Forty Nine

Originally posted 4th August 2011

Last Sunday I fell off a mountain. Ok I suppose that will need a little explanation; we were scrambling up a Ghyll on the side of Helvellyn, having forgone the wet route due to excessive slipperiness, I was on my way up a near vertical section of rock when something gave way. I have no idea whether it was my hand hold, my footing or the rock its self and at this point it is immaterial, whatever happened I ended up dropping / sliding / rolling and bouncing down the vertical bit and down a rock slope into the bed of the Ghyll (for the uninitiated a Ghyll is a narrow stream or rivulet). This explanation benefits from a visual aid, and to this end I have chosen today’s picture. Which pretty accurately shows the height from which I fell and the rocky ground.

It is amazing how many coherent thoughts you can have while falling down some rocks, including “oh my god I am falling off rocks” and “is this really real?” and “I hope I don’t break my ankle but I think I might have done” that coupled with the slightly less than coherent thought of why is the pond weed red”.

As well as the obvious lucky to be alive thoughts etc, what has really made me think, is a comment my dad made afterwards. He said “it is better to have had an interesting life” and I think he is right. Despite the fact that I am sitting here with a broken ankle, I am pleased that I went scrambling. I was having a good day, I had a good holiday and believe it or not I am looking forward to going again as soon as opportunity presents its self (and he state of my bones allows).

This all made me think about the trade-off of safety against an interesting life. Is it better to be safe than sorry? You could go through life avoiding risk and therefore mitigating any likelihood of damage but how exciting would that be? Conversely, there is the other route, risking all at every opportunity in the endless pursuit of an exciting life. Is either extreme better or is there a fine balance to be found?

As the owner of a brand new broken ankle and a set of falling off a mountain memories I still find I agree with my dad. I would rather have an interesting life than a 100% safe one. Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating unnecessary crazyness…but I  am going to leave the definition of “unnecessary”  up to you…

In keeping with tradition, the watch report of today is that I am not wearing any watches at all…


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