OBW ... David Cambray-Deakin

Posted by Jeremy Windsor on Jul 31, 2020

Welcome to "On Belay With..."! This is just one of a series of short interviews with folks involved in mountain medicine. Joining us at the belay for this posting is Dr David Cambray-Deakin. David will soon join us at Chesterfield Royal Hospital as a Clinical Fellow in Anaesthetics, Critical Care and Mountain Medicine. As part of the post, he is hoping to start the Diploma in Mountain Medicine (DiMM) sometime soon. 

What was the last mountain you climbed?

The Watkin Path, Snowdonia. My Dad had climbed Snowdon in the past and a family holiday to Anglesey was the perfect opportunity for us to go as a group. It was a sunny day but very windy further up and a warm cup of tea at the top was very welcome!

What does the perfect mountain day consist of?

Enchanting scenery and breathtaking views that allow me to immerse myself in nature and the environment, followed by a relaxing return to civilisation accompanied with good food and drink!

The Mountain Medicine Fellowship at Chesterfield Royal Hospital is an opportunity for junior doctors to develop skills in anaesthetics, critical care and mountain medicine. All fellows are funded to complete the Diploma in Mountain Medicine and a reasonable level of outdoor experience and practical skills are required. For those like David who need a bit of a refresher there are lots of opportunities to gain before the course starts

What's been your worst mountain mishap?

Perhaps not as serious as other mishaps I’ve heard of, but whilst on a hike with the Scouts my Sixer and I were in charge of navigating our Six along the morning route uphill on the second day. The leaders were very surprised when we arrived at the checkpoint several hours ahead of schedule, aching and complaining of the steepness of the walk - which is when we worked out we’d misread the map and turned what should have been a slow, gradual ascent into an essentially vertical climb (with our tents and equipment in our rucksacks)! Needless to say the constant gripping from our Six for the rest of the weekend stuck with me, and since then I always make sure to double-check the route before taking the first step!

David teamed up with Guy Wilson from Pure Outdoor for a day's instruction on Stanage Edge. This was a great opportunity to brush up on the basics and get some routes done!

What's been your best mountain day?

Not wanting to be repetitive, but my best mountain day so far was probably also my latest mountain day - as getting to scale the summit of Snowdon alongside my Dad, who had wanted to take me there for years, is a memory I won’t soon forget.

What mountain changed your life?

Again, thinking back to my time in the Scouts is really when my interest and enthusiasm for expeditions and exploring began to take off. One of the most memorable hikes I went on, perhaps ironically, is one where I can’t actually remember where we went! It was a night hike - some of the younger Scouts were afraid of the dark or getting lost and left behind in the wilderness, and at one point the hike was nearly cut short, though the group bonded really well in sharing our worries and helping overcome our fears. The experience stays with me as an early lesson in showing how important a kind, supportive team can be, and how good communication can be the crucial difference between success and failure.

Abseiling is a key skill in mountaineering and can be practised safely under the watchful eye of an instructor!

What's been your best bit of mountain kit?

Best from a technical viewpoint? My Mountain Warehouse fleece that has never yet failed to balance breathability and warmth. Though if you'd asked me when I was younger I'd have probably gone with the less practical answer of 'any fallen branch large enough to use as a wizard's staff so I can pretend to be Gandalf leading the Fellowship...

What makes a great climbing partner? Has anyone come close?

I think someone who can stay focused on your current thoughts and actions whilst never forgetting the bigger picture and being able to think ahead and pre-empt scenarios; allowing you to move and think in sync. I can't say I've ever had an official climbing partner, but those I have climbed with have always seemed in tune with me.

Stanage offers all manner of climbs, whether its a shaded gully or an exposed wall and it's all on gritstone - God's Own Rock!


What's been your biggest mountain disappointment?

If I’m brutally honest with myself, probably letting myself fall out of the habit of getting out and exploring nature, challenging myself and planning new routes to try. In hindsight I wish I’d kept it up more during the later years of university and F1/F2, so being able to incorporate it back into my life - and not only that, have it be part of my career - is an opportunity I’m very grateful for and intend to throw myself into.

What is your "dream" mountain objective?

I mean - when I think of “dream mountain”, I can’t help but think of Everest. Why do goals by halves, eh?

Now time to put it all into practise - armed with the brilliant Dark Peak Scrambling Guide David plans to get out and put his skills into practise over the coming months!

Give us a mountain "tip"!

I enjoy stories, as you might have gathered from my earlier comment about wanting to pretend to be Gandalf when I was younger. But on a serious note, being in the right headspace is just as important a bit of kit as anything physical you can bring with you. Find what motivates you and drives you to achieve, and if that’s imagining yourself as your favourite hero/role model on an adventure then that’s what you need to do!

Thanks David!

Details of the Clinical Fellow in Anaesthetics, Critical Care and Mountain Medicine posts at Chesterfield Royal Hospital can be found here

What do Karen GreeneStuart AllanEdi AlbertAbigail ForsythJon MorganTom YeomanDavid Hildebrandt and Marika Blackham all have in common? They have all taken part in "On Belay With..."! If you would like to join them please get in touch.

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