A Little Too Close

I wrote my story about the man who fell down Mount Washington earlier this month. It was an interesting thing, to write about this man’s experience. Usually as a reporter I know less about whatever it is I’m reporting about than the person I’m speaking with, but not this time. This man was ice climbing on Mount Washington, a mountain I’ve put a lot of days in on. He was climbing Pinnacle Gully in Huntington Ravine, a route I first climbed 10 years ago. In my free time I guide clients up there, and sometimes I’ve been known to jog up there (or to other cliffs) to get a bit of climbing in before work. To tell his story, then, was surreal.

Not that I wanted to pass judgement. He made some decisions I would not have, but I have always been a conservative climber. It was more that he was describing for me, moment by moment, a fall very similar to one I’ve watched two other people take. One was a random climber who almost collided with me and my two clients, and the other was my ski partner. One broke both legs, the other broke both arms. It’s not a fall I want to see again.

But like the post before, about confronting the reality of reporting from dangerous places, this was a story that forced me to confront the reality of the dangers of my passion. Like the man I interviewed, I love to climb. To hear it from him, he is broken and yet he can’t wait to climb again. He is like I would be, I have to imagine, only I haven’t yet taken the fall.

It’s strange when a story forces you to look in the mirror. I was reporting for the Sun, telling a story for the readers, and yet the message seemed just for me. Funny how that happens.

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