Case 6: Mountain Climber
by Sebastian Wallace
Last summer, a guy came into my surgery asking if he could
talk to me about something which was important to him but which wasn't, as he put it, "necessarily medical".
Normally I'm far too pushed for time to act as a counsellor,
but he was my last appointment before lunch so I nodded and he sat down.
He was a big guy: tall and athletic, with a well-developed
chest, broad shoulders and thick, muscular arms. His hair was cut
short and he had a day's growth of stubble on his chin. I glanced
down at his record to check his name – Steven MacAlister – and saw that his appointment had written next to it,
"Requested male doctor."
I asked him what the problem was.
"Well," he started. "I don't think I have a problem.
It's just that, well, my wife asked me to come and see you. The
problem's sort of hers... kind of..."
"Your wife has a problem? Shouldn't she come and see me herself?"
"No, there's nothing wrong with her. It's just... well, this is difficult to explain..."
I smiled to try and put him at his ease. "Tell me what your wife's problem is. We'll start there."
He took a deep breath, trying to figure out how he could
best put what was clearly a complicated issue into words.
Eventually he said, "Okay. It's probably easiest to explain like
this. My hobby is mountaineering – well, it's more than a
hobby. I'd do it full-time if I could afford
He glanced up at me and I said,
He went on, "I go away a couple of times a year with a mate
of mine. We've climbed together pretty much everywhere from the
Cairngorms to the Himalayas, usually for a two or three weeks at a stretch. As much time as we can both get off work. So we spend a lot of time together in some pretty remote places, relying on
each other to stay alive, you know what I mean?"
"When you're around someone for so long, you get pretty
close to them. It doesn't matter if it's a guy or a woman, you're
gonna get pretty... well – intimate together, aren't you?"
I nodded. "And
your wife is jealous of that?"
"Yeah, kind of.
I mean, if I was climbing with a woman, I could sort of understand where Susan – that's my wife – was coming
from, but we're talking about another guy. I don't see a problem
with it, be she... well – she insisted I come to see you..."
"How long have you been climbing with your
He thought back and mentally worked out the
timescale. "It must be like twenty years or something by
I glanced at his record and saw that he was, like me, in his
"So you both started in your teens?"
"Yeah – he was a school friend. Culley and I – sorry, his name's Tim but I've always called him Culley and
he's always called me Macca – joined a school climbing club and we've stuck to it ever since. I've never climbed with anyone else – I don't want to have to get to know
someone else's strengths and weaknesses, you know?"
I nodded. "That
He went on, "I mean, it's inevitable two guys who are
together for so long are gonna get pretty close. We see a lot of
"But your wife surely knew about all this before you
"Yeah. But I don't think she realised how intense things can get
when you're climbing with someone. Not until I said something
stupid a few weeks ago and put my foot right in it."
"What did you say?"
That question stopped him in his tracks. He looked like he was about to say something in reply and then thought better
of it and hesitated. Then, after seeming to consider and reject
several possible responses, he ventured, "This is kind of crux of things. This is where you tell me that she's right to be threatening me with
He waited for me to say something but I held back and gave
him the space to explain himself.
After another pause he said, "Okay. What if I said that my closeness with Culley is physical as well as
"When you say `physical', do you also mean
He looked down guiltily and blushed. He muttered, "Nothing too serious... just helping each other out when we're
both away from our wives for so long..."
I smiled reassuringly and said, "Well, that would seem
pretty natural to me."
He looked back up at me. "Yeah? That's what I've been
"So can I ask what exactly we're talking about
here? Masturbation or a more developed homosexual
"It's not a homosexual thing," he cut in,
angrily. "I want to make that clear from the start. Neither of us are gay – we're both married and happy with that – and it's not
something we'd ever do if we weren't stuck halfway up a mountain sharing a tent."
"Okay," I said calmly, making a mental note not to use the
words `gay' or `homosexual' again. "So how far have things gone
He considered my question, looking less agitated, and then
explained, "I think all guys wank together on a climb. I mean, you
have to – there's next to no privacy and it's something every guy needs to do when his missus or girlfriend or
whatever isn't around."
I nodded. "Of
"Culley and I have wanked off together on climbs since we
were in our teens. It was never a big deal – never spoken about at
all, actually. I mean, once you've had to see each other taking a crap a couple of times, every thing else kind
of pales into insignificance, you know what I mean?"
"Well, it must have been about ten years ago and we were in
the Alps. It was cold – I mean, really cold – and we'd zipped our
sleeping bags together for warmth. That's also pretty standard, by
the way," he threw in defensively as if I might be considering mentioning the `h' word
He went on, "I had a hard-on and started playing with it,
thinking Culley had gone to sleep. It turned out he hadn't and so
he started wanking his – that's how things usually go with us. It
didn't take me too long to come and afterwards I lay there listening to Culley as he continued. He always took longer than me to have a wank but that night he seemed to be
going on for ages.
"Eventually I must have said, `How long are you gonna be?'
or something. I was desperate to get some sleep and couldn't with
him going at it next to me.
"He said, `Sorry, mate, but I'm gonna need a bit of
help'. Then he grabbed my hand and put it on his
"How did you feel about that?" I
"To be honest, I wasn't too bothered. When you're climbing with a guy, you get to see each other's bodies from every
angle as a matter of course, so touching him was only a small step beyond that. And... well – it felt pretty similar to mine. A bit thicker, maybe, but it seemed to enjoy the same things being done to it
as mine does."
"So you masturbated him?"
"Yeah. I wanked
him like I would myself and he enjoyed it. I felt him coming in
less than a minute. Afterwards, he muttered, `I'll do you tomorrow
night, Macca.' Then we went to sleep."
"And did he reciprocate the following
"Yeah. It became a regular thing. Another person's hand is better than your own, you know what I
He went on, "We'd zip our bags together most nights and if
one of us started wanking and the other wanted to join in, usually we'd swap hands over and wank each
Before I could ask him another question, he cut in, "I don't
like talking about this kind of stuff, you know. It's private stuff
between me and my mate... it feels kind of like I'm betraying his trust..."
"If you're not comfortable about us
"No, it needs to be said," he interrupted. "I need to tell you it all... it's just I wanted you to understand that it's
not easy for me..."
I nodded. "So
far everything you've told me is perfectly normal. Many men have
high sex drives and need regular relief. Without female company,
it's natural two straight guys would turn to each other."
Steven nodded and then said, tentatively: "What if I told
you that things went a bit further?"
"How much further?"
He paused and then went on, "Well... we were in northern
Norway: fantastic scenery but absolutely freezing. We were actually
on the descent from the summit, but the weather had turned nasty and we'd been holed up in the tent for a couple
of days. We were perched on what was little more than a ledge and
there was a blizzard howling around us."
"You know, that's not my idea of a relaxing
He smiled and went on, "We were both pretty tense, I
guess. Rations were getting low and we didn't know how long the
blizzard was going hold for.
"One night it was especially cold and we clung onto each
other in our joined sleeping bag. We had a little whisky with us
and we'd shared it and were trying to get some sleep despite the noise of the storm.
"I became aware that Culley was hard and my own cock
stiffened too. It's weird that, in such a dangerous situation
facing possible death, guys still think about sex..."
I smiled and nodded.
"We moved our cocks against each other through our thermals,
our arms wrapped tightly around each other. Our rhythm became
faster and faster until we were humping each other. Culley was
panting into my face – his breath smelt of alcohol – and his cock was jabbing really quickly against
"Did it feel good?" I asked.
"Yeah, I was incredibly turned on," he
smiled. "I don't think either of us had wanked for half a week
and we really needed a release. I liked the feel of what we were
doing – it was almost like being with Susan."
I nodded. "Were
you thinking about your wife?"
"Of women generally, perhaps. Of being with a woman, I mean. I
certainly wasn't turned on by the fact that this was Culley I was with..."
"Okay. So what happened next?"
"Culley pulled his cock out of his thermals and I expected
that he'd want me to wank it. He pushed my hand away, though, and
said, `Turn over, mate.' I knew what he wanted to do to me but I
was so turned on that I went along with it."
He looked at me, perhaps expecting me to be shocked or
judgemental, but I remained impassive and gestured for him to continue.
"He yanked the back of my thermals down and climbed on top
of me. His chest was on top of my back and it was hard to
breathe. Culley's a big bloke – well built – like
"He grabbed his cock and pressed it into my arse
cleft. The way he'd put it was really uncomfortable and I struggled
to get into a position where he could enter me more easily.
"Eventually, he managed to get it inside me and he started
sliding it in and out. It was really painful at first but I soon
got used to it..."
"He was making love to you?" I asked. I used the term `making love' without thinking about it: when talking about
the sexual act with patients, most find it to be the least offensive term.
"No!" Steven snapped. "There was no love in it. We
were... well – I dunno the right word for it. I suppose he was
wanking but using my arse instead of my hand to help him."
"That seems a strange way to describe it. He was penetrating you, doesn't the term `making love'
"If I'd been a woman, then yeah, maybe. But we were both men so it doesn't fit."
"Okay, so he was `using' your backside. Did he enjoy
"Jesus, yeah! Of course he did. He grabbed my chest and held onto me, grunting into the back of my
head. His cock started hammering in and out of me really quickly
and I could actually hear his hips slapping against my cheeks over the noise of the
"How did you feel?"
"Like I did when I first wanked him off, I guess. Pleased I was
helping him but not especially enjoying it."
"Were you erect while he was doing
"Yeah, I think so. But not because of the sensation of what he was
doing. It was just... well – you have to understand that, even
though we were two guys and what we were doing probably sounds pretty disgusting, it was still an incredibly
intense situation. It was good to feel connected to someone else's body, to have someone else's arms around
I smiled. "It
doesn't sound at all disgusting, actually."
"Good, because it wasn't," he said
appreciatively. "I mean, it's not the way either of us would have
chosen to have had sex, but right then it felt good for both of us."
"But I don't understand how you don't see what you were
doing as a gay act." He flinched at the word `gay' but I went on,
"We've both seen the cartoon drawings in public toilets of guys having sex: didn't you think to yourself, `Jesus
– I'm actually in a gay position here'?"
He thought for a moment and then replied, "I don't relate
what we were doing to that kind of stuff. For us it was a
necessity, not a choice. Culley used my arse because he was desperate for sex and it happens to be the only hole
I have down there. I let him because I knew how much he must need
it. I didn't consider whether it was gay or not; I just let him do
what he had to do."
"Yeah, I suppose I can see where you're coming from. So what
happened after Culley had climaxed?"
Steven threw me a small smile. "I think you already know the answer to that."
I smiled back.
"You `used' his backside too?"
He nodded. "I
felt him come inside me. It felt hot and sloppy – not too pleasant,
really. Then he pulled out and moved over to his own side of the
sleeping bag, lay face down and yanked the back of his thermals down. Without saying anything, I pulled my cock
out, wanked it to get it hard enough, and then got on top of him."
"Were you turned on by what you were about to do to him?" I
Steven shook his head. "No. I think if I hadn't have
waited so long without a release, I would have gone limp, to be honest. But I was desperate to have sex – any sex – and his arse seemed like it might
feel better than his hand, if the way he'd acted when he was on top of me was anything to go
"Did you imagine it was your wife you were about to
Steven laughed hollowly. "Look, I don't want to go into details, but there was no way my imagination
could have run to that."
I must have looked a little puzzled, because he went on:
"When you're on a climb, personal hygiene can't always be your number one priority. Like I say, I don't want to go into any details, but it was pretty clear from
the feel and the smell that this was a guy's arse I was sticking my cock into, not a woman's
"And that didn't turn you off?"
"My cock was aching for some action. I guess I just put anything unpleasant out of my mind. After all, my own arse was probably not at its best at the end of a two week
climb and Culley had managed to get his cock into it..."
"So you pushed yourself into him?"
He nodded. "He
found it painful at first, like I had, but he let me do the same to him as he had done to
"And did you enjoy it?"
"Yeah. It felt
good to actually have a warm hole holding my cock after so long, you know what I mean?"
I nodded and he went on, "I grabbed him around the chest,
like he had with me, and developed a fast rhythm on top of him. I
have to say the noise of my cock in his arse was pretty revolting – sort of like a slurping sound – but I was
too horny to care. I must have come in about a
Their sex sounded base and carnal and yet I was intrigued to
learn more about it. For some reason, I was fascinated by the idea
of the two of them trapped on that mountain, having so much sexual tension build within them that they were
compelled to bugger each other for relief.
I asked Steven, "Did you talk about what you'd done
He laughed, "No, of course not! It was like we'd attended to a bodily function together, you
know? I mean, I think I remember wondering if I should make a
joke about sloppy shits the next day, but then I decided that silence about what we'd done would be the best
"Obviously you managed to get down the mountain in one piece?"
"Yeah. The next
morning was a lot clearer and managed to get off the ledge."
"And the following night?"
"I don't remember if we did it again so soon – I don't
expect we did. But it became a kind of regular thing between us. On
every climb from then on, we've taken turns on each other as well as wanking together."
"Did you find that your feelings towards Culley were
He shook his head. "No, not at all. Why should
"You were experiencing something extremely intimate
"I didn't see it like that and I don't think Culley
did. Life in a small tent gets pretty intimate for two blokes
anyway. You can't help seeing – and smelling – each other's
bodies. You get used to waking up with you partner's morning
hard-on right in front of your face while he's pulling on his clothes, and you soon stop apologising when your
own won't behave itself."
I smiled. "I
accept that. But surely, between straight guys, the arse is a
different matter? I mean, even touching another man's backside
accidentally has uncomfortable connotations."
"Well, it wasn't like that between the two of us and I don't
think it is between most guys who've climbed together over a long period. When a bloke gets himself into a tight spot you help him out of it by grabbing
whatever's at hand. If that means yanking him up by his crotch or
holding him by the arse cheeks until he steadies himself, that's how it goes. You can't afford to be too precious about body space halfway up a
nodded. "But at least in those situations you have the barrier
of clothing between you..."
When you've spent a couple of hours on the end of a hitch, the friction burns around your crotch can be
horrendous. You get used to checking each other out for that kind
of thing and rubbing cream onto each other – around each other's balls and arse cracks, between each other's the
legs, whatever needs it..."
"That hadn't really occurred to me," I said, appreciating
his frankness. "Once you guys had lost your inhibitions about each other's bodies, any sexual needs would almost
inevitably be expressed with one another."
"That's exactly what I've been trying to tell Susan but she won't accept it."
I asked him, "Do you think this is common among other
climbers? Is there a sort of unspoken agreement between male
climbing partners that this is going to happen?"
He shook his head. "I don't think so. Remember,
Culley and I have been climbing together for most of our lives. We
have a strong friendship, there's a lot of trust between us, and – I suppose – we have similar sex drives and
habits. I don't think that would be true of most
"I remember once," he went on, "I think it was in the
Pyrenees, we were on a climb and teamed up for a few days with a couple of lads from Scotland. Andy and
Jed. They were young guys – in their early twenties – but as strong
"On one of the nights – an hour or so after we'd all turned
in – Culley must have felt horny and asked me if I was still awake.
I was and so he asked if I'd roll over so he could get on top of me –"
"That's how it always was?" I interjected. "There were no preliminaries, no foreplay...?"
"You know, caressing each other, kissing, sucking
He looked disgusted. "Hell, no! I told you – we've
never done any gay stuff..."
"Okay – but, let's just get this straight. One of you would just say, `I'm horny!' and the other would turn around and
pull the back of his underwear down?"
He shrugged. "I
suppose... I mean, if one of us was tired or whatever, we'd say `no'... but usually we'd help each other
"Okay. So he
got on top of you...?"
"Yeah. He did
his thing, grunting like he always did, and came pretty quickly. By
then I'd grown hard myself so I had my turn on him..."
I could understand his earlier comparisons between their sex
and bodily functions. This was sex stripped of all emotion almost
to the point of being animalistic.
"The next morning," he went on, "Andy – one of the Scottish
lads – mentioned what we'd done while the two of us were alone.
He'd been awake and heard us, and maybe he even sneaked a look at us, I don't know."
"What did he say?"
"He'd smiled and had said something like, `Were you guys
doing what I thought you were doing last night?'
"To be honest, what we'd done had become so unremarkable for
me that I couldn't think what he meant at first.
"When I'd asked him what he was on about, he'd said, `About
an hour after we'd gone to bed. You guys sounded like you'd found a
new way to keep warm!'
"I'd smiled, though I was a little taken aback that he would
mention it to me, and made some comment about us both missing our wives.
"He'd nodded and said, `Well, I hope Jed isn't expecting
anything like that from me!'
"I'd told him how long we'd known each other and been
climbing together. He'd shrugged and said it was no big deal, it was just he'd never heard of guys needing to do
stuff like that on a climb."
I nodded. "So
it can't be too common, then?"
"I don't think so. And if it is, it's not the kind of thing guys really want to talk
Glancing at my clock and feeling surprised at how much of my
lunch break this appointment had eaten up, I thought I ought to start wrapping things
But I was still intrigued to find out more about their
sexual relationship which was seemingly irrelevant to both of them and yet which was, in the brief moments they
expressed it with one another, deeply intense and satisfying for both of them.
I asked him: "I'm guessing that you see Culley quite often,
even when you're not on a climb...?"
"We go for a pint a couple of times a week... our kids are pretty friendly too..."
"Did you ever do anything sexual together when you were not
on a climb?"
He shook his head. "No, of course not. Why would
we? When our wives are around, what would be the
I nodded slowly, appreciating his reasoning. "So you've never done anything sexual outside of the
"Well, that's not quite true. At the end of a climb, we usually put up for a night in a hostel to get
cleaned up. Sometimes it's been so nice to relax, to have a bath
and a few drinks, to lie on a sprung mattress, that we've ended up... well – doing stuff
"Just masturbation or..." I struggled to find a way of
describing penetration without using any potentially controversial terms. I settled on: "the full works?"
He considered the question and replied, "I suppose it
depends. Sometimes, after a few weeks sleeping so closely together,
it's too weird to sleep in separate beds in a hostel, so we share.
Usually we'll wank each other off before we sleep like we would in the tent.
"But sometimes... well – I remember this time in
Switzerland. We'd come down from a real shit of a climb and were
cleaning up in a twin room in a B&B. We never close the
bathroom door when we're in a room together – what's the point after so long of being around each other? – and I
walked in on Culley lying in the bath with a hard-on.
"I think we sort of smiled at each other and then I walked
over to the loo to take a piss. While I was pissing, Culley stood
up in the bath and dried himself. Then he walked over to me and
hitched the back of my briefs down. He bent me over the toilet – I think piss was still dribbling out of my cock
– and eased his cock into my arse.
"I stopped pissing and felt my own cock harden like it
always does when he's doing that to me. I stared at the top of the
toilet cistern, enjoying the thought of him finishing and being able to take my turn at doing the same thing to
"Just then, I turned to look in the large mirror which was
on the wall to one side of us. I could us both through it: me
bending over the toilet with hard-on; Culley behind me gripping my hips and with his cock sliding in and out of
"As stupid as it sounds, for the first time it struck me
that my arse was being fucked by another man."
I raised my eyebrows and Steven chuckled: "Yeah, I know it
sounds weird. But until then, I'd just seen it as a form of relief; a sort of bodily function that we doing
"How did you feel when that dawned on you?" I
"I wasn't horrified, or anything. It didn't make me want to stop. I
just thought, neutrally, `I guess this is what gay guys do' and got on with waiting for my
"And when Culley had finished?"
"What you'd expect: I walked around behind him and did the same to him."
"Did you watch yourself in the
"Yeah," he nodded. "It was weird to see my own cock actually sliding in and out of another guy's
arse, but it wasn't offensive or anything."
"Did it turn you on?"
"No. It was
just strange to see it. Two naked blokes doing sexual stuff
together. It was neither attractive nor disgusting. Just odd."
"Okay. But did
the fact you realised you were having anal sex with another man change the way you felt about
Steven considered the question for a few
Then he replied, "I did think about it, I must
admit. When Culley next brought his family around to my house, I
sort thought about what we'd done and how the two of us guys – the dads – had a sexual side to our relationship
that no-one was aware of."
"A gay side?"
He snapped again, "No! I told you: it's not a gay thing.
I've never kissed him or told him I love him or any crap like that.
I don't have anything against gay men – some great climbers I know are gay – but I'm just not one of
"But in the bathroom you said that it dawned on you that you
were having sex with another man. Isn't that what you'd call `gay
"We were having sex in a gay position, yes. But we weren't attracted to each other so it couldn't have been proper gay
sex, could it?"
Suppressing a smile, I said, "Well, it would depend on
whether there's an exact definition of when anal sex between two men is `gay' or not."
"In any case," he went on, not really listening to what I'd
said. "We took turns on each other. Gay guys only like it one way or the other, don't
This time I was unable to hide my smile. "I think some gay guys like a bit of variety."
"Well, the point is that we weren't doing it out of
attraction for each other. We were doing it because we were tense
as fuck after an awful climb. It was a way of getting some relief –
no different to wanking."
"Okay. I accept
what you're saying. But how did your wife find out about what you
"Like I told you at the start, I had to go and open my big
I was surprised. "You told her about it?"
"You have to realise that I've always thought what Culley and I did together was a natural thing for two guys
with normal sex drives to do together while they were away from their wives. I know not all climbers would take it as far as we have, but most guys don't
climb with the same guy – their best friend – for so many years.
"So, while I've always treated the subject as taboo, I
suppose I assumed that Sarah knew what was going on between me and Culley. I guess it's like going to the toilet or whatever: you don't talk about it,
but everyone knows you do it."
I nodded. "So
how did you mention it?"
"She said something about me climaxing pretty quickly one
night and I made a joke that my backside wished Culley had that problem."
"She became hysterical. Started chucking stuff then locked herself in the spare
I was thinking, "This is not the time to smile,
Sebastian. This really is not the time..."
He went on, "She said she wanted a divorce. I tried to explain how it is to her: how lonely we get in the tent and how
there's no love or even lust in it, but she wouldn't listen."
"That was a couple of weeks ago?"
calmed down a bit but she insisted I come and talk to you. I think
she expected you'd give me an AIDS test, to be honest."
"Since neither you nor Mr Culley seem to be promiscuous, I
don't think there'd be any point in that."
He nodded. "So
do you think, like she does, that what I've done is `unnatural'?"
I smiled. "Of
course I don't. I think, to be honest, that you're lucky to have
such a deep and trusting relationship with another straight guy. I
kind of envy you..."
This time he was the one raise his eyebrows. "Really?"
never had such an intimate friendship with another guy over such long period. I suppose I've got my brother, but that's kind of different. You shouldn't feel guilty about what's naturally developed between the two of
He nodded. "I'm
glad you've said that. These last couple of weeks, I've been
feeling like the two of us have been really dirty together; that we're a couple of perverts or
"Do you think maybe your wife would be prepared to come and
see me? It might be useful for her to talk to an independent person
and for me to try and explain things from your side medically."
He looked quizzical. "Medically?"
"Female sexuality is far more complex than male sexuality. In most
women, sex is intimately bound with emotional feelings – historically, it goes back to finding the right mate to
produce children with. In men, the two things are quite separate
and an orgasm can be a purely physical release involving no emotional attachment
Steven nodded enthusiastically. "Yes! It would be good for her to
hear that from a doctor."
I smiled and he stood up. Towering over my desk he said, "I'll talk to her about it and we'll make an
appointment. How soon are you free?"
"I'll tell reception to give Sarah MacAlister priority when
she calls. She can see me in my lunch break if needs
He smiled and nodded gratefully before shaking my hand and
leaving the room.
Unfortunately, reception received no calls from anyone
called Sarah MacAlister and I never saw Steven again. Perhaps his
chat with me gave him enough evidence to persuade her that his relationship with Tim Culley posed no threat to
their marriage. Or perhaps she refused to pay me a visit and went
ahead with the divorce.
However things turned out, I hope he's still climbing
mountains with Tim Culley.