Friday, February 1, 2013

The bright day is done

David Craig

Two weeks of snow and then the storms kicked in. Gale force winds and torrential rain culminating in the mother of all storms on  Wednesday night. Next morning the router had blown, the TV tuning had scrambled and for some reason, the water pressure in the house had dramatically changed with the cold tap pouring something which looked like Guinness! Turns out that I wasn't the only one to suffer. Apparently lots of folks hereabouts had seen their phone lines and routers knocked out with many more losing their water supply altogether. Appears the water pumping station took a hit, as did my friend's house over the hill which was also struck by lightning. Bizarrest thing I've heard so far was from an acquaintance I bumped  into yesterday who told me he had sparks firing out of his phone!

While I await  for a new router, I've managed to get online through my old desktop and an old router I managed recover amongst all the computer junk I hoard...for occasions such as this. Amidst the chaos, I received a letter and article from David Craig, one of my favourite climbing writers and someone with whom I've had the pleasure of climbing with and sharing letters and phone conversations over the years. David is old school to the point that he doesn't even own a computer and remains stubbornly wedded to the fountain pen and typewriter. The article he sent me was incredibly poignant and detailed his coming to terms with the end of his climbing career. After turning 80 this year and having suffered various health problems in the last ten years,-not least a debilitating heart condition- he had stumbled on. Climbing whenever he could and still retaining that 'hard fire inside'.

 For his 80th birthday he had hoped one of his climbing sons would lead him up a big old Lakeland mountain V Diff like Giants Crawl on Dow Crag. Alas, he has had to come to terms with the fact that his old carcass is just not up to it these days and with the deepest sadness and regret he has finally accepted that the time has come to hang up his Troll harness and kick off his old Fires.

Although you do hear of climbers in their 70's and 80's still going strong, I wonder how many climbers do continue to climb once they pass three score and ten? Ironically it is often those who have been the most active who tend to suffer the worst effects of the aging process. Dodgy knees, arthritis, replacement hips etc etc. I'm only too aware, as someone from the next generation down from David, that it will soon be my turn to feel the heavy hand of Father Time on my shoulder. I'm already getting a stiff left knee after activity, stiffness in my fingers and a shoulder problem that flares up when I strain it, even if it's just lifting the dog into the car! What can you do but keep on keeping on and hope that the inevitable deterioration is slow and gradual. At least buying enough time to chalk up a few more successes on the rock face before it's my turn, and like David Craig and thousands of others from his generation, I have to bite the bullet and accept as far as climbing and mountain activities go, 'the only thing to look forward to is the past'.

David Craig's article will appear on Footless Crow next week.

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