Tuesday 24 February 2015

The Secrets of Autohighography. Introducing the Avant-garde to the Avant-garde :o)

The Secrets of Autohighography. Where to start? What are they?    After writing the first rough draft of the book I soon realized there would have to be many more careful edits, corrections and rewrites before I was happy with it. Maybe some lucky people can write a 500 page novel in one go without blinking but I ,m not one of them and would continuously polish and improve the book with each new read through.Sometimes I would leave it for a few weeks then I would either think of a better line, a new way to express something in a clearer manner or I'd have to make changes in a character, altering them in some way if it was so close to the truth they might be recognized, which was not my intention. I wanted to write a comedy novel about a Scottish hillwalking club and their adventures which would be both totally unique yet universal, that would be different and exotic yet also familiar to any group of people interacting together.

                                                             Corvids dancing together.

The first draft was written in longhand on paper with various rebellious pens that kept disappearing on me in a variety of annoying ways, gradually taking shape over several large notebooks in different coloured ink. It seemed better to sit outside during sunny summer evenings in a deck chair listening to bees buzzing, dragonflies whizzing across the garden path and nature humming all around. This always worked better for writing any outdoor chapters in the book as I was surrounded by inspiration, my treasured sunshine pouring down, giving me extra mojo and the scents and sounds of wild nature slithering past the fourth wall. Spring chapters were mainly written in spring, winter chapters in winter... and so on...following the seasons for a guide.
As the story as a whole started to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle a brainwave arrived as well. I had been thinking around rewrite number four "how can I make this completely different from all the other memoirs, hillwalking, outdoor books or otherwise". Something that would make my book stand out as completely unique and individual. Nothing else like it. For a boy with not much grey matter between the ears it was a mystery how to actually achieve this. But that's exactly what I wanted for my book... layers of deeper meaning, mystery, wonder, warmth, a sense of the history of the human race and of relationships intertwining, breaking up or gliding past through many centuries. A strong feeling of past existence was already part of the book anyway it just needed some extra ingredients. The fast paced world may change around humanity but basic emotions, needs, desires and longings are much the same as they were one thousand years ago.
Apart from the surface tale which was coming along nicely I decided to splice or weave into the fabric an underlying concept. The surface book would be clear and easy to read but the deeper themes would be less obvious but equally important. Low Countries painter Hieronymus Bosch created an elaborate fantasy world in his colour drenched paintings that fascinated me for many years. An idea that also appealed to my imagination was the possibility that he had hidden messages under the surface of his works in full view. Secrets that could be unraveled given a breadcrumb trail of clues. This theory of buried meanings and subversive interpretations within his paintings captivated me. Could I do the same thing in a book perhaps? Hide various themes and messages underneath an easy to read novel. What to put in? 
Two great inspirational reading events occurred when I was still at primary school. Both were "gifts" from young supply teachers sitting in or taking classes for the first time to get them used to interacting and dealing with pupils. To keep us quiet and entertained the first proceeded to read us The Hobbit, a one hour afternoon session each week which certainly did the trick as we were engrossed from the first page. He was only halfway through the book when he disappeared forever... off to a permanent post in another school maybe? Luckily, I had taken a note of the title and soon acquired The Hobbit and then The Lord of the Rings for myself as I was already an avid reader and book buyer. That elaborate world captivated me for most of my teenage years. So vivid and detailed. Just like Game of Thrones is now to a modern generation. An American writer inspired by medieval Britain. Both far too well known to make any impact in a new novel though. I had my own ace card to play with.
Like these Shield Bugs, who alter their appearance slightly depending on species to match the trees they feed on (Oak, Beech, Ash etc) or the Six Spotted Burnet Moth above, a day flying creature resembling a fantasy creation in its own right as it dances across the summer meadows in a  fiery flutter of unexpectedly bright crimson wings. Two creatures I marveled at when I first spotted them existing in nature. A sense of "Wonder" was the first impression and  I wanted to try and capture a little of that joy, real magic, depth and mystery in my writing as well. How exactly do you capture "sparkle" on a page though?
                                                  The Ballad of Tam Lin. The Glade.
The second teacher we had for lessons provided the major theme running throughout the novel when she sang to her class one wet afternoon. Some sort of school emergency or shortage led to her being left alone for well over her hour long slot, so, as our attention was starting to wander, she sang to us. Not just any old song either. A song so ancient its roots probably predate Christianity as it's filled with meaty ideas like abduction, the concept of "changelings" pagan personification of nature, jealousy and very cruel revenge. It was heady stuff for young children to take in as her version included the concept of a "Geas" a "suggestion", impulse or compulsion to do something or to go off on a quest or a journey that over rides anything else.

Her version also had a nasty sting in the tail as the queen at the end rips out the eyes and heart of the changeling hero, replacing them with wooden discs in revenge at being spurned so that he can stay with his true love yet never see or love her equally in return. A changeling creature and a Pyrrhic victory it was explained to us. She had a warm accomplished singing voice and was surprisingly theatrical and flamboyant in her movements ( probably sang in folk clubs or amateur theater events as it was a polished and practiced performance in hindsight  with no hesitation involved) so it made a big impression on the class sitting so close to her as a captive and captivated audience. I lived every extravagant word and I learned more in that one hour than in years of boring history lessons remembering a long dry list of dates and battles. Suddenly, she made ancient history come alive. She made folk songs come alive as well. She made me come alive. This young teacher did stay around and I would see her many times over the years. Thank you. Why? She introduced me to the wonders of the Child Collection.

These are story songs and many of the best have every layer of human emotion, fear, love, passion, despair, romance, reaction to circumstance, personality trait and unexpected outcome that humans can muster. They are the lesser known Celtic or UK equivalent of Grimm's Fairy Tales, well known stories which have inspired writers, filmmakers and artists for generations. Clues?  "How is Snow White?" and "Too far gone to decipher this."
Outside of folk, art, and academic circles however The Child Ballads are not so well known to the general public yet equally magical. Hands up how many reading this have heard of them? 
Tam Lin was always my favourite story song and this is the nearest I can find to that original tale unfolding in the classroom so long ago. This one is from 1970 and now a rare LP. Equally theatrical but not so grim in its ending.

As it's an ancient song (1500s or even earlier) there are many different versions around. Here's a truly beautiful one,below, stripped of all its pagan imagery and symbolism, presumably for a North American audience less inclined to tolerate any hint of witchcraft in its midst, even in a ballad. Great harmonies and guitar playing throughout. The reason for listening to both versions is that they are woven carefully and deliberately throughout the book, underneath the surface story. The character of Tam, (Tam Lin or Tambling in the version I first heard ) required very little alteration to weave into the mix. Wolves, daggers, snake tattoos, beltane image on his back etc... Sarah with her early drug problems and personality disorder (which is never clearly stated what that is by the way :o) is a perfect match for the Elf Queen in the song. She exists in the known world by day but at night she descends (through various drugs) into a dream underworld, separated from the real one above. All the clues are in there folks. Tapestry and embroidery were often the only way in the medieval world to cast a small portion of yourself into the future. The internet of its day in some ways as it was a kind of immortality if you were lucky enough to be in the right place or your work was good enough to survive beyond its own era and live on for future generations to enjoy. For childless individuals this might be a way of being remembered. Or in a song... hundreds of years old and still highly relevant today

With this template relationship of Tam Lin and modern setting Elf Queen/Witch to act as a guide as the central underlying theme throughout the book I sought further inspiration from certain other classic story songs in this collection for the various chapters, updating then weaving them into my paper tapestry of words as well. The Cruel Mother, ( Eulogy, End Game) Mad Tom of Bedlam (certain mental issues caused by traumatic occurrence in the past are a large part of the story) and The Selkie of Sule Skerry all had a part to play. Many of the characters are simply reversed gender. The character of Beth who loves water, beaches and coastal walks soon became entangled with mermaids, kayaks, boats and seals via subtle hints and clues in a gender reversal of this song from male to female. "A little female seal head" "Skirt that seals you in."(i.e. skin you can also take off at will.) Big clues there. A role reversal technique I used with many chapters.

 Lacking brains but not lacking ambition I also worked in a new concept for the "Eternal Feminine" throughout history. A linage of women stretching from Isis (Sun Queen and ace magician. a force of Nature) (hypnotism, sensual dancer, friend to slaves and sinners, ring any bells?) Eos and Usha, (Goddess of the Dawn ) Demeter and Persephone, (annual rebirth of nature and harvest) down to the Celtic enchantress Morrigan, Goddess of War and of Battle and she in turn may have been the inspiration for the dark side in Morgan le Fay of King Arthur legend. (The first sword of Obsidian) Later, Isis evolved into the image of the virgin Mary with the baby Jesus on her breast suitable for Christian tastes as all religions borrow heavily from the past. Think of the two different versions of Tam Lin here. One Pagan... one Christian... yet the same song.

 Modern equivalent icons today seem to come from the cult of celebrity however... a Marilyn Munro or an Audrey Hepburn perhaps. Female figures from the recent past whose impression on society as a lasting and somehow still relevant picture image seems to be outliving their body of work or artistic abilities when many other fine actresses or actors with a larger CV of films and fame in their own era are forgotten and consigned to the past.

A beautiful and haunting story song. First heard by my ears on a Scottish folk record in the 1980s. Good folk songs can live forever. No music, no frills, just the power of the words and the lilt of the tune. This was the way our teacher sang Tam Lin to us and such a simple delivery held greater meaning. None of us had experienced singing like this before. It was almost a "Geas" in its own right. Connie Dover is a well established American folk singer, specializing in Celtic and traditional songs. Arguably, the best in her field in the US since Joan Baez who also covered this song many decades ago.

Sule Skerry is a remote flat uninhabited island to the west of Orkney. There was a belief in the northern islands around Orkney years ago that certain seals could shed their skins and turn into humans once on land for a short period of time. Sule Skerry was a perfect location for them as a race and as a sea faring folk who were well used to losing loved ones at sea, the idea of a drowned husband or son, (that they might return some day), may have been a powerful factor in this belief as seals do seem to take a real interest in human activity at times. They appear to be as curious and interested in us as we are to learn about them.
Beth's personality fitted the role nicely. She was my playful little Selkie therefore throughout the book. Another theme added.
 Bossons Glacier descent. Mont Blanc

As the book evolved with this new hidden level weaved into place beneath the surface story I decided to make certain chapters themed in some way. It occurred to me I could reference certain films, books, art works, changes in society or new ideas. Have fun with it. Certain real life characters met by chance in dark bothies took on the mantle of goblins, or ogres in a nod towards Hansel and Gretel but in a plausible real life setting instead of a fairy tale. It's just the way my mind works.
Bossons Glacier crossing. Mont Blanc.

At the opposite end of the spectrum faint echoes of Oor Wullie, The Broons, Para Handy, Famous Five, Swallows and Amazons,Winnie the Pooh, Wind in the Willows, and Rupert Bear had to be stitched into the fabric as well as they all had an equal claim in shaping the imagination and outlook I have today. Beautiful discoveries all and a large part of the magic sparkle that made my heart and mind beat faster during my own, more innocent, but no less violent childhood. I,m still a greedy sponge for wondrous input of all kinds even now. The human condition...

There is a good reason for my book title.  It is very different from a normal memoir but can be read and hopefully enjoyed as such without understanding or working out its hidden levels of meaning at all. Unlike the modern take on Hieronymus Bosch and his amazing paintings (maybe no hidden agenda or secret messages after all, sniff sniff...) the hidden themes are definitely there in my book.

Over 30 painfully slow re-edits from beginning to end and many, many false starts and hair pulling moments of  "Shit... it doesn't fit in" or "Damn, its altered the surface storyline too much " or even, at times "Why did I ever think this mad concept of a hidden layer in a book was a good idea! "
Eventually though it was finished and I stood on the summit of my magnum opus and looked down from a great height.   I have just finished re- editing it yet again... one final time.
The view from the summit of Gran Paradiso. 13.323 feet. The highest mountain to lie inside Italy.
I,m not claiming its a great work as there are probably loads of grammatical errors or literary faux pas I've failed to notice within its pages...just that it's slightly more complex than you might imagine. I,m not the brightest as I've said before ("a boy of very little brain") but I have poured a great deal of time, devotion, love, thought, energy, imagination... midnight to the early hours bursts of manic inspiration... plus the many thousands of hours creative effort and polish squeezed into one single novel about the great outdoors. It might not be a great or important original work ( it certainly isn't :o) but it's the best I can make it with my meagre intellect so I,ll settle for that.
Hopefully it's all been worthwhile in some way. My very own complete elaborate tapestry. I,m only committing this on record now in case someone else has a similar idea or I kick the bucket suddenly and readers think it's just another outdoor book.       24/02/2015
The End.

Book link.


Tuesday 17 February 2015

Glasgow Green. Celtic Park. Tennent's Brewery. Glasgow's East End Transformation.

                                                ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
As I,m collecting information for my latest book and needed some new photographs of Glasgow's east end I had a day out in Glasgow's oldest park. Glasgow Green. It's one of the largest public parks in the city and also one of the flattest throughout it's length which is quite an achievement for a city built over Drumlins (leftover glacial moraine forming dozens of small rounded hills which litter the entire area (a drumlin swarm is the correct term) and give Glasgow city landscape views a distinctive rolling appeal to the vision and feet. Probably the reason why its fine citizens used to fall over occasionally in the street when they were discombobulated by all the inclines surrounding them and couldn't get up again but outsiders put it down to excessive alcohol consumption of course. Many of Glasgow's public parks to the north, south and west are built on or over Drumlins, former leafy estates preferred by rich merchants on hilltops to escape the factories and squalor in the crowded streets below.As the factories and docks gave them their wealth in the first place in many cases they had to live close to their main source of income and keep an eye on things. 
The east end is one of the flattest districts in Glasgow which made it ideal for factories and the prevailing wind direction of most Northern European cities is mainly west to east anyway meaning that any smoke, vapours and smells from industry didn't annoy the posh folks living in the west end. Most of the large industrialized cities in Britain follow this same pattern dictated by the wind but the east end is gradually altering now that large factories no longer produce harmful emissions to the same extent.

A view towards the Saltmarket area.
The magnificent Doulton Fountain, at 46 feet high the largest terra cotta fountain in the world,with the former Templeton's Carpet Factory as a backdrop. The People's Palace and adjoining Winter Gardens are nearby. The nearest public parking area is on the street next to this factory or other quiet streets running along the edge of the park near the People's palace.
In 1889 one of the walls constructed for the above carpet factory collapsed in a gale landing a mountain of bricks on the weaving sheds below. 29 working weavers died, most if not all of them young women.
There is a Calton heritage trail near the park. Calton is one of the oldest districts in Glasgow with a long diverse history so it has many unusual buildings. This is the McPhail Mansion, which was a special school for many years before being converted into flats. The nearby Home for Destitute Children, also on the trail is so evocative of Victorian times. There is a comprehensive guide here to the history and buildings of the area.  An interesting walk, for tourists and Glaswegians alike curious to find out about the city's past.
I however was on a trail of my own. I worked all over the east end years ago in every district and was just curious to see how much had changed in the decade since I'd last visited these areas. As I live on the other side of the city now I don't get over here that much. Ballie James Martin Drinking Fountain looking resplendent, newly restored. This is just beside the carpet factory.
Another view, side on.
Cyclist in park. Glasgow Green is ideal for cycling and a network of trails now link across the east end which has seen many changes. I'll need to cycle around here more often as the place has totally changed in ten years.
The Barras Market and the ancient Clay Pipe Factory. Note the date near the roof. Clay used to be scooped out in this area for making the pipes.
Bridgeton Cross next following the cycle track on foot from Glasgow Green. Looking very smart and clean on a sunny winter Sunday afternoon. Bridgeton that is, not me. I'm still a scruffy git waiting for my own makeover. Olympia building behind. When I was watching the film portraying the early days of late 1800s New York- "Gangs of New York" a few years ago I was struck by the similarity to the sectarian conflict in Glasgow's east end around the same time. Interesting if lurid account here of life in this part of Glasgow then.

Celtic Football Club. In the interests of fairness I have posted photos of Rangers FC and Ibrox district as well in previous posts and as my main interests are mountaineering, urban adventures around Glasgow, and photography I,m keeping neutral. Best way to start a fight in any city is to talk about football clubs :o)
Three sculptures adorn the front entrance.Founder Brother Walfrid, manager Jock Stein and footballer Jimmy Johnstone.
Jock Stein.
Jimmy Johnstone.
 I've been here before of course but it was the new building on the other side of the road I was interested to see as this area has been transformed. I used to work occasionally in the old Barrowfield estate in the 1970s-1980s when all the tenements were still standing. An exciting place to be on a summer evening. The east end has changed a great deal from the bad old days. Although residents will always look back fondly at the good things in their childhood I still remember the apprehension as a teenager when my gaffer at that time, who grew up in the east end of Glasgow and thought nothing of it as this was his own area said we would be working around Easterhouse, Garthamlock, Blackhill, Bridgeton and Barrowfield. As a young apprentice from the south side of Glasgow, although brought up in a large council scheme, this was still a daunting prospect as this side of the city had a grim reputation. The weird thing about the old Barrowfield was that instead of gangs having separate areas, estates apart from each other, it was divided down the main street despite being a relatively small scheme.
A glimpse of a Glasgow that no longer exists. Maybe that's a good thing for youngsters growing up today.

Although we are in the middle of a UK wide austerity drive at the moment there's much better housing and social conditions now in Glasgow so it would be a shame to see it slip backwards after all the hard work. This area is only now recovering from many decades of urban decline in its past.
Hardly recognized the place. Very open plan now and modern new build flats have replaced the rows of old tenements. This is the cycle track leading up to the nearby Forge Market from Bridgeton Cross and Glasgow Green. Good views now over Glasgow and a small cone shaped hill/ viewpoint is being built here by the looks of it.
The new Emirates Arena and Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome sits right beside Celtic Park. Both popular stadiums for joggers to run around as you can see for miles in every direction which you couldn't really do before. What a change in this area!
Everyone thinks the Red Road Flats are the highest in Glasgow but the Whitevale- Bluevale pair, seen here are the highest tower blocks in Scotland at almost 300 feet high. This is them coming down floor by floor. The old Whitevale Baths building on the right.

My next stop was to walk past the Tennent's Lager Wellpark Brewery. My drink of choice years ago in pubs but I don't drink much at all now. My car does most of the drinking for me nowadays, in petrol, so there's very little money left for poor Bobby :o( Very few traditional pubs left either come to that :o(
Looking down Duke Street from Tennent's Wellpark Brewery towards the city centre. This used to be a very uninspiring dark road in the old days trundling up it on a bus but it looks much cleaner and brighter now. One of the longest streets in Britain as it slices through the heart of the east end.
The Royal Infirmary and Glasgow Cathedral from the Tennent's Mural Wall.
A last view of the large adventure playground in Glasgow Green. I,m not in the habit of taking photos of playgrounds but this one looked so good I fancied a climb on it myself if it was deserted and empty of people. Why didn't my generation have these as a kid?

A video of an illegal and very dangerous free ascent of Shanghai Tower. At 650 metres the second tallest building in the world. They even climb through the cloud level here, Jack and the Beanstalk fashion. Strange how governments worldwide are using the internet to control, modify and generally find out as much as possible about individuals habits and personal information yet the more they try to wipe out any element of risk and control peoples health and encourage cutting out bad habits (restricting smoking, drinking, promoting healthy eating ....nanny state interference etc) the more the daredevils in society do things like this :o)

Link to my comedy adventure novel Autohighography about Glasgow and Scotland here and also my other book  A Guide to Walking and Cycling around the River Clyde and the Firth of Clyde with over 80 routes and 148 original colour photographs. First couple of chapters of each free to read here.

Sunday 8 February 2015

Largs. Great Cumbrae. Arran. Mont Blanc.

                                                ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
A day trip over to Millport and Great Cumbrae in the depths of winter is not most folks idea of a grand day out. The area is popular in summer on good days but for a photographer or lover of spectacular scenery a winter trip with the mountains of Arran plastered in snow as a backdrop is very memorable. Ferries are every half hour giving you plenty of time to walk round the island.
From certain places on the island the jagged peaks of Arran look very close and much higher than their 874 metre height. (around 2000- 2,500 feet on the summits) This is a local man walking his dog who just happened to walk around the corner as I was zooming in on Cir Mhor, by the looks of it. .
A little wren on the beach looking for insects. In harsh conditions the tiny birds like wrens, gold crests, blue tits, long tailed tits etc really suffer and have to pack together tightly in cracks or holes in trees or other forms of shelter away from the frost. Mortality is high as they don't have enough bulk or fat reserves in freezing conditions but they have a large clutch of eggs each spring and if its a good one they bounce back in numbers. Big birds will actually eat the smaller ones in the battle to survive and bigger tits will actually kill and eat the smaller ones in grim winters.
Two views of the rock monolith of Ailsa Craig. This one has the castle on Trail island off Little Cumbrae in it with the actual shape of Ailsa Craig taken from one hundred metres up on Great Cumbrae.
The same island from the same angle but taken at sea level. I've seen this diamond shape optical trick before with cameras caused by the heat /cold distortion over the water similar to a mirage in deserts.
Ailsa Craig looks as if its floating on the sea here.
The famous painted rock, The Crocodile, loved by generations of children and adults makes a fine lurking monster in Millport Bay.
I think these diving ducks are a type of pochard going by the brown heads but the body markings are different to the ones on the internet images as these have pink breasts and  white under feathers leaving a distinctive stripe on the males. I think they can interbreed with other diving ducks though of similar types. Correction. Widgeon. Thanks Paul. (see comments.)
A seal came up to say hello. Seals are very inquisitive and I've often had them cluster around my kayak years ago and I used to play them folk music and sing to them as a 20 something on holidays around Port Appin and Oban. They seem to enjoy music and certain instruments but I,ll do a separate post on that in the near future. I remember one time I had a group of six only 15 feet away listening as I sat on a rock and played them "Morning on a Distant Shore by the Furey brothers and Davey Arthur. They seem to enjoy violin, acoustic guitar and the wailing of Irish pipes the best.
This goosander didn't trust it though as seals sometimes catch sea birds and eat them if they cant find enough fish. It got off its mark pretty sharpish.
I like this view. Very Hebridean somehow. I've always thought Scotland is missing a trick when it comes to house colours. They should be painted up like rainbows in yellow, black, blue, green, pink, crimson, etc. but pastel colours only. Instead most of them are boring grey and white. Very drab in winter. The tourists would love "happy colours" so why don't we do it?  It's always puzzled me why more highland villages don't adopt the Tobermory/ Scandinavian example.
Palm trees at minus 3 below zero. The beach was a sheet of solid ice in places. I like the humour of the "Dancing Midge Cafe" in the above photo. Funny because I've never been troubled by midges on this island or Bute as its small, cultivated, with minimum bracken and surrounded by the Firth of Clyde. Although cold it was a sunny day with light winds and Great Cumbrae has several lovely scenic walks around the island so I avoided the bus from the ferry into Millport and walked the minor road up to the highest point at the Glaid Stone 127 metres instead.
For two islands only a short distance apart the contrast was noticeable. Not exactly spring on Great Cumbrae but green, snow free and sunny. Arran meanwhile looked cold and stayed dull and overcast for long periods. This was taken from Largs looking across at  central Cumbrae and towards Goatfell.
The northern section of the Arran Peaks seen from the forest on Great Cumbrae.
Sunset over the Arran Peaks from the mainland hills above Largs.
I liked this view of the recessed benches on Largs sea front. Over 80 great walks and cycle routes from easy half days to full excursions are available on kindle bookstore in my photo heavy guidebook to the River Clyde and the Firth of Clyde detailing great walks and bike rides I've enjoyed for decades from Lanark to Girvan. 148 original colour photographs along the River and Firth of Clyde islands on a journey "Doon the Watter" Different photos in book to these obviously, mainly taken on summer trips. £ 2:32. My comedy novel Autohighography about a Scottish Hillwalking club and their adventures is also available here in this link for £1:14 which is a bargain for 500 plus pages and photos. It's a love story, twisty thriller, and outdoor book combined. Both books are free to sample here in this link.

Largs from the ferry.

Over 20 years ago when I still had my mojo working I had the strength and courage to shuffle up alpine peaks on holiday. The ascent of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in western Europe, was a highlight and stays fresh in the memory. At 4,810 metres or 15,781 feet it is a complex mass of snow and ice ridges with numerous glaciers, rock falls and serac fields making it tricky in poor conditions or high winds when the temperatures can plummet dramatically. We climbed it, more or less in a oner, up the Bossons glacier to the Grand Mulets hut. This hut is perched halfway up a steep cliff above the glacier. As it is a dangerous route nowadays, prone to stone fall, it is no longer used by walkers much but I found this excellent video which brought back a few highlights and dangers of this memorable and dramatic route. Because of the numbers climbing it and the unforgiving nature of the terrain it is one of the most dangerous mountains in the world for fatalities, between a staggering 6000 to 8000 in total on the Mont Blanc Massif alone since the first ascent. Great video- great song.