A guest blog from our mountain guide in residence , Andrew Mallinson (@MountainSummits on Twitter)
Weather’s crap. Didn’t sleep well. Want to catch up on Strictly. Fancy some nice food. Then…..
Blue sky. First frost. Can see the hills. Light dusting of snow. Sun’s out ! Then…….
The washing needs doing. Need to food shop. Cottage needs a clean. Then…….
Rock will be dry. Mates available. Idea for a new route. Crag faces South too. Then…..
You get the picture……..
We can probably all recognise the pattern described, or at the very least some variant of it. We all have times when we as mountaineers, of whatever hue, lose our mojo. Even working as a professional in the mountains I do too. Indeed, sometimes the last thing I want to do on my days of is guess what ? Head to the mountains…….
But it kinda nags away in the brain….. We’re climbers, and we know it……. It’s what we do….. an essential part of Us. But sometimes, for whatever reason, we just can’t be arsed. And it happens to us all.
So how do we break the cycle ? This unfathomable, cyclical malaise that we all experience from time to time ?
I think it’s essential to differentiate, between real situations that are preventing us from heading for the crag or mountains, and those reasons that we’re using as excuses. The former is understandable. We all have a life, complete with relatives, friends, kids, situations, work places and the like. These can present real inhibitors. They require the exercising of responsibilities, the giving of time, the need to do duty, the need to earn. I myself have been going through Separation – there has been a big cost, both literally and in respect of time. Psychologically, it has been all encompassing and draining in equal measure. This I have found to be a significant inhibitor to my mountaineering ambitions – understandable and very real. I’m not going to be hard on myself – the end is in sight.
However, if you find yourself making excuses rather than making plans, you’ve kinda got a problem. If you’re watching daytime TV, falling asleep on the sofa, cursing the perceived endless crap weather, or bemoaning the lack of enthusiasm from partners, (are they picking it up from you?), you probably need to do something fast.
Every journey starts with a first step. And when indolence strikes, I feel this is the key. Get out. Do something. Do anything. Outdoors. A walk, a run, a bit of bouldering, a night in a tent. Force yourself to do it….. it could be the only time you need to. The smells, sights, sounds, vistas and feelings will most likely be all you need to fire the neurons in the brain. And suddenly the world can look a very different place. Refreshed of brain and body, an inkling of adventures to be had returns. Get out the maps, the guide books, the climbing mags, and take it the next step. Plan a day adventure and make it happen – get rid of the excuses not to do it. Then the snowball is rolling, travelling down hill, and as climbers we all know what happens when gravity takes hold !
A bit philosophical this piece of writing I know, but by recognising the excuses, (for that is what they are !), it enables us to move forward… or rather upward ! Mountaineering, in all its’ multifarious facets, is, I believe, the reflective essence of who we are. It’s always there, within us, and we are better for it. To let it drift away, to let it go, is to lose something of us – to become a poorer person. And funnily enough we all know it, deep down inside.
Don’t be annoyed, don’t be hard on yourself, it happens to us all. Dump the Yo Yo !!!
Get out….. do something outdoors, and you will be back……. back on track to being you.
Next time…… “Getting To The Point”…… some thoughts on ice axes and crampons