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Posted on: June 30, 2008


From: Frances Gardner

Date: 15th May 2007

To: Thomas Pullman

Subject: Understanding

Hi Thomas,

I hope you don’t mind me mailing, but I found your address on the net and was wondering if you could help.

I need to understand how one becomes an accomplished mountaineer. How much training and experience you need and what it is that keeps you motivated.

Thanks,

Frances

From: Thomas Pullman

Date: 8th July 2007

To: Frances Gardner

Subject: RE: Understanding

Frances,

Sorry for the delay, I’ve been away.

It’s good to hear from you, and of course I don’t mind. There really aren’t enough women in our sport and I’ll do what I can to help.

I’m very lucky to be climbing full time and this is a massive advantage—to become experienced you’ve got to get out there and actually climb some mountains!

To begin with I suggest you go for easier routes; as many as you can. I promise that over time you’ll get a feel for the hills and develop that all-important ‘mountain sense’. Don’t worry about getting bored doing the simple stuff, changeable conditions and the weather will provide you with plenty of adventures.

Take care out there,

Thomas

From: Frances Gardner

Date: 9th July 2007

To: Thomas Pullman

Subject: RE: Understanding

Hi Thomas,

Thanks for the reply, but what exactly motivates you, what makes you want to climb?

Frances

From: Thomas Pullman

Date: 2nd August 2007

To: Frances Gardner

Subject: RE: Understanding

Motivation " that’s a difficult one.

Mountains are beautiful.

And on a clear day when rock and snow are sharpened against a crisp blue sky, they are just fantastic.

And when I see what’s beyond a mountain I feel a mixture of elation and an almost physical need to see more. There is just so much of this beautiful world out there, to be seen, to be travelled, to be experienced, and there’s just so little time…. This motivates me.

And we’re not isolated from this world; I love the physicality of my body, particularly when moving over rock, the way it reacts perfectly to the forces from my hands and feet. Even being perfectly still is the product of many complex and incalculable forces, and just consider the lovely harmonic motion of a rockover; beautiful. This is a very fine thing and when attuned to it, I feel connected to the underlying rhythms of the universe.

..…I climb because I love it.

T x

From: Frances Gardner

Date: 3rd August 2007

To: Thomas Pullman

Subject: RE: Understanding

Don’t your emotions and worries get in the way? What about the risks, don’t you sometimes wonder whether any of this is worth it?

Frances

From: Thomas Pullman

Date: 5th August 2007

To: Frances Gardner

Subject: RE: Understanding

Hi Frances,

You ok? You sound a bit down.

Obviously I try not to do anything that will definitely go wrong, but I sometimes accept risks that are proportionate to my goals. That’s it—I attempt to balance the risks against what I want to achieve. I try to keep them to a minimum, but part of the fun is overcoming the dangers. Mountaineering would quickly become tiresome if there were no risks at all.

As far as everyday worries are concerned, they just disappear. I think it’s the singularity of purpose that does it. You always have to focus on the next move, or the next gear placement, or even the next bivouac site. It really clears your mind of useless thoughts.

Perhaps you should get out this weekend; just being amongst the hills can be enough.

T x

From: Frances Gardner

Date: 6th August 2007

To: Thomas Pullman

Subject: RE: Understanding

Hi Thomas,

Sorry to be a nuisance, but in all your mails you haven’t mentioned anyone else, like your climbing partners, I assume you don’t climb alone.

F.

From: Thomas Pullman

Date: 15th September 2007

To: Frances Gardner

Subject: RE: Understanding

You’re right, I hadn’t realised, and of course I’m rarely on my own. Perhaps whilst my climbing is a shared experience, my motivations, hopes and fears are particularly personal.

I’ve had quite a few partners. Early on I hung around the more experienced guys, a kind of climbing stalker; intent on learning stuff from the best. These mentors had such drive and determination that I was carried along in their wake, and I accomplished a great deal very quickly.

Then I teamed up with climbers more my own age, with similar aims and ability. We could climb as a team, each pulling their weight, each able to lead the pitches, each able to trust the other. Many of these climbers have become friends; there is something about adventure that bonds.

The deepest relationships however are created when there’s been trouble. When cold, thirst, hunger, and exhaustion are shared throughout long nights and dark days. hese ‘comrades in adversity’ share an understanding and a knowledge that even your most intimate friends don’t possess. You’ve seen each other scared and naked, overwhelmed and desperate.

I tell you once your eyes have met whilst considering your death, you never forget it, and you’re joined for ever.

T. x

From: Frances Gardner

Date: 16th September 2007

To: Thomas Pullman

Subject: RE: Understanding

But if that really is how you feel Thomas, last May, when on your way down to the North Col, why did you walk past my dying brother?

He had goals, ambitions, and a love of wild places. He had yearned to see more. He had felt his strong young body move across the rock.

Was he not a ‘comrade in adversity’?

Frances

From: Frances Gardner

Date: 24th September 2007

To: Thomas Pullman

Subject: RE: Understanding

Thomas,

Please reply. I need to understand.

Frances

From: MailBox

Date: 24th June

To: Frances Gardner

Subject: Failure notice

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