As mentioned in (the week before) last weeks post, my friends and colleagues Andy and Tim went off to Swizzy recently. Well, now they’re back and it turned out they didn’t stay there that long as they were chased away by snow… lots of snow. I’ve gotta be honest, i let out a wry little smile when i heard they’d been forced to run away; not from any malicious sense in any way, purely from the fact that i know exactly how they feel. The weather is something you can NEVER fully account for, as they found it when plenty of locals told them “it doesn’t normally snow like this in February!” They were unimpressed and again, i know why.
So, in these positions, you’ve got a difficult choice, as i was discussing with Andy once he was back. On the one hand, you’ve normally come a long way and don’t want it to be a wasted trip. I’ve sat in countless coffee shops, libraries, bars, all sorts, with plenty of climbing companions, trying to decide what to do. Apparently, their decision was practically made for them by the sheer quantity of snow and the lack of visibility but often it’s not that cut and dry: if it’s raining just enough to stop climbing, and you’re there for two weeks, should you sit it out? Or sack it off early and make the most of a different venue? I had this again last summer, in a cafe in Mayrhofen with Fredrik, neither of us wanting to be the one to say “yeah, let’s do it, let’s go somewhere else” for one reason or another. After all, how shit would you feel if you convinced your mate to leave and as soon as you did, the weather improved and you’d left for nothing? Or worse still, imagine leaving one crag to go to another, finding your new destination turns shitty and your old one becomes quite nice… On this occasion, we stayed and managed to find enough dry problems to last us the week, and it turned out well, partially through luck, partially through perseverance.
Sometimes you’ll find you sit it out too long: in November 2012, i was in Magic Wood with Mad Jim. We found the conditions far too cold, no-one else stupid enough to make an appearance in the valley, and the grades a bit too hard for my companion. We stayed, sat it out a bit longer, tried to make the most of it, tried to get as much as we could out. At the end of the trip, on one of the last days, we headed South to Val Calanca, just for the day. Turns out, Val Calanca was much nicer, much more suitable to our situation and would’ve been a much better trip all round if we’d sodded off down there earlier on. Even more stupid, after we got back, i suddenly remembered telling people before we left that the plan was Magic Wood, or if that was too cold, head South until we find somewhere suitable… Wish i’d remembered that while we were there!
So i normally work on the theory of travelling the smallest distance possible. Again, imagine a scenario where you leave the Alps to go to Font due to poor conditions, only to find it’s shit in Font. The only sensible way from there is home, killing off your (possibly only) big trip of the year. Thankfully for these guys last week, they did sack it off and did go to Font and found it was perfect and for that i am truly pleased for them. It was Andy’s first time there, and he loved it, as we all knew he would. It’s also been interesting chatting to him about the place, as i know it pretty well by now, and no-one talks with as much enthusiasm for boulder problems than Andy. I’m glad he got to experience the place, and sample a bit of it’s magic, as well to see what’s it’s like in Swizzy too. All that being said, i’m quite glad they both failed on Carnage…