Searching for Magic – by Ian Parnell

As many times a winter as possible, work and family commitments allowing, I get in my car and drive for 7, 8 or sometimes as much as 10 hours northwards from my home in Sheffield in the hope of finding good Scottish winter climbing conditions.

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

You could grandly call it a quest…but more often the term fool’s errand would be more accurate. Those long drives through the dark, followed by the excruciating early morning alarm call and forced march in driving rain regularly lead to bare black cliffs stripped of winter’s finery. The retreat back to the car and then the endless drive home can feel soul destroying. So why do I, and hundreds like me, make such huge seemingly desperate efforts? It’s a question that tumbles around your mind when things don’t work out but on those rare days when the right wind direction and type of precipitation coincides with that narrow band of temperature around freezing point then the soggy dreich Scottish landscape is transformed into a shining white frosty playground. The process can seem like alchemy, and at times like that there is no need to raise the question why?

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I’ve found that in most aspects of life especially anything remotely creative, that the more effort you have to put into something the more rewarding it can be. That thrill in the editing studio when those moments on film seamlessly connect is all the more moving, as you recall the struggles you took to get the right angles, the battles you had with light and weather, how your team pulled together on the day, and the weeks of planning and logistics that led up to each shot. I experienced that wonderful sensation recently when all the pieces of the adventure puzzle fell into place – a sudden call from my friend Tim Emmett over visiting from Canada, a frenzied clearing of the work diary to create a 36 hour slot and the gradually improving weather forecasts. The result was a perfect day’s climbing in Glen Coe. Standing on the summit of Coire nan Lochan, with the sunset ablaze over Ben Nevis, we knew we’d found the magic again.

Photo Credit - Ian Parnell