Monday, 2 June 2014

Against the Ropes



                                It's not the mountain we conquer but ourselves

                                                            Edmund Hillary

I don't know anything about mountain climbing but every night I get a little bit closer to the top.

                Sometimes I get up in the middle of the night for a piss and I've still got all the paraphernalia stuck to my back and there's a rope stretching from my bed to the toilet. My wife is simultaneously sprawled out on her side of the bed that doubles up as a cliff edge. Sometimes I drop a pin or a hammer or some other object that celebrated nocturnal mountain climbers like myself use, and she wakes for a second and stares down at the the abyss, with a look of horror that is usually only reserved for my underpants.

I'm a crap climber. My left arm doesn't know what my right arm is doing. I have passed entire nights away before now in a complete tangle of ropes. I have used drawing pins, superglue, blue-tack, anything to keep myself pressed against the rock face. And the less I say about the sellotape incident the better. Let's just say it was a very long and bruising night.

My wife and family can't understand why I'm so knackered or why I've taken up a monthly subscription of Trek & Mountain magazine. How can I even begin to explain that I spend most days recovering from the after effects of altitude sickness, frostbite and occasionally a bout of snow blindness?

It's been going on for several months now. I should have reached the summit by now but after all my efforts I have a horrible suspicion that I am only moving a couple of inches a night. I think even my Grandmother could have got there faster than me and she's been dead twenty years. I am desperate. I need a good night's sleep to get over my night's sleep. I have Googled my predicament but as you can well imagine this doesn't appear to be happening to anybody else, although alarmingly there are a growing number of individuals who are knitting scarves in their sleep. I can cope with scarves.

I don't know the name of my mountain. I can't find it in Trek and Mountain Magazine. Edmund Hillary would know. I think I saw him once, one night when I was on my way up but he was on the far side and he couldn't hear me. I tried to memorise his face and when I woke up I looked him up in my recently acquired 'View from the Summit' but he didn't look anything like him. My Hillary looked more like Hillary Clinton.

God willing I'll reach the top soon and this will be all over. My wife is beginning to talk about me behind my back and our sex life is a joke. How can I explain that I need all the energy I can get and that the only peak I want to reach is currently covered in snow?


                                                                    (C) Ally Atherton 2014

Written for this week's Light and Shade Challenge. Go on, give it a go. Meet some lovely writers.

Other Entries so far this week


Aesop Clerk



Thin Spiral Notebook


  1. Ohhh, spectacular!

  2. Hahaha ..are your johnny shorts that horrid? LOL
    Pat (high fives and raspberries)

  3. Quite a read.


  4. God bless you Ally - perhaps you aren't alone in your mountain climbing! Right now, it's 3:30am, where I live, and I've been awake since 3. It seems I can't sleep a full night without waking up in pain, feeling as though I've been climbing that same stupid mountain. My back and my legs tell me it's been a long, arduous climb, and that after nearly 3 years, I still haven't reached the summit. It's been a lonely climb too - I haven't seen anyone on this frigid mountain... But perhaps you're on the other side?

    Your post was excellent, and it truly did make me smile. I wasn't joking about my mountain either, though I hadn't thought of it as a mountain until I read your post and had an "aha" moment. Thanks for the good read!

    God bless you on your trek up the mountain!


    1. Haha thanks Cheryl :) Yes perhaps we have been on opposite sides of the same mountain :)

  5. Fun read and very well written - good luck on that mountain

    1. Thanks Thomas,

      I have an incredible mountain to climb but I'm clinging on for dear life :)

  6. Great story. I think we all climb a mountain at some point or other.