A Journey to the Wall

Journey's End - The Wall

In March 2006 I endured an epic ten days in the Sierra Nevada of Spain that has proved to be pivotal in my life since then. I fell ill at the start of the trip but did not listen to my body. I pressed on up to 2500m on Mulhacen, only to be trapped over the weekend in the Refugio Poqueira by a major blizzard, which claimed the lives of three British climbers.

Over the course of four days, my chest infection grew steadily worse, to the point where I thought I would not get off the mountain myself.

After our safe return, it took me several months to recover from the emotional dissonance and the acute chest infection. And a couple of years later it was a major influence on my motivation to walk the Pyrenees HRP and the book “Time Hears no Reason”. These four posts, now entitled “A Journey to the Wall” were published originally in 2006 to critical acclaim and represent my first foray into journal writing.

2006_401042 - Jeni, Dave and Chip

A Journey to the Wall Part 4 – Recuperation, Leaving, Returning

There is a photo call with Dave and Jeni, and then a few hugs with the little doggie guys, and then we have to depart this oasis of joy … to stay with Dave and Jeni is to be in the most nurturing, comfortable and fun company you can imagine, and I wouldn’t swap it for anything.

A Journey to the Wall Part 3 – Escape, Sadness, Relief, Reflection

The storm has raged all night with what sounded like a savage power. Sleep is fitful and feverish. And then I wake in a gloomy half-light … Time is distorted; is it morning, or is it evening? I groan involuntarily, and feel a stark sense of utter despair. I am gripped by another overwhelming desire to get off this mountain.

Mulhacen and Capileira, Sierra Nevada, Spain

A Journey to the Wall Part 2 – The Struggle, The Wait, The Storm

Then there is no power in my legs, as if no fuel is getting through. No air, frequent coughing. I drop further behind. I cough uncontrollably again, and my head spins. Ten more paces; every step is one less.

A Journey to the Wall Part 1 – Beginnings and Doubts

I’m out of bed at 3:00 am and I’m shivering in the shower. First signs of a fever? I turn up the water temperature and manage to bring it under control. Not now, no! Not where there are flights involved. It’s too late, I tell myself … I’m off for ten days mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada of Spain.

Winds rising on the Sierra crest.

Tragedy in the Sierra Nevada

Thank you everyone who rang out of concern on hearing the tragic news of British mountaineers who died on Mulhacen in the Sierra Nevada of Spain last weekend (4th March 2006). We are OK. Yes we were the only other British mountaineers on the hill over the Saturday night and Sunday of the storm, but […]