Endings are often just Beginings

Alas, the Indy Aggregate is over for another winter season. Another five months of relentlessly ticking off problems on a piece of paper and now just waiting for the results. My last session was on Monday night, when i caught up with two of the main players in making this long event, John Ratcliffe and Dave Noden. What struck me from that conversation was the amount of effort all the staff put in, all designed to give the competitors some enjoyment. So i thought i would dedicate a post to what it’s done for me.

Really quickly, for those who don’t know, an aggregate competition lasts for several months. Problems are periodically set and stripped, being given numbers and grades along the way. There’s not normally a number of points associated with the number of attempts, it’s simply when you’ve done it, you tick the relevant number on your sheet. Simple. Then you work your projects, and unticked lines until the next reset.

This winter, i came into the aggregate off the back of an injury-blemished year. Almost two months off with a finger tweak, six weeks with a twisted ankle and pulled hamstring and another six weeks with a tweaked bicep, by the time the aggregate came around, i was in need of some luck. I come out the end nailing most 7b problems there, climbing hard outside and getting back to the strength i’d achieved with a similar winter last year.

October began and i was in a position where i had to train, had to tick off easier problems as warm ups, had to compete against others. But not to their detriment, as others encouraged me, with beta and cheers, as that is the Indy way. Everyone wants everyone else to succeed, for each to tick off as much as they can, and the guys and girls there are keen to give us all plenty to go at. There’s always something harder to work, plenty to start with and tonnes in the middle. Tick it all and they’ll just up the bar.

And you can feel that they care, in the way they act and the routes they set. One evening i topped a problem, screaming my way to success and wandered over to talk to Tim. I was apologising for making lots of noise, trying to explain how satisfying it was to get it done, only for him to smile and reply it was better to hear someone working hard on a problem he set. You could tell he was as glad i enjoyed it and i was to finish it.

That’s just what it’s like there. Any muppet can set 350+ problems in five months but to continually maintain that standard, that amount of care to them takes something else. John, Dave, Anna, all the staff have done that and rightly taken pride in their work. They all have plenty to be proud of.

Not long ago, you needed BMC membership to climb at the Indy, or that was the rumour that flew around. It has recently become much more popular, while not suffering as a result. The essence of the place remains, the supportive nature of everyone infectious, and that comes from the top. It’s been a second home and there’s nowhere else i’d have rather been.

So i guess this is a big thank you. Thanks to all the staff who worked so hard to set good problems, week in week out, and create a pleasant place to be. Thanks to all the climbers there who helped me to the top of problems, either by demoing, guiding or just encouraging me up there. And thanks to all those who helped with the tea breaks and time outs. Now it’s just time to put all that training into practice!

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