Day 889

A week in Chamonix


I dont want to throw the word enlightening around lightly but my last week in Chamonix has been exactly that. I know i have a tendency for mountain spam so as much as i’d Like to sit here and gush over how the life affirming properties of these majestic peaks, i wont. Even though i just did. Balls.

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The purpose of this week was three fold; support a couple of amazing charities, meet some interesting people and push my body in previously unexplored ways in preparation for Nepal. .

First it was half of the TMB ‘Tour du Mont Blanc’ for @restartrugby . 80km and the equivalent of 4 x Ben Nevis climbed in 3 days. It was a beautiful, savage, eye opening start to the week. The group was made up of recently retired rugby players and supporters of the charity, a dynamic that worked brilliantly. You may have seen my silly video with Kieran earlier this week but the message was an important one. A number of people entered that challenge carrying some heavy mental baggage and as one of them said through teary eyes on the last night he felt like he had left it all on the mountain. We laughed, we cried, we even tried to sell someone to a local farmer in return for cheese, it was an amazing few days that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

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Oh and of course we raised loads of money for charity…

The next group was ‘Spinal Research’, a charity that helps fund exactly that. On the first night we introduced ourselves and it quickly became apparent that i was sat amongst some seriously intelligent scientists…

The level of conversation meant that at least fifty percent of the words I had never heard before. Despite the language barrier I would have stayed up quizzing them all night if I wasn’t so tired. Tomorrow was a new day and I was looking forward to a more relaxed hike and a chance to continue the conversation…I mean how fit can scientists really be?

Quite bloody fit apparently. One peak soon turned to three and although I was knackered I had just spent nine hours learning about the cutting edge of spinal research and it was fascinating.

Not only are we on the cusp of making a monumental break through, I was speaking to the person who was responsible for it. This is Andras Lakatos, Academic Consultant Neurologist who runs a lab at Cambridge and what he lacks in size he more than makes up for in brains…and character. What they are achieving in his lab is straight out of a SCI fi novel and my god it’s exciting.

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It was also so reassuring to hear that the opinions I have formed over the last 30 months were shared and supported by the scientists at the other end of the spectrum. Early intervention, positive language, the power of hope, stressing neurology etc etc were now being backed up and explained by science. There’s too much to talk about in this post and i wont do it justice so i’ll be breaking it down over the coming weeks and months in conjunction with the specialists.

The dream is to create a movement where its ok for people to want to get better and believe they can. There needs to be systematic changes to the way that rehabilitation is approached and SCI is talked about. It’s ok to be honest and its ok to be positive because no matter what the level of injury thanks to people like Andras there is hope for everyone. I leave the mountains once again engaged, positive and full of purpose.

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