I never used to have a fear of heights, it has developed more ever since I’ve had children, no doubt brought on when they would wander off oblivious to the huge drop down the stairs or over the balcony. Climbing in the Mont Blanc region really brought home to me the fact that I am not comfortable with heights. Read the blog ‘Letter to Uncle Nigel, a Ridge too Far’ to find out more about the climb and the experiences along the way.http://www.mikepagan.com/Blog_aspx?hid_6_nid_95
How does this relate to being happy to be alive? Well it’s simple. We trusted expert guides, their advice, skills and knowledge to keep us alive whilst climbing Mont Blanc. We did huge ice wall climbing, trudging up and down glaciers and wading through waist-high deep snow, things that I could never have done without their guidance and the belief that we were safe in their keeping. After three days of training and learning our guides informed us that we would not be able to attempt to summit Mont Blanc because of the amount of snow that had fallen recently. The potential for avalanches was too great – so unfortunately we had to climb elsewhere, a longer climb but not as high.
Then three weeks after we were turned away from Mont Blanc, 9 climbers were killed by an unexpected avalanche in the exact place that we would have been had we continued.
Some will say it obviously wasn’t our time, others have said that we were lucky; I personally just say that I am glad to be alive. It is very sobering when an event such as this occurs, and I am very thankful to the guides we had who steered us away from a very dangerous situation. It reminds me of the wonderful rugby tour I did to Bali several years ago whilst living in Perth, Australia. We decided not to go the following year. That was the year when the Bali bomb went off and many of the players involved in the tournament were caught up in the tragedy. Luck or serendipity? I don’t know, but very humbling.
So I can honestly say that sitting still has proved a problem since the Mont Blanche avalanche as I believe I have much yet to do, see and achieve. This was brought home to me yet further with the very sudden and sad departure of my speaking friend Kenny Harris, a great man, (well, half man, half badger), leaving behind a wife and teenage children – taken without warning.
So yes, I am very glad to be alive and am very focused on not wasting a single precious moment. The reason for writing this is not to depress you but to re-energise those that need it and re-focus those that want to. Ask yourself this question: what have you done, achieved or experienced recently that makes you glad to be alive? To help you remember, make sure you write these things down somewhere so you can refer to them again and again. All these positive situations and occurrences that go on everyday of our lives that we sometimes take for granted need to be noted down and remembered in some way.