A familiar face - but it can't be........  

cheeky694U2000 48M
685 posts
9/8/2006 4:08 pm

Last Read:
9/10/2006 2:13 am

A familiar face - but it can't be........


I was driving home a couple of days ago, I came toward the junction I turn up for home. There on the crossing I saw a guy, a familiar face. Unfortunately it wasn't him. Neil died on a mountain in 2001, its funnt how seeing a familar face can bring memories flooding back.
In February 2001, my friend Ric, Neil and myself went to Scotland to climb Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis in winter conditions. We were 3 fit, hard climbers, hungry young turks. We were mad for it and loved nothing more than the mountains.
Neil was due to drive but at the last minute asked me, I'd had an exhausting weeking at work and was also studying part time toward a degree. I'd planned to use the drive up to sleep and be fresh for the full days climb. Neil had a 24 hour shift thrust upon him at the last minute and knew he couldn't drive.
I drove the 7 hours from Yorkshire to Fort William in the scottish highlands. We arrived at the hostel around 10.45pm, I was nackered. But didn't sleep well, I never do after driving for so long.
6 am came and we were up, breakfasted, pack and out before 7am and up the pony track toward Ben Nevis. I was noticably fatigued from the word go. I couldn't believe it, I'd been looking forward to this for so long and I'm nackered before I start.
After an hour climbing on foot we reach the CIC hut and prepare to do the technical climbing up Tower ridge. It looks fabuluous, a bright morning, the mountain covered in a frosty covering of snow and ice (mountaineers heaven). However, I need food, you know when you blood sugar drops and you feel weak and sick, my fatigue is more deepseated than I thought. I've experienced it in the past, some food and I'm fine. I eat, put on crampons, harness, get out ice axes and we're moving again. The steep ground is killing me, my thighs are cramping, what is wrong with me!!!!
I decide reluctantly its not going to be my day and bow out, I'm slowing them down and hate that and its making me noticeably bad tempered. I tell Neil I'm backing off and they should continue. I'm pissed off as I watch them continue and turn around to head for the hostel.
I get to the hostel and slump into my bunk, sleep come easily. I wake later, refreshed. Its still early there not expected back for a while. I relax, read, doze, chill out and wait.
Tea time comes and I eat, their running a little late, but their estimate was over optimistic. 7pm comes and goes, no sign. Don't panic yet. 8pm comes, I walk out to the bridge where the path off the mountain ends, there are still people coming down. 8.30pm, now I think I should say something, I ask the girl at the hostel what I should do. She knows and calls the police. They ask a few question, but say don't worry, they'll be in touch. They duely call later, the RAF Helicopter reports there are still lots of people on the mountain, the paths are iced up and prgress down is slow.
I decide to go to bed. My night is restless, waking constantly, looking at my friends bunks to see if they've quietly sneaked in. No sign.
Next morning theres a phone call, its the police
'have they turned up?'
'No'
'We'll now start a search. Stay close to the phone.'
An hour later two police officers turn up at the hostel, I'm asked to go with them to somewhere private. The hostel staff duely oblige and offer us a back office.
'We found someone matching your friend description one says'
'Oh really' (Can't believe I can't see this coming)
'I'm afraid to say the one you describa as Neil is dead.'
'OK' I say - just like that OK. Then it hits me like a wall of water, my knees go and my heart starts racing. A policeman hastilly puts a chair under me.
'....and Richard?'
'Touch and go, he's in casualty now. Will you come down to the morgue and identify Neil'
'what no, I can't.....yes ok.'
We get there and they slide open the fridge. I'm sat looking through my fingers, scared. I never seen a dead body before, let alone a friend and he'd fallen 750 feet. I was scared.
In fact, he didn't look so bad, there was some blood and swelling, but his cheeks were still pink - I always remember that. I cry, its him.

Richard is alive - barely. Their pumping warm water into every spare body cavity to raise his core temperature. He's laid semi conscious all night in temperatures around -12, after falling roped upto to Neil 750 feet.
I return home next day, in the car that had 3 people in it, feels weird.
I get a call from Richards sister. I'm expecting the worst, brain damage, paralysis - god knos what. In fact he has a fractured skull and a broken leg, but septic shock is a real problem. They decide later to remove his leg to save his life. He will also lose all his fingers from frostbite. But He's alive.
To cut tbe story short we return to climb the mountain in 2004, Richard with no fingers and a false leg still climbs....

rm_WackyEPP 52F
8470 posts
9/8/2006 5:12 pm

That is such a moving post.

I was once told, if you see someone that reminds you of a death it's a sign that they are still with you. I think Neil is still with you.

(((Hugs Sweetheart}}}



Wacky Jacky


steamyandsexybi 43F
2784 posts
9/8/2006 5:21 pm

Wow,cheeky....I'm sorry to hear about you losing your very close friend. I feel for you...I really do. Thank God you and your other friend, Richard are alive and well.-considering the circumstances.

You's must be some convinced and stubborn, determined and down the straight narrow-per se...to go back to that mountain and do it all again! Thats very brave! I'm impressed. But, please cheeky- BE CAREFUL! Youre making me worry now!

I always love hearing your stories about all your adventures, your likes/dislikes....everything! So, when youre out there, please! -just make it a point to let others know where you are and a way to look for you if need be. BE CAREFUL!!

~tight hugs and soft kisses~
steamy


Breathelessbimbo 49F

9/9/2006 12:32 am

I'll tell you my comment when we meet.


cheeky694U2000 48M

9/9/2006 4:43 am

    Quoting rm_WackyEPP:
    That is such a moving post.

    I was once told, if you see someone that reminds you of a death it's a sign that they are still with you. I think Neil is still with you.

    (((Hugs Sweetheart}}}


Thanks Wacks, I've never heard that one before, but I like it. Appreciate it babes..
A xxx


cheeky694U2000 48M

9/9/2006 4:53 am

    Quoting steamyandsexybi:
    Wow,cheeky....I'm sorry to hear about you losing your very close friend. I feel for you...I really do. Thank God you and your other friend, Richard are alive and well.-considering the circumstances.

    You's must be some convinced and stubborn, determined and down the straight narrow-per se...to go back to that mountain and do it all again! Thats very brave! I'm impressed. But, please cheeky- BE CAREFUL! Youre making me worry now!

    I always love hearing your stories about all your adventures, your likes/dislikes....everything! So, when youre out there, please! -just make it a point to let others know where you are and a way to look for you if need be. BE CAREFUL!!

    ~tight hugs and soft kisses~
    steamy
Thanks darling, I'm not quite the gung ho guy I used to be. I don't push my luck too much anymore. I am actually going climbing with a friend who lives in Thailand (he's back in England at the moment)next weekend, we'll take it steady - promise. I'm quite happy to be in the outdoors, canoing, camping etc - still want to learn how to ski. I know you like the outdoors too - I've read your profile top to bottom. Drop me a line when you've moved in...
A xxx


cheeky694U2000 48M

9/9/2006 5:00 am

    Quoting PreciousOrchid:
    I have had friends with a similar drive and lust for life as you, who also climb, battle the elements, and enjoy adventure sports. I know they too would have returned to conquer the mountain. I wonder if you felt your friend climbing along side you when you did? If he was anything like the guys I know he would have been grinning and doggedly determined beside you.
Its kind of weird, I won't say I felt him climbing along side me but the days after I felt like a massive weight had been lifted from my shoulders - that I didnt know was there. Friend have asked me since if I fancy climbing on the Ben, I still climb but won't climb that mountain to me it feels like the book is closed.
Oh and we also had one hell of a party afterwoods with Lockarber mountain rescue, still in our stinky outdoor clothes! I crawled into my sleeping bag at 5.30am!!!!!


cheeky694U2000 48M

9/9/2006 5:01 am

I'll look forward to it - between us we must have lots to natter about.
A xxx


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