Saturday, 19 November 2011

Rock climbing talent - or lack thereof

Today has been a day of rock climbing. Not just the physical act of grappling with stone in an effort to mount it, but also in my capacity as a writer and journalist.


I awoke to a murky-dark morning, but by the time the sun had risen to a respectable height, I could see immediately that it was going to be a stunner. So, after whipping up some breakfast and quaffing three coffees, I made my way out to Stanage - one of the most famous crags, if not THE most famous crag in the UK. It was quiet. In fact, there were only three or four cars in the park that is for them - the 'car park', if you will. And so I leapt from my wee vehicle with all the excited anticipation of a salivating dog who's just been thrown a bone.

"Stanage - no one around. Yes please!"

A quick march up the hill, my lungs gasping for inflation, lactic acid pulsing through my calfs, I arrived at the base of the first boulder of the day, sat there waiting to fall beneath my hands and feet. A quick warm up on some nice, easy, slabby problems, and I could tell the friction was fantastic. "Ooooohhh... it just gets better and better."

After playing around, I got down to business and dispatched a nice traverse that I had done before, but wanted to re-re-repeat (done it three times, to be precise). Quality problem. It did take longer than I had anticipated, or wanted it too, unfortunately - but largely down to forgetting beta and getting all crossed over and tied in knots. The clear skies meant that anything caught in the sun's gaze (such as this traverse) did feel rather greasy - so the epic friction was to be resigned to just those boulder problems hiding in the shade.

Knowing this, I walked straight over to a sloping monstrosity staring the sun straight in the eyes - in other words, what I chose to climb made no sense. And unfortunately, this dodgy decision-making led to failure. But, I had a blast and it'll be there for next time.

A quick send of an easier traverse-into-an-arete-into-an-up-problem and I was feeling better about myself. I'm not a big fan of failure - it makes me feel uncomfortable. And so next I walked over to a really hard sloper problem and duly failed - badly. You've got to bring yourself back down to earth now and again, and that means putting yourself in a situation where you can't possibly win. Or so I told myself, before departing for home.

Here, I sat and attended to the second half of my rock climbing day - writing about rock climbing. The UK's strongest female boulderer had responded to a number of questions I had put to her via email and I now had to forge her answers into an article for the British Mountaineering Council's competitions climbing newsletter - Psyched! To be honest, the responses I got from this climber (her name will remain anonymous until the magazine is revealed - although if you have the same detective ability as Sherlock Holmes's little toe-nail clipping you'll be able to figure it out) didn't make me feel much better about my failures earlier in the day.

Natural talent is used far too often to belittle the effort that the world's top climbers put into their sport - the training and dedication. But the phrase - 'natural talent', in case you forgot from the previous sentence - is the only way I can describe this climber. No training - still came 4th in a Bouldering World Cup competition. Middle of college exams - still pushed UK female bouldering boundaries to a new level by sending the grade V-ridiculous. Sickeningly talented. I'm not jealous. Honest. Oh yes, I nearly forgot - and she still has a 1 preceding the second number in her age.

Anyway, having wielded my metaphorical hammer and knocked that little nugget of an interview into a shape fit for human-retina-consumption, I edited a previous interview with another sickeningly talented individual, and then embarked on this blog - to try to make myself feel better. 

I do. It worked. Tomorrow I will head back into the Peak District and continue along with my average ability. Doesn't matter. It's the taking part that counts. Apparently.