Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Step by Step

Yesterday I set out to climb Hellvalyn Fell. It’s one of the most challenging fells around but I thought it was a cool day’s climb with the recent snow melt; no problem. As I climbed I was partly listening to podcasts, partly praying. I was asking God, “where is my next step to be?” Then my feet would move this way or that; one step at a time. Then another step would be clear at that point, but not before.

I made it to within 100 meters of the top. At that point, on what turned out to be a sharply inclined icefield, some internal cost/benefit ratio of risk to fun or safety got crossed. I think I looked down. Hanging onto icy handholds with all four limbs and inching along upwards suddenly didn’t seem like such a giggle. So I listened to myself say, “Self, should we go down or continue on up?” Self said go up.

Then I said, “Lord, should we go up or down—what do you say? And what do you think Bethyl would say?” The answer was, “Get off the mountain you fool.” Hmmm. Hardly flattering. But I turned around and inched down to safety. As I was picking my way carefully down, two climbers passed me after having summitted; they were equipped with crampons and ice picks. Later, this morning I found that three people last year had died on Hellvalyn due to not listening well and exceeding their limits. So, thanks God for your protection, for causing me to listen and obey. One step at a time.