Staying Put and Getting Battered

I could’ve waited for that! Four days and four “injuries” or sorts: let’s talk them through.

I got to Gavle pretty easy and found Fredrik and Karin’s new and lovely house – my new home for the next week, pretty much. The idea of not having to move every day or two for a little while was such a nice feeling. Waking on Monday morning and having some time to myself was also a welcome change! I’m not normally one for solitude but every now and again, it’s a nice change of pace.

So i rose slowly and got to writing; catching up with the latest fun and games and restructuring the entire Desintaions section – more than a little work! But before i could finish, a message popped up on my screen: “I’ll be home in thirty minutes, let go climbing!” It appears even being injured isn’t enough to slow down the insatiable Swede!

The week before, while Simon and myself were down South somewhere, I received a message from Fredrik, trying his 7c+ project, informing me he’d had a pulley pop in his finger. He’s since shown me the video and it’s a good noise! What that means in the short term is no climbing for my friend, sadly.

But he’s still keen to champion his local area and he took me to Oppala that Monday, to check out some local bouldering action. In typical Swedish fashion, there being so much rock for such a small population, we had the crag to ourselves. Other than the mosquitos…

There were, quite frankly, fucking loads of them, with swearing there for emphasis. It was horrendous and i employed an old technique of chalk up and set up away from the bottom of the boulder so a cloud of mossies don’t try and attack you while you sit for the start of the climb!

I got on three problems and promptly snapped off three different holds… Nothing major and i’m assured that the boulder we were on doesn’t get a lot of traffic and that the others in the area are much more solid. They were good lines too: Areten 6a+, Fula Gubben 7a and Onda Gubben 7a+, with the latter taking more than a few gos. What was crucial to this success was Fredrik offering some informal coaching for me; something which helped immensely! Turns out you don’t need to do a course to help your friends out after all and i was, and am, really grateful for his help.

The knock for this day? Topping out Fula Gubben my heel slipped off on the top out and my shin took a nasty bash. Add another fun scar to my already horrendous legs!

Tuesday was always going to be the highlight of the trip, as the day my love, Emily, was flying out to meet me. With several options including writing and sitting in the house in anticipation, i opted to head South and check out a crag nearby to Arlanda airport. Despite scouting out Kallbergahygget, i took recommendation from Fredrik and heading to Focksta – and what a recommendation! The most idyllic little spot you could imagine, six problems fell with the highlight being Deer Hunter 7a.

Tuesday’s “injury” was more subtle, when the finger tip on my right ring finger went through. Small yes, but sore and more would obviously be to come if my skin was that thin. Still, the rough edges did give fractionally more friction against the immaculate granite!

Then, true to form, i left it too late to get to the airport and had to blast it. I made it with five minutes to spare, it turns out, and got to watch Em walk out of the arrivals gate and into my arms at last. It was the most fantastic feeling.

Since then, we’ve been together, wandered around Gavle yesterday before heading out again last night, this time to Eskon. Another local crag really, a touch spread out and in need of some traffic to improve moving around. There are some superb lines though, including the excellent 7a whose name escapes me at the moment.

But the spot on my finger from the previous day suddenly, expectedly, got a lot worse and by the time i left was not only leaking profusely but was joined by another on my thumb. More worryingly, as i hit a lip with my right hand, a sharp shooting pain ran up my right tricep. I’m really hoping it’s nothing serious and doesn’t come back.

And now, sat here with much less time than i need really, it’s my birthday! Behind me is the love of my life and my faithful dog, in a house in the middle of Sweden.

This is seven years into the Spend My Birthday In A Different Country Every Year Tradition and i’m revelling in the fact it’s still going! Italy, Canada, France, Austria, Spain, Switzerland and now Sweden in a way that i could never have dreamed. Every year gets tougher but better and better. Almost can’t wait to see where i go next year!

But let’s get this one out of the way first. Off to Stockholm for a Non Climbing Day. Probably for the best – not looking forward to seeing what i manage to hurt today!

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