IAN SYKES is a climber and mountaineer who is the founder of Nevis Range Ski Centre and co-founder of Nevisport. See yesterdays Blog!
Ian is giving a free talk about the background to his novel,
Cry Argentina. All are welcome.
Thursday 2 May, 6pm at Waterstones
Eastgate Centre, Inverness
Cry Argentina tells the true story of the Argentinean invasion of South Georgia, the event which started the Falklands War. At this time – with the Falklands referendum, the death of Margaret Thatcher and the election of an Argentinean Pope – the novel is particularly relevant.
Ian will talk about his life in Antarctica as a dog-driver for British Antarctic Survey, his time in South Georgia and the Falklands and his trip through South America, including his time in gaol there.
Cry Argentina’ – the terrifying prelude to the Falklands War (published 28 March 2013)
The bloody 1982 Falkland’s War has once again returned to national interest with the highly charged recent Falkland Islanders’ referendum and subsequent sabre rattling by Argentina’s President Kirchener.
That referendum, in which the majority of the islanders expressed a wish to remain British, coincides with the publication of the book, ‘Cry Argentina’ by Fort William-based former Antarctic base commander Ian ‘Spike’ Sykes.
With revelations about Argentina’s part in its ‘Dirty War’ when up to thirty thousand of its own people disappeared and several thousand were thrown alive into the sea from aircraft; rumours that the behaviour at that time of the new Argentinean Pope may not have been totally blameless; and the death of Margaret Thatcher, the newly published book ‘Cry Argentina’ by Ian Sykes is of particular interest at this time.
The book describes the dirty war, the prelude to the Falklands war and Margaret Thatcher’s part in it. It’s fascinating and timely reading – both a history and an adventure novel.
Sykes, who has spent extended periods in the Falklands, South Georgia and the Antarctic continent, drew upon personal experience of the islands to pen a semi-fictional account of the build-up, invasion, occupation and eventual liberation of South Georgia – offering a gripping prelude to the 1982 Falklands War.
Mixing real-life episodes, characters and dialogue with a continent-hopping, multi-layered narrative, it is a complex and compelling feat of dramatic storytelling.
About Ian ‘Spike’ Sykes MBE
Now 70 years old, the author of ‘Cry Argentina’ has lived a ‘boys own’ like life of adventure. His passion has always been climbing. In the early 1960s, Spike spent two and a half years with the British Antarctic Survey as a dog driver and guide to field scientists in Antarctica. This included working on South Georgia and the Falklands. He watched the Apollo moon landings from the Jones Ice Shelf and later became Base Commander on Horseshoe Island.
When hitch-hiking back to the UK through the then sinister political landscape of South America (era of the ‘disappeared’) he spent several frightening days in gaol as a suspected terrorist.
Since Antarctica, the seasoned mountaineer and businessman served as part of the mountain rescue team at RAF Kinloss. In 1970, he opened a climbing shop Nevisport in Fort William that became Scotland’s leading outdoor retailer with 13 shops and an annual turnover of £12 million. He sold the shops in 2001.
He lobbied and helped set up the Nevis Range Ski Centre, of which he was managing director for 12 years. He remains on the board of Nevis Range PLC. He received an MBE in 1990 for services to sport and mountain rescue, and in 1992 started Nevis Community Radio in Fort William.
In 2004 Spike and a few former British Antarctic Survey friends sailed down to their now deserted bases in Antarctica and South Georgia and followed part of Shackleton’s route across the island.
In 2011 he was presented with the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture. He is also currently Chairman of Snow Factor International, including Snow Factor at Braehead outside Glasgow and Ice Factor in Kinlochleven.
He continues to climb and lives near Fort William with his partner Gay Anderson. His daughter Eilidh is studying Gaelic at Sabil Mor Ostaig Collage on Skye.