Celebrate the doers.....
Tonight, as I drove through Glencoe after a busy day delivering winter skills in stunning Highlands weather, I reflected on recent events. Over the last few weeks I've delivered a selection of courses to a broad range of different groups.
An example of the contrast is the courses I've been working on last weekend and this one. Last weekend I delivered a site specific climbing wall course for RAF staff. This is the seventh course I've delivered for this wing and I've thoroughly enjoyed them all. The staff are always great fun to work with and they have a sort of buzz about them that, while being very hard to explain, is a real privilege to experience and very tangible when you do. Most of all, they inspired me because they are learning these new skills to share their passion with others. Fantastic.
It was while I was driving back from the course that the radio news reader suddenly grabbed my full attention with the familiar words 'Ben Nevis'. The news that followed detailed a fatality on Tower Ridge earlier in the day. A solo climber. Mid twenties. 300 foot fall.
Suddenly, as I continued racing along the M6, my thoughts were absorbed by this tragic news and the obvious time link that has together created the shocking death toll that's ushered in the first few weeks of 2013. It was, after all, only last week when four young lives were taken (and another person was seriously injured) in the Glencoe avalanche. I drove past the access point they would have descended to twice today and felt a sickening hollow feeling both times.
During the week following their deaths I'd seen one of the victims parents talking about their child on television. As well as marvelling at how together the parents seemed to be I listened intently as they celebrated their sons love of life, love of adventure and open, sharing personality.
My experiences with the RAF and these terrible deaths aren't separate. They are completely interlinked. The same thirst for life that attracts people to adventure sports, to the challenge of the vertical and to the life affirming rewards these experiences offer. The same thread runs through them all.
A certain type of person sets off on the challenge of a solo ascent of Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis, seeks out the beauty of the Glencoe mountains in winter or relishes the buzz of learning the skills to introduce others to the delights of tackling climbing walls.
These people are the doers, the seekers of challenge, the ones with the thirst for life and the drive to seek out new experiences. The same unique characters that I can enjoy a weekend in Stourbridge with just as I celebrate time in the Scottish mountains with our winter skills clients this weekend. I raised a glass tonight to those that have left us recently, to the great people I have known who have been lost in the mountains in years gone by and to those like the RAF personnel who, through their own mental and physical challenge on the course, will now be ready to introduce others to new adventures in the future.
Celebrate the doers.