Katherine @lovetoclimb facebook page

Turning 40

16 Jun 2014

And so it happened, this human being is now 40 years old.  The event happened around 10 days ago and since then I’ve been thinking of ways to break this news.  It’s not that I’m unhappy about the milestone, but the potentially half way point in your life is a rather big marker.

40th birthday cake

Turning 30 was much worse for me.  So I saw no reason to hide away and pretend being 40 wasn’t happening.  The day before my actual birthday was much better than the day itself.  Wind back 12 days and my friend Mia decided the hideous rainy forecast wasn't for her.  But desperate mum here wanted to go out whatever the weather and I advertised my lack of friendhood on facebook.  Ian came to the rescue and we headed out to Garage Buttress at Stoney Middleton.

I had never met Ian before and I had never been to that section of Stoney.  I proceeded to make all the wrong first impressions and I wonder now whether he would ever consider going out climbing with me again.

Keen as mustard I had already warmed up at home on the pull up bar and fingerboard but had made the error of packing my sack in a rush.  On arrival at the crag I pulled out one right boot, another right boot and couldn’t find a left one.  I attempted to make contact, by phone, with anyone who might be able to rectify the situation, with no success.  Trying to pretend it was ‘no big deal’ wearing 2 right shoes I set off up the ‘Big Apple’.  Graded 8a, this was a completely ridiculous idea since Peak limestone isn’t known for big footholds.

Just as I reached the second clip two passing trad climbers appeared.  The situation was desperate so I brazenly shouted down to them.  James and Jo saved the day, thank you!  A spare left shoe, more or less my size, just happened to be sitting in their car!

That day was almost a miracle as I came incredibly close to redpointing the route.  I think I could have been successful that day, if only I had some more confidence that 8a in a day was in any way a reality for me.  I returned last week.  Reasonably confident about my chances I set about warming up and preparing for the route.  What I hadn’t prepared myself for was the fact that the weather did the exact opposite to what had been forecast.  This crag bathes in sun all day and the sequence at the top that I had planned out requires friction and cool.  It was also a bad sequence.  Instead of rain, the sun had really picked out its best hat.

Three redpoints later having fallen off the very last move of the route each time, I was ready to strip it.  In frustration I looked once again at the complicated top and found a sun friendly sequence.  Lucy convinced me to have one last go.

This I did and I wonder if I hadn’t been turning 40 the next day, whether I would normally have tried so hard.  “Take that”, “Boof”, “Thrash”, “Wack”, the handholds didn’t stand a chance.  My hand was slipping on the top newly discovered palm as the sun had taken any potential friction away and I threw myself at the top moves.  My body briefly did what I didn’t want it to, it started to fall backwards, but my fingers clung on and my body came back into balance.  I did it!

Turning 40 was going to be ok after all!

40th birthday weekend

And so the weekend after the big day dawned and we had a wonderful weekend amongst great friends (tested by the hurricane forecasts, which never actually appeared) at Appletreewick, in the Yorkshire Dales.  The sun came out and we celebrated!  Thanks everyone who came, I loved it.