An Anniversary (of sorts)

1 Year,
          1 Week,
                      1 Day…

…Since, for me, life turned upside down.  It’s been a frustrating and, I guess, a difficult year. This time last year I was lying in a hospital bed in Italy with, amongst other injuries, four crushed vertebrae with which to return home.

This morning I watched some of "The Season", which is well worth a look at. Episode 7 follows the story of Anya Miller, boulderer/climber, and her return to fitness after injury and subsequent multiple knee operations. It struck a chord. I recognised and felt her frustration at wanting to get back out and take part in the sport that she loves. This year the UK has had the best Winter Climbing conditions in over a decade and I’ve had to sit it out; watching on with my own frustration from the side lines.

I’ve taken a year out. I’ve not climbed since my own accident, waiting for bones to heal, ligaments to mend and tending to wasted muscles. Most mornings I wake up and go through stretching exercises trying to loosen the taught muscles in my back. Of course I know I’m lucky; more than that, as the result of my accident could have been far, far, worse.

I’ve started training again, trying to get back the fitness I once had. This last two weeks I’ve done the 60km return cycle ride to work on three occasions and also managed to hit the gym a couple of times. A year out; I’m actually feeling pretty good and determined to be fit for the Summer, though paranoid of getting injured again. I always say that March is my favourite time of year with the whole of the Spring and Summer to look forward to and a box full of adventures all pigeon holed and ready to dip in to.

This blog has always been about my adventures and, apart from once wishing my daughters Happy Birthday, I’ve always tried to keep my personal life separate from it. After all, who wants to wash their dirty laundry in public?

Before my trip to Italy, I’d come to accept that some major life changes were required. I guess people can carry a feeling in our own hearts for a very long time and sometimes it takes even longer for the head to follow ones heart.  My accident served to emphasise a change in my life that was very quick to follow. On my return to the UK I left my wife of 20 years. Like so many marriages we drifted apart. Life’s way too short and I felt that I wanted a lot more from it. It had taken many years for the head and heart to become aligned. On both sides of the divide many tears were shed.

…and so it’s been a difficult, but positive year. Changes have and still are being made. The "transition phase" of leaving home still has far to go.

Alongside these personal events I’ve thought a lot about climbing through out this time. So many dreams I once had have taken a back seat and other dreams have come to the forefront to take their place. There have been flashbacks to my time bouncing on an ice screw waiting to be swept from an ice face, and to seeing a friend lying unconscious, believing he was dead. I’ve thought seriously about giving up the Winter game; of selling my ice gear and retiring from the sport, but I know it’s in my blood and I carry an addiction. The desire to climb ice will come back to me as I know that some of the happiest moments I’ve ever had have happened while standing on a snow capped summit.

However, this year I plan to concentrate on sea kayaking. I have some trips planned on the West Coast of Scotland, to Arran, Harris and Taransay and also Ireland. There will be some rock climbing thrown in too and eventually, one day, I will climb ice again.

Life’s much better when it’s shared with a like minded spirit; Someone strong and individual in their ideals and beliefs, the matching piece of the jigsaw that, for each, gives mutual growth and support. Last year Annie joined me on life’s journey and has illuminated what have been dark times. It continues to be a interesting ride.

Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on
(Jimmy Page / Robert Plant)



About Andy Harpur

Interests : The Scottish Highlands, The Pennine Alps, The Milky Way, Abbot Ale, Mountaineering, Climbing, Mountain Biking, Canoeing, Sea Kayaking, Astronomy, Guitar, Penny Whistle. I live and breath for the outdoor lifestyle. New places, new faces, new adventures....
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