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Image for article My First Mountaineering Boots

My First Mountaineering Boots

Image for article My First Mountaineering Boots

There are certain events in your life that you never forget, and for me a special memory is the first pair of boots I was bought.

I was six years old, and my family were staying in Borrowdale. I remember being taken into the George Fisher shop, it was like Aladdin's cave piled high with all sorts of equipment. We went downstairs to where all the boots were kept. I can't remember how long it took to find some boots but I do remember being amazed by the fact that you couldn’t tell if the boots were the correct size by pushing the leather at the toe, because it was too tough. Instead the lady who was fitting them said that, "if you could get one finger down between your heel and the end of the boot then they fit."

I wanted these boots so much that I didn't really care how well they fitted! The boot test was applied and everyone agreed that my boots fitted me. I left the shop with them on my feet, carrying my all-important tin of dubbin which I had promised the lady in Fishers I would apply to my boots religiously every night.

My boots were brilliant. They were made by Dachstein and looked exactly like real big boys’ mountaineering boots. They had a totally stiff sole, which would be ‘good for rock climbing’ (What's rock climbing Dad?) and they had a monster tread on the sole.

When the winter snow came, I would walk to school in my fantastic boots. At six years old I was slow at getting to grips with the lacing system and my mother would help me tie the laces before I left home. When I arrived at school we all changed into indoor shoes, so when it was time to go home I was given special dispensation to leave the classroom early before the other kids. This was because it took me so long to lace up my boots and my teacher, Mrs Harris, didn't want me going home in the dark.

It was certainly a dark day in my life when it was clear that I had grown out of my boots. They were given to my little brother, who thought the boots were brilliant too. But I constantly reminded him that they were not his boots, and that I was only lending them to him.

It is 43 years since my parents bought me these boots, and I still have them. My youngest daughter Sophie has almost grown out of them, but we certainly won’t be giving them away. It was probably one of those days in the basement of George Fisher’s boot room that helped shape my life as a Mountain Guide.

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