Christmas, or more specifically the national/international holiday that surrounds Christmas and New Year, is usually a special time for climbers. This is even more so for climbers in the UK's Peak District, who rely on the exceptional grit stone conditions that usually walk hand in hand with the festive period. It is cold. Therefore friction is at its peak in the Peak. Couple that with the fact that most people have a week off from work and you've got a recipe for rock climbing. It's a time to venture out, brave the cold and send those tricky little projects that were thwarting you during the warmer months. Previously seemingly shocking hand and foot holds now feel as though covered in super glue. You stick to the most heinous of slopers. To the uninitiated, these "holds" seem unusable. There is nothing there. A flat bit of rock. But this flat bit of rock feels positively sticky with the cold. Unattainable grades fall beneath finger tips.
You would usually find me taking advantage of this once a year occurrence. But this year was different. Over the past two years, I've rarely (I can't remember a time) taken more than two or three days off from climbing. This has been brilliant. I've loved it. My body, on the other hand, was having different ideas. It was getting tired. I was getting tired. Climbing for two hours was about the limit of my endurance. And this was largely because my body needed to recover. So, come the Christmas break, it was time to take some much earned, much deserved rest. Take some time away. Step back from the rock. Go and sit down. Give muscles time to rebuild. Give psyche time to reinvigorate. Take a week. Ideally, more than a week. Say two, three or even a month. That would be the preferable option. If my body was making the decisions, that is.
Unfortunately, I listen to my head more often than not. And my head is clawing at the walls. I need to go climbing. I need to release this energy. And quite a considerable energy. I've been stockpiling. Quickly filling up the tanks with mince pies, pudding, chocolate, turkey, roast potatoes, stuffing, beer, wine, champagne, whisky, brandy, port. I feel lethargic. But the lethargy isn't making me want to sit down and sleep - as it should. It's making me want to jump on a wall and wake myself up. It's been four days. Yes, only four days. I can't believe it. It's felt like a lifetime. I'm going climbing tomorrow. I don't care. Bring it on!