Mo Farah’s double double, Usain Bolt’s triple triple, GB women’s hockey gold and many more sporting achievements have dominated recent headlines. But two individuals have made a particular impression on me this last week. In the Olympics, 58 year old Nick Skelton made show jumping history when he won his first individual gold medal. In itself, a remarkable achievement – made all the more incredible, given that his career seemed to be over when he fell from a horse and broke his neck 16 years ago.
In Pembrokeshire, a long way from the Olympic spotlight, I watched another person getting back on a metaphorical horse. In October 2015, IFMGA mountain guide Mike Twid Turner broke his back in a fall at a remote location in Morocco. Now, less than a year later, after two major operations – he is climbing again.
Twid’s climbing CV is truly hardcore with over 75 E7/8s, numerous first ascents, plenty of sport F8as, alpine icefalls and winter WI 7. He has established more than 50 new lines in the greater ranges, and climbed some of the hardest mixed and rock routes in the Alps.
Twid has a penchant for exploratory climbing in harsh, remote locations around the world – with multiple visits to wild places like Patagonia and Alaska. Despite this pursuit of gnarl, as an IFMGA mountain guide and MIC instructor, his “day job” for the last 23 years has involved patiently guiding and coaching countless climbers who are generally more “recreationally” inclined. Throughout this time he has passed on his sense of adventure and passion for climbing, along with hundreds of essential tips for climbing efficiently and staying safe.
Last weekend, friends and fellow climbers came from far and wide to gather around a BBQ in Pembroke and celebrate Twid’s forthcoming 50th birthday and return to fitness. A great time was had by all. We even managed to watch Mo Farah’s 10,000 metres victory on Paul and Emma’s telly at 2 o’clock in the morning. Then of course, a few hours later we headed for Bosherton to go climbing.
There were no E7s on this occasion (thank god!) but watching a mate confidently tackling steep HVSs so soon after recovering from such a show stopping injury brought smiles to all our faces.
Twid’s catch phrase over the years has been “Eat lard – pull ‘ard”. A maxim that he lived up to last Sunday. His preparation for this careful return to the vertical world was to stay up late, eat twice his own body-weight of charred BBQ sausages, washed down with copious amounts of ale and then sleep in the back of his car. Given what he’s gone through in the last 11 months, this surely deserves a medal!
Pembroke Rock – 1000 selected rock climbs by Emma Alsford & Paul Donnithorne and published by the Climbers Club (2016) is a great place to start if you want to savour some of the best climbing in Pembrokeshire.
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