Life is for living, for feeling, for being. I don't feel alive anywhere else than as I do on the hills. Sun is good. But snow and ice, well...
I cursed the alarm as it pierced the darkness at the ungodly hour of 3.30 am. I rummaged in the cold to pull on my sexy thermals and four layers of clothing that likened me to The Michelin Man. I passed by breakfast and crashed out the door. Three hours later I stumbled, bleary eyed out of the car and into the wonderous wilderness –well, ish – it was the carpark and it was mobbed
Boots on, pack on, head down and off we go. I may be relatively fit but with a bag that weighs at least 250,000 tonnnes I was slow. But climbers are happy people, and each and every one grinned a cheerie 'Good Morning' as I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and found that I could indeed put my left foot in front of my right as each and every one of them trotted past me.
Snow... ice ... surrounds. 'Kit up', he demands. 'Yes, sir' I mutter. Have you ever known your quads scream? Well they do when you wade through thigh deep snow, well thigh deep to me – it'd reach your knees at most.
The queue was longer than outside the chippie on Sauchiehall Street at closing time on a Saturday night. So we – the intelligent, educated people that we were switched routes – and still had to wait in a queue ...
I didn't know that you were supposed to go – step, step, brake, brake. I didn't know that my toes would freeze as I belayed, virtually motionless for three decades. I didn't know that my axe would tumble in slow motion for seven miles (my fault obviously) narrowly missing the guy just below - oops, I didn't know that I could down climb and traverse and I didn't know that you can still move your hands when your fingers are blue.
I didn't know that when your calves scream at you and Elvis leg suffocates you that you could still see beauty through the pain. I didn't know that feeling of achievement, euphoria when you think that your body can't take anymore and yet you still find the strength to push on – and swear loudly at your partner.
I didn't know the mesmerising sight of fifty headtorches meandering down the hillside behind me as dusk falls and casting a shimmery glow above the ragged ridges that really do take your breath away.
I didn't know that I could feel so alive and I didn't know that you could have so much fun being so scared.
I didn't know that I'd give most anything to do it all again.
The list of entries so far is below (closing date for entries is Midnight on Monday 9th March):
Click to read individual articles in this series:
A Grand Day Out is another creative competition and a chance to express yourself and share your adventures.
FULL DETAILS HERE: LYON EQUIPMENT COMPETITION: A Grand Day Out
Earlier this week we reported that Pete Whittaker had made an 'all-free' rope solo ascent of on El Capitan. The route took him... Read more