Sunday 6 February 2011

Has your luck run out?

Enjoying some sunny rock in Spain. Photo Jack Geldard

"Has your luck run out?" she laughed at him'.
"Well I guess you must have known it would someday”

Lyrics from Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts by Bob Dylan.

I have always found these lyrics quite profound. Though my early to mid twenties my luck seemed to run out in various aspects of my life. This tended to result in a fair bit of both physical and mental pain, as well as a few trips to various hospitals and physiotherapists. 

Looking back to that period, and although it didn’t realise it at the time, the reason my luck would run out are pretty obvious. I was really pushing what I was trying to do, without a particularly high level of skill or experience. Since then I have been a bit more successful, and despite plenty of hard training, I had managed to stay almost totally injury free. I have definitely got a lot stronger than I was, and although not as “go for it” as ten years ago, my improved technical skill tends to make up for that. I am beginning to stack the odds more in my favour.

In November, I was on a sports climbing trip to Margalef in Spain.  When doing the crux moves of Dr Feelgood, one the classic 8a’s of the area, my knee made a horrific ripping noise that everyone at the crag heard. Above, although my knee did not feel sore exactly, I knew something was not quite right. I muttered something a few friends who were watching from the ground, and pushed on.

A repoint attempt at Doctor Feelgood. It was a couple of moves above this point on the
successful redpoint that I hurt my knee. Photo Jack Geldard

The next day my knee was pretty sore and I had trouble walking. With the winter avalanche forecasting season approaching (time of year I when I earn most of my money) the prospect of not being able to work or winter climb was not too appealing. I felt perhaps my luck had run out.

Getting back to Britain, I went to see a local physiotherapist. Fortunately the knee was not as bad as I had feared, there was no major damage, and although it might be a bit stiff and/or ache for a while, it was fine to go climbing/skiing on it. To hear her say that was a great relief.

Although we can vary the odds of causing ourselves an injury to some extent, some level of risk always remains. People have been injured doing the simplest little things, while others have got away some really bold routes and huge falls. I guess in climbing, as well as the rest of life, we all rely on luck to some extent, and I am aware that mine could run out at any point. Guess we just have to accept this, and enjoy things while our luck holds.

Note; I wrote this back in Decemeber, but did not publish it due to difficulties in getting hold of the pictures. My knee is now fine I am glad to say.