Tag Archives: psyche

Popcorn Party

An just like that, the psyche comes back and i’m out again! Simple as that really, it’s all about motivation and once you’ve got it again, you’d be amazed what you can achieve.

The day after my soggy ramble in the pass, I’d arranged a climbing day proper with Alex Cutbush. An excessively keen all-rounder, Alex can boulder pretty damned hard but was still exploring what North Wales has to offer so, optimism packed in abundance, we made the long trek down to the very tip of the Lleyn Peninsula and the old classic venue of Porth Ysgo.

Now, it’s a trudge down there and it always feels far too far but once you’re there, it’s an awesome venue; so much so that if it were more easily accessible, it would doubtless rank as one of the best in the UK. There are a few spots like that, like St Bees up in Cumbria for example.

Not that i’ve been to St Bees, mind, i’m going purely off reputation there. The frustrating thing about it is i was living quite close for three years at University and never bothered – there were always places that were closer that would do. Now, years later and itching to get up there, i’m left ruing my neglect.

With this in mind, we persevered down the Lleyn, despite showers and wet roads, armed with “it’ll be fine” repeated over and over. While Alex kept giving me sideways glances, i knew of Porth Ysgo’s reputation and sure enough, as we scrambled down to the coastal blocs, it was easily climbable with plenty to go at.

Not that i was really that bothered: i made a bealine straight for that long standing project, Popcorn Party V6, the lowest graded problem left on the list. It was in good nick, i could start on the low letterbox and it would go.

So, after a warm up that lacked me actually getting warm on Jawbreaker, a classic V5 nearby and some head scratching that the massive adjacent block had moved, we were on it. Alex nailed the slightly-higher V5 version quickly, i got the V6. After years of round-to-it-ness.

And so it meant i could hobble through the kitchen this morning and scrub the first problem from The List in 2016. Hobble? Yes, well, that was because of last night…

You see, once the motivation comes back, for me, it’s a case of do something every day. Wanting to rest my weary elbows, i was at a bit of a loss what to do with myself. Then, at some point in the afternoon, i remembered a video i’d watched on YouTube last week.

It featured Chris Davies training at the Mill. There, while cranking hard and waxing poetic of the quality of climbers in North Wales, he advocates taking up some aerobic exercise to compliment it. I run every now and again so figured i might as well go for it.

I have no idea how far it is around Llyn Padarn but that’s the standard route, and i completed it relatively easily (once i got going). Tess certainly seemed to appreciate it.

Tonight, i’m working late so it’s an enforced rest night but tomorrow i’ll be out again and hopefully, this is a sign of things to come. Back on it with keenness and gusto.

On The Up

Fed up of being fed up, Tuesday night i opted to kick the total-rest into touch after an offer of a football match over Colwyn Bay way. It was a good game with a great bunch of lads and when i came to work yesterday without hobbling, i reasoned that perhaps i was rested enough and should probably try climbing again for the first time since Fredrik and Tobias’ departure.

It wasn’t anything major, just a quick after work session on the wall at work at Plas y Brenin. I’ll be honest it’s not a great wall, being very limited by the availability of places for holds, but it’s serves a purpose. It also means I don’t tend to get carried away with jumping on the hard climbs too early as there really aren’t any!

Nervous about my hand, i taped up and found it hurting after about twenty minutes. So i took the tape off. It worked perfectly, just going to show that often, taping isn’t the best idea. That’s not to say you should never tape up to support pulleys in your fingers – it’s a judgment call that you need to make each time you climb.

While i tired very quickly, this isn’t really a surprise and it was a good session. Crucially, it proved that i’m now well rested and ready to get back on it. With a hectic work schedule at the moment, it means it’ll be slow progress but with psyche building, it means i’ll hopefully be climbing strong once more.


Mentality: Psyche, Slumps and the Perils of Hope

Hesiod was wrong. When Pandora opened the box, it wasn’t just hope that escaped with all the evils of the world, there was also psyche.

Psyche is what drives you, what makes you push yourself but when it evaporates, there is a slump.

A wonderful example of onomatopoeia, a slump is exactly as described: a period that drags you down from the heady heights you’d managed to achieve when the psyche levels had dragged you skywards. But a slump can continue downwards, in a spiraling trajectory, continuing further and further to the point where psyche levels seem like they will never raise you back, and certainly not to the point you once were.

For while psyche can raise you to levels you never thought possible, a slump delve you to the very depths, rendering you useless and pondering whether you thought it would ever end.

There is always hope, though, that it will end. In many ways, hope and psyche are very much alike and one can easily lead to another: hope can regain the psyche, psyche can lead to hope of yet higher highs. They are the only ways out of a slump.

Like the waves of the sea, they take it in turns to inflict their damage on you; either mental or physical. Too much psyche or too much hope can drive the slump still further but without them, there is no way back, while too much psyche can lead to overindulgence and far too often does. That feeling of invincibility suddenly stops when a sudden realisation of mortality rears it’s head – a close cousin of our now familiar slump.

Sometimes psyche and hope must be dealt with from within – a personal challenge with yourself to rouse yourself from your troubles and regain some former glory. Sometimes, though, it takes an outsider; someone else to come and remind you of the greatness you have already shown and the greatness you have yet to achieve. Truth be told, it is a combination of both; the visitor merely a catalyst to the fight against your own demons.

I am now awaiting my catalyst. I can only hope that when the psyche returns, i have not delved too deep.

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