From Rockhead to Rock Climbing

by Peter Swift

Peter Swift’s take on his climbing, his addiction and his recovery – his passion acts as a metaphor for others – a climbers philosophy for life, read on… 

Risk Taker

I have always liked taking risk, when I was young I always would step on the grass, even when there’s a big sign saying ‘stay of the grass’. I’m sure if there was a big red button saying ‘press button for nuclear war’, I would just press it to see what happens!!!

I got into climbing when I was very much into sniffing glue and smoking pot – I lived near the Peak Districts in the UK – this is a playground for outdoor people. I  would often go climbing with no ropes or any safety gear. I loved it – I felt alive. My pipe dreams would be to get a job and start getting my safety gear and climb all around the world, but my addiction to anything that changed the way I felt had put me well on the road of destruction.

I used too think that it was just me making poor choices in life and that I was just a guy with an addicts personality. Today I know that not the case. I tried lots of ways to sort my life out. Lots of truly kind, helpful, and loving people tried to help me. The truth is that the one thing that impressed me the most was a group of ex-addicts who were sitting around drinking coffee and talking about living life and enjoying life without the use of drugs and alcohol – that really impressed me!

So my new amazing new life began.

I remember  the things I sold for drugs  – my music collection and the little climbing gear I had. I sold the lot for peanuts.

From Rockhead to Rock Climbing

As time went on I leant how to live a amazing life, I started to save up for climbing gear and to revive my music Collection. So there I was back Rock Climbing, I cry the first day I got back on the Rock face, it also made me feel alive again, and has I was there, climbing on a sea cliff placing climbing equipment, having true faith that my climbing partner was watching my back, and having to truly listens out for any usual noises like rock fall – listening to my body and trusting my feet.

The one time my head is not thinking about the past or future, I am truly in the Hear and Now, I am present! I remember from the treatment centre I was in, the staff would help me understand that I need to try and be in the hear and now, and climbing is a time you need to be in the hear and now, I also remember a counsellor saying to me in group that I took lots of risk when using drugs and drinking. So he said Pete, when you leave here find something that helps you take healthy risks – so I trusted what was being said.

rock 1

rock 2

 Have Faith and Work Hard

So yes, from having faith working hard in Sobriety, I now climb all around the UK and Europe. Today I am a manager of a climbing wall and teach young people to climb, I’m passionate about teaching climbing and love to see people get the climbing bug.

I have worked with people in treatment for additions, taking them climbing, watching those who have little belief in themselves push themselves though the fear and doing it – watching their whole face change as they make it to the top of the climb.

Climbing is very much like life – you set off with a spring in your step, and then you start to take it easy. As you work work with the obstacles in your way, you also have problems to solve on your way up and you need to keep having total faith in your equipment and your climbing partner. Then you get to the hard bit of the climb, and you are tired and your head is saying, ‘just give in’, but you push on, sometime hanging on my your finger tips, but you push though and keep climbing. Also the time you just want to give in and just go back and find a easy and softer way to the top. So I push forward and keep climbing, I find a rest point and get head back together.

Looking around at the sea and the sky, feeling so alive, this is it. It’s just me and the climb, I had to take on board and like d to more experience climber and trust that what the have taught me about this climb, that I follow their direction that all will be OK. So I push on, and there it is the top, I make it. I get my gear in and start roping my climbing partner up the climb as I sit there I know there are so many great people out there who I just need to listen and follow there direction, and have faith in the process and start being living life to the full.

From Rockhead to Rock Climbing by Peter Swift