Locals/Tourist Mentality

Have you ever heard of Surrey Syndrome? You may have heard it by another name, the principle goes like this: your group has planned to come here from Surrey (or wherever) for many months. They’ve planned an itinerary that says you’re going up such-and-such a mountain on Saturday. You get here and the weather is attrocious, with gale force South-Westerly winds, enough to whip you right off the ridge you’d planned to go on. Going up there would be insane but your itinerary says that’s where you’re going so that’s where you’re going. Because that’s what you decided to do when you were back in Surrey (or wherever).

Sound stupid? It’s because it is but it is popular. There are plenty who fall foul to this particular peculiarity, not just from Surrey but from all over the country (and very possibly further around the world, although i’ve noticed this less). However, as stupid as it is (and it really is as stupid as it comes, if you’re thinking to yourself “oh, i do that!”) it really only stems from wanting to get the most out of your trip, and that in of itself is not a bad thing.

Drive down the Llanberis pass on a wet and windy day and you might see some hardy boulderers hunkered down under Jerry’s Roof, desperately trying to get something useful in and i would wager a rather large sum of money that at least 80% of them are only here for a short while. I’ve been privvy to conversations from people staying at my house, packing their bag and claiming “slate dries quick, we’ll be fine!” while rain continues to fall from the sky. As much as this seems to be pushing the principle a bit far, this is what i call the Tourist’ Mentality.

Tourist’ Mentality


The thought that every moment of your trip should be spent climbing or attempting to climb, with a last resort be to either go in search of dry rock or scout out possible new destinations.

He’s only climbing today because of his Tourist’ Mentality”

Maintaining a good Tourist' Mentality
Maintaining a good Tourist’ Mentality

Then you move here. At first, it’s exciting, like a permanent holiday and you’ll be out as much as you possibly can but then after a while, you start to become a bit more picky. This while could be any time frame from a day to a decade but sooner or later, it’ll kick in. The weather might be nice, but you kinda need a rest. It rained yesterday morning and your project probably won’t have dried out yet. Conditions aren’t that great in the afternoon at your chosen crag, so you’ll give it a miss. It’s a bit too warm to get a good send. There’s a cloud in the sky at the end of the valley, the weather will be nicer next week. The excuses are more limitless than the projects.

It is crucial at this juncture to point out this is very different to having other things to do, or indeed finding other things to do. To develop a Local’s Mentality you must have the opportunity to go out and climb and disregard it due to excuses.

Local’s Mentality


The thought that, while you could easily go out and climb on a given day, that you won’t through sheer laziness disguised by a series of pre-rehearsed excuses.

“He’s insane not to be out today! He has to shake this Local’s Mentality!”

Cloud in the sky in the distance? Ah, it'll be nicer next week...
Cloud in the sky in the distance? Ah, it’ll be nicer next week…

Now, do not misunderstand here, i am not suggesting that this is how local climbers think – the only reason it has been named such is because, when surrounded by climbing day-in-day-out, it is possible to develop such a frame of mind and still get out enough to call yourself a climber. Quite frankly, with the growth of indoor climbing facilities, it is possible to have either mentality in the middle of Birmingham, although with some subtle varieties.

Both are ridiculous, as i’m sure you’ll agree. If it’s grim, go inside or grab a rest day. If it’s nice, go out! If you don’t want to go out, don’t make excuses, just admit it. All pretty simple but it can be tough to admit, much as with so many things in life.

And that’s it really. In reality, most of us sit somewhere in between, only the idiots fall into one camp or the other. Trust me, i’ve done both…

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