Great (Winter Climbing) Expectations

And so, another day and another feeble attempt at a route, with Steve from down the road today. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this one, I mean I’ve got the usual nausea and I do feel very nervous, especially considering I really don’t know what we’ll be climbing, or what sort of thing Steve is up for. I’ve heard him say before he’s not keen on ice, as it breaks too easily and I’ve never done a mixed route before, so I don’t know really. Then again, my bag is packed, and there’s harness and helmet in there, so that’s a huge relief, knowing if we are on routes, I’ll be seconding, so that’s a bit better. Well, a lot better.

I think the one thing that I really hope is that I can come back with a true story of success, not necessarily leading anything, but getting a route done. I hate the fact that my reputation and what other people think matters so much to me, but it seems to. The main reason it took me so long to back off the grade 1 last week was I was trying to think of some way of justifying it to my friends and colleagues. I hate that. It shouldn’t matter what anyone else thinks, but it’s hard when you work at Joe Browns, where everyone goes out, climbs hard, or has in the past. There’s an expectation I think, to go out and climb, and I think for almost any established British climber of any discipline, when winter conditions are in, there’s pressure to get winter routes in.

Maybe it’s the fact that they’re only in condition for a month or two in some years, never in others, or maybe it goes back to the heritage of British climbing and mountaineering where rock on a rope was originally training for the Greater Ranges (Mallory, Young, Hillary, even Brown and Whillans to an extent). But back to my predicament (for want of a better word), I think I’m less nervous in some ways, knowing that I’ll be seconding someone I trust, but on the other end, there’s a little more pressure as I don’t want to seem like an idiot in front of someone I’ve never climbed with before. I don’t know, all I do know is the usual – as long as I’m sat here in my house, I’m keen to get out. We’ll just have to see what happens as I start to get closer to the route…

January 2010

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