The Times They Are A Changing

The psyche ship seems to have sailed – for this week at least. My plan for today was to nip out in the morning and grab a quick session before heading over to dad’s to do some necessary Land Rover work. The question was where to go.

Dad’s caravan (where he spends probably half the year) is over by Penygroes to the West of ‘beris so going over to try something like Badgers would induce a lot of unnecessary driving; likewise with anything in the Ogwen. My left hand is still a bit sore so a quick nip up the pass to get back on Love Pie is just asking for trouble. A look at the List and the obvious contenders are the Gelert forest or Clogwyn y Bustach. But as i stood by the back door, i realised i just don’t have the psyche for it today.

I don’t know why – only on Saturday i was infuriated when someone blocked my car in at work and the remaining light dwindled enough while i tried to escape that the session had gone by the time i finally left. Even yesterday at the Indy i was really looking forward to getting out and when i went to bed i was thinking about where i’d head and what i’d get done.

This morning, everything seems different. Whether it’s the overcast skies, the prospect of going alone again or the burden of needing to get the Landy sorted, i don’t know.

A couple of years ago, when i was rekindling an old love of hillwalking, it dawned on me that going to the top of a mountain in bad weather offers little reward. The question i started to ask myself was: what i am going to achieve? If the answer was little to nothing, i wouldn’t go.

That’s not to say i’d do nothing, just that i’d do something else and it’s exactly this feeling i had this morning. Yes, i might get a tick in a guidebook and be able to rub a line from a whiteboard but is that why i’m doing this? I can’t imagine i’d actually enjoy the session – sat alone on a hillside, forcing myself to try moves time and again. And don’t forget, i’ve been in this situation plenty over the years and it’s a mental fight to keep getting up and getting on the wall.

All that said, it’s still a tough call to make. Today is my last day off for seven and the last before Fredrik arrives with his brother Tobias and, as alluded to above, evening sessions are about to be lost. With North Walean weather being what it is, it is all very possible this is my last chance of outdoor bouldering for quite a while. As odd as it may sound, it takes a lot of conviction not to go.

It has been a long summer, with a tick list of climbs close to my limit that will probably never be matched and most importantly, it’s been tremendous fun. I’ve loved the unprecedented success and the associated glory of such (even if it was only in my head) but crucially, i’ve loved the climbing itself.

I’m going to look at today as a mere blip and you never know, evening sessions at roadside crags may still continue for another few days. Three rest days was a bit too much but my battered body had little choice, showing signs of being close to serious injury that simply couldn’t be ignored any more.

This is probably the truest sign of a change of season for the boulderer: evenings at the mercy of torch batteries, weekend warrior mentality tying in with good conditions, week-times spent training for that next elusive tick. It’s the time of year to change tact.

So let the demons claim today and i’ll succumb to lethargy. Tomorrow is another day and only then shall we see what it brings

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