Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Write Off

Rehab began in earnest yesterday with my first visit to Physio and I've got a bit more damage than first expected. It looks very likely that I'll have to write off any winter climbing plans for this season which is gut wrenching but after speaking to the Physios and doctors it seems I really am lucky to only have the injuries I do. Tools of rehabilitation

Friday, 15 January 2010

Missing Out

Since taking my fall the other day I've been trying to keep my mind occupied with other bits of work I've had to do and answering some questions from the press who seem interested in my fall?? I've been replaying the accident a lot either conciously or sub-conciously and keep realising how lucky I am to only have a sprained ankle and that Gaz and Dave were quick to react and get me to hospital, even if they did spend most of the time laughing at me :)

The over-riding emotion I feel at the moment though is not fear or pain but one of frustration in that I'm missing so much. Blair and Dave have been very busy sending stunning new ice lines in Glencoe this week, these lines were a deciding factor in my having taken a week off work to climb and the closest I'll likely ever get to them are the pics on Daves blog. Blair repeating the Excellerator, this is the kind of climbing I love

I'm already managing to get a bit of weight on my damaged foot with only a little support and the swelling is slowly going down, today however its bruising up badly and wouldn't look out of place in an episode of CSI. Hopefully I'll be climbing again before the end of the season.
Two days ago, spot the injured foot...................

Tuesday, 12 January 2010


Every so often I receive emails from people in all corners of the globe saying that my climbing and my attitude towards my disabilities has inspired them. It always makes me feel somewhat embarressed but its great to hear that people take somekind of goodness from what I do.

I always feel very humbled also, sometimes more than others. I received an email a few weeks back from a Canadian girl who has been through terrible times and challenges with Epilepsy resulting in brain surgery. Melanie contacted me after watching 'Single Handed' saying how much the film affected her and ,even though she isn't a climber, she uses the film to help get her through her less than good days. After reading her full story I couldn't believe that I inspired this amazing woman , humble isn't a strong enough word to describe how her email made me feel.

After her brain op she was told basically that she would hardly be capable of doing anything by yet another blinkered health proffessional. Melanies passion in life (except her family) is music, in particular the trumpet. She decided that she would take it up once again regardless of what the 'pros' said. She now plays alongside some of the Jazz greats. I read somewhere once that "One of lifes greatest pleasures is doing what others say we cannot" and I'm sure Melanie would agree...........
Melanie blasts out a tune in the Rockies


Yesterday Gaz and I headed to Steall Falls quite early and were lucky enough to be first on the route. It was amazing quality ice with constant first time placements and just a joy to climb. Heading off on the first pitch

3rd pitch

Gaz looks happy at the point we decided to ab off
Next up was to meet Dave for a look at some interesting ice formations I had saw the week previous while trying to get my "4x4" out of the Glen. We headed straight to them and everyone was immediately psyched. I decided to try a new and continental looking route.

I climbed a thin cigar of ice then up into the cave above and placed gear in suspect rock. The ice was melting fast by now and water was visible behind the thin smear I had to climb and I was very wary of taking a whipper onto suspect rock while attached to about a tonne of ice, time to lower off.

It was about 2 feet above where this pic is taken when things went wrong
As I leaned back onto the rope my gear ripped from the rock and I went into freefall, about 15ft then tumbling down a hill. Thankfully I only had extreme pain in my ankle and badly winded, no prosthetic buried in my torso. Trying hard to breathe and not pass out was difficult. The lads sprung into action and got me out of there very quickly, Dave carried me and Gaz carried the 3 packs. I owe those boys.
It's amazing how much can go through your mind in a very short space of time, I remember vividly pushing myself away from the ice to make sure my spine and neck didn't take the impact or someone else would likely be writing this. So it's a badly sprained ankle and forced rest for me. I do however consider myself very lucky to still be able to walk, albeit with crutches.........

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

One of These Days

I met Di Gilbert a few years back when she was an instructor on my SPA training and we got talking about her recent ascent of Everest and my own hopes to eventually make it to the Greater Ranges. We kept in touch and met up again in Rjukan last year when I was out attempting routes with Andy Turner. Ever since then we have been trying to get out climbing but the weather etc has always put paid to our plans but eventually Di made it through yesterday and we planned to do Steall falls and a few other routes. As we were driving up the Glen in my supposed "4x4 of the year winner" it stopped responding to my driving and started do whatever it felt like and despite Alan Kimber and his crew and then some of the local Rescue Team lads putting in great efforts to get this unwieldy lump down the road safely it was decided to abandon it and I only just got it back today after Di had to go back East to prep for a trip to Aconcagua.Hopefully someday Di and I will actually get out climbing.....................

Saturday, 2 January 2010

New Years Day

I started the new decade as I mean to go on. Its Friday night and instead of being out partying I'm down at the wall training with Tony, Sam and Christina. Not a heavy session but enough to affirm a new level of commitment to my climbing. Everyone was back at ours for a brew at 10 and it was suddenly decided to go up to Glen Nevis and climb Lower Falls, 10 minutes of hectic packing and a slow drive up and it was game on.
Grinning like a Cheshire cat

Myself , Jenny , Blair , and Tony

We had a great night just soloing on easy ground and generally having a laugh. Great way to start the year...................


Another Winter season now and my frustration levels reach an all time high.Trying a route with Dave the other day I couldn't make height and it drove home my feelings of hopelessness. I cant remember the last time I made it to the top of a winter line and its making me nuts. I hate myself deeply for failing on a personal level but even more so for letting my climbing partners down. The hatred is such that I cant let it go, it burns inside my head day and night calling me weak and pathetic. It is a constant reminder of all those faces and voices from my past that told me "you cant". I've very rarely found things in my past that I cant do but winter climbing is the hardest battle yet and so far its winning this cruel game. Its now a living breathing thing that I have to overcome, its been baiting me for too many years now, taking me away from what most would call a normal life and throwing me into a fight with myself. For now its almost like it is part of my personality and its a part I need to cut away but I'll only manage that after I can climb something I feel is hard. Something that's brutal, dangerous and somewhat hurts me to justify the pain I've caused to those I've cared for over the years with the selfish pursuit of my climbing. But then do I really care about the hurt I've caused to climb??

I've thought for a long time that I did care about the relationships I've had in the past but in reality I very likely didn't (apart from once). I've either used them to find comfort away from a particular spurt of risk taking or purposefully got into relationships I knew would end badly and hurt me so that I could use it to fuel my risk taking. I've only recently opened my mind to the possibility that I didn't really care about these relationships and was actually a shallow person who, in fact, felt very little apart from the glow of self-satisfaction that climbing gives me. I never realised how true it probably was or how utterly ruthless it was possible to be and still feel nothing until last week.

I was home for a few days over Christmas and met many people I knew, some for a very long time, and at no point did I feel anything in common with them. I knew then that this would likely be among the last times that I will see these people. This feeling came crashing home when I met 'her'. She told me she had been thinking about me etc and in the past this would have meant a fair amount to me but the other day I just smiled at her and walked away. She didn't make my stomach churn, in that way when you see someone you love, like she has in the past. My feelings for her are eventually dead after a long time trying to get rid of them. I thought that this would lift a weight but the void that's been left in my life by cutting away my love for her has been filled by the pressure on myself to perform something that could be impossible.

But then that's another reason why I love climbing so much, It allows me to dump un-important things from my life, and replace the space they took up with the really meaningful things. To try achieve something I ,at this moment, think is impossible but with hard work and single minded focus it can become a reality. It is a constant source of surprise and joy that climbing can take the crap from my life and recycle it into something good and usable......................