Thoughts On Why We Climb

A post by Andrew Mallinson our resident expert and Mountain guide

Events happen in all our lives but I think more than any, death has the ability to make us stop, take stock, re-evaluate and re-calibrate where we’re at.  Those sort of “life, the universe and everything” moments….

On 1st December my brother died suddenly of a heart attack aged 55.  I have always thought that for the person it happens to, it has to be the way to go….but for those left behind I think the suddenness can be very difficult.  Whether it’s a heart attack or a climbing accident, the sudden brutal finality of it will test anyone.  And yet again, it makes us question why we climb knowing full well that the consequences of a mistake can be disastrous…..not for us, we’re dead, but for those left behind.  The answer will always be personal for each of us as individuals, but funnily enough my brother’s death only served to reaffirm my climbing commitment.  Why?  Because he led a sedentary life, with a poor diet and lack of exercise and it killed him.  If it can happen to him so suddenly in a shopping arcade, then I’m better off climbing…probably improved my life chances actually!

So, when as recently happened, two climbers were killed in Glencoe on Stob Coine Nam Beith, I thought not of the climbers, but of those faced with the brutal finality.  I started going to funerals early in life – for most people it comes towards the end of their lives.  I was just 18 when I attended the funeral of a college friend aged 20, killed in a climbing accident.  Seeing the grief stricken reality of parents and relations smacked in the face by the death of one so young made a deep impression on me.  It made me analyse why I climbed and once I understood the answer, I knew I would always climb….because it is the person I was born to be, and the life I was born to lead.  The death of my young college friend, others since, my father aged 52 and my brother aged 55 all just confirm that for me, my decision to climb and continue climbing is the right one.  Know why you are doing it……

Enjoy your climbing…..

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