Back when was growing up, although I am sure people would not have to look too hard at my lifestyle to say I have been afflicted with a serious case of Pete Pan syndrome, we did not have hashtags. This makes me seem rather old and quite frankly past it, which I probably am if you’re as old as I was back then when all this happen. The term to surf the internet was something of an oxymoron, as it felt more like paddling a raft upstream with nothing more than a spoon.
Today we complain if out internet can’t stream four TV channels at once, whilst we simultaneously used Facebook, twitter and instagram on our laptops or tablets and whatsapp on our phones. As a result of dial up connections mine is the last generation to grow up and get to do all the dumb stuff you do before you are old enough to know better and before someone filmed it and instantly uploaded it youtube.
I am not sure anyone every said You Only Live Once before diving headlong into some hair brained plan for adventure. We sat round a friends house bored because there was no Facebook or twitter to waste half a life away updating your status. This meant when someone suggested something or to be quite honest anything we would embrace it with open arms like borrowing a boat and paddling it across to Vivian Quarry in the dark one cold November night, heading out at 9pm to do the 5 hour underground trip through disused mine in fancy dress, simply because it was more interesting than TV. Or simply paddling across the lake in a canoe to have a party on a beach the other side.
We just did it, no blogging, no social media stunts just real face to face kudos with some of the finest people that ever walked this Earth. Whether it is my age or a total change in the nanny state it seems people like to take less and less risk for either fear of making fool of themselves of Youtube or Facebook or the fear that risk is bad, dangerous and to be avoided.
What has made me wonder at the world and living life to the max has come in several waves, first off I hear or see people using You Only Live Once or #YOLO all the time, often for the lamest of things. Secondly a friend asked about a route I climbed years ago and the state I climbing it in really was one of those real YOLO moments. I am not sure how we got there, but we ended up at Gogarth below the classic The Strand.
I could barely stand up, the tequila, vodka and red bull that seemed like such a good idea at 2am were somehow living onto haunt me. As I racked up and tried to keep my breakfast of coffee and a slice of toast down the reality was dawning on me that I wasn’t too sure I was going to succeed.
I set off and the instant I exerted myself my head spun violent, as if being thrown around a tumble drier. Every half rest I stop and lower my head to my hands and put my cheek against the cool rock, like a most people do with the porcelain of toilet bowl after an over exuberant night. After a minute I would come round from this stupor and realise that I was in fact still climbing. Where I managed to keep it together to climb another 10 or 20 ft before shutting down again.
I really can’t describe how terrifying it is to essentially come round after a mini nap and find myself slowly getting higher and higher up what felt like the living end of all climbs. Although given I was on it for what felt like a week, I am guess that it is a steady away E2, I did once have a disagreement with a guidebook editor once saying it should be E3. When I told him about my ascent he quite rightly point out he can’t grade a route for when you are hungover.
I came round one last time and was nearly at the belay, and with the last of my remaining energy and psychological composure I fought on to the belay where I collapse in a heap and emptied my stomach till I was left dry retching. My friend followed and I suggested he stayed away from the belay and I’d lower him down.
You Only Live Once, I am just glad I did this years ago when I was young and stupid!