Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Poem: Tower Ridge

You're probably not that interested in the provenance of my book's title, but I will tell you anyway. It was going to be Hip Flasks and Rucksacks, a title I liked suggested by a friend, but at the last moment The Weekend Fix bubbled into mind. It's a fairly common phrase - a concept first grasped by me when someone described their attitude thus in The Angry Corrie: "Maybe I'm the typical blinkered enthusiast, unable to understand how folk exist without their weekly bout of blindfold indoor bobsleigh". That seemed to sum up my attitude to hillwalking quite nicely!

Around that time, I was learning to climb or rather, learning to fear climbing. Not for me the heightened senses, adrenaline rush and sense of achievement. Just leg-trembling fear. My imagination was too gothic to be balancing above huge drops. I wrote a poem about it called Tower Ridge, and it was from this that the book title came:

Here on the sickening face of Nevis
The death face of a hundred bold climbers
I falter, overwhelmed with the depths.
Fear in bold moves conquers pride....
And life is assured, in broken euphoria
On reaching the far other side.

This is not the joy of movement
A delightful scramble
The cobwebs blown
On weekend fix:

This is not the love of nature
A beautiful exposure
For good clean fun:

This is death: on airy ridges
Nearer hell that earth we know it,
And know it unprepared.

Ben Nevis with Tower Ridge on the right:

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