Step 4: A Setback Along the Way – Mick Fowler – From Cancer to the Himalaya

Hanging upside down below the belay ledge I was able to feel that my left leg was not feeling its best. Oh no! Since my treatment finished it had all been going so well.

Ben Eighe’s Triple Buttress in April conditions with our highpoint marked.

Under blue skies Steve Burns and I had roped up at the foot of the difficulties of Central Buttress on Torridon’s Ben Eighe. But as I tried to leave the belay ledge, a I somehow fell over backwards, twisting my calf muscle in the process. After five hours of hopping back to the car and a drive back home I was left to contemplate achieving a total of no feet climbed for 18 hours driven.

Not wishing to lose fitness already gained I decided to enter a mountain bike event. Minimal strain on the calf muscle and lots of heavy breathing. Ideal. Steve was keen too and, being a nature enthusiast, spoke excitedly about a spot where we might be able to marvel at adders basking in the spring sunshine afterwards.

Basking adder with added attractions not on display.

‘They have two penises’ he explained as if this knowledge might significantly add to my day. Victor Saunders had joined me on a similar event the year before but was unavailable this year as he was guiding on Everest as part of his own ‘training’ programme for our Himalayan trip in October.

Flash back to mountain biking (well – trying to) with Victor.

Biking is definitely not my forte but cycling as fast as I could between check points did make me gasp a lot which was what I was doing it for. A respectable position was achieved and an adder subsequently spotted. Minimal driving – maximum exercise. A full contrast to our Torridon venture.

Managing to stay on (without Victor present)

Looking ahead the next month includes a calf testing week trekking and climbing in Italy and then the high point of my running year, the Jura Fell Race.

The Himalaya – so many objectives, so little time.

And in five months time Vic and I will be off to the Himalaya. The leg is healing. All will be well.