‘Obsessed is a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated’……Im not sure where I read this phrase but it has become my reasoning and excuse for my wild ambition on many occasions. Either way this recent trip around Europe has made me realise many things but mostly that I am obsessed and that I certainly do have OCD! The game in question is of course climbing and all that it brings with it. The most enjoyable aspect for me is the physical challenge of the sport, particularly the mountaineering side of the game that leaves you completely exhausted after hours of what feels like ‘fighting for your life’. It’s pretty hard to explain this feeling and even harder to explain to my travel buddy/fiance and non-climber; Jane, the satisfaction of being in total meltdown at the end of a day’s ‘sport’. All climbers and sports people will have a few memories, ‘experiences’ – epics that firmly support their dedication to the sport. Scottish winter climbing is a good example. A day out can be particularly brutal and at the time you may wish to be anywhere else in the world but hanging on half and inch of ice 30ft above sketchy gear. By the time you slog down through knee deep bog and crawl into the pub however, the memory translates differently – ‘’Awesome, epic, what a route!’? A good friend and I climbed a route on the North Face of the Aiguilles du Midi in 2012, after missing the first bin and just making the last one down on a cool day in April our bodies went into total shutdown whilst descending the cable car to Chamonix. At the time it was pretty scary to be so exhausted but now we speak of it as being brilliant and a great day out?!…..Memory fade is a wonderful thing isnt it!? A specific characteristic found in most climbers though.
Ofcourse climbing isn’t the only sport dishing out this particular brand of happy pill. I would say fell runners, triathlete’s and long distance runners all seek out this exhausted state of happiness most of their lives. Lets face it people don’t run Ultra Marathons for the ‘look’, you have to be a certain type of person to seek out this kind of punishment.
Sitting in the van in the Portuguese winter sun gives many a time to reflect on where I caught the bug for such treatment and even more so how to nourish my insatiable appetite for it! This year has been, and is, the best opportunity to improve my climbing. I don’t and probably won’t ever climb that hard, but if there’s going to be any improvement then this is the year to make it happen. So far the ratio of travelling:climbing isn’t where it needs to be but with an annual Chamonix Unlimited Lift Pass under my arm and a few keen suitors ready to travel out and join us fingers crossed the obsession to be in the mountains will well and truly be satisfied. Until then, its time to run!