Certifiably Mad – Mountain Views Annual Talk & Awards Night!
On Friday night the 20th of February I attended the annual talks and award night hosted by Mountain Views.ie and in conjunction with The Walkers Association of Ireland. The location was the Landsdowne Hotel in Dublin which provided a lovely function space with easy and close access to the bar, which of course is highly important at such events! 😉 This would be my fist time at a Mountain Views event as I had only discovered them back in January 2014. I was not sure what to expect but naturally I was slightly nervous! Why? Well, not only was I being presented with some certificates but I would be finishing off the night with a 15 minute presentation about Project Mountain Goat. This would be my first time ever to give a public presentation, not too mention the first time publicly talking about PMG.
Being with other hill walking enthusiasts, my peers, made giving the presentation both easier and harder. As sure as I was about how my fellow peers would understand the joys of hill walking, the experience of dealing with Irish weather, tough terrain and big mountain days, I was unsure how they would see my project of climbing so many summits in such a short time frame. Talking to a group of strangers about the things I found hard, mistakes that I made along the way, and, untimely being very honest about the ups and the downs of a project of this scale, was certainly a little intimidating. Would they see it as soulless summit bagging or the physical and mental endurance challenge that it was for me? Would they see it as chest beating/bragging or me sharing the adventure of my own madness? I would have to wait until the end of the night to find out!
After handing in my presentation we found some seats near the front and before long the night was off to a start! Mark Brennan, secretary of Mountain Views opened the night with a run down of the schedule and it’s guest speakers. He clearly has no problem speaking in front of people and is quite the entertainer! First up was Peter Walker who gave a talk on what makes Irish hills and mountains unique! He certainly got the crowd warmed up and the English man told us all about our Irish hills and mountains! I did learn that, in comparison to England, Wales and Scotland we do love crosses on our summits here. However it was his jokes and humor that had us all giggling to ourselves throughout his talk! Next up was Tom Kelly who writes for the Irish Times, in particular, travel gadgets were his area of expertise! Now Tom didn’t want to bore us with facts of this new gadget or that new gadget so instead, he gave us a lesson in the gear the guys used in the early 1922 and 1924 Everest expeditions. Surprisingly, their gear was pretty damn awesome for it’s time…it however didn’t look as cool as our modern kit! Tom gave us a few good laughs at the end of his presentation by showing us some “new” gear that we should all have with us in the hills…like a suitcase sized portable shower…man I should have had one last year 😉
Next up and before the thirst set in Simon Stewart, founder and genius behind Mountain Views.ie gave a short reflection on the year of 2014 for Mountain Views. The website/community only seems to grow stronger and stronger! After this I got a beer to steady the few nerves I still had, but at this stage, I was looking forward to presenting Project Mountain Goat! So after a short intermission the main guest speaker Helen Fairbairn came on to talk about why Ireland is so good for hill walking! She hit many great points, one of which was; We have no real wildlife that can kill you here…I do agree with this, but at the same time I had a chuckled to myself as I have had a few close calls from being chased by cattle in 2014. However, the Mountain Lions and Bears herself and her husband faced in South and North America respectively, certainly made my cattle fleeing days seem like a walk in the park! Helen has written 12 guidebooks, has written for the likes of Lonely Planet and The Collins Press. As she talked about being paid to research and hike trails around the world I found myself not only very impressed but slightly jealous too! You can visit Helen’s own website here!
The awards were next! There were awards for completing list such as; Local 100 Summits, Irish County Highpoints, 100 Highest Irish Summits, The Arderins and The Vandeleur-Lynams. There were also awards for “An Outstanding Contribution” and “Photo of the Year”. The two most popular lists appeared to be the Local 100 Summits and the Irish County Highpoints. Photo of the year was given to Adrian McGlynn, which was a beautiful photo taken from the summit of Errigal in County Donegal (as seen above). Adrian takes some amazing photos and I can tell you it is worth taking a look at his blog here!
From the awards there was a handful of people picking up certificates for completing one list or another. However there were two “Young Guns” there on Friday night that I want to mention! First up was youngster Cian Quinn, 13 years of age, completed the Irish County Highpoints with his father (Colin Quinn) when he was still 12 years old! He climbed all 27 hills and mountains in the 32 counties (some summits are shared on the border) all around Ireland to become the youngest person ever to complete the list (as far as records currently show). I want to wish Cian a huge well done on his great achievement and I hope he will continue in the sport of Hill Walking and who knows maybe one day he will discover rock climbing and mountaineering too!
Next up! Another record! Robert Lee! After doing his mountain skills course in 2012 at the age of 18 Rob set out to be the youngest person ever to climb all the mountains over 600m in Ireland (The Vandeleur-Lynam/600m list – 278 summits)! He finished this great challenge in 2014 and by all accounts and records currently is the youngster person ever to do this! It was a pleasure to meet him and again well done on completion of his great challenge. Also, to put things in perspective, I first discovered the 600m mountain list around the same age as Rob was when he started his challenge. At that age I didn’t have the drive or the skill to take them all on as he did! So of course I am impressed! I wish him all the best in any future challenges he may set for himself! I also want to wish all other list completers and award winners from the night a very big well done! We know why we do it! 🙂
At this stage in the evening I knew my time was up. I was called up to be awarded with some certificates for list completed during Project Mountain Goat in 2014. As PMG was all about the Arderins and Vandeleur-Lynams and as I manged to climb them all, I was of course awarded with these certs.
However, in the process and along the way of Project Mountain Goat, with some extra effort I had also completed; The 100 Highest Irish Summits list and the Irish County Highpoints list. The older style lists, 500m list (Now the Arderins) and 600m list (now the Vandeleur-Lynams) were also climbed. They had a few extra summits in those lists before they were updated etc.
At this point and even though it was not the case, I felt like I was showing off being handed 4 different certificates. However then I was awarded “An Outstanding Contribution” award from all my GPS tracks from Project Mountain Goat.
At this point I could feel my cheeks burning red as I was then handed a special framed “Arderins and Vandeleur-Lynams in One Year” award. This was the first time anyone has completed them in one year! Was it ever going to end though?!?! I was starting to feel embarrassed!
It didn’t stop there however as Simon Stewart, on behalf on The Collins Press presented me with two beautiful books: “Seek The Frozen Lands by Frank Nugent” and “In Search of Peaks, Passes & Glaciers by Frank Nugent”. Needless to say I was very speechless! I would like to take the time again to thank Simon Stewart and Mountain Views for the certificates, the framed award, which is a first for me and of course for putting on a great night! Never before have I had a framed certificate..so that’s pretty cool! Also, The Collins Press, thank you so much for the books! I know you are just trying to plant some seeds of crazy adventures that I can write about! 😉 I look forward to reading the books too.
So after all the thank yous, handshakes, I had to give a presentation about PMG and it took a minute or two to shake of the speechlessness! At first I felt like I was looking at the ground too much. Then I felt like I could not stop thinking about my timing and if I would fit everything in in the 15 minutes given. The nerves disappeared fast and it was more exciting to talk about Project Mountain Goat to my peers than intimidating. Before I knew it, and just like climbing that last mountain, Mullaghcarn in the Sperrins, it was all over and it all seemed like a big blur! No one booed! Delighted! I was simply delighted to see people absorbed in the madness that was PMG! The event was over and the session at the bar began!
Now that I was “Certifiably” mad, we all shared some stories, pints and a great laugh was had until closing time! The people I have meet because of Project Mountain Goat, because of Mountain Views, have simply been so supportive, so encouraging and just damn right good people! I look forward to sharing with them more adventures, tails of hardship, joy and folly, in the near future!
Cheers for reading guys!