Hamish Reid (2006)

Hadn't been climbing for a while, I guess I'd been feeling a little off the adventuring rails. You know the feeling? Went into the city last Saturday, walked around barefoot to refresh my memory as to what those lumps of black chewing gum embedded with shards of green bottle glass feel like. I browsed all the outdoor shops. The staff thoughtfully ask me "Been up to anything recently?" adding to my 'washed-up-flatlander' complex. The shiny toys all winked at me, the new ice tools and latest gore-tex shells wriggled seductively and flashed their fashion model smiles for attention. I drank it all up, but somehow it wasn't very filling. I left the last shop of my regular 'round' feeling like something was temporarily missing from life.

On a whim I strolled into Wendy's. There was bright pink everywhere, really, Wendy's is quite an experience for a country lad. You should try everything once, right? I bought a mustard dog with "hot" mustard. The Wendy's lady impaled the hapless bread roll on a sharp bun heater gadget before expertly applying her tongs to the task of installing the "dog". All over in the flash of an eye, such practice. The mustard would only burn you if you rubbed it in both eyes and up your nose, but it otherwise passed muster. I also ordered an iced coffee because I read somewhere the other day that caffeine can be beneficial to performance athletes (that's me right?). I was soon skipping out of the mall stoked by my amazing Wendy's experience.

Don Whillans

Bounding across the road I was soon browsing the Mountaineering/Polar section of a second-hand bookshop. Don't you love the bookshop smell? Rocking back and forwards on my heels like Mr plod I tried to burn off the Wendy's chemicals before something dangerous happened. Balanced on the tiny top platform of a dodgy library ladder, oh the exposure, I flicked though a 1980s brit' DIY alpinism tome. "Ah, excuse me, If you'd like to look at the book could you come back down the ladder?" Opening to the "History of Mountaineering" chapter, Don Whillans greeted me, with resplendent pot gut, from some unprotected loose Welsh VS. I remembered back to a Doug Scott slide show a year or four back, "Most Doug Scott stories end with 'and then Don hit him'". I turned and practiced my Whillans grimace at the bookshop owner, while trying to balance on one foot atop the creaking old wooden steps. The next book, 'Castles in the air' (NZ alpine history) had a great black and white plate of someone in hobbed boots standing on the shoulder of another scratchy wool clad alpinist, pipe firmly clamped in mouth. Stoic. Looking at these pages I felt taller, stronger, purer and certainly ugly enough to be a great mountaineer. What was stopping me?

Hamish 2005

Back out on the footpath the asphalt was new, black and bloody hot. I tried to move like one of those desert lizards but the Chemicals were wearing off. A slashing shiny alloy scooter (was there anyone on it? I can't remember) nearly annexed an outside toe from my right foot. Ahhhh! Run away!

I was driving, a euphemism for keeping a much loved, but still prone to wandering, Land Rover on the road. Escaping from the city and Wendy's with all my toes and sanity intact I had time to mentally distil the day. When I got home I waxed my leathers, oiled my 90cm wooden axe, and even got that kero' lantern going again. A retrograde rendezvous with cold, fear and itchy wool clothing was carefully tilled in my mind and I knew that the drought had broken. Somewhere between all the pink, caffeine and meeting Don in that that musty bookshop, I found my way back onto the rails. Funny how you never find these things where you look for them eh? All I needed now was a dozen warm ales and a scoop of greasy chips...

Hamish Reid