Climbing: How I came back to climbing after a 14 year break
Every climber or good athlete will have a fall, an injury and hurdles to overcome. The more you want to achieve and to get to a higher level you have to put the time, money and training in.
In 2002 I was running a ski school in Switzerland and on our weekends off I would go ice climbing with friends. I was still learning. It was a chain of bad decisions, wrong equipment and the ‘Halo Effect’ that resulted me in falling. That particular morning I woke up tired and hangover. I had left my proper boots in a different place to where I had woken up. My ice axes I had to borrow and weren’t the same model, weight or make. We had hiked close to an hour through some woodland before we arrived at the ice waterfall that we wanted to climb. I can’t remember the fine details as its all distant memory that I wanted to forget and to delete . All that I remember was that I was struggling and feeling weak. There was water running under the ice and my gut feeling was that I shouldn’t be there. It wasn’t long before my right crampon went into my left calve and broke the skin as I felt my blood pouring out of my leg. I was hanging off three points of contact, then two. Then my right arm and ice axe didn’t hold and I started to fall. I can’t remember how far I fell. The first gear pinged out of the ice then the second. The third bit of gear held and I slammed over an ice shelf. My left ankle folded over and I was very pleased to have stopped. After some time and effort I was then belayed down and I hobbled back to the car. We got back to camp. I was fortunate as my injuries were slight. I had a compressed vertebra, stretched ankle ligaments in my left ankle and few stitches in my left calf.
How I conquered fear:
Fourteen years later in 2016, I was approaching a mile stone in birthday years. I wanted to overcome my fear for climbing. I needed to get use to exposure once again. So I started back on the climbing wall. I remember my first 10m climbing pitch on the inside climbing wall. I was so scared. Saturated with fear and re living the fall in 2002 I then completed all the Via Ferrata’s in Val D’Isere and some different ones in the Tarentaise Valley. It wasn’t until I completely scared myself on the route of the Aguille De Franchet in the Sassiere Plateaux that I overcame my bad fall. I was confronting fear dead on.
Now today climbing means so much more to me. I enjoy the intensity and the problem solving on the rock. Like skiing I enjoy being in the zone when climbing and not thinking about anything else. It is a sport that I look forward to doing in the summer. Its not about the highest grade to climb. Its about having a good day at the crag or multi pitch with my dog and friends and enjoying the real outdoors.
Route Dents Du Loup, La Cluse in France