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Young surfers of today: You have no idea how lucky you are. Yes, I know, I sound like a grumpy old man, but I speak the truth. Back in the lo-fi 1990s, when I was a surf-mad teenager, there was no world wide web.
By the freakishly hot weekend of 9 and 10 April this year, the Scottish ski season appeared to be over. After a prolonged thaw, the resorts at Glencoe, Glenshee, The Lecht and Nevis Range were all closed due to lack of snow. Only Cairngorm remained open, and even there it was possible to ski only a handful of runs on the top of the mountain.
Ski mountaineers these days don't know they've been born. All that lovely lightweight kit, all those breathable, waterproof fabrics, all those labour-and-sometimes-life-saving devices like GPS widgets and avalanche transceivers... skiing through a snowy landscape in the 21st century could hardly be easier if you hitched a ride behind a skidoo.
An embarrassing encounter occurred at Cairn Gorm the other week – a solid 8.5 on the toe-curler scale.
It's no secret that the north coast of Scotland is home to some world-class surf spots.
Almost exactly 100 years ago today, Captain Robert Falcon Scott was having ventilation issues.
The Volcom hoodie, the peaked Billabong beanie, the artfully sagged jeans... at first glance, extreme skier Jamie Johnston looks... well... much as you'd expect an extreme skier to look while off-duty. When I first met him at an Edinburgh cafe the other week I was half-expecting to be greeted with a flurry of incomprehensible hand gestures and for his every sentence to be punctuated with the word "dude". But appearances can be deceptive.
The other day I was contacted by the owners of a new website which specialises in selling ski accommodation. Would I like to write a story about them?
Up until a couple of weeks ago, I used to think I knew Cairn Gorm reasonably well. I'd swished around in soft corn snow in the Gunbarrel on warm, sunny days in spring.
MUCH fuss, this week, about the decision by the high heid yins at the National Galleries of Scotland to allow a painting by Jack Vettriano into one of their august establishments, after years of saying he wasn't good enough.
You can't ski what you can't see." Really? I've always had a bit of a problem with that chirpy little saying. I'm not sure where it originated, but I suspect it was probably somewhere like Utah or Colorado where seldom is hurrrd, a discuuurigin' wurrrd and the skies are not cloudy all day. It certainly wasn't coined here in Scotland where skiing what you can't see – often in the teeth of storm force winds – is all part of the fun.
Is outdoor climbing in Scotland in danger of being wiped out by its indoor offspring? It seems unlikely in a country with such a rich mountaineering heritage, but a couple of winters ago, in an interview with Scotland on Sunday, the then vice-president of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, Dr Bob Sharp, warned that "within the next ten years, climbing as we know it may well have ceased".
All the best mountains have legends attached to them, and the Brocken, the highest peak of the Herz range in northern Germany, is more myth-steeped than most.
The hills around Salzburg may be alive with the sound of music, but a couple of hours to the east, in the beautiful Enns Valley, the hills are alive with mountain hares.
I WAS mightily amused, the other morning, to hear Janey Godley and Hardeep Singh Kohli being interviewed on the Today programme about the 60th anniversary of The Archers.
It's every winter mountaineer's worst nightmare. One minute you're having the time of your life, high on adrenaline and playing in the mountains you love, the next you hear a loud rumble behind you and you're swept off your feet by a ferocious torrent of snow and ice.
I should have hated cross country skiing. Unexpectedly, I didn't
I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but I think I might be falling in love with cross-country skiing.
Winter, eh? As a Standard Grade French student might have it, there are les avantages et les inconvénients. Les avantages: loads of snow, particularly this year.