Wednesday, 5 October 2011

MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT. (Cliche? So shoot me!)

Many thanks to everybody who emailed after the last food blog,allso for the critiques and constructive abuse.If i dont please everybody i must be doing something right i guess?Its going to take a fair while to get back to you all but it is all gratefully received so thanks to everyone.

Just "double-click" on pics for full screen.

Its easy to forget how important a subject food is to mountaineers when your shoveling it down and its barely touching the sides,and how big a part it plays in getting you to the top.
Soloist confidence is a very fragile thing and it doesnt need a lot of rattling to send us scurrying back down the hill.One often reads about well known solo climbers chucking it in within reach of the summit,for no other reason than they got gripped,lost motivation,or just didnt feel right.This can happen in poor or great conditions when all the major trials and obstacles were overcome,and on repeat routes,previously blitzed with a climbing partner.
I find that mental exhaustion plays a big part in this,and as the human body in modern anatomical thinking can only be perceived as a neural-network,then physical exhaustion is the primary cause.

I am no great believer in the "alphabet soup" of psychology but sometimes the shrinks blunder onto some good stuff whilst rummaging around in our heads.
There is a mental state grandly known as "Proactive and Retroactive Inhibition".In short it says that,under a stressful situation the brain seeks to jump back to a time when a similar situation occured.This makes good sense as in normal circumstances it allows us to learn from our mistakes.But if in the past stressful situation our reaction was an incorrect,or negative one,then it is likely we will be prone to repeat that negative action again (the similarity of situation being the trigger for this).
The human brain and its neural network uses more energy from our food intake than any other organ of the body,and we as soloists are totaly dependant upon that organ for all our motivational reserves.There is no climbing partner to provide positive reinforcement and share the burdens of morale and resolve.It is all down to ones self and the sliding scale of energy depletion that starts when the climb begins,and when it ends in the walkoff.

As mentioned in the last food blog-No matter how well hydrated and well fed you are at the start of an alpine-solo.No matter how much food you carry or how often you eat,its all downhill for your energy levels from the off.All one can do is try to keep up with this depletion as best you can,and be the worlds meanest "Scrooge" with the energy you expend.


One of the reasons i like to vary my rations and make the best of what i carry,is that,mealtimes in tough conditions provide a short rest and temporary but important return to normalicy.The more innovative and enjoyable the meal is,the more distracting and morale-boosting it is from ones dificulties,providing a short but important period in which to relax.In my army years it was a competitive source of pride amoungst front-line troops in active-service conditions,as to who could create the best meals and most comfortable conditions in overnight camps.As you carried everything on your back,this required a great deal of thought and ingenuity.But whatever conditions we had to endure,an incredible range of spices,sauces,and small luxuries would appear to make us feel comfortable in the most unendurable of situations.
It is no different on mountains where a little forethought and ingenuity can turn a very serious epic back into the adventure you planned it to be.


Good climbing,


No comments:

Post a Comment

To comment,please become a member of this blog.This has become nescesary due to Trolls and Spammers.All comments are moderated before publishing.Thanks for your patience. Rob

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.