Thursday, August 25, 2011


I'm finding it hard to finish off the writing about my flying trip from Vernon home. The basic reason is simple: A week after that trip my friend Stewart crashed his glider on Lady Mac as I watched impotently from 1,000 feet over his head. He would not likely have been there if I hadn't stated that I was going to walk up, and walked with him when he wanted to go. Stewart's now recovering, but the starting point for that recovery is a broken neck with currently serious spinal cord issues. The battle back is going to be difficult, but Stewart is nothing if not resourceful mentally and physically, and he has a great family and friends to help. I also have to say a deep thanks to the professionals and hikers who helped Stewart out when he crashed; without them, well, they made all the difference.

So three of the absolute best flights of my life are juxtaposed with horror. My images of the Bugaboos, of landing and sleeping in the alpine meadows south of Revelstoke, of just the idea and joy of a flying adventure are mixed with images of a badly broken friend. I don't think his accident is my fault, but I do have to wonder about the mental game we all must play with risk sports in order to keep doing them. No one flight is worth what Stewart is going through, so the sum must be worth the risk or we wouldn't do it. Or are we pretending that the risks aren't real for us? I'm writing about this topic now and it feels good to write, but it's not ready for public consumption. My words are too full of contradiction, too full of nothing, too full of circular logic that would stand a pig on its head to fly into the sky. Yeah, my writing makes about as much sense as that image.

I'm also training hard for my assistant rock guide exam, which is a lot of fun thanks to the many people who are allowing me to run around the mountains with them. Climbing is a relatively static world; as I sit in the sun 1,000 feet up a cliff face belaying I feel the dynamic force of the wind, and connect it to the clouds over my head, and hear the whip of the thermals cracking by. I move my hands simply to belay, and hope my friend Stewart gets that experience again soon. The commonplace is only common when you can do it all the time. Today is not only another day, but a day with extreme freedom and ease compared to what so many people in the world are experiencing for no other reason than they were born were they were. Risk, freedom,, movement, life, death, it's all reflecting back at us every second of every day even if we don't see it. I intend to be looking at those reflections a lot more in the coming days, really looking at them and not just letting it all slip past.