his reporting it may, hopefully contribute to making things better for those still doing such hard prison work, with such poor training and support. This is the debate that needs starting.

Nick Bullock is an ex-prison officer, and a survivor of his experience as a prison officer, he has managed to keep his sanity intact and his respect for other people's rights to FREEDOM - that is what should be the focus, not the tittle-tattle of whether or not he is an arrogant climber. The climbing is just his reward, he deserves it after what he has been through and had the guts to speak about!

Please read his book!



john yates - on 08 Sep 2012
In reply to Krama Woodgin:
Krama - I am reading the book, as I say at the end of my comment. And I totally agree with you, we are all a bundle of contradictions, which is what makes us so fascinatin.(was it Whitman who said – Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.) I just think that so much of Nick's opining is sloppy and badly argued and lacks the discipline he shows in both his commitment to the prison service and his climbing - and now his book.
Jimbo W on 08 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News:

I have responsibilities that I recognise are important and ongoing, and I have no interest in living in a van, but nevertheless this video very much resonated with me and does make me think about directions. I liked it. Its interesting that there appears to be so much abreaction to what appears to me to be no more than the externalisation of a personal journey. I don't see why people need to feel so accused, unless there is some element of truth in what he says, which is afterall just a statement of how he finds people. It reminds me of a psychologist friend who told me that what really riles people in a family argument isn't that the arguer is wrong, but that they're right, and its galling. I don't think Nick is advocating that everyone should jump off the conventional routes in life, but I did get a strong message that it would be a crying shame not to waste the time you have, and being scared isn't a good reason not to. What that would mean, would of course, be different for different people, and even irrelevant for others.

Calling this video narcissistic seems over the top. By definition, the life he has chosen is orientated about himself, but I'm not sure how the facade of sociability in more conventional lives really hides the selfishness of us all. The desire for a smaller footprint in life might be full of contradiction with flights abroad for big expeditions, but I would has it a guess that his money / carbon footprint is alot smaller than most, and this will more and more become the focus of moral worth as depleting world resources become ever tighter. However, more than anything, the video reminded me of the kind of inspiration that I felt reading Face Dancing, the emotional tribute to Rachel Farmer who died so young.
Krama Woodgin - on 08 Sep 2012
In reply to john yates: No, I mean really read it. The struggle about prison is given early on. So, if you've read that struggle and understood that, why so unfairly and unkindly present to Bullock the very serious and insulting accusation of his being narcissistic? Do you really think he is driven by vanity? Do you think he is a vane prison officer in the chapters that you are reading?
ads.ukclimbing.com
Bulls Crack - on 08 Sep 2012
In reply to Toccata:
> (In reply to UKC News)
>
> Self indulgent trite. Well done for making a bold career change after 17 years but stop trying to convince the rest of us we live vacuous lives because we are not full time climbers.

Yeah - poor us eh? Trapped in our meaningless little lives.
Jon Ratcliffe - on 09 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News: It's not rocket science. If there's a message at all it's simply that you can take control of your own destiny, Nick's case is the extreme end of the spectrum, you dont have to go that far, as long you're happy with what you're doing its the same thing, Nick really wasn't happy so he really changed things. Drastically. This is just his story.

As an aside 99.99% of Nicks climbing partners and best mates all have jobs to pay the bills, (except that Graham Desroy fellow who's retired) some even have kids and are married <shock> and predictably of course he doesn't look down on them, because they are by in large happy with what they're doing, theyre not grey, and thus nor dors he look down on you if youre happy with your choices. It seems to me that the defensive posters on here are perhaps not happy with their lot and would like to get out cragging more!
Jamie B - on 09 Sep 2012
In reply to Jon Ratcliffe:

> It seems to me that the defensive posters on here are perhaps not happy with their lot and would like to get out cragging more!

Who wouldn't? What true climber would not welcome the opportunity to do more? Nick has found a way to make that happen, respect to him.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do...so...Explore. Dream.
Discover."
Mark Twain
Only a hill - on 09 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News:

I suspect those who complain Nick is somehow elitist or looking down his nose at others don't fully understand. Having read Echoes, I think the situation is far more complex and I certainly don't think Nick believes himself to be superior to others (although I did form the impression that a lack of balance in his life may have contributed towards his decision to climb full time).

I would strongly urge everyone to read his book! I've written a review and posted it on my site, also here: http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=518677
alan_davies - on 09 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News: On reflection a lot of the above posts are probably correct, in that subconsciously i railed against Nick's "judgement" of the grey people as I am frightened of becoming one myself. 18 months ago I moved from being surrounded by crags and friends, to an area where the nearest crag is an hour and a half drive, and I've been unable to make any meaningful friendships either (boohoo me). The reasons for the move were complex, personal and unavoidable. Simultaneously my workload went through the roof and to deal with the situation i threw myself into work, working stupid hours. I felt trapped. Its taken me a while to realise i'm not.
I've handed in my notice and i'll be redressing the work/life balance thing as well as moving back where friends are. First thing on the menu is a s"£t load of climbing - work will come i'm sure.
So, in a way Nick might of held a mirror up and i didn't like that very much. But as Sam Cooke said "A change gonna come.."
Nick, if you do waste your time reading this (probs too busy climbing you b"£$tard!), it would appear i'm the wanker. Apologies and respect to you. Keep living your dream (til it changes?).
Mark Collins - on 09 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News: I liked the cycling sequence but switched off when Mr. Bullock mentioned that he didn't want to talk about his daily routine, as I didn't want to hear about it. Kind of surprised to see such a heated response, mission accomplished Nick Bullock it seems. I'm definitely more interested in reading the book now. One more thing, I hope he hasn't read any of this, I wouldn't like some of the more negative posts written about me.
Dave Garnett - on 09 Sep 2012
In reply to Jamie Bankhead:
> (In reply to Jon Ratcliffe)
>
> [...]
>
> Who wouldn't? What true climber would not welcome the opportunity to do more?

There's a lot of honest and thoughtful comment on here, and this the first to come across as offensively condescending...

creag - on 09 Sep 2012
In reply to Dave Garnett:
Have to agree there. Turns out according to Mr Bankhead, all you have to do to be a 'true' climber is have a guidebook in your toilet....
Just going to pop one in mine right now and see how the change from climber to 'true' climber changes me as a person!
http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?n=519131&v=1
creag - on 09 Sep 2012
In reply to creag:
Nope, nothing has changed....
Only a hill - on 09 Sep 2012
In reply to Dave Garnett:
> (In reply to Jamie Bankhead)
> [...]
>
> There's a lot of honest and thoughtful comment on here, and this the first to come across as offensively condescending...

Seriously? I don't see anything wrong with the notion that a committed climber will want to climb more!
arth on 09 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News: Good on him. Thankfully we all live different and diverse lives and on the whole enjoy them. It seems that Mr Bullock chose the wrong career path and stuck with that for 15 or so years and now is making up for lost time. I hope that it hasn't put him off work for good (some people manage to enjoy their jobs and hobbies). Perhaps when the right woman or man comes along he will see things from another angle too.
Enty - on 09 Sep 2012
In reply to Dave Garnett:
> (In reply to Jamie Bankhead)
> [...]
>
> offensively condescending...

Blinkin heck.

E
Dave Garnett - on 09 Sep 2012
In reply to Only a hill:
> (In reply to Dave Garnett)
> [...]
>
> Seriously? I don't see anything wrong with the notion that a committed climber will want to climb more!

No problem with that, it's the concept of a 'true' climber that I object to, and that Mr Bankhead gets to decide who qualifies.
Jody - on 09 Sep 2012
In reply to Jon Ratcliffe:

Nicely put, the niggling problem I have is that I don't find the his drastic change, a central theme of the film, interesting.

I haven't read the book, but from the information in the film at the time he quit he was in a job he really hated, he had no responsibilities (e.g. kids or long-term relationship?), he had saved up a lot of money, and he was leaving to pursue something he was very passionate about.

I find the stories of his prison and climbing life interesting, but the transition between them seems like the obvious, 'easy' choice.
Robert Durran - on 09 Sep 2012
In reply to Dave Garnett:
> (In reply to Jamie Bankhead)
>
> There's a lot of honest and thoughtful comment on here, and this the first to come across as offensively condescending...

There have been a number of very strange and unjustified comments in this thread, but that is just laughably ridiculous! For heaven's sake.....

WJV0912 on 09 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News:

Shut the f*ck up all of you
Alex Parker - on 09 Sep 2012
Everyone is entitled to their opinion. If somebody wants to make videos and write books they are inviting other peoples opinions, be those good or bad. We do not all share the same view on life.

Why have people started insulting each other? Just as his achievements have inspired some, his comments irritate others, hence the mixed bag of replies.

I have found the same underlying message in all the stuff i have read from Nick Bullock and he just rubs me up the wrong way. Others read his stuff completely differently, that is life. It also does not mean i cannot admire his talent and determination.

To suggest people are insecure, or must secretly agree with Nick just because they voice a dislike to what he says is simply stupid.

And for the record i am a banker and yes i do, at times, hate my job! However, it enables me to follow my dream, to be a father, a husband, travel the world, climb, board etc etc.

You do not hear me insulting Nick for not having the income to support a family, buy a nice house, look after his wife and child etc etc.

I think that is what has annoyed a few people. There are lots who would like his ability to just start something new, but some have too many commitments to take that risk.

People quit their jobs all the time and do something different, he isn't the only one to do it. He may be a pioneer in climbing and mountaineering, but hardly in how to live your life.
Spit 5.12 - on 09 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News: I think he`s brilliant. Even more so for coming into the game relatively late and his writing is as good as it gets in british climbing. Thanks Nick - without you, Haston and Kirkpatrick those of us who enjoy a good read sometimes instead of being `real climbers` all the time would be a lot more bored. blah!
Robert Durran - on 09 Sep 2012
In reply to papabear:
> I have found the same underlying message in all the stuff I have read from Nick Bullock and he just rubs me up the wrong way.

The trouble is that your comment earlier in the thread that "he just seems to think he is now better than the rest of us" is so clearly unfounded that it undermines most of what you say and begs the question of why you choose to misinterpret what he says or writes so badly.
SPD224 - on 09 Sep 2012
In reply to Spit 5.12:

I shared a belay with Nick on Saturday on the Cromlech. I quickly logged on tonight to check on some stuff and, seeing his mug on on the screen, clicked on the vid to find out what it was all about. I can honestly say that he's inspired me. I've had a shocking year and have ended up not far off living out the back of a van myself, just not through my own choice. I can see why he talks about being frightened, and even more so when you've chosen to follow that path. As much as I'd love the freedom and all the rest of it, I'd be hard pressed to have the balls to take that decision. Respect!
Alex Parker - on 10 Sep 2012
Unfounded? The very nature of other people seeing the same thing i do shows it is not unfounded. Look through the very comments you are dismissing. I may well be wrong, it is only my opinion.

As it is only my opinion, you shouldn't then disregard anything else i have to say. People do not always choose how they interpret something, it is often just how they read it. People read some things differently to others.

Just because you disagree with me, does not make you or i right and i wont tell you your opinion is wrong or without substance. The comment about him thinking he is better than the rest of us more comes from the articles he writes on fixed ropes and the state of the larger, more 'commercialized' mountains.

I believe (just my opinion before you try and belittle me) that if it were up to him, the only people allowed on mountains would be those who climb full time. never mind those who work hard, train hard but need a guide to get to their dream summit and appreciate that the odd fixed rope and ladder makes their task a little less impossible. lets face it, there are thousands of mountains without fixed ropes he can climb if he chooses to.

In your comment you tell me i am misinterpreting his writing 'so badly'. you tell me my opinion undermines what i am saying and tell me it begs questions? who are you to decide who is right or wrong? i may well be wrong, but it is not impossible that he is an elitist idiot who thinks he is better than those that do not climb for a living. Do you know him well, other than what you see in his writing?

No, i assume not. we are both just reading something and interpreting it how we see it. Notice i haven't told you you are wrong? That is because i cannot say without doubt that you are, just like you can't about me.

Having a debate is not about telling someone why they are wrong, it is about discussing all aspects and making your own conclusion. i am only saying what i see, not that is is fact.
Robert Durran - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to papabear:
> As it is only my opinion.

But it is not a matter of opinion; it is a matter of fact whether or not he thinks himself better than other people. I am sure he doesn't.

> The comment about him thinking he is better than the rest of us more comes from the articles he writes on fixed ropes and the state of the larger, more 'commercialized' mountains.

I thought the discussion (I assume you have read the thread) was about whether he considers himself better than people living more conventional lives, not whether he considers the style in which he climbs "better" than that chosen by some other people.

> I believe (just my opinion before you try and belittle me) that if it were up to him, the only people allowed on mountains would be those who climb full time.

This is clearly complete bollocks. Such a ridiculous opinion belittles yourself - no need for you me to do so. Apart from that, climbing style is a separate debate and is indeed a matter of opinion. For a start, considering another person's climbing style inferior is a very different sort of thing to considering an actual person inferior.

> Do you know him well, other than what you see in his writing?

I know him though not well. The idea that he considers other people inferior simply doesn't ring true from what I do know of him. But then nor does it do so from the film or his writing.
Alex Parker - on 10 Sep 2012
Jesus, I gave my opinion based on what I have seen and read of him. I also stated it to be just that, my opinion.

You really are patronizing aren't you? I was using the style of climbing debate as an example of another time his writing has not sat comfortably with me. If you go right to the top, you'll find i am one of the people starting the discussion in the first place so you aren't really in a position to tell me about the subject of the discussion.

I will give you the moral high ground and just call you an idiot (to be fair you blew that when you swore at my opinion). Not because we disagree, but because you feel the need to insult me because of a difference of opinion. I can see your point of view, it is just a shame that you are probably too old to change your ways and accept that not everyone see things the same way. I am guessing you have been on the climbing circuit a fair few years and to insult Nick is like insulting you?

Good on you Robert, you sure did teach me a lesson. There's a bit of patronizing for you.

alasdair19 on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to Krama Woodgin: i will definitly read his book. Prison is grim work and I think at least some of the cultures in some of the prisons has changed for the better since Nick years.

A lesser man man would have gone on the sick.

I have a lot of respect for prison officers. Prisons are incredibly complex, pressured environments with lots of people working as hard as they can. Its tragic that they're running uphill as the jails get more and more crowded mostly with an underclass that society has created.
Robert Durran - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to papabear:
> Jesus, I gave my opinion based on what I have seen and read of him. I also stated it to be just that, my opinion.
>
> You really are patronizing aren't you? I was using the style of climbing debate as an example of another time his writing has not sat comfortably with me. If you go right to the top, you'll find i am one of the people starting the discussion in the first place so you aren't really in a position to tell me about the subject of the discussion.

From the top of the debate: "Nick's decision to make that massive change can only be admired, but he just seems to think he is now better than the rest of us."

So are you now claiming this refers to him thinking his climbing style is better than others? (Not much debate to be had there). If you read it again, I am sure you will agree that I can be forgiven for assuming you meant his lifestyle choice makes him better than the rest of us. I'm not sure whether you are backtracking or just muddled.

> Good on you Robert, you sure did teach me a lesson.

My pleasure.
Dave Garnett - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Dave Garnett)
> [...]
>
> There have been a number of very strange and unjustified comments in this thread, but that is just laughably ridiculous! For heaven's sake.....

OK, maybe I did overreact and tone is hard to judge (mine and his)... he probably isn't as totalitarian as he came across!
In reply to Robert Durran: Well, he does say in the video something about grey people or grey lives doesn't he? Probably no worse than most of us have said at some point - "why do people waste their time watching such rubbish TV?" for example - but then Nick had a camera pointed at him at the time. Perhaps it's not the same as saying you are better than others, but it sounds a bit dismissive. If nothing else, it's the sort of statement that will spark discussion as it has here!

Nevertheless I think Jody's point higher up the thread hit the nail on the head. From reading Nick's stuff down the year I get the impression he doesn't have kids or a partner (might be wrong on that, but that's the impression anyway) so that making the change in his life isn't quite so major as he appears to be only responsible to himself. I've got a few mates who do admirable (jealousy inducing!) amounts of climbing but they are all single and, I think, often quite self contained - which isn't the same as being selfish. People who do amazing climbing and have families are admirable in another way - Mick Fowler being an obvious example. But also I'm always interested to hear how such people balance their perceived responsibilities to kids etc. with their desire to climb, probably because that's something I think about to some degree.
Craig Smith on 10 Sep 2012 - l-mid4416.smith.man.ac.uk
In reply to john yates:

Nicely put John especially this ' So let's not forget all the unsung heroes out there who are doing the business, less noisily, with less fuss and declamation than Mr Bullock.'

Cheers,

C
Jimbo W on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to Craig Smith:

> Nicely put John especially this ' So let's not forget all the unsung heroes out there who are doing the business, less noisily, with less fuss and declamation than Mr Bullock.'

Reality check coming up.... ....none of you are heroes, but a few of you can be an inspiration, which of course requires us to see the fruits of your labour.
Robert Durran - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to Craig Smith:
> (In reply to john yates)
>
> Nicely put John especially this ' So let's not forget all the unsung heroes out there who are doing the business, less noisily, with less fuss and declamation than Mr Bullock.'

Perhaps a fair point, but climbing would be a lot poorer without its vast wealth of literature and now videos, blogs etc.
ksjs - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to TobyA:
> ..."why do people waste their time watching such rubbish TV?" for example - but then Nick had a camera pointed at him at the time. Perhaps it's not the same as saying you are better than others, but it sounds a bit dismissive. If nothing else, it's the sort of statement that will spark discussion as it has here!

And what's wrong with being dismissive about people who unquestioningly choose to watch dross, buy the stuff peddled in the ad breaks and put up with work they don't really like just so they can perpetuate the cycle?

I'm not saying this is what is being said but for me Nick's comments touch on the idea that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way a lot of people live / our society is structured.
Robert Durran - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to ksjs:
> (In reply to TobyA)
> And what's wrong with being dismissive about people who unquestioningly choose to watch dross, buy the stuff peddled in the ad breaks and put up with work they don't really like just so they can perpetuate the cycle?

I don't think it is easy (as comes across from Nick in the film) for an individual to break out of the norms in our society of employment and enteryainment, and therefore I don't think it is right to be dismissive of people whether they are conforming happily or less happily (and I don't think Nick was doing so in ther film).
Dan Dyson - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News:

I might be a bit cynical but it seems to me everyone is looking at this film through the wrong end of the telescope. It is clearly a sophisticated high end anorak advert disguised as an advertorial for a book about some personal choices. It is anorak porn. Many action scenes of various anoraks some in soft focus, especially when wet. Lots of different colours. All set in glorious landscape scenes.

What it illustrates to me is the way in which the activity of climbing has become no different to any other commodity in the way the manufacturers attempt to sell it to you by combining it with an aspirational lifestyle. For aspiring rolex wearers the lifestyle sold may be different than for climbers. But it follows the same principle.

The underlying purpose of the film is to sell anaroks and a book. Essentially, so that ME can sell more anoraks and support NB in the process. But there is an inconsistency in this approach. On the one hand we are told in the film that consumerism is negative and on the other we are being persuaded to buy various anoraks of different hues. In one sense it is the epitome of consumerism - to sell products by reference to a lifestyle shunning consumerism. Because of that the credibility of the potentially positive messages/thoughts in the film become a little tarnished.

Anyway apart from all that a great film and climber.
In reply to ksjs:

> And what's wrong with being dismissive about people who unquestioningly choose to watch dross, buy the stuff peddled in the ad breaks and put up with work they don't really like just so they can perpetuate the cycle?

Because I suspect that's not really an adequate description of most people's lives. Besides anything else, everyone is selling something to some degree. Having watched this film I don't think you can be in any doubt as to who sponsors Mr Bullock in terms of clothing, for instance. I think a logo is in most shots in the film. We're all buying "stuff peddled" to some degree. Actually it is something I mention in my column in the soon to be published new issue of "Climb" (available in all good newsagents [see what I did there?]) - that there are loads of good videos available of climbing these days mainly for free on the internet, and directly because of that the line between advert and content in them is fuzzy to say the least. I'm not unduly bothered by it, but at the same time it's pretty much undeniable.

> I'm not saying this is what is being said but for me Nick's comments touch on the idea that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way a lot of people live / our society is structured.

I think this is actually a really interesting political point, avoided by Nick himself in the video and in all of our comments above. The dirtbag/ski bum/etc. life style is often seen as being opposed to wide social norms in some way, a radical or 'rebellious' act of a type. But if anything it's just running parallel to wider society, and as someone pointed out above, to a great extent reliant (parasitic?) on wider society and the capitalist system more generally. Perhaps stepping outside "normal society" (not a great term) to do something you love doing is a form of social critique, but it is not going to go anything to change whatever you see as 'fundamentally wrong' besides for you.


In reply to Dan Dyson:
> It is anorak porn. Many action scenes of various anoraks some in soft focus, especially when wet.

:) wot Dan said.
Craig Smith on 10 Sep 2012 - l-mid4416.smith.man.ac.uk
In reply to Robert Durran:

Perhaps a fair point, but climbing would be a lot poorer without its vast wealth of literature and now videos, blogs etc.

Climbing is a lot poorer!
There is certainly much more quantity of media coverage, but the quality is dire!
Sure, Mr Bullock maybe a maverick, but there are dozens of people like him around. It's just that they choose not to blew their own trumpets! If Nick wants to do that fine...just see it for what it is.
Robert Durran - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to ksjs)
> Perhaps stepping outside "normal society" (not a great term) to do something you love doing is a form of social critique, but it is not going to go anything to change whatever you see as 'fundamentally wrong' besides for you.

Except, perhaps, stimulate an interesting debate (as here) or inspire others to do likewise. In the end it could be a small step leading somewhere.

Craig Smith on 10 Sep 2012 - l-mid4416.smith.man.ac.uk
In reply to TobyA:

"Perhaps stepping outside "normal society" (not a great term) to do something you love doing is a form of social critique, but it is not going to go anything to change whatever you see as 'fundamentally wrong' besides for you."

It's just a selfish act in pursuit of self gratification. By all means do it, but don’t harp on about the rest of us who choose not to.And yes 'the system' in general is +ucked, but climbing rocks isn't going to change anything!

x
Robert Durran - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to Craig Smith:
> Climbing is a lot poorer!

Ok, some of the blogs and a lot of the climbing porn might make climbing poorer, but there are still great articles and books being written (and possibly more widely read due to promotion on sites such as this)

> Sure, Mr Bullock maybe a maverick, but there are dozens of people like him around. It's just that they choose not to blew their own trumpets! If Nick wants to do that fine...just see it for what it is.

Well I'm very glad Whymper, Mummery, Terray, Bonatti etc all inspired me by choosing to blow their own trumpet. If Nick has written a great book (I've not read it yet), then he is following a long and honourable tradition in mountaineering. You are, I think, being terribly cynical.

In reply to Robert Durran:
> In the end it could be a small step leading somewhere.

Economic collapse and horribly mobbed crags?! ;-)

Craig Smith on 10 Sep 2012 - l-mid4416.smith.man.ac.uk
In reply to Robert Durran:
Hi Robert,
Yes, maybe a tad cynical, but there you go, it comes from being a Yorkshireman!

> but there are still great articles and books being written (and possibly >more widely read due to promotion on sites such as this)

If you could kindly recommend some of said texts I'd be very grateful. I find the quality of reporting on this particular site very poor!


>Well I'm very glad Whymper, Mummery, Terray, Bonatti etc

Agreed, but you are talking prehistory here...what about texts in the modern idiom?

Best wishes,
C
Michael Ryan - on 10 Sep 2012
Is that dirtbag climber Bullock quoting Thoreau again?

“the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”

and that Climbing has lost it's soul......

Some agree....( http://www.rockandice.com/articles/how-to-climb/article/1125-american-dirtbag )

"But first, I want to wax nostalgic about the original climbing dirtbags, the O.C.D.’s, the ones who were so tight-fisted (probably from climbing tight fist cracks) that they couldn’t even pinch a penny, mostly because pinching pennies is impossible with just a fist.

They didn’t climb for cameras nor did they own things, and not just because no one had invented Photoshop and Wal-Mart yet. They possessed the iron will to climb as much and work as little as possible, and did whatever it took to live out their non-materialistic, unglamorous dreams without any safety net.

In other words, they did the exact opposite of your mundane existence at Hewlett-Packard or whatever perfunctory job you do that any Chinese seventh grader could perform twice as well for a third of the cost."
Craig Smith on 10 Sep 2012 - l-mid4416.smith.man.ac.uk
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKC and UKH:

Here's a few for starters:

Jim Bridwell (still living in a tent in a hole near 29 Palms)
Dick Silly (whereabouts currently unknown)
Phil Thornhill (is he still alive?)
Michael Ryan - on 10 Sep 2012
The boy Dawes.....chatted with him yesterday at Stanage....living out of his car.

I know many younger climbers (in the UK and USA) who 'make do' to pursue their climbing passion.

I think where Nick is different is that he writes well about his dirtbag lifestyle option (DLO), as well as being a shit hot trad/alpine climber.
MattDTC on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
> [...]
>
> Economic collapse and horribly mobbed crags?! ;-)



Aren't we there already?

MattDTC on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKC and UKH:
>
> I think where Nick is different is that he writes well about his dirtbag lifestyle option (DLO), as well as being a shit hot trad/alpine climber.


With the end of the DOLE came the end of the DLO...
Robert Durran - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to Craig Smith:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
> If you could kindly recommend some of said texts I'd be very grateful. I find the quality of reporting on this particular site very poor!

Reporting might be another matter...... An article which springs immediately to mind is that Grimer masterpiece about returning home for Christmas which was on here a while back and caused such a furore.

> >Well I'm very glad Whymper, Mummery, Terray, Bonatti etc
>
> Agreed, but you are talking prehistory here...what about texts in the modern idiom?

Boardman or Tasker (or is that still prehistory to you?!) Pretty much any Boardman/Tasker prize winner. Cave? Perhaps even Kirkpatrick? Maybe we can add Bullock to the list now.
Rocket Ronnie - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to Krama Woodgin:
Yes i could'nt agree more,
but more importantly where does the man wash and dry his kit?
not forgetting take that infamous 'poo'.

Presumably Petes Eats _)
Craig Smith on 10 Sep 2012 - 31.93.241.250 whois?
In reply to Robert Durran:
Johnny's book
Andy cave's first book
Paul pritchard's first book
Simpson ' touching cloth'

You'll have to tell me how good bullock's is because I won't be reading it!
Cheers,
C
Krama Woodgin - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to Mark Collins: Hlo Mark! Yes I fully agree, part of me hopes he hasn't read any of the uninformed and seriously insulting comments made about him on this thread, but he will have. I know Nick very well, and although I have discussed with him on a number of occasions the kind of shit that will get thrown at you when you speak truthfully in public, and although I know full well that he will not be surprised and has prepared for it, I must confess to being surprised to find how shocked I am about it. Anyway, there are a good dose of sensitive and considerate comments on this thread, which go some way towards making up for the ignorant unkindness of others. Thanks!

Kind regards, Mark Goodwin
Alex Parker - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to Krama Woodgin:

Just stop and think for one second about 'seriously insulting and misinformed comments' and suggesting people are ignorant if they do not like the way he writes and talks.

The reason a few of us haven't taken to Nick is because we perhaps view him as the ignorant one (thinking other peoples lives are grey for example).

Remember his 'truth' is only his opinion, just like everybody else's and is no more or less important. Maybe others see it as 'unkind' when he harps on about how people watch dross on TV for example. Maybe they simply enjoy it? is it that difficult to understand that just because others prefer a different life they are not grey or dull.

Alex Parker - on 10 Sep 2012
No, i think you are now choosing to read my comments and pick holes in them, on your own agenda, not paying attention to what i mean.

Perhaps Nick's vastly superior climbing style and ability has lead to him thinking he is better than others who cannot get to his level. Would he be the first to develop a sense of superiority, without meaning to?

Maybe because he has made those dramatic changes and been so successful, he looks down on those unable to do the same? another example where a superiority complex has set in, perhaps? One can lead to the other.

I hope that in the future i will read something written by him or watch something made by him and i will change my opinion. until then, that is just how i see him. I have not met him, or do i know him so all i have to go on is what he writes and makes and that is the effect he has on me.

Also let's not be dramatic. if he retired tomorrow, the climbing world would simply move on, like every industry/sport etc. to suggest climbing in general would be affected is nonsense.

Climbing is simply being out on rock, let's not pretend is is anything more than that.

In reply to Mick Ryan - UKC and UKH:
> I want to wax nostalgic about the original climbing dirtbags... ...unglamorous dreams without any safety net.

I think dirtbag must be an American expression originally? I do think that Americans living that sort of life style have much less of a safety net than Brits/Europeans, simply because they don't have state healthcare. There have been a couple of really sad stories in recent years of older climbers in the US getting sick or getting hurt in car accidents and their mates having to collect donations from other climbers just to pay their hospital bills. Desperate and pathetic in a way. Makes you realise how much better most of us have it on this side of the Atlantic.
Robert Durran - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to Craig Smith:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
> You'll have to tell me how good Bullock's is because I won't be reading it!

Just ordered it from Amazon. Can't wait to read it. Shall try to remember to tell you what I think!
Michael Gordon - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News:

The funny thing is Nick really isn't any more 'elitist' than most other leading alpinists or trad climbers. Most hold 'style' of ascent to be very important to them, they perhaps just don't air their opinions quite so readily - probably because they might be (unfairly) labelled elitist w*nkers!

Alex Parker - on 10 Sep 2012
Robert, after our discussion i decided that i would see if it was the way i read Nicks stuff, or if he upsets others the same way.

I found several other comments from climbers like himself who did not share his point of view and comments from the general population who he has rubbed up the wrong way.

I went to his website and e-mailed him to see if i could get a better understanding of his writing and put my view across. I admitted to feeling that he comes across as an elitist snob and asked if it could be his quality of writing that leads to the confusion and negative comments sometimes, not just people reading things wrongly.

To my surprise, half an our ago he responded. How he portrayed himself in his response was completely different to how his writing makes me feel. He accepted my offer of a beer in the unlikely event that our paths cross and has made me feel good knowing that he only comes across as a snob and clearly is not one.

He took no offence to my comments and suggested a few books i can read to better understand his thought process. I really am glad he has changed my opinion of him. I may not agree with a lot of his writing, but i now see him as someone who has a different outlook on some things to me.

Thank you for winding me up enough to go and actually find some things out for myself, from the very man in question, rather than allowing how i read his words to dictate to me. You are clearly not an idiot, please accept my apology for calling you one.
Robert Durran - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to Michael Gordon:
> (In reply to UKC News)
>
> The funny thing is Nick really isn't any more 'elitist' than most other leading alpinists or trad climbers. Most hold 'style' of ascent to be very important to them, they perhaps just don't air their opinions quite so readily - probably because they might be (unfairly) labelled elitist w*nkers!

I find it very puzzling how "elitism" and "elitist" have almost become a dirty word and a routine insult among some climbers (and, indeed, more generally in this country). In the sense that some climbs are difficult and therefore not achievable by all and that some climbs are very difficult and therefore only achievable by a few, climbing is by its very nature an elitist activity. I really don't see how it could possibly be otherwise unless you believe that every route should be bolted and equipped with fixed ropes so that everytone could "achieve" them. I am therefore certainly an elitist, but that does not mean I look down on people who don't climb as hard as me, and I can happily accept that many people climb harder than me and that there are many fine climbs I shall never achieve. Elitism is not just inevitable in climbing, it is pretty central to it and is something to be celebrated, not derided.

It seems odd that, in contrast, there didn't seem to be much complaining about the blatant elitism of the Olympics - indeed it was a massive celebration of elitism. This is despite the fact that the "elite athletes" (in contrast to elite climbers) are subsidised by the taxpayer, something one could certainly make a case against.

Robert Durran - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to papabear:
> Thank you for winding me up enough to go and actually find some things out for myself, from the very man in question, rather than allowing how i read his words to dictate to me. You are clearly not an idiot, please accept my apology for calling you one.

Apology accepted. I apologise if I was also a bit too forthright. Glad this has ended well.

Good ending to a UKC spat...whatever next!

James Edwards - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:

Elitism is a 'dirty word' as you say because the majority by definition can't be in the elite. Therefore you have an us and them and the bigger portion usually things that they are in the right.

I think that elitism should be encouraged and wish that things were more meritocratic in climbing and in the other world. It is worth noting that you don't have to be in the elite to be an elitist. I am absolutely an elitist and i encourage this trait in others.

James
Robert Durran - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to James Edwards:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
> I think that elitism should be encouraged and wish that things were more meritocratic in climbing and in the other world. It is worth noting that you don't have to be in the elite to be an elitist. I am absolutely an elitist and I encourage this trait in others.

I think the problem may be that some people unfortunately use the term "elitist" interchangeably with "elitist wanker" (presumably in climbing an elitist who looks down on those who don't climb as hard as themselves). This is as confusing as the ubiquitous "fat bastard"; I have several fat friends but not all of them are bastards.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Krama Woodgin - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to papabear: To apologise honestly and in public takes proper courage. Respect!
Krama Woodgin - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to Robert Durran: Yes, there is much confusion in the climbing world about the word 'elite'. I think it gets confused with the word 'private' as in the following definition: "Not open to the public; restricted or intended only for the use of a particular person or persons."[Oxford Shorter]. And it also gets confused with 'segregation', so that people feel that an 'elite' is keeping them out or away. Indeed, it used to be that only a certain class of male could join the climbing elite, and that only certain educated people would read about it in club journals; but today's climbing elite is open to all: any sex, any class, any level of eduction, any race. So, we should be proud of our climbing 'elite' - in the end the only thing stopping someone joining the climbing elite is their lack of talent and/or commitment to climbing to elite level.

What stopped me joining the 'elite' was my love for other people ... oh and my wanting to remain alive - and I have no regrets. And I only feel enhanced and empowered when I meet members of the elite and they share their stories. The word 'share' is important here (distinct from 'private'), and some members of our climbing elite tell their stories very well and give loads to us readers and listeners and our imaginations. Bless the climbing 'elite', as long as they are honest and not racist, sexist, ageist or classist, and especially if they are also not silent, and especially especially if they are very vocal. Bless the climbing elite - as long as only the hardest routes in the world make the final judgements about who can or cannot be members. (What Bullock is passionate to protect, and is frightened of losing, are those final careless judges of the elite: the mountains and climbs that are the hardest because they have not been subordinated by infrastructure, and sub-sub-urbanization.)

I only ever managed to lead E2, and I've climbed a number of times with Nick, and he has only ever offered me encouragement and inspiration. And he has done the same for other people I know, some of who have led no more than severe.

Aside: It is great fun to tease Nick about his complete lack of understanding of the grading system below about 5a - and he takes the teasing well, and he has been teased often about it. Yes, Nick, the grade 3c does actually exist! ha ha ha! dumb ass!
Krama Woodgin - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to alasdair19: Yes, indeed. And Bullock shows much concern and awareness for that 'underclass' in his book. Much of Nick's railing against 'grey' is his railing against wasted lives, and the prison parts of the book express pain in seeing others wasted.

And also, yes, of course, there are those who 'struggle' as prison officers for the right reasons, and courageously.

If Nick's book can shake up some open, informed and ongoing public debate about our prisons, then that would probably be its most important achievement.
Krama Woodgin - on 11 Sep 2012
In reply to benknapp: Hlo! just want to explore the word 'style' with regards to climbing. And particularly relating to the spectrum of technology you allude to, i.e bolt, rusty piton, cam, helicopter.

Firstly lets go with a full spectrum of technology, but focusing on clothes. If I compare a Gore-tex clad 21st Century climber with Eric Shipton in his woollies I see one has an obvious advantage. If I compare a Tibetan monk in sandals and thin cotton gown to Eric in his woolies, again the monk is more impressive than Eric up at around twenty plus thousand feet! Lets compare the lot to someone riding in a helicopter! I find the heli-option least impressive. These different 'styles' demonstrate clearly different levels of difficulty, and so engender clearly different responses regarding how impressed I am. The level of how impressed I am with the effort required relates very clearly to the words 'better' and 'best'. (Indeed a barefoot ascent of Left Wall would be the 'best' style, but would be bettered by the 'purity' of a nude ascent, and of course certainly bettered by a one-armed ascent.)

I'll now compare the different types of some of the tech you mentioned (some of which Nick compares, in his film, admittedly perhaps not with enough explanation, but films get edited down). So, there's rusty piton, bolt, cam and helicopter. Helicopter is the most oddest one out - all the others are carried up mountains or crags by climbers, whereas the helicopter carries the climber ... well actually you couldn't call them a climber, rather they would be a passenger!

Rusty pitons are fixtures, like bolts, and very distinct from cams, which get taken away again. Bolts, like helicopters, require motors, as bolts are placed in drilled holes. To place them, pitons and cams only require the mechanical force generated by human muscles.

'Bolt' and 'helicopter' share motorisation. And 'bolt' even more than 'piton' represents infra-structure and the extension of urbanization.

The cam, although a sophisticated and factory-engineered piece of kit, nevertheless represents what the cunning climber thinks about in the valley, manufactures in the valley, and then takes away from 'civilization' up into the 'wilds' of the mountains to aid their climbing. Compare this to the bolt-ladder, and bolt belay-stations, which are forms of infrastructure and by extension urbanization: they are the things of the valley creeping up the mountain. Urban is not all bad. I love the cinema, and I like roofs! But there are many people who object to urban-sprawl. 'Bolts' represent urban sprawl. Again, sometimes the urban is needed, and some crags are great for being bolted. And I'd possibly even argue, even though I don't like it, that the train and cafe on Snowdon should stay cuz all sorts of people, elderly people for example, thus get to experience the view across Snowdonia (when its not raining!)

The issue for humans is finite resources, its all running out for us. Bullock is most afraid, perhaps a little over sensitive, but justifiably afraid of urban-sprawl. He is most afraid of the conscious of the climbing community changing to favour infrastructure and urban sprawl. Bullock uses climbing walls, he loves 'em, and admires those who run them well (so much so, he even accepts wall managers such as Iain McKenzie cuddling him!). Bullock values the urban. But he is afraid the balance will tip so that the urban over-runs the mountains.

I think, and fortunately so do others, that we should listen to Bullock yelling about sprawl! To repeat, expansion of the urban itself is not necessarily bad - but if it is not checked, and dealt with carefully then it is 'sprawl'. Is climbers' urban-sprawl being dealt with carefully? I doubt it ... but I'm hopeful, very slightly hopeful, that it might start to be ...


Coel Hellier - on 11 Sep 2012
In reply to the thread:

The book is very well written, and really wants me to read more -- and I haven't even got to the climbing parts yet. Based on the first few chapters, I'd say it's of Boardman-Tasker-winning quality.

It's also refreshing to have the story told chronologically, instead of having the writing jazzed up by tricks such as jumping around in time [I say that since I recently read Kirkpatrick's Psychovertical, which is also an excellent and superbly written book, but I can't help thinking it would be even better if the bits were simply re-ordered to be chronological; the writing is strong enough to tell the story plainly, and doesn't need the overdone cheap tricks].

As for elitism, well Nick Bullock does climb way harder than me! And well done to him for pursuing the lifestyle that most suits and fullfills him.
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> [I say that since I recently read Kirkpatrick's Psychovertical, which is also an excellent and superbly written book, but I can't help thinking it would be even better if the bits were simply re-ordered to be chronological; the writing is strong enough to tell the story plainly, and doesn't need the overdone cheap tricks].

Having not read climbing books for years and years I hugely enjoyed Psychovertical and also thought it was very well written. Calling the split narrative a "cheap trick" seems rather harsh; it's not exactly complicated to follow the two different very different story lines, and obviously we are being asked to make the comparison between the two.

Anyways, I look forward to reading Nick's book, although I suspect that like with Learning to Breath and Psychovertical, I might find the non-climbing bits about prison more interesting than the climbing bits!
Coel Hellier - on 11 Sep 2012
In reply to TobyA:

> Calling the split narrative a "cheap trick" seems rather harsh ...

Perhaps. This sort of time-jumping is a personal bug-bear of mine, perhaps other people are ok with it.
Coel Hellier - on 11 Sep 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> and really wants me to read more

Meant: "and really makes me want to read more", obviously. Need some more coffee ...
Robert Durran - on 11 Sep 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to TobyA)
> Perhaps. This sort of time-jumping is a personal bug-bear of mine, perhaps other people are ok with it.

I thought the "my life led up to this" time jumping in Pschovertical worked brilliantly; kept me reading virtually nonstop always wanting to get back to each story!



mux - on 11 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News: holy moley ...

its a book! writen by a bloke! who climbs a bit! and has opinions about his life ...

Feck Me
john yates - on 11 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News: Krama Pigeon - is this guy real or just made up?
Dervish - on 11 Sep 2012
In reply to john yates:

Made up I'd say. It just doesn't seem to fly.

Michael Gordon - on 11 Sep 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

I thought that was one of the great things about Psychovertical. IMO the book would be much the poorer if it had 10(?) chapters in a row at the end all about the same route.
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Perhaps. This sort of time-jumping is a personal bug-bear of mine, perhaps other people are ok with it.

Crueler types than me might suggest that your desire for the simplest narrative arc was somehow connected to your ferociously mechanistic and slightly dogmatic approach to political debate; but personally I see no such connection at all. ;-)
Michael Gordon - on 11 Sep 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:

It seems the term "elitist" has evolved somewhat in the popular mind to mean 'only concerned about the elite' which obviously has negative connotations. Whether this is just changing language or language misuse due to a misunderstanding of the term's more literal meaning is perhaps open to debate.

The changing meaning doesn't really bother me but I don't particularly like the way the word is used almost as an argument in itself without the need for further explanation. An example of this would be the hill waymarkers debate where those against (most hillwalkers, climbers, mountain rescue etc) were labelled elitist. This of course was wrong on two counts, 1. basic hill fitness, skills and equipment hardly makes one an 'elite'(!) and 2. the point was made by the above that there is little to stop those wanting to venture to the hills acquiring the required fitness, skills and equipment.
Krama Woodgin - on 11 Sep 2012
In reply to Dervish1: Yes, cuz: my toe bleeds Betty, my toe bleeds Betty, my toe bleeds Betty - look!
benknapp on 11 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News: In reply to UKC News:

Thanks for clearing that up Karma, I think you've definitely got a book in you. Don't be offended if I don't buy it though, many others may...

Only on a climbing website would a simple internet posting generate such a huge number and range of thoughtful (most of the time) pieces of writing in response. I guess that's part of the appeal?
Everything from poor-man's psychology, to random abuse and desperate references to having once seen/climbed next to/smelled a fart dealt by... Mr Bullock. Well done us!

Wiley Coyote - on 11 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News:

Well it certainly generated some heat but why did they make a video of what seemed to be essentially a radio interview? The visuals, though well-enough executed, added very little - a bit of cycling, some slo-mo running, a bit of fairly non-descript climbing and an awful lot of talking head.
Incidentally for a man making so much of living in a van he seemed to spend a lot of time snug in the CC hut.
MikeYouCanClimb - on 11 Sep 2012
In reply to Krama Woodgin:
In reply to >Hlo! just want to explore the word 'style' with regards to climbing.

Style is subjective and relative.

> Bolts, like helicopters, require motors, as bolts are placed in drilled holes. To place them, pitons and cams only require the mechanical force generated by human muscles.
> 'Bolt' and 'helicopter' share motorisation. And 'bolt' even more than 'piton' represents infra-structure and the extension of urbanization.

Some of your interesting statements are not as correct as you seem to suggest, but well done in your use of graphic illustrations.

For example a bolt can be hand drilled by a climber, in some places drills are banned and it is often the only other way. A hammer, rawlplug and muscle is all that is required. In fact some pitons are also placed by use of a mechanical drill first, just as some bolts are hand placed on lead.

So little difference there then, as with any type of fixed gear, the method of placement for a fixed piton or bolt has little impact on a passing climber other than an assessment of it’s quality etc. On the other hand a cam, nut, thread has to be placed on lead, but even there, you come across stuck or “in situ” pieces.

The norm is not the norm everywhere.
As I said, style is subjective and relative.
john yates - on 11 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News: Did I just stumble into pseuds' corner? I really must get out more. Bolts like helicopters, and tits like coconuts.
Krama Woodgin - on 12 Sep 2012
In reply to MikeYouCanClimb: I was very careful to use the word 'I' throughout my wee jaunt of cataloguing. I avoided the word 'we' which is so often used in such ‘styles’ of argument, so as to make it clear that it was my point of view, my interpretation. (And I was spooling out just a wee bit of a satire on such ways of arguing too.)

The cataloguing and description, a tad overdone I agree, but fun to do, was an attempt to show the difference between 'cam' and 'helicopter', as it had previously been suggested that there was no difference between these pieces of technology when interpreting them as aid for getting up a mountain.

I am aware of drilling by hand for bolts, but didn't know about drilling regarding pitons, thank you for that.

One can go on almost indefinitely making comparisons and contrasts, and increasing the level of resolution and attention to detail ... I was compelled not to go too far, as even though I was enjoying the cataloguing process, I knew that probably some time before I got bored of it any readers would be bored of it. It wouldn’t do to write too much, there are limits to levels of attention. (My use of the word ‘bored’ at this point is like a little hook waiting for a fishy! )

The main 'thrust' of my argument, forgive the mechanical pun there, was first to do with discerning 'better' and 'best', and although of course these words are utterly dependent on relative points of view there is nevertheless a spectrum which shows that at one end something is easy to do and at the other extremely difficult. The cataloguing was really just a rhetorical (just slightly satirical) mechanism, to attempt to show this, rather than a genuine exhaustive analysis of the physical properties of and relationships between items of climbing kit and aeronautical machines. What I’ve just written is entirely constructed and has little value beyond satirical rhetoric, and as I find rhetoric a dubious literary device, the fact that I’m now using it whilst saying that I don’t like it only furthers the convolutions of constructedness of trixiness of walrus-baiting of this writing ‘style’. Although I’m being honest by giving that away. Enough.

Of much more interest, is the fascinating spectrum suggested by Yohni Jates in his latest contribution to this thread. Now, he really is on to something. It really is important to consider the similarities and contrasts between ‘tits’ and ‘coconuts’. Of course, we need not bother what any women climbers reading this thread might think about the ‘bunching together’ of the terms ‘tits’ and ‘coconuts’. A good wholesome manly analysis of the range between tits and coconuts is what is called for. ‘Tit’ is a colloquial term, beloved of boys, and of course means mammary gland. Mammary glands belong to living creatures, where as coconuts belong to plants. The range of diversity that Yohni suggests here, the sheer range between ‘tit’ and ‘coconut’ is truly awesome, and suggests a fascination with round, perhaps pendulous objects. Of most interest, regarding this spectrum, is the movement from soft object, ‘tit’, through to hard object, ‘coconut’. Now, this is only my interpretation, and I’m not sure I believe this interpretation my self, as I wouldn’t claim to be a Freud or a Jung, but that movement from ‘soft’ to ‘hard’ is rather reminiscent of an erection.

Ooops! Sorry, couldn’t help myself!

Bullock, it’s all your fault, as it always is. I pass the buck to you. I blame you, yes you Bullock, are you listening? you elitist, vain, stuck-up coconut!
Krama Woodgin - on 12 Sep 2012
In reply to Krama Woodgin: Dear Mark, I think you should be just clear about what exactly you mean and why you've been spending so much time writing on this thread.

Okay, Mark, I'll be clear.

I am disgusted, properly disgusted, by some human beings' ignorant and unkind comments, that have no foundation, about a close friend of mine, who has only ever shown me kindness, and who I know through years of talking and sharing, is deeply concerned about people's freedom.

Thank you, Mark.

Do you talk to yourself often?

Oh yes, in the mirror. Can't get enough of looking at myself, and of course listening to myself.

Well, Mark, at least you're being honest.

Yeh, thanks for listening!
Wiley Coyote - on 12 Sep 2012
In reply to Krama Woodgin:

>
> Of much more interest, is the fascinating spectrum suggested by Yohni Jates in his latest contribution to this thread. Now, he really is on to something. It really is important to consider the similarities and contrasts between ‘tits’ and ‘coconuts’.

Oh dear, Oh dear.I think you may have got yourself all worked up over the wrong sort of 'tit' here and missed the ornothological reference to (blue)tits liking coconuts as a way of mocking 'helicopters like bolts'.Never mind, it was late and you were on a bit of a roll. And you can always go back to studying your copy of Big and Bouncy.
john yates - on 12 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News: spot on wiley, you grasped the subtlety and ambiguity of the English language.....and how open it is to misinterpretation and misunderstanding. the phrase is actually from a saucy sea side postcard and has a chap looking out of his window at the bird feeder....
Krama Woodgin - on 12 Sep 2012
In reply to Wiley Coyote: Mr Coyote, I'm feeling rather like Miss Roadrunner! Nib-nib! That is not intended as any kind of insult, just a gentle bit of banter. And I'm amused by your Wiley willingness to pick up words and play - so, good on you for that! Your Big and Bouncy connection to my little run on birds and nuts has brought a smile to my face. And I'm not being sarcastic.

I'm going to stop now ... as I think this has all gone on too far really. Although I'm sure the wee fading echoes of our little flyting spree will do some good for Bullock's book.

I'm not going to have the final word, don't want it. Final words are no good to me, I much prefer a lack of closure opening out on mystery ... not so keen on prose, much prefer poetry.

But I will just say: Yohni Jates is a fictional character that I invented.

Good to cross pens with you (or I suppose it's keyboards these days) - hopefully the wordplay here can remain as play, and not get too serious.

Good wishes to you, and kind regards, Mark Goodwin

MattDTC on 12 Sep 2012
In reply to Krama Woodgin:

Wow...you actually come on here to talk to yourself.

I'm intrigued and impressed in equal measure.
bullybones - on 12 Sep 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:

Does anyone remember an old essay in Mirrors in the Cliffs, about Hindu-Buddhist cycles of safety-seeking behaviour followed by risk-taking? If you're of a certain disposition, you go one way, and you swing back the other. Go too far, and you swing back even further for longer.

That seems to (ahem) resonate here - the only reason it's unusual is that Nick has made the 'climbing lifestyle' choice at a relatively late stage. Good for him I say. If I'd had a sh*t job for that long, no wife and kids and mortgage, and could still climb like a demon, I might be living in a van while it lasted.

But, in the film, he does seem to play down the facts that a) plenty of people did it the other way round, and b) it's not a one-way ticket, he has a house and plenty of experience, so he's hardly up sh*t creek without a paddle. If he needed to he could get a job at the drop of a hat. Maybe.
Damo on 14 Sep 2012
In reply to john yates:
> I just think that so much of Nick's opining is sloppy and badly argued and lacks the discipline he shows in both his commitment to the prison service and his climbing - and now his book.

I agree. I'm admirer of Nick's climbing but not of this video.

The books gets a very good review here though:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/sep/14/echoes-nick-bullock-review-climbing
Nick Bullock - on 14 Sep 2012
In reply to everyone,

Here is a short reply. If you have the time, please read the comments so far, some of them make very interesting reading. http://nickbullock-climber.co.uk/2012/09/13/inspiration/

Nick
benknapp on 16 Sep 2012
In reply to Nick Bullock:
Half way through Echoes, an inspirational read...
I'd like to genuinely apologise to Nick and retract/edit my initial comments. I regret the fact that they may have caused any offense.
Maybe there are stages layered within inspiration and the particular stage I was experiencing at that exact point seems to have resembled something along the lines of 'defensive' and a bit churlish.

It's not easy to admit that, but I genuinely thought I was making some valid points, but sadly those points got lost within the momentum of blindly bashing the keyboard at a moment of personal frustration.

There are many of us lurking around who would like a taste of Nick's life, not a straight swap, but definitely a decent lick. I'm certainly one of them.

I hope Nick continues to enjoy himself as much as he appears to be. I'll certainly be passing Echoes on to friends, I'm sure it will touch many more people in the future.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Doug on 16 Sep 2012
I've not read the book so can't really comment, but this reviewer in the Observer seemed impressed

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/sep/14/echoes-nick-bullock-review-climbing

biscuit - on 16 Sep 2012
In reply to UKC News:

Wow what a thread.

Have a look at this article written in April.

http://rockclimbinguk.co.uk/nick-bullock-on-gogarth-north-stack/

I am drawing attention to the answer to the first question.

Blimey people, what a response to one persons view of the world.
matt002 - on 09 Nov 2012
The lesson here is:

Don't stay in a situation/job/career that makes you so dreadfully unhappy for so damn long, unless you might end up living in a van at 37 thinking you have it all sorted and everyone else is crazy.

Sorry Nick, Im glad you finally took action to sort your life but what took you so long? I hope you find balance in your new life but living in a van is not my idea of it.

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