With a slight flutter in my heart, I shuffle my feet, and the generous incut of the final hold comes clearly into view. With a weakened arm, I steady myself and momentarily pause. “Grab it; it’s yours” the voice in my head shouts while the rest of the world vanishes. I somehow manage to keep it together just long enough to pop and I feel my fingers grip success. The voice was right; the problem was in the bag.
It was indoors but it was my first V5 in I don’t know how long. The problem was a balancy number on a vertical wall that suited my fingers, but not my lack of technique. I decided that, on balance, climbing – even with an injury – makes sense for me right now.
The past couple of months have been rough and when viewed in the context of the year as a whole look pretty grim. Not unsurprisingly, I fell off a cliff (figuratively, not literally).
I’ve been running away for a while now. I think that I needed a bit of space but this could only go on for so long. I realised that one of the major things in my life that was missing was climbing.
My physio exercises fell by the wayside and my shoulder is no better. It’s still weak and very painful on occasion. It probably needs more rest.
I’ve always had an all or nothing approach to life. I need to have a goal and I need to feel like I am working towards it. I don’t even need to fully believe in it. I just need something. Climbing keeps me focused. It keeps me out of trouble. It’s an outlet for me that I can’t seem to replace with anything healthy.
With this in mind, I decided to climb again. I went about 5 times over the holiday break and it was very dispiriting to say the least. V1 was a massive struggle and I could only manage a few moves on harder problems.
Misguidedly, I thought that by just making the decision to climb again things would start to fall into place. I now saw climbing as yet another thing in my life in which I had some potential and that I ultimately failed at. Just what I needed. I thought about quitting. I told myself that I didn’t care anymore and I couldn’t see myself committing again. It hurt too much.
The next time I went to the wall, I learnt just how wrong all of those feelings were. I found a lovely 6a+ at Craggy 2 (my regular wall was closed for refurbishment). It was somewhat powerful and reachy (for me!), yet I got it on the second try. I remembered just what it felt like to send a problem – I remembered why I had to go back to climbing. It was something that I hadn’t felt in a long while, probably since I had my viva.
Today I managed to get up a V5 at the Arch. I’m still a million miles away from where I want to be. However it is so much better to feel like I am working towards something, even if I’m too injured to be able to climb like I used to. I am going to take a break for about a week or so and concentrate on my physio exercises, but I don’t think that I’ll be taking months at a time off again.