Many of you won’t know that today is the 2 year anniversary of my being airlifted off of a Swiss glacier with a rather long, deep and bloody wound in my left calf.
My great friend Al and I had walked into the mountains the day before and spent the night in the Cabane de Moiry (which is far more luxurious than its name implies). We were up in the dark that Friday morning and had headed up through the rock path and after an hour or so reached the edge of the Glacier de Moiry – the start of what was supposed to be (and did become) an epic day, reaching lofty heights and getting back down (safely) again.
We’d roped up, crampons on, axes in hand and headed off across the snowy and possibly crevasse strewn landscape. The tip of the sun was reaching the peaks and the whole area began to take on a mysterious almost purple glow.
Glaciers are not smooth, football fields of flat snow. They can be quite rocky and as Al led the way that’s what the front points of my crampons found. As I tripped and tumbled to the ground at the end of the now taught rope I remember the awkwardness of my fall and rather than lifting my feet off the snow as you would if falling down the slope my right leg got tangled in my trousers and as I tried to free it I remember the sharp pain and a ripping of what I thought was just material as I came to rest, face down in the snow.
As I sat up and focussed towards my feet I knew that something was not quite right As I rolled up my trouser I was faced with what could have come straight from the butchers counter. I was looking through the outer layers of my skin and deep into my open flesh. At that moment I had no idea what was going to happen next. My thoughts went straight to thinking that I may have severed an artery or vein in the process and thought that I might be about to witness my life bleeding out onto the snow and then thinking that that could not happen as I had to get home. As instinct and training kicked in I held my severed skin tight back together whilst Al pulled out the first aid kit. Seeing the blood ooze rather than spurt in those next few moments was one of the biggest reliefs of my life – EVER!
Having temporarily patched me up, dressed me in all the spare layers of clothes that we had between us, perched me up on rucksacks and wrapped me a in survival bag Al then set about trying to summon rescue (and there’s another story in that).
As I sat there, I felt oddly at peace and at one with my surroundings. Connected to the earth, the sky, to God, the Universe or however else you might describe what surrounds our life and existence. I thought about my life, my wife and children, family, friends, career, legacy, you name it, it probably flashed through my mind. And as the valley across from where I sat turned from purple to white I could feel the contrast of sunshine on my face whilst at the same time feeling my toes, feet and legs beginning to cool. I was and am happy to be here.
Thankfully, the Mountain Guides accompanying a group of Japanese adventurers were finally able to contact the rescue services on one of their radios and within 2 hours of my injury I was on my way, swiftly repatriated a hospital down in the valley in less than 15 minutes of flight.
After 2 hospitals, the immediate need for surgery discounted and some very deep and uncomfortable stitches I was allowed back to the comfort of Al’s mountainside home. Crutches in hand, I was allowed to return home the following day.
So that’s why for me today is not just another day. And don’t let it be for you either. You don’t need something spectacular to happen to you today or any other day to recognise that each day is special. It’s an opportunity to leave your mark, to create your legacy, to inspire, to love, to lead or to just be kind to someone you know or even to a stranger.
And that’s why I always end these messages with “Live and Love Your Life”.
Go on. Live it and love it.