August 10, 2009 George Foster


You may have recently read that i managed to scrape my way up a punterish route over on the ‘too-small-to-be-newsworthy’ gritstone edges of Derbyshire. It has a relatively high grade though in reality it’s nowhere near cutting edge and is, in the grand scheme of things, nothing to go shouting about….or blogging about, if you will. What’s my point? Where’s this heading?

I went up to the grit again the other weekend (you know, the one where it rained) and, after spending half a day trying to convince myself that i was not a punter, reclimbed the route….so i could have some lovely photos to show off about (they’re actually quite good to be fair [see below]….but that’s not the point i’m trying to make). It was really as blunt as that when it comes down to it. Sure i climbed it again cos it’s a great route and deserves all the attention and status it gets from people, but fundamentally i climbed it cos i wanted to impress the guys i was with. In doing so i had a really sketchy experience and one that i have definitely learned from. When i first climbed it a couple of weeks before i felt smooth and totally in control…the perfect headpoint?? This time round i should have been off on every move…at a height where falling wasn’t really all that comfortable. I messed up sequences and could barely feel the greasy slopers i was on. I got scared and put myself in a really stupid position…effectively onsighting the route when i’m really not ready for onsighting at that level on the grit.

As i said i’ve learned from this some very valuable lessons. Every cloud has a silver lining as they say and i suppose what i can get from this is that i am perhaps capable of pulling things out the bag at my limit when under some pretty full on stress! In spite of getting quite het up at the situation i was able to scrape through and not kill myself. However i spent the slow drive back home having a total rethink about my approach to climbing on a personal level i.e. my expectations of myself. I was always embarrassed by the ‘frat-boy’ mentality of those gym monkeys you see strutting around climbing walls mouthing off about how they’ve just climbed V19 or 9d+ and thus distanced myself from them entirely. What i realise is that i am very similar to them in many ways, except maybe not so overtly! I am heavily influenced by what my peers think and as such this has led me to miss out on some of the best days climbing with some really good mates all because i’ve been too obsessed by ticking the big routes with the scary stories.

What attracts me to climbing are grades…but not in an egotistical way, i really like the way you can measure yourself against an infinite given scale and as such i am very driven to getting the most out of myself as i can to see how far up this scale i can get myself but there’s a time and a place for everything and i’m only now starting to recognise when and where that is. Not every trip out has to be about a higher number, though on a purely personal note that does generally help. What truly matters is having a FUN time out and not taking things quite to seriously (i’m sure i’ve preached this before somewhere….better start listening to myself).

Comment (1)

  1. Nice post George. Glad you’re still here in one piece and to be man enough to learn a lesson. We’ve all done it sometime or other, at some level or other. So often these things are learned the hard way. Glad that wasn’t for you!

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