Friday, 30 May 2014

Season Ender...

Training in an air cast...
You know you are recovering when you keep accidentally leaving the house without crutches… With the season and tourist based work coming to an end, I had lots of plans for alpine routes in my time off; unfortunately this wasn’t to be!

For my birthday trip, we decided to go check out a sport-climbing crag near Les Marecottes. The descent was a bit of a nightmare down steep, loamy gullies and I spent most of it cursing my choice of baggy skate shoes! However when we finally reached the ledge with the shelter on I was feeling more psyched! The climbing looked fun, the view across the valley was beautiful and the hut was amazing! Someone has obviously put a lot of love and time into making it.

The beautiful 'hut'
The first multi-pitch route we climbed was easy and fun; not entirely knowing where we were going to abseil down made it a bit more exciting. However on the second route, I was struggling a lot. Even though I wasn’t feeling the love, I decided to lead the second pitch. When I hit a series of wet handholds (and then footholds) I panicked and tried to down climb before finally falling off. Sadly all the slack rope that I had created in down climbing sat on a ledge halfway up the pitch. When I fell, I fell much further than I expected I would and hit the ledge on the way past.

An explosion of pain in my ankle didn’t get any better as I was lowered to the ground. Fortunately Dave managed to rescue most of the gear and ropes as I crawled back to our bags. Even though I couldn’t put any weight through my ankle, I was pretty confident that I hadn’t broken any bones. Having spent so much time in the Scottish highlands, I’m used to the idea of getting yourself out of trouble and felt pretty guilty about the idea of my first helicopter ride. So I kept trying to convince myself that maybe I could hobble and crawl back up the hill. Maybe we could sit out the night and it would be ok in the morning…

With daylight fading pretty fast and the pain not getting any better we decided to phone for rescue. They managed to find us and pick us up just before it got totally dark. The ride down dangling on the outside of the helicopter was pretty exciting; it’s definitely made paragliding a whole lot more appealing.
About to be swung out from the cliff through the trees, impressive skills from the pilot!
The helicopter dumped me in a field then flew back to pick up Dave...
A trip to Sion hospital showed no break, just a type 3 sprain so with a very fancy air cast I was discharged and sent on my way. Fortunately Tom Grant came to rescue us, as the van was at the top of the crag 2 hours away with both mine and Daves wallets in it. Miraculously, neither the helicopter nor Sion hospital needed payment, proof of ID or insurance documents. Dave did then have a painful public transport journey the following day to rescue our bags and the van, SORRY!
Not very psyched on life just then! And in posession of a very fat ankle...
Sadly, cancer faff struck again... My hormone therapy makes me prone to blood clots, which isn't ideal when wearing a tight immobilizing cast! So I had to have a delightful daily injection into my stomach to thin my blood. As I've developed a discomfort (not quite phobia...) of needles Dave had the job of doing it for me whilst I tried my hardest not to kick him.

I struggled to find motivation for doing anything at all in the first few weeks of wearing the air cast. I had articles to write about Kyrgyzstan mountaineering, as well as applications for future funding and expedition planning. But I just couldn’t get the psyche together to even think about mountaineering. Instead I just took on more end of season cleaning work and distracted myself with that. Now that I’m back in the UK and able to walk, I’m able to train again and feel a lot more focused for summer alpinism. Buying a road bike was definitely a good move for my sanity!!
Cripple camping... Free of the aircast I was able to do a few more fun things

This time on crutches I was determined to do exactly what my physios tell me, and not to push myself by taking too many painkillers and trying to climb! Even so, the last seven weeks have been pretty slow and frustrating.  At the start of April I was just starting to feel confident in the mountains again and had been climbing some fun routes in the mountains; being stuck at home on my own did not make me very happy! 
But to be fair, when I get to spend so much time in the mountains doing what I love, the chances of getting injured once in a while are probably fairly high. Looking on the bright side, all this non-specific training will do me the world of good in the long run! I'm certainly feeling a lot fitter again, roll on summer!
Feeding my mapmyride addiction on Beeston hill...
Thanks to Dave for the photos and sorting the helicopter, van and doing my injection every night. Also for being so patient with my grumpiness!!!

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