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Daring Deeds - real stories, expeditions, road trips and adventure

Photo perfect

By Anna Wells
17, Aug, 2018

A stunning few weeks in the Alps has given plenty of perfect pictures, but with a blurred edge

Sometimes it's okay to feel not okay, I think.

Photos are an easy way to make life look always perfect. Since beginning this adventure I have had so much fun, met amazing people and took a lot of those perfect photos.

July 30th - So happy to finally climb the Diable Ridge on Mont Blanc de Tacul! Big day out with an incredible sunrise over Mont Blanc, a few new 4000m peaks for me and two nights glacier camping! (Because we prepared well by climbing the Lepiney route up the Trident the evening before and getting only 4hrs sleep!)

August 2nd - It's easy to showreel the highlights.... so here is a little story from my failure this morning!!

I went to solo the South Face of the Moine. It's not a big deal, but a big day if you hike up from the valley (2500m!) and with all the usual objective dangers. After a fast 1000m up to montenvers, i took the ladders down to the glacier, then made a mistake! My map showed ladders on the other side so i crossed the glacier and scrambled up the steep morraine. it was super loose and I quickly became unhappy. I persisted because going down looked worse. I got to the 'ladders" and they had been chopped/ dismantled! So I had to pick my way back down the chossy slope. I only lost an hour but I also lost my psyche! I witnessed two helicopter rescues nearby and having seen no one else all morning I felt so small in this vast, incredible place! I was temped to push on but decided to follow my gut, and headed back to montenvers for breakfast. The mountains are the most immense playground but we are only winning if we keep ourselves safe!
Learning point- always check the up-to-date access!!

August 9th - Today we climbed the South ridge of Weissmies (4017m)! It's my fourth time on this summit but my first time as a single push from the valley! About 2400m of ascent, so much type1 fun ridge scrambling, incredible cloud inversions......and back for apple struddel by midday!

August 11th - We earned our sunrise this morning!! Unbeleeeeeivable views as we scrambled our way up Zinalrothorn!! What a mountain, what a place, what a life!!

But then there are times when the people are gone, it's raining and I feel sort of alone and a little overwhelmed that I don't know quite what I'm doing!

I've had so much time to reflect on my last two years. I tried so hard to feel comfortable and happy in my role as a doctor. Sure there were parts I loved, but the combination of my low self-confidence, over analytical thinking and very consciencious personality left me stressed, broken and constantly on edge in a way I never really learned to cope with. It's kind of hard to accept after 11 years investment that maybe its not the right future, both from a personal feeling of failure and a sense I am letting down family and others that supported me. How far should you push something when it's making you so unhappy?

Especially when I have this actual passion, of the mountains, of sport, of pushing myself, that gives me so much fullfilment and happiness. My mum is encouraging me to live for now. The part I haven't quite worked out is in what ways I can try to make a living from this.

So in this world dominated by everybody's perfect life on Instagram, keep it in mind that probably no one's got it all sorted! I'm struggling with big holes in my personal life, feelings of failure, tough decisions about the future and mega frustration with my shoulder injury and inability to climb hard, compete or carry a heavy rucksack. But it's all pretty trivial when you take a step back.

In the end I think it's all about a pursuit of happiness! And since life doesn't come with a handy roadmap, I guess we sometimes just need to go for a wander.

After a few days thinking, I went back to where I love best, in the mountains, for what was probably the two biggest consecutive days I ever did, with over 5000m vertical ascent and 27hrs of moving! I also now finished all the 4000ers in the saastal area of Switzerland, and taking my grand total to fourty-nine 4000m peaks!

On Tuesday we climbed Rimpfishorn from Taschalp carpark, which was a pretty big day in itself! Then after a few hours sleep, we set off from Saas Grund at 1am for the Lenspitz Nadelhorn traverse. This was probably the best high altitude ridgeline I've ever had the joy to climb! (nothing beats tower ridge though!! ).

With thanks to various partners for agreeing to my mad itinerary!!.. It's kind of cool that no matter what else is going on, the mountains will always be waiting there, and letting you climb them! (With due respect to weather and conditions!)

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In pictures


Share your thoughts about this article.

Jealous guy

Listen Anna you've done all this.When I was inmy twenties I loved the mountains and went on Alpine and Scottish mountaineering courses but never achieved what you have done.I'm now 62 with an arthritic hip and amuse myself with cycling about 100 miles weekly which is good but i is no way comparable to what you have achieved and which I will never get to do.Come to North Wales and get the best of both worlds.

Mark Thomas
Applauding Anna

For somebody who admits to being confused, you seem to be managing just fine.

Don't worry, your assumptions about others are correct. None of us have it perfect and some, such as me, didn't discover the World of climbing until later in life and now feel disappointed that I missed so much that I could have been doing during those years: But, I am grateful for the joy it brings me, which I may never have experienced at all.
You have those earlier years and plenty of time to enjoy all of it.
Presumably you can go back to medicine in years to come, once you've exorcised 'the itch' - everyone will be much more appreciative of a more Worldly wise/rounded Doctor, than a grumpy un-fullfilled one !
You sound as if you're half way there - to making the right choice anyhow. Just go with it.

Best wishes,


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