Friday, 6 December 2013

Back to Earth with a Bump

Mixed climbing on tied off terrible ice screws... My favourite!

Why my veins don't work.
Sometimes, I wish I were braver. Once again I find myself in an MRI scanner, fighting back the tears and trying not to hit the panic button. How can I handle my nerves on a high mountain and yet go to pieces during a routine hospital procedure?! It’s not the noise or claustrophobia that freaks me out but the canula and the feeling of cold liquid forcing it’s way through my tired veins. This year, the nurse and I both thought that my veins had recovered a bit. But apparently I still have chemo tracklines that would make a hardcore junkie proud! I guess my biannual round of hospital visits felt worse this time as exactly a week earlier I was carrying loads across a river in Kyrgyzstan. I felt too fit and well to deal with the idea of maybe being sick again. Luckily I don’t have to as I got the all clear for another year PHEW. All you budding doctors should note that telling a patient “Have your life back for another year” is not the most comforting bedside manner…
Bouldering on north wales' hardest V3 between hospital trips.

Gritstone cragging at the start of October - down Jacket obligatory
Since then the autumn has been a blur of exhaustion, cragging near home in Chester, attempts at training and trying to write formal trip reports. I hadn’t realized just how much the expedition had taken out of me until quite a few weeks after. Suddenly I felt like I had been on my feet for the whole summer, which actually I had! Being super well aclimatised to 4000+m obviously carried me through for a good long while though, suddenly running 10km and cycling 30 felt pretty easy. Having become used to carrying 30+kg bags means that 20kg of luggage allowance feels like nothing!
Dave Looning the Tube
Emma ready to place the next bit of gear!

Back in Chamonix for ten days, I found myself too tired to consider any hard climbing and rediscovered my love of bouldering instead. Not suffering for a bit is quite nice! I love the fact that I can have an ‘easy’ holiday in Chamonix and still get 4500m of ascent in. Now that I’m all signed up for the Vertical K race next June ascent is what I need! Doing ‘Shit Route’ off the Midi with Ally was good fun in spite of the floral smelling liquid at the top. Although I managed to forget my crampons and had to get the lift back down to fetch them, it’s nice to remember that I can still mixed climb… Sort of!
Ally heading up towards the top ice fall on Shit Route, I sand bagged us up this accidentally, telling Ally that 'it's easier than the Chere Couloir'. It isn't....

Heading towards Tower Gap in beautiful evening light.

Hands free rest for Jonnie on Arch Enemy
Winter has been pretty slow coming in Britain, which is sad. So far I’ve only managed one weekend in the Highlands. Fortunately it was amazing and brought winter psyche levels pretty high! Although at the time I cursed my enthusiasm for doing Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis as a ‘good little warm up’. Everyone I know of, who has attempted this route early season, has epiced hard. Tom, Marcus and I probably should have learnt from this! We found the conditions to be pretty hard, a bit sketchy and time consuming. It was actually a relief when the unconsolidated snow over rock slabs low down gave way to a couple of inches of thick verglas high up.  The conditions definitely made the day more memorable than we were expecting. Maybe we should have persevered to the top, with daylight fading fast and the wind picking up we decided to be sensible and abseil from the gap. Nevermind, the Ben definitely isn’t the Drus and ‘will still be there next year.’
Treacherous rock slabs on Tower Ridge.

Bill on Daylight Robbery, Creagan Coire Cha-No. It looked so much fun that we abbed down and climbed it too!

When conditions and weather aren't playing ball it's time for a bothy trip with your pals!

1 comment:

  1. Emily Roo: 'Sometimes, I wish I were braver.' Well, truly, we could hope to meet none braver.

    Putting aside the thought of needles, or drills and such: for others of us who who need to feel at peace, at one with the sky and the hills, the mountains, the waterfalls and the wideness of the sea - MRI scanners can be torture chambers in themselves. Believe me.