It has been a long time since I have updated my blog on what I have actually been doing. I guess it has taken me a while to feel like I have something to say, but the last few months I have made some big changes.
In July I took the plunge and decided to leave Sheffield, it was a hard decision as between there and Edale is where I have spent my whole life. To be honest I never thought I would leave, it always felt like home and with my family living nearby, a wonderful friendship group and all the training facilities and outdoor climbing you could throw a stick at, why would you?
But it happened, I started getting itchy feet. My back didn’t feel like it was making any progress and with climbing off the agenda I wasn’t really sure what to do with myself (except drink a lot of tea). I knew I needed a change and that change came in the form of North Wales. It felt risky leaving behind a network of people I built up and trusted to help me with my back and my plan to drive back once a week to get treatments seemed slightly ridiculous. I wondered if I was making a very stupid decision and that I should wait until I was fixed before galavanting off to another part of the country. However, I knew for the sake of my own sanity that my life could not revolve around an injury so I took the risk and moved.
I couldn’t and I didn’t want to climb anymore so instead I took every opportunity to try new things. This is one of things I am very grateful for, being injured suddenly presented me a lot of free time to try things I never had space for before. The great thing about North Wales is how close the mountains are to the sea, if it was raining in the mountains, the coast would usually offer relief and if it didn’t then you just get in the water instead of trying to hide from it. To begin with I did quite a bit of walking around the Llanberis Pass, something I haven’t done since I was a child and then I basically took up water sports; swimming, kayaking, coasteering, SUPing and surfing. Helped along by a wonderful and patient bunch of friends. What a relief it was not to care or worry about my performance in climbing and just to enjoy trying something new.
All that fresh air and endorphins must have done me some good as my appointments with the chiropractor got better and better, until one day I went and he told me I didn’t need to see him 4 – 5 weeks as I was making such good progress. It felt like such a break through!
Alongside all this Alex and I spend a good number of weekends converting our Citreon Relay van. DIY provided another great distraction for me as I love learning practical skills, we had a three month trip to Spain planned so it was good to have something to aim for. It came round quick and before we knew it we were heading off to Portsmouth to hop on the 24 hour ferry direct to Spain!
Van conversion in full swing!
With my back on the mend I could feel the ‘want’ for climbing creeping back in and it felt exciting again. I didn’t know how it would react to being on a climbing trip for so long having not climbed properly for months, so I went with zero expectations. My only goal was to enjoy my time away and have fun climbing again with no pressure.
So here I am now writing this from Spain, almost at the end of our trip. We have usually been last to arrive at the crag, first to leave, eaten enough food to feed a small family and done a lot of sleeping but are slowly starting to see improvements. When I first arrived routes that were the pinnacle of my day I am now able to warm up on the equivalent grade, the other day I climbed my first 7C+ in a very long time and most of all I am enjoying and really wanting to go climbing. This is what makes me the most happy.
Who knows what is next, hopefully my back will continue improving but for now I am happy with the changes and different opportunities it has given me in my life.
Sport climbing in Chulilla. Photo: Alex Haslehurst