The climber

Me on Brown Slab, belayed by Johann. We did Little Chamonix later that weekend in 1996.

Me on Brown Slab, belayed by Johann. We did Little Chamonix later that weekend in 1996.

Little Chamonix. An absolute classic, three pitches of joy at Shepherd’s Crag, nothing outrageously extreme, just a V Diff, but what a V Diff! He’d been looking forward to this day and the weather gods had smiled on him.

There was no noise.

Wind in his face and the aroma of bracken and peaty soil. And the rock.

He reached out and made the first move. Metal jangled as his gear swung on his harness. The first placement, the second, the rope snaked out behind him, the belayer was smoothly keeping excess slack out of the system.

He loved climbing, he loved the way it made him feel. The combination of agility and strength, thuggy moves and delicate, balancey holds.

Solving the problem.

Feeling every cell of his body and measuring, weighing up what would happen if he moved just so… thinking about not just the next move but the move after that too. The buzz of exposure, the frizzon of adrenaline as he made his way across an exposed sequence, the drop whilst not on the scale of El Cap, would certainly be fatal…

The first pitch completed, and the belayer seconded, stripping the gear and the pair tidied the belay position, ready for the next pitch.

There’s a funny awkward doubled-up move, made more so by his being somewhat inexperienced at leading; the rock felt menacing here, the weight of it loomed hard on the imagination; climbing fucks with the mind but he enjoys that too; the focus needed, the requirement to empty everything else out and just be the climb.

It’s not about pure strength, it’s about balance and technique, balance and poise, style. It’s not about muscle mass either. He was in the zone using his God given lithe, athletic and supple body, making it work, away from the confines of a life he didn’t believe in anyway; his heart was pounding and in this moment nothing filled his head other than the climb; nothing filled his heart more than the joy, the thrill of it; nothing fed his soul more than the satisfaction of perfect moves.

He finally topped out and created the secure three point belay, which looked absolutely bomber. And finally he relaxed, his hands worked the rope and ATC as his partner seconded the third pitch, and reality tumbled back into the mind he had emptied of all else, his imagination retraced a favourite path to find… her.

He smiled a little then, as the vision became so real he could feel her physically there, he gasped for breath, closed his eyes and despite all the gear, reached out to stop himself from tumbling. Deep inside his loins he felt something give and he wanted her…Aaaahhh!

~

The blogger sat back and looked at his creation, master of all he surveys, with a sense of satisfaction.

He loves writing, he loves the way it makes him feel.

He had been in the zone using his God given imagination, making it work, away from the confines of a life he didn’t believe in anyway; in this moment nothing filled his head other than the words; nothing filled his heart more than the joy, the thrill of it as the story flowed out from that mysterious creative space, through his fingers, onto the screen via the keyboard; nothing fed his soul more than the satisfaction of perfect blog, fresh and new.

Naked, in the shower after, as reality tumbled back into the mind he had emptied of all else, and muscles relaxed under the stream of hot water, he felt a bubble of happiness welling up inside of him; he smiled a little then, as the bubble rose within and burst out of him, he let out a whoop of joy and had to reach out to stop himself from tumbling out of the cubicle as he realised he’d finally laid the ghost to rest.