For a few years now, I have dipped my toes in the waters of a life less ordinary in the mountains of Europe. I’ve done it whilst precariously (and not always successfully) balancing the responsibilities of a house in the UK, a job working predominantly offshore but with no fixed contract, a girlfriend based in mainland Europe and no real end goal other than to have fun whilst in the mountains. Much as this could be considered the ultimate end goal, unless I want to continue to sell my soul to an industry that I hate and one that takes me away from the people and things I love on a totally whimsical basis, I need a plan.

Fiona Eyes the crux moves before committing to her sequence.


In danger of becoming one of those people who bemoans their work/life situation but doesn’t make the steps to change it, an illness-blighted summer in the Alps prompted a lot of soul searching.


Academia has never been my strong suit and with my school grades as testament to this, I embarked on an outdoor education degree. Whilst this itself did nothing to inspire me towards a career in the outdoors, it did allow me the time to meet like-minded people and nurture my love of the outdoors. After university, I fell into rope access work as a stopgap to fund my fun whilst affording me the time to think about what I actually wanted to do. Fast forward 12 years and I think I may have found the answer.


I have sporadically, over the past two to three years, toyed with the idea of making an application onto one of the various UIAGM accredited guide schemes but have allowed procrastination to be my leader. It’s easy, when faced with uncertainty, to hide behind the relative comfort of what you know. Money is made, bills are paid, holidays are planned and before you know it another year has passed. What is life if not a series of leaps into the unknown. I find the idea of BASE jumping or trying to lead a scary trad route far less intimidating than committing fully to the idea of a future which has the potential to bring far more happiness and longevity for much less risk than my current leisure activites.

Trying hard
Fiona trying hard to unlock the crux pitch of one of the classic routes at Hintisberg.

If I want to achieve my goal, commitment is what I need. So it is that I embark on what to me, is the scariest and perhaps most grown up thing I’ve ever done. I’ve set myself the goal of making an application in May 2020. I’ve done this so that I can more than meet the minimum requirements but also try to enjoy the process as well as simply the end goal.


As much as this is a blog post about me making a commitment to myself for my future, I think it can act just as well as a metaphor for life. It can be so easy to drift along, in work, in relationships, in things we propose to be passionate about but unless we give fully to those things, then the rewards we reap will be commensurate with the effort we put in. So often we fall short of our potential, regularly through not giving it everything we have. Life is finite and I think to give our selves fully to something can be a very daunting thing. Far scarier to me, is one day looking back and wondering what might have been.


I think writing this is a much to allow me to make the commitment to myself as it is to offer some insight to my somewhat nomadic lifestyle.


Anyway, that’s it written now, here’s to making it so!

Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau
The beautiful landscape of the Bernese Oberland. I can think of few better places to call your ‘office’