Sunday, 27 November 2011

Bullied by an Invisible Enemy, I Retreated to Climb Indoors.

I shot into the Peak District with the usual enthusiasm - psyched that the sun had evaporated clouds that had blanketed the sky the day before, occasionally emptying their heavy load on us poor punters below. Yes, it rained. And rained. And rained. So when I got up this morning and saw that the blue abyss had once again replaced the white blanket, I moved quickly to try to take advantage.

Having arrived at Burbage at roughly 10:30am, I quickly realised that it wasn't the sun's doing. No, it hadn't tidied away the blanket. Its bed-fellow, the wind had done the honours. And boy was there wind. It was huffing and puffing and blowing everyone carrying a bouldering pad down. As though flying a sail, every time a gust came blasting in, climbers changed direction, shuffling sideways to maintain balance or simply falling over. Though funny, it doesn't make for the best climbing conditions.

Despite the difficulties, I made it to the base of a boulder, not far from the car park. I needed to warm up so I started climbing in my massive shoes (of the skateboarding variety) until I couldn't take the slippery sliding around anymore and swapped for my rock boots. Then I got the chalk bag out and managed to douse my hands in white powder once, before a thief whipped in and whisked it away, scattering its contents all over the ferns and floor. The wind wasn't playing fair. After I retrieved my chalk bag, I stuffed it under a rock (now empty, it didn't matter) and jumped on the wall. A slightly overhanging arete was the problem of choice. However, shortly after stepping off my bouldering pad, the wind thought it would take that away too - but I battled on. I wish I hadn't. A heel hook blasted off a nice ledge and I came tumbling down horizontally. I hit the floor, hip first, and whipped my head pretty hard.

I was defeated. I wasn't having any fun. And bouldering / rock climbing is all about the fun. Otherwise, there's no point. And this definitely was not my idea of a good time. So I shot off to the Climbing Works, where I had a really good session. A wobbly start necessitated a cup of tea, which solidified my resolve and gave me extra impetus to climb hard. I can see where the phrase 'the British Empire was built on cups of tea' comes from. It really does reinvigorate, refuel, revive, rejuvenate, and ready you for the hardships ahead. I subsequently sent loads of problems I hadn't tried before and came away feeling elated but bushed. A good day's climbing and much more enjoyable than being beaten up by an invisible enemy - dancing in and catching you unawares.

And it ended especially well, as I nipped over to see my parents and was served steak pie, with potatoes and carrots, and a warm chocolate brownie with cream and raspberries. Come on! Now that's a lunch of champions. Turned into a good day afterall.