Will you be with your other half this Valentine’s Day or out in the mountains without them? Steph Crookston shares the highs and lows of dating a mountaineer and stands up for climber/non-climber relationships.
When I met Alex I knew he had already met the love of his life – the mountains. As a partner who climbs and hill walks occasionally, nowhere near as obsessively as Alex may I add, I am aware that it is his passion and career and I encourage him to pursue his dreams.
I am always happy to let him go away on trips and to train for his career as he has done the exact same with me and my career. Just because I am behind a desk and he is on a mountain makes no difference, it is our love and job. He is an assessed SPA and ML and is now working towards his Winter Mountain Leader and Mountaineering Instructor Award so it's safe to say he is busy most of the time. He is also now venturing into outdoor and adventure photography. When you team all of that together with my full time job and our time together becomes quite limited.
We have been together for just over two years (granted I know that’s not a life time) but I constantly get jokes and comments about the fact that I am his second love, the mountains are more important and the best one is that i'm a ‘mountain widow’. Every now and again these comments do bother me, it is never nice to think your partner loves someone more than you, however I soon forgot about this when I remember that I am the person he comes home to, mainly for his cooked meals, but he still comes home.
The hardest part about being this so called ‘mountain widow’ is knowing that one day it could become true. But if I thought about that too much then he would never leave the house and be wrapped up in cotton wool. It is tough sometimes going for days without hearing from him, not knowing where he is, how he is and when he is coming back. But to anyone in the same position, seek comfort in the fact that your partner is doing something they truly love. And they might not admit it but they would probably much rather be at home with you and a hot drink.
Alex and Steph on one of their occassional times enjoying the outdoors together
In a recent article I read by Steve McClure in Climb magazine, Alex Messenger joked that “climbing and relationships are a volatile combination. Perhaps it's true that climbers really are too selfish to hang onto anything except rock”. I disagree with this. Being in a relationship with a climber kind of disproves it and although rock will get chosen first sometimes, the majority of the times it's me that he chooses to be with.
The article went on to say that “Top British climber Ryan Pasquill was probably right in pointing out that if you’re a passionate climber and are with someone who doesn't climb then it’s a huge part of your life that you can’t share.” Again I disagree. There is this funny thing people in relationships do called talking which means that we can share what we have done during the day.
At the end of the day I think it’s healthy that Alex and I do separate activities. I love the boy to bits but we would get sick of each other if we did everything together. To anyone else who is the partner of a busy mountaineer, it isn't easy, however not all relationships are and I know we're stronger that a lot of other couples. I know purely for the fact that the few moments we do get to spend together, we make count.
We won't be spending Valentine's day together this year as I'm up early for work and he's off to Scotland leading a winter skills course with Teesside university. But it doesn't bother me that he's away for it as we went for a nice meal together last night.
Watch Alex Frood contend with spindrift and snow holes in his video of his Winter ML training experience on BMC TV:
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