I have an addictive personality so it was fortunate in 2000 – after spending my twenties in a blur of late nights, strong alcohol and far too many cigarettes – I was persuaded to spend a weekend with a mountain club walking up hills in northern Scotland, near Ullapool.
Beautiful mountains, green grass and fresh air was the polar opposite of the Friday night pub fug and after a highly strenuous day one, collapsed outside the bunkhouse smoking a cigarette, I was rendered mute – an uncommon occurence, my friends will assure you – not just with exhaustion but by the sheer number of extra stars I could see in the sky.
Soon, the smoking stopped and I was an avid member of the mountain club, joining them on day and weekend trips and buying up nearly every mountaineering and exploration book you could think of. Tales of derring-do in faraway places captivated me (and bored my wife) and after reading the excellent ‘Enduring Patagonia’ by Gregory Crouch I ventured further afield, joining an adventure trek with Andean Trails to the Southern Patagonian Ice Cap. Patagonia is incredibly beautiful – picture Scotland with great glaciers and tall, needle-shaped mountains – and I immediately wanted to go back. In 2004 I did so and, with thanks to publisher, Sergio Zagier, I wrote the first comprehensive guidebook to Los Glaciares National Park.
Lots of hillwalking on Scottish weekends and the occasional European Alps trips followed. Such lovely mountain scenery is an obvious choice for photography and, unhappy with the quality of photos I was getting with a cheap compact camera, I bought myself a digital SLR and we were off again full pelt into another addiction.