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Climbing outside again!

11 Sep 2012

Sometimes you find out more about yourself when you are separated from the thing you love.  We all know that there hasn’t been a summer this year and my outdoor climbing came to a grinding halt.  Getting out to the crag was hard enough anyway so then I just stopped fighting it all together.  That combination of dry rock, climbing partners and free time proved to be elusive. 

Like most people I did my best to go to the wall as regularly as I could, but I barely clung on to the feeling of being a climber.  My old friend, insomnia, paid me a visit this summer too and that didn’t help anyone.  If I’m honest I hit a low point.  The details are irrelevant (it goes wider than climbing, I am not that one dimensional) but it all highlighted my relationship with climbing more than ever. Climbing outside just one day a week since having Vanessa has meant more to me than many of my previous climbing days put together.  It’s my release, the time I can free my mind and think about nothing other than the next move.  What I noticed is how I feel when I don’t get to go out.

A friend suggested to me a few weeks ago that I need to find a new hobby or do something about my addiction to climbing.  I thought briefly and realised that my patchwork cushions, knitting and other such activities (yes I love them so who cares, don’t laugh) do fill some kind of gap.  Swimming too, but nothing quite compares to climbing.


Can this replace climbing??

So of course the joy of heading out these last 3 weeks and finding some momentum again has been wonderful.  My first day out in virtually 2 months (give or take a few work days) was at Smalldale with Ste Mac.  For most of the day I felt quite jittery.  My breathing was fast and shallow and my feet and hands were slow to find purchase.  I enjoyed the feeling of teetering around above bolts, clueless about the next move.  I did 6 routes up to 7a+.  I made the aim of the last route, a 7a+, to calm down on the lead, take deeper breaths and control the jittery shaky feet.  It worked, I onsighted it and I felt something more like the old me.

I’ve since been to Raven Tor about 4 times.  Redpointing the disappointingly named Obscene Gesture 7c, felt like a real comeback climb.  I ticked the route on my first redpoint on my second day on it.  I fought and battled the shocking crux and my bulging forearms but unfortunately that was the end of the day.  My lack of recent climbing means that I’m not able to do much in a day and I need at least 2 days to recover.  2 days later I tried to redpoint a route that I’ve avoided the whole time I’ve lived in Sheffield:  SARDINE, 7b+, Raven Tor’s ‘warm up’.  I’ve never liked it.  My arms were still hurting from Obscene Gesture and I fell about 3 metres from the top.  It is crazy that I’ve climbed many of the routes surrounding this, this apparent ‘warm up’, but I’ve always found it desperate and never ever understood how anyone can possibly warm up or warm down on this slippery fish.  Still, by the end of this year I will do it and only then can I call myself a Raven Tor climber.

Mina on Mecca  Mina making a huge breakthrough for British women's climbing on Mecca 8b+ Raven Tor.  An amazing effort!

On Sunday I returned to reopen my account on Call of Nature 8a.  Despite being only my 6th day on the route, it’s felt like an eternity as I first tried it at the beginning of April.  I was well and truly psyched to get a redpoint highpoint of about 3 metres.  My arms still hurting, this time from Sardine, I blasted the crux but then immediately felt jittery and pumped.  I don’t think I could believe where I was.  Again the climbing day was short lived as I wasn’t able to do much more.  Anyway, my confidence is much higher and I know now it’s just a matter of time.  And the climbing days are pencilled in...