Just another brilliant wee problem we found in Torridon (Photo: Richie Betts)
The annual brief punt at being a runner is over for another 10 months so it's a chance to try to fulfil my ceaseless ambition to actually become an OK climber. I've got high hopes for a winter of training and getting strong, but lets be honest, I've had this hope every year for a while and I'm still a weak and scared punter. To get psyched for the OMM I got into reading lots of Mark Twight's thoughts from the Gym Jones website: maybe it's time to take his advice, turn up the punk rock and get all medieval on the fingerboard. Quotes like
"Acquiring the spirit necessary to win, which includes a positive acceptance of pain, is difficult in a society where comfort is more highly regarded than capacity. When genuine physical fitness is the norm for so few it is hard to avoid being dragged into the morass. You become what you do. How and what you become depends on environmental influence so you become who you hang around. Raise the standard your peers must meet and you'll raise your expectations of yourself. If your environment is not making you better, change it. We did."
get me all psyched for a Fight Club-style rebellion, quit my job and live the dream. But who am I kidding? Difinately not my bank manager. Just got to fit the beastings around the rest of life.
Last winter - the winter of all winters - I made the strange choice of ignoring the cold stuff and concentrating on trying to be a rock climber. I justified the decision to myself when I redpointed The Warm Up at Am Fasgadh and started to discover the wealth of brilliant boulders in the North West. I feel like I'm still on that trajectory from last winter, still exploring, just on the edge of getting up some routes and problems that might herald a new standard for me. I just need to apply myself a bit more.
Saturday saw a tiny bit of progress on Malc's Arete in Torridon - still failing at the same place as before, just failing slightly better. Train, train train and return. Sunday was the first of (hopefully) many winter Am Fasgadh Sundays, with the local beasts wadding about in typical Am Fasgadh style (i.e working hard projects). I had my first look at The Shield, which will hopefully become a winter project, so long as it's not too wet. First half OK, second half hard. My lack of consistent route-climbing really shows in a) getting pumped 3 metres off the deck, and b) being scared of falling. I think the latter is really the thing that holds me back the most in all my climbing and is something I need to confront.
In Highland boulder news, strong munro-bagger and Scotrail-sponsored youth Murdo Jamieson (I stole that quote from Richie) made the second ascent of Richie's monster prow The Essence in Torridon, after three specific weekend raids from Glasgow. Beast. I'll post a video ASAP. And just in, Richie added a sit start to his own Applecross creation The Universal in Coire nan Arr yesterday, making it longer and "proper 7b". Like I know what that means. Video here.
Murdo in heaven on The Essence, looking out at Liathach. (Photo: Richie Betts)