With exams done I had some time, and a rare period of decent weather, to go climbing with a couple of friends in the Cairngorms. The bottom of the first pitch was still covered in snow so we made the first belay station on a semi-detached, rather sketchy, platform of snow.We each led one pitch, I took the first one, my friend Paul took the second and Joe the third, hardest pitch. We found the third pitch much harder and scarier than we had expected, but still very rewarding. The climb was awesome, though I was quite glad that it was Joe leading the third pitch with the Crack itself and not me. Chatting with someone in a gear shop in Aviemore later that afternoon we learned that there was some debate as to whether the grade should be increased to E1 from HVS 5a, a change I think the three of us would agree with. I had not been climbing in a few months, having been to busy with school work and training for running. I definitely struggled with the last pitch, and it would probably be fair to say that I “dogged” my way up. But it reminded me why I enjoy climbing so much: it is hard, and it can be scary, it’s just a great way to push yourself and test your limits. To that point, this morning I came across a great little video that Black Diamond made with Conrad Anker as part of a series discussing the risks inherent to climbing.
I think that the idea of risk is something that applies broadly to our every day lives, particularly as a person with hemophilia, when the risk of bleeding episodes has so much influence over our day to day activities. It is important to consider the risks we take as well as the consequences associated with them. I think it is perfectly alright, and perhaps even necessary, at least for me, to push the limits of my comfort zone. By understanding both the risks we expose ourselves to, and our personal limits in terms of physical and psychological stress, we can minimize the consequences of the risks we take. In other words, it is fine to push yourself as long as you know how hard you can push.