Hot Rocks, Alpine Butterflies

In february 2016 I went to southern Spain to take a short alpine skills course with Richard Hartley of Spanish Highs. I published a shorter, more technical piece about the trip in Mountain Pro, but a longer feature is now out in the February 2017 edition of The Great Outdoors Magazine. That makes it time to share a few pictures here that might not have seen the light of day before.

DPS of The Great Outdoors Magazine feature

DPS of The Great Outdoors Magazine feature

This time I've focused on the location as much as the activity. I've probably done more walking in Spain than anywhere except Scotland, long before the vanities of blogs, facebook and twitter. Falling in love with the Sierra Nevada in my twenties got me into the hills back home, so it's part paean to the place, part history lesson in mountain resistance and part tribute to a genuinely fantastic teacher - Richard Hartley.

If anyone reading this is considering taking a course to further their confidence and reach in the outdoors, Richard is the real deal - a bone fide mountain man, perfect hydrid of wildebeast and meta-aware, eyes-in-the-back-of-his-head safety guru... and one of the most chilled, least egotistical pairs of hands around. Going away for this type of thing makes it into a bit of an occasion too, so you don't take it for granted and forget everything you learned when you get back. And, of course it's a beautiful place, somewhere that Richard clearly loves, which made the whole thing work in the way these things should. I'm more than happy to recommend him and his team, no strings attached. Find out more, here:

I'll leave you with a sentence from the TGO piece, which hopefully gives you a flavour of what I'm on about, and because it's my party and I'll do what I want.

A little like our hosts I think, I find it impossible to remain unaffected by the anarchic magic of this region; a spirit of independence leavened with mutual assistance that defied Franco and the Catholic Kings before him. Those are also mountain values, and they seem fully at home and at ease in both people and place here.

Click to make big:

PS - I've also got a big photo of the Cairngorms, a Wild Walk and another feature in the safety supplement of the same issue.