Beating the Lockdown Blues

Shipton Blank on the Map 1st Ed Shipton, Blank on the Map - a rare 1st edition

My strategy for beating the lockdown blues is in two parts. I got the idea for 'bookshelf expeditions' from a book in my bookcase that belonged to my Dad. It is called Blank on the Map and it was written by Eric Shipton and published in 1938. It was republished by Diadem in a compendium of Six Mountain Travel Books by Eric Shipton and I think is still relevant today. There are some links below if you’d like to peruse your own copy. Chapter 1 begins:

“A fascinating way of spending a few hours of leisure* is to sit down with a paper and pencil and work out in minute detail the preparations for an expedition into unexplored country. The fact that there is very little chance of carrying out the project matters little. These dream expeditions can be staged in any corner of the world. I have imagined them in the forbidden corners of Nepal, and in the wind-swept ice peaks of Tierra del Fuego, and across the Antarctic continent.”

*substitute 'lockdown' for 'leisure'.

In these strange and difficult COVID times, I think it is an enjoyable and therapeutic idea.

When Eric Shipton used the word unexplored it’s likely he meant unexplored by white European male mountaineers; such were the times. But the term unexplored for each of us can just as easily mean unexplored by us. You may not be the first ascensionist, but it would be your first ascent.

My own list for 2021-22 includes finishing Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk, plus completing our walks across Scotland from west to east, and around the boundary of the Peak District National Park.

Further afield, with KE Adventure I will plan:

  • an exploratory trip around the Ogre and Latok mountains
  • a visit to K2 Base Camp and crossing the Gondogoro La in the Karakoram mountains of Pakistan
  • a climbing trip to the remote western corner of Mongolia in the Altai mountains
  • an attempt on the second official ascent of Khang Karpo in the Rolwaling area of Nepal.

I also want to trek below the Ganesh Mountains, a rarely visited area of Nepal, with Janet and our Nepali friend Phanden Sherpa.

Of course, for the time being none of these things are possible, so the second part of my plan is adhering to the stay-local rules. I am lucky in two ways: I can walk in local parks, linking several together, and I can venture into the eastern Peak District from home, whilst staying within my home city boundary. A further bit of luck is at the time of writing, we are experiencing what the BBC have called "Jantarctica", and there is extensive snow cover to play in!

To help with future planning and dreaming, in addition to Eric Shipton’s paper and pencil I suggest browsing guidebooks and coffee table books with lots of pictures. As well as being helpful when you are “out there, doing it”, it is also ideal for planning fantasy explorations, expeditions and adventures. When Outside is open, I often find an excuse to browse the excellent range of books available. In the meantime you can find plenty of scope for your imagination in our online bookshop, or if you’d like to buy or download the Shipton book you can do so below (or visit a large river basin in South America, if you prefer).

Browse the Outside Book Shop for further inspiration.

Buy a second hand copy from

Download an epub copy from

Buy a new edition from Vertebrate Publishing

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