PUSHING THE LIMITS
Two years and eight months on from leaving hospital in a wheel chair I would find myself right on my limit of mental strength and to the point where I was scared as I had gone right out of my comfort zone. I had only been back on skis for about my fifth time in 5 years. Two weeks earlier when I went up for that first day, I was nervous and a little unsure, little did I know then that two weeks on I would be climbing into Castle gate gully off the back of Cairngorm.
As soon as we dropped in down to Loch Ann that day, we all spotted that line down through castle gate gully and started drifting towards it knowing we were going ski it. I had never done any climbing before and it was that part that was worrying me.
We decided to climb to the top of another peak and ski back down onto Loch Ann first. It was a real hard walk followed by some lunch at the top before what is probably one of the best runs I have ever had right down onto the ice.
Once on the ice, I looked up and could see this gully and I new then within the next hour I would be up there. Again this was me going way ahead of myself.
We set off on the climb up and before I knew it things were getting steep and then I was down on my hands and knees kicking boots in hard to get grip. Finlay had brought his crampons and was climbing easily but I was starting to struggle and could feel my confidence going. I had not been on this limit for a long time and was really pushing it here. I kept thinking just focus on each foot step and I could feel my thoughts drifting to, what if I fell.
I had this vision in my mind of falling backwards and sliding down the full climb.
I have never climbed before so this was a real challenge and I knew if I could get my skis on I would be fine, however getting to that point was a real buzz. I was so nervous and scared that I had to ask Ewan to help me dig out a ledge to get my skis on. I could feel my heart rate going mad and I was loving it but just wanted my skis on and to get down. I had pushed my limits of climbing without the correct kit and knew it was time to get skis on and ski this.
Once my skis were on I was happy and relaxed, ready to go. I was annoyed at myself as I wanted to ski the full line but my climbing let me down and i could not have gone further that day. This was good place to start and a massive jump from two weeks ago skiing on green and blue runs. The climbing put me right out of my comfort zone, however as soon as I took the first turn i was buzzing. This is living and chasing dreams, pushing right on the limit and I loved every turn down, even if I was gutted I was to scared to try climb further.
I will be back castle gate and next time I will climb higher.
Conditions were tough and icy but I loved every second of the day and skiing back country with great friends on my home mountain is something truly special. Skiing is my main love and I was scared I might never do it again after surgery but to be here pushing the limits and testing my mind as much as my body shows we can do anything we dream if we work for it.
This is the real beauty of ski touring, you have to work for ever turn. You spend half your day climbing and skinning up hills to then have a very fast decent. After you have worked so hard climbing you hold onto every turn on the way down just that bit more than if you had got a lift up. It almost like time has stopped and its just you and the mountain. You see and hear everything so much more and just never want it to end.
I have defiantly found a new love to skiing, ski touring is something that I have really falling in love with. I think my time in hospital is where this love comes from. Stuck in a room with no fresh air for so long make you notice and appreciate it more. So when your out in the mountains and you see nature and all the beauty around you, it is something that you just fall in love with and it takes over every part of you. Its hard for me to describe the feeling unless you have experienced ski touring but it is almost like a spiritual feeling of just stopping time and your mind is totally blank as you feel every turn and just absorb all around you. It truly is a moment in sport where you can say your in a zone and just flowing in slow motion, even though your ripping down the side of a hill.